The Burden Hardest to Bear
A Japanese fishing boat is minding it's own
business, going along nicely until Devastator and Predaking come marching in,
attacking Broadside and causing the big lug to fall, forcing him to steady the
fishing ship while the Decepticons just flee for no reason. Meanwhile, Astrotran
is causing havok on a railroad, aiming to plough straight into a passenger
train, only for the Aerialbots to intervene. And elsewhere, Defensor is
protecting a shrine of worship from Bruticus, only to be knocked down with a
barrage of punches.
Defensor evens the odds by downing Bruticus, though Cyclonus and the Sweeps arrive before he can finish him off, only for Sky Lynx, Rodimus and Kup to also intervene and send the Decepticons packing. A school of training samurai (or something) and their sensei thank the Autobots for their help, but Sky Lynx alerts Rodimus that he's wanted at the Imperial Palace, where he just gets a tongue lashing over the Decepticon attacks being bad for business and tourism, so Rodimus just walks off in a huff.
The Autobot leader returns and relays the news to Kup, stating how he feels like the entire world is resting on his shoulders and wishes he could just run away from it all. Ever conveniently, Marissa Faireborn shows up and says that the EDC need help, only for Rodimus to get ridiculously moody about everyone's problems being brought to him, and drives off. Kup explains to Marissa that Rodimus' moodiness is because of "giri", Japanese for "the burden hardest to bear," and claims that Optimus felt the same way when the Matrix was passed to him, and he'll need to get over it himself.
Marissa, however, feels that Rodimus still
needs someone to talk to, and then uses a really ridiculous
way of assuming where he'd be by now, and somehow, she's right! She tries to
contact him and settle him down, but he just wants to race his troubles away,
though Dead End and Wildrider butt in before she can take part, having been sent
to this road as scouts for Autobot activity. Rodimus revels in the thrill of the
chase, until Marissa spins out from oil dropped by the Stunticons...
But before he can get back to her, Wildrider collides with him and sends him flying off the ridge! The two Decepticons laugh over this and climb down to get a closer look, and find the Matrix buried under some rubble, laugh over this discovery some more and head back to Galvatron to show him the awesome find. Marissa eventually gets out of the marsh she spun into, only to find her ally in an unpleasant state.
Galvatron is one happy bunny over what the Stunticons delivered him, and immediately sets about inserting it into his cannon, only for the thing to simply spark and turn his cannon into a giant paperweight. He blames this on his minions dropping it on the way here and attempts to blast them, though it now releases a mist that fills the air with the likenesses and cries of the former Autobot leaders, who demand he remove their sacred item at once.
The emperor of destruction agrees out of pure fright, and commands Scourge to destroy it, acting hypocritically in the process and marching off with Cyclonus for no reason, leaving Scourge by himself. The lackey uses this opportunity to list reasons why the Matrix is the most powerful thing ever, and he is the one who is holding it right now!
And without a moment's thought, in it goes.
He immediately begins bulging and warping, and actually weeps for joy over his new predicament. Meanwhile, the Autobots are checking up on Rodimus, naturally worried over the Decepticons' ownership of the Matrix, while Hot Rod awakens and wonders what all the fuss is about. Ultra Magnus reminds him of just how important the Matrix is and how it's removal has reverted him to his former, more naive self, who sets into a long rant about the war being pointless and the Matrix being a terrible invention, and drives off again.
Over on Chaar, Galvatron rallies his troops
and announces that with the Matrix destroyed now is the time for the Decepticons
to wipe out the Autobots, only for Scourge to pop up, claim how he is now the
new leader of the Decepticons, and blasts his leader off a cliff into a spiky
pit with his eye lasers. Cyclonus attempts to stop his former comrade, only to
have his blast bounced back at him, allowing Scourge to declare supremacy over
the other Decepticons, commanding them to set out and destroy the universe!
With Cyclonus the only one left behind,
Galvatron climbs out of the pit and ponders over what could have supplied
Scourge with such power, and Cyclonus gives him the obvious answer along with a
recap of what he just did. Galvatron punches his ally in anger over his former
minion now ruling his army, and they set out to destroy both him and the Matrix.
Meanwhile, Marissa and Springer inform Ultra Magnus of a Decepticon armada
approaching, and without Hot Rod, however will they cope?
Back at the samurai school type place, the students' sensei tells one of his students that they should not expect to win or lose the fight, but to expect nothing, and dismisses their lesson for the day. Hot Rod, who was watching the whole thing, demonstrates his lack of manners while being taught about how thinking of victory leads into thought of defeat, which subsequently distracts the mind from what needs to be done to win. And what Hot Rod must do to win is whatever his destiny is, and to abandon it would be equivalent to losing.
Meanwhile, Galvatron and Cyclonus are chasing down Scourge and his fellow traitors, while Scourge and his fellow traitors are heading towards Earth with only one objective in mind: Utter destruction!
And arriving in Japan in no time at all, the Decepticons don't appear to be there at all with only Scourge doing the destruction, zapping Kup with stun rays and doing the same to Broadside, though he resists and simply throws the punk away. Scourge lands before an elderly lady and lowers his standards to have her as his new target, only for one of the samurai students to show up and strike at his leg, stunning him and allowing the student to take the lady to safety.
Cyclonus somehow hears of Scourge's assault on Earth, so he and Galvatron fly down there to teach him the meaning of that word. The student and the old lady continue fleeing, only to end up in a dead end with Scourge right behind them. Hot Rod shows up, however, and rams the bastard right into the wall, and upon realising that the Matrix is what made him into this despicable creature, believes that his purpose is to belong to it and starts blasting the Decepticon to get it back to it's rightful owner.
Scourge is eventually defeated, and Hot Rod reclaims the Matrix to make himself a Prime again, and to prove how he can now accept other people's problems, gives the student and woman a lift home. Galvatron and Cyclonus arrive and find their comrade in the alley, demanding answers, but find the ones he provides to be a bunch of baloney, and blast him for his crimes.
Elsewhere, the battle between the Decepticons and Autobots is pretty savage, but upon seeing Galvatron and Cyclonus carting Scourge back to Chaar with them, the bad guys realise the party's over and follow after. Rodimus pulls up and congratulates his buddies for holding out for so long, with Kup happy to see him back to his old self again thanks to the Matrix. Rodimus explains that he didn't just find the Matrix, but he found the missing part of himself, while Kup elaborates that "whoever carries the Matrix, that part's something you'll never lose."
It's never adequately explained why Scourge's appearance distorts so much when he uses the Matrix, though there have been fan explanations that since the Matrix destroyed Unicron and Galvatron and his henchmen were created by the big cheese, then the Matrix would at least screw with them in some way in an attempt to remove the Unicron essence or whatever. Personally, my immature excuse for it is simply because a taller and bulkier Scourgimus Prime just wouldn't really be cool, so they made him an ugly bugger.
So a blast from Galvatron and Cyclonus does nothing against Scourge, yet a sword to the ankle drops him to his knees, and then Hot Rod's blaster renders him unconscious. Huh.
Maybe I'm just a crazy person, but I feel that replacing a few select words from Hot Rod's rant could make a good argument for a political debate. Or any debate for that matter.
"Day in and day out, bake that cake, cook that pie - what's the point? This has been going on for a few dozen centuries by now and I don't see a change in it, do you? You want your women barefoot and pregnant, swell, go do that, but if you want that train of thought, find some other country to do it in! 'Cause I am woman, hear me roar!"
I think I'm going to hell for some reason.