Exiles is the seventeenth episode of Season 3 and the sixty-second overall of Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
Steeljaw and his pack return and launch an attack on the Scrapyard, forcing the Autobots to abandon their home base; Sideswipe's fear of abandonment threatens the Bee Team when they face their foes again at the Crown River Dam.
In the scrapyard, Grimlock begins a home video with Russell to keep Drift up to date while he's away helping Optimus on a secret mission. The video gets as far as Sideswipe dazzling the camera with a new wax job and a shot of Fixit mulling over a newly acquired Cybertronian tech detector with Denny, before alarms blare and the base falls under attack by unknown assailants. A blast hits Bumblebee, Denny, and Russell, knocking all three over, with footage ending there.
Recovering from the blast, Denny and Russell are retrieved by Strongarm, then set off to find Fixit. During the attack, Bumblebee is grazed, disabling his comm-link and preventing him to gather the team at the command center. He arrives at the meet-point with Grimlock behind him, running into Sideswipe who reports he thinks the attackers are stationed on a cliff above the base. Meanwhile, a terrified Fixit is nearly squished by falling pieces of vintage memorabilia, but is saved by Strongarm and the Clays. Bumblebee hands Sideswipe his blaster and orders him to cover him as he darts to the GroundBridge, which he activates in order to evacuate as Strongarm and her precious cargo arrives on scene. As Sideswipe drives towards the groundbridge to join his teammates, he's hit by the nonstop blaster fire and goes flying off course. The same blast that hit him had destroyed the groundbridge, leaving the panicking Sideswipe to call out for help as he run amidst the blaster fire that was still raining down on the scrapyard. The continuous blasts knock a crane onto him, effectively pinning him down. As aiming beacons line up on his face, Bumblebee appears to pull the machinery off him and the two escape the base without much further ado, though Sideswipe begins to show signs of his abandonment issues and Bee explains that his broken comm prevented him from finding him earlier.
As the rest of the team waits where they had been sent, they worry about the two left behind, though Fixit reminds them that Bumblebee would be aware of their current location and would most likely be there as soon as he could. And as if on cue, the two missing Autobots drive up. After brief elation and more concern, Russell suggests they use the caves where they fought Nightstrike as their new temporary base and Fixit agrees, due to the mineral deposits in that area obstructing energy signals.
Back at the scrapyard, Steeljaw and Thunderhoof have a conflict of interest, which ends with Thunderhoof reluctantly relenting. During the short scuffle, Steeljaw reveals that both he and their benefactors on Cybertron want Bumblebee's "hood ornament on a plate", along with the rest of the team. These "benefactors" are implied to be government officials, as Steeljaw and his pack (himself, Thunderhoof, Clampdown, Quillfire, and Underbite) were pardoned of their crimes in order to (supposedly) capture the Bee Team. In a moment of inspiration, Steeljaw decides to put humans at risk in order to lure Bee and his Autobots out from hiding.
Regrouping in the cave, Fixit repairs Bumblebee's comm system while Denny bemoans the loss of his collectibles. Sideswipe attempts to comfort him by revealing that he's moved homes a hundred times and it's not a big deal. He's then frightened by some bats and both Strongarm and Bee comment on his jumpiness, which he deflects. Bumblebee mentions how he doesn't know how to track down whoever is after them, and Fixit displays the tech detector he had brought with them, which wouldn't exactly find the attackers, but it would find their weapons. Bee suggests that Sideswipe be the one to step out of the cave and into possible scanning range to locate the antagonists, sparking Sideswipe's fear of abandonment and stalling on his part. The tech detector makes a quick change of hands before Fixit takes it back and does the scan himself, discovering five Cybertronian contacts at the Crown City dam. Bumblebee realizes that the attackers were most likely there to put humans at risk, and as Strongarm points out that it was most likely a trap, he refuses to put lives in danger and they take the bait anyway.
On the way to the dam, Sideswipe nervously tailgates Strongarm until Bumblebee puts him on rear duty, which only further aggravates his fears as a train nearly cuts him off from the rest of the team. Once they reach their destination, Bumblebee formulates the plan to go into the dam control building alone to draw out their enemies, while the others split up and circle around to jump the attackers when they go for him. This also makes Sideswipe anxious.
Inside, Bumblebee is surprised to find out their attackers had been Steeljaw and his pack, who turn on him and knock him to the ground. Steeljaw then stands over him and monologues about revenge, also mentioning his benefactors, until the rest of the team sneaks in and opens fire on the Decepticons. As the fight breaks out, Grimlock slams Quillfire into machinery, jamming one of his quills into a turbine, creating the potential hazard of explosion. Bumblebee attempts to remove the quill, but is rammed by Underbite, and Steeljaw runs out of the building during the fog of war. Bee chases after Steeljaw, and Sideswipe chases after him, goaded by his fear of being left behind. Outside, Steeljaw blows a hole in the dam then turns on Bumblebee, but is toppled over the platform as Sideswipe intervenes. Thanking him, Bumblebee asks Sideswipe to take care of the broken dam so he can help Grimlock and Strongarm, assuring his younger teammate that he will be back for him.
Back inside, Bee tries to pull the quill from the turbine again, resulting in a shock and Strongarm's approval. Dazed and confused, Bumblebee wonders why she had praised him, until she uses the surging machine to electrocute the Decepticons. On the side of the dam, Sideswipe is overtaken by Steeljaw and a fight ensues, ending with Steeljaw being kicked into the water below. After the Decepticons inside flee the building, Bumblebee finally pulls the quill free of the turbine, nullifying that threat. The team then gives chase after the pack, which comes to little fruition, seeing as Underbite had accidentally knocked his fellow 'Cons off the dam and into the water below. Still on the side of the dam, Sideswipe uses his sword to chunk off pieces of concrete to fill the hole until a human repair crew could properly fix it.
Back at the cave, the field team finds Fixit and the humans with a projected image of the scrapyard, a heartfelt, if superficial, comfort. Denny, though still despondent over the loss of his property, claims home is where friends and family are, and Sideswipe wholeheartedly agrees.
"Whoa! What is this? Did somebody forget to pay the electric bill?"
- —Sideswipe quips as he dodges incoming Decepticon fire.
"Who is shooting at us?" "Unfortunately, someone with decent aim."
- —Fixit and Strongarm as they dodge blaster fire.
"No need to get gruff, fellas. We're all in this together." (Steeljaw and Thunderhoof growl) "What was I thinking?" *weakly chuckles* "Gruff away!"
- —Clampdown's failed attempt at peacemaker.
"Capiche?" "Well, I guess I could lend a hand, seeing as you uh, need me so bad. Oh, whatever. Fugget about it."
- — Steeljaw, ironically, and Thunderhoof, unironically.
"They say you can't dream in stasis, but I did, Bumblebee. Of this moment, when I can pay you back for robbing Decepticon Island! Pay you back... in full." "I also dreamed... of a parade for the heroes of the revolution! Everyone was wearing hats."
- — Steeljaw and Quillfire
- Steeljaw and his cohorts were shipped off to Cybertron in "Decepticon Island (Part 2)". The benefactors who freed them are presumably the same people Optimus Prime and Drift are investigating.
- The Autobots retreat to the caves Nightstrike used as a hideout in "Even Robots Have Nightmares".
- The Cybertronian tech-finder Fixit uses is said to have been confiscated from the Stunticons following their defeat, which took place in the last episode. Based on its coloration, it is the same one Heatseeker found in King of the Hill (Part 2), which Drag Strip later used in Bee Cool and The Great Divide.
- The corruption on Cybertron has been building up conflict in the background for the entire series and has generally served as a way to bring characters in;
- It was first alluded to in Can You Dig It?, when the Council sent Jazz to investigate the Alchemor crash site and we learned they were none to happy with Bee.
- The council's desire to have Bumblebee captured for his actions in Pilot (Part 1), was revealed in Hunting Season, when Drift and Fracture came to collect a bounty on Bee's head.
- Ratchet revealed just how bad things had gotten, upon his arrival in Decepticon Island (Part 1), revealing Team Prime was blamed for the planet's destruction and that he was forced to capture war criminals. This prompted Optimus to leave Earth in order to investigate, though things had gotten so bad, he was unable to return and thus began working with "some old friends" to handle the situation, as stated in Worthy.