TMNT – “Cockroach Terminator” Review
“We’re going to spy on the Kraang with a cockroach!”
Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo are trying to enjoy a nice meal, when they’re interrupted by an insect visitor – Donatello’s newest project. By equipping a cockroach with a camera and backpack, Donnie hopes to infiltrate T.C.R.I. and spy on the Kraang, while Raph wishes it could be anything but a bug. The roach makes its way inside, and immediately hits pay dirt: The next phase of the Kraang’s plan involves drilling to the center of the Earth.
While trying to interpret the Kraang’s conversation, Raphael irritates Donatello, causing him to knock the spy into a vat of mutagen. The bug fuses with the tech strapped to it, becoming more resilient, able to analyze information, and able to use weapons. It targets Raph, who turns and runs while his brothers stun it and head after the Kraang.
The mutant roach won’t stay down, though, and continues its pursuit. Using a homing beacon Donnie installed, the bug cuts into the Shellraiser. Leo, Mikey, and Raph lead the monster away from the van, but their problems only get worse when the roach molts, becoming a much larger, disgustingly green, flying techno-bug.
The roach is still hot on their trail, but the Kraang have begun digging. The mutant breaks into the Shellraiser again and takes Michelangelo, forcing Raph to decide between fear or his brother. The others continue on to the location of the laser drill, leaving Raph to go one-on-one with the monster. He gives it the slip long enough to join his brothers, but it follows. Atop the laser drill, the mutants battle, and Raphael outwits the bug, blowing it to pieces with the laser – or so he thinks. Having saved the city and overcome the cockroach terminator, the boys return to the lair.
The story being told in this episode was good, but not on par with some others. It was very much trying to copy “The Pulverizer”, mixing a one-and-done character with the main plot. Unlike that episode, though, this was trying to do it with two major concepts that shouldn’t have been crammed together. The use of a terminator bug to explore Raph’s fear was excellent. However, there was never the fear and suspense that should have been present. If Raphael had actually been running for his life from this mutant the entire episode, then the buildup and payout would have felt more satisfying. Likewise, the Kraang starting the next phase of their plan seems like a pretty big deal, and when that’s drilling into the Earth, it’s something that should be given proper attention. Not once did this “phase” feel as important as it probably was.
The story also suffered from a minor error that wouldn’t be a big deal if it hadn’t been set up as such previously. When Donatello built the Shellraiser, the only reason it was running (supposedly) was because of the Kraang power core. It seems odd it can function now without that part, as if it never truly mattered. It’s a minor detail, but it would have made the vehicle more meaningful if it had reappeared in a much later episode when the core was recovered.
Character development in this episode belonged solely to Raphael. It’s always interesting when the “tough guy” shows weakness. It’s very easy to dislike macho characters because they’re not relatable. So giving Raph another real flaw (which has shown up in other incarnations) makes him that much better. He now has a personal problem to overcome, and doing so helps him grow considerably. It was very good to see another leap forward, and with any luck it will truly influence his character in some way later.
This episode was lacking. It was trying to do too much, and both stories suffered. It was easy to tell what emotions were trying to be conveyed, and it seemed to just fall flat on all accounts. No suspense and no sense of immediacy to the actions meant that the whole thing could just as easily have not happened. However, since both aspects may come back in later episodes, hopefully they’ll be more thoroughly explored then.