Jeb's Bionicleanup 3: Metru-Nui Arc (Part 1)

Alright, time to tackle 2004.

When I was first introduced to the sets and story for this year it really threw me off track, as I had come to love the beautiful natural landscapes of the Mata-Nui years and the vivid color schemes of the sets. The industrialized grays, silvers and dark colors of the sets complemented by a cityscape wasn’t very appealing to young Jeb… but I’ve definitely come around to the FFVII style of the world and characters, and appreciate the creativeness of the city and how it functions as a robotic brain, complete with chute veins, memory towers, and a massive power generator in the center.

Because this year is so drastically different than the previous years but still leads up to them, it’s important that the story properly transitions and explains all potential plot holes while adding surprising and satisfying twists. I think this was done okay, but here we strive for gold, so let’s get into it. Without further ado, let’s dive into the first chapter of the Metru-Nui Arc.

  1. The Metrus - While the idea of the various elements of matoran being utilized to help them function in specific tasks is so brilliant and fascinating, some of the tasks for Metru sectors felt much better thought out than others. Ta-Metru=forgers, perfect. Le-Metru=transportation, perfect. Po-Metru=assembly/construction, perfect. The other three seem a bit unnecessary to maintaining the city, however. Onu-Metru is history, Ko-Metru is astrology/foresight, and Ga-Metru is…schools? While I could see these being included as tasks for a minority of matoran in these sectors, I’d redo the majority tasks to be Ga=protodermis purifiers, city canal workers, Onu=maintenance workers under/around the city, and Ko=scientists, working to study and provide better processes and new inventions while maintaining knowledge towers. Could also be producers of kanoka to be distributed throughout Metru-Nui.

  2. Treespeak - Growing up I despised the fact that treespeak was renamed chutespeak on Metru-Nui, even if it made sense to do so. A while back I had considered the possibility of renaming the entire slang to Le-speak to avoid the change, but thought it was too unnecessary to warrant and tossed the idea. This did however lead to what I thought would make an interesting change: chutespeak never existed. Perhaps Matau was the only matoran in Metru-Nui to use the slang (due to his quirkiness resulting from his destiny to become a toa, possibly in respect to the legends of Lewa) making him a “celebrity” in his eyes among Le-Metru, though they all see it as obnoxious. Once he becomes a turaga and put in the place of leader for the le-matoran for a thousand years, they all adopt the speaking style, making Matau the father of his village’s language. Pointless? Maybe. But adds some very cool development to the village and its leader.

  3. The Traitor - I get why they made Ahkmou the traitor, but it’s actually kind of a meh reveal. Rather than a “Whoa, no way!” we get a “Oh. Guess I should have seen that coming”. Personally I think it would have been far more interesting if all of the clues pointed to Ahkmou being the traitor, the toa/matoran all confront him, he gets wildly defensive as all the blame is on him while he’s done nothing wrong… and Vhisola springs her trap. She claims that if she can’t have Nokama, no one can.
    Yes, I know the yandere schoolgirl trope is overused, but I always found her to be far more eerie than Ahkmou, especially with her box art. Stuff of nightmares, seriously. It would be a twist out of left field, and could lead to Ahkmou’s resentment of the toa for being accused so harshly. When Vakama’s trio arrives in Po-Metru they could see the place abandoned with only Ahkmou there, and confront him yet again before the dark hunters attack. When they turn back he has vanished, implying he betrayed his fellow matoran and has started down the wrong path. Two twists in one.

  4. The “Coliseum” - The massive monolith sending a beam of light into the sky was always the coolest visual to me from the metru years, and then it’s essentially made non-canon thanks to Farshtey installing a field on top of it and making it a sporting coliseum. Pretty sure the reason this was done was to have an audience of matoran for the toa’s reveal, and foreshadow the final battle, but at the cost of the incredible visual of seeing the light from this massive structure going out as Mata-Nui is shut down would be such a huge miss.
    I’d recommend “coliseum” remains as seen in all backdrops, huge four-pronged structure lighting up the cityscape. Dume has a large “office” that he works in within the structure, and toa visit to announce their retrieval of the great disk. He does a similar move to original story, stating how suspicious it is that they arrive after Lhikan’s disappearance, and vahki enter room to take them into custody. Vahki are fought off (maybe taking down one of the imprisoned group), and while Vakama pleads with Dume to believe them… the dark hunters enter the room. It clicks in his head. Two more toa are taken down by the hunters, other three make escape.
    While the three flee, the telescreens throughout the city inform the matoran and vahki that there are three rogue toa on the loose. As most of the matoran have no knowledge of these toa and have not seen the actions leading to this announcement, they all immediately distrust them.

  5. Makuta’s Background - Makuta’s reveal always seemed strange to me, as of course we as an audience know him, but for the toa? The situation would probably go “It was ME the whole time!” “WHAT? …Wait who are you?” Lhikan seems to be the only one with knowledge of Makuta at the time of his reveal, lessening the impact of it.
    Farshtey later expanded on the background for this by saying Makuta ended the Civil War, leading to the Metru-Nui matoran’s knowledge and respect of him. Great idea, however the way he wrote it is that Makuta locked the war leaders in the archives and unleashed rahi on them. Not only is this disappointing for a character of his power and stature, it’s unnecessarily violent, but not surprising as Farshtey often wrote like an edgy pre-teen.
    Anyone seen the Netflix Castlevania show? When Dracula appears before the townspeople, he does so by casting his face through flames to chastise them and put the fear of God in them. Of course they are completely scared stiff, because it’s a terrifying visual that shows the power this being is capable of. At first he does this in a street, but later goes on to cast this same image in the sky above the entire city, which is an awe-inspiring yet horifying visual.
    image
    Now picture this with the glowing red eyes shown to Takua in MoL, with a booming voice calling out the matoran for acting so foolishly and bringing shame to the name of Mata-Nui. He could tell them to cease all fighting immediately, and all who did not would feel the full extent of his wrath. It establishes Makuta as a diety-like enforcer to the matoran, who develop deep respect and fear of this looming presence who would enforce the Great Spirit’s will from the shadows. At least… at first.

  6. Nuju - While I much enjoyed Nuju’s different way of speaking, requiring a translator, I always hated the fact that this wasn’t due to necessity but was rather a choice he made at the inconvenience of everyone. I would rectify this by having him face off with Nidhiki on the transport like the original story, and after running his mouth (and possibly bringing up his appearance), Nidhiki grabs him by the neck with his claw and permanently damages his vocals, a la Bumblebee, causing him to only be able to get out limited sounds. This will lead into an emotional moment during the Mahri-Nui arc, as well as more development for him during the hordika arc (stay tuned!).

  7. Chutes - Small change: Kongu shouldn’t have been in charge of the chutes, he should have been a pilot. Tamaru would be a better choice for a position keeping him on the ground. Plus his timidness would make him more susceptible to the threats of the dark hunters.
    Another small point, but it seemed the chutes in the LoMN movie were streams of protodermis rather than tubes with air pushing through the middle. How would travelers breathe? Not sure if this change was made in the story or not, but the chutes need to remain hollow with a stream of air; protodermis should only make up the walls.

  8. Turaga Lhikan - The turaga and toa metru sets showcase that a transformation into a turaga a) can drastically change color schemes and b) changes mask shape to noble. I’d recommend set lhikan (from kikanalo) is his normal appearance, and once transformed his colors switch to mata red and bright yellow, with his specialized hau becoming a standard hau in shape despite being noble. Removes the weirdness of it changing shape for no apparent reason when put on Jaller.

  9. Vakama’s Visions - This is a really weird one. The story essentially spells out the perfect explanation for Vakama’s visions, and then Farshtey ends up writing it as… a glitch? Glitches cause errors, don’t bestow powers. Especially clairvoyance. Maybe he just forgot…?
    Vakama was endlessly trying to create a mask of time. His power is to see forward in time. When he was attempting to incorporate the power of time into his masks at the forge, they would explode and cause radiation of time power. The reason he couldn’t later access the full potential of the mask when completed is because he had already been utilizing and exhausting the power of time.

  10. Mask of Time - So Makuta’s desire for the legendary Mask of Time in the story is exclaimed by Vakama in a sudden realization of “Time! Of course! That’s what the false turaga wanted!” Um, no kidding Sherlock, it’s in the name. WHY does he need the power of time?? Never explained.
    Later on Greg answered that the reason was Makuta wanted to speed up the memory loss. But the spheres did that in like a matter of days. He couldn’t wait that long after waiting thousands of years to spring his trap?
    I’d suggest his true desire was to use its power to see forward in time and ensure his eventual victory. With such an insane coup having the relief of knowing your eventual success would definitely put a mind at greater ease.

  11. Powers - Never liked that the toa lost their elemental powers throughout the Dume arc of the story. It seems almost like the writers forgot they had them and backtracked after the fact. Keep the powers, keep Matau’s flying, have him discover that way early on, just keep them from utilizing their full potential until the finale.

  12. Finale - I always though MoL’s finale was anti-climactic, but this one is almost embarrassing. Makuta and Vakama play hide and seek while Makuta spams shadow hand until he pulls a rock into himself. Wow.
    Suggestion: Makuta takes out Lhikan like original, Lhikan explains Vakama’s power, tells him he is special and to never doubt himself. Vakama turns invisible, shoots MoT out of Makuta’s hands. He rushes to reclaim it but is halted by a wall of flame. Vakama has no more fear or doubt, and has his full powers.
    An epic battle ensues where Vakama dodges impossibly powerful attacks from Makuta with his jetpack and the terrain, and strikes back with intense flame attacks. Eventually he lands a powerful blow, but Makuta rises barely harmed. He laughs, “If toa Lhikan could not defeat me alone, how could you hope to?” “Because he’s not alone!” The other toa join the fight, each landing attacks with their own powers, now fully realized. Eventually they realize they cannot take him down with only their powers, and seal him away. Nothing too crazy, but far more exciting than what we got.

Alright, think that about covers it. What do you guys think? Do you agree with these suggestions? Are there suggestions you would make for this arc? Let me know below, and of course, thanks for reading!

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nice!
but i still think ahkmou should be the traitor.
he seems like a lucius malfoy sort of character
to me, cause’ secretly working for the big bad.
also, since you are “cleaning up” the story arc,
i would have expected the whole vhisola-nokama
thing to be removed, because love isn’t canon.
still, good job on this, and i look forward to seeing you “clean up” the later arcs!

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He’s still a traitor in this revision, just not at first. Having a twist that leads into his treacherous attitude I’d say leads into a more interesting character arc than “he’s bad because… he’s bad.”

Check out Jeb’s Bionicleanup 2 for my analysis on why love should be canon!

I like this idea. It gives Ahkmou’s character more depth, as well as giving us more backstory on Vhisola’s obsession with Nokama.

You’d also have to rewrite the scene where Makuta “teaches” Ahkmou about the Turaga, so that Ahkmou remembers what happened on Metru Nui and helps Teridax willingly, but that’s not a big deal.

I never really thought that Nuju’s change in language really needed “fixing”, but this is another really good idea. It definitely has more depth than the current version of events.

Makes sense. (Plus the animators would have already had a model for his mask)

I’d actually do this the other way around, changing the other Turaga’s appearances to match their Toa colours and masks. It makes more sense to me that their colours would stay the same during their transformation.

Although your version would certainly explain why Jaller’s mask looks the way it does.

This has always bugged me as well.

My alternate explanation is that Teridax had always planned to take over the robot (rather than only deciding to do so after Legends of Metru Nui), and he knew that the Toa Mata would arrive in Metru Nui immediately after the Great Cataclysm (or at least they should have). If this happened, he would have to delay them for a thousand years while Mata Nui died, all while making it look like he’s actually trying to stop them. As-is, the Toa were starting to get suspicious after only a year of delays, so a thousand years would probably be very difficult.

With the Vahi, however, he would be able to accelerate Mata Nui’s death, and he could let the Toa complete their mission unobstructed. He could even time Mata Nui’s death more precisely.

I’m sure he’d still enact his “wipe the Matoran’s memory” plot to avoid any rebellion in his new body, and he’d still use the Vahi to do so out of convenience, but it wouldn’t be the main point of having the Vahi.

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Actually I don’t think that would need to be edited. Ahkmou could still have feelings of distrust for the toa metru, even if he doesn’t remember exactly why, and Makuta’s manipulation furthers along these feelings in the same way as the original story.

This is an awesome idea, really like it.

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If I remember correctly they didn’t use their powers because they had used up their elemental energy or whatever. This is a better idea though.

Controversial opinion ahead

Summary

Friends can just be super possessive, it isn’t always love, why does it feel like everyone thinks this?

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because the hewkii-macku thing
scarred me for life

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No I’m referring to that you think vhisola is in love with nokama and I’m saying that it doesn’t have to be love, vhisola can just be really possessive

in that case

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this fix goes in the wrong direction. Twist villains have a tendency to suck because they’re sprung at the last second, which makes their development do a 180 and just feels like a cheap surprise for the sake of surprise. The way to do a twist villain right is to show the audience early on, then spring it on the characters later. It’s a form of Hitchcock’s “bomb theory:” if you have a scene where everyone’s sitting at a table, and suddenly a bomb goes off under it and kills them all, the audience is surprised for 10 seconds and then befuddled from then on. But if you show the bomb 5 minutes before it goes off, the audience is left pleading for the characters to find it in time and get out. You want suspense, not shock, so that you leave a lasting impression.

Invincible does this very well: at the end of episode 1, we learn that Omni-Man is crazy and kills people. This gives us the entire show to watch him interact with the rest of the cast, knowing full well who he really is and what he does and knowing that he’s going to do something messed up and hurt the good guys, including our protagonist. All the while, we’re left asking why he killed the Guardians, and the show slowly builds up to that reveal, so we’ve got suspense from seeing the bomb under the table, suspense from wondering why it’s there, and finally the surprise–made meaningful by the suspense leading up to it–when Omni-Man finally spills the beans.

Let’s apply this same technique to Ahkmou. Just after we learn that there is a traitor, we see him sneak off to rendezvous with the Dark Hunters, or get on a phone call with them, or whatever he does, but the Toa don’t catch him. Going forward, the Toa keep getting cornered by enemies who seem to know their every move, and the Toa don’t know how, but we know. Finally, after a while, the Toa figure out that Ahkmou’s been lying, they confront him, and Ahkmou reveals that he believes Terry’s going to win no matter what, so he’s taken his side to help reduce the carnage, which is just an excuse he tells himself to justify saving his own hide.

It should be canon. Not having it be canon is profoundly idiotic. Let there be lesbianicle.

Because keeping an entire room full of pictures of someone is either the result of a crush or genuine mental illness. The whole thing is written like a “hot for teacher” scenario.

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@SirKeksalot Very interesting points here.

I very much get where you’re coming from with the reveal to audience then work toward it; this storytelling is why I love the character of Krakua so much. We know where he’ll end up, but now get to see how it happens.

There are two points I’d like to bring up with this change: in the story Vhisola’s unhinged nature is hinted at, exceptionally so when Nokama visits her home. As for Ahkmou, we as an audience know his actions on Mata-Nui and know he will be a traitor, and therefore expect that he’s the traitor, and that Vhisola is just a red herring like the other matoran. This makes for a satisfying twist when everything is pointing in the direction we thought, and then the “red herring” ends up being the true culprit.

It’s not out of nowhere necessarily, nor directly exposed beforehand, but still surprising.

@Jebricks Agreed.
I love the Vhisola twist. Plus, making Ahkmou the traitor again feels repetitive and makes Lego seem unwilling to take risks with their characters.

Additionally, I agree completely about Vakama’s powers. I always assumed this was the case, until I read Greg’s “explanation” years later.

The Nuju idea is also pretty cool.

I have a few other ideas:

  • The mask-making process needs an overhaul. The first three years were heavily concerned with collecting masks. The idea, repeatedly reinforced, was that Toa can use multiple masks, and they should whenever they can. But no one on Mata Nui had the means to create masks, so they just had to find a limited supply hidden in remote and dangerous locations. In Metru Nui, however, mask-making is a whole industry. Vakama is a skilled mask-maker. There are apparently even storehouses for masks not currently being worn by anyone. Yet the Toa Metru only bother to use masks they were already wearing (granted, they didn’t initially know how to use their masks, but that’s another can of worms I’ll get to in a second). I have two suggestions. First, it should be explicitly spelled out that the Toa Metru can’t use the convenient mask-switching that the Toa Mata could because they didn’t have their own individual Suva (how hard is it to make a Suva? we don’t know, the story never says). Second, it needs to be established that making masks of power, rather than powerless Matoran masks, is hard. Even Vakama only made a few, and they went directly to Toa. I know Lego had a whole system for how Kanoka disks are turned into masks based on their power level, but I think this is the only realistic way to explain why the characters only used one mask each.
  • Speaking of which, the Toa don’t initially know how to use their mask powers. Fine. But all evidence suggests that they really don’t even know what their mask powers are, which doesn’t make any sense if Vakama is a mask expert. He should have told them what their mask powers were from the start. This might ruin the surprise a little bit, but their mask powers were the same ones they had as Turaga, anyway, so not much surprise ruined (plus, the great versions had new powers we hadn’t seen before). Plus, the first time they managed to make their masks work would still make for personal victories. At the very least, some kind of handwave could be given, like Vakama explaining that masks don’t always look like their power so he can’t be 100% sure.
  • The Great Disks don’t make much sense. If my memory of '04 serves (I was 8 then, cut me some slack), not much explanation was ever given for where the great disks came from. I think it was only later on that we were told that Artakha made them and teleported them to the city. Which raises so many questions. Why did Artakha make them in the first place? Who did he intend to receive them when he sent them to remote hiding places? The disks were primarily used to make the Mask of Time, instead of used in their own right. But Artakha didn’t just make the Vahi himself, apparently counting on Vakama to do so? But as soon as Vakama made the Vahi, he immediately needed to keep it out of Makuta’s hands. Makuta never gets to use the Vahi as he intended anyway, then the mask falls into the sea for a while, then the Dark Hunters almost get it, then Vakama gets it and hides it away for a thousand years, then Tahu briefly uses it to fight the Bohrok-Kal. I think the Great Disks should be legendary artifacts that had existed in Metru Nui since the beginning of the MU. The Great Beings put them there, maybe as a weapon that could be used in case of an emergency. But because no one was completely sure they existed, previous Toa hadn’t really looked for them. That changed when several Matoran learned the locations of the disks. (On a further note, if Bionicle were to continue long enough, and get an ending that wraps up all the loose ends, the Vahi would need to come back. It’s a Legendary Mask that never gets to do anything legendary. Such a waste of potential.)
  • Finally, has anybody else noticed that Rahi started getting super weird in 2004? Sure, Tarakava were strange, and we saw giant crabs and massive insects, but (with the exception of the Rahi-Nui) most 2001-03 Rahi were comparable or outright analogous to real-world animals. This is more of a trifle, but maybe it could be explained that as the BoM became more and more evil, they started making more bizarre and monstrous things that are slowly displacing older, more natural Rahi (many of which would later migrate to Mata Nui).
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Both make sense to me.

Thank you for bringing this up, I almost completely forgot this. Even if not all, Vakama and Nokama would have absolutely know what the mask powers would be, and it seems strange matoran wouldn’t do the bare minimum research to figure out the hidden power of their own mask.

Good question, which I’d say would best be answered as a security measure. Many villains and ne’er do wells would probably have been able to sneak into the city and find it if it were already pre-forged. Rather than relying on massive security measures like the Ignika, having it be straight-up inaccessible to the public would certainly keep baddies at bay. Worked with Teridax.

gah
forgot about this
What book was that from again?

I like the changes you’ve made but I think I can add to those.

  1. What I would do is change his visions so that Vakama uses the vahi to send himself those visions and create a self-fulfilling destiny. Vakama could have many destinies and so he made that his own.

  2. I think to add to that reasoning is that Makuta had crafted rahi for the universe for millenia and recieved no praise. His destiny was to continue his duty which he despised as fulfilling it would only grow his anguish. Gaining the vahi would not only reinforce his plans but also gives him the chance to forge his own destiny. His offer with Vakama would be genuine as his struggles would be something even someone as evil as Teridax could emphasize with.

  3. Nothing is wrong, I just love this idea.

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i think it was the one with the bionicles in it

No I think it was one of the bionicle adventures books

Bionicle Adventures 1: Mystery of Metru Nui

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Ah yes
Now I’m beginning to wonder if the memory wipe was a good thing…