Invasion from the 21st Level, Part I
| "Invasion from the 21st Level"|
|Airdate||October 7, 1985|
|Story by||Jeff Segal and Kelly Ward|
|Teleplay by||Laine Raichert|
|Animation studio||Wang Film Productions|
Cy-Kill unleashes a race of interdimensional insectoids against the Guardians, but his plan backfires when the creatures' queen decides to conquer Earth for herself.
To bypass UNECOM's defense satellites, Crasher and Cop-Tur conceal themselves within a metallic sphere that falls to Earth under the guise of a harmless meteor. Emerging from their craft in a wooded area, they reveal they have a third passenger with them: the terrifying Scales, who is then unleashed on a nearby UNECOM perimeter station that Turbo and Scooter are helping to construct. Turbo is able to defeat Scales by shooting a girder hanging on an overhead crane down on top of him, but in the chaos, Crasher and Cop-Tur escape with their true objective, the oscillation rod Scooter has invented which is a key component in the station's operation.
Crasher and Cop-Tur return to Roguestar, where Doctor Braxis uses the oscillation rod to complete his Dimensional Interfacer, a machine able to teleport beings across different dimensions. Cy-Kill seeks vicious other-dimensional monsters to use against the Guardians, but is unimpressed by what Braxis finds in the first few dimensional "levels." Knocking the human aside, Cy-Kill ratchets the machine up the scale to the 21st Level, where he finds just the creatures he needs: a race of huge, powerful insectoids. A handful of the monsters, along with their queen Exor, are teleported by the Interfacer to the UNECOM station, where they immediately attack Turbo and Scooter. Turbo is able to scatter the queen's troops with a little help from some UNECOM tanks, but he is unable to stop Exor herself from abducting Scooter. Exor establishes an underground lair where she imprisons Scooter in a device called a sapper, and begins plotting to conquer Earth.
The wounded Turbo returns to UNECOM headquarters, where, when asked about the insectoids by Leader-1, he compares them to creatures they fought in the past known as the Tri-Cats of Fedge. Recalling that encounter, Leader-1 Astro-Beams Blaster, another Guardian familiar with the Tri-Cats, in for back-up... and just in time, for no sooner is Blaster briefed than Exor and her insectoids tunnel into and attack the base! Using her mighty telekinetic powers, Exor destroys the communications center to blind UNECOM's military forces, then deflects Guardian fire while she and her minions escape, levitating a huge blast door over the tunnel to block the Guardians from pursuing them. The Guardians managed to haul the door off, but the insectoids have collapsed the tunnel behind them.
Exor addresses the people of Earth, warning all not to resist her rule. Cy-Kill, of course, has other ideas; content that Earth's defense have been left suitably crippled by Exor's attacks, he orders Braxis to reverse the Interfacer and send the insectoids back to their dimension, leaving the Renegades to swoop in and conquer the weakened planet. When the Interfacer portal opens and begins to suck them back in, however, Exor—unwilling to return—uses her mental powers to fight its pull. The Interfacer is overloaded by her resistance and the portal shuts down, and worse still, Exor is able to track it back to its source! The insectoids board Roguestar and Cy-Kill grapples with Exor herself, but he is caught by surprise when she feigns surrender and then blasts him. The other Renegades quickly fall to the insectoids, while Braxis is able to bargain for his life by promising to fix the Interfacer for Exor so she can bring more of her kind to Earth. Simultaneously, the Guardians follow the insectoids to Roguestar, but are met in battle on the massive ship's hull by the creatures upon arrival. The heroes manage to emerge triumphant by trapping their foes in magnetic energy nets provided by Blaster, but the fighting provides Braxis and Exor enough time to repair the Interfacer. The Guardians burst in but are too late to stop Exor opening a new portal and summoning an army of even more powerful insectoids warriors!
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Tiiime to go!"
- —Turbo drops his catchphrase; Scooter ain't got time for it
"Very well, GoBot... I surrender..."
(Cy-Kill relaxes his grip)
"...to NO ONE!!"
- —Exor dupes Cy-Kill and blasts him
- In broadcast order, Scales previously appeared in "Speed Is of the Essence," but his involvement in this episode—at first showing him only as a pair of glowing eyes in shadow, spoken of ominously by the other Renegades, then unveiled in a dramatic "Oh no, it's--!" moment—certainly appears to have been written as an introduction for the character, even if the Guardians know his name already, indicating that its events precede those of "Speed Is of the Essence."
- Turbo declares it's "Time to go!" not once, but twice; the broadcast-order debut of what is essentially his catchphrase, weirdly adapted from a line of dialogue he spoke in the the very first episode.
- Also in terms of broadcast order, this episode marks the first on-screen use of the Astro-Beam by the Guardians, following an off-screen mention of it in "Nova Beam."
Continuity and plotting errors
- Exor refers to herself as the "High Queen of the 21st Level," but how would she know she's from the 21st Level? That designation is only relative to the GoBots' world being classified by Braxis as the 1st Level.
- Where does Exor get the "sapper" she straps Scooter into, or any of the other tech in her lair, or the lair at all? Before she starts levitating stuff during the attack on UNECOM, the only indication we've been given that she has any kind of telekinetic power is when she shoots a ray from her eyes at the ground, creating... er, a perfectly formed staircase that leads underground. Perhaps the idea is that she used telekinesis to carve out the stairs, and the base, and to forge the equipment, but it all happens without context; the stairs literally just fade into existence!
- Where are all the other Renegades? Roguestar seems to be deserted save for Cy-Kill, Crasher, Cop-Tur, and Braxis!
Animation and technical errors
- In the long shot of the under-construction perimeter station, there's a visible gap between the crane's arm and its body, as the animation cels aren't aligned properly.
- When Turbo fires on Scales, the luminous effects are missing from his blast for a few intermittent frames, briefly exposing the empty black area of the cel beneath.
- A layering error sees the I-beam that Turbo shoots down on top of Scales appear underneath the crane claw as it falls, instead of on top.
- The initial establishing shot of Roguestar shows it flying through a blue, cloudy sky, when it should obviously be space.
- While Crasher is telling Braxis about the defeat of Scales, Cy-Kill's eyes are all-orange, lacking their usual black sockets.
- Scooter's teeth are orange instead of white when he and Turbo stare in surprise at the emergence of the insectoids.
- When Blaster launches a missile at Exor during the attack on UNECOM, the "launch" sound effect comes in late, after the projectile has already moved offscreen.
- As the insectoids are sucked through the air by the interfacer, another layering error causes one that is supposed to be in the background to overlap one in the extreme foreground, making the latter look colossal.
- When Cy-Kill transforms to battle the insectoids, his conversion is a little off-model, with his engine descending out of his pelvis, rather than his white abdominal section.
- Yet another layering error means Leader-1's head isn't covered by his nosecone when he converts to battle the insectoids in space.
- Braxis's eyes are uncolored when he recoils in surprise as Exor completes the repair of the Interfacer. In the same shot, there's a "break" in the energy beam Exor is firing from her finger, where Braxis's hand is supposed to be, but it's not.
- The insectoids are drawn too small once the Guardians have them trapped in the nets.
- In the first shot of Exor's new troops emerging from the Interfacer portal, they are all drawn the same as the earlier "drone" insectoids who have featured through the episode, when the next shot reveals that they are supposed to be a different, larger, more powerful design of creature.
- The technology and parlance used in this episode would later prove instrumental in Fun Publications' "revival" of the GoBots universe. In the prose story "Withered Hope," Braxis's Interfacer was used to teleport a group of GoBots into the Transformers' world, which was identified as the 22nd Level. Several other universes would later receive "Level" numbers in the "Ask Vector Prime" and "Renegade Rhetoric" columns.
- Other levels seen as Braxis scans in this episode include the 2nd Level (a world of tree-dwelling happy green imps), the 4th Level (sharp-toothed orange tentacled blobs), and the 5th Level (a colossal vaguely-insect-like dinosaur-dragon monster, living in a landscape of crystal pyramid mountains).
- Model sheets for this two-parter reveal that the insectoids were named "Insectagons" at one point in production, but the name is never used in dialogue in the finished episodes.
Home video releases
1985 — Challenge of the GoBots — Volume III: "Invasion from the 21st Level" Parts I & II (Children's Video Library)
2014 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume One (Warner Archive Collection)