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In a plot to drain the sun for power, the Decepticons capture and alter the grumpy Autobot Gears.
Japanese title: "Steal the Solar Energy!"
The Decepticons attack humans working in a gold mine (literally) and take them prisoner. Just as Starscream is about to blast a human calling for help on a radio, Megatron backhands him, saying that he wants the human to bring the Autobots.
At the Ark, Optimus Prime orders the Autobots to assemble at once, which they do with lots of hustle. The only exception is Gears who complains the whole way. Prime orders his troops to head out to the mine to engage their enemies.
When they arrive a battle ensues, but Megatron lets the miners get in the way. Unwilling to endanger humans, Prime orders the Autobots to hold their fire. Megatron uses this chance to get the drop on the Autobots, then takes Gears captive for purposes unknown and retreats.
In Africa, Megatron has Starscream zap Gears with the null-ray, then takes out a special circuit from Gears’ body. The Decepticon leader explains that this circuit is the final component he needs for his energy absorbing Solar Needle, a solar collector which his Decepticons have constructed to harness energy from the heart of the sun. With the circuit in place in the needle, the device activates and causes world-wide earthquakes. Unbeknownst to Megatron, the Solar Needle is flawed, causing a dangerous instability within the core of the sun.
The effect on Gears is profound as well. The removal of this component from Gears corrupts his personality, turning him from a surly grump into a happy-go-lucky, ultra-polite guy who'll do absolutely anything for anyone. This allows Megatron to manipulate and control him. Mentally, Gears still knows the Decepticons are evil and doesn't want to help them, but he's been rendered so "nice" that he can't refuse any request.
The Autobots blast through the jungle and start firing at the Solar Needle, but it’s protected by a forcefield. Prime concocts a dangerous plan to circumvent the field by jumping through the hole at the top where the sun’s energy is coming through. Ratchet and Ironhide say it’s too dangerous, but Cliffjumper drives past them, makes the attempt and shatters the forcefield.
The ‘bots battle. Megatron gets the drop on Prime and orders the Autobots to surrender or he’ll shoot their leader. Prime orders them to fight on, but the Autobots capitulate. Prime asks for one last request, which Megatron allows. The chief Autobot turns and asks Gears to do him a favor now. Gears obliges and shoots a component of the needle. Inspired by his change of heart, the Autobots fight back against the ‘Cons, who retreat.
Prime orders Wheeljack and Ratchet to deactivate the device, but they argue over the correct solution. Out of time and with the sun about to explode, Optimus just grabs at a wire inside the device and pulls. The needle shuts down and the sun returns to normal.
Prime removes Gears’ circuit card from the needle and hands it back to him, but Trailbreaker interrupts, saying that the rest of the Autobots like the new Gears over the old. Gears isn’t too happy about that, so Optimus returns the card and the surly, cranky hypochondriac is back. The Autobots roll on back to HQ, leaving Gears to complain to himself.
Original airdate: October 1, 1985
Production number: 700-17
Written by: Larry Parr
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Go ding your diodes and get defunct Megatron. I’m not helping you do zilch."
- —Cranky, gutsy Gears
"Megatron is behind this. I’d bet my titanium torsion bars on it."
- —That's probably a safe bet, Optimus Prime
"I should be very angry at you Megatron. You are an evil son of a retrorat, but for some reason, I just can't get too upset."
- —Cheery, nice Gears
Starscream: "I should have destroyed you when I had the chance, but Megatron can't save you now!"
Gears: "Heheheh, I really hate to disappoint you Starscream, but you better look behind you!"
Starscream: "Do you seriously expect me to fall for such a stupid trick?"
- —Warnings of an impending charge from Bumblebee fall on deaf audio receptors.
"How can I help you, Megatron, heh heh, you rotten hunk of scrap."
- —Gears, piling on the flattery.
"What did you do to Gears, you monster? You turned him...nice!"
- —Ironhide, at Gears' sudden change in personality.
"All right, now let's blast that Solar Needle and roll out."
"I suppose you want me to do that."
"Be my guest."
- —Optimus Prime and Gears, grumpy once again.
"Autobots...GO GET 'EM!!!!"(Autobots cheer as they engage the Decepticons)
- —Optimus Prime, turning the tide and announcing it's ass-kicking time.
"Uhh, just a minute, we took a vote and...uhh, well we decided we like Gears the way he is now."
"Yeah, a real photo voltaic pussy-cat."
- —Trailbreaker and Bumblebee looking forward to kicking Gears around a little bit.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- When Starscream says the line "Oh, no, you don't. Your circuits stay right here," the voice saying the line is Thundercracker's.
- When the Autobots show up at the quarry to rescue the humans, Megatron "energizes" a number of boulders at the top of a cliff. The Autobots have their backs to the cliff, meaning the boulders should hit them from behind or land on top of them. The boulders actually hit the Autobots from all directions, including Sunstreaker, who is hit by a boulder traveling in the opposite direction of where it should have come from.
- In the sequence where the Autobots are running down the hallway, Sunstreaker runs past Gears twice. He's fast!
- When Cliffjumper speaks when they get to the area near the solar needle, his normal voice played by Casey Kasem is replaced by Don Messik's voice.
- When Soundwave ejects Ravage, his cassette mode is colored like Laserbeak since they re-used the same footage.
- When the Autobots first attack the Decepticons at the mining keep while they're running down the hill a small red Autobot (Probably Gears) is seen falling down the hill
- Why would Megatron tell his Decepticons to capture the humans from the mining camp but NOT tell them to allow one of the humans to call for help as part of his plan? Furthermore, why would the Decepticons hold onto the captured humans at all if they're not needed for the plan, only for Megatron to tell Starscream to kill them?
- Megatron's ability to "energize" boulders and use them as weapons sure came in handy here; he was able to debilitate the entire Autobot army in about six seconds. Too bad he'll never demonstrate that ability again.
- The Autobots somehow drove from their base in the Western United States to the "geographic center of Africa" in "slightly less than 2 Earth hours". After traveling through at least eight time zones, it appears to be roughly the same time of day as when the Autobots left their base. Skyfire probably could get the Autobots to the center of Africa in less than two Earth hours; oddly, the Autobots would rather drive over thousands of miles and an ocean instead.
- When the ground around Autobot HQ starts shaking and Ironhide asks, "What's happening?", Bumblebee answers, "Solar flares!" First of all, solar flares don't have anything to do with seismic activity; second, wouldn't it make more sense for someone to yell "Earthquake" first?
- Megatron notices that the circuit he takes from Gears modulates Gears' personality, then says "But that can wait." What does Megatron care about Gears' personality?
- I'm sure Greenpeace would have something to say about the Autobots destroying the African rainforest wholesale.
- Megatron closes the panel that contains Gears' special circuit, yet it's inexplicably open again when Gears reconsiders his options.
- It's not an error per se, but it just seems extremely out of character for the Autobots, and Optimus in particular, that no one tends to Cliffjumper after his brave sacrifice to bring down the Decepticons' force field.
- Ratchet did make the (rather incorrect) assertion that no one could survive the force field so they all probably thought he was dead.
- Throughout the latter half of the episode, Optimus Prime and Megatron argue that the Solar Needle may/may not destroy the universe. While the sun's exploding would obliterate our solar system, it couldn't destroy the universe in its entirety, unless the Solar Needle is some of the most advanced technology ever wielded by the Decepticons.
- Trailbreaker somehow manages to survey the entire Autobot team as to whether they should give Gears his circuit card back in a grand total of about five seconds. The Census Bureau should give Trailbreaker a call.
- Gears' change in personality is brought on by the absence of his personality component as well as Starscream's null ray. This may imply that Starscream has the ability to nullify specific electronics/processes of his choosing, or that Gears' personality is a major part of his ability to function.
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- Gears's special circuit board looks like an audio cassette tape. Whether it can transform is not yet known.
- Ratchet totally Bruce-Lee-kicked Thundercracker in the chest in this episode. That's just awesome.
- Megatron and Starscream laughing together? Well, this is a moment.
- The idea of the Solar Needle is later reused for the Solar Harvester in the film Revenge of the Fallen.
- What's up with all the random objects getting thrown at Soundwave?