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EPISODE 23:
ULTRA ZOD

ORIGINAL AIRDATE:
25/09/1985
WRITER:
Jim Bertges
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SYNOPSIS

BuggyMan captures AJAJ is going to stay with her aunt and uncle, so Matt, Nick and the Guardians drop her off at the airport. She arrives in Waldron to find the town deserted - apart from the Renegades Crasher and BuggyMan. They catch her and take her to Cy-Kill at the local air base. He's using the facility and the enslaved townspeople - including her relatives - to build Ultra Zod. He plans to use AJ as bait to lure the Guardians into battle against this new weapon. However, Cop-Tur clashes with the Guardians while stealing parts, and is followed by Turbo and Nick. They come across AJ, who has escaped but been tracked down by BuggyMan. Turbo defeats the Renegade, but by the time they get to town Ultra Zod is active. Turbo tries to hold him off while Nick and AJ try to free Cy-Kill's captives. Leader-1, Scooter, Rest-Q and Matt arrive to back up Turbo.

Ultra Zod under constructionMeanwhile at the air base Nick and AJ manage to free Waldron's children, despite BuggyMan's attempts to stop them. Outside the town, Turbo tricks the Ultra Zod into destroying the bridge it's on, but the machine remains fully functional. Thankfully the Command Center is en route with Courageous and the Power Suits, and gathers up the Guardians. After a brief fight, Courageous targets the exposed power port of Ultra Zod, destroying it. The Renegades pull out, and the freed townspeople thank the Guardians. Nick then decides to make a joke out of their traumatic time spent as forced labour for evil (well, amoral) alien robots.


NOTES

The Ultra Zod loose in WaldronAJ's Aunt Kathryn and Uncle William live in Waldron, just outside of Denver (there are several real Waldrons in America, but none seem to really fit). It has a USAF base. AJ can scale what must be an eight foot fence while hardly breaking her stride. The Courageous shuttle doesn't require a pilot.

Ultra Zod does what it says on the tin - it's a more powerful version of Zod, redesigned to boot.The Ultra Zod again seems to have limited intelligence (Cy-Kill refers to it as a 'pet'). Sadly, no toy was made... As standard Zods are seen in later episodes it seems a fair guess the Ulta Zod project was abandoned after the prototype was destroyed.


TRIVIA

Turbo leads Ultra Zod away from the townGobots Featured: Leader-1, Scooter, Turbo, Crasher, BuggyMan, Cy-Kill, Cop-Tur, Rest-Q.

Humans Featured: AJ, Matt, Nick.

Others Featured: Ultra Zod, Courageous.

Particularly Glaring Errors: Why is AJ flying home in a commercial jet when her good friend Leader-1 turns into a plane? The first pan at the bus station makes Crasher and BuggyMan's vehicle modes look tiny, about knee-height to AJ. There's also a ten second gap between the pair noisily transforming and Crasher speaking in the middle of the silent town about five yards away from AJ before she actually notices they're there - that might not sound like a lot, but onscreen it feels like forever. Where to they get the Powersuits from? Do they fly all the way to Waldron, then have Matt and Rest-Q fly back to wherever the things are kept? Ultra Zod's scale is all over the place throughout, most notably when Courageous is about the same relative size as individual Gobots have been (it should be about four or five times the height, i.e. just a little shorter than Ultra Zod).

Moments of Actual Quality: Cy-Kill says he's going to put the "fear of Zod" into the Guardians. That is pretty awesome.

Unintentional Hilarity: Turbo and BuggyMan stand a few feet apart and take it in turns to zap each other.


REVIEW:

Courageous heads into battleThe plot is painfully obvious, but at least the episode just gets on with it instead of falling back on mystery that can't possibly worked. There are some serviceable action sequences, even if the Courageous/Ultra Zod fight fizzles a bit, and the Zod redesign is actually not bad.

However, there's no escaping that AJ is front and centre here. She's generally the least annoying of the UNECOM trio, but that's the definition of a backhanded compliment. Still, nice to know her relatives are all just as weird-looking as she is.