[TV Review] “Trust Exercises” – Episode 3, Season 1 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise

Steeljaw pulls fast one. ("Trust Exercises" - S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Steeljaw pulls a fast one. (“Trust Exercises” – S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)

Should you watch this, Wiki this, or wait for the next episode’s recap? Watch this.

While Grimlock and Bumblebee investigate sightings of a water-borne Decepticon prisoner, Sideswipe and Strongarm are assigned to routine patrols until they can work together as a team. But when Steeljaw comes between Sideswipe and Strongarm, can their teamwork prevail? Meanwhile, Grimlock and Bumblebee find that fighting Hammerstrike in his element, water, may not be such a good idea after all.

Hammerstrike! ("Trust Exercises" - S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Hammerstrike! (“Trust Exercises” – S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)

“Trust Exercises” is the third 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 episodes introduces the series’ big bad Steeljaw, as well as another flunky Decepticon, Hammerstrike.

Given that there are two plot threads in “Trust Exercises” and that we also get to see a less straightforward Decepticon, Steeljaw, this episode is an improvement over the lengthy but shallow Pilot two-parter. Pairing off the bots allows us to observe the dynamic of this new team, even as it evolves over the episode. Plus, we get two (two!) new Decepticons appearing in this episode. I’d say this is a pretty good start to the series, and would recommend new viewers to start with this episode instead.

Meet Grimbee! ("Trust Exercises" - S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Meet Grimbee! (“Trust Exercises” – S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)


Steeljaw’s appearance

The bios for Steeljaw have all emphasised his leadership qualities and his ability to smooth talk his way out of anything. But you know how character bios can be – sometimes they don’t quite link with the actual character itself. Not so here. Steeljaw almost manages to manipulate Strongarm not once, but twice – even when she’s captured! He exhibits an intellect far greater than the other two Decepticons we’ve seen, and his series arc will be what keeps me watching from here on. Also, there’s no neat resolution for him – a first in this series, and hopefully more to come. Things don’t always have to be so cut and dried.

Sideswipe & Strongarm’s pairing

While they did behave like bratty teenagers, as Bumblebee described, in the two-part Pilot, here their bickering seems more organic and less forced. They each have their own issues with the other party, all boiling down to a lack of respect for each other. It’s heartening to see them sort of resolving their issues by the episode’s end, and to have glimpsed the first sign of team bonding in the series.

Grimlock is cute in a dumb way

I don’t usually like dumb characters, but OK, Grimlock is well meaning without being too dumb. His simplemindedness doesn’t lead characters to get injured or jeopardise missions, so thus far it’s OK. He’s more straightforward than dumb, and that’s a good counterpoint to Steeljaw. In fact, it’d be fun to see the two of them interact in a future episode.

Grimlock makes short work of Hammerstrike. ("Trust Exercises" - S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Grimlock makes short work of Hammerstrike. (“Trust Exercises” – S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)


Who is Grimlock?

The really huge issue I have with Grimlock is that we still have no background on him! He’s established to be one of the Decepticon criminals kept in stasis, so why are they trusting him so easily? Based on Optimus’ word last episode? I mean, there’s not even some background check done on the fellow! How will they take him down if he turns on them? This part really doesn’t make sense – then again, the fact that there’s no support from Cybertron from them also doesn’t make a lot of sense.

No Optimus

Yeah OK this is a small gripe but where’s Optimus? I thought his vision quest was going to be a key part of the series. I feel slightly cheated here. Maybe he’ll appear next episode?

Sideswipe learns to trust Strongarm. ("Trust Exercises" - S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Sideswipe learns to trust Strongarm. (“Trust Exercises” – S01E03 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise)

If “Trust Exercises” is the standard of a regular episode of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, then I’m not quite as disappointed and worried as I was when I watched the Pilot. The lack of backstory and exposition on the characters is still frustrating, but at least they’re making an effort to focus more on their interactions and characterise them in the here and now. There’s also Steeljaw to look forward to now!

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