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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!