The Autobots attempt to lure the Decepticons into a trap with a massive holographic illusion, but the bad guys aren't duped. Instead, having gathered the energy they need, the Decepticons prepare to return to Cybertron, and the Autobots have one chance to stop them.
Act One: Caught in the blast of Wheeljack's explosive, Optimus Prime tumbles down the mountainside. Shaken but not defeated, he musters the energy to transform into robot mode. The Autobots begin digging through the rubble and Jazz finds Bumblebee and Sparkplug alive and unharmed. Before the Autobots can begin celebrating what they presume to be the end of the Decepticon, there's a blast from the rubble. The Decepticons have survived their burial and have blasted their way out. With their energon haul unscathed, the Decepticons take to the air.
Ironhide is tired of this string of defeats, and he soon takes to the air to follow. Bluestreak takes off to try to rein him in. Ironhide takes a few pot-shots at the fleeing Decepticons, and Skywarp breaks formation to teleport behind their pursuers. He lands a rocket square in Ironhide's back, knocking the old Autobot out of the chase. Ironhide crashes into a lake, and the Autobots catch up with him to pull him out of the water and into Ratchet's waiting repair bay. The Autobots return to base.
Back at the Ark, Hound taunts the captive Ravage and discusses the Decepticon spy's apparent abandonment by his comrades. In using a hologram of Megatron to goad Ravage, Hound and Mirage brainstorm an idea: to use an enormous hologram to trick the Decepticons into a trap. He pitches the idea to Optimus Prime.
Soon after, Hound talks to Mirage about a report from Teletraan-1 of a secret supply of rocket fuel. He says all this quite within earshot of Ravage, explaining how there's enough fuel there to make "four trips back to Cybertron." As Mirage and Hound walk away, Hound "accidentally" drops the key to Ravage's cage. The Decepticon retrieves it and escapes captivity.
Back at the Decepticon camp, Ravage reports in to Megatron about the rocket base. Megatron is delighted; it's the last energy source they'll need before they can return to Cybertron. As Megatron gloats, Starscream grouses about the need for a change in leadership. In a foolish move, Starscream tries to blast Megatron in the back. Soundwave warns his leader, who deflects the blast with a built-in energy shield. Starscream has spent all his ammunition in this single shot, and he is left defenseless. Megatron returns the sentiment by blasting Starscream in the arm, knocking his disloyal lieutenant to the ground. Groveling, Starscream huddles to Megatron's feet, who answers his pleas only by issuing the command: "We attack the rocket base at sunrise!"
In a flat stretch of desert, Hound creates the rocket base hologram. The Decepticons move into position, and Megatron orders them to attack.
Act Two: The Autobots spring their trap, running out from hiding to ambush the attacking Decepticons. However, when they engage in hand-to-hand combat, the Decepticons break apart like poorly made machines. Optimus Prime realizes they've been had. These aren't the Decepticons, but are instead decoys. Megatron, the only real Decepticon present, laughs at Prime's misstep. He saw through the phony release of Ravage. Megatron reveals to his defeated enemy that the real Decepticon army has been attacking the real rocket base.
Cut to Cape Carlson, the real rocket base, where the Decepticon jets arrive. They transform and neutralize the human army's attempt to stop them. In short time, Megatron rejoins them, and they soon return to their launch base with all the fuel they need. Soundwave reports the space cruiser's readiness, and Megatron orders the Decepticons to prepare to blast off.
Back the Ark, Optimus Prime briefs his soldiers on the grim situation. He tells them that Megatron is on the verge of returning to Cybertron, where he could become unstoppable with the energon he has tapped from Earth. The Autobots have no choice but to directly attack the Decepticons. Prime asks for volunteers, and all the Autobots -- and their human allies Spike and Sparkplug -- step forward. The Autobots transform into vehicle mode and roll out.
As the Decepticons begin to board the cruiser, the Autobots encircle the base. Prime's forces transform into robot form and begin the attack. The Autobots grapple with the Decepticons, but the battle is brief. Megatron and his forces get aboard their ship and blast off into the sky.
Act Three: Optimus Prime refuses to concede defeat. He orders Sideswipe to hand over his rocket pack. Donning the pack, Prime takes off to personally pursue the Decepticon cruiser. Starscream spots Prime in pursuit. The cruiser opens fire, blasting Prime who falls out of the sky and hits the ground hard.
The Autobots gather to see if Prime is okay, and the tough Autobot shrugs off their help. It's then that he notices that Mirage is missing from their ranks.
Aboard the cruiser, Starscream makes his move to usurp Megatron. Waiting for the Decepticon leader to lower his guard and remove his arm-cannon, Starscream raises his weapon to Megatron. Just then, Mirage drops his invisibility power to fire a few shots in the cruiser's controls. Starscream turns to blast Mirage, and Megatron takes advantage of the distraction to retrieve his cannon and fire on Starscream. Chaos erupts aboard the cruiser as Mirage's sabotage begins spreading and Soundwave loses control of the ship.
Mirage scrambles to his feet and jumps from the doomed ship as it crashes into the ocean. The Autobots on the ground stare incredulously as the Decepticons are suddenly and mysteriously defeated. They then spot Mirage, the unlikely hero, floating to the ground in a parachute rig. The Autobots celebrate their victory.
In an epilogue, Spike writes in his journal that because the Autobots stopped the Decepticons from stealing Earth's resources, the governments of the worlds have decided to give Optimus Prime the energy he needs to revitalize Cybertron. The Ark is being refurbished, and Spike and Sparkplug eagerly await their trip to the Transformers home world.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the ocean, the Decepticon space cruiser rests. Bubbles emerge from a hatch that is pulled free from the inside by massive metal hands. Megatron lives.
Original airdate: September 19, 1984
Written by: George Arthur Bloom
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Soon as Ratchet tightens a few bolts, I'll be back in action."
- --Ironhide, after a fall from high altitude.
"The rocket base is located one hundred and forty kilometers due west of the Autobot camp."
- --Ravage's sole line of dialogue in the entire series.
"I am the leader of the future!"
"You couldn't lead ant-droids to a picnic."
- --Starscream and Megatron arguing over Starscream's competence...again.
"We've been had."
- --Jazz, Prowl, Hound, and Optimus Prime realizing that they're fighting drones
- --Optimus Prime being overly dramatic.
"We knew you were anxious to get back to Cybertron, but you could have waited for us."
"Sorry, Prime. The ship was...full."
- --Optimus Prime and Mirage uttering a classic line.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- As the Autobots gather around Optimus Prime's fallen form and Mirage and Cliffjumper fly in, Cliffjumper is colored yellow like Bumblebee, who is currently buried under tons of rubble.
- Inside the mines, Soundwave is shown with a purple Autobot insignia.
- Ironhide's back-mounted rocket launcher is shown in firing position before it emerges from his back.
- The energon cubes that Megatron holds when giving permission to Skywarp to teleport are uncolored.
- Skywarp's damaged tailfin isn't damaged when he teleports back into the scene.
- A mislayering of animation cells when Hound creates a hologram of Megatron to taunt Ravage causes it to appear as if Hound is standing in the prison cage with Ravage.
- After Ravage escapes, Hound explains to Optimus what happened, but it is Mirage’s voice.
- As the Decepticons move into position to attack the holographic rocket base, one shot has two Starscreams. However, given that these Decepticons are all junky decoys, this may not necessarily be an error.
- When Hound and Rumble struggle at the final battle, bubbles are rising up in the close-up of Hound. Either the animators got this confused with last episode's underwater fight, or Rumble is doing something really gross.
- In the original broadcast version of the episode--and in Rhino's DVD release--the establishing shot at the start of the third act uses a flubbed take: A major piece of artwork--the Decepticon starship blasting off into the sky--is missing, meaning the Autobots on the ground are reacting to nothing. (The completed shot does appear in the teaser for the episode at the end of Part 2, however.) Oddly enough, the bonus disc in this DVD set calls out the error in a collection of bloopers and oddities.
- Mirage, Hound, Jazz and Prowl all react with shock (and dull surprise!) at Optimus' statement that Ravage's escape was a good thing. Yet they were all in on the plan to let Ravage get away to tell the Decepticons about the secret hologram rocket base that is most certainly not a trap. Did they just forget?
- The Mini Vehicle Autobots are shown disguised as lab-coat-wearing scientists to complete the holographic illusion of a rocket base, though it's a pretty poor disguise when you realize these scientists are big enough to turn into trucks and cars. Also, where'd they get the lab coats?
- Spike can throw a rock with enough force to knock Starscream's Null Ray off his arm. To be fair, it was the arm that Megatron blasted in an earlier scene. Of course, when we next see Starscream a few seconds later, it's been magically repaired and reattached, so it all works out.
- Mirage is clearly visible (prominent, in fact) during the Autobots' final, desperate assault on the space cruiser, despite later being shown to have sneaked aboard it. This is either a major continuity error or the one time that Mirage's electro-disruptor works in the cartoon in the way the tech specs say it does.
- During the final showdown between the Autobots and Decepticons, there is a scene in which Optimus Prime uses his Combat Deck to shoot the fusion cannon off Megatron's arm. This allows them to fight hand to hand. However, only a scene change or two later, Prime throws Megatron to the ground, his cannon perfectly visible in place.
- Prime is nearly knocked out of commission by the explosion that collapses a Burmese ruby mine, yet he simply seems to shrug off the effects of getting hit by a cruiser cannon and falling to Earth from the very edge of the atmosphere.
- Despite the heights the space cruiser certainly reached before the sabotage, Mirage parachutes down to exactly the spot where the Autobots were assembled.
- The space cruiser is shown crashing into the ocean near the coast. However, later episodes show the cruiser is well far away from any coast line.
- This is the only time in the G1 cartoon that Ravage speaks, relaying the information on the rocket base with his own voice instead of merely replaying Hound and Mirage's conversation about it. Coincidentally, while growly, it does not sound like the heavily-accented Soviet tenor that he uses in Beast Wars.
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