A Maximal science vessel and a fugitive Predacon starship crash land on a mysterious, primitive world.
In an unknown star system, a transwarp portal opens, releasing two combatants: a stolen Predacon starship and its pursuer, the Maximal science vessel Axalon. Already carrying the scars of battle, both ships immediately open fire upon each other. On the Axalon, a youthful crewmember reports on their damaged condition, in response to which another crew member bitterly complains about their non-combat exploration vessel not being cut out for this mission. Their commander, Optimus Primal, states that they were the only ship in range capable of intercepting the fugitives. On the Predacon starship, the first officer urges his leader, Megatron, to finish off the Maximals while their opponents' shields were down. Megatron arrogantly rebuffs this suggestion, preferring to toy with his opponents by luring them into the orbit of the nearby planet. As the Axalon passes the Predacon starship's starboard side, Megatron fires the side guns, hitting the Maximals with a broadside which cripples their engines and causes significant damage to their stasis hold. Optimus Primal orderes their cargo of stasis pods be released into safe orbit before firing the forward plasma cannons, strafing the Predacons' hull and taking them down with the Axalon. With no engines, both ships are caught in the planet's gravitational pull and plummet to it's surface.
After crashing on a cliff above a lake, Optimus Primal asks for a damage report, and the youngest crewmember replies that he didn't want to know. Meanwhile, the Predacon warship has landed smack in the middle of the ash-hardened opening of an active shield volcano, faring considerably worse. Megatron orders the navigation computer to tell him if this was the planet he had sought. The computer replies that it is unknown, as while the course settings were accurate, the readings were not consistent with what was to be expected of the location. Dismissing this for the time being, Megatron demands to know if the mysterious planet had energon, which the computer confirms to his elation. However, it warns that there is so much energon that prolonged exposure would permanently damage their robot modes. Declaring that they will take the forms of the most powerful creatures on the planet, Megatron orders his science officer to scan for local lifeforms which they could adapt as alternate modes to survive on this world. The Predacon ship launches a drone, scanning the fossils of a tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptor and pteranodon, as well as a living spider and wasp. Back at the cliff, the Maximals have the same idea, scanning a gorilla, rat, rhino and cheetah. The youngest crew member, adopting the form of the cheetah, declares himself to be Cheetor and was very pleased with himself. An older, cynical member of the crew, having taken the form of the rat, disses his young comrade for a supposed lack of taste and introduces himself as Rattrap. The oldest and strongest of the crew tells the pair to cut out their bickering and to call him Rhinox. Optimus Primal exited the CR Chamber and orders the crew to moderate their conflict circuits, reminding them that their new beast forms were to protect them from the long-term effects of the abundant energon fields: While they need energon for power, their robot modes will short out after a few minutes of exposure. Upon further comment from Optimus that this world was one unusual planet, wherever it is, Rhinox points out that the transwarp drive allows them to journey through space and time, so they could be in any place, any time. Optimus expresses concern about the stasis pods in orbit, as it meant the Maximals were outnumbered.
Back at the other crash site, the Predacons are testing out their new beast modes, bar one. First officer Dinobot, studying the Golden Disk he and his cohorts had stolen, is furious, declaring that it was "all wrong" and that this world was not Earth. He turns to Megatron and spits that the latter is a failure, not only in throwing away victory against the Maximals while it was in his grasp, but failing to guide them to the right planet. Dinobot throws the Golden Disk back into the ship in disgust, snarling that they had stolen it for nothing and that Megatron is an idiot. In control of his own anger, Megatron calmly challenges Dinobot to repeat his insult. His second-in-command belligerently replies that Megatron had heard well enough, adding that he is an incompetent leader, and challenges him for leadership of the Predacons. Megatron is merely amused when Dinobot transforms and brandishes his weapons, noting how impulsive, brave, but ultimately misguided his would-be usurper is. An incensed Dinobot asks if Megatron accepts his challenge, but the leader laughs off, musing that there was more to being a leader than mere courage—for instance, a leader needed to be clever and cunning too. The loyal Scorponok then appears, blasting the treacherous Dinobot with a missile and sending him flying off into the distance. After watching his former first officer fly away, Megatron informs the other Predacons that didn't matter which planet they were on, as they had come looking for energon to fuel their war with the Maximals, and this planet is rich with it. Only the Maximals could pose a threat now—assuming they'd survived their own crash—so Megatron dispatches his crew to seek out and destroy their enemies.
Meanwhile, the Maximals are surveying the land around them and cleaning up the wreckage on the Axalon. Rattrap complains about all the fuss over the Golden Disk, but Optimus Primal reminds him that the Disk is Cybertron's most closely guarded relic, a guide to a major source of energon, which is why Megatron stole it. Rattrap does't care, retorting they were supposed to be performing deep-space exploration and that it isn't his job to chase after criminals. He sarcastically speculates on Primal's readiness to handle a command position. Optimus further reminds him of the Great War, noting that if Predacons are able to secure a massive source of energon, they wouldn't hesitate to start a new one. On a lighter note, he tells Rattrap that since the smaller Maximal wanted exploration, here they are on an unknown planet, so he could hardly ask for more. Rattrap snaps that a working space ship would be nice, too, prompting Primal to remark that there is no pleasing some people. Cheetor detects two cheetahs running on the plains near the ship, and their speed prompts Primal's approval of the form Cheetor had chosen. Deciding to show off (and goof off) Cheetor gives chase to the animals. Optimus tries to call him back, but the energon radiation severely limits the range of their communications equipment. Rattrap vents more sarcasm, asking Primal if it is the untested Maximal commander's first day on the job. Primal simply snaps for him to shut up.
Some distance away, Cheetor catches up to the two cheetahs and attempts to engage them in conversation. Not surprisingly, this just scares them. Cheetor cannot understand why they are so frightened, then sees the two animals acting aggressively toward a rather large wasp. Realizing it was a Robot in Disguise, Cheetor transforms and fires upon the wasp unprovoked. The wasp, revealing itself to be the Predacon Waspinator, transforms and retaliates in self-defense. Back at the Axalon, the other Maximals move out to give Cheetor backup, with Rhinox ramming his way through a pile of boulders to speed their progress. Waspinator manages to get the better of Cheetor when the Maximal's rifle jams, but fortunately, the other Maximals have arrived by then. Unfortunately, Megatron and the Predacons have arrived as well.
Optimus Primal tries to convince Megatron to not engage in hostilities, as the Maximals and Predacons have been at peace for centuries. Megatron spits back that while the Maximals may have been at peace, the Predacons, like all enemies who appear "peaceful", were merely biding their time. The Predacons have never forgotten their goal of galactic conquest, but were merely waiting for the right time to strike. At this moment, Cheetor's gun unjams, and he fires point-blank into Megatron's face. Though greatly impressed by Cheetor's treacherous sneak attack, Megatron notes (rather over-dramatically) that now the "power gauntlet [had] been cast"...whatever that means. He orders the Predacons to Terrorize (transform) while the Maximals Maximized (ditto), and both sides open fire upon each other. As the Maximals seek cover, Cheetor is blasted by one of Scorponok's missiles and ends up with his leg trapped under a boulder. Optimus Primal orders Rattrap to assist Cheetor while he provides cover fire, but Rattrap flatly refuses to risk his life for anybody else, to Optimus' anger. The Maximal leader flies to Cheetor's position himself but is hit by Predacon fire, much to Rattrap's smug delight. Nonetheless, Optimus managed to free Cheetor while Rhinox "persuaded" Rattrap to help provide the pair with cover fire. With the Predacons now seeking cover of their own, the Maximals make their escape. Megatron orders pursuit, but he and his Predacons begin succumbing to the effects of the energon buildup and are forced to revert to beast mode.
On the way back to base, Optimus Primal informs Rattrap exactly who was in command of the crew and chews him out for disobeying a direct order. Rattrap sneers at how Primal would order him out into danger because Primal was afraid of doing it himself. Optimus angrily replies that he would never give an order that he wouldn't be willing to carry out himself, then wearily elaborates that he was able to give Rattrap better cover fire than the smaller Maximal could have given him. Rattrap sheepishly realizes Primal was right, but notes that at least they'd gotten out of the fight alive. Optimus counters that they'd sustained injuries that would require time to repair. Bringing up the rear, Cheetor voices belief that they had escaped the Predacons, but Primal cautions the young Maximal to keep his sensors on full, as the Golden Disk theft reports indicated there were six Predacons, but they had only encountered five in the previous battle. Rattrap theorizes that perhaps the sixth was destroyed in the crash, but Rhinox glumly notes that sort of luck hadn't been coming their way lately. As if to punctuate his point, Dinobot bars their way across a stone bridge to the Axalon. Dinobot demands their attention, stating who he is and that he had left the Predacons to join the Maximals—but as leader. He challenges Optimus Primal to a one-on-one battle, with the winner to lead the Maximals, the loser to be destroyed!
To be continued...
Original airdate: September 16, 1996
Written by: Bob Forward
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Dinobot: "No, no, no! It's all wrong! this cannot be Earth! Megatron - you failed! Not only did you fail to destroy the Maximals when you had the chance, you failed to bring us to the right planet! We stole the Golden Disk for nothing! You idiot!"
(Dinobot tosses aside the Golden Disk)
Megatron: "Heh, I beg your pardon? What did you call me?"
Dinobot: "You heard—you are an idiot and an incompetent leader, and I am taking over. Dinobot, terrorize!"
(Dinobot transforms into robot mode)
Dinobot: "I challenge you to battle, Megatron. The winner shall lead the Predacons, and the loser shall be destroyed!"
Megatron: "Ahh, you're so impulsive, Dinobot. Brave... but misguided."
Dinobot: "Do you accept my challenge?!?"
Megatron: "Hahaha... there's more to being a leader than simple courage. Well, there's cleverness and cunning as well. Isn't that right, Scorponok?"
(Scorponok fires a missile, blasting Dinobot away)
- —Megatron deals swiftly with Dinobot's belligerence
"Ahh, a treacherous, under-handed sneak attack. Oh-ho,ho, I like you, pussy cat, yesss."
- —Megatron's response to Cheetor's unprovoked attack
"This guy's got bearings of chrome steel."
- —Rhinox to Dinobot's announcement that he would join their group, but as their leader
- Before they gain their beast modes, the Maximals and Predacons are shown mostly in shadow. This is probably to save the animators the trouble of coming up with entirely different models for each character. However, if one pays close attention, there are some marked differences to the facial areas shown, and Rattraps' arms are slightly different.
- As this was the first episode, the transformation/catchphrase sequences are rather overbearing by comparison to later episodes of the series.
- The Japanese version of the episode, titled "Enter the Super Robot Lifeform Transformers", has a slightly alternate opening. The episode begins with scrolling letters across an outer space backdrop, "Star Wars"-style, which explain the basics of the Transformers history (Cybertron, factions, energy plundering, etc).
- An interesting thing to note is, if no one knew where they were or what time, or even the creatures that they had scanned, how was everyone able to think up such fitting new names?
Animation and/or technical glitches
- When Waspinator fights Cheetor, the stripes on his thighs are mapped in the wrong axis.
- As Optimus, Rhinox and Rattrap ride out to give Cheetor support, Rhinox breaks through a 'roadblock' of boulders. However, in the previous shot of this location, the boulders were not present.
- When Rhinox picks up Rattrap and swings him around to face the Predacons, Rattrap's gun clips right through the boulder in front of them.
- The Predacon ship isn't shown scanning a scorpion for Scorponok's beast mode... for some reason.
- Cheetor spends the longest time in the open while in robot mode, but does not suffer the effects of energon overload that the Predacons do.
- Optimus Primal mentions the Great War, which is was what the Transformers of the Beast era called the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons.
- Throughout this episode and "Beast Wars (Part 2)", Scorponok's missiles have a Maximal insignia on them, meant to indicate Maximal kills. This confused viewers into thinking that they were mistakenly "Maximal missiles" and the symbols changed.
- Cheetor has the dual-honour of being the first character to appear in Beast Wars, as well as the first character to fire a shot (unprovoked) at the enemy. Cheetor also had the honour of speaking the final words of the Beast Era in the final episode of Beast Wars' sequel Beast Machines.
- During the scene where the Maximals reveal their new beast modes, it is not clear why they (bar Optimus Primal) had to rename themselves.
- Dinobot has the distinction of the first Beast Wars character to transform into robot mode.
- Waspinator fires pink eye lasers (similar to Dinobot's) during his battle with Cheetor.
- Rattrap is a serious asshole this early in the series.