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"A Prime Problem"

Transformers Classic Episode #27

Written by Dick Robins and Bryce Malek

"Both subjects identical.  Therefore, both are Optimus Prime."

The Decepticons have detected the opening of a fissure in the Earth's crust and arrive to investigate.  When they dispatch a scout cassette into the resultant crevice, however, the scout is destroyed, and Megatron's suspicions are confirmed: the crevice contains deadly corlonium crystals, capable of destroying robots upon contact.  Megatron hatches a plan for Optimus Prime to lead the Autobots into the crevice-- or if not Prime himself, then an incredible simulation...

The Autobots arrive shortly afterwards, having also detected the energy emanating from the fissure.  The Decepticon jets take the opportunity to attack, and once Optimus Prime is drawn away from the others and temporarily knocked unconscious, Laserbeak captures holographic images of Prime and transmits them to the Decepticons' nearby base of operations, which is actually a ship disguised as part of the mountainside.  Megatron feeds the data into his cloning machine, and a moment later a perfect replica of Optimus Prime emerges from the cloning chamber.  Donning his control helmet, Megatron now plays the role of Optimus Prime, controlling its actions directly.  He sends the clone back into the fray, and once the Decepticons retreat, the false Prime leads the Autobots back to headquarters.

Back at the base, the Autobots notice that Prime is acting peculiarly--calling Autobots by the wrong names and not knowing how to operate Teletraan 1--but Prime merely shrugs it off, claiming to still be a little disoriented from Laserbeak's attack.  Once the genuine Optimus Prime shows up at their doorstep, however, the Autobots realize something is clearly amiss.  Not even Teletraan 1 is capable of telling the two Primes apart, however, so the Autobots conduct several tests of the two Primes' sharpshooting skills and driving ability, but the results are inconclusive.

Meanwhile, Megatron is back at his temporary base, sending Teletraan 1 false signals to make it detect an imminent explosion of the corlonium crystals.  Until the Autobots determine the true identity of the two Primes, Ironhide assumes command and leads the Autobots back to the crevice where the Decepticons are waiting.  Megatron intents to demonstrate to the Autobots that his Prime clone is the real thing by having it destroy one of the Decepticons--Starscream.  Upon hearing this, Starscream flees... allowing Windcharger and Spike Witwicky to spot the entrance to the Decepticon base.  Laserbeak retrieves Starscream, and Megatron explains that he intends to clone Starscream and have the Prime clone destroy it for the benefit of the Autobots.  

Meanwhile, Windcharger and Spike have snuck into the Decepticon base and learn of Megatron's plans.  As they try to escape to warn the Autobots, however, the Decepticons spot them.  Spike is captured; Windcharger makes it out of the base, but he tumbles into the pit where the corlonium crystals await.

The Starscream clone arrives at the scene of the battle and challenges Optimus Prime to a one-on-one duel, making the pretense of randomly selecting the Prime clone as his target.  The Prime clone blasts the Starscream clone and it explodes, and the Autobots are convinced that the Prime clone couldn't possibly be a Decepticon agent after destroying Starscream.  The Autobots are all set to follow the Prime clone into the crevice, even despite the protest from the real Prime, until Windcharger emerges from the crevice.  He explains that the corlonium crystals are quite lethal, and that he only survived because he transformed before he came into contact with the crystals.  The Autobots aren't convinced until the Prime clone refuses to consider rescuing Spike.  With that, the Autobots finally realize he is an impostor, and they drive him back into the crevice.

Megatron launches the camouflaged ship, but to prevent the Autobots from pursuing, he dumps Spike into the sky.  Powerglide manages to catch him in plane mode, and Optimus Prime reassures him that "this time, it is definitely me... or I... myself.  Whoever I am."

First Appearances: Powerglide and Warpath.  This is also the first and last appearance of the Decepticons' auto-scout cassette.

Transfacts:

 

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