Robot Wars series 9 episode 2 review

Some controversial judges’ decisions made for a chin-stroking Robot Wars episode this week…

This review contains spoilers.

What a lovely lot those Colliass kids were; gracious in both victory and defeat, and as bemused by Cherub’s success as we were. Up and up went their robot, floating to the final on a cloud of goodwill and favourable judges’ decisions.

When Eruption cut short the last bout with the fourth of four consecutive OOA flips, the Cherub children laughed and counted their blessings, having spent the rest of the hour offering each other nothing but support and affection. “Just have fun” one of the twins told her brother, all of them at the age when most siblings are busily working out the best strategy to give each other dead arms while evading parental detection. Can I adopt them please? Or perhaps they can adopt me?

Disunity reigned elsewhere, particularly in the Behemoth team where the choice to try out a new weapon proved a controversial one and caused the captain to stalk off in a strop. You can feel his pain – all that preparation, work and time went down the drain because they took a risk that didn’t pay off. You can also sympathise with his teammates; having kitted out their bot with more accessories than Malibu Barbie, they must have been itching to try them out in the arena. Let’s hope all the tensions were ironed out on the drive home.

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Mysteriously, some of the losing teams weren’t even seen after their elimination. Draven, for instance, or Team Cobra, who disappeared straight after their roasted-marshmallow defeat at the claws of Sir Killalot. Were they not happy with the judges’ decision, or did they just have to hotfoot it back to Belgium in time to make some delicious chocolate/waffles/invent the saxophone? We’ll never know.

To the untrained observer, some of the judges’ decisions did feel a little off. Clearly I’m no Professor Noel Sharkey (my beard but a wan imitation of his) but when it came to the PP3D/Cherub head-to-head, I’d have counted shunting your opponent’s robot into the arena wall with such force that it takes out a hefty chunk of the same as a winning move – wouldn’t you? The same goes for Behemoth wedging Cherub under that malfunctioning arena flipper. I see the logic for restarting the bout, but come on, surely that was check and mate.

It was hubris, not risk-taking that led to PP3D’s eventual elimination. Having built a weapon so destructive it destroyed their own bot in a storm of fizzing, spitting sparks, theirs was an Icarian defeat.

There were some objectively great bouts in week two, including the “ding-dong battle” that led to the first judges’ decision on a group match. Behemoth in particular proved a really entertaining watch due to its endearing resemblance to a bird trying to scare off a foe every time it fired its weapon and flapped its wings.

In its extreme efficiency though, Eruption took away a lot of potential fun for us at home. Tossing bots out of the arena is undoubtedly cool, but give us a bit of a dance first eh lads?

As always, the episode took a put-the-kettle-on break to fulfil its Reithian educational remit and have one of the judges predict the imminent AI-based downfall of all mankind (the Prof. was talking about Amazon delivery drones, but the subtext was clear). Amid the silly carnage and overclocked adrenaline, being reminded that our species teeters on the brink of a global catastrophe thanks to the very things we’ve been pitting against one another for our amusement like Roman emperors is an odd combination that sort of puts you off your Sunday roast.

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That said, with kids like the Colliass family around, perhaps there’s hope for mankind yet.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here