By Ed Sum
The writing in Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters continues to be exemplary. Not only was the loss of Ultra Magnus’ hand in the previous episode, “Evolution,” a brilliant foreshadow of things to come, but also the revelation comes to a head when viewers are playing along, wondering who is going to be “lost” in the episode, “Minus One.” This week’s show moves with the pacing of a smart murder mystery. Viewers see the Autobots capture a Decepticon, but as for whether or not Soundwave will divulge any information, the wait is intoxicating. The only letdown is that his silent warrior’s voice does not live up to expectations.
As for who may fail in this episode, the money was perhaps on one of the new characters introduced this season — either Ultra Magnus, Shockwave or Predaking.
When examining this episode, the viewer must consider everything. The relationship between Starscream and Shockwave is troubled at best. Not only do they both vie for the power and authority to be Megatron’s First Lieutenant but also to rule if their master should ever be terminated. Also, from the battle with Soundwave to the fight in Antarctica and the squabble in the Autobot’s temporary base of operations, just who is going to be lost? Fans will not want any transformer gone; but just maybe the true character lost is not with how this episode delivers its cliffhanger.
The battle with Predaking is predestined. He is out for blood because his cloned squadron was demolished by Smokescreen. But just as soon as he mentions there are more of his kind laying in decayed ruins of Cybertron, this dragon warrior’s motives become just as grandiose as Megatron’s. Although he says he intends to lead his brethren against a common enemy, Megatron’s silent reaction suggests otherwise. But for the leader of the Decepticons, he allows the mighty ally to go after the Autobots in Antarctica.
The battle is quick and fierce. But the final shot from Predaking has Optimus Prime taking a nosedive straight towards the ice. This episode leaves the outcome ambiguous; so just who is lost?
The next sequence of events are back at headquarters. Laserbeak has found Soundwave and reunites with his master. He uploads a new mission to his master. The directions say capture Ratchet. He may hold the secret to making synthetic energy stable. Interestingly, ever since the episode “Project Predacon,” this medic has resumed his experiments. Some viewers may well wonder if the Decepticons knew this fact.
As the final few episodes deal with resurrecting Cybertron, just how that will happen will depend on a variety of factors. The explosion of Shockwave’s underground lab has resulted in a discovery. The Cyber Matter mixed with the synthetic Energon to create a new terraforming compound. According to Megatron, he may well be able to transform Earth to a new Cybertron after all. In this universe, the reasons why the planet Earth is so significant to the mythos is best summarized by Megatron and the consequences are dire. “It has taken me quite some time to fully comprehend that Earth and Cybertron have always been linked. Two halves of one whole; Primus and Unicron. And that to rule only one, would be to never truly rule either.”
And the key is to repair the Omega Lock back on Cybertron. Opening this portal up will allow whomever to access Primus’ power, potentially restoring this world. The writing team of Transformers: Prime knew how many episodes they had to work with, so it’s going to be interesting to see how well they can wrap this series up.