Media, Interviews, Reviews
Transformers War for Cybertron - Chapter 1: “Siege” Recap
Unicron.com: F.J.! Thanks for taking time with us once again. As we anxiously await the debut of chapter 2: "Earthrise" we have some burning questions from the first season, that need answering! Hoping you can shed some light on a few things for us! So let's jump into it!
“Surrender stations?!” What the - Oh, please tell us more!? What are these exactly? And what exactly would happen if I, an Autobot, went to one?
F.J. DeSanto: They’re basically prison camps for anyone caught or who has surrendered during the war. It shows at this point there is still a shred of decency amongst the Decepticons. Of course Starscream, as he says, would prefer to “surrender” the Autobots right then and there so the idea is to see they are moving in a darker direction.
Unicron.com: Many of the best Transformers stories begin at a point of Cybertronian dystopia - where the antagonists have taken over Cybertron: (1986) Transformers The Movie, Beast Machines and now your series - the War for Cybertron Trilogy. I’ve always found it fascinating, stories of the history and culture of Cybertron civilization, which would lead to Megatron’s rise to absolute power and prominence. Megatron mentions Kaon and Gladiatorial pits. Ultra Magnus discusses the times fighting together with Megatron against a common foe - and Jetfire’s moral struggle that Megatron’s motives have *changed* … There are hints of a Functionalist society and the oppressive governing body/ Class War - which pre-dates the Autobot-Decepticon conflict. Jetfire submits to the (Autobot?) Praxus law enforcement practice of “Core Override implants” … blow up his brain module if the Decpticon steps out of line! …. No wonder Megatron’s movement caught hold in this society! In developing your series, did you draft its own unique backstory - or should we think of this as a continuation of stories told in IDW Comics or the “Transformers Exodus” novel? …
F.J. DeSanto: The backstory to WFC is something we crafted on our own. Our initial reference points were always G1, the 86 movie and then eventually BEAST WARS. To be frank, we never looked at the IDW books or novels. Early on, we were asked by Hasbro to align as best we could with CYBERVERSE because it treads into similar story territory. This was super cool as we got to read their scripts in advance which allowed us to make sure we didn’t conflict with anything they were doing continuity-wise. We also had the advantage of having Gavin on the writing team and he had been on that show also. Cool tidbit: our Allspark model is literally the same one used in CYBERVERSE.
Unicron.com: Starscream is absolutely delicious. Your depiction of him here makes him one of my absolute favorites once again!
“Looters are to be executed on site! Let alone, Autobots.”
Back when this was first written, did you have any idea just how relevant this line would be with all that’s going on in the real world America 2020?!
F.J. DeSanto: To be honest, we write for Transformers and those characters in that world. We want the show to be inclusive to everyone, everywhere and maintain the wonderful themes it began with. If something is relevant to the world itself, its most likely because the classic conflict of good vs evil transcends everything and will exist till the end of time. I don’t think you can have a line as powerful as “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings”
As for Starscream, all credit goes to Frank Todaro bringing so much to the character. He and our voice director pushed each other to the limit. Starscream has an amazing arc in this trilogy that I doubt anyone will expect and again that’s because we knew Frank could deliver something beyond just a “bad guy”.
Unicron.com: Oh, and re: Starscream’s promotion! Shockwave, Soundwave, even B-list bot Barricade not impressed!
F.J. DeSanto: I love that scene. It’s like when a total weasel gets a promotion at work and you know they don’t deserve it but kissed the right butt to get there. But you know, Megatron has his reasons!
Unicron.com: What’s Barricade’s rank? He seems to be a leader of ground forces, analogous to Jetfire/Starscream leading the Seekers?
F.J. DeSanto: Barricade is technically a Sergeant, which would make sense given his history as a (corrupt!) cop on Praxis. He is definitely leading the ground forces on these missions, so I think it’s safe to assume he’s in charge.
Unicron.com: Two moons! Seen in the skyline of Cybertron skies. How perfect! Intentional?
F.J. DeSanto: You’d have to ask the artists, haha.
Unicron.com: We’ve got to talk about Megatron. Aside from his depiction in (1986) Transformers The Movie - this is the most badass and intimidating versions of the Decepticon Leader we’ve ever seen. (Love it, BRAVO!) He’s headed toward being a genocidal maniac - but seems he’s not quite there yet. Tells us about Megatron’s moral compass. In the series opening scene, he outright says, the Decepticon cause is not genocide, but then in then orders termination of Wheeljack an Autobot and Bumblebee a neutral. Has he given up on that moral compass by the time this show kicks off? … Does he regret killing Ultra Magnus?
F.J. DeSanto: When we meet Megatron in SIEGE, he’s on the precipice of victory and still has some sense of honor. Yeah, he orders the termination of Wheeljack and Bee, but he DOES offer them the opportunity to join his cause first. He is trying, in his mind, to be fair. If you recall, when Shockwave proposes using the Allspark to Megatron, he says he has to think about it first. He doesn’t just automatically agree to it. But throughout you see him slowly slipping into darkness and that has a deep effect on the Decepticons, especially Jetfire, Impactor and Starscream. Their paths are entirely influenced by Megatron’s decisions.
The moral compass goes out the door when Ultra Magnus plays him for a fool at Trion’s memorial and Megatron blows him away. It’s too much for him. All bets are off after that especially when the Allspark is in the mix. As for regretting killing, Magnus, that’s something we explore in the future chapters for sure.
Unicron.com: Ultra Magnus. His motives seem well placed, but seem oddly naive for his character. At this point in the war, he’s been through many battles against Megatron. What’s going through his mind when he surrenders? Is he naive or an Autobot Mastermind, resulting from his possession of the Alpha Trion Protocols, knows full well Megs will kill him and intends the Alpha Trion Protocols to pass to someone else?
F.J. DeSanto: Is it him being naive or having no other choice to do what he thinks is best to protect what’s left of the Autobots? We’re joining this story at the END of the war. After hundreds of battles against Megatron, Magnus is the first to admit that the Autobots have lost.
He goes to Megatron because he’s considered every possible angle and this is the last resort. He’d rather try to save a few Autbots then see them all wiped out. However, once he realizes Megatron is too far gone, he knows he’s a dead man walking. He knew the risk. He’s defiant from that point on which only frustrates Megatron more.
The only thing perhaps naive about Magnus is that he has a sense of honor which no longer applies to this war. He could have killed Megatron and didn’t. However, he is never going to give up The Autobot’s location so he tries to buy them time by leading Megatron and Decepticons on a wide goose chase. If you look closely when he’s killed, you’ll see Magnus slightly smiling because he knows the Protocols, in particular the keys to finding the Allspark, will somehow get to Optimus.
In the end, he’s a noble yet tragic character stuck in the middle of a death feud between his two brothers.
Unicron.com: Perceptor Cameo in Ratchet's "theater!" (I only noticed this bit because you pointed it out when I told you about Perceptor being my favorite character!)
F.J. DeSanto: You can thank John Warden for the Perceptor cameo! When we were designing the theatre, he specifically asked to have him be part of the murals. I think he felt Perceptor would be a patron of the arts before the war. There are some big easter eggs coming in Earthrise and Kingdom, so im gonna keep quiet for now.
Unicron.com: Starscream states that Jetfire, “murdered Skywarp.” Is that’s just a typical Starscream exaggeration for the sake of the story he’s trying to tell and rise through the ranks? Can you confirm that Skywarp’s not actually dead? (Ah meeeeeean, why kill off Skywarp when you had a nearly unlimited number of similarly colored Tetrajet seekers you could whack off without consequence!? ;)
F.J. DeSanto: Starscream may have a flair for the dramatic, but Skywarp is totally dead. Sorry.
Unicron.com: Are we seeing Kaon? - Where Megatron is giving his propaganda speeches? Don’t think it’s ever explicitly stated, but I’d love to know.
F.J. DeSanto: Yeah, we call it Kaon Arena in the scripts.
Unicron.com: How about Soundwave?! I love the use of sound manipulation to goad OP into the fools errand by mimicking Magnus’ voice. Brilliant use of the character! Are we going to see mass shifting where he shrinks down to the size of a human walkman?! Do kids even know what a walkman is anymore?
F.J. DeSanto: I thought Polygon did a tremendous job animating Soundwave’s digital cassette player. While I can tell you we will see Soundwave in action in the later chapters, we will NOT be seeing him in walkman mode!
Unicron.com: This is a new version of Optimus Prime we have not seen before. He makes significant strategic mistakes. He is not Megatron’s equal in strength or hand-to-hand combat. Should we consider this part of a developing story arc, that he will develop significantly over the course of this series or instead ought we consider that this essentially IS the Optimus Prime of this trilogy?
F.J. DeSanto: It’s absolutely a story arc. I know this interpretation of Prime has surprised and frustrated a few fans. However, if you start off with him fully realized as as the Optimus Prime we know and love, where can you go with him? You can’t do much with the character if he’s already in his, ahem, prime. So why not meet him just before that and see the events that get him to where he truly is THE Optimus Prime. We still have two more chapters to explore him and by the time it’s over, we will see who he is and why the Matrix of Leadership chose him.
Unicron.com: Let’s talk about “The Guardians” How many of them are there exactly? Is Omega Supreme heir leader or one equal, among many? Optimus appeals to them and their reply is not to get involved w/ a battle of two factions. We’re about to add Mercenaries, Maximals and Predacons maybe even Quintessons. Will they get involved w/ a battle of 6 factions? What does the prophecy say to this!?
F.J. DeSanto: Omega Supreme’s not the leader. He’s more the renegade who believes in doing what is best for Cybertron. We kept the Guardians intentionally vague. I think there’s a deeper story to be developed, maybe in a comic.
Unicron.com: What actually convinces Bumblebee to turn Autobot? The wisdom of the Alpha Trion Protocols? Or reasoned thought, seeing that there is a philosophical difference between the leaders Megatron’s dictatorship vs Optimus, unwilling to take the Alpha Trion Protocols being too much power for any one bot to possess? It’s apparent, more knowledge was transferred to Bumblebee during their conversation than just the spoken words of their conversation. Before the vision, Bee has no knowledge of the Allspark - then after its conclusion, he knows exactly where it is. Is there other knowledge/info bestowed to Bee that wasn’t stated explicitly?
F.J. DeSanto: Bee in the end makes his decisions based on his heart. He’s seen every side of the war and knows he has to make a choice. The Protocols chose him because deep down he is the purest of hearts and the best person to help Optimus in the future. We thought it would be fun to show the origin of that relationship in a new way. You’ll see as the story goes on that for our heroes its not about the protocols or the matrix, its about the bot and their spark.
Unicron.com: Related question - speaking of Alpha Trion protocols - were they wiped out 100% with Shockwave’s virus or will they continue to be a factor?
F.J. DeSanto: As far as we know, they are totally wiped out because Shockwave doesn’t mess around.
Unicron.com: We got Prowl in this show. Why no Bluestreak or Smokescreen? Might we see these characters in the future???
F.J. DeSanto: We only have so much time and space per episode and we have a lot of new characters coming in the next two chapters. But not these guys, sorry.
Unicron.com: Mercenaries! Now that Soundblaster is out in the open, and you mentioned your favorite character. Can we talk about him/them? Is he their Leader? I get the sense we have a lot more revelations to come with this newly developing faction than what we learned in S1.
F.J. DeSanto: Being able to introduce the Mercenaries into the franchise is one of my proudest moments. Soundblaster is indeed my favorite character. I think it stems from my love of the Japanese cartoons and I had always wondered about him from when I first saw him in the Masterpiece Official Guide. I am beyond excited Takara Tomy is making a figure out of him with the mercenary logo (and yes I bought the 35th anniversary Soundblaster because I didn’t think there would be another!).
To be clear, Soundblaster is the leader of the mercenaries on Cybertron. It’s a crime syndicate and they could be anywhere and everywhere in the galaxy. In Earthrise, we will meet Doubledealer and his gang, who are out in space causing all kinds of trouble. We have developed a rather elaborate backstory for the mercenaries to use down the line if we get the opportunity.
Unicron.com: Are there any other named/known Autobots who stayed behind on Cybertron besides Elita-1, Chromia, Red Alert and the still-a-Decepticon Jetfire?
F.J. DeSanto: Well it will be now-an-Autobot Jetfire, but you’ll have to wait and see who stayed behind and who will be joining (or opposing) them.
Unicron.com As with our interview with Siege, before it aired, I don’t want to ask questions that spoil surprises from season 2. But we have to pry a little! SkyLynx - when this toy was revealed on the showfloor of ToyFair 2020, you said, “Oh, you’re going to love him!” Sooooo…. He’s in? Please tell me he maintains his arrogance. That crazy bird/dragon thing is just so quirky and cool - cannot wait to see him in action again. Does he play a role in things to come?
F.J. DeSanto: When I said you’re gonna love him, I meant the toy….but man he is one arrogant bird.
Unicron.com: Chapters 1, 2 and 3 - Siege, Earthrise and Kingdom. What an incredible trilogy. Which is your favorite and why?
F.J. DeSanto: To me it’s one big giant story so there’s no need to choose!
Unicron.com: Thank you once again again for taking time to talk to us and all the Transformers fandom! These characters and their mythology are sacred territory to us! It's great to know it's in the hands of such talented, enthusiastic artists ... who care! Thanks again and look forward to Earthrise and more conversations to come!
Looking for a complete list of Transformers figures in the War For Cybertron series? Check out the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Transformers Sections of unicron.com!