TMNT – “New Girl in Town” Review
“My name is Karai. See you around.”
Snakeweed has returned, and he’s running amok. Fortunately, the Turtles are on his trail. During the chase, Snakeweed kidnaps a pizza delivery guy, before the heroes can save him, Raphael and Leonardo start bickering about the best way to attack – which gives Snakeweed enough time to escape. Sick and tired of the trouble, Leo challenges Raph to be leader instead. Leonardo goes his own way while the others search for Snakeweed, and is ambushed by the Foot Clan and Karai. Karai quickly defeats Leo, sending him back to the sewer embarrassed.
Donatello believes that he’s pinpointed Snakeweed’s hideout, but Raphael refuses to let Leonardo join the hunt. Splinter questions his sulking son and isn’t pleased with this development. He reprimands Leonardo about the true meaning of leadership, and orders him after his brothers. Instead of turtles, he finds Karai, who again beats him, but wants to meet later.
Meanwhile, the others find Snakeweed’s lair in the sewer. To their dismay, all the humans he’d kidnapped are being turned into fertilizer. The Turtles free the people before facing down Snakeweed, but the three of them don’t mesh effectively, and Raphael realizes the hard way that making the battle decisions isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Donatello ties up Snakeweed long enough to escape, but the mutant tags them with his seeds.
Leo goes to April to talk about Karai, while Karai meets with Shredder about her loyalty to her “father” and the Foot. Learning what Leonardo is up to via April, Raph goes to find him and apologize. He breaks up an argument between Leo and Karai, but Snakeweed arrives and demands their attention. Karai escapes, Leonardo becomes leader again, and he and Raphael are able to successfully take down Snakeweed – for now.
This episode was trying to do too much. There were two separate, distinct stories that had little to do with one another. Raphael learning what it means to be a leader could have stood alone, and Karai’s introduction and the seeds of her relationship with Leonardo moved to their own episode. As a result, parts felt jumpy and disjointed. The upside, though, was that both stories were exceptionally good, due in large part to being concisely written.
The episode title suggested that this was going to be big for Leonardo. The audience was introduced to Karai, shown her complicated relationship with Leo, and was left wondering just how he will react the next time they meet. This interaction is the one thing that Leonardo has always been lacking. In the original cartoon, Leo was simply a cookie-cutter leader. Karai adds an emotional aspect that was missing, showing that their mutual attraction will play against Shredder’s ultimate goal while possibly breaking both hearts in a brilliant tragic way. Accomplishing this in five minutes of screen time is very impressive.
Despite all that, the heavy focus was on Raphael. Raphael stories are always great because he never fails to learn about both positive and negative consequences to his personality. Here, his greatest issue is brought to bare and resolved. It’s always been accepted that Leonardo is the leader because that’s just the way it is. Raphael has never been okay with that fact, but he’s rarely done anything about it. He’s finally given his chance to take charge, and has to come to terms with the fact that he’s not the leader he always believed he was. He learns what it takes for Leonardo to direct the team in battle when everyone’s lives are on the line, and he now understands just how taxing those decisions can be. This should end most of the fighting between the two of them, although there’s little doubt that they’ll forever butt heads.
Overall, it was another good episode. Where the last episode didn’t do enough with certain plot points, this episode was trying to do too much in too little time. But by introducing Karai as briefly as was, there is now plenty of potential for a very emotionally charged standoff between her and Leonardo in the future.