TMNT – “Baxter’s Gambit” Review
“You’ll be playing for the ultimate prize – your lives!”
The Kraang are still working towards their ultimate plan, and it’s up to the Ninja Turtles to stop them. Unfortunately, Shredder’s minions have the same idea, and plan to steal this disruptor for their master. Fish Face and Dog Pound cast aside Baxter Stockman, and charge into battle. Three separate factions battle for control of the technology, but the Kraang emerge victorious.
The turtles and Shredder’s henchmen return to their respective lairs. While the boys train with Splinter, Baxter Stockman takes responsibility for the failure, promising Shredder he has an invincible trap ready for the turtles. Shredder gives him Dog Pound and Fish Face to work with, and the two mutants hit the streets. It doesn’t take long for the turtles to find them and run right into Stockman’s perfect maze.
With the boys out in the city, April trains with Splinter, and she’s ready to choose a ninja weapon. Once inside Stockman’s warehouse, the trap is sprung on all six mutants, with Baxter looking to take revenge on Fish Face and Dog Pound as well. A quick fight shows them all that the only way out will be teamwork. They proceed through the maze, fighting off deadly trap after deadly trap.
Unable to control any particular weapon, April accidentally knocks over the picture of Splinter’s family. He tells her about his daughter, which sparks an idea. Meanwhile Stockman splits up the mutants in the maze. While Donatello uses the T-phone to track Baxter’s transmissions, Raphael and Fish Face have a heart-to-heart about Xever’s past, and the debt he owes to Shredder. Eventually, the groups find one another and Stockman, who unleashes his final trap.
The six mutants face Stockman’s giant robot together, easily turning it to scrap. While the brothers battle, Splinter retrieves a bladed fan he was hoping to give to his daughter, and presents it to April as her weapon. With the battle over the truce ends, but both sides are too exhausted to fight. Mikey tells Raph’s team-up, but Raphael knows Fish Face is still the enemy, and he will be on guard.
The story here was very simplistic and straightforward. There wasn’t a whole lot of substance, and it didn’t advance too many major plot points. It did, however, set up future issues that will be healthy for the series. The dynamic between Raphael and Fish Face will inevitably put loyalties to the test. One good thing about having such a simple story, though, was that there was a lot of room for character development, and the vast majority came for someone who didn’t necessarily need it.
Seeing Fish Face and Raph interact showed kindred spirits finding each other in the midst of battle. Those two are more alike that was ever let on before, and now Raphael finds himself with another worthy rival and a potential friend. The addition of Fish Face’s back-story was an unexpected surprise. Some of the best villains are those that aren’t totally evil and could be redeemed. Now the struggle against Shredder is all that more important. It was a very nice addition, and an exciting extra aspect to the season.
The only part that seemed odd was April’s training. While Splinter’s lesson at the beginning had its place, the rest of his scenes really served no purpose in this particular episode. Seeing April’s development is important, and choosing her weapon is a rite of passage. But it could have been saved for another time, perhaps in an episode where she’s able to use it in battle immediately. In these circumstances, though, she had no real purpose. It would have been easy enough to give Dog Pound some attention, too, creating a second character for redemption in the future.
Overall, it was a very good episode. Though April’s process didn’t fit too well with everything else happening, it’s a very important aspect of what the series is trying to build, so it was nice to acknowledge. The growth of Fish Face and Raphael shows a very strong story in development that will hopefully not disappoint when it comes to a head.