|Airdate||October 11, 1985|
|Written by||Jeff Segal and Kelly Ward|
|Teleplay by||Antoni Zalewski|
|Animation studio||Wang Film Productions|
Small Foot must take charge to foil the Renegades' plan to capture and replace the Guardians with robotic duplicates.
The Guardians and Renegades are in battle with one another on Earth yet again. While facing off against Crasher alongside Turbo, Small Foot is knocked off a cliff edge, but manages to save herself by using her winch to grapple to safety. Leader-1, meanwhile, trades blasts with Cy-Kill until the Renegade leader lands a hit, whereupon Snoop comes swooping in, apparently to finish the job. Leader-1 is surprised, then, when all she does is fly past without firing a shot, after which Cy-Kill calls retreat. What the Guardians have no way of knowing is that Snoop's fly-by was done so she could capture Leader-1 on video—video that Renegade mad scientist Doctor Go uses to program a robotic duplicate of Leader-1 so it can impersonate him!
Concerned by the danger her lack of experience puts her in, Leader-1 elects to send Small Foot back to GoBotron. Subsequently, he, Turbo, and Scooter demonstrate their new "Space Bender" weapon for UNECOM; the test is successful, but the Space Bender shorts out in the process. Before repairs can be implemented, a distress call comes through from Washington, D.C., alerting the Guardians to a Renegade presence in the city. The heroes split up to search the city, but as he flies between the buildings, Leader-1 is ambushed by... himself! Stunned by his doppelganger, he is tackled by Crasher, Cop-Tur, and Doctor Go, who slip a paralyzing neural lock onto him and take him prisoner, leaving his evil duplicate to assume his place in the Guardian ranks.
Once the Guardians have returned to GoBotron, the Leader-1 doppelganger announces that Small Foot and Scooter are to be retired from active duty, while he and Turbo go on a "secret mission." The doppelganger's abrasive personality makes Scooter and the humans suspicious, so Scooter follows "Leader-1" and Turbo on their mission, and watches with horror as the Renegades jump Turbo and replace him with another doppelganger. Scooter rushes back to inform first Small Foot, and then the humans, but Matt is concerned that Small Foot may already have been compromised. The group cautiously approaches her to ask her some questions, only to have her respond by aiming the repaired Space Bender at them... then proving her innocence by blasting the Turbo doppelganger that was sneaking up on them from behind!
While Cy-Kill and the doppelgangers set about capturing and replacing more and more Guardians, Scooter accesses the disabled Turbo doppelganger's computer brain and learns that the Renegades are operating out of a secret base on GoBotron's Moon of Shadows. He, Small Foot, and the humans head for the moon in a Command Center, but Crasher detects their approach and fires a pair of missiles at them. Small Foot allows her to believe they have been destroyed by maneuvering the Command Center behind an asteroid, against which the missiles impact, then instructs Scooter to disguise the craft as Thruster by means of a hologram so they can safely approach the moon. Using the reprogrammed Turbo duplicate to gain them access to the Renegades' base on the moon's surface by posing as its prisoners, our heroes immobilize Doctor Go with one of his own neural locks, and locate and free Leader-1 and the other captive Guardians. They evade Fitor and Spoons to make it back to the Command Center, traversing a chasm on a tightrope made of Small Foot's winch cable when they find their propulsion systems are too weak to fly, but are confronted by Cy-Kill, Crasher, and Cop-Tur before they can board. Scooter's holograms save the day once again when he projects one of Zod, sending the Renegades scattering in fear. Cy-Kill quickly realizes that Zod isn't even on the moon, but it's too late—the Guardians have gotten away.
Leader-1 contacts GoBotron for assistance, but his message is also received by his doppelganger, who sends the Guardian duplicates out to attack the Command Center as it draws close to the planet. The craft is brought crashing down to the surface of GoBotron, but the Guardians survive, and immediately spring up to attack the doppelgangers as they draw close. Turbo is about to blast another approaching group, but Leader-1 stops him just in time—for the new arrivals are the real Zeemon, Hans-Cuff, and Rest-Q, here to aid their comrades! The fight that follows is a confusing one, as the Guardians have trouble telling friend from foe, but Small Foot has the answer. She recovers the Space Bender from inside the Command Center and turns it on the doppelgangers, shutting down their computer brains as she did to Turbo's copy earlier. The Leader-1 duplicate is the last one left standing, but manages to blast the Space Bender before it can hit him. Back in fighting shape, the real Leader-1 takes on his clone in mid-air combat and emerges victorious, blowing the duplicate to bits, and forcing the defeating Renegades to withdraw. In the aftermath, Leader-1 commends Small Foot for saving the day, and welcomes her back onto his Earth team.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Let's show them what real Guardians are made of!"
- —Zeemon leads the charge into battle
"Don't shoot! I'm real! I-I mean... I'm me! I mean, uh--"
"Haw! There's no mistakin' the real Scooter in a fight!"
- —Scooter's self-preservation instincts let Turbo know he's the real deal
"Maybe you'll do better next time."
"Maybe I'll do better with a robot duplicate of you!"
- —Cop-Tur tries to console Cy-Kill over his loss
- In terms of broadcast order, following a mention in the previous episode, this is the first appearance of Doctor Go, the Challenge of the GoBots name for the Super GoBot Renegade named "Herr Fiend" in the GoBots toyline. Chronologically, however, he will appear in the "GoBotron Saga" mini-series, which takes place right after the original pilot mini-series.
- "Doppelganger" features the only appearance in the series of the Renegade forklift Spoons. Quite why Spoons never appeared again is a bit of a mystery; as part of the 1984/1985 range of characters, his toy remained on shelves throughout the series run, compared to other characters with such limited appearances (such as Dumper) whose toys were discontinued.
- This episode also features the first appearance in the series proper of Fitor, who was last seen being captured by the Guardians in the final installment of the pilot mini-series. Like Doctor Go, he too also shows up in chronologically-earlier "The GoBotron Saga," which details how he escaped, but which, funnily enough, also concludes with him in Guardian custody once more. How he escaped his second capture is never explained.
- Doppelgangers of Flip Top and Street Heat appear in this episode (apparently, see below), but the actual Guardians themselves have not yet appeared in the series.
- Small Foot appears to target the individual doppelgangers with the Space Bender, but given that it's just been established that the Guardians are having trouble telling friend from foe, what she is likely actually doing is bathing the entire battlefield in the Bender's rays. Only the robots are affected because they have computer brains (pictured at right), as compared to the GoBots' organic ones... but the very fact that GoBots have organic brains has not actually been established in the show yet, and will not be until "Sentinel," several episodes from now!
- Gadgets and Powers:
- Snoop has a spy camera that extends from beneath her jet mode, capable of performing advanced recording of distant targets.
- Crasher has retractable spikes in her wheel wells, which can extend to damage vehicles driving next to her.
- Small Foot can launch a grappling hook on a winch from her truck bed, which remains available in robot mode.
- By plugging into a doppelganger's robot brain, Scooter can project its memories visually from his chest.
- Scooter's been practicing. Using his holograms, he's able to disguise the entire Command Center as a Thruster, and hide himself beneath a colossal Zod image.
Continuity and plotting errors
- So Dr. Go needed a video of Leader-1 to perfectly duplicate his personality for the doppelganger. Except it failed because the doppelganger was hostile, irritable, and instantly recognized as acting strangely. And if the plan was to replace ALL the Guardians, wouldn't the Renegades need video of everyone in order to badly replicate their personalities?
- It's woefully unclear what the Space Bender is supposed to do. At first it seems like it's a disintegrator weapon, as the tank Leader-1 blasts with it during the demonstration vanishes, leaving only a smoking spot on the ground, but then Small Foot uses it to blast the doppelgangers, which are left intact, just with their brains knocked out by the weapon's "frequency pulse."
- Between acts one and two, Doctor Go's neural lock goes from being red to yellow in color, and the one attached to Leader-1 jumps from being on his back to the left side of his neck (right). When Nick removes it in act three, it's jumped again to the right side of his neck.
- The Leader-1 doppelganger's dismissal of Scooter and Small Foot would indicate that the Renegades do not plan to replace them, which is logical, given that they're both young and not on the same level as most of their comrades. Problem is, Cy-Kill already showed off duplicates of both of them in the original doppelganger unveiling scene...
- The episode appears to be about to do the classic "Mirror Routine" with Turbo and his duplicate, as the Guardian initially thinks he is looking into a mirror until he notices Leader-1 has no "reflection." That's all well and good, except when the angle switches, Cy-Kill is suddenly standing where his doppelganger was a moment before, and the doppelganger does not reappear for the rest of the scene. Plotwise, it at first seems like it has to go this way, keeping Scooter from learning about the doppelgangers so that he can believe Leader-1 is a traitor rather than an imposter—but then a moment later, it turns out he did see the Turbo duplicate, as he is seen telling the humans about it, and it takes A.J. pointing out the possibility that Leader-1 is a duplicate too before Scooter even considers it! Sheesh!
- The "memories" Scooter accesses from the Turbo doppelganger's brain make no effort to actually represent the doppelganger's point of view. One memory even shows Cy-Kill unveiling the covered doppelgangers...when the Turbo doppelganger was still under a tarp.
- When our heroes find the captive Leader-1, he's standing upright in a line with other captured Guardians, but a moment later, as Nick removes his neural lock, he's suddenly lying on a hover-dolly.
- Rest-Q is seen escaping the Moon of Shadows with our heroes, but then turns up as part of Zeemon's team at the end.
- Much later in the series, "Et Tu, Cy-Kill" will establish that Zeemon has been unable to transform for many years, yet he's seen doing so during the final battle in this episode, arriving in vehicle mode with the other Guardians and shifting to robot mode for the fight. It may not seem fair to call it an error since the contradictory information won't be introduced until the series is almost over, but it was almost certainly part of the biographical information about Zeemon included in the series bible. He does not transform at any other point in the show's run, and no model sheet for his Datsun vehicle mode actually seems to exist; in the shot in question from this episode, he has actually been drawn with Turbo's alternate mode.
Animation and technical errors
- Small Foot's eyes repeatedly disappear from behind her mask over the course of the episode.
- For the "Mirror Routine" scene described above, instead of the empty doorway that should logically be in the scene, there's an airbrushed pane of glass that suggests there really is a mirror in the hall, when there isn't a moment later. Somebody just did not get the memo on how this scene should have worked.
- The scene with Good Knight's capture is very confusing. Instead of being confronted by his own doppelganger, he's shocked to see three other GoBots in the shadows. From the framing, it's not clear if these are other Guardians, already lured and captured by the Leader-1 doppelganger, or other doppelgangers of his friends. It's even unclear who the three GoBots are. An off-model Street Heat and Flip Top can be identified, but the third is only seen from the neck up, and is unrecognizable (right).
- Doctor Go is mistakenly drawn as part of the group of doppelgangers shown boarding Thruster on the Moon of Shadows, but he's not supposed to be there, as he's still on the moon when the Guardians arrive.
- When they enter the laboratory on the Moon of Shadows, the heroes pass by the captured and paralyzed Guardians, and something that roughly resembles Turbo (right). Seriously, his model is so off, it's hard to be sure it was even supposed to be him and not another red car guy.
- When Scooter, posing as a prisoner, comes to a halt in front of Doctor Go, the width of the central stripe on his chest, and the size of the square on his pelvis, both suddenly increase.
- Cop-Tur's middle chest piece is colored blue instead of grey when Cy-Kill's entourage catches the freed Guardians on the Moon of Shadows.
- When Leader-1 stops Turbo before he accidentally fires on Zeemon's group, a used animation cel is not removed from the scene, making a duplicate Turbo remain standing behind him as he moves. Appropriate enough for this episode!
- Fitor is seen among the surviving Guardians after the doppelgangers are destroyed.
- In addition to Zeemon, generic GoBots seen manning the communications consoles on GoBotron (pictured, right) include a black Rest-Q, Spay-C colored like Cop-Tur, a white Dozer, a red Psycho, a blue Psycho, an orange Rest-Q, a yellow Dozer (all simplified to remove various bit of alternate mode kibble), and a green guy who doesn't look like much of anything.
Home video releases
1985 — Challenge of the GoBots — Volume II: "Trident's Triple Threat" and "Doppelganger" (Children's Video Library)
2015 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume One (Warner Archive Collection)