Prisoner Principles is the twentieth episode of Season 4 and the sixty-fifth overall of Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
Strongarm struggles with the correct way to treat a prisoner while also helping the Bee team keep Steeljaw and his pack from wreaking havoc at the nuclear power plant.
Russell and Denny have Grimlock digging "relaxation alcoves" in the caves hideout in which they intend to install some vintage hand chairs. They're interrupted when the alarm sounds, and Fixit reports he's detected Decepticon signals near a nuclear power plant. Expecting to meet Steeljaw's Pack again, the Autobots roll out, but when they reach the signal's location, they discover that there's no one there. While following Bumblebee's suggestion that it's Hide and Seek, Grimlock falls into a hole and they realize the Decepticons are tunneling. They head into the tunnel and find Clampdown and Quillfire hard at work. Panicking, the 'Cons run in different directions, and Clampdown ends up cornered by Strongarm and Grimlock; Strongarm cuffs herself to Clampdown as she puts the crab-bot under arrest. Quillfire gets away, but fortunately for the Autobots Clampdown blabs the entire plan while under the assumption they accepted his offer to let him go. While discussing what to do with the prisoner, Grimlock suggests punching him, but Strongarm points out that's against the Kaon Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners.
Once the Autobots dig themselves out of the hole, Bumblebee orders Strongarm to take Clampdown back to the cavern while the others go after Quillfire. Quillfire meets with the rest of the Pack, and without the tunnel, Steeljaw announces it's time for Plan B. Scanning some passing nuclear waste vehicles for their color scheme, the four 'Cons head towards the nuclear plant. The Autobots, anticipating their quarry's actions, soon catch up with them however. Strongarm overhears Bumblebee's call for Grimlock as backup and starts heading back to help. She finds the other Autobots battling Thunderhoof, who becomes focused on going after Clampdown for blabbing the plan (on top of everything else in their long-running feud). Though Clampdown flees, dragging Strongarm behind them, Thunderhoof manages to catch up with them and swiftly proves too much for them to handle.
Sending Sideswipe ahead to clear the nuclear plant, Bumblebee and Grimlock go to Strongarm's aid. She claims the team's mission is a higher priority according to the Kaon Conventions. Once Grimlock manages to subdue Thunderhoof, Bumblebee reluctantly agrees that Strongarm can continue with the mission, and they head to the nuclear plant where Sideswipe's cleared the humans out. Strongarm wants to let Clampdown go as he's hindering the mission, noting the Conventions allow for such actions in extreme situations, but Bumblebee orders her to keep the 'Con safe instead. Thunderhoof takes this moment to turn up and attack the pair before Grimlock once again keeps him busy. The Autobots lock the frantic Clampdown in a vault to keep him safe while they handle the rest of the Pack.
The Autobots find Steeljaw and his sidekicks stealing nuclear fuel rods. As the inevitable fight breaks out, Steeljaw sets the reactor core to meltdown, slashing the control panel to disable it. Quillfire and Underbite are both taken down, but Steeljaw takes Strongarm hostage and, joined by Thunderhoof, who claims to have disposed of Grimlock, attempts to leave. The plant's lockdown begins, closing a blast door that seals Bee and Sideswipe inside. Grimlock clobbers the two 'Cons, though Steeljaw manages to escape with the fuel rods despite this, telling Strongarm she can choose to chase them or save her team; the surprise arrival of a very much active Grimlock forces Steeljaw to run as Thunderhoof gets smashed by the cannonballing Dinobot. Once Grimlock makes a hole in the huge door, the Autobots carefully carry the unconscious 'Cons to safety outside the plant, but Strongarm realizes Clampdown's still locked in the vault and she dashes back in to release him, Bumblebee following after ordering Sideswipe and Grimlock to get their prisoners to a safe distance. With Clampdown's help, they manage to get back out to find Sideswipe, judging stopping a meltdown was a higher priority than running, found a backup control panel, which he uses to forcibly shutdown the plant. Though Clampdown attempts to persuade the Autobots to let him go, they proceed to haul him and the other Cons back to the cave.
In the woods outside Crown City, Steeljaw meets with Stuntwing at a Shadowzone portal, but refuses to turn the fuel rods over to anyone but the Mini-Con's master, sending the Activator back empty-handed.
At the Autobots' cave base, Denny is disappointed that the relaxation alcoves have been re purposed as cells, and watches in horror as the captive Decepticons make short work of his hand chairs.
"Where's Clampdown? I'll hit him so hard, he'll be walking' straight."
- —Thunderhoof, feeling crabby about his teammate's big mouth.
"Protect me! The Crayon Connection says you gotta!"
- —Clampdown is a little too worried to care about proper names.
"Do something! Can't you arrest him? You're under arrest, Thunderhoof!"
"I do the arresting. You're under arrest, Thunderhoof!"
- —Clampdown and Strongarm, accidental buddy-cops.
- Strongarm previously mentioned the Kaon Conventions in "Breathing Room".
- The color changing ability demonstrated previously in Aligned fiction is used by the Decepticons for the first time in this episode, giving members of Steeljaw's Pack the coloration of hazardous waste transportation vehicles. However, Thunderhoof and Underbite are still a combine harvester and some sort of Cybertronian vehicle, respectively, which calls the plausibility of their disguises into question. Granted Thunderhoof wasn't with the group when they first enter the plant but Underbite still put the disguise into question.
- Sideswipe references Bumblebee's difficulties in coming up with a team battle-cry, which was a running gag during the show's first season.
- If the Kaon Conventions require the Autobots to keep Clampdown safe, why does Strongarm think it would be a good idea to cuff him to Thunderhoof? She was under a lot of stress, but still...