Should you watch select episodes and Wiki the rest? Yes, watch episodes 1, 2, 10, 12, and 13.
Should you watch the entire season? No.
Number of episodes: 13
Episode length: ~20 minutes
“Transformers: Robots in Disguise” is a 2D animated action drama about the Transformers in the “Aligned” continuity, specifically about Bumblebee’s team on Earth as they attempt to recapture the Decepticons who escaped from the prison ship, the Alchemor. It serves as a sequel to “Transformers: Prime”. Season 2 aired in 2016.
The second season sees the Autobots split into two groups as they attempt to reunite. Meanwhile, Steeljaw schemes his way into a new group of Decepticons. It features the voice talents of Will Friedle (Bumblebee), Constance Zimmer (Strongarm), Darren Criss (Sideswipe), Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Mitchell Whitfield (Fixit), Khary Payton (Grimlock), Eric Bauza (Drift), Roger Craig Smith (Slipstream, Jetstorm), Kristy Wu (Windblade), Troy Baker (Steeljaw), Fred Tatsciore (Saberhorn), Victor Brandt (Scorponok), and Grey Griffin (Glowstrike).
Admittedly, I took my time with this one because I didn’t like how Optimus Prime was characterised here. To be clear, it’s not that I expect Optimus Prime to be some sort of perfect, flawless saint – his characterisation in “Transformers: Animated” as a leader who grew in power as he did in character was a good progression. It’s just that in this season, Optimus Prime is incredibly dislikable, possibly so that Bumblebee gets the spotlight. It becomes this zero sum game, when it could have been about both Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
Soundwave & Ratchet
It’s pretty cool to see characters from the previous series return as upgraded, cooler characters. Well, it’s more like Ratchet was upgraded, Soundwave was severely nerfed in power. Then again, Soundwave from “Transformers: Prime” would have flattened Bumblebee’s team in two nanoseconds. Ratchet’s backstory hints at a possible conspiracy or treason within the ranks of the ruling Autobots on Cybertron, and I hope that they follow up on this plot thread in later seasons.
Loads of Decepticons
Season 1 followed this “Deception of the Day” format, which got old after awhile. The Autobots aren’t Power Rangers or some sort of bishoujo team. So it’s cool that in Season 2, the Decepticons were portrayed as a large, powerful force to be reckoned with, rather than one giant monster to be defeated week after week. Kudos to the escalated threat of the Decepticons!
Steeljaw was constantly described as charismatic in all his bios. However, besides his pretty amazing voice, he wasn’t really all that persuasive as he was a brute. Here, you really see him scheme his way up from being a pawn to being in a position of power. His character arc was far more compelling than the Autobots, and the way he manoeuvred around Glowstrike and Saberhorn was pretty engaging to watch.
Stronger connection to “Transformers: Prime”
Again, in Season 1, we all knew that it was a sequel to “Transformers: Prime”… but the show never really behaved that way. It felt as if it was trying to ride on the fame of “Transformers: Prime” to gain an audience, but didn’t want to forge too strong a connection in case the show tanked and they had to retcon it to being a separate series.
In this season, with the appearance of Soundwave, Ratchet, and numerous references to events and characters from “Transformers: Prime”, it finally feels like they’re acknowledging the preceding series and forging stronger links between the two shows.
Optimus Prime’s characterisation as an out-of-touch old geezer
Optimus Prime is shown to be incredibly stubborn and daft. Remember that he’s the leader of the Autobots, and is always able to put the needs of the team before himself. Here, he behaves like some sort of outdated Baby Boomer who’s constantly cantankerous and, dare I say it, even useless at times. I know he came back from the dead and everything, but geez. Optimus Prime hasn’t been gone that long, and he isn’t that bad a leader to understand when he’s jeopardising the mission.
It really soured the show for me, because it set Bumblebee up to be some sort of Mary Sue who eventually rises against his bully (Optimus Prime). We didn’t need to see Optimus Prime being reduced to some doddering old fogey just so that Bumblebee could be awesome. Why not just write Optimus Prime out of the show if they didn’t want him around?
Retreads Sideswipe and Drift’s relationship arc
If Sideswipe and Drift’s arguments sound familiar, that’s because we heard them before. In Season 1. They had the same issues, same fights, and same resolution. It feels stale because it is a rehash of what has happened before. Did their memory banks get wiped or something?
Bumblebee and Optimus Prime’s conflict
The problem with their conflict is that it’s unjustified. Bumblebee is constantly pining for Optimus Prime to lead in Season 1, but when it actually happens, he’s pissed off in Season 2. It’s inconsistent with what we know of Bumblebee idolising Optimus Prime. Then we have Optimus Prime, who seems like he’s been gone for a millennia and no longer knows how his body works. He’s always been appreciative and caring towards Bumblebee, especially in “Transformers: Prime”, so why is he acting so pushy and, dare I say it again, useless?
They’re both amiable, friendly characters to boot. In fact, besides for Drift, all of the Autobots are pretty easy to get along with. That just makes it even worse when you see them bickering like a pair of old men. What gives?
“Transformers: Robots in Disguise” Season 2 really drops the ball with Optimus Prime.
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