THE PLOT THICKENS! Sure, there are still episodic moments, but this season is a lot more... focused, I think, than the previous one. Instead of random Decepticon shenanigans we have Megatron moving people around with a very clear goal (which sort of happened when he was trying to get his body, yes, but now he's keeping the others in check too) and that's present even in the moral-of-the-week episodes.
We also meet the Elite Guard, which not only continues the Optimus vs. Sentinel subplot, but starts to show that the Autobot higher-ups aren't exactly the nicest people. (Except for Jazz. I love you, Jazz.) This is all going to be really important in season 3.
Also, the character development? It sticks! Yeah, they might get episodes that reinforce morals we've already seen, but they actually acknowledge and build on the ones from last season. We get a Starscream who admits he needs another approach. HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN.
And the continuity! It's not just throwing references to previous episodes. Things have a lasting effect. It takes time to rebuild Detroit. It takes time to earn people's trust back!
I love this show.
→ So let's start with the obvious: Sari. In retrospect, this season is heavy with foreshadowing, heh.
And the episode where they try to get Fanzone to take care of her is the cutest.
→ The more I rewatch this show, the more I love how the whole Optimus-Sentinel mess is handled. Sentinel brings out both the best and the worst in Optimus, really. Poor guy shows just how selfless he can be, and how he'll always do the right thing even though he knows Sentinel will screw him over (because this particular version of Optimus is a realistic good guy, not the BUT WHY WOULD MEGATRON CHEAT kind). On the other hand... those are the only times when we see him show something remotely close to a mean streak.
Sentinel, on the other hand? NEVER LEARNS. And the real stinger is that we know he's going to keep up being a jerk until the very end of the series. Sigh.
→ And now, for some inter-continuity comparisons! Ever since I started watching Prime I've been saying how those Decepticons are the scariest/creepiest of all versions, but now that I'm rewatching TFA... it's purely a matter of tone, isn't it? The TFA Decepticons get away with INCREDIBLY AWFUL STUFF just because they're played for laughs.
For example: Prime!Starscream tortures Fowler and we're all left pretty surprised because, wow, they've shown actual harm to a human on-camera. TFA!Starscream plans to make an entire train full of innocent people blow up in Mission Accomplished, but hey! One-liners!
Or look at Blitzwing and Lugnut, who are pretty much semi-harmless mooks, and Rise of the Constructicons. They're hilarious! They trick random innocent bystanders into doing their job for them and plan to kill them afterwards! |D Lugnut is about to gleefully shoot the guys who've just helped him in the back but then he falls over and the reaction is D'AWWW YOU ADORABLE DEATH MACHINE YOU.
... and we haven't seen the worst, heh. From the 'Cons AND from the Autobots. But more on that when the time comes.
→ Speaking of the Decepticons... yeah, they're funny and I like them, but I'm going to rant at the fandom anyway. >.>
Some of these episodes are the ones I often see used as "proof" that the TFA!Cons are poor oppressed freedom fighters and. No. Just no. It's true that TFA is one of the continuities where Autobot society as a whole is pretty screwed up; probably the worst when it comes to the cartoon 'verses. But the Decepticons? Yeeeeah they're still assholes. Sorry, I can't buy TFA!Megs as ~concerned~ about the social problems in Cybertron. I can't even buy that he began that way and then became corrupted, like some other versions. And the examples people use. Well. Let me see:
The speech where he talks about how Decepticons have to remain united to fight Autobot oppression? That's... very clearly not supposed to be taken at face value, guys. It's a grandiose speech about BEING UNITED and FIGHTING FOR YOUR RIGHTS played over a montage of the two highest ranking 'Cons repeatedly trying to kill each other. SUBTLE!
And then there's my favorite: Megatron welcomed the Constructicons into his team! Out of the kindness of his spark! It's not like he took advantage of some clueless guys to trick them into becoming canon fodder! How can anyone watch Rise of the Constructicons and still think TFA!Megs actually cares about the ~class problems~ in his planet is beyond me.
The 'Cons are bad guys, fandom. Deal with it.
→ And to end in a more positive, less WHY FANDOM WHY note: LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE FANZONE. Yeah, there'll be even more chances later, but his awesomeness in Velocity needs to be mentioned. The guy is freaking badass.