‘Should you watch this, Wiki this, or wait for the next episode’s recap? Wiki this.
Bumblebee receives a mysterious message from the departed Optimus Prime, and heads to Earth with Strongarm and Sideswipe in tow to investigate. They come upon Fixit and a ship full of Decepticon criminal – and one of them, Underbite, has broken free and threatens to eat them all! Can Bumblebee and his raw recruits stop this Decepticon before he destroys everything?
“Pilot (Part 1)” is the first episode of the first season of Transformers: Robots in Disguise. It’s the sequel series to Transformers: Prime, and revolves around Bumblebee and his group of cadets on Earth, with a subplot involving Optimus Prime pursuing a mystical mission in the afterlife. This episode debuts most of the Autobot team, with Underbite being the chief antagonist for the episode.
“Pilot (Part 1)” is, honestly, kind of boring. There’s very little dramatic tension, and most of the focus is on the action. While that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, we need to be able to empathise and sympathise with the characters, before we ourselves are motivated to root for them in whatever they do. There’s little to put you on the same side as Bumblebee’s crew besides the fact that they wear Autobot symbols. Perhaps Strongarm’s energetic naivete is a little inspiring… but besides that, there are precious few moments that allow you to connect with the protagonists.
Decepticons are large and powerful
We only see one Decepticon – Underbite – and he’s big, ugly, and powerful. At least this justifies the threat that the Autobots face, because if just one Decepticon prisoner is already too much to handle, what more an entire ship full of prisoners? Hopefully the next few Decepticons are just as formidable, otherwise it’d be a tremendous letdown. On another note, if the Decepticons are so powerful, why is a weak little Minicon like Fixit assigned to guard them?
A populated Cybertron as the backdrop
Besides for Transformers: Animated, we’ve never really seen Cybertron as a living, breathing planet – it’s always some dilapidated husk of a robotic planet that has been abandoned by the Transformers. It’s interesting to see Cybertron at its peak here in the opening, and at least sets the stage for a different kind of story, one where it’s not entirely about reviving/saving Cybertron.
Danny is irritating
Danny, father of human protagonist Russell, is a hundred different kinds of annoying. He’s clueless, inept, and just generally incapable of being a regular human being. I get the reference to collectors, in that he’s a collector himself and he’s hoarding things, but come on! How about giving him some actual admirable qualities? Downplaying the protagonist’s father doesn’t make Russell any more likeable (not that he isn’t). There’s no point to the beatdown of his character, and if it’s for humour, well, it doesn’t work.
Too little exposition
What exactly is happening? I understand that they’re on Earth at Optimus’ command, and a ship full of Decepticon prisoners crashed. But why? How? And after all the relations and attacks and Transformers-related incidents on Earth, shouldn’t they have some sort of embassy or envoy there for matters like this? If this is meant to be a sequel to Transformers: Prime, the Transformers should at least not behave like they’ve never had contact with the human race, and humans should not be acting like this is the first time they’ve seen Transformers. Verisimilitude and continuity, people!
Sideswipe & Strongarm are very one-note characters
I know, this is their first episode and so there isn’t that much time to develop their characters. But it feels like we’re being bashed over the head with the fact that Sideswipe is chaotic and Strongarm is lawful. Yes, I think we all pretty much got it after the first 10 minutes. How about a little bit more nuanced characterisation?
“Pilot (Part 1)” is not a very impressive start to Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Then again, as it’s Part 1, perhaps it’s meant to be watched in tandem with Part 2. Hopefully the second part of the Pilot will make up for the deficiencies in the first, because I’m really rooting for Transformers: Robots in Disguise to be a good series.