Guadal Canal, 1943: an island which was of great importance in the second world war, and as the episode starts we see part of a battle between the US and Japanese armies, both being desperate to gain control of the island. The Japanese eventually withdrew but during the many battles all kind of wreckage was left behind.
Decepticon H.Q., 1986: Starscream is having a whine at Megatron for going on about how wonderful Shockwave is and that Megatron is a bad leader, since he hasn't been able to destroy the Autobots yet. As the other Decepticons gather around to listen to them squabble, Megatron tells Starscream that he can't even see his own faults and then turns his back on him. Starscream gets angry at this and shoots him.
Starscream believes he has killed Megatron and stands on him whilst telling everyone else that he is in command now. But Megatron kicks him over,
says something great, and then tells Starscream that he has had enough of his quests for power and betrayal. Starscream gets up to run claiming that he'll have his revenge against all of the Decepticons but Megatron just says "you... and what army?"
It is seemingly all over for Starscream when Megatron blasts him and has Laserbeak fly him out of the Decepticon base. When he comes around, he finds himself washed up on an island and comes to the conclusion that not only has he been humiliated infront of all of the Decepticons, he has also been exiled. As he walks around the island he finds several parts of old vehicles that were used in the flesh creature's wars.
As he looks around the island he finds more and more vehicles, and finds a tank that is in pretty good condition and it reminds him of that two-faced loud mouth Blitzwing. This then gives Starscream and idea and after getting Skywarp and Thundercracker to activate the space bridge (only because he threatened to shoot Skywarp in the face) he arrives on Cybertron and heads into a room labeled "217".
He knows what he is after even if we don't and after nabbing something that looks a lot like energon, he runs off and heads back to Earth, where his team of vehicles lay waiting in a line for him. He inserts the pink objects into each of them, and then takes a step back and tells his new team, the Combaticons, to transform.
And after some weird morphing into new vehicles, up come Swindle, Blast Off, Vortex and Onslaught. Onslaught and Blast Off immediately kick things off by saying that they hate the new bodies they are in, but Starscream the silences them all and says that he rescued their personalities from the Decepticon detention
centre on Cybertron and that he has given them new bodies so they can help him fight Megatron. Brawl then walks over to him and threatens to waste Starscream, but Starscream has a trick up his sleeve - he hasn't given any of the Combaticons energy absorbers, meaning they can't refuel. So Onslaught decides that he and the rest of them will obey Starscream - for now.
Elsewhere, Jazz and Cliffjumper are appearing on TV to reveal a memorial to Optimus Prime - but no sooner has Jazz cut the ribbon, Starscream appears on the scene with the Combaticons, who trash parts of the town, send the humans running and eventually capture the two Autobots. With one victory under his belt, Starscream orders them all to retreat saying that Megatron is next.
With Jazz and Cliffjumper captured, Starscream now has two energy absorbers, but he can't play favourites and the Combaticons agree to capture another three Transformers so each of them can have an absorber at the same time. Meanwhile, Shockwave contacts Megatron and informs him that five personality chips from the Decepticon detention center have been stolen -they were the personalities of the five renegade Decepticons that were imprisoned a long time a go. At the Autobot HQ, Optimus and the others find out about what has happened to Jazz and Cliffjumper when the whole base begins to shake!
Megatron and some of the other Decepticons have started an attack with the Decepticon leader demanding that the Autobots return the personality chips of the renegade Decepticons, but Optimus has no idea what he is talking about and instead demands that they release Jazz and Cliffjumper. Megatron then realises that maybe it wasn't Optimus after all and retreats leaving the Autobots quite confused.
They head back inside and try and find out more about the renegade Decepticons and Teletraan-1 tells them that millions of years a go on Cybertron, under the direct orders of Megatron, Shockwave removed the personality components of five renegade Decepticons and stored them away whilst destroying their original bodies, but now, these have been stolen. Optimus says that it must be a power struggle between Megatron and Starscream, and that that is of no concern to them - but rescuing Jazz and Cliffjumper is.
Meanwhile, Megatron and Starscream have a showdown in a railway station but Megatron is ambushed by his former second in command and his new Combaticons. However, he manages to escape when the power generator is accidentally shot, turning off all the lights. Starscream's brigade fire everywhere but Megatron and the other Decepticons retreat successfully. However, it isn't a total loss for the Combaticons as they shoot down Ramjet and Dirge - meaning that they only need one more Transformer, and then Starscream can install the energy absorbers into all of the Combaticons.
At the Decepticon base, Megatron gathers his troops together and tells them that they'll go and destroy Starscream and his new army, and he tells Soundwave to go and get the Stunticons to join them. Drag Strip responds saying they aren't interested as they'd rather enjoy the demolition derby they are having, but Megatron heads out anyway. Meanwhile, Starscream and his Combaticons are
refuelling themselves at a power plant...
...when Megatron attacks. As a firefight breaks out between Megatron's and Starscream's forces, Powerglide is out on patrol and sees the battle and reports his location back to Optimus Prime. The Autobots then quickly arrive on the scene and rescue their two captured buddies without the Decepticons even noticing. Meanwhile, Megatron gets the Constructicons to transform into Devastator, but as he begins to fire, Starscream reveals that he was prepared for this and has his Combaticons reveal their own giant robot mode: Bruticus!
lets us know what he intends to do and then goes and does it, and with Devastator down, Megatron and the other Decepticons haven't got the power to take Starscream's new warrior down so they decide to retreat. However, Bruticus grabs Megatron and Starscream tells him to tell everyone who the new leader of the Decepticons is, and in danger of being crushed if he refuses, Megatron finally admits that Starscream is the new leader.
But then, the Stunticons roll up to the edge of a cliff and see that Megatron is in trouble. After a brief debate, they conclude that they would rather have Megatron as their leader instead of Starscream and decide to go and save him by transforming into Menasor and going to punch the new giant robot as hard as possible. Starscream notices the giant shadow looming over him and Bruticus too late.
After the colossal punch hits Starscream gets up and tries to find where Bruticus is but instead finds an angry Megatron who tells him that he is the leader of the Decepticons and that this really is the end for him this time. And a few minutes later, Astrotrain dumps Starscream and his Combaticons on a small piece of rock in space as they have now been banished from the Earth forever, but Starscream swears that he will have his revenge.
So, the humans built Optimus Prime a memorial. You know, memorials - the things you usually give to dead people. Anyone who was surprised at Optimus' death in the movie clearly wasn't reading between the lines.
The way the Combaticons first activate is a bit... random. Vortex is probably the best example:
He just basically melts from a old fighter plane into a helicopter. Blast Off is just as bad as he melts from a aircraft into a space shuttle. And to think that Megatron had to build the Stunticons himself - did these personality components have magic powers or something?
The episode marks a very rare appearance of Reflector, who the writers were told not to use well before at this point in the season. He can be seen as Megatron and a few other Decepticons retreat from the train station battle.
Another rare occurrence is that when Megatron rallies his troops, Shockwave can be seen with them, and he never usually appears on Earth (his appearance in "The Autobot Run" was definitely an animation error).
So, the Combaticons cannot refuel as Starscream hasn't installed energy absorbers on any of them and won't until they have five Transformers. But what are they all doing before Megatron attacks them at the power plant? Refuelling. Hurf.