|Airdate||November 4, 1985|
|Story by||Jeff Segal, Kelly Ward, and Drew Lawrence|
|Teleplay by||Drew Lawrence|
|Animation studio||Wang Film Production|
A Renegade named Steamer wants to switch sides, but the Guardians are not convinced.
Aboard Roguestar, the Renegades watch as Doctor Go completes a series of upgrades to the Astro-Beam that will remove its forty-eight hour time-limit. After zapping his crowd of onlookers to get them to give him some breathing room, the doctor prepares to install the final necessary microchip... whereupon the time-limit of the beam, used to bring Doctor Go to Roguestar, runs out, and he vanishes! With speed being of the essence due to the fact that the Guardians are on the verge of the same Astro-Beam breakthrough, Cy-Kill is unwilling to wait for the beam to re-cycle, and instead leads Crasher, Cop-Tur, and Steamer in an attack on GoBotron's Astro-Science Center to steal the Guardians' own Astro-Beam prototype. Crasher and Cop-Tur dispose of guards Night Ranger and Path Finder, but Crasher gets so worked up during the fight she nearly smashes the beam prototype, forcing Cy-Kill to step in and block her path with a repulsion field. Steamer grabs the third guard, Sparky, before she can sneak away, but when she proves unable to unlock the safe containing the new Astro-Beam blueprints, Cy-Kill orders her destroyed. Steamer takes her outside to carry out the order, but, lacking his fellow Renegades' ruthless edge, decides to let her go instead. Unaware of Steamer's insubordination, the Renegades withdraw with the Astro-Beam prototype in their clutches, and simply destroy the lab to obliterate the blueprints, preventing the Guardians from duplicating the new beam.
The Renegades relocate to Earth, intending to use the hydroelectric power plant at Hoover Dam to power the new Astro-Beam and then teleport legions of troops to the planet. Steamer is charged with leveling nearby Boulder City in order to build a Renegade staging base for the operation; remote-control devices are placed on human construction equipment so Steamer can use them in his assigned task, and Cy-Kill also provides him with a disc containing Guardian Command Center blueprints, highlighting weak spots, so he can effectively fight back if they arrive to stop him. However, Steamer has no taste for the mission, unwilling to harm humans, and promptly quits. Cy-Kill sends Crasher and Cop-Tur after him, and they corner him in an alley, but Steamer blasts a shower of debris from some nearby buildings down on them, burying them long enough to escape.
Meanwhile, word of the Renegades' attack on GoBotron has reached Leader-1's team on Earth. They summon Nick Burns to join them, then set up patrols around Earth power plants, knowing how much energy will be required to power the new Astro-Beam. Their search is handily narrowed down when Steamer arrives at the Command Center, announcing his desire to join the Guardians, and telling them all about Cy-Kill's plan. Leader-1 is willing to give Steamer a chance and allows him to lead them to Boulder City, which results in a battle between the Guardians and Crasher and Cop-Tur. During the fight, Steamer protects Nick, which proves his good faith to Leader-1—but not enough for Turbo.
Learning that Steamer has joined the Guardians, Cy-Kill immediately sets about undermining the defector. Knowing that Steamer will tell the Guardians about the remote control devices on the construction vehicles, Cy-Kill has them all removed; thus, when the Guardians come looking, it appears Steamer is lying and has actually led them into an ambush. Caught by surprise, the Guardians are overpowered and forced to retreat back to the Command Center, where suspicion immediately falls on Steamer. Harsh words escalate into shoving, and when Turbo pushes Steamer over, he drops the disc given to him by Cy-Kill. Scooter snatches it up and examines it, and its contents incriminate Steamer further, forcing a disappointed Leader-1 to order him taken to GoBotron for trial. Determined to prove his innocence, Steamer fights his way free and flees from the Command Center. Nick is dejected, but Turbo tells him not to be so gullible in the future.
Steamer returns to the construction yard just as the Renegades have completed the re-installation of the remote control devices in the vehicles. He fends off an attack by Cop-Tur, but is unable to stop Cy-Kill from activating the vehicles and directing them into the city. Steamer races back to the Command Center to warn the Guardians of the coming threat, and though he is met with hostility, the Guardians quickly realize he has been truthful all along when the Renegade attack on the city begins. In the battle that follows, Nick pilots Steamer in his steamroller alternate mode to crush as many of the remote-controlled vehicles as possible, then the pair face Cy-Kill down in a game of chicken. Cy-Kill is the loser, and as he swerves off, he drops his control panel, enabling Steamer to crush it and end the danger posed by the vehicles. Leader-1 is forced to destroy the Astro-Beam prototype to keep it out of Renegade hands, and the Renegades, outmatched, are forced to retreat. Turbo apologizes to both Steamer and Nick, and Steamer is welcomed into the fold.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"I don't know why I tolerate your arrogance, Doctor Go!"
"It iz because you know genius vhen you zee it, Zy-Kill!"
"Huh! Genius or madness!"
"Does it matter?"
- —Cy-Kill and Doctor Go
"You clumsy fool! You nearly wrecked the prototype!"
"Sorry, sorry, Cy-Kill! I just... got a little hyper!"
"You're allllllways a little hyperrr."
- —Cy-Kill and Crasher
"We're surrounded, Cy-Kill! We've gotta retreat!"
"I don't call it "retreat"... I call it strategic evacuation!"
- —Crasher and Cy-Kill
- "Steamer's Defection" is the first episode to pin a number to the time limit of the Astro-Beam, identifying it as 48 hours. Though this figure will be repeated in future episodes, it never really jibes with how most stories depict the beam, which always seems to reverse itself after a random, plot-necessitated amount of time has passed.
- This episode features the first broadcast appearances of Guardians Sparky and Night Ranger, standing guard at the Astro-Science Center. Chronologically, both characters will go on to appear in the "GoBotron Saga" mini-series, the events of which take place prior to "Steamer's Defection."
- Gadgets and Powers:
- Crasher has retractable spikes in her wheel wells, designed to eliminate enemy vehicles. Possibly a hold over from her days in the demolition derby.
- Cy-Kill has a repulsion shield very similar to Leader-1's force field.
- Cy-Kill can also produce corrosive gas and offensive jets of flame from his exhaust in moto-mode.
- Cop-Tur fires an energy bolt from the "+" on his stomach.
Continuity and plotting errors
- The episode explains away Cy-Kill's refusal to wait for the Astro-Beam to re-cycle so Doctor Go can be beamed back in to finish the upgrades by noting that he wants the job done before the Guardians accomplish the same... but after their plan in this episode fails, and given that the Guardians' new Astro-Beam is destroyed... why doesn't he ever get Doctor Go to finish the job?
- Steamer's peril being trapped in the alleyway by Crasher and Cop-Tur only works if you forget all GoBots can fly, and the sky is perfectly clear for him to take-off.
- "I'm not going to let you destroy this city!" swears Steamer... before immediately blowing two buildings to pieces to bury Crasher and Cop-Tur under the debris.
- When Crasher unleashes her shockwaves on Leader-1 during the fight in Boulder City... nothing happens. They crackle all the way up to Leader-1's feet, and then... just nothing.
Animation and technical errors
- Steamer's size fluctuates radically during the episode. In the opening sequence, he and the other Renegades are all shoulder-to-shoulder in height. When he catches Sparky, he's one to two heads taller than her. When Turbo catches him, he's even shorter compared to Turbo and Leader-1 than Sparky was compared to him. He slowly progress back to standard GoBot relative height by the end of the episode.
- Sparky's mouth doesn't move when she gasps in response to Steamer's act of kindness.
- There's an odd sequence early in the episode which shows a UNECOM shuttle approaching Earth. Nick appears and stares silently into the screen for a moment before saying "Roger, Leader-1", then the same clip of the shuttle plays. Obviously, Leader-1 was supposed to be communicating something to Nick via radio (presumably requesting that he join them on the Command Center, since he appears there a few moments later), but that audio is missing, and Nick's wonky goggle-eyed expression makes the whole thing rather surreal.
- The back of Scooter's head is missing for a moment as he and Nick ponder what the Renegades are up to, before popping into view.
- The city backdrop as Crasher and Cop-Tur corner Steamer is a real mess. The entrance is parallel to a road, and the alley is stated to be a dead end... but Crasher and Cop-Tur avoid Steamer's blasts by ducking into a side-street, and as they do so, there's a wall visible behind them where the road should be. Steamer tries to block the villains by toppling some telephone poles into their path, but when Cop-Tur fires on the poles, the same background painting of the alley is used as in the immediately preceding shot... meaning that the fallen poles are suddenly behind Cop-Tur as he's supposed to be firing at them.
- When Leader-1 and Turbo take Steamer through the Command Center, a layering error places the cel containing Leader-1 behind the cel of the door as it opens, instead of in front.
- Cop-Tur's head is huge while he's in copter mode during the Boulder City battle.
- When Steamer dives to protect Nick, a layering error causes him to pass by in front of the boy instead of behind (though in fairness, it's only apparent for a moment at the very end of the shot, when the error causes both GoBot and human to appear the same size). Then, in the next shot, the cel of the fallen Steamer isn't aligned properly with the background, causing him to look like he's hovering off the ground a bit.
- Just before transforming to enter the construction yard battle, Cy-Kill has black pupils.
- As Cy-Kill directs his machines to attack the city, his teeth flash between white and their correct yellow.
- A bowling alley sign misspells the name of the city as "BOULDER CITD."
- The script calls for Cy-Kill to drop his control panel when he gets blasted in vehicle mode. In a cute touch that doesn't make any sense, this is represented by having his engine block—a separate accessory on his toy, not part of the actual robot figure—bounce free. Of course, it doesn't actually look anything like the control panel, and the engine block reappears when Cy-Kill resumes his vehicle mode again a moment after its destruction, so...
- The electronic modulation on Turbo's final line ("Then I guess it's time to go!") is slightly stronger than normal, giving him a deeper, more distorted voice.
- Steamer is an original character created for the episode, who was not part of the GoBots toyline. He never appears in the series again, but thirty years later, made a solitary return appearance in a Guardian group-shot poster created for "Renegade Rhetoric."
- Steamer has two slighty-different animation models for his alternate mode (pictured, right). The "standard" model gives him two round, white headlights in vehicle mode, while the alternate model, used only for the scene in which he escapes Crasher and Cop-Tur, replaces these with a pair of oblong headlights each containing two red lamps, and also slightly alters the shape of the front of the vehicle and the position of his arms. Given that the red headlights are the ones that appear on Steamer's shoulders in robot mode throughout the episode, oddly, it appears that the less-common model is the more correct one.
- This is one of the few episodes not to feature A.J. or Matt.
- Turbo is savage to Nick for trusting in Steamer, but it's Scooter's uncharacteristically mean treatment of his best friend ("I never thought you'd side with a Renegade!") that stands out.
Home video releases
2015 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume Two (Warner Archive Collection)