Episode Reviews - Transformation

Episode #20 - Transformation
Original Airdate - February 21st, 2004

The beautiful alien Starfire has never thought much about her looks. But when a strange red bump appears on her forehead, Star becomes concerned. Raven tells her not to worry -- it's probably just a zit. Or is it? As she grows tusks on her neck, scales on her skin, and hideous clawed fingernails, the question becomes unavoidable: Is Starfire turning into some sort of horrible alien monster?

Review by Bird Boy
Media by Bird Boy
Titans Writers
Written by Rob Hoegee
Directed by Alex Soto
Producer Glen Murakami
Producers Linda M. Steiner, Bruce Timm
Asst. Producer Kimberly A. Smith
Music by Lolita Ritmanis
Casting and Voice Direction Andrea Romano
Animation Services by DongWoo Animation Co., LTD.

Titans Voices
Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
Scott Menville as Robin
Khary Payton as Cyborg
Tara Strong as Raven
Hynden Walch as Starfire
Dee Bradley Baker as Plasmus
Catherine Cavadini as Alien Woman
Tony Jay as Narrator

Screen Grabs


Sound Clips
Beast Boy Needs in the Bathoom (MP3, 485kb)
"You can have your friend back..." (MP3, 78kb)
"...until Beast Boy got the Chicken Pox." (MP3, 147kb)

With a show like Teen Titans, you’ll get, like any other show geared toward “tweens”, an episode that deals with that “growing up” period of life. No, not that first time you drink alcohol—I’m talking about puberty. This episode pretty much puts it in a nutshell for you: you may feel weird, or even look weird, but you’re still you on the inside. Sappy message, but it holds true…

Immediately opening up in the episode is a narration (think “Twilight Zone”, or something along those lines), telling everyone about Starfire’s life, her life on earth, and though she didn’t realize it, how beautiful she was—that is until she got a large bump on her forehead. It’s this bump that kept her in the bathroom for twenty-minutes (much to Beast Boy’s bladder’s dismay), trying to discover what it was exactly, until she finally just got a hat to cover it up. She ran to Raven and showed her the bump—which she quickly passed off as it being nothing more than a zit (if that’s what Raven calls a zit, then raven must get some pretty big ones). Relieved, Starfire relaxed until Robin walked in the room—then back on the hat went.

During the next few days, more things changed on Starfire: horns sprouted from her neck during a video game match that Robin and Cyborg were having; her hands grew ugly nails with black and white stripes, which she quickly hid inside Beast Boy’s massive sundae, causing him to faint at the sight of it; a strange food craving (fly’s, anyone?); and, while in her bedroom, her ears grew longer and her feet enlarged and grew tufts of hair on them—making her final appearance look like a cross between a hobbit and an elf. This all built up to her hiding herself in her room, until the Titan’s alarm went off: Plasmus was terrorizing a football field.

Springing into action, the Titans (sans Starfire, who lags behind) begin dishing it out to Plasmus, throwing everything from exploding discs to Cyborg’s arm cannon into him, but, like a true blob of goo, reforms himself back into his old shape. Once Starfire shows up, she dishes out a volley of starbolts, tossing Plasmus down into the sewer system under the schools football field—not only eating away at his form, but also giving him a new appearance. Plasmus rises out of the sewer goop with half a dozen or more yellow eyes covering his body, and immediately knocks Starfire down, throwing her (and the clothing that covered her new body “parts”) down to the ground, revealing her new “form.” The battle stops as the Titans, the football players and cheerleaders, and even Plasmus, stare at her, all having a hearty laugh at her expense. While it’s unclear if this actually happened or if she simply imagined it, as Robin asks her what’s wrong when the laughing stops (Robin isn’t dense enough to ask in a serious tone if something was wrong after laughing at her for a full minute), she leaves regardless and begins traveling the universe.

As soon as Starfire flies out into space, we learn one important thing: she can apparently breathe with no problem out there. She begins flying along, traveling planet to planet, and even passes what appears to be her home planet of Tamaran (seen in, I believe, screenshot #11), but doesn’t even go to visit, as she thinks that her own people will even shun her away, looking for someone to house her, only to find that she is so hideous now that no planet will take her in. While this is going on, the Titan’s are modifying the T-Sub with space-traveling capabilities so that they can search for her—and, after quite a bit of work, the T-Sub does eventually rocket off out of earth’s atmosphere. Though I find it odd that it needed two massive rockets to exit the atmosphere, but they can land and leave any other planet they searched for Starfire one, I guess it was simply a plot hole that was left unfixed (that or there isn’t any other type of planet with earth’s kind of atmosphere).

Starfire eventually gets to a planet where she learns what’s happening to her: she is going through a stage in Tamaranian life known as “transformation” (that’s puberty to us humans). But Starfire’s transformation isn’t like other Tamaranian’s, or, indeed, even like her sister (“who only turned purple for a day”); no, Starfire’s transformation was rare: it is called “chrysalis.” In this stage, she sprouts her horns, feet and ears and ends up wrapping herself in a giant cocoon (and for those who didn’t make the connection, chrysalis is the stage that the pupa of a moth or butterfly go through during their time in their cocoon; it’s also simply known as “A protected stage of development.”), which leaves her defenseless. While this answers all of Starfire’s questions, unfortunately for her the person that’s telling her is has a plan for her: dinner. In disguise, a Chrysalis Hunter, an Acklay* looking creature in white and red, who feeds upon Tamaranian’s who are in this rare stage of life.

Just as she’s about to be eaten, the other Titan’s show up to her rescue, distracting the Hunter while she is going through her transformation in her cocoon. While Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg do what little damage they can to the beast, Robin attempts to free Starfire from her entrapment—something he’s eventually successful in once he ignores her requests to leave her inside. She comes out of the cocoon, looking in a reflective rock Robin holds up for her to see her own visage in; she sees that she is back to normal. No sooner does the word “normal” come out of her mouth, do two starbolts fly out of her eyes and bounce off the mirror and ricochet around in the background. She aids her friends in their fight against the Chrysalis Hunter, throwing her out of their little “battle field”, and into the hungry mouth of a piranha plant (video game fans will recognize it as looking remarkably similar to the plants seen in the Super Mario games).

The Titan’s fly off the planet and back to their home, where they are peaceful—that is, until Beast Boy gets chicken pox.

Overall thoughts: Though the store was sort of a cliché, it was told in a way that didn’t make it as cheesy (though Raven’s one line, “time to wrap this up”, was indeed both cheesy and totally out of character) as most other puberty-type stories. Not much to say about the animation and music—they were great as always, as was the voice work done by both the Titans, the Hunter, and even the narrator (though some will debate that the narrator was annoying). Of course, if you’re a twelve-year old watching this show, you may be worried something will come and try to eat you during your years of change—but, as long as you have super-powered friends as allies, you don’t have anything to worry about…

*-The Acklay was the arena beast seen in the second (or fifth, depending on how you view it) Star Wars film, Attack of the Clones. Click here for images, if you’re unsure what I’m babbling about.

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