Cartoons

Cult Cartoon Essentials: Transformers – Arrival From Cybertron

If you are a true Transformers connoisseur and grew up watching this in the 80s, then not having this is sacrilegious and amounts to treason .The original Transformers cartoon series kick-started with a three-part episode titled “More than Meets the Eye”. It introduced the core cast of Autobots and Decepticons, and established the basic premise that the series would follow. It has possibly been released to home video more times than any other Transformers episode. In the UK, it was released by Video Gems under the name “Arrival from Cybertron”.The cartoon (along with the Marvel comics) set up the basic story of Transformers that most other incarnations were to follow.

Wheel-Jack is the very first Transformer character to appear and speak in the cartoon series. He remains an important character throughout the first two seasons until his off-screen demise in The Transformers: The Movie (1986). In “Arrival from Cybertron” Autobots Wheeljack and Bumblebee have managed to find a scant few energy conductors and muse that what they’ve found won’t last very long. Bumblebee loads the conductors into Wheeljack and they head back towards Iacon, however as they reach the bridge to home base, they run into a Decepticon patrol. Wheeljack’s attempt to drive through is cut short by enemy fire, and they’re soon literally surrounded by a ring of fire, thanks to the Decepticons’ flame throwers. The pair manage to escape the flames and ram their way through the Decepticons, two of whom give chase. The pursuing Decepticons manage to hit Bumblebee with their lasers, and the smaller Autobot is forced to drive aboard Wheeljack. Wheeljack manages to evade the two Decepticons by heading underground and arrives at Iacon. As they enter the fortress, a nearby light fixture reveals itself to be Soundwave, who dispatches Laserbeak to do some spying. Also returning to Iacon is Jazz, who reports to Autobot leader Optimus Prime that he was unable to find any energy in Cybertron’s lower regions. Optimus confers with Jazz and his other lieutenants Prowl, and Trailbreaker on the plan to leave Cybertron on a mission to search for energy elsewhere. Having heard all they need, Laserbeak and Soundwave depart.

Inside their base, Decepticon leader Megatron plots to intercept the Autobots, and leaves his first lieutenant Shockwave in charge of Cybertron. Starscream asserts the war would have been won if the Decepticons were under his leadership.

The Autobots blast off aboard an their spaceship, and the Decepticons give chase in their Decepticon cruiser. The Autobots immediately run into trouble when two large asteroids collide in front of them, resulting in a storm of rock that pelts both ships, until Ironhide uses the ship’s weapons to clear a path. The Autobots next detect the pursuing ship, but are unable to outrun the Decepticon cruiser, which locks onto them with tractor beams. The Autobot ship’s lasers are out of power, so the Autobots are forced to instead engage the Decepticons in combat once they board. With no one at the respective helms, both ships drift into Earth’s gravity well, and despite Prime’s best efforts to right the Autobot ship, both vessels spin out of control and crash. The Autobot ship embeds itself in the side of a volcano. Starting a long, long tradition of Transformer ships crashing on Earth.

Four million years pass. It is the year 1984, and volcanic activity stirs the half-buried ship, awakening the computer systems aboard. Teletraan I sends out a Sky Spy satellite to reconnoiter this new world, and scans examples of terrestrial machinery in order to reformat the Transformers into new alt modes. The Decepticon Skywarp happens to be the one who is in the path of the repair beam, and thus is awakened first. He revives Megatron, and the other Decepticons follow. Leaving the Autobot ship, Megatron observes that much time has passed since the crash but declares their mission to find energy is unchanged. An impudent Starscream leaves a parting shot, blasting the rocks over the ship in an attempt to bury it further, however he unwittingly knocks Optimus Prime into the repair beam and the Autobot leader is revived.

The Decepticons locate a clear area and Megatron puts Starscream in charge of converting the area for the construction of a new star cruiser. Soundwave, Starscream and Rumble head for a nearby power station to find the needed raw materials. Meanwhile, the Autobots have all been repaired. Optimus Prime announces that they need to find out what the Decepticons are doing, and dispatches Hound and Cliffjumper to scout the area. Starscream and his team arrive at the power station, where Starscream again grouses about wanting to lead the Decepticons, and has Rumble use his pile drivers to level the plant. Some time later, Hound and Cliffjumper find the Decepticons in the middle of work on their ship. Though Cliffjumper’s keen to wade in, Hound listens in as the Decepticons plan to take energon cubes back to Cybertron. Cliffjumper brashly takes a shot at Megatron, but misses, and Soundwave unleashes Laserbeak in pursuit. Though the pair split up, Laserbeak detaches a laser cannon so he can pursue both Autobots. While Cliffjumper manages to deal with the cannon, Laserbeak blasts Hound, sending him off a cliff.

Autobot medic Ratchet and Hauler come to fetch Hound. Cliffjumper apologizes for giving away their position as Hound is winched to safety. Meanwhile, Decepticons Thundercracker and Reflector spot an Earth vehicle approaching. The two human workers find the demolished power station, but while they’re puzzling over what happened to it, Ravage attacks and frightens them away.

Hound is repaired, and reports what he overheard: that the Decepticons are on the hunt for energy. Prime has Jazz assemble a battle group to go after them and the Autobots roll out. Elsewhere Laserbeak returns to the Decepticon construction site with the news that he’s found a new source of energy. The Decepticons attack an off-shore oil rig, where Sparkplug Witwicky and his son Spike work. The humans attempt to resist, but it’s futile and they end up jumping or falling overboard. The Decepticons begin filling energon cubes from the oil pipeline, but as Megatron is telling Starscream that they will need a lot more energy, the Autobots arrive to spoil their party. A battle erupts on the drilling platform until the Decepticons simply grab what they can and take off. Megatron blasts the rig’s supports, tipping it into the ocean and taking the Autobots with it. Another shot ignites the oil, turning the surface of the sea into an inferno. Realizing the humans are in danger, Optimus Prime tries to save Spike and Sparkplug while the Decepticons retreat with their energon plunder.

The fire at the off-shore oil rig continues to grow. Poor Huffer is caught in some girders, but is freed by Brawn. Not so easy to extricate are the humans Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky. As Optimus Prime grapples with the debris trapping the workers, Trailbreaker and Wheeljack put out the fire. Rescued by Prime, Spike and Sparkplug introduce themselves to the Autobots, offering their terrestrial knowledge to help them.

Their newfound human friends return with the Autobots to their headquarters. As Spike explores the Ark, he finds a small cassette player and brings it in with him, setting it aside. Little does he realize he has brought Soundwave into Autobot Headquarters. Soundwave and his minion Ravage begin using Teletraan I to locate Earth’s most plentiful energy resources. Meanwhile Spike enjoys a tour of the headquarters and some sunset joyriding with Hound. Returning to the base, Spike spots Soundwave’s intrusion and sounds the alarm. Soundwave escapes, but the Autobots catch Ravage, thanks to Gears’ infrared light.

Soundwave briefs Megatron on his findings. Megatron decides to attack Sherman Dam, causing a tidal wave to increase the dam’s output. The next day, the Decepticons arrive at the dam. Rumble dives into the river and activates his piledrivers to whip the river into dangerous rapids. The energy output is detected by Teletraan I, and the Autobots rush there to stop the Decepticons.

With the river at its peak, the Decepticons begin producing energon cubes. The Autobots arrive, and a battle ensues. Hound dives into the river to stop Rumble’s quaking, and the two scuffle in the depths, with the Autobot coming off worse. Ironhide and Bumblebee help divert the course of the river to save a nearby neighborhood from being flooded. Megatron and Optimus Prime duel with energy melee weapons atop Sherman Dam while exchanging insults. Megatron knocks Prime into the rapids (the latter was distracted by Spike’s shouts for help) and he and his Decepticons escape with their spoils.

Jazz helps pull Prime from the river. The Autobots regroup and vow to stop the Decepticons as they continue their activities across the land… but apparently don’t do a very good job of it at all. The space cruiser they are developing is almost complete, and they are one more energy raid away from having enough fuel to return to Cybertron. Unfortunately, the impudent Starscream feels the need to test some of the energon cubes. His wasteful experimenting forces the Decepticons to now make two trips. Their first destination, the ruby crystal mines of Burma. These plans are overheard by Trailbreaker, Spike and Sparkplug, who are eavesdropping on the Decepticons.

As Trailbreaker returns to Autobot headquarters to relay the news, the trio are attacked by a pair of generic Seekers. Sparkplug radios for help, which comes in the form of Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. Sunstreaker uses a vehicle mode cannon to give one of the Seekers a small scratch on its wing, prompting the two jets to retreat. The Decepticons are soon in Burma, pulling energetic rubies from the Earth’s crust. The Autobots wait for them outside the mine. Wheeljack has developed a powerful and compact explosive. Bumblebee and Sparkplug volunteer to plant the charge in the mine. They do so, but are caught by Thundercracker and Skywarp as they make their escape.

Concerned that Sparkplug and Bumblebee haven’t returned, Optimus Prime drives up the mine’s entrance and dispatches Roller into the mine. The explosive detonates, and the blast knocks Prime off his wheels, sending him tumbling down the mountainside. Shaken but not defeated, he musters the energy to transform into robot mode. The Autobots begin digging through the rubble and Jazz finds Bumblebee and Sparkplug alive and unharmed. Before the Autobots can begin celebrating what they presume to be the end of their enemies, there’s a blast from the rubble. The Decepticons have survived their burial and have blasted their way out. With their energon haul unscathed, the Decepticons take to the air.

Ironhide is tired of this string of defeats, and he soon takes to the air to follow. Bluestreak takes off to try to rein him in. Ironhide takes a few pot-shots at the fleeing Decepticons, and Skywarp breaks formation to teleport behind their pursuers. He lands a rocket square in Ironhide’s back, knocking the old Autobot out of the chase. Ironhide crashes into a lake, and the Autobots catch up with him to pull him out of the water and into Ratchet’s waiting repair bay. The Autobots return to base.

Back at the Autobot base, Hound taunts the captive Ravage and discusses the Decepticon spy’s apparent abandonment by his comrades. In using a hologram of Megatron to goad Ravage, Hound and Mirage brainstorm an idea: to use an enormous hologram to trick the Decepticons into a trap. He pitches the idea to Optimus Prime, and the Autobot leader agrees. Soon after, Hound talks to Mirage about a report from Teletraan I of a secret supply of rocket fuel. He says all this quite within earshot of Ravage, explaining how there’s enough fuel there to make “four trips back to Cybertron.” As Mirage and Hound walk away, Hound “accidentally” drops the key to Ravage’s cage. The Decepticon retrieves it and escapes captivity.

Back at the Decepticon camp, Ravage reports in to Megatron about the rocket base. Megatron is delighted; it’s the last energy source they’ll need before they can return to Cybertron. As Megatron gloats, Starscream grouses about the need for a change in leadership. In a foolish move, Starscream tries to blast Megatron in the back. Soundwave warns his leader, who deflects the blast with a built-in energy shield. Starscream has spent all his ammunition in this single shot, and he is left defenseless. Megatron returns the sentiment by blasting Starscream in the arm, knocking his disloyal lieutenant to the ground. Groveling, Starscream huddles to Megatron’s feet, who answers his pleas only by issuing the command: “We attack the rocket base at sunrise!”

In a flat stretch of desert, Hound creates the rocket base hologram. The Decepticons move into position, and Megatron orders them to attack. The Autobots spring their trap, running out from hiding to ambush the attacking Decepticons. However, when they engage in hand-to-hand combat, the Decepticons break apart like poorly made machines. Optimus Prime realizes they’ve been had. These aren’t the Decepticons, but are instead decoys. Megatron, the only real Decepticon present, laughs at Prime’s misstep. He saw through the phony release of Ravage. Megatron reveals to his defeated enemy that the real Decepticon army has been attacking the real rocket base.

Cut to Cape Carlson, the real rocket base, where the Decepticon jets arrive. They transform and neutralize the human army’s attempt to stop them. In short time, Megatron rejoins them, and they soon return to their launch base with all the fuel they need. Soundwave reports the space cruiser’s readiness, and Megatron orders the Decepticons to prepare to blast off. Back at the Autobot ship, Optimus Prime briefs his soldiers on the grim situation. He tells them that Megatron is on the verge of returning to Cybertron, where he could become unstoppable with the energon he has tapped from Earth. The Autobots have no choice but to directly attack the Decepticons. Prime asks for volunteers, and all the Autobots—and their human allies Spike and Sparkplug—step forward. The Autobots transform into vehicle mode and roll out.

As the Decepticons begin to board the cruiser, the Autobots encircle the base. Prime’s forces transform into robot form and begin the attack. The Autobots grapple with the Decepticons, but the battle is brief. Megatron and his forces get aboard their ship and blast off into the sky.

Optimus Prime refuses to concede defeat. He orders Sideswipe to hand over his rocket pack. Donning the pack, Prime takes off to personally pursue the Decepticon cruiser. Starscream spots Prime in pursuit. The cruiser opens fire, blasting Prime who falls out of the sky and hits the ground hard.  The Autobots gather to see if Prime is okay, and the tough Autobot shrugs off their help. It’s then that he notices that Mirage is missing from their ranks.

Aboard the cruiser, Starscream makes his move to usurp Megatron. Waiting for the Decepticon leader to lower his guard and remove his arm-cannon, Starscream raises his weapon to Megatron. Just then, Mirage drops his invisibility power to fire a few shots in the cruiser’s controls. Starscream turns to blast Mirage, and Megatron takes advantage of the distraction to retrieve his cannon and fire on Starscream. Chaos erupts aboard the cruiser as Mirage’s sabotage begins spreading and Soundwave loses control of the ship.

Mirage scrambles to his feet and jumps from the doomed ship as it crashes into the ocean. The Autobots on the ground stare incredulously as the Decepticons are suddenly and mysteriously defeated. They then spot Mirage, the unlikely hero, floating to the ground in a parachute rig. The Autobots celebrate their victory.

Spike writes in his journal that because the Autobots stopped the Decepticons from stealing Earth’s resources, the governments of the world have decided to give Optimus Prime the energy he needs to revitalize Cybertron. The Autobot ship is being refurbished, and Spike and Sparkplug eagerly await their trip to the Transformers’ home world.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the ocean, the Decepticon space cruiser rests. Bubbles emerge from a hatch that is pulled free from the inside by massive metal hands. Megatron lives.  The conclusion of ‘Arrival from Cybertron’ has the Decepticons defeated and the Autobots poised to return to Cybertron, but this was blurred somewhat when the series was picked up for continuation, and the Autobots remained on the planet to protect it from renewed Decepticons.

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