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A what-could-have-been for Transformers Animated season 4

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A what-could-have-been for Transformers Animated season 4

Postby Sabrblade » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:30 pm

On August 17, 2019, UK fan convention TFNation played host to a most momentous occasion in which Transformers Animated story editor Marty Isenberg presented a scripted performance of the original story treatment outline for what would have been the three-part season 4 premiere of Transformers Animated had it been greenlit for a fourth season.

Titled "Trial of Megatron" (as opposed to The AllSpark Almanac II, The Complete AllSpark Almanac, and Issue #71 of the TCC Magazine titling it "The Trial of Megatron"), the outline for this three-parter was presented not as a live script reading done in the style of those performed at BotCons of years past, but was instead presented with pre-recorded dialogue acted by almost the entire Animated voice cast (only Tara Strong and Judd Nelson were absent, with their respective roles of Sari Sumdac and Rodimus Prime performed by other people) and set to all new original artwork created for the story by fan artists.

Allspark.com and TFWiki.net users Jalaguy and The Wadapan were present for the event, took diligently thorough notes on the story, and have together created a detailed summary and full TFWiki articles of the three-part story for all to see. Below is their summary, originally written for Allspark.com:
Image

“Trial of Megatron, Part 1”

Act I

On a newsreel, Optimus Prime leads Megatron, Shockwave, and Lugnut through the streets. The newsbot Uplink presents several soundbite interviews with Optimus Prime and his Autobots. Optimus has the Magnus Hammer but plans to return it to Ultra Magnus as soon as he gets the chance. Bumblebee is characteristically excited, Ratchet is characteristically cranky. Jazz plays it cool as always. Arcee, while glad to be back, is disoriented by everything that’s happened in all the stellar cycles she’s missed. Bulkhead, meanwhile, is overwhelmed by all the attention – they’re celebrities, just like they were upon their arrival on Earth.

The protoforms which were stolen by the Decepticons have all been recovered, along with the AllSpark, and entrusted to the Cyber-Ninja Corps led by Dai Atlas.

Not all of the Autobots are so warmly welcomed. Omega Supreme- a living reminder of the Great War – is shunned by Cybertron’s populace. Many of them are terrified outright by Sari Sumdac, having never seen an organic being before.

Optimus is hailed as being responsible for the victory, and the public wants him to be the next Magnus. When Uplink points this out, Sentinel Prime is quick to downplay his rival’s achievements.

The feed cuts to Blitzwing, Sunstorm and Ramjet, being held in the new Trypticon Prison in Kaon. Their mouths are clamped shut and they wear stasis cuffs. Mini-Cons attend to them. Uplink asks why the Decepticons are being held in their own ex-capital-city. Sentinel states that it breaks their spirits. When Uplink suggests that the starving Decepticons have nothing to lose, all he has to say is “bring it on”.


A memorial for Prowl is held at the Cyber-Ninja Dojo, presided by Jazz. “His spark still grooves with us,” Jazz eulogises. Arcee stares at the protoforms. She no longer has any students of her own – but she might do soon. Seeing this, Sari offers to be Arcee’s student, hoping to find out more about her own Cybertronian origins and the world she finds herself in. Prowl’s body is lowered into a forge, where it is turned into a brand new protoform just like the others.

Sentinel arrives, having missed the funeral entirely. He declares that he’s too busy as Magnus and begins to speak insensitively about “Pow-Wow” – but is caught on camera by Uplink. He changes tone mid-sentence, praising Prowl. Disgusted, Jazz rips off his Elite Guard stripes. “I’m splitsville on the Elite Guard,” he says. “From now on, I’m swinging a full-time Cyber-Ninja gig.”

Sentinel turns to Optimus and demands the Magnus Hammer. Optimus agrees that it’s time the hammer was returned to its rightful owner – Ultra Magnus, that is – and leaves.

When Optimus finally gives the hammer back to Ultra Magnus, it temporarily revives the comatose leader. Ultra Magnus declares that he was wrong about Optimus Prime’s programming – the younger Autobot did have the makings of a hero all along – and hands the hammer back. Optimus Prime doesn’t know what to say; so far as he’s concerned, he was just doing his job. “Humility… something that would be refreshing to see in a Magnus,” says Ultra Magnus. The light fades from his eyes, and his body turns grey.

Alpha Trion is not so easily moved, and declares that the council will make the final decision as to who will succeed Ultra Magnus. “Not if I have anything to do about it,” says an overhearing Sentinel.

Act II

Ratchet prepares for the reopening of Maccadam’s Old Oil House. Arcee doesn’t want to go, and neither does Omega Supreme; he doesn’t fit in – literally. Sari, meanwhile, is much too small for the bot-sized furniture. Omega Supreme flies off as the Autobots shriek at Sari.

The rest of Optimus Prime’s crew are also at Maccadam’s. Sentinel is too – he stands at the back with Jetstorm, Jetfire, and some Autotroopers. Bumblebee teases his old classmate Ironhide, despite Bulkhead’s best efforts to stop him. Sari, meanwhile, resorts to using her jetpack to remain at eye level with the larger bots. She can’t drink oil – she has enough energon to last her a lifetime.

Rattletrap begins to spread rumours that Optimus Prime is to become the next Magnus, and snaps a photo with the Autobot. Sentinel’s Autotroopers try to shut him down, but it’s no use – Bumblebee toasts Optimus Magnus. Furious, Sentinel sics the Autotroopers on Bumblebee – but the rest of the Autobots come to his defense, and things quickly escalate into a full-blown bar brawl. All of this is recorded by Uplink – including, embarrassingly, one moment where Optimus comes to Sentinel’s rescue.


The next day, Sentinel sees the broadcast, and smashes the screen in anger.

Arcee is preparing material for Sari’s lessons when Ratchet arrives with a gift – a pair of laser swords. He admits that he was actually trying to make laser pointers, but got a little carried away. He says that things at Maccadam’s didn’t go the way he’d hoped, and asks Arcee on a second date. She agrees, but just as Ratchet suggests that they do something that night, Ironhide arrives, summoning Ratchet to the Project Omega lab.

Wheeljack, Perceptor and Red Alert are already at the lab. Sentinel tasks them and Ratchet to build him a suit of flying armour, dubbing the assignment “Project Powermaster”. He expects results within the decacycle.

Out in deep space, a bored Beachcomber pilots an energon transport ship and bemoans his job – at least he’s not on space bridge repair duty. Suddenly, the lights go off. Blackout punches his way into the ship from the outside and grabs Beachcomber. “Dude, that is so not cool,” says Beachcomber. Blackout starts to drain the life from the Autobot. “Seriously, dude, what do you get by taking meee offffliiiiiine…”

“A message,” states Blackout as he discards Beachcomber’s body. He heads back outside, shifting to vehicle mode, and begins to tow the ship away.

Image
c. Ed Pirrie

Act III

In her classroom, Arcee lectures Sari about the life cycle of Cybertronians: after a protoform is molded, it is given life by the AllSpark. Under her breath, Sari remarks that she actually misses Tutor Bot – when Arcee tells her to share that remark with the rest of the class, Sari snaps back that she is the rest of the class. At that moment, Bumblebee and Bulkhead arrive with Burger Bot hamburgers brought from Earth via space bridge. Thanks to a “subspace tachyon transmitter” installed in Sumdac Tower by Bulkhead, Sari is able to talk to her father.

All around Detroit, strange crystalline growths are forming – raw energon. Sari impresses Arcee by linking this phenomenon to the AllSpark. When Sumdac sees the protoforms, he doesn’t recognise them – apparently, Sari’s was much smaller. Bumblebee promises that they’ll find answers, and they go to the Cyber-Ninja Dojo, where Jazz – at Optimus Prime’s word – lets them in. Sari doesn’t know what to ask the AllSpark.

Ultimately, she doesn’t have to ask anything – the ghost of Prowl appears, having become one with the AllSpark. “Once you carried the key… now you are the key… to the future of Cybertron… and Earth.”

They question Prowl about the AllSpark’s motivations: “So what is its will? What does it want?” asks Bumblebee.

“What it wants, has always wanted… life.” The AllSpark grants visions to those present: Sari sees a spark merging with a DNA double-helix; Optimus Prime sees a larger version of himself fighting Megatron; Bumblebee sees himself wearing Elite Guard stripes.

Sentinel Prime meets Cliffjumper outside of the Metroplex, and asks the commander of Cybertron Intelligence to help make him look good. Cliffjumper is sceptical of this request, noting that it falls outside his job description, but Sentinel persists – asking not just as a leader, but as a friend. Cliffjumper bluntly remarks that he’s neither.

Rattletrap arrives, and says that he has a photo of Optimus Prime being friendly with Megatron. It turns out to be the photo of Optimus Prime and Rattletrap at Maccadam’s, with Megatron’s head crudely edited in place of Rattletrap’s. Sentinel sends Rattletrap off, but the photo’s given him an idea of his own.

Bulkhead returns to the energon farms on the moon. The Cybertronian energon is withering – Earth energon is ten times more potent, but because of its organic component it cannot be grown on Cybertron. Another Autobot, Trac-Tor, tends to the crops. The harvest gets worse every year – whoever controls the energon controls the planet.

Back on Cybertron, Sentinel, Jetstorm and Jetfire meet with Bumblebee. Sentinel invites Bumblebee to join the Elite Guard – leading the Autobot to remember his vision – on the condition that he endorses Sentinel as Magnus. Bumblebee is conflicted, and requests time to think on the matter – Sentinel gives him one solar cycle to make up his mind.

Once Bumblebee is gone, the twins ask Sentinel why he’s stooped to bribery. “It’s war,” says Sentinel. Ironhide arrives with an urgent message, but Sentinel doesn’t notice – he’s too busy cooking up another plan, one which requires an unremarkable Autobot which he can plant as Optimus Prime’s bodyguard to get dirt on his rival. Eventually, the twins point out Ironhide, and Sentinel realises Ironhide will be perfect for the job.

Bulkhead is enjoying the relative quiet of the energon farm… but not for long. Suddenly, General Obsidian and a strike force of Decepticons attack!

“Trial of Megatron, Part 2”

Act I

Upon learning of General Obsidian’s attack on the energon farm, Sentinel Prime diverts all power to Project Powermaster. Unfortunately, at the farm itself, this causes the planetary shields to deactivate. To combat the Decepticons now freely attacking the farm, the workers start using the energon crystals as makeshift grenades. “How’d they get past the planetary shields?” yells Bulkhead. He manages to save Trac-Tor from Obsidian, but is injured himself in the process. The Decepticons fly away with a silo of energon.

Later, Ratchet – having checked over Bulkhead – declares that the Autobot will recover. At that moment, the team sees Bumblebee’s endorsement of Sentinel Prime on the news, and turn on him. Defensively, Bumblebee states that it’s what the AllSpark wanted. “How could you?” says Bulkhead.

“He’s a big bot now, he makes his own choices,” says Sentinel Prime, entering the room.

Ratchet sees what he’s carrying “You sold out Prime for some Elite Guard stripes?!”

Afterwards, Sentinel returns to Trypticon Prison, looking to prise the location of the Decepticon base from Megatron. He gets a Mini-Con to remove the captive leader’s mouthplate, allowing him to speak, and threatens to use the Mini-Con to rip the location from Megatron’s memories if he doesn’t disclose it freely. The Mini-Con extends a nasty-looking spike. Megatron is willing to offer some information, but wants to be given the opportunity to stretch his legs in return. Sentinel gets the Mini-Con to remove the Decepticon’s stasis cuffs. Megatron reveals that the base is located on the fifth moon of Chaar – but all the while, he’s downloading information from the Mini-Con.

Sentinel immediately goes to the Project Omega lab and demands the Powermaster armour from Ratchet, ignoring the medic’s warnings that it’s not yet finished. At Fortress Maximus, the Autobots board their flagship and prepare to level the Decepticon base. Optimus Prime is convinced it’s a trap, but Sentinel is having none of it: “Bring it on,” he says. Omega Supreme joins the armada, reluctant as ever. Sentinel sees an opportunity in Optimus Prime’s doubts – “If you’re worried about your own shell, don’t think about it – I got you a bodyguard.” He presents Optimus with Ironhide, and says that his crew is to defend the energon farms. Hopefully, Sentinel thinks, they won’t see any action.

The armada travels to the fifth moon of Chaar and bombs the Decepticon base. A recalcitrant Omega Supreme transforms and unleashes his full arsenal. Elite Guard troops storm the base – with Sentinel in the Powermaster armour – only to find that it is deserted. In frustration, Sentinel pounds the rubble with his power lance – but his armour overloads, and he’s sent into an uncontrollable strafing run at his own soldiers. At the last second, Bumblebee speeds up a ramp and uses his stingers to sever Sentinel’s connection to the armour.

At the energon farm, Optimus, Ironhide and Ratchet see footage from the moon and realise that it wasn’t a trap – but rather, a diversion. A Decepticon warship bears down on them…

Act II

“We’re the only bots standing between Cybertron’s energon supply and a Decepticon invasion,” realises Ratchet.

“Not the only bots!” Arcee and Sari Sumdac warp in and join the fight, as General Strika, Cyclonus, Spittor and Oil Slick descend on the farm. Having never seen a flying Autobot before, Cyclonus is impressed by Optimus Prime’s jetpack. Sari is eaten by Spittor, but she manages to blast her way out from the inside. Blackout arrives, disabling everyone’s weapons – and Optimus Prime’s jetpack – and Oil Slick prepares to douse the Autobots in Cosmic Rust.

Suddenly, Jazz, Dai Atlas and the rest of the Cyber-Ninja Corps arrive and kick the canister away. Optimus ignites the canister, causing a chain reaction with the energon which kills all the Decepticons in the refinery.

Later, the Autobot High Council commends Optimus Prime. Bumblebee is chagrined. Optimus is granted the “Eternal Flame”, an honour which comes with a fiery new paint job.

Image
Season 4 Autobot line-up (Hasbro concept illustration from The AllSpark Almanac II)

Sentinel is absent for this – he’s too busy yelling at Megatron. “Your datatrax won’t lie when the Mini-Cons rip them one by one from your processor!”

Mini-Cons swarm over the Decepticon leader. “Not the Mini-Cons… anything but the Mini-Cons… just take me offline. Do not prolong this humiliation one more nanoklik.” As he feigns fear, Megatron downloads data into the Mini-Cons.

“Much as I’d love to do just that, I can’t without first putting you on trial,” says Sentinel.

“You mean a public airing of all my crimes against the Autobots – with you standing above me like some grand authority, pointing your accusing finger, calling for my head, basking in the glory as I am taken away to meet my final doom?” Megatron lays it on thick, and Sentinel eats it up. “I’d rather take my chances with the Mini-Cons…”

Uplink broadcasts events as they unfold. Rattletrap is to be Megatron’s lawyer. “That’s right!” crows the Autobot. “I’m a bot of all trades and I can prove I didn’t do it – I mean, that my client didn’t do it.” Megatron is rolled into the court. Bumblebee is shunned by his friends. Optimus Prime thinks his new flames look stupid.


Alpha Trion brings the trial to order. Sentinel serves as prosecutor, and attempts to begin his opening statement with a list of Megatron’s war crimes – but Rattletrap cuts him off, reminding the court that, at the end of the Great War, the Decepticons were granted amnesty for their crimes in return for accepting exile. This makes the list of offenses Sentinel is about to read inadmissible. Sentinel is furious at this, and loudly declares that he thinks it was stupid to grant the Decepticons amnesty in the first place. Alpha Trion admits that he was the one to make the decision at the time. “Only testimony related to after the Great War will be admitted.”

Now only able to use evidence from after the Great War, Sentinel turns to Optimus Prime’s crew. “You and your losers – I mean, team – are all I’ve got right now.”

“Spark yeah!” enthuses Bumblebee at the prospect of defending Optimus Prime, but Bulkhead, Ratchet and Sari aren’t impressed. Sentinel asks Bumblebee to imply that Optimus could’ve stopped Megatron for good, and failed – offering to make him “Bumble Prime” in return.

Sentinel Prime addresses the court. “No further questions.”

“If it pleases the court, I’d like to save all my cross-examinations ‘til the end,” adds Rattletrap.

Act III

Optimus Prime recounts his crew’s first encounter with Megatron. Meanwhile, inside Trypticon prison, the Mini-Cons’ eyes turn red. As Sari explains how Megatron rebuilt his body, they swarm the guards. Bulkhead relates how he was kidnapped by Megatron as the Mini-Cons descend via a secret elevator to an operations centre with location schematics. Ratchet describes the hijacking of Omega Supreme. Meanwhile, the Mini-Cons gather and repair the Decepticons’ weapons. Above, the cell doors open and Shockwave, Lugnut and Blitzwing’s cuffs all fall off. They look around confusedly.

Back at the trial, it’s Bumblebee’s turn to take the stand. As he gives his account of Optimus Prime’s final battle against Megatron, it initially seems as though he’s going to do as Sentinel asked – but as he reaches the climax of the tale, his tone shifts and he emphasises the heroism of Optimus Prime’s choice to spare the Decepticon leader. “I’m with Optimus Prime all the way – even if he and my other friends never speak to me again.”

There are no further witnesses. Alpha Trion asks if Rattletrap wishes to cross-examine the testimony. “You bet your axle-grease I would,” says Rattletrap as he takes the stand once more. His point of objection centres on a certain… “Oith.”

“Did you say… ‘Oith’?” asks Alpha Trion. The court reacts.

“Proceeding,” says Rattletrap at Trion’s word. He turns to Bumblebee. “Could youse point out said planet on dis here official-like Cybertronian Galactic Star Chart?”

Bumblebee looks. “It’s not on the chart,” he says.

Rattletrap feigns shock. “But how can that be? The Galactic Star Chart lists every planet in Cybertronian space!”

“Then it must be outside of Cybertronian space,” says an uncertain Bumblebee.

“Ah-ha!” Rattletrap triumphantly proclaims that, since the planet lies outside Cybertronian space, it is outside of Cybertronian jurisdiction, and Megatron cannot be tried for crimes committed there. Again, the law-bound Alpha Trion is forced to agree, and rules in Megatron’s favour – threatening to throw out the case entirely when Sentinel reacts in anger.

“Assault on a space bridge repair ship, that’s all we have on him!” grouses an incredulous Sentinel as Megatron is wheeled back to his cell. “Assault on a space bridge repair ship! That’s like a parking ticket!”

The cellblock goes dark. Sentinel tries to order the Mini-Cons, but they’re not responding. “Oh, they won’t be much help,” gloats Megatron as the Mini-Cons free him. They scurry like obedient puppies around his feet, and affix his weapons. The other Decepticons arrive.

“Oh, slag,” says Sentinel.

“Trial of Megatron, Part 3”

Act I

Inside Trypticon Prison, Sentinel Prime is surrounded. “You wanted me to put you on trial! It was just another distraction!”

Megatron smiles. “How could I have been so… deceptive?”

“All hail Megatron!” bursts Lugnut, falling to his knees.

Shockwave joins him. “On your knees, infidel,” he says to Blitzwing. A scuffle breaks out amongst the Decepticon troops.

Megatron smacks them back into order. “I must admit my time in prison has severely eroded my patience.” He turns back to Sentinel. “I speak Mini-Con now. I find them much more efficient than my usual unreliable help.” Not wanting to let Megatron escape, Sentinel locks down Kaon with a shield, but the Decepticon leader doesn’t seem moved by this. “But I have no intention of leaving,” he says. “Kaon is the Decepticon Capital – my home town, if you will.” Sentinel swears that the Decepticons will never control Cybertron. “Sadly, seeing what your leadership has done to this planet, it is no longer worthy of the Decepticons.”

“If that’s your attitude, why don’t you just leave?” asks Sentinel.

“My sentiments exactly…” The planet begins to rumble as massive boosters emerge from Trypticon Prison. Kaon tears itself free from the surface and rockets into space, leaving behind a volcanic pit and trapping many Autobots in rubble. The Sonic Canyons are destabilised – if nothing is done, they pose a threat to the entire planet.

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Kaon (concept illustration from The AllSpark Almanac II)

Fortress Maximus is in chaos. The Autobot High Council meet with Optimus Prime. He instructs them to bring the AllSpark to the crater and make a shield, to allow Perceptor and his team to stabilise the Sonic Canyons. “What about Trypticon Prison?” asks Alpha Trion. “Sentinel Prime is still inside, and we don’t know the status of the prisoners.” At this, Optimus advises mobilising the Elite Guard in pursuit of Kaon. Optimus Prime says the magic words: “Autobots, transform and roll out!”

Optimus Prime’s crew is to lead the rescue team into the crater, while Rodimus Prime leads the Elite Guard. “Ready to save some lives?” Ratchet asks Omega Supreme, who will join the former group.

“Saving lives, not destroying them… that is how I want to fit in,” states the colossal Autobot.

Bumblebee is forced to make a choice between boarding Omega Supreme or the Elite Guard’s ships – finally, he tears off his stripes and joins Optimus Prime, who in turn removes his Eternal Flames.

Rodimus makes contact with Megatron and demands that Sentinel be released. When Megatron refuses, the fleet fires on Kaon. The Decepticons start to lose power. “Lugnut, my loyal servant, is there anything you would not do for me?” asks Megatron.

“Nothing, my liege.”

“Because I really need a hand right now.” He uses his sword to cut off Lugnut’s Punch of Kill Everything, and asks an oblivious Rodimus for his word that they won’t be harmed if he agrees. Rodimus deactivates the fleet’s weapons – “I made good on my word, now it’s time to make good on yours.” Megatron returns Sentinel – using a cannon, with the POKE strapped to his head.

Act II

Sentinel impacts the ship, and the resulting explosion causes some serious damage. Megatron approaches Kaon’s fusion reactor. “Now let’s see just how powerful this techno-organic energon is…”

He throws in the energon, giving Kaon the boost it needs to escape. Bulkhead identifies its destination: “Earth!”

Rodimus requests Earth’s coordinates from Optimus. Optimus refuses. “Negative, it’s too far away. Fortunately, I happen to know a shortcut…” His crew boards Omega Supreme. Arcee is remaining behind on Cybertron, and Ratchet is forced to say goodbye to her again. Jazz is coming too.

“Let’s go big guy!” says Bumblebee to Bulkhead, but the bigger bot shakes his head.

“Sorry, little buddy. Not this time. There’s too much work to be done here. They need me back on the energon farm.”

“I hate long goodbyes,” says a dejected Bumblebee. They part ways. Ironhide joins, still playing his part as Optimus Prime’s bodyguard, and Omega Supreme takes off and transwarps.

Kaon completes its hyperspace jump, arriving in Earth’s vicinity, but is closely followed by Omega Supreme. “I still prefer saving lives,” complains Omega Supreme as he transforms and opens fire.

“There’s about seven billion of them down on that planet that you’re saving right now,” says Ratchet.

Trypticon brings more cannons to bear and fires back. Optimus Prime notes that this altercation is another distraction. Ratchet gives him the Powermaster armour – “Oh, and we added a few new features…” – and he uses it to fly out into space. His wings clip the doorframe as he goes.

“Let’s roll – er, fly,” says Optimus. Then, seeing the damage he’s done, he adds “Oh yeah, and you might want to fix the door.”

The other Autobots follow him out under the cover of Omega Supreme’s fire and touch down on Kaon. “Okay city – talk to me,” says Sari as she uses her technopathy to commune with Kaon. She finds a weakness – by sabotaging the ship’s surge regulators, they’ll be able to make it lose power. “Calibrate your internal scanners to this sub-level frequency,” she instructs the Autobots. The team splits into two to carry out the plan: Optimus Prime and Bumblebee on one team and Sari, Jazz and Ironhide on the other.

Megatron orders the Mini-Cons to concentrate fire on Omega Supreme’s head. In response, Ratchet is forced to shut down Omega Supreme’s higher functions and take manual control, converting him back to ship mode.

Aboard Kaon, the Autobots succeed in their plan, and with its surge regulators taken out Kaon suddenly burns through all its fuel. Unfortunately, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee stumble into the cell block, where they are immediately surrounded by several Decepticons.

Act III

Desperately seeking to keep Kaon online, Megatron throws Sunstorm into the fusion reactor – Starscream’s sycophantic clone is sure to compliment him on this course of action as he goes. Ramjet claims not to have a fragment of the AllSpark in his spark chamber, but Megatron pays him no heed, and tosses the lying clone in too. With the power temporarily restored, Megatron directs the ship to the location on Earth with the highest energon concentration: the greater Detroit area.


Optimus Prime and Bumblebee are overpowered by the Decepticons and tossed into the cells – alongside Rattletrap. Megatron recalls the Decepticons and throws them into the reactor. Lugnut jumps in willingly – “For the glory of Megatron!” It’s no use; Kaon’s still losing power. Megatron goes to get Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, but Ironhide – armour active – blocks the Decepticon’s attack. Jazz makes an attack of his own. Meanwhile, Rattletrap has vanished.

In his Powermaster armour, Optimus Prime stands eye-to-eye with Megatron for the first time. Megatron’s swords can’t penetrate the armour – he tosses aside his fusion cannon, and Optimus does the same with the Magnus Hammer. They fight hand-to-hand as Kaon descends on Dinobot Island. Watching the vessel bear down on him, Scrapper says, “Oh no, not again.” Right before it crashes, Optimus Prime manages to fly the Autobots out.


Later, Sari reports that Kaon is sealed shut. Optimus Prime decides that they should remain on Earth to monitor the situation. Ironhide hasn’t been to Earth before – Jazz tells him he’ll dig it. “Sir, yes, sir!” agrees Ironhide.

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Kaon in Lake Erie (concept illustration from The AllSpark Almanac II)

Unseen by all, a hatch on the exterior of Trypticon Prison opens, and a Mini-Con peers out.

To be continued?


Additionally, here are the Development and Notes sections from the three TFWiki articles for each part:

Development
Before each season of Transformers Animated was greenlit, the production staff would come up with story ideas and a wishlist of things they wanted to include. Prior to the fourth season, because of restrictions put in place by Cartoon Network, Hasbro had story editor Marty Isenberg create a full set of outlines for its three-part-opener. For a variety of reasons, the fourth season was never greenlit, and those outlines languished in Isenberg's drawer for a decade. Things changed when the organisers of TFNation 2019 invited Isenberg to the UK-based Transformers convention, and he offered to bring the outline with him to read - on the express condition that nobody be allowed to record it.

The convention organisers expected Isenberg to read the draft himself - what they didn't expect was for him to get in touch with the entirety of the show's original cast, asking them to record narration and dialogue, and for the entire cast (well, bar two) to agree to reprise their original roles in that fashion. Eric Siebenaler even created brand new designs for Uplink, Trac-Tor and an Animated version of Obsidian - the three new characters introduced in the three-part opener - which were used by the convention organisers to create artwork to accompany the reading.

Although recording was strictly prohibited at the event, a couple of people took extensive notes throughout the reading, which were adapted into a full summary for The Allspark fansite.

It's important to note that the content of the outline is only that: an outline, which like any other episode of the series, would have been subject to review and alteration during the production. Isenberg threw everything he could in, fully expecting not all of it to make its way into the finished product. Thus, it does not necessarily represent precisely what would have been seen on-screen had the episode actually been made.

Notes
  • When Marty Isenberg was writing these episodes, he asked Derrick J. Wyatt if he knew of any Transformer journalists. None sprang to Wyatt's mind, and thus Uplink was born. When the outline was read at TFNation 2019, Uplink served as the story's narrator; his part was played by fan (and professional voice actor) Chris Finney.
  • Trac-Tor was an in-joke amongst the Animated production team. Isenberg didn't know if Hasbro would be onboard with the character or not, but threw him in the outline anyway. He was voiced by TFNation guest Peter Spellos.
  • Obsidian makes his Animated debut in this episode, though he receives no dialogue in the outline. He and Strika have their origins in Beast Machines, for which Isenberg was a story editor. In his panel at TFNation 2019, however, Isenberg admitted that Obsidian's inclusion in the outline might've been a simple slip-up on his part, one which would've been corrected to General Strika in the final cut of the three-parter.
  • Though Bumper Robinson returned to voice Bumblebee, he did not reprise his role as Blackout, whose voice was instead provided by TFNation staff member David Wallace.
  • Tara Strong did not return to reprise her role as Sari, whose voice was instead provided by fan Aimee "Ladywreck" Morgan.
  • Beachcomber had originally been slated to show up in "TransWarped," in which he would have died at the hands of Shockwave. At the time, Isenberg asked Wyatt for an established character he'd be able to kill without anyone getting mad, and Wyatt - apparently without hesitation - put forward Beachcomber. As originally planned, Beachcomber would have seen Shockwave converting from his Longarm disguise, and would've said "Dude, not cool." Shockwave, raising his weapon, would've said "I have a very simple explanation," to which Beachcomber would've responded "I don't get it..." before being blown to bits. The scene was cut for time, leading Isenberg to make another attempt on Beachcomber's life in this story.
  • Although the Mini-Cons are not named individually in the outline, designs for five of them appeared in The AllSpark Almanac Addendum. Grindor, Sureshock, and High Wire were based on their Street Action Mini-Con Team namesakes, but the other two seem to have been designed with their role as Megatron's helpers in mind: Leader-1 (Animated) is based on Armada Megatron's Powerlinx partner, while DUCK-E might have been inspired by Beast Wars Megatron's famous Rubber Ducky.
  • The beat in which Isaac Sumdac notes that Sari's protoform was much smaller than the protoforms seen in this episode is another piece of the puzzle that is her origin. Though this mystery would've been explored over the course of the season, Isenberg has actually stated that they never really worked it out! However, with the fourth season of the show having originally been pitched as having a strong emphasis on Maximals and Predacons, which historically have had much smaller protoforms than Autobots and Decepticons...
    • While this is pure speculation, it'd be remiss of us not to highlight Prowl's dialogue: "You are the key... to the future of Cybertron... and Earth." Perhaps Sari's protoform would've literally have turned out to have come from the future?
  • In The AllSpark Almanac II, the title for the three-part opener to the fourth season was given as "The Trial of Megatron" - however, TFNation consistently referred to it simply as "Trial of Megatron", and this was reflected in the reading itself. We've gone with the latter.


Notes
  • While many plot details from the planned fourth season made their way out into The AllSpark Almanac II, Marty Isenberg specifically requested that a few be kept back in case the story was ever produced in some capacity. Notably, Jim Sorenson knew that Rattletrap was to be Megatron's lawyer - a fact which he used while working on the unofficial Transformers Animated: Trial and Error graphic novel, wherein he deliberately hung a lampshade on Optimus Prime taking Rattletrap's place.
  • The "Eternal Flame" granted to Optimus Prime was based on artwork provided to the Animated production team by Hasbro. The artwork drew inspiration predominantly from the live-action film series, as Hasbro wanted to bring Animated more in line with what audiences were familiar with from the big screens - but according to Isenberg, the Animated team hated the idea of their Optimus Prime having flames. The crack in this episode about the flames being "stupid" is a good example of something included at the outline stage of production that Hasbro would likely have ordered removed from the finished episode.
  • The weapons repaired by the Mini-Cons include Shockwave's pulse cannon, Lugnut's explosive fist, Blitzwing's shoulder cannons, Megatron's swords, Starscream's clones' laser cannons, and Megatron's fusion cannon.
  • A guard at Trypticon prison (described as sharing a design with the Autotroopers) has a single line of dialogue. For the TFNation reading of the outline, the guard's voice was provided by convention staff member Leanne Gilks.


Notes
  • The appearance of the pit left behind by Kaon was - apparently - to be inspired by the firepits of the planet Apokolips from Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" comics. Two concept pieces for Kaon itself - one depicting it blasting off from Cybertron, and another of it after crash-landing in Lake Erie - are included in The AllSpark Almanac II.
  • Judd Nelson did not return to reprise his role of Rodimus Prime, whose voice was instead provided for the TFNation reading by Chris Finney.
  • Prime dons the Powermaster armour in this episode. Apparently, Hasbro had pushed for "Powermaster Prime" (and the "Marauder" form Megatron would have obtained later in the series), hoping to get a couple of new Animated toys out at higher price-points - so Isenberg worked the armour into his pitch.
  • At a first glance, this episode seems to rack up an unusually high body-count...
    • It's not exactly clear purely from the outline whether or not the Decepticons who are hurled into the reactor in this episode are actually destroyed; in the case of the Starscream clones, at least, Megatron had previously been able to power Omega Supreme using the AllSpark fragment in Starscream's head back in "TransWarped" without killing Starscream, suggesting they might survive the process. Isenberg has stated that they did plan to bring some of the characters back over the course of the season; one could speculate that Lugnut would've been amongst them, as late in the Animated toyline his figure received an "Atomic" redeco which seems to gel with his fate in this episode.
    • Sentinel Prime is confirmed by the outline itself to have survived the POKE - though it takes him out of commission - and he appears in the "Allspark-alypse Now!" episode pitch revealed in The AllSpark Almanac II.
    • According to Marty Isenberg, starting with the show's third season, there'd been increasing pressure from the higher-ups to tell darker stories - Omega Supreme's origins being one product of this - to bring the show closer in line with Cartoon Network's other shows (such as Ben 10: Alien Force and Star Wars: The Clone Wars).


Plus, Marty Isenberg held an Animated Retrospective panel the following day, at which he revealed even more information related to both the above and more. TFW2005 member Sol Fury provided the following coverage of the panel:
  • Powermaster Prime was a Hasbro request to allow Hasbro to release a larger size / priced character. Marty worked it into the premiere.
  • Hasbro also requested flames on Optimus, movie-style. This would have been a repaint on the toy. It popped up in the outline as signifier of a high honour awarded to Optimus.
  • Focus would have been on Mini-Cons, but the other Decepticons would have eventually come back.
  • Megatron was completely losing it at this point in the story. Described as “not quite Beast Machines genocidal, but on the way there”
  • Marauder Megatron was a Hasbro request, they wanted a triple changer design. Intended to make Megatron a huge threat to the point he didn’t need minions.
  • Writers never figured out exactly where Sari was going. But her journey was the story of Transformers Animated – idea was the finale would have been the end of her journey.
  • Beachcomber was intended for Season 3. He was supposed to catch Longarm turning into Shockwave. His reaction? “Dude, not cool”. Then Shockwave kills him. This was cut for time.
  • Beachcomber was then intended for a scene in Season 4. Blackout would have killed him.
  • If the Beachcomber scene hadn’t happened in Season 4, he’d have died in Season 5. Marty didn’t like Beachcomber.
  • Unicron considered “too big for Animated”
  • No plans to have had Megatron become Galvatron in Animated.
  • Shattered Glass episode was intended for Season 3. It got bumped when the Season 3 opener was made into a three party.
  • Marty doesn’t remember who would have been on Slipstream’s own team of Decepticons.
  • Optimus as a young leader was Marty’s idea. He likes writing underdogs and characters with something to prove rather than big heroes.
  • Blitzwing as a character was born from Marty wanting to write a character who turns into anything. Because that didn’t work as a toy, Derrick Wyatt suggested using a triple changer. Marty then came up with three personalities. Derrick was then inspired by He-Man’s Man-E-Faces. In-show origin would have involved Blackarachnia and been told in Season 4.
  • There was a running joke about having a transforming character called “Tractor”. He’d have been an Energon farmer.
  • Blurr was not intended to come back – he was “gone and dead” as far as Marty was concerned. But, the Botcon story where Blurr is revived “is canon. Sure. Why not?”
  • Team Charr were not specifically planned to be used (no stories built around them) but Marty thinks they would have “inevitably” been used.
  • Ratchet probably ran off with Omega Supreme as the Ark, and nobody else knew rather than him being intentionally given to Optimus.
  • Characters like Red Alert and Rodimus would have been recurring characters.
  • Marty thinks Obsidian in the treatment may have been a slip on his part, and could have been Strika in the final cut.
  • No plans for more flying Autobots.
  • Human villains were phased out – “fell by the wayside” – as the series progressed. Not a Hasbro pushback.
  • The timeslot for the Unicron Trilogy and Animated was based on a deal. The first run was on a decent timeslot but if the ratings were not good, it’d be moved to an earlier timeslot.
  • Cartoon Network wanted Marty and the crew to “age up” the show for season 3, to reflect the network’s other shows at the time (specifically the new Ben 10 and Clone Wars)
  • Bulkhead was the first character Derrick Wyatt designed.
  • Lockdown was based on wanting a version of Death’s Head that Hasbro could own.
  • Chances of actually seeing a new season “slim to none”. Comic a smaller investment, but up to IDW to decide if they want to do it. Marty would be happy to write it.
  • Marty says if you want to know more, get the Allspark Almanacs
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: A what-could-have-been for Transformers Animated season

Postby Wing Saber » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:06 pm

Reading this got me really excited at the idea of a revival until I got to the "slim to none" bit at the end there. Animated was too good.
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