Here’s another one from my late Transformers fansite and alt.toys.transformers. At the time ATT had a few threads going on involving the Matrix Of Leadership, or at least one subthread, it’s been so long I can’t remember. As someone who prefers the classic cartoon origin for the Transformers and Unicron (which didn’t feature dark gods and stuff and was closer to pure sci-fi), I decided to make a defense of the Matrix, which had popped up unexpectedly and is now part of Transformer multiversal continuity.
For people who aren’t die-hard Transformers fans, let me give you some history. In Transformers: The Movie we are introduced to the Autobot Matrix Of Leadership, an ancient relic that would light the Autobots’ darkest hour. This was never mentioned in two seasons of the cartoon, but in season three, now set in the year 2006, one year after the movie, it became important in numerous episodes. Therefore, a few questions of events in the previous seasons and I decided to address it. Except for spelling and grammar errors, what follows is just what I posted back in the day, followed by some updated thoughts.
(NOTE: Though I love the comic, it is a separate universe and isn’t used in this post. The Creation Matrix was redesigned to match the tv/movie universe. It was supposed to be a program which created Cybertronian life. Question: if the Matrix was an object within Prime’s original body, how did he download it into Buster’s head? Now back to the cartoon timeline)
For those of you who wonder why the Matrix was overused in the third season, lets look at it. The Matrix’s origins were not revealed to my knowledge. However, it was meant to “light our darkest hour” Perhaps the word “hour” is not meant to be taken literally. EX: In the book of Genesis, the Earth was created in 7 days. There are those who say that this is a figurative expanse of time and God actually used the length of time
mentioned by scientists. Perhaps that is the same with “our darkest hour”.
My theory is that the time of the third season is the Darkest “Hour”. With Unicron, the madness plague and what not, this would definitely be a dark time for Cybertron. Now it would be time for the wisdom and power of the Matrix to be called upon. Safeguarded by the Autobot leader, it must be kept safe until it’s collective strength would be called on to save the world. If the Matrix was created by Vector Sigma, this leads to my final thought. (if any of you are still awake, please indulge me a little longer.)
Remember, Vector Sigma was the one who told Galvatron about the Plasma Enegry Chamber within Cybertron. It was part of his plan-aided by the Nebulans and Spike-to bring about Cybertron’s “Second Golden Age”. Just as the planet is almost out of juice, and it’s people have been though hell and a half, times were at it’s darkest! The events of “Rebirth” just brought power to the planet. Indirectly, the Matrix was a part of this-thus lighting their darkest “hour”. It’s power defended the world from Unicron and the plague, plus gave the current leader (Optimus Prime-duh) the info to do his part.
Now you understand (I hope) why the Matrix is virtually unknown until the movie and used to death after. In a nutshell-they didn’t need it yet.
Okay, let’s build on that. First of all, the origin was sort of revealed in “Five Faces Of Darkness”, but only so far as the Autobots started using it and it held the knowledge of all Autobots past. (I’ve also used the retcon courtesy of Beast Wars that it also holds or copies the spark of previous bearers, which is why Optimus started being himself again after coming in contact with it in “Dark Awakening”, but that’s obviously not confirmed.) Where it came from was not revealed.
There’s also the question of what happened to the Matrix in the first two seasons. The idea didn’t exist until the movie so obviously the writers didn’t know anything about it. It’s possible to retcon by saying only a select few knew Optimus had it. This might have been something Megatron only discovered between season two and the Movie. It could also be made of something impervious to damage, like the time Laserbeak blasted his damaged body in season two, and Ratchet would be one of the bots who knew about it. One contributor, Jackpot (an amazing Transformers artist who actually got to work on official Transformers media), added his thoughts.
This ties into a previous post of mine where I said that the reason nobody bothered with the Matrix before the movie was that no one really believed it had any power. As far as any of us know, it didn’t DO anything until Unicron showed up. I could pick up a stick and say it has unlimited power, but no one would care until I used it to blow up the moon.
But what about the Matrix’s role as the repository of knowledge for past Autobot leaders. The question came up about how much Optimus used the Matrix. Rodimus was only able to use it directly while shorted out, like a robotic version of astral projection.
ZacWilliam: Well, the one thing it did was give OP the collective wisdom of all the Autobot leaders before him. Makes you wonder how dependent on that he was, In (“The Return Of Optimus Prime”) the first thing he does is decide to get it back so he can comeup with a plan.
Türin: Course Op did better than Rodimus. Rodimus had no plan but to get Optimus Prime back, and he *had* the Matrix at the time! (Op’s taken some flack for being planless, but I watched RoOP recently and I think he was totally justified. The hate plague was so fast-moving and no one had ever dealt with anything like it before. I wouldn’t have had a plan either.)
It’s possible that some wisdom is accessed subconsciously but if the Matrix holds the combined wisdom of past leaders it stands to reason that the current leader must gain some wisdom of his (or potentially hers in the cartoon continuity) own to add to the Matrix. After a few million Earth years of combat (as I recall, Orion Pax became Optimus Prime nine million years prior to waking from a four million year sleep in the volcano) he had to gain something in that time. It may be that this was something outside of Optimus’ personal experience and in the end it took millennia of wisdom to counter the hate plague, emptying the Matrix of the wisdom and the stored energy that contained it.
As for the meta reason for it? Yeah, that one I don’t get. The Matrix Of Leadership may have been intended as a McGuffin, a way to save the day in the movie (because finding Unicron’s core and blasting it with Galvatron’s cannon after it would be knocked off of him during the battle wasn’t enough I guess; we had give Hot Rod a new form temporary superstrength and invulnerability) that was fleshed out later in the TV series. Otherwise, why bother? While the TV writers found a use for it, the thing wasn’t something the cartoon needed. I suppose you can make the same case for female Autobots only (with the exception of new character Arcee) they didn’t do much with them, either. Less, in fact.
Still, it doesn’t bother me that it was introduced because it did create some good season three episodes like “The Burden Hardest To Bear”, an episode I like because it had more Hot Rod and less Rodimus Prime (we’ll get into my issues with Rodimus another day) so it did become a good addition, if one that wasn’t necessary.