MTMTE #49: Getaway (SPOILERS)
Here I go, contradicting myself…
Actually, hopefully not. Earlier today I tweeted reasons why you don’t need me to add to what’s already on the page to decide how to feel about what you’ve just read.
But as the day’s gone on I’m getting more of a sense of the extent to which Getaway's fate is controversial and divisive. And so without undermining what I said earlier, let me present to you, from my perspective as writer, the information on the page, i.e. the information with which readers were invited to reach a view.
(Incidentally, this isn’t me wading in to course correct anybody. But now and again I toy with the idea of doing what Keiron Gillen does, and publishing online a sort of CliffsNotes to accompany an issue. The idea sounds fun but I never find the time. Anyhow, think of what follows as being something in that vein.)
So, where were we?
We see Getaway suspended in a maximum-security cell, alone, in darkness.
His ‘voice box’ (represented here by his missing jaw – the information needs to be conveyed visually in this context) has been surgically removed. His arms and legs have been surgically removed. (I’m using the word ‘surgically’ deliberately; you can see that those parts of him weren’t ripped off.) He has been rendered unable to speak to passers-by. He has no cellmates. He cannot run or use his hands.
All of this has been done because Getaway is a master escapologist. Render him unable to speak or move, the logic goes, and he presents less of a threat.
In this context, the manner in which he has been suspended could be seen a considerate act, not a malicious one. The alternative is to leave him on the floor, face-up or face-down. This way, he’s looking out the window.
The lights are only off because Rodimus turned them off; and he turned them off specifically to protect Getaway from Sunder.
From Tailgate’s vantage point, Getaway is almost entirely obscured by a very deliberately positioned girder (deliberately positioned by me), and so he cannot see the modifications that have been made to his old friend. He just assumes Getaway is ignoring him, hence his anger.
This scene is intended to shock. You don’t know what’s happened to Getaway since issue 47. (His fate is hinted at by Rodimus in 48, when he says, vaguely, that Getaway has been taken care of, so it’s clear that whoever came up with the idea of detaining Getaway in this way, Rodimus is OK with it.) In this issue you find out what Rodimus, Megatron and Magnus – as ‘high command’ – did after they caught Getaway. And you find out in the context of a horror story, with a serial killer stalking an empty ship with all the lights out.
The reveal comes in two stages: stage one, we learn that Getaway is in a maximum security cell – no surprise there. That’s what happens on the Lost Light when people do bad things (honourable/controversial exceptions: Brainstorm and Megatron). Stage two – and here’s the surprise. He appears, at first blush, to have been mutilated. His limbs are missing and he seems to be displayed like some macabre prize. (We’re reminded of Overlord, a monster of a different order.) And in keeping with the horror vibe, his fate is revealed as a single beam of torchlight plays over his helpless body.
Is it disturbing? I hope so. But after the initial shock, we remember that Getaway’s skills - his propensity to escape – made him a unique threat, and so the unusual manner of his incarceration perhaps makes more sense. His captors’ actions may still be regarded as cruel and his punishment disproportionate, but there’s a logic to the unusual security measures being taken.
Consider: would your reaction to Getaway’s fate have been different if you’d learned about it by watching some Lost Lighters fix him into his suspension harness in a brightly-lit cell whilst bantering away? Maybe. Maybe not.
Also worth considering is the nature of a Cybertronian’s relationship with their body. Getaway’s limbs can be removed and reattached without pain or long-term consequence. And as for being suspended — humans would experience severe pain related to stress (emotionally and physically), but a Cybertronian wouldn’t.
As for everything else… this is where you’re invited to speculate. Would it have been kinder to remove Getaway’s spark and put it in storage? Is that even an option? Does the Lost Light have the equipment to extract and store sparks? Do Cybertronians have any concept of the passage of time when they’re in a disembodied state? If so, does that make spark extraction better or worse than bodily imprisonment? Do prisoners even have the choice to be kept as a spark, and what are the grounds for refusal? Would Getaway trust his captors to reunite him with his body? If not, would that make him opt to stay in the remains of his body?
Questions for you to answer, not me. ☺