“Starscream’s fangirls are starting to make me hate the character I used to love!”
Starscream is getting goofier every episode and people seem to love it because he looks “cute” and “sexy”.
No sir, I don´t like it. I want a character, not a fanservice.
I think you just put your finger on what’s been bothering me lately. I have always (since G1) had a soft spot for Starscream. I like the narcissism, combined with cowardice, and the indomitable spirit (no matter what bad happens, he always bounces back) and the clever scheming, but yeah, it seems lately they’ve….gone off the rails into crackland.
The same thing happened—more obviously—in Bayverse. While writing ROTF, Orci and Kurtzman consulted fanboards asking for ‘good SS lines’ from G1. As if all we want is the same character over and over again. As a result, everything that made 07 movie Starscream awesome….kinda went poof. I see the same thing happening here, that lulz are taking priority over characterization, and OH WHAT A SURPRISE: Orci/Kurtzman.
They’re doing the same thing with KO and it’s really starting to make my stomach churn.
Actually, this is probably the biggest ‘in-universe’— so to speak— problem that I have with TFP right now, honestly: the Decepticons aren’t scary. I don’t take them seriously as a threat to the Autobots.
I know, I know, they have the Autobots outnumbered a bazillion and half to one, that’s true. Between the endless Vehicon/Eradicon legions and the Insecticon armada, on the surface it certainly looks like the Autobots are screwed seven ways to Sunday. But the show takes deliberate pains to make sure that the Autobots ALWAYS WIN. It doesn’t matter how uneven the odds are, I know the outcome of any fight in this show before it starts. The Autobots are going to win. It may not be a total victory, they may lose a relic or someone may get injured, but the ‘Bots are still going to win.
In fact, I would argue that the Autobots haven’t suffered a seriously impactful loss to the Decepticons in this entire season. Probably the biggest “victory” the ‘Cons have managed to secure is the Forge of Solus in “Operation: Bumblebee”— which none of them can use, and was obtained at the cost of the very functional shield generator. Even Soundwave’s successful recovery of the resonance blaster in “Triage” barely counts as a victory, because it’s balanced against the fact that the Autobots now have access to the entire Iacon database thanks to Raf’s virus.
Beyond the question of which side has the most relics, though, is the fact that I can’t understand why we’re supposed to take the Decepticons seriously as a threat. They sure aren’t being written like one any more. I mean, at this point there are four officers left in their army— Megatron, Dreadwing, Knock Out, and Soundwave— and I’d argue that not a one of them is allowed to be a serious obstacle to the eventual victory of the Autobots.
Let’s take a look at them, shall we? I’ll show you what I mean.
Soundwave is a exceedingly competent close-quarters fighter and loyal to Megatron, but he’s written so inconsistently otherwise that I don’t know what else to expect from him. He couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) decode the Iacon archives as of the Orion Pax triology, but suddenly he can now? He’s a hacker (as seen waaaay back in the original miniseries) but he can’t detect when his Deployer, himself, and his ship have been hacked by a human child? He’s a communications officer but he can’t tell when the Nemesis is downloading major info straight into the enemy’s computers? Now, a determined fan could probably come up with justifications that explain all this stuff away in-universe, but it doesn’t change the fact that Soundwave’s abilities and skills are inconsistently presented in-show, which makes it hard for me at the viewer to take him seriously as a threat except in direct hand-to-hand combat.
What about Dreadwing? Dreadwing is, so far, loyal to Megatron and seems to be a pretty powerful fighter. Dreadwing also has Honor and, regarding his allegiance, foreshadowing the size of an ANVIL hanging over his head that he’s going to defect to the Autobots. We know nothing about him except what the show is ramming down our throats, and all of that is wildly inconsistent. He’s loyal to Megatron— but he’s betrayed Megatron’s orders more than once (and gotten away with it, even been praised). In “Triangulation” he gets on Starscream’s case for his defection and the fact that he’s worked with Autobots, right before he turns around and fights at Optimus’ side. Either Dreadwing is terribly written or he’s a massive hypocrite who thinks his judgement is above reproach, and neither of those make him a very effective member of the Decepticons in my eyes. Remember, he’s aided Optimus/the Autobots twice already since he showed up in “Loose Cannons” (both in his intro episode and i “Triangulation”). It doesn’t matter what his in-character reasons for doing that are; the pattern’s been set, and as an audience member I’m going to expect Dreadwing’s actions to continue to be a plot element that lets the Autobots win at the end of the episode.
The heavy-handed insinuations from both OP himself and Fowler that Dreadwing is ‘better’ than the other ‘Cons and the most likely ‘Con to switch sides certainly don’t help me to take him seriously as an antagonistic force.
As for Knock Out, he’s campy comic relief, and has been since “Operation: Bumblebee”. He’s taken over the role that Starscream played in the army before he defected— he’s the flailing cowardly one who’s not a very good fighter. On top of that, as of “Triage” Knock Out seems to be starting to resent the way Megatron treats him, although whether it’s a general resentment he’s feeling or a more specific grudge against Soundwave remains to be seen. While I think this is all very interesting in terms of Knock Out’s individual characterization, it means he’s another mech that I wouldn’t count as a serious threat to the Autobots.
And that brings us to Megatron. Megatron’s behavior throughout this entire series, I would argue, has been pretty erratic. As early as the premiere miniseries, we’ve seen him do things that don’t make any logical sense, like opting to blow up an entire mine full of processed and raw energon during an energon crisis, for the sole purpose of taking out the Autobots. As we progress through Season 1, his erratic behavior is supposed to be attributed to the crazy-making influence of the dark energon he’s infected himself with, which frankly I think is awesome. But then we get to season 2, and what do we get? A Megatron who’s still acting like he’s under the influence of the dark stuff, with no indication or acknowledgement that he is. He’s abusing his troops, yelling and screaming, and making poor choices (like infecting Nemesis with dark energon when he KNOWS it animates inanimate objects). His ire is quick and unpredictable. He makes a hypocrite of himself (like when he lets Dreadwing get away with insubordination and treason with only a slap on the wrist— or even appreciation, as in “Crossfire”!— when the same behavior from, say, Starscream would have led to a brutal beating).
The way he’s written in the show makes it very hard for me to take Megatron seriously as an archvillain. Sure, he’s scary, he’s violent, and he’s physically powerful, but what does that make him? A psychopath with impressive weapons. In less than two seasons we’ve seen him lose two of his officers to defection (Starscream and Airachnid). He’s allowing his second in command to get away with insubordination and he’s deliberately belittling and tearing down his only doctor/scientist. Frankly, I don’t know why any of the Decepticons are still following him. He’s not a compelling leader of mechs, and he’s certainly not the passionate freedom fighter he used to be back on Cybertron. He’s a madman who breeds infighting and discontent, and I don’t know how he’s managing to hold his army together beyond ‘if you’re not a part of my army I will terminate you with extreme prejudice’-style fear mongering.
Now, if the show was doing this on purpose? That would be cool. I would love it if TFP were to take a page out of IDW’s playbook and transition from a war narrative to a post-war narrative. Give the Autobots and the Decepticons something more compelling to fight than each other (be it a concrete threat or even something like, IDK, the extinction of Cybertronians as a species and culture). Let the Decepticons reject Megatron’s insanity and commit themselves to a future worth living for, instead of a Pyrrhic victory worth dying for. How’s that for a compelling, complex narrative that does new and edgy things with the characters?
Hell, for a while there I really thought that was the way TFP was going to go. Maybe not quite as far as the entire Decepticon Army rejecting Megatron, but the show made a point of setting up multiple antagonistic forces. Between Unicron, MECH, Starscream, and Airachnid, it was getting kind of hard for a while there to remember the show was actually about Autobots fighting Decepticons, and not about Autobots and Decepticons fighting everything else trying to take them out.
But just as the show has made a point of setting up all these other antagonists, so they have made a point of nullifying them, generally in the most pat way possible. Starscream, as the secret above and more specifically the responses to it that I’m reblogging have pointed out, has been systematically dragged down and played off as pathetic, desperate, and incompetent; his acquisition of the Apex armor in “Triangulation” was frankly nothing more than a convenient narrative fluke (that is, bad writing from the team behind TFP). Airachnid was built up in “Crossfire” to be, in direct contrast to Starscream, almost terrifyingly competent and backed by one hell of an army to boot. Three episodes later, in “Armada”, we see her threat neatly neutralized, Airachnid herself packed away in a stasis pod. All that buildup, for next to no narrative payoff. In the S1 we season finale we see the Unicron threat introduced, confronted, and neatly dealt with, all in the span of four episodes.
At this point, frankly, the only antagonistic force in the show that hasn’t been systematically stripped of all consistency and credibility by poor writing or strange storytelling choices is MECH. We’ve seen MECH suffer setbacks, like the loss of Nemesis Prime and all the times they’ve had to ditch compromised locations and relocate, yet they’re still presented as an exceedingly competent organization. Right now, they seem like more of a threat to the Autobots than the Decepticons, and given that I don’t think it’s deliberate, that’s kind of sad.
Ultimately, all of this is really just a symptom of what I think if TFP’s single biggest problem: really atrocious writing. Now, I don’t mean the character writing or the dialogue, which have been pretty consistently good through both seasons. No, what I mean is the narrative structuring, both within individual episodes and in terms of the long-term overarching plotlines. And I know I’ve complained about this before, at length, on Tumblr and elsewhere, so I’m going to keep it brief now since this screed is already long enough: the TFP writing team can’t write an internally consistent, satisfying story. Their chops just don’t seem to be up to snuff when it comes to tying together these disparate episodes, characters, and plotlines into a story that makes any logical sense.
I have no idea what’s coming next in TFP. I have no idea where they’re going with any of their plotting, what— if any— endgame they have in mind. And frankly, I no longer trust them to do anything but baffle and dismay me.
But I’m still going to keep watching, because despite all this I still enjoy this show and want to see what happens to my favorite characters. So, uh, good job, TFP writing team? Your bizarre and unpredictable story-telling has me addicted (if only because I literally can’t guess what you’re going to do next).
(Source: dirty-tf-secrets, via sentimental-mercenary)