Optimus Prime and his small crew of maintenance Autobots come into possession of the All Spark. This powerful Cybertronian artifact attracts the attention of the Autobots' long-forgotten enemies, the Decepticons, and sends them all crashing toward a strange, distant planet known as... Earth.
In deep, deep space, Optimus Prime watches some old history videos, prompting Ratchet to complain about him watching that "junk" when the other members of the crew need assistance. Prime wonders if they were designed for more than repairing space bridges. The two 'Bots transform into their vehicle modes and head out into the asteroid field.
Outside, Bulkhead, dangling from a high rock by his wrecking ball (and becoming quite queasy in the process), is freed by Bumblebee, who also ends up taking a tumble. Bumblebee complains about the sheer amount of rocks blocking the space bridge node, and one is shattered unexpectedly by Prowl's throwing star. Prime gives his troops a speech about teamwork (which Prowl moans at theatrically), but at that point the space bridge lights up, sending rocks and Autobots flying. Fancy footwork by Optimus saves each of his teammates from the debris, and a well-aimed grappling line shuts down the bridge. With his subordinates stunned at their leader's skills, Prime is forced to admit he trained at Cybertron's military academy. Bumblebee's query as to what the hell he's doing on a nowhere maintenance assignment is left unanswered as they notice something glowing in the rubble.
Prime clears away the debris to reveal a large, chest-like object. Ratchet is horrified and immediately demands they throw it back into the space bridge, but an alert from Teletran 1 announces the arrival of a signature consistent with the long-lost Decepticons. Ratchet then insists they take the object and just get out of there post-haste.
On board the Ark, Ratchet finally reveals what they've found: the All Spark, the source of all Transformer life that was lost centuries ago. Optimus, worried about the oncoming Decepticon signal, contacts the Cybertron Elite Guard for help. After taking a bit of snark from Sentinel Prime, Optimus reveals what they found, which shuts Sentinel up fast. Sentinel then puts the crew through to Ultra Magnus, who tells Optimus Prime to stay put while they send reinforcements... and not to worry about that Decepticon thing. Optimus, considering this to be a really stupid move, orders the crew to start booking it out of there.
This proves wise, as the signal is indeed a Decepticon ship—a command ship, in fact. The identification markings are ones that Optimus and Ratchet recognize, meaning its commander can only be one person: Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. On board the Decepticon ship, Starscream doubts the All Spark is aboard the Ark and declares Megatron a fool. Lugnut denounces Starscream as a traitor, while Blackarachnia calls Lugnut an idiot for his blind loyalty and Blitzwing just acts... well, crazy. The Decepticons continue to bicker at each other until Megatron enters, shutting up all of them. The Decepticons chase the Autobot ship, and Starscream volunteers to board them. Megatron quickly shoots that idea down. Just before he leaves, Starscream wishes his commander "luck" with a pat on the back... affixing a bomb to Megatron in the process.
Megatron makes his way to the Ark and begins to melt his way through its hull. Optimus uses external manipulator arms to grapple with Megatron, until the bomb detonates, sending the ship careening uncontrollably into a space bridge node, which explodes after they go through the gate. Starscream begins to make a speech declaring himself the new Decepticon leader, but the other three have abandoned ship, noting that the fireball from the space bridge explosion is only getting larger. Too late, Starscream realizes the trouble he's in...
An unknown distance away, the Autobot ship reappears above a small blue and green planet. Prime checks on his troops, but Megatron has gotten aboard, having survived the explosion, but at the cost of his right arm. Prime uses his grappling line to shut off the gravity, making it more difficult for Megatron to fight. All five Autobots face off against the Decepticon, but he's too strong. Prime and Megatron both end up in the storage bay where the All Spark is... and as the ship enters the atmosphere, Prime is able to blow the hatch and kick the screaming Megatron out of the ship.
On a small farm, a young boy hears a thud and runs to where something has landed in a not-too-distant field. He is shocked to find a robotic head staring lifelessly up at him.
Meanwhile, Prime orders his team into emergency stasis pods to prepare for a crash-landing. He manages to steer the ship away from the city below and gets to a stasis pod just before the ship plunges into Lake Erie.
Fifty years later, Detroit is a city of robots. Isaac Sumdac is talking to a public school class taking a tour of his facilities, which gets interrupted by Isaac's daughter, Sari Sumdac, and her robot dog, Sparkplug. As Sari is carted off to her lessons by a robot tutor, Isaac shows the school kids a nanotech lab, just in time to witness a roach infused with microbots grow out of control and start consuming everything in sight. Isaac tries to keep things calm, but the monster bursts out of the lab...
The monster continues to grow, absorbing just about everything it touches to increase its size and power. In the process, it destroys a lot of the factory. Captain Fanzone, the S.W.A.T team, the fire department, ambulances, and robot drones arrive, but the creature absorbs several of the responding vehicles, too. Fanzone uses a bazooka-type weapon and destroys the beast, despite Sumdac's objection. This protest proves well-founded, as the remnants of the creature start flowing back together again, save for one piece that drops into the nearby lake and works its way down to the Ark, its nanites seeking the absorbable technology there. It infiltrates via a small breach in the outer hull, but thankfully, the ship's intruder alert systems are functional and awaken the Autobots before any damage is done. Examining the situation, they decide to have Teletran 1 give them Earth forms so they can blend in and help out. Everyone deploys except Ratchet, who remains behind to analyze the sample of invading material.
During the fight, Bulkhead and Bumblebee spot Sari trying to wrest her security key from Sparkplug's mouth. Mistaking which is owner and which is pet, they approach her, but Bulkhead's greeting only scares her away. She quickly gets nabbed by the monster, but Bumblebee saves her, earning her trust and friendship. Prowl attempts to take on the bug-slug by himself, against Prime's orders, and gets absorbed. Prime orders Ratchet to join them in battle to save Prowl, but the old veteran insists that finding a "cure" code to neutralize the nanites' programming makes more sense than coming out and getting trashed. A somewhat chastened Prime agrees, and Ratchet soon delivers the goods. However, the new program must be uploaded by direct contact—meaning from inside the monster. This means the smallest, fastest one of them has to do it. Bumblebee reluctantly takes on the task. The beast has been using some of Prowl's absorbed intelligence and comm link tech, though, so it knows what they're planning and is now smart enough to fight back. Despite this, Bumblebee succeeds in delivering the code, and the bug dissolves into a dusty shower of deactivated nanites. Prowl is soon uncovered, but he's suffered grave wounds and must be taken back to the Ark for repairs. Sari pesters Bumblebee to be taken along, and her new friend reluctantly agrees, since there's no time to make her go away quietly.
Once on board, Sari's refusal to stay still and quiet causes 'Bee some embarrassment. He quickly and discreetly ejects her into a ventilation port and joins the others. However, the port opens onto a shaft that takes Sari right to the chamber where the All Spark is being kept. Curious, she touches it, and it reacts to her, sending its energies into her security card key and reconfiguring it into a key of another sort entirely. Prime finds her almost immediately thereafter, but with no time left to spare away from Prowl, he has to bring her back with him to the repair table. Ratchet's prognosis is bleak, but Sari's All Spark-charged key abruptly reacts, glowing and tugging her toward Prowl. Bumblebee, seeming to grasp what's happening, helps her onto the table, and as she approaches, her key reshapes itself to fit into a slot on Prowl's chest. She inserts it, and with a burst of energy, the Autobot ninja is whole again. The Autobots then take Sari home and, after a brief misunderstanding, are made heroes and are even invited to a ceremony.
In outer space, Starscream sits aboard the damaged but functional Decepticon ship, babbling that he will find the All Spark, even though he's been attempting it on his own for the last fifty solar cycles. The ship's computers then detect the traces of All Spark-like energy in action, and Starscream learns where the Autobots are...
The Autobots are later seen trying to fit in. Bulkhead gets firsthand experience in traffic jams, some birds mistake Prowl for the statue of the bald guy next to him, Bumblebee learns how organics fuel up, and Ratchet can't get a stasis nap without getting a dozen or so parking tickets. Optimus Prime remarks that the Autobots are programmed to respect life, which they always understood to stem from the All Spark, but as organics are life, they must respect and protect them too. Optimus also expresses curiosity about how little organics are made. Sari's whispered explanation leaves him rather... shocked. The Autobots make a new home base out of a building Sari's dad got out of a merger, an abandoned auto factory that Bumblebee describes as a real fixer-upper—a REAL fixer-upper. All of a sudden, they get alerted to a fire. The Autobots proceed to douse the blaze and save its victims, no problem, unaware they are being watched by Starscream.
The next day, during the inauguration ceremony for the Sumdac Fully Automated Rapid Transit System (F.A.R.T.S., for short), Starscream enters Earth's atmosphere and takes on a group of fighter jets. He destroys all but one, which he scans. As the civilians and Autobots watch the aerial display of the Crimson Angels, Isaac Sumdac notices there is an extra jet present that he didn't hire. That one jet then leaves the formation and streaks toward the ceremony platform, where it transforms into Starscream, who fires his null-ray cannons at the Autobots.
After a short fight, which the Autobots lose, Starscream knocks out Bumblebee and takes him, Isaac, the mayor, and Capt. Fanzone hostage in the F.A.R.T.S. train, flying it to the top of a very tall tower. He demands that the Autobots deliver the All Spark if they want him to release the train car. The Autobots don't trust him, but don't want to risk human lives, so Sari offers a plan, but they ignore her. She continues to tell a sob story until the Autobots listen. The Autobots proceed with her plan, and Prowl and Sari fly up to the transit pod to rescue the hostages while the other Autobots keep Starscream busy. Once Starscream realizes what's happening, he takes a brief beating but recovers quickly. Starscream then throws the train—thus keeping his end of the deal—with Sari, Prowl, and Bumblebee on top of/in it. Between Bumblebee's agility and Prowl's thrusters, Sari is rescued and the train lands without much damage. The Autobots then challenge Starscream to a friendly game of Keep Away, during which Starscream almost gets the All Spark, but Bulkhead gets it instead, because he said he got it. A furious Starscream unleashes a devastating, prolonged (as in nearly 12 seconds) null-ray blast on the Autobots, briefly knocking them all senseless.
With the Autobots down, Starscream takes the All Spark from Optimus and blows a couple of blocks of Detroit right off the map. Not ready to give up, Optimus climbs all the way up a building to get it back from Starscream. After a quick back-and-forth exchange of possessing it, both grab it at the same time. As they struggle, the All Spark opens and emits a strange energy wave that blasts Starscream away.
The explosion has left Prime dangling precariously, and he takes a tremendous plummet to the pavement. He notes weakly that he now knows what it feels like to be a hero, then dies, but Sari uses her All Spark key to revive him. The Autobots later go about fixing up Detroit, earning the enduring gratitude of the citizenry. Professor Sumdac is also grateful, for the Autobots saved him and Sari, but he fears what will happen if the Autobots—not to mention the rest of the world—were to discover the source of his robotic empire.
Unseen by Sumdac, one of the optics of his source of technology glows in a darkened room. Megatron still functions...
- Written by: Marty Isenberg
- Directed by: Matt Youngberg, Yutaka Kagawa, Minoru Yamaoka, Makoto Fuchigami
- Original airdate: December 26, 2007
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Do you ever get the feeling that you were programmed for more than just repairing space bridges?"
"I got a diagnostic program that will delete that feeling like a bad line of code."
- —Optimus Prime's dreams are crushed into a fine powder by Ratchet.
Starscream: Megatron is a fool who's been chasing a ghost for centuries! I seriously doubt we'll find this All Spark on board such an insignificant vessel.
Lugnut: Traitor! Megatron is wise! Megatron is bold! Megatron will return the Decepticons to Cybertron and...
Blackarachnia: ... and wipe our homeland clean of the stench of Autobot tyranny, blah-dee blah blah blah! Did you memorize that speech, Lugnut? Or is it just hardwired into that thick, one-track processor of yours?
Blitzwing: As usual, Blackarachnia, your demeanor is as unpleasant as that accursed organic mode of yours.
Blackarachnia: Blow it out your actuator, three-face.
Blitzwing:[changes to angry face] De name is Blitzving, insect! Remember it! 'Cause it's de last t'ing you're gonna hear before I— [changes to weird face] —express my feelings in song! De itzy bitzy spider...
- —Decepticon camaraderie at its finest.
"What do you want now, Starscream?"
[Starscream attaches an explosive onto Megatron's back.]
"Only to wish you luck, my liege."
"I do not believe... in luck".
[Megatron transforms and leaves.]
"Neither... do I..."
"Yes! ...right then. Solemn face, solemn face."
- —Starscream watches Megatron explode, then composes himself before going to tell the Decepticons he's their new leader. Man, they sure did recycle this story line
Bulkhead: Hi there, little creature. My name's Bulkhead. Did you lose your owner-bot?
Bumblebee: AAAAHHH! That thing must be armed with some sort of high-frequency sonic weapon!
[Sari runs off screaming]
Bulkhead: I think it's scared. Don't worry, little creature! I'm not gonna hurt you!
[Sari is grabbed by the robot-slug]
Bumblebee: But that thing might!
- —Bulkhead and Bumblebee don't make the best of first impressions.
"Hi, I'm Bumblebee!"
"Oh, don't be, I like my name."
- —Bumblebee and Sari introduce themselves.
"Uh...am I going to be able to breathe down there?"
"Oh, sure! What's 'breathe'?"
- —Sari takes a trip underwater with Bumblebee.
Optimus Prime [to Sari]: How did you get aboard this ship?
Bumblebee: It followed me home... Can I keep it?
Sari: Hey, I'm not an "it", I'm a "she"!
Optimus [to Bumblebee]: So, I suppose you have an explanation?
Bumblebee: Actually, I'm narrowing it down to my top five.
- —Optimus discovers Bumblebee's new friend.
"It's okay, they're friendly! Well, except for the red and white one, he's kinda grumpy! But other than that..."
- —Sari plays ambassador.
Optimus Prime: But how is it you're able to make these new, smaller organics?
- —Optimus learns that there are some things that you can't unhear.
Optimus Prime: Ratchet, think fast!
Ratchet: Oh crud.
- -As the game of keep-away starts.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- As Starscream tackles Optimus Prime through a building as the Autobot tries to escape with the All Spark, Optimus' axe is missing from Starscream's left wing. It reappears moments later for Optimus to retrieve it.
- The train Starscream blasts from the tower falls toward the ground very, very slowly.
- In at least one scene, Starscream's Earth-form wing is shown with a spike, in the same manner as his Cybertronian body.
- Sumdac is using Megatron's hand as a chair. However, he seems to be using the right hand, which was blown up by Starscream. (It could have fallen off the Ark, as it was still clinging to the hull when last seen, but that seems unlikely.)
- The title of the episode itself is a reference to Transformers lore past.
- Footage from the G1 cartoon episodes "War Dawn" and "More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1" is used as history tapes detailing the events of the first Great War, millions of years prior. This presents a major continuity tangle, since the actual events of ancient G1 are quite different from the new All Spark-based retcon provided by the Animated storyline. While it is reasonable to expect that the images depicted in the historical reel did indeed "happen" in Animated's past, one ought not assume that all the implications behind G1 prehistory images (i.e. Quintessons, Alpha Trion, the Kronosphere) are still in effect for Animated's past or present. Savvy?
- Sari's robotic dog Sparkplug is likely named after either Sparkplug Witwicky from G1, the Armada Mini-Con Sparkplug, or both.
- Characters resembling Spike, Carly, and Daniel Witwicky are seen at a hot dog stand, purchasing some sort of futuristic bunless wieners-on-a-stick.
- The Animated Autobots are not the first to use a starship parked at the bottom of one of the Great Lakes as their headquarters.
- When Optimus Prime dies, his body fades to grays, just as Generation 1 Optimus Prime did in The Transformers: The Movie. His spark chamber opens in much the same manner as well.
- Teletran 1 (spelled with only one "a" in this universe) dispatches a small satellite very similar to the Sky Spy satellite used on occasion by the Autobots in the Generation 1 cartoon. The glowing energy "boxes" with which it scans vehicles for the Autobots to transform into are lifted wholesale out of "More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1".
- A refurbished Michigan Central Station makes an appearance as the site for the dedication of Detroit's rapid transit system. The real-life station (abandoned since the '80s) was featured in the 2007 live-action movie.
- When Prowl gets birdpooped on, he is standing next to a statue of Hazen S. Pingree, four-term mayor of Detroit and one-time governor of Michigan. In real life, the statue is located in Detroit's Grand Circus Park.
- In this episode, Tutor Bot tries to teach Sari about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.
- When Optimus comes back to life, he asks, "Is this the Well of All Sparks?" and Sari answers, "No, it's Detroit." This is an allusion to the movie Field of Dreams when Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) asks Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) "Is this heaven?" and Ray answers "No, it's Iowa."
- ↑ This is something of an Optimus Prime record: Dead after only three episodes, revived a mere 75 seconds later. Way to go.