Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Robots in Disguise Season 3?

Ok, so in my last two Robots in Disguise posts, I kept on referring to the Season Two finale as the series finale (I also clearly couldn't decide between numeral 2 and the word 'two'). There is a valid reason for that.

Before season one aired, it was said that the creators were planning for Robots in Disguise to go on for three seasons, with 26 episodes in each season. However, around early October last year (about three weeks after the season one finale aired it was announced that the show was planned for 45 episodes in total. This meant that, with 26 episodes already aired for season one, we would only get another 19 episodes in the second season. With the prospect of there being a third season seemingly forgotten, the possibility of there being a third season was dim. [source]

The possibility of there being a third season pretty much turned into a straight up 'no' around January this year, when the air date for season two was released: "This show—which has been commissioned for two full series and a movie—originally aired on Cartoon Network in March 2015. The second series will air in March 2016." [source]

As a little disheartening this was, I kind of understood. Toy sales and ratings probably weren't going great. Also, there seemed to be some serious issues with when the US aired the episodes vs. when everybody else aired the episodes, bla bla bla bla bla, the point is, the show wasn't doing great. And fact that season two also counted as the series finale was not the only disappointment: instead of 19 episodes, season two was only gonna consist of 13.

While all of these components may have biased my view on season two, it certainly felt like the show was trying frantically to build up a story that they could wrap up easily. Almost every episode added a new element to the plot line, with the exception of the very few Away Team episodes. This wasn't really to the show's advantage, as the buildup felt very rushed and left little to no time for fleshing out certain characters (like Glowstrike and Scorponok). But then, the show was being cancled, so I understood why they were doing this, even if I was disappointed about it.

As a side note, I have a theory that the missing six episodes were supposed to feature the Away Team. Because, good gosh, while the Homebase Team (as I call them) appeared in 11 out of 13 episodes, 7 of which focused on them, the Away Team only appeared in a grand total of 6 episodes out of 13, only 2 of which focused exclusively on them. As a result, I was kind of left feeling like a large chunk of the story was missing. I'm almost certain that had season three consisted of the original 19 episodes, instead of 13, the extra 6 episodes would have focused on the Away Team. But again, the show was being cancled, so the writers needed to put all their time into producing episodes that would build on the overarching story, and since the whole plot came into fruition nearby homebase, the Away Team became pretty much irrelevant.

This is too bad, because the Away Team roster was a rather interesting combination of characters, and I would have liked to see them work out their team dynamic. And I can't shake the feeling that we were supposed to see a lot more of the Away Team. Sideswipe undermining Optimus in episodes Overloaded part 1 and 2? I'm pretty sure that that was supposed to be a small arc. An arc that shall now remain unresolved, unless it was resolved off-screen, which is more than likely. Like I said before, I'm pretty sure that the missing six episodes of season two were supposed to feature the Away Team.

Anyway, back on track. Season two ended climactically, and, surprisingly, it both added and left unresolved a few plot threads. Optimus Prime is returning to Cybertron with Windblade, Ratchet, and a huge haul of Decepticon prisoners (including Steeljaw), with the intention of investigating Cybertron's new government. There are still plenty of Decepticons left on Earth, and so the Bee Team certainly isn't going to be leaving Earth anytime soon. Bumblebee even says that he's going to set up a permanent base on Earth! And finally, I can't shake the feeling that the writers are not finished with Steeljaw yet.

Unfortunately, with only a movie special to look forward to, one can't help but wonder if we can really condense the resolvement of all these plot threads into an hour (or more). Personally, I say you can't. Unless you're an amazing writer, I don't know how you can resolve all of these plot threads within an hour (or more) without the whole thing being terribly rushed. (But then again, I'm not a professional writer, so)…

However, fairly recently, there has been what seems to be confirmation of a THIRD SEASON of Robots in Disguise. In an interview at 2016's BotCon, a pair guys from Hasbro (I think they design the toys or something) kind of confirmed that a third season is planned to be released this autumn.

[WARNING: This transcript was written by ear, so expect some inaccuracy]
Interviewer: "So, we've noticed with the Robots in Disguise line - the Warrior Class toys, the Deluxe equivalents - the designs have gotten a lot more… not super complex, of course, but they've gotten… they've settled in more, I guess I'll say. The ones now are noticeably better. Has- is, like, going back and doing new versions of some of the core show characters anything that's on your radar?"
Ben Montano: "I mean always… I don't- we wouldn't like go back and say, 'Well we didn't do it well the first time, let's do it better this time.' There's always an intention, and when we design a character and [???] create the steps and the conversion, I think so many of it depends on are we really trying to nail the robot mode, or trying to nail the vehicle mode, or what is the story of this character, that really can architects how that character is converting. I mean, yeah, if there's a chance to go back and redo a Sideswipe or Bumblebee, we're gonna do it for a reason - the story that you'd get in the next season. A big part for us is, this is an opportunity for us to bring more characters to life in our idea, and that is probably more so our focus right now, is to bring to life more of the Autobots you see and more of the Decepticons."
Interviewer: "So you said 'the next season'. Does that mean that we are getting a third season of the show?"
Ben Montano: "I'm saying as we go f- So, like, in this fall, right? So we haven't- we had lot of episodes that you haven't seen. Season two, right? So, you'll see a lot of newness this fall, and that- as we actually call it season three. So season two is this spring, season three is this fall. So you'll see a lot more of the ongoing, and more characters. And you'll see them on the shelf."

They still have more toys to advertise! Seriously though, I got super excited about this. Not so much about the toys - I'm not really a consumer, though I am looking forward to buying a Warrior Class toy - but I am SUPER excited about the prospect of a third season. Coming out THIS AUTUMN no less!

There is something Montano said that I'm curious about. He said that there were plenty of episodes we haven't seen in season two, which kind of confirms my theory about the 6 missing episodes. Maybe, possibly? Anyway, I'm unsure what he means when he says that they 'actually call it season three'. Does he mean that season three will consist of episodes that were missing from season two? Seeing as we all ready wrapped up season two with a slightly wonky bow, that makes little to no sense.

But I'm really not trying to think too hard about this right now, because we're actually going to get a season three!! I'm so happy! *checks watch* And I need to wrap this post up. Sorry about the very (VERY) abrupt finish, but I want to get this post published before I forget about it completely. I hope that you guys aren't too annoyed by my constant Robots in Disguise posts, especially considering the fact that they are disorganized and clumsily written… But, I'm not sure if anyone reads these posts anyway, and I just enjoy posting what I'm passionate about.
Stay tuned! I will either post something different for once, or I will talk about what I'm hoping for season three! With luck, it'll be the former. 'Til all are one!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

More Thoughts on Steeljaw (also, birthday!)

Hey guys. I'm back with some more of my dorky over-analyzation! Huzzah! Ok, before I go on with the post though, I'll have you know that as of May 20th, I am now of legal driving age! At least in Malaysia. By American standards, I've been of legal driving age for little over a year now. Anyway, let's talk about Steeljaw.

So, in my last RiD 2015 post, I gave my overall view on the series, and this included my thoughts on Steeljaw. My thoughts remain relatively unchanged, but there is something I want to add to it.

As amazingly silver tongued and manipulative Steeljaw is, there was something about him that never sat well with me. Like I mentioned in my last post, I didn't feel like he was being used to his full potential as a villain. It wasn't until I finally took the time to watch the Orion Pax arc in Transformers Prime that it hit me. There is nothing personal in the rivalry between Bumblebee and Steeljaw. And everything I say from here on out is at the risk of me sounding like an uneducated idiot, but please, hear me out.

I'm unsure how to explain this in a well articulated way… Some of the best villain/hero rivalries are characterized from how they interact with each other. And I can't really say much about how Bumblebee and Steeljaw interact beyond 'meh.'

Bumblebee doesn't seem to regard Steeljaw as anything more than another convict, albeit a dangerously persistent one with a ridiculously resourceful processor. Steeljaw doesn't really regard 'Bee as anything more than another cop on his tail, one who occasionally gets in the way of his plans.

There is nothing wrong with this dynamic. This dynamic could really work if it simply evolved as time went on. If the constant conflict between the hero and villain started to effect how they act, both in everyday life and towards each other, then that creates a very interesting villain/hero rivalry. Largely - epecially when either the hero or the villain starts to make this conflict personal, because as a result, you not only become concerned with how the villain's goals effect the world, but also with how the villain's goals would effect the hero should the villain win. If a villain wants to take over the earth and wins, well that sucks for the earth. But what does that mean for the hero, the one who made it their life's mission to stop the villain? Do they simply lose and die, or does this loss effect them, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally?

For instance, let's say that Bumblebee started to get steadily more frustrated and angry about the fact that Steeljaw keeps on getting away with what he does. The more frustrated Bumblebee gets, the more he starts to make his battle with Steeljaw something personal. That would definitely effect Bumblebee's behavior, both around his team and around Steeljaw. And if Steeljaw is as smart and manipulative as the show depicts, then he would probably use Bumblebee's frustration to his advantage.

I don't know about you, but I love villains who mess with the protagonist psychologically and/or emotionally. Regardless of whether or not the protagonist views the conflict between themselves and the villain something personal, when a villain psychologically messes with the protagonist - whether by mocking them, or by taking advantage of a weakness/so-called weakness, etc. - they pretty much MAKE the conflict personal. That's another thing that makes me feel as though Steeljaw isn't quite being used to his full potential. The guy is clearly manipulative, but he doesn't use this skill nearly as much on the Bee Team as he does on his own teammates.

The whole 'steadily rising frustration' thing works on the the villain as well, though in a slightly different way. If Steeljaw started getting more angry and frustrated with every time Bumblebee gets in his way, eventually Steeljaw would be less concerned with his 'Make Earth a Decepticon homeland' mission and more concerned with 'DESTROY THAT SLAGGING AUTOBOT WHO KEEPS ON GETTING IN MY WAY.'

Sure, Steeljaw has hardly ever been beaten by the Bee Team. In fact, I think it's only when Steeljaw is executing his big plans when the Bee Team finally manages to thwart him (see Battlegrounds 1-2 and Decepticon Island 1-2). But in all the little battles leading up to the finale, with the more obvious exception of episode Lockout, Steeljaw pretty much never loses. And while that's not to the advantage of the 'villain makes it personal' idea - though Steeljaw is clearly about to make it personal at the end of Lockout, but that doesn't last long - it is most certainly to the advantage to the 'protagonist makes it personal' one. Unfortunately, neither of them is used, hardly ever.
Or are they?

Enter the Season 2 finale, episodes Decepticon Island part one and part two.

This finale was pretty epic, better than the Season 1 finale. It actually addressed (and somewhat resolved) an issue I've been concerned about ever since I watched the season 1 finale, had a pretty awesome final show-down between Bumblebee, Optimus, and Steeljaw, and contained some of the coolest scenes in the entire show. The amount of adorableness surrounding Strongarm and Sideswipe wasn't a bad bonus either. Also, Strongarm and Windblade being total BFFs is one of my new favorite things. I'm afraid I won't be reviewing the finale, but I will point out how quickly the dynamic between Bumblebee and Steeljaw evolved.

I predicted in my last post that the fast approaching series finale would leave little to no time for certain characters to develop. While I referred mainly to Glowstrike and Saberhorn due to their having hardly any screen time prior to the finale, I felt somewhat the same way about Steeljaw. While his character and personality was well established, his rivalry with Bumblebee, in my opinion, was not. And while my view concerning Glowstrike and Saberhorn remains unchanged, my opinion on Steeljaw and Bumblebee's rivalry however, changed rather quickly following the end of Decepticon Isl. part two.

"You're done, Steeljaw! Do you hear me!? Done!"
During the final fight with Steeljaw, Bumblebee has clearly had enough of this 'Con. He puts his all into attempting to beat Steeljaw into submission and shouts that Steeljaw is done for. With the amount of frustration and anger that Bumblebee displays, it certainly felt like he had made the conflict personal. Of course, Bumblebee spends much of the episode trying to contain his frustration surrounding an entirely different issue, so this could just be him lashing out (projecting his problems, if you will), but said issue was resolved several minutes before the final fight, and regardless, I became way more invested in their conflict.

Steeljaw, though… Steeljaw is so close to being on top of the world in these two episode. His ultimate goal of Earth wide domination is within his grasp, and he has enough brawn to take out any Autobot who gets in his way. Thanks to the three Decepticon Hunters in his possession, he is pretty much turned into a power-mad maniac with the ability to knock Optimus Prime on his aft and an incredibly wild design that Hasbro has probably made a toy out of. Steeljaw really is close to being on top of the world and he is NOT going to let ANYONE stop him from reaching it.
So of course, when Steeljaw is defeated, that is the final straw.

"This isn't over! I will tear you to ribbons, Bumblebee!"
As strangely unnerving as it was to see a power-mad Steeljaw - it's so unlike his usually suave attitude - it gave me chills to hear and see how furious Steeljaw was as his victory slipped from his claws. The amount of fury he displays as he tries desperately to escape from the trap Bumblebee has sealed him in is straight up feral. And I don't think anyone who watched this episode can forget that animalistic howl Steeljaw releases just before the cryo-gas puts everyone on Decepticon Island asleep. Now THAT gave me chills. And when Steeljaw pretty much all but said "I'LL BE BACK", when I first saw this episode, I told my sister, "Ah, NOW I feel like there's something personal in this rivalry." And it's true. Finally, after losing his chance at victory one time too many, Steeljaw has made the conflict between himself and Bumblebee personal. Even if Bumblebee feels like his battle with Steeljaw is over and done with, Steeljaw is now holding an epic vendetta against Bumblebee, and that makes me so excited to see how this newfound fury will effect future conflicts.
It's just too bad that there will be no future conflicts.

Decepticon Island part 1 and 2 pretty much marks the series finale. All there is left is an hour long special (whenever that'll come out), and I do have doubts as to how much they can fit into only one hour. Not only that, since Decepticon Island part 2 ends with Steeljaw and all other RiD 'Cons of consequence being put on ice, I'm not sure what else this show can do.

Unless, of course, this isn't the series finale… Stay tuned! I will eventually elaborate on that! Until then though, 'til all are one!