In an attempt to alter history, the Quintessons open a Time Window to Cybertron's ancient past, but their meddling ultimately causes time itself to begin unraveling.
Japanese title: "Time Trap"
Perceptor, Wreck-Gar, Blurr and Blaster investigate chronal pulses coming from an asteroid belt near Cybertron. They are fired upon by Sharkticons, which launch from an installation on a bowl-shaped asteroid, the source of the pulses. The Autobots make quick work of the Sharkticons as Perceptor tells Blaster to radio another Prime for reinforcements. Again. The Autobots land on the asteroid just in time to see a Quintesson scientist open a time portal to eleven million years in the past to retrieve a "target subject", much to Perceptor's horror. The Autobots are fired on by Quintesson ships, which blast Perceptor and herd the other Autobots toward the time portal - much to the chagrin of the scientist. The time window fades out as the Autobots, sans Perceptor, end up eleven million years in the past!
The Quintesson ships continue firing, striking the time portal before being ambushed by Superion and Rodimus Prime. The Quints escape as a damaged Perceptor tells Rodimus Prime to find the Autobots and Silverbolt instructs the other Aerialbots not to follow.. as a mysterious figure suddenly materializes, confused from the time travel.
Eleven million years ago, automatic defenses fire upon the Autobots, who quickly retreat. Ramhorn charges and runs right into a Dark Guardian in hot pursuit. The Dark Guardian attempts to step on the Autobots, but is stopped by a shot from an unknown female Transformer called Beta, who tells the others to follow her before the Quints send more. She states even though she's taking a risk bringing in Blaster and his cadre, they need all the help they can get for an attack on Hive City. Beta is disgusted by the "mark of shame" on the Autobots' chest - the Autobot symbol considered a symbol of slavery for over a million years, but that A3 says must become a symbol of freedom.. She states A3 has a Coda Remote device to freeze the Dark Guardians, allowing the slaves to rise against the Quintessons. Rewind finally realizes they are in Cybertron's past, when the Transformers were still workers and slaves for the Quintessons, and if the Quintessons stop this rebellion, they would still rule Cybertron in the present. Beta notes that A3 is missing, but that they must attack at dawn with or without him. The Autobots agree to help the slaves in their attack.
Back in 2006, the time window is leaking energy into space - ripples in the timestream. Rodimus refuses to shut the window down while five Autobots are stuck in the past. The Quintessons fear that if the window isn't closed in the next hour, the ripples will travel through the universe, jeopardizing reality itself - some events will repeat in an endless loop (such as Wheelie winning a race over and over) while some will reverse (such as water running backward in a lake) and worse, the past and future will collide - evidenced by Marissa Faireborn reverting to a baby - until the universe ceases to exist. The only solution, according to the Quintessons, is to destroy the time window. The scientist orders a full scale assault on the asteroid.
A3 has finally revived, but refuses to give information to "Quintesson slaves" like the Autobots. A3 and Rodimus take cover from Quintesson starbombs and an incoming Sharkticon offensive as the other Autobots begin defending the time portal. A3 is blasted away from the asteroid and tumbles through space before being saved by Superion, who is cornered by Quintesson ships. Under heavy fire and proclaiming his failure, Superion has a vision, seeing A3 turn into his future self - Alpha Trion! Suddenly, the ripples in the time stream cause Superion to briefly warp into two places at once, as space and time begin to warp and mutliate itself. The Quintessons retreat, fearing the results of the distortions. Rodimus orders Pipes to repair Perceptor, as he's the only one that can figure out what's going on. Silverbolt attempts to talk to A3, who isn't even sure who he is anymore.
Back in the past, the Autobots take part in the raid on Hive City, finding themselves and the slaves against several Dark Guardians, as in the present, the Quintesson scientist proposes an alliance - and for the time window be closed. The raid is apparently successful with the help of the Autobots, but a five-faced Quintesson demands surrender, as the Dark Guardians surround the rebellion.
Rodimus is finally convinced by the Quintesson to close the time window, but A3 volunteers to go through the time portal to retrieve the time-displaced Autobots, much to the Quintesson scientist's chagrin. A3 lands at the raid point to Beta's elation, as the Quintesson orders the Guardians to attack - but A3 removes the golden Autobot symbol on his chest, which is the Coda Remote in disguise. A3 triggers the Remote, which disables the Dark Guardians. A3 orders the Autobots to return to the present, thanking them for their help. The Autobots return to 2006 just in time for Rodimus to close the time window, which self-destructs.
As the day is saved, the Autobots finally realize that A3 was Alpha Trion, as a constellation forms with his likeness.
Original airdate: October 8, 1986
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"So why'd ya-w-why'd ya want us along? This ain't-this ain't our gig-k-kinda gig!"
- -- Ramhorn has a problem with scientific expeditions...and speaking coherently.
"How come they made you Aerialbot leader, Silverbolt? You've got no sense of adventure!"
- -- Air Raid asking why the Aerialbots don't attack, to which Silverbolt gives a response.
"What in the name of Alpha Trion?!"
- -- Rodimus Prime, as A-3 comes through the time portal.
Wreck-Gar: Phew. One to five rodents agree exceptional headache number one is a mad dog guardian.
Blaster: Right on, but we still gotta lure 'em away from the walls so Beta and the rebels can attack.
Blurr: Yeah, that's what we said we'd do, and I always do what I say I'll do, because I have to, so I'd better do it, because if we say we do and then we don't--
[Ramhorn roars and charges the Dark Guardians]
Rewind: Methinks the die has been cast.
- -- The Autobots discuss strategy as Ramhorn gets bored.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- In the first scene, although the Autobots are seen flying toward the time window, which begins to fade in and out, the Autobots are never actually shown flying INTO the window.
- Rewind calls Beta by her name without her actually giving her name. (Then again, given his habit of endless amounts of trivia without any real use for it...)
- When Blaster ejects Rewind, his tape door opens sideways, hitting Blurr in the face.
- When the Quintesson bailiff instructs the Sharkticons to attack the Autobots, their background is deep space, but the Sharkticons then are shown exiting the Quintesson ship.
- In the commercial bumper featuring Rodimus Prime, engine revving sound effects are added that usually aren't part of the bumper.
- The five-faced Quintesson in the past hovers on board a chair, but when a closeup is shown, the chair is not seen. When the view is restored, the chair is visible again.
- The Autobot symbol on A-3's chest is suddenly a solid plate (including surrounding metal) when it is revealed as the Coda Remote, but looks no different from the regular Autobot symbol in previous shots (other than being golden).
- This is one of the few episodes to not feature the Decepticons, and one of the few Season 3 episodes to not feature Ultra Magnus.
- Superion being the one to envision A-3 as Alpha Trion is appropriate, considering Alpha Trion had a hand in creating the Aerialbots in the episode "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 2" as well as meeting him when Alpha Trion created Optimus Prime in "War Dawn".
- The general cause of the time distortions is similar to the G1 UK comic's Time Wars saga, where time and space are in constant peril due to an imbalance between matter in the time periods - in this case, between A-3 going to the present, and the five Autobots going to the past.
- The ending shot of the constellation of A-3 is similar to the ending of Dark Awakening, the episode right before this one, where an image of Optimus Prime was visible in space after his apparent destruction.
- The Quintesson scientist is named Inquirata in the script of the episode, but is unnamed in the episode.
- This is this only episode where Ramhorn speaks.