TMNT – “The Lonely Mutation of Baxter Stockman” Review
“I finally made it: Retro-mutagen…” – Donatello
Master Shredder is less than pleased with Baxter Stockman’s progress on his mutant army. After one failure too many, Shredder keeps his word, and blows up the mutagen vials attached to Stockman’s collar, causing the man to transform into a half-human, half-fly monstrosity and escape into the city. Meanwhile, Donatello seems to have finally created a retro-mutagen, with enough for Kirby O’Neil and Master Splinter. The boys head out to find Wingnut, but before they can administer the antidote, Baxter the Fly surprises them. The retro-mutagen canister breaks, Stockman captures April, and the turtles are forced to use the remainder of the antidote as a bargaining chip for her safety.
Donatello, Leonardo, and Casey Jones head off to save April, but Stockman is finally a match for them. They aren’t able to keep April from taking a mutagen bath, but fortunately her immunity foils Stockman’s plan. Meanwhile, Raphael and Michelangelogo bat hunting, and have Kirby in their sights. Leo and the others fight free of Stockman, Rahzar, and the Foot bots to rendezvous. As Donnie is about to administer the retro-mutagen, Stockman steals the vial again, forcing the boys to give chase.
An aerial battle ensues, with the turtles, Stockman, the Foot bots, and Wingnut all vying for the canister of retro-mutagen. As the antidote changes hands, it appears that Stockman will end up with the prize, but he too drops it, and the canister breaks. The last of the retro-mutagen drips to the ground, when April forces her dad underneath the ooze, splashing him with the very last drop. Everyone looks on as Wingnut is transformed back into Kirby O’Neil, and April is reunited with her father. Baxter the Fly, however, is not so lucky, and he finds himself Shredder’s underling once again.
This was yet another episode that surprised fans with an unseen twist. While those who watched the 1987 show were familiar with just what Baxter Stockman would turn into, there was no hint given that this would also be the episode where Donatello perfected the retro-mutagen and saved Kirby. That little bit was a surprise to everyone. Which made the episode significantly more compelling than it would have been otherwise. However, there may have been a bit of a disservice done to Baxter. He mutated, and clearly gained some ability from it (even if his looks were nothing to be desired). So perhaps there could have been more of a focus on his mutation, and less on the other parts of the story. Stockman’s been kicked around from day one, and giving him some redemption would have still made it a worthwhile episode, even if that meant putting off the Kirby resolution until later.
The question that will now have to be answered is where does the mutagen quest go from here? The point of this season was finding a way to turn Kirby back into a human. Now that that’s been resolved, there are still ten episodes to fill with something related to the overall plot of the season. Obviously, Shredder has something up his sleeve (and Stockman mentioned three classic mutants in Rocksteady, Bebop, and Ace Duck). But how that creates the stakes necessary to drive the show into season three and beyond remains to be seen. However, the writers for this incarnation have been spot on with almost everything in 42 episodes. So there’s likely nothing to worry about.
This episode was a good indication that the show is coming to its final stretch for the season. With summer (and likely another hiatus) just over the horizon, the show is starting to wrap up some of its story so it can build toward the coming weeks. Only time will tell what’s still in store for the turtles and their friends, but whatever it is, it’s sure to be trouble for the whole world. Here’s hoping the heroes in green can stop whatever comes their way and keep everyone they care about safe and sound.