Sphere of Influence is the fifth episode of Season 3 and the fiftieth overall of Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
The Bee Team discovers a mysterious artifact that has a strange effect on Cybertronian minds, turning the bots against one another.
A Decepticon streaks down a forest road with the Bee Team in hot pursuit. Strongarm, Sideswipe and Blurr argue over who should make the arrest, until Fixit radios them with information on the 'Con they're chasing, a Skunkticon named Zorillor. Zorillor heads into a cave after referring to his "pal" (and peppering the Autobots with blaster shots), so Bumblebee leaves Strongarm and Drift to check for other exits while taking Sideswipe and Blurr in. Sideswipe demonstrates the importance of being observant by pointing out a spike-filled pit disguised by a hologram, and then accidentally walks into a tripwire. The trio leg it as the walls start closing in. They get clear, but the way out is blocked. Meanwhile, Zorillor packs his stuff so he can relocate, only to run into Drift and Strongarm. He sprays them with blinding liquid, but Drift, calling on his training to fight without relying on his senses, promptly disarms the Skunkticon before Jetstorm and Slipstream manage to take him down, forcing him to drop the yellow sphere he's carrying.
Back at the scrapyard, everyone puzzles over the strange orb Zorillor was carrying and, while Fixit's scans don't turn up anything conclusive, the Autobots seem enraptured with it. They contact Optimus Prime who suggests that the orb matches the description of the Sphere of Doradus, a legendary object containing a map to the lost city of Doradus, but which could potentially destroy a city if not opened correctly. Though skeptical that this is the legendary sphere in question, the Autobots resolve to return it to Cybertron in the morning, and there's no shortage of volunteers to guard it overnight.
That night, Denny finds Bumblebee guarding the Sphere and acting oddly. After Bumblebee accuses Denny of trying to steal the Sphere, the pair realize the object in question is missing. Bumblebee tackles Strongarm as she tries to sneak off with the Sphere, but the rest of the team turn up one by one and soon there's a struggle for possession of the orb. Wakened by the noise, Russell realizes that it's just like the effects Optimus ascribed to the Sphere of Doradus, but his attempts to remove the orb from the area are thwarted when Fixit grabs it. A full-scale fight breaks out until Grimlock grabs the Sphere and makes off through the scrapyard with the rest of the team in pursuit. Denny and Russell give chase in Denny's truck while Fixit shakes off the object's influence.
The fight over the Sphere moves onto an elevated highway, with possession moving from Grimlock to Sideswipe to Strongarm until unexpectedly Springload turns up and escapes with it. Out of range of the Sphere's influence, the Autobots recover from their bout of avarice just before Denny and Russell catch up. Fixit lets them know via comms that the Sphere is giving off low-level energy emissions that are affecting their minds, however there's a more urgent issue — if Springload tries to open the Sphere, he could cause an explosion and destroy the city.
The Autobots head to the city's particle accelerator while Denny and Russell retrieve some metal foil to try to block the emissions from the Sphere. The team finds Springload at a control console and Strongarm shoots him when he tries to escape. Slipstream and Jetstorm wrap the Sphere in foil, but the Autobots are still intent on grabbing it instead of arresting Springload. Another fight breaks out, but Springload manages to escape with the Sphere and the Autobots all start experiencing a painful sound. They theorize that the energy passing through the accelerator's coils has changed the effects. Fortunately the Sphere moves out of range, and the Autobots come up with a new plan. They succeed in tackling Springload, though Grimlock takes some encouragement to ignore the Sphere and punch out Springload. The Mini-Cons slap a magnetic cage around the Sphere, but as Denny and Russell attempt to remove it from the area, Springload makes another attempt to grab it which results in it shattering.
Back at the scrapyard, they dump the remains of the Sphere in a trash compactor while musing over their success in resisting its influence. They turn and walk away as the compactor closes...missing how a holographic map flickers over it for a few seconds before disappearing.
Blurr: ...did he just call his blaster 'Pal'?
Drift: Perhaps. Criminals are often eccentric in their speech patterns.
Sideswipe: Yeah, and they talk funny too.
- —Blurr gets a complicated explanation from Drift and the Cliff's Notes from Sideswipe.
"I need the sphere because... because... SCIENCE!"
- —Fixit channels his inner mad scientist.
"Come back with my sphere, you overgrown iguana!"
"In your involuntary visions during shutdown periods it's yours!"
- —Drift goes after Grimlock, and Blurr shuts him down.
"Grimlock's got the Sphere, Ugh
Grimlock's got the Sphere, Ugh
Don't know where he's goin'
But he has got the Sphere--
- —Grimlock, practicing for his second career as a singer.
"You said you knew nothing of Doradus! You lied to me, lied! But my persistence has been rewarded! Doradus shall be mine!"
- —Springload channels his inner Gollum.
"Besides, if you were truly driven by the desire to possess something spectacular, you'd fight over me every day."
- —Fixit has a high opinion of himself.
- While virtually every previously-seen Decepticon was imprisoned and taken off-world by the end of "Decepticon Island (Part 2)", Springload was the only Decepticon known to be unaccounted for at the end of last season.
- The research facility in this episode is the same building where the team battled Simacore in "Brainpower".
- Springload's seemingly scatter-brained quest for Doradus has been the theme of his appearances, but this is the first time there's been evidence the crazy frogbot might be right.
- The Sphere's avaricious influence is similar to that of the One Ring. It could also be compared to the golden apple of discord.