In the second season of the original Transformers cartoon we were introduced to the Decepticon Triple-Changers Blitzwing and Astrotrain, the first Transformers with two different alternate modes. Pretty much the first thing they did was try and ursurp Megatron’s command in the episode “Triple Takeover”, but Megatron was at that point pretty used to that, I guess, so he obviously forgave them. Blitzwing was portrayed here as the typical bad guy brute, all strength and very little brains. He even recruited a human football coach to help him with stragety (which, surprisingly, worked pretty well for a while there).
Fast forward twenty in-story years, though, and we meet a very different Blitzwing. The Decepticons have fallen upon hard times, their leader Galvatron is missing, and out of nowhere there are these strange alien creatures called Quintessons, who offer a deal that seems to good to be true: get all the Energon the Decepticons want in return for doing what they like doing best: destroy some Autobots. All the Decepticons are gung-ho for this with one noteable exception: Blitzwing. The former brute seems to be the only thinker left among the troops and distrusts the Quintessons. Why? Because he seems to remember meeting them before somewhere.
Sadly the cartoon offers no further details on this, even as it goes on to put Blitzwing through a great character arc that culminates in him switching sides and going against his leader in order to help Rodimus Prime save all of Cybertron in the final episode of the 5-parter Five Faces of Darkness. Sadly we never see Blitzwing again after this episode apart from being in some crowd scenes, where he was likely added simply to fill out the ranks. He was supposed to star in the subsequent episode “Starscream’s Ghost”, but the script writers had to replace him with a new Decepticon Triple Changer toy which was available in stores at the time, Octane.
So the cartoon leaves us with two big questions: what exactly happened to Blitzwing that made him remember and distrust the Quintessons and what happened to him after the finale of Five Faces of Darkness? While the latter is wide open, there are actually some hints as to the former. Enter Overcharge, an E-Hobby exclusive repaint of the G1 Blitzwing toy, and a text story from Transformers: Timelines, the continuity established by the Transformers Collectors Club. Here Overcharge is a type of Quintesson battle robot, based on Decepticon technology (because the Quintesson-built Cybertronians couldn’t transform originally, they developed that skill / technology later on their own) and looking very much like Blitzwing.
So there are two possible stories here: one, Blitzwing remembers the Quintessons because at some point between the second season of G1 and the beginning of season 3 he was kidnapped by the Quintessons in order for them to reverse-engineer his triple-changer technology, leading to the development of the Overcharge drones (possibly briefly seen in the season 3 opening sequence, though in Blitzwing colors). Blitzwing then either escaped or was released, possibly having his memory damaged or erased by the Quintesson experiments.
Second possible story: the Quintessons actually created the triple-changing technology (probably still based on stolen technology from the Transformers) and Blitzwing began life as just another Overcharge drone himself. It wouldn’t be the first time that a Quintesson-created robot developed a mind of its own (remember, all the Transformers in the cartoon started out that way). Maybe he escaped from them and joined up with the Decepticons, who then based fellow triple-changer Astrotrain on his technology without knowing where it came from.
Either way, the final fate of G1 cartoon Blitzwing remains undisclosed. Which is sad, because after Five Faces of Darkness there was loads of potential to turn him into one of the most interesting characters in the G1 cartoon world.
Every once in a while you wonder what might have been. What great story-telling or character-development opportunities briefly teased at your imagination, but then failed to materialize. Today we are looking at one such opportunity.
Punch was an Autobot undercover agent infiltrating the Decepticon ranks under the name “Counterpunch”. He briefly appeared in the 1987 cartoon episode “The Rebirth, Part 1” were he did little but advertise his then-current toy. He played a slightly bigger role in the Japanese Headmasters cartoon, where he regularly reported on the activities of the Destrons and Scorponok to Cybertron leader Fortress Maximus. But apart from being a spy with a second robot mode we still learned very little about Punch / Counterpunch.
Finally the More than Meets the Eye profile series by Dreamwave hinted at a much more interesting version of Punch. It described him as being a cool and competent guy on the surface, but a nervous wreck on the inside, always in terror that his cover could be blown. It also described him as being so paranoid that he developed an entire full-blown personality for his “Counterpunch” cover, to the point where his behavior changed completely the moment he assumed his other robot mode. Finally, it hinted at a deep-seated psychological problem where the Counterpunch persona slowly begins to develop a life of its own, a way for Punch to indulge his darker urges while keeping himself utterly separate from them.
Sadly neither Dreamwave nor the current IDW comics ever picked up on that. Imagine a story set in the current IDW comics universe, where the war is pretty much over, and amidst a horde of other characters already struggling what to do now you have Punch, basically James Bond with multiple personality disorder, looking to rid himself of the now-unnecessary Counterpunch persona. Counterpunch doesn’t want to go, though, setting the stage for a full-on Fight-Club-esque sequence of events where the two personalities strive for dominance. I don’t know about you, but I would certainly buy a Spotlight issue or mini-series featuring that.
To this day, though, Punch / Counterpunch remains one of the most underutilized Transformers characters of them all.
Seeing as I’ve already dealt with Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction, as well as explaining why I think the original 2007 Transformers movie was pretty good and doesn’t really need to be fixed, I’ll now complete the quadrology and take a look at Dark of the Moon.
After even Michael Bay admitted that Revenge of the Fallen had quite a few problems, he promised everything would be better for Dark of the Moon. Better story, more focus on the Transformers, and absolutely no trace of the twins Mudflap and Skids, who were horrible stereotypes of – depending on who you ask – either black ghetto gangstas or white wanna-be gangstas. Bay even promised a reward to anyone who could spot them in the movie. They actually did appear, though in car form only and I don’t think Bay actually paid out said reward to anyone.
Anyway, Dark of the Moon was supposed to be better than Revenge of the Fallen in every way. As it turns out it was better in some minor ways, but overall it was still the same kind of cinematic mess Michael Bay has since become famous for. Dark of the Moon did have a plot… somewhat, and actually did have a few nice character moments that actually involved the Transformers. It also had, of course, many, many explosions, a violence level that only made it past the censors because it doesn’t involve humans but rather very human-like robots, and something we never believed possible: a female lead that was a worse actress than Megan Fox.
So here is how I would have done Dark of the Moon. Same basic premise as before: studio and Hasbro have laid down the law on which characters must appear and the basic storyline, plus we need to end up in a similar place as the original movie so as to set up Age of Extinction. Here we go.
As America celebrates the launch of Apollo 11, Sector 7 does its own moon shot with technology scavenged from Megatron. It was supposed to be a mere test, but the astronauts discover the Ark crashed on the dark side of moon. Inspecting the wreckage, they find lots of dead Transformers. Lacking cargo capacity, the astronauts only take a few samples of the tech back home with them. Sector 7 figures they’ve got a perfectly preserved piece of Cybertronian tech in Megatron, so they don’t really need to invest into recovering the Ark.
In the present Sam and Mikaela live in Washington DC. Mikaela works for Dylan Gould, managing his vast collection of cars, while Sam works for NEST as a civilian expert on the Cybertronians, being groomed to take over for Agent Simmons once he retires. The two are still going through the vast archives left behind by Sector 7, wondering whether there are other surprises waiting there (like stasis-locked Jetfire in the previous movie – my version of it). In the process they find what Sector 7 salvaged from the moon in 1969, a couple of pillars. Involving Ratchet, the Autobot identifies the technology as bearing the signatures of his old friend Que as well as Optimus’ predecessor Sentinel Prime, who were lost on the Ark ages ago. Learning that the Ark crashed on the moon, Optimus immediately wants to head there to check it out.
Taking the space craft of the recently arrived Wreckers to the moon, the Autobots discover that the Decepticons have set up a base near the crashed Ark. Autobot spy Wheelie scouts ahead and sees that three surviving Autobots have apparently been recovered from the crash, Sentinel Prime, Que, and Brains. Sneaking in, the Autobots liberate the three prisoners. Upon leaving they are discovered and a brief firefight ensues, but the Autobots get away clean, Optimus remarking that this was almost too easy. Soundwave reports to Megatron that the prisoners have escaped. Megatron nods, satisfied. Everything is proceeding according to plan.
Sentinel Prime, having been repaired by Ratchet, gives exposition. He and Que had developed a space bridge, hoping to use it to bring badly needed resources to Cybertron and revitalize the war-torn planet. Only the Ark was shot down and they crashed. When the Decepticons revived them, they wanted to force them to make the space bridge work, but the most important component was missing, the control pillar. It was among those Sector 7 took with them in 1969. Sentinel wants to recover the other pillars from the Decepticons, but the human commanders of NEST would rather see the technology destroyed than let it fall into the wrong hands. Optimus considers, while Sentinel is rather put out about how much Optimus defers to the humans.
Meanwhile Mikaela accidentally discovers that one of the cars in Gould’s collection is a Decepticon and wants to warn Sam and NEST, but is captured by Gould. He collaborates with the Decepticons. When Mikaela asks why, he just gets a vacant look in his eyes. Some time later Sam and NEST get a call from Mikaela, telling them about Decepticons hiding in Gould’s car park, and the Autobots mobilize. It’s a diversion, though. As most of the Autobots are away, the Decepticons attack NEST headquarters. As Ironhide tries to hold them off, Sentinel Prime reveals his true colors and shoots the Autobot in the back, killing him. He expositions that he is sorry about this, but he can’t allow Prime’s concerns for primitive lower life forms to stand in the way of revitalizing Cybertron.
As Optimus and company return to base, everything is in shambles. They quickly follow the Decepticons and Sentinel Prime to Chicago, who have set up shop in a sky scraper belonging to Dylan Gould. The Nemesis arrives from the moon, unloading Decepticon troops to secure the city. The bad guys are preparing to open a huge space bridge portal. Optimus and the Autobots fight their way through and Optimus reaches the top of the skyscraper just in time to see Sentinel activate the portal. Optimus wants to shut it off, but Sentinel tells him that Cybertron is now already in transit and would be destroyed if Optimus shuts it off. Is he willing to destroy their home world for the sake of the humans. Optimus hesitates, which gives Megatron time to arrive on the scene and shoot him in the back, sending him toppling off the skyscraper.
Cybertron arrives in the solar system through the space bridge, being positioned in the same orbit as Earth. The much larger planet’s gravity immediately starts to affect the Earth, causing all sorts of natural disasters. Sam and Mikaela watch the calamity, but Mikaela seems strangely unconcerned. When Sam questions her about her role in luring the Autobots into a distraction earlier, she knocks him unconscious.
Optimus comes back online, finding himself a prisoner of Megatron and Sentinel Prime along with Sam. Megatron gloats, explaining that Soundwave has perfected a technology called ‘Cerebro Shells’, which they have used to take over scores of human beings all over the world, including business mogul Dylan Gould and Mikaela as well now. Over the last two years huge facilities have been set up to harness the unleashed energy of having Cybertron this close to Earth. Within a few days the disasters will wipe out humanity and shortly later the planet will be torn apart. By then they will be back on Cybertron with enough energy and raw materials (the remains of the Earth) to rebuild the planet and make it the capital of a Decepticon Empire. Optimus wants to know why Sentinel is part of this, who only replies that he is loyal to Cybertron first and only and that this is the only way to save their world. If Earth has to die for it, so be it.
The Autobots are regrouping on the outskirts of Chicago, though, and a huge NEST / Autobot assault begins. Under the cover of the battle Wheelie, Que, and Brains sneak into the city. Coming across one of the human workers controlled by the Decepticons, Que figures out the functionality of the chips and constructs a disruptor. Mikaela and Dylan Gould come back to their senses. Gould snaps and starts firing ineffectively at the Decepticons with a handgun, but this serves as a distraction for Mikaela, who manages to free Optimus Prime and Sam.
Big end of movie fight ensues. Autobots and NEST battle Decepticons (led by Shockwave) in the city. Sam and Mikaela flee as the skyscraper begins to collapse. Optimus battles Megatron while at the same time trying to appeal to Sentinel, who seems torn about whom to help. Que and Brains arrive, Que pleading with Sentinel to help him reopen the space bridge to send Cybertron back. Does Sentinel really want to rebuild Cybertron at the expense of everything they used to believe in? But Sentinel snaps, attacking Que. The four larger Transformers battle back and forth, giving Brains the opportunity to access the space bridge controls. Sentinel tries to stop him, but Que manages to hold him back. Megatron tries to intervene as well, but Optimus tackles him. The space bridge opens and Cybertron is removed from the solar system again, sent back where it came from.
Enraged beyond measure, Sentinel rips free of Que’s grip and shoots the other scientist, mortally wounding him. Aghast at his own actions, though, he can’t stop Que from firing off one final shot, destroying the space bridge control pillar. Outside the Nemesis, having been boarded by the Wreckers, begins to topple from the sky. Megatron, seeing all his plans fail, attacks again, but Prime finally defeats him for good, leaving him crippled on the floor. Megatron laughs, though, promising Prime that he will never give up, he will see this world destroyed if it’s the last thing he does. Optimus looks down on him, seeing the carnage around them, sighs heavily, and says “I believe you.” He then shoots Megatron in the head, killing him.
Outside the survivors gather, surveying the destroyed city. Most of the Decepticons have been destroyed in the crash of the Nemesis, the stragglers are being hunted down as they speak. Lennox says that he has received strict orders that, this time, they will be taking no prisoners. Too many lives have been lost, the prison (from my version of part 2) didn’t work, the only way is to make sure there are no more Decepticons left. Prime looks broken at this, but finally agrees, even as he sees a defeated Sentinel Prime being loaded onto a trailer by NEST personnel.
Closing monologue of Optimus Prime as the survivors embrace, but look forward into an uncertain future: “For a long time I wanted to see this war end. When I first took up arms against Megatron, I didn’t know whether we would prevail or be defeated. Now the war is over… and I still don’t know. Our war has rendered our own world lifeless and caused so much damage to this one. Of our race, only so few are left. We remain here on Earth, for good or ill, lacking any alternative. What the future will bring, only time will tell.”
Final scene sees the camera zooming away from Earth and across the universe to where planet Cybertron emerges from the space bridge. A strange ship (Lockdown’s vessel) passes the planet, scanning it for life signs, but finding none. The ship flies on, continuing its search.
After the first live-action movie featuring the Transformers performed well and got relatively positive reviews (for a summer action blockbuster), a sequel was quickly green-lit and put into production. Unfortunately said production fell right into the time of the big Hollywood writers strike and thus was born what is widely regarded as the worst of the Transformers live-action movies, Revenge of the Fallen. Sure, it made tons of money, but even the most die-hard Michael Bay fans usually admit it was a disaster. There is a brilliant article on io9 about the movie actually being an art project about the non-existence of sense and plot and how everything in the world changes and transforms without rhyme or reason.
Thing is, Revenge of the Fallen could have been great. Because despite the way the plot (what little there is of it) completely falls apart somewhere around hour six or so, Revenge of the Fallen contains – in my opinion – some of the best scenes across all four movies.
Sure, in typical Michael Bay fashion the rest of the film is filled with things exploding for no discernible reason, weird racial stereotypes shouting at you while hot babe extras are gyrating, the US military shows off its gear, and everything is tinted either orange or blue. I think, though, that with an actually finished script (and a director willing to follow it instead of looking for the next money shot), Revenge of the Fallen might well have been a good movie.
Here is what I would have done with the material:
The opening battle in Shanghai happens as before, though we actually see a battle between robot mode Sideways and Sideswipe and the Arcee triplets. Also, the Decepticons are beaten, but not executed on the spot. Instead the NEST team transports them to a specially constructed holding facility, which is already filled to the brim with Decepticons. Exposition that more and more of them seem to be arriving on Earth, apparently following the summons of Soundwave. Soundwave is on board the Nemesis in orbit, scanning the globe for signs of the Allspark. Next to him is a strange sarcophagus with the Decepticon symbol on it.
Enter Sam Witwicky, now enrolled in college, still together with Mikaela. No appearance of Sam’s parents, no hash brownies, no idiot room mates. Sam has nightmares about the final battle in Mission City and the unleashing of the Allspark energy into Megatron. Still sleeping, he doesn’t notice energy spilling from his fingertips and turning his alarm clock into a tiny Transformer, who just walks off, causing him to oversleep. Late to class, he falls asleep and, when started awake, finds he has doodled strange Cybertronian glyphs onto his notebook.
Telling Mikaela about it, the two of them head over to NEST headquarters and meet Lennox and the Autobots. Ratchet scans him and finds residual energy with a signature similar to the Allspark on Sam. They theorize that, since energy cannot be destroyed, the Allspark Cube’s energy is not gone, but rather inside Sam somehow. Unbeknownst to them, the conversation is overheard by Ravage, whom Soundwave has sent to infiltrate NEST headquarters. Soundwave mobilizes a team of Decepticons.
On their way back home, Mikaela and Sam are ambushed. Bumblebee (their car) does his best, but can’t keep them from taking Sam. Being transported to an abandoned factory, Sam sees that the Decpticons have apparently salvaged the remains of Megatron. Soundwave has the Decepticons wire Sam into a strange contraption and even as the Autobots arrive outside to rescue Sam, the energy is transferred and Megatron is revived. In orbig aboard the Nemesis, the sarcophagus begins to subtly glow, a voice announcing that it is almost time.
Mid-Movie battle scene commences as the Autobots attack the factory to rescue Sam. The battle spills out into the nearby forest and Optimus and Megatron face off. Optimus holds his own at first, but – guided by a strange voice – the other Decepticons all converge on him with little regard for their own survival and eventually bring him down. Optimus Prime is dead. In orbit on the Nemesis, the sarcophagus shatters and The Fallen emerges, on fire, announcing that the last of the Primes is dead and he is finally returned.
As the Autobots lick their wounds and mourn their fallen leader, the Fallen single-handedly assaults the containment facility and frees all the Decepticons inside. The Autobots are shocked to see that even Megatron bows to the powerful newcomer. The Fallen announces that the war is over and it is now time for Cybertron to be reborn. The massive Decepticon force heads to Egypt and takes over the area surrounding the pyramids.
Trying to find out more about the Fallen, NEST consults with Agent Simmons, who goes through the records of Sector Seven. Signs of Cybertronian presences were found in ancient Egyptian temples, including the face of the Fallen. Apparently at some point roughly 5,000 years ago the Fallen was on Earth and some sort of battle took place. Simmons plans to consult an expert and leads the Autobots and Sam to an old Sector Seven hangar, where they have stored all sorts of artefacts and machines suspected of being of Cybertronian origin. This includes an SR-71 Blackbird jet, whom they suspected of being a Transformer, but could never figure out. Ratchet identifies the jet as a Transformer in stasis lock and repairs it. Jetfire awakens.
Jetfire gives exposition on the Fallen, his battle against the Primes, and how Egypt is the location of a machine used to syphon energy from a living star to repower the Allspark Cube. With no one left to stop him, the Fallen will do just that with Earth’s sun. Jetfire says only a Prime can defeat the Fallen, but with the last Prime dead, there is no hope. Sam wonders whether the energy of the Allspark can do for Prime what it did for Megatron.
In Egypt the Decepticons have unearthed a giant machine from inside one of the three pyramids and are busy repairing it. The Autobots and NEST carefully approach with the lifeless Optimus Prime in tow. Autobot spy Wheelie infiltrates the area and finds the syphon Soundwave used to suck the remaining Allspark energy out of Sam and there is still energy left inside it. A big assault by NEST and the Autobots provides a distraction, allowing Sam, Mikaela, and Lennox, riding the three Arcee motorcycles, to sneak in and steal the syphon.
As the battle rages, the Autobot and NEST forces are hopelessly outnumbered by the vast Decepticon army, which includes both the combining monster Devastator and the apparently all-powerful Fallen. Megatron is not happy with being relegated to second in command, though. A brief flashback shows him back on Cybertron, discovering the sarcophagus of the Fallen and promising to free him from his extra-dimensional prison in return for making him ruler of Cybertron. Now Megatron wonders if the Fallen intends to keep his promise. The Fallen suddenly stumbles, though, as he feels the power of a Prime nearby.
Optimus is brought back to life and his mere presence brings new hope to the struggling Autobot lines. Ironhide and the Arcee triples manage to bring down Devastator. Lots of things explode and we see tanks and jets and more US military porn. The Fallen orders Megatron to kill Optimus, but Megatron refuses, telling Fallen that – if he wants to be leader – he should be able to do his own killing. Big final battle Optimus against the Fallen with Optimus prevailing and killing the Fallen. With his dying breath, though, the Fallen activates the Sun Destroyer and a bright beam of energy lances into the sky.
Megatron calls for the Decepticons to retreat to the Nemesis, as the sun will soon explode. Optimus has Ratchet analyze the machine, who finds out that this is but a relay, the actual Sun Destroyer is in orbit around the sun, far out of their reach. Until, that is, Jetfire uses the last remnants of the Allspark energy and forges a combination between himself and Optimus. Now powered-up, Optimus launches into flight and jets towards the sun, destroying the Sun Destroyer before the sun takes lasting damage.
The epilogue has Ratchet scanning everything for remnants of the Allspark energy, but it seems to be all gone from both Sam and Optimus. Sam and Mikaela embrace in front of the setting sun. On board the Nemesis Megatron and Soundwave ponder what to do now, with the Fallen destroyed and the Allspark lost forever. Megatron says there are already contingencies in place and more than one way to revitalize Cybertron. The Nemesis sets course for the dark side of the moon.
Transformers Prime, the main Transformers cartoon series that ran three seasons from 2011 through 2013, was a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand it looked gorgeous, if a bit dark, and had possibly the best CGI animation I’ve ever seen in a Transformers series. The battles were cool, the directing was superb, and the character animation looked brilliant.
Sadly the same could not be said for the plot. Transformers Prime was mostly a cover band, rehashing old songs. Sure, many of those songs were great and still are, but you can’t quite shake that feeling that you’ve heard all that before.
The few times Transformers Prime appeared to break new ground or actually try to steer established characters in a new direction, they immediately back-pedaled and either killed things off or took it right back to status quo. Add in the fact that more than two thirds of the episodes basically featured scavenger hunts of some kind with Autobots and Decepticons searching for the latest McGuffin (Iacon artefacts, magical Cybertronian super weapons, Predacon bones, etc.) and you had a series that stayed far below where it could have been in terms of stories.
Here are a few examples of where I felt Prime might go in a really exciting direction, only to back-pedal immediately, and how I might have plotted it:
Season 2 Pilot: Amnesiac Optimus Prime becomes a Decepticon… for a minute anyway
Using the Matrix to destroy Unicron in the season 1 finale causes Optimus Prime to lose most of his memory and he reverts to Orion Pax, who still believes that Megatron is his friend and fellow revolutionary. Megatron makes use of this by… making Optimus decode some files for him. And when Optimus regains his memories two episodes later, he loses all recollection of his time among the Decepticons.
How I would have handled it:
This was a truly massive opportunity for character development. We could have seen how young Optimus / Orion Pax saw the world. We could have had tons of interaction between Orion and Megatron with the latter trying to influence the former, but also being reminded of his own beginnings, before whatever noble ideas he once had were lost amidst the corruption of war and power. Of course Optimus would regain his memories sooner or later, but I would have drawn that out at least half a season and featured at least one battle where Decepticon Orion Pax faces off against the Autobots, wondering why they hesitate to shoot him. And I would have left him with those memories and some lingering hope that Megatron, with whom he grew closer again during that time, might yet see the light.
Season 2: Breakdown threatens to become a complex character. Quickly, kill him!
After debuting as a big bruiser with a rivalry with Bulkhead, Breakdown was captured by humans and experimented on… and it was the Autobots who saved him. Breakdown was angry that his fellow Decepticons abandoned him. It was hinted at that he might even switch sides… and then Airachnid kills him off-screen in the episode Crossfire. His remains are found by MECH, who use him as a new body for their injured leader Silas. Which leads to Sylas killing them all, joining the Cons, and being killed himself.
How I would have handled it:
Let’s start by not killing Breakdown. Instead Airachnid could have left him behind, greatly injured, and MECH captures him again. When Megatron again refuses to invest effort into rescuing him, this leads to Knockout storming off in a huff and going to the Autobots, whom he knows helped Breakdown before. Together they find MECH headquarters and liberate Breakdown. Faced with the choice of what to do now, Knockout wants to break out on his own, but Breakdown, feeling indebted, instead asks to join the Autobots. This leads to some interesting character scenes between former enemies Bulkhead and Breakdown, as well as more conflict down the road when Breakdown faces his former allies in battle.
Season 3 Pilot: Optimus Prime dies… almost
After the events of the season 2 finale Optimus Prime lies beneath the ruins of the Autobots’ base, near death. He is found by Smokescreen, who tries to repair him. Optimus sees a vision of Alpha Trion, who tells him to let go and pass the Matrix to Smokescreen. Smoke will have none of it, though, and uses the Forge of Solus Prime to repair Optimus, upgrading him into a new, more powerful form in the process.
How I would have handled it:
Optimus Prime dies and returns in pretty much every series and comic, that’s nothing new. The one time he stayed dead and was replaced by Rodimus Prime is widely regarded as a low point in Transformers history (though I personally like Rodimus a lot better than Optimus). So how about a bit of a swerve here? The episode progresses exactly as we’ve seen it with bigger, badder Optimus returning from the dead and kicking Decepticon skidplate. Optimus reveals to the others that Smokescreen sacrificed his own life to save him.
But later on, in the privacy of his quarters, Optimus slides down his mouthplate… and he is Smokescreen. Smoke isn’t exactly sure what happened, but somehow him using the Forge of Solus Prime replaced Optimus’ dying spark with his own. He has all of Optimus’ memories and his body, but his mind and spark are those of Smokescreen. How will he handle being Optimus now? How will the other Autobots react once they find out?
Season 3 Finale: Ratchet switches sides… nah, not really!
Ratchet was consistently portrayed in Prime as a cranky old bot with little time for Earth and a deep desire to return to Cybertron one day. When the Decepticons need his aid to complete the Omega Lock, which can revitalize Cybertron, they capture him and try to convince him to switch sides. After initially refusing, Ratchet finally agrees to working with Shockwave for the good of Cybertron. Of course the cliffhanger of the episode was somewhat ruined, seeing as the preview for the next episode already showed Ratchet fleeing from the Cons and being rescued by the other Autobots.
How I would have handled it:
Ratchet switches sides and sticks to it. He wants to heal Cybertron, no matter what. He holds a deep anger with Optimus Prime for destroying the Omega Lock the first time around (season 2 finale). While he would never call himself a Decepticon, he does think they have their priorities in order. In the finale, with Megatron about to kill Optimus, Ratchet will only help his former leader after an ironclad promise that, no matter what, they will use the Decepticons’ tech to restore Cybertron. This leads to lasting tension between Ratchet and the other Autobots and no such nonsense as Ratchet remaining behind on Earth of his own free will.
These are just some of the ideas I had for Prime, which could have been one of the greatest Transformers series ever. Instead, though, it was just mediocre.