David Wise wrote fifteen episodes of the original series, among them was an episode titled Attack of the Autobots.
It’s not a perfect episode: some clean-up with the dialogue could have done wonders. If anything, it’s a filler ep, not exactly memorable to most.
It’s also, hands down, my favorite ep of the entire series. Transport to Oblivion, which was the catalyst for my crush on Bumblebee, only ranks at number two. A very distant number two, I may add. The moment I saw this episode, it became my favorite, for one very good reason: this storyline highlighted everything I knew and loved about Bumblebee.
The basic premise was after an attack on the Autobots’ headquarters, Megatron managed to slip a device into the Autobots recharging chamber that would completely change their personalities. Instead of the noble, honest mechs we knew, they became little more than carbon copies of the deceitful Deceptions, prone to violence and destruction. However, Megatron’s plan wasn’t without a fatal flaw; not every Autobot had used the recharging chamber. Two were left free of Megatron’s influence: Bumblebee and Jazz. When the plot was uncovered, Jazz helped Spike’s father Sparkplug, to devise a way to break Megatron’s hold on the other Autobots, but Bumblebee… Well, he was Bumblebee. Upon hearing that Optimus Prime was acting like a Decepticon, Bumblebee raced off to confront the leader of the Autobots and try to get him to remember who he truly was.
It was a valiant effort, but the odds were seemingly stacked against poor Bumblebee. Even I knew that as a kid.
Optimus Prime just happened to be one of the strongest of the Autobots. Bumblebee was physically the weakest. In a match of sheer strength, Optimus would be the clear winner. Add to that the fact that Optimus Prime wasn’t the caring soul that we all knew and things looked even worse.
Yet that didn’t stop Bumblebee. Without any regard to his own safety, he charged in, determined to help his friend.
For me, that’s what made this episode so memorable: we were looking at a David and Goliath story, only this Goliath was someone I knew and loved. Optimus wasn’t the enemy, even though he was acting exactly like a Decepticon. He couldn’t help it; this was all due to Megatron. But it was hard not to flinch when Prime callously slapped Bumblebee away and even harder not to feel hurt at Bumblebee’s protest. When Bumblebee tried to physically stop Prime’s destructive rampage, Optimus told him to prepare for the worst.
Ugh, that scene: the reflection of a terrified Bumblebee in Optimus Prime’s windshield. Yeah, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I saw that. I was truly afraid.
However, Sparkplug’s invention turned out to be successful; the other Autobots were finally free of Megatron and they began to help the others of their team. Everyone was saved, except for one: Optimus Prime. Making it worse? There was only one of Sparkplug’s devices left. If it didn’t make it to Prime, he would be lost.
That’s when Bumblebee stepped up and took matters into his own hands.
Again, it looked as though Prime was going to kill him, but Bumblebee didn’t back down. He was the one who saved Optimus Prime, the gutsy little guy.
Then this happened:
Optimus Prime scooped Bumblebee up in his arms and hugged him. I was stunned.
I often identified with Bumblebee: I wasn’t exactly taken seriously. I was seen as more of a pest than anything else. But to see this… I wanted nothing more than to leave my human family behind and join the Autobots. Optimus certainly acted more human than my mother. I probably would have fit in, as big a misfit as I was back then.
Wise wrote other episodes but to me, this one was probably his best. It might not have been the perfect story, but it did one hell of a job showcasing the characters, which is what I remember so clearly. And for one moment, I, like Bumblebee, actually felt safe and accepted. For that, I say: Thank you, Mr. Wise. You’ll be missed.