Last month at TFCon LA 2022, Jim Sorenson and Flint Dille hosted a panel revealing the hidden secrets of Flint's Transformers miniseries Five Faces Of Darkness. Simultaneously, this Archive went live with all five scripts and part of the outline.
The following is the document I wrote up to assist Jim with the panel. Detailing scenes deleted or changed in the normal course of production, as well as providing explanations to scenes where the written intent was obfuscated by the failures of the animating studio AKOM.
To read any of the material referenced in this article, head over to The Transformers, Part 2 page.
Changed: Points to be covered in the opening recap of TFTM include the death of Optimus Prime, the passing of the Matrix and the rise of Rodimus Prime. Megatron becoming Galvatron and the death of Starscream (the script notes the plan to bring him back as a ghost was already lined up for later in the season). None of these beats are touched on in the final recap. Possibly due to the documented concerns from Hasbro over potentially spoiling the movie a month after release.
Fight on Chaar
Changed/Deleted: The fight over energon plays differently. The scenes of the Constructicons watching Astrotrain land, brawling over the cubes and then forming Devastator were added later. Devastator kicking Astrotrain away, grabbing the cube and being wrecked by Menasor play out as scripted. The Insecticons and their clones show up and buzz Menasor repeatedly, making him dizzy enough to stumble and fall. The three main Insecticons attempt to take the energon, but see Cyclonus and the Sweeps coming in and decide to back away.
KICKBACK: Let’s eat quick before they get here!
SHRAPNEL: No, they’ll eat us for our energon, energon.
This part was likely cut as though the three Insecticons were all continuing product in the ‘86 toyline. The decision not to use generic models in TFTM saw them reformatted by Unicron.
The Galactic Olympics
Deleted: The planet that plays host to the Games is confirmed as Athenia: which would go on to be the Autobots’ second home in Takara’s Headmasters series. We start with our reintroduction to the Witwicky family as Spike and Daniel stand next to the Autobots, watching the various aliens taking part in the parade. Daniel starts to make remarks about the aliens’ looks when Carly’s hand enters shot and muffles his words. She starts to remind her son that they are there to make friends with these aliens and not offend. She cuts herself off and gasps when “The ugliest alien ever created” stands before them. Spike buries his revulsion and introduces himself as Earth’s ambassador to Cybertron. The alien “slobbers something in a language that is nearly as ugly as he is”. Spike attempts to be diplomatic, introducing the Uglian to Kup, who offers his hand. The Uglian then spits a giant green globule into Kup’s hand. Much to the elderly Autobot’s anger, as Spike pleads with him not to make a scene:
KUP: What the…?
SPIKE: He didn’t mean to be rude, Kup. In his culture…
KUP: I’ll teach him some culture…
Changed: Throughout the scenes at the Olympics, Rodimus is often referred to with royal terminology such as “ruler” and “sovereign”. When the attack starts, Magnus earnestly yells “Duck, your majesty!” to which Rodimus draws his blaster and replies “You duck for me!”
Deleted: As Magnus' speech is broadcast to Autobot City, we get a better look at the setting in which Bumblebee and Warpath are watching it. It is being shown in an Autobot bar, decorated with banners and featuring some of the other Autobots stationed here, such as Blaster, Powerglide and Superion. Warpath not being written with his trademark speech pattern, which was added in story-editing.
Changed: The winner of the race was scripted to be a generic Autobot. The use of Jazz in this spot was presumably a Marvel storyboard artist’s choice.
AKOM: The transition between Blurr complaining about his mission and the Olympics’ announcers declaring Munka Spanka the winner of a contest was scripted to be a Dissolve, to indicate the passage of time. However, as was common with their work, AKOM failed to add the dissolve and instead cut straight between scenes. Leading fans to believe that the announcers were referring to the previous race and that Munka Spanka was some renaming of Jazz.
Deleted: Magnus’ officious nature means he is embarrassed by Rodimus’ exuberant cheering. Rodimus shows that even though he is now the leader, he is still Hot Rod at heart.
MAGNUS: Rodimus, you must show some decorum.
RODIMUS: Decorum…I don’t even want to be up here, I want to be down there.
MAGNUS: It is not appropriate for sovereigns to compete.
ARCEE: I don’t know. The Emperor Nero still holds Earth’s records for the most gold medals.
RODIMUS: He does?
MAGNUS (To Arcee) I would appreciate it if you would select his role models a bit more carefully.
Deleted: As the mysterious creatures (Quintessons) watch the Autobots on a monitor, one sends instructions “Do not leave the human behind.”. Foreshadowing the intent to kidnap Spike.
Note: As he and Blurr depart Cybertron, it is noted that Wheelie should be played “like the jester in RAN”. Ran was Akira Kurosawa’s last epic film, released in the US in December 1985, three months before this script was complete.
Deleted: On Athenia, Grimlock (in robot mode) interrogates two frightened aliens as to the whereabouts of the Decepticons. Who proclaim “We’re neutral, we’re neutral!”. “OK, you not know, then me Grimlock not ask you any more.” As the big Dinobot walks away, the aliens breathe a sigh of relief. Only for Grimlock to transform to dino mode and stick his head right in their faces “You sure you not know?”
The terrified aliens yell that they’re on Chaar “See, me Grimlock smart and wily. But me no heard of Chaar.” He picks the two up in his mouth and carries them away
Changed: Abdul Fakkadi’s opening rant covering his ludicrously long title and the name of the country were originally written as descriptive text and not dialogue. His first line being “I give no clearance to land. Do nothing to arouse my ire.”. The text describes Fakkadi’s soldiers as men who would assassinate him at a moment’s notice if someone paid them enough.
Instead of Outback, Sandstorm originally accompanied Blaster on this mission. Along with Sparkplug, who was likely removed due to having insufficient dialogue to justify booking Chris Latta for a recording session. His lines were reassigned to Blaster.
Once Dirge and Ramjet try to escape, Sandstorm fires his weapon at a sand dune. Creating a big cloud that the two Coneheads fly through and suck the sand into their intakes.
Changed: The following scene of Outback reporting to Rodimus about the location of Chaar was added in story-editing and does not appear in this script.
Deleted/Changed: Various small changes as the battered Decepticons await the return of Cyclonus and co. Swindle proposes cutting a deal with the Autobots: energon for being left in peace. Motormaster’s odd praise of the late Optimus Prime is in fact a subtle (by his standards) hint that he should be leader of the Decepticons: “-- like, for instance the Autobots used to have a great leader. What was his transform, anyway?”
Once Cyclonus arrives, the device he holds is a black box retrieved from Unicron. Containing proof that Galvatron still lives. He makes his pitch for the Decepticons to contribute what little energon remains while Rodimus and Grimlock watch, camouflaged by the ash substance of Chaar.
Octane tosses a cube in, proclaiming “Fuel is power, but leadership is life.” before keeling over. This role was given over to Motormaster.
Deleted: Parts cut from the Decepticon attack on Rodimus and Grimlock include attempts by Dead End to fire his weapon, only for the laser to dissipate like the water out of a squirt gun.
DEAD END: It is as if the fates themselves had ordered our demise
VORTEX: You’re a real upper, aren’t you?
DEAD END: (not catching the sarcasm): No. It is hard to be optimistic when one’s universe is collapses (sic) upon itself.
More from the should-be-departed Insecticons as Grimlock transforms to robot mode. He and Rodimus raise weapons to return fire
SHRAPNEL: We need energon, energon
BOMBSHELL: (points o.s) We need to stop yappin’ and take cover!
KICKBACK: They’re gonna shoot back!
Frenzy comes up with the solution, sluggishly hammering his piledrivers on the ground
FRENZY: If you can’t blast ‘em - bash ‘em!”
Changed: Some ideas for Kup’s interrogation by the Quintessons were dropped. The questioning would take place inside a cell and not over the Sharkticon pit. Magnus and Spike would be locked in a cage nearby (thus a bit more plausible when their captors hear them speaking). While the dialogue is as broadcast, the intent would be that the Quintesson face pointing towards the Autobots would be speaking to Kup. While the discussion over the truth of his answer would be conducted by the face pointing away from the Autobots and towards the other Quintessons. For example:
INTERROGATOR FACE #1: (To Kup) Tell us the Status of Cybertronian defense apparatus.
KUP: Total shambles after the last war. Three kids an’ a dog could take the planet.
INTERROGATOR FACE #2: (To other Quintessons): Four percent probability of truth. Defenses at optimum levels. Direct assault not viable.
Inside The Matrix
Changed/AKOM: While certainly the sequence of Rodimus’ Matrix vision is intended to be trippy and hard to make sense of. There is some logic to the visuals that AKOM failed to convey.
Cybertron would be seen to disassemble “like a tinker toy set”
The face of Optimus Prime would dissolve to be replaced with the face of Orion Pax. Who would in turn be replaced by another face, then another, then another. Almost moving backwards in time through an Autobot Hall Of Fame. Until it reaches the most primitive of robot designs. A CAD image of a robot skull which would reappear in Return Of Optimus Prime, dubbed “It”. This image would explode, as an angry and malevolent presence would rip through the line of Autobots. Coming closer to be revealed as a Quintesson.
Changed: As the Autobots and Spike are being led to sentencing and execution, and Spike gives his coded message to break out. His mention of football plays provides an interesting glimpse into the future timeline:
SPIKE: Remember – We all went to the ‘97 Super Bowl together. What a game.
Miami versus the Lunar Colony. It was fourth quarter, fourth down, thirty yards to go – remember the play?
Changed: Throughout the episode, the Sharkticon pit is scripted to be the dry, metallic fighting arena it was depicted as in earlier TFTM scripts. This is revised to be consistent with the more “shark tank” visual we saw in the movie.
A nasty surprise
Deleted: Quintessa has a new addition since we saw it in the movie: an artificial moon in orbit. On the far side, it is equipped with a gun platform containing a battery of anti-spacecraft laser cannons, manned by various Quintesson guards.
As the Rockeroid approaches the planet, Rodimus and Arcee converse amongst themselves, unaware they are being targeted. The battery opens fire, shells throwing the occupants of the ship around. Rodimus tells the others he has an idea, moments before the barrage sends the Rockeroid into a tailspin, then plummeting towards the Sharkticon pit. Whereupon the Quintessons’ massive Phalanx Gun destroys it.
Changed: Once the Quintessons activate the core bomb. A countdown clock was intended to be superimposed in the corner of the screen for the remainder of the episode, counting down to the explosion.
Differences between outline and full script
Instead of the Aerialbots’ spacecraft, it is the Rockeroid that is used for the Autobots’ escape and torn apart by the explosion of Quintessa. Suggesting that it’s destruction in Part 2 was a change made to accommodate the Aerialbots’ inclusion in the episode, likely a Hasbro request.
When Galvatron makes his decision to detour through the warp gate, he claims he can sense Autobots on the other side. Something that no other Transformer can do. Lending a sense of uncertainty as to whether his claims of being more powerful than ever are true after all (Flint’s handwritten notes on the outline suggest he was already looking to ditch that idea).
Originally, Shockwave was the one to harbour doubts about the Quintessons. Being the most ancient Decepticon still alive, he has vague memories of the aliens that tell him they shouldn’t be trusted. “But there have been too many uploads and downloads since then to remember exactly why they strike him as so unsavoury”.
In a memo sent to all three story editors, Production Coordinator Elise Goyette instructed Flint to replace the now-discontinued Shockwave with another character from his briefing binder.
In the footnotes, Flint makes explicitly clear that Marisa Faireborn is the daughter of GI Joe members Flint and Lady Jaye.
Deleted: Once the Autobots, Spike and Deliberata are hurled from the wrecked spaceship. Air Raid attempts to fly out, despite Silverbolt’s warning not to. Sure enough, he accelerates through the debris storm and small meteorites punch holes in his wings. He takes his leader’s point.
Fun with gimmicks
Changed: On the run from Galvatron. Blurr, as Flint puts it, is elevated from a one-note to a two-note character. As he gets the idea to lose their pursuers around Jupiter, he speaks in a slow, calm manner. When this is noted by Wheelie, Blurr responds “That’s cause I’m scared. I always slow down when I’m scared". The episode was clearly recorded and animated with this idea intact. However, due to the payoff of this speech gimmick gag being deleted from part 4. Additional dialogue was recorded (with an unknown voice actor as Wheelie, in place of Frank Welker) to restore the duo's normal speech pattern.
Madness or truth?
Deleted: The Jovian storm erupts in full force, sending both Autobots and Decepticons hurtling out of the atmosphere. On the other hand, Galvatron is braced against the hurricane winds, seemingly able to absorb its power.
GALVATRON: Fools! Taste the storm’s power! Seize it for your own! You can be its victim or its master!!
Down In The Goo
AKOM: When Kup picks a spluttering, indignant Deliberata out of the goo, only to drop him back in. Only his Death’s Head emerges and the rest of his body is missing. Fans have speculated that this is based on the Ron Friedman drafts of TFTM. Where the Quintessons were large heads atop frail, humanoid bodies. Which had the ability to detach their heads and re-attach to a new body. However, there is nothing within the script to indicate that Deliberata was to have been drawn any differently than a standard Quintesson Judge.
Fight Or Flee
AKOM: Once Rodimus emerges from under the goo, after bringing down the Elemental Processing Unit. We are supposed to see that the arm he used to jam the unit’s motors with goo is now a steaming, twisted girder from the elbow down.
More Fun With Gimmicks
Changed: Coming to after their crash landing on Io. Blurr and Wheelie find the damage they sustained in Jupiter’s atmosphere is still affecting them. Blurr’s speech is slurred “like a 45 record at 33” until he runs internal diagnostics. Wheelie on the other hand has stopped rhyming and is speaking in an intelligent manner similar to Perceptor.
The creatures stalking them are described as “multi-armed, glowing tadpoles, apparently composed of volcanic lava. They spit acid and feed on metal.” and “They’ve just found lunch.”
Differences between outline and full script
Throughout the plot of Marissa Faireborn flying to Io, attempting to rescue Blurr and Wheelie, and ending up stranded herself. The outline mentions a squad of EDC troopers as part of the rescue effort. In an effort to simplify, only Marissa makes it to the full script.
In attempting to convince Galvatron of the merits of an alliance, the Quintessons would reveal a deep knowledge of Decepticon history. Mentioning Megatron, Starscream and even the leader who preceded Megatron.
The history shown within the Matrix would have delved deeper into the age of peace after the Quintessons were overthrown. The Autobots sent out exploration teams across the galaxy. Many of these expeditions settled on alien worlds and formed entirely new races (hinted that some of these would be seen later in the series).
It also outlined the philosophical difference that led to the rift between Autobot and Decepticon: the Autobots saw the various alien races across the galaxy as potential allies. Whereas the Decepticons saw them as potential successors to the Quintessons in oppressing their kind. Eventually the Decepticons saw that potential for oppression in the Autobots as well. Thus they staged a coup, sparking off the Second Cybertronian War (the uprising against the Quintessons being the First).
Last big party of the summer
Deleted: As the Autobots continue to trudge towards the anchoring satellite, under fire. Spike is knocked off-balance and begins to sink into the Goo until Magnus rescues him.
Deleted: Dead End, Blast Off and Swindle’s conversation as they attack the Autobots is cut off. The full line is:
SWINDLE: He means one of their opportunities could come knocking for us next time!
...suggesting that at least two out of the three understand that their new benefactors could easily turn on them next and are not to be trusted.
Deleted: Aboard their cruiser, the Quintessons gloat about their plan to destroy both Autobots and Decepticons. The Guards and Sharkticons piloting the ship see this and join in the laughing, even though they have no idea what’s so funny. Their mirth is interrupted by an explosion that rocks the cruiser and sends all aboard tumbling into a pile at the corner of the room. Looking through a monitor, the Quintessons see the cause of the explosion. An enraged Galvatron coming straight for them, before he punches the ship’s antenna and cuts off transmission. He then turns his attention to his “disloyal” Decepticons.
Deleted: Once they realise who has been firing on them, the trio of combiner limbs we saw earlier object to falling in with Galvatron, and Blast Off pays the price:
BLAST OFF: What’re you “hailing” for? He’s ruining everything!
SWINDLE: We were doin’ fine until he showed up.
(Cyclonus and Scourge exchange worried looks)
BLAST OFF: So he’s a cannon - so what! If we turned all our firepower on him –
(A seething Galvatron raises his cannon arm)
BLAST OFF: – how long do you think “mighty Galvatron” would last?
GALVATRON: Long enough
(His cannon fires, sending Blast Off hurtling away, trailing smoke)
Surprisingly, Swindle is undeterred.
SWINDLE: They gave us energon. They led us on this raid. What can you give us that they didn’t?
Once they reach the satellite, Rodimus starts fiddling with the TV dial. He cycles through various channels before finding Wreck-gar. Among the programs and commercials shown, Flint suggests a reprise of The Likeables - a parody of “pro-social” network cartoons created by Cobra in the GI Joe episode The Wrong Stuff.
Through the storm
Deleted: Scenes of Marissa Faireborn piloting her ship through Jupiter’s magnetic field are cut down, as she can barely keep communication with Blaster on Earth.
Down on Io, Blurr and Wheelie are on the run from the alien tadpole creatures (dubbed “Lightpoles”), who slither across the moon’s surface like a molten river. Wheelie swats away a Lightpole that tried to snap at him, causing the “stream” to halt it’s advance. Still speaking intelligently without rhymes, Wheelie notes that retaliating against one causes the entire pack to retreat. A panicking Blurr implores his companion to keep going. When told “Calm yourself, Blurr.”, he snaps and shakes Wheelie by the shoulders. Pleading with him to stop sounding like Perceptor. In doing so, something clicks back into place within Wheelie’s systems, who responds “Wheelie shaken, suggestion taken.”
Their attention is diverted when a Lightpole flies past them. They look in horror as the rest of the creatures reshape their bodies to have bat-like wings. Flying in a swarm towards the two Autobots.
The chase resumes as Marissa spots the two on her monitor. Wheelie attempts to swat the creatures away as before. But now they swoop down and spit lightning, hitting him and wearing him down.
Changed: Instead of landing immediately, Marissa takes her ship low to grab Blurr in mid-flight. But as soon as she does so, the ship comes under attack by Lightpoles.
Deleted: Trying to force his way into the cruiser, Galvatron is met by a lone Guard
QUINTESSON GUARD: My masters wish you to come aboard. They surrender.
GALVATRON: (shoves him aside) In that case, I am your master!
Meanwhile down on Goo, the other Autobots wonder why the attack has stopped. Kup telescopes his eyes to form binoculars and is shocked to see Galvatron is still alive. Who at this moment is tearing his way through the doors on the underside of the Quintesson cruiser.
AKOM: Due to careless use of model sheets during the journey through the Matrix, a lot of the intent behind the visuals is obfuscated.
The basic structure is that each narrator represents a step of evolution for the Transformers. We follow them through their portion of history until they die, at which point the next narrator takes over.
First is the Ancient Robot. During his section, we are shown a montage of Transformer design, using Rodimus Prime’s head as a base. Evolving from flat, moulded features to the humanised faces we are used to in the present day. However, this montage has clearly been animated in the wrong order. As the most primitive face (with a molded smile) appears in the middle of the sequence. The Ancient Robot is intended to be melted down and recycled as his part of the story ends. However, the ‘bot receiving this fate looks nothing like him.
Next is the Powerful Robot, the gladiator. He turns his opponent to junk in the arena, attempts to rebel and is destroyed. However, his opponent uses the design of the U-Haul Robot from a future era.
Third is the Brooding Robot. He is the leader of the uprising against the Quintessons, yet he is nowhere to be found during those scenes.
Fourth is meant to be the Pre-Transformer, describing the age of peace. However, the robot that appears is a barely changed version of the Brooding Robot. When the Decepticons launch their attack, the Pre-Transformer is blasted and passes the Matrix to the New Narrator. For some unknown reason that is not scripted, the Pre-Transformer suddenly resembles a primitive version of Rodimus.
The New Narrator is fated to become the U-Haul Robot, a slightly modified version of himself that can transform. However the robot receiving the Matrix bears virtually no resemblance to his future self.
The scene of Megatron’s creation features both on and off-model Constructicons, providing a potential third contradictory origin for the group. The script merely spoke generically of Decepticons. The following scene of Megatron killing the U-Haul Robot was meant to depict him breaking into an Autobot throne room, though the backgrounds used do not indicate that.
He’s hard to describe, but he’ll soon arrive
Changed: An entire scene of the stranded Marissa, Blurr and Wheelie calling Earth for help, and being told Sky Lynx was on the way, was moved from its original position between the conversion of the Earth city and the transformation of Trypticon. It was placed in Part 5, Act I and integrated into scenes already dealing with the Io sub-plot.
Differences between outline and script
The fight against Trypticon (Only referred to in the outline as “Decepticon City”) is a lot more involved, with both Autobots and EDC fighters making a pre-emptive strike. Just when it seems they have the upper hand, the battle station transforms to its huge dinosaur mode and begins a march across half the continent towards Autobot City.
Rodimus and co. arrive at Cybertron halfway through the battle, using a borrowed Junkion ship. They are spotted by the Quintessons and shot down, the crew barely escaping before the wreck explodes.
Shockwave, having overheard the Quintessons’ plan to deactivate all Transformers, races to find Galvatron. His leader refuses to hear him out and bats him aside. Galvatron’s ego won’t allow him to believe he’s been tricked. Sickened by the knowledge that his comrades are following a lunatic and “five-headed devils” to their doom. Shockwave walks off, eventually finding Rodimus at the end of a gauntlet of Decepticons and tells him they need to talk.
Galvatron is the first one to find the Sharkticon strike team. Lunging for the switch as he believes it to be the Decepticon Matrix. Shockwave, Rodimus and Magnus open fire, but the stumbling Galvatron ends up activating the device.
The Quintessons expound on their future plans as they move through the planet. They will re-program the Transformers to be their troops, re-open the factory and rebuild it as a galactic business empire. Finally they will conquer Earth. A new day will dawn for the quadrant (reference is made to a similar speech from Rodimus in Part 1. A speech he never gave in the full script).
Once the Quintessons have been driven back into space, Galvatron and the Decepticons retreat of their own volition. Promising they will finish the battle another time. Shockwave flies up to join them, but is blasted back down to the surface by Galvatron for his “treachery”. He accepts Rodimus’ offer of refuge and is hailed by the Autobots as the first Transformer to change sides (though it is noted that how much allegiance he has to the Autobots is a question for another day. He is less their ally than he is Galvatron’s enemy).
AKOM: Throughout the battle on Cybertron, the animation makes it seem as though all of the fighting takes place on the surface. Whereas many of those scenes take place in the various underground levels of the planet.
Many shots feature multiple versions of Cyclonus flying overhead. This has led fans to speculate that Flint was revisiting the “Armada” concept from early TFTM scripts (where Cyclonus would have multiples of himself, similar to the Sweeps). These were not scripted as such and were merely AKOM re-using model sheets to pad out the Decepticon ranks.
AKOM: Ramjet and Dirge take on Ultra Magnus one at a time and are sent crashing into walls. The implication of the script is that they are damaged but alive. Whereas the animation depicts them exploding utterly.
Deleted: Decepticon jets swoop down into a deep shaft, heading into the interior of the planet. Cyclonus bombs and destroys a bridge across the shaft, cutting off a party of Autobots led by Perceptor. Just as it seems the Sweeps screaming towards them will finish Perceptor and the others. Rodimus, Kup and Spike come through a doorway firing. Hitting one Sweep and setting off a chain reaction that sends all of the Decepticon jets spinning and colliding with each other. Perceptor thanks Rodimus as Cyclonus and the Sweeps plunge down the shaft and into the darkness.
Playing with the format
Changed: Once the Quintessons finish their victory speech, we pan over to the inert Rodimus. The script calls for the music to rise as if we were ending an episode. The intent was to make the audience momentarily believe that the miniseries would end with a Quintesson victory.
Deleted: As Galvatron departs, outraged by Blitzwing’s act of betrayal. Rodimus attempts to appeal again;
RODIMUS: We really do need all the troops we can get.
BLITZWING: I’ll think about it.
Changed: At the close of Rodimus’ speech, he gestures to the half-destroyed wall of a building. Where a couple of Autobots have etched the image of a Death’s Head Quintesson onto the metal.
“We Transformers have looked into the face of our creators…and seen the face of an enemy.”