TMNT – “The Alien Agenda” Review
“There’s more to life than your vendetta.”
Karai is on the hunt for Turtles, but comes across her prey already locked in combat with the Kraang. Leonardo notices the surprise guest, and immediately tries to impress her. Karai also catches Raphael’s attention, but he thinks there’s something fishy about Leo’s sudden energy. Meanwhile, Baxter Stockman is busy building artificial legs for Xever. Karai informs Shredder of the Kraang, but he doesn’t want anything distracting from revenge on Splinter for whatever Hamato Yoshi did to them. Karai isn’t happy, but accepts the order.
At the lair, Raphael confronts Leonardo about Karai, warning him that she is dangerous, while April is hard at work on a DNA experiment for the “Worldwide Genome Project”. When she arrives at school the next day, she’s confronted by the Project’s spokeswoman, but suspects something is amiss. Sure enough, the woman is a Kraang android, and April narrowly escapes an attack. The Turtles respond to her cry for help, destroying the android with little effort. The brothers then trek to the Worldwide Genome Project headquarters, only to discover that it’s another Kraang base.
This facility is collecting DNA from various Earth species, which confuses everyone except Raphael, who attacks a familiar stalker – Karai. The two are separated when the Kraang arrive to confront their intruders. Trying to stir up trouble for all present, Karai dumps the collected DNA samples into a mutagen vat, creating a creature named Justin.
Justin destroys the Kraang, and Karai uses the confusion to escape with a disabled android. Leonardo finally recognizes that she played him, and uses his newfound rage to defeat Justin. Back at the lair, Leo explains his attraction to Karai, and assures his family his emotions have faded. Karai delivers the android to Stockman, who can use the technology to complete Xever’s legs. Shredder is pleased with his daughter, and tells her to learn all she can about the aliens’ agenda.
This was the story the season has needed. It was the event that tied everything together, creating a coherent cast of characters. Now the Turtles, Kraang, and Foot can interact without seeming forced together. The story as a whole didn’t feel disjointed, even though it necessarily contained elements from every major plotline already in motion. Master Shredder’s vendetta, the Kraang’s experiments, and even Leonardo and Karai’s budding romance all had to make sense in the context of each other and the events that already occurred. This episode completely succeeded in this task.
Since the episode was story driven, there was very little direct character development. For Karai, it’s clear that she may have the skills of a ninja, but she is still just a teenager. Her direct disobedience of her father, her mixed feelings for Leonardo, and her mannerisms when she became aware of the Kraang all suggest that no matter the training, she is prone to the outbursts of youth – a notion likely to be tested again and again.
The episode also did what the original animated series could never accomplish. Because the first show was strictly a vehicle for marketing toys, a character or gadget had to be (re)introduced every single week. As was seen in “I, Monster” and “New Girl in Town”, that new character/item has to be given the bulk of the show to make sure that it’s explained just enough to make sense in context.
However, focusing on the character/item means something else has to suffer. In the old animated series, story didn’t matter much because there was no overarching plot that tied any given season together. It was unimportant from week to week so long as new toys were marketed. 25 years later, plot in a children’s show is actually valued, so there can be these episodes where character development is subtle, yet impressive, and major story points are explored instead.
The use of plot in this episode showed just how strong the new incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is, and addressed something that had been missing from previous weeks. Overall, the story was well written and flowed effortlessly, connecting to the main plot successfully while laying the groundwork for the future.