Megatron, Soundwave, and Starscream have found a rich source of energy. Colonium Crystals, which are a rare and dangerous form of raw energy which destroy electronic circuitry on contact. The Decepticons hatch a plan to create an Optimus Prime imposter, which will lead the Autobots to destruction by the crystals.
Sure enough, the Autobots pick up the energy signal from the crystals too, and arrive to investigate them. While the Autobots contemplate exploring the crystals, the Decepticons launch an attack on them. Megatron watches on his viewscreen in his temporary base of operations. The base is set up near the crystals and disguised like a mountain.
“You won’t be bored for long Optimus Prime….”
In the midst of battle, Laserbeak stuns Optimus prime and takes holographic images of him so that Megatron can use them to create his Optimus clone, which he is able to do surprisingly quickly!
Megatron demonstrates that he has full control of his Optimus clone, and sends him out into the battle field. Straight away, the Autobots are duped by the clone, who they think is the real thing. By the time real Optimus emerges from his stunned state, he finds that the battle is over and the Autobots have returned to base.
“Prime, what’s wrong with you, you’re acting like you don’t know any of us….”
As Megatron struggles to act out the persona and knowledge of the real Optimus Prime through his clone, suspicions begin to arise among Spike and the Autobot troops. The real Optimus Prime arrives at base, and the clone orders the Autobots to “destroy the imposter!” Wisely, Ironhide intervenes and decrees that there will be no shooting until they know for sure who the real imposter is.
Teletraan-1 scans both Optimus’s and finds them both to be identical, so a set of tests are devised to try to reveal which Optimus is the genuine article. First, laser rifle marksmanship, then a race, even their transformations are identical. Unfortunately, the tests reveal no discernible differences.
“Did someone mention traps?”
Megatron moves to the next stage of his plan, sending out false readings that will lead the Autobots back to the dangerous crystals to stop them from exploding. Ironhide assumes leadership of the Autobots until they know which is the prime-Prime, and both Primes accompany the rest of the team to the crystals.
It doesn’t take long for the Decepticons to pounce on the confused Autobots. Meanwhile Megatron decides to have his Optimus Prime clone execute a Decepticon warrior to convince the Autobots that he’s the real Prime. Starscream is nominated as the brave sacrifice, but naturally protests and leaves the base. Megatron sends Laserbeak in pursuit of him, but as he leaves the base, Spike and Windcharger see the mountain entrance open up and head over to investigate. Laserbeak catches his bot, and as he returns through the mountain entrance, Windcharger and Spike follow behind.
Megatron creates a Starscream clone to be executed by the Prime clone, and Spike and Windcharger discover the plan. They are discovered as they attempt to escape, and Windcharger tumbles out of the mountain – falling rapidly to the crystals, while Spike is captured by Soundwave!
“Quite an interesting little drama isn’t it?”
Outside the base, the battle rages on and clone Starscream challenges clone Optimus to a one on one battle, with the loser taking his troops away from the area for ever. Megatron’s plan works, and after clone Prime destroys clone Starscream, he gains the Autobots trust. His first order? Follow him into the crystal crevice.
Real Prime tries to convince the Autobots that going into the crystals is a bad idea, but to no avail. As the Autobots approach the crystal crevice, Windcharger emerges from it and warns the rest of the Autobots of Megatron’s plan, and that Spike has been captured. Windcharger survived because he transformed and his rubber tyres insulated him from the crystals. It’s clone Prime’s disregard for Spike’s safety that gives him away, and the Autobots destroy him.
Knowing the battle is lost, Megatron’s base takes off in rocket mode, and Powerglide rescues Spike, who was tossed out by Megatron!
Key Scenes, Plot Points and Characters:
Laserbeak plays multiple useful roles for Megatron in this episode and demonstrates a high degree of obedience, loyalty, competence and battle skill. The scene where he battles Starscream to return him to Megatron so that he can be cloned is a really good one, and it’s both surprising and impressive to see a diminutive cassette-bot take down one of the Decpeticons most notorious warriors.
A very good episode. Well written, well-paced, good action. I score “A Prime Problem” 8 energon cubes out of 10.
After watching this episode I’m left with a newfound respect for what a devotedly ruthless character Laserbeak is. I feel that the writers did a very good job of portraying the initial struggles Megatron has in impersonating the real Optimus Prime through his clone. He doesn’t know his troops as intimately as the real Prime would, and struggles with basic operations of Teletraan-1. This feels really well thought out, and I enjoyed revisiting it.