TMNT – “The Invasion” Review
“They’re already infiltrating! They’re here!” – Casey Jones
Shredder is mourning the loss of his adopted daughter, but the time of the Kraang invasion is almost at hand. If Shredder helps the aliens conquer the world, they will turn over the turtles and mutate Karaiback to normal. The plan begins to unfold, as Foot bots chase down April O’Neil and Irma. Meanwhile, Casey and Raph are on the lookout for Karai, while back at the lair Donatello unveils the blueprints for his new turtle mech: a behemoth of a fighting machine for the coming war.
April and Irma manage to elude the Foot bots by ducking into the sewers, while Karai appears briefly. But everything isn’t what it seems: Casey Jones is arrested, and Irma turns out to be an undercover Kraang Sub-Prime that was looking for the turtles. With the lair located, the Kraang begin their invasion. They quickly overpower the turtles, forcing Donnie, Michelangelo, and April to leave Leonardo and Master Splinter behind. The three regroup at April’s apartment, while Shredder unleashes his own forces on the city.
Splinter manages to stop Kraang Sub-Prime, but Leonardo finds himself at the mercy of the Shredder. Meanwhile, Kraang Prime arrives on Earth and begins blasting everything in sight with mutagen. Raph and Casey try to escape the madness, when an unexpected ally – the Earth Protection Force – arrives to fight Kraang Prime. Leonardo does his best to fight off Shredder’s army, but finds himself captured and taken as bait for his brothers.
Having found Leatherhead in the sewer, Splinter goes after Leonardo and finds himself toe-to-toe with Shredder. The two battle, with Leatherhead falling unconscious – or worse. With Kraang Prime and the Shredder’s forces at their door (again), the turtles are forced to flee April’s apartment, but not before Kirby is mutated into a Dimension X being, too. The boys and April head back to the lair to find Splinter, only to see him fall to Shredder in battle and be flushed down a sewer drain. Together, they decide that now is the time to fight, and they’re done running away.
The four remaining heroes retrieve Donnie’s new turtle mech, and head for Shredder’s fortress. But before they can seek their revenge, Kraang Prime intervenes, and the turtle mech must defeat the alien leader. The turtles done fare too well, but Donnie has one last plan to fry Kraang Prime, but even that fails. The turtle mech is toasted, and Casey barely arrives in time to help his friends escape. Together, the four turtles, April, and Casey leave the city for April’s old house upstate. Their fight is just beginning, and little do they know that Master Splinter is safe and alive, thanks to his own Karai.
As far as epic season finales go, this one had it all. It brought major plots to their heads; it had all the action and adventure needed to create a sense of grandness; it created new issues that can be dealt with in future seasons; and it didn’t leave too many things unanswered. Overall, it was better than could have ever been expected, though arguably not better than the season one finale. Better is most certainly a relative term, and this finale was simply different than the last. Season one was probably written, created and completely (or almost completely) in post-production by the time Nickelodeon gave the show second and third season orders. This can be seen in the way season one works in a lot of ways as its own self-contained story. There wasn’t much left on the table, and that’s why there was plenty of question at the beginning of season two as to where things were going to go.
The season two finale, however, comes when the show knew it was getting a third season, and so the entirety of the epic battle could be written in a way that didn’t need a whole lot of story development for other plots, and could simply be about the invasion (with its success, and no cliffhangers because of it). Everyone already knows that season three starts soon, and the finale was designed with that in mind.
Despite all that, there were plenty of moments throughout that showed real development, as well as showing that past developments were still true, and didn’t disappear after their lessons were learned. Leonardo was able to give quite an impressive demonstration of ninja ability; April tapped into powerful levels of psychic energy; Kirby was still around; Irma’s “power” was revealed; Raph’s softening and letting go of some anger helped him console Mikey; and even Michelangelo proved he could still be the serious warrior that fought bravely in Dimension X. The only main character that didn’t get some sort of genuine screen time was Karai, but that’s clearly a story they want to deal with next season instead.
Perhaps the only downside to this episode was the battles between Splinter and/or Leonardo and Shredder. Yes, it’s a kid show, so the repercussions from those battles weren’t going to end in death. But why couldn’t they? Nickelodeon has already moved the show to a block when older audiences are likely to tune in (as opposed to younger audiences), so why couldn’t the stakes have been upped a little bit? Even if Splinter or Leonardo weren’t done in, to have either or both go missing for most of season three would have certainly added to the show’s depth. And if not permanent elimination, then why not some sort of permanent scar? Shredder pulled no punches with his blades, so should there not have been more damage? Hopefully a cracked shell is part of Leo’s character design from now on, but there could have been something more prominent done instead.
From start to finish, this season finale had it all. Action, adventure, and high stakes were just part of it, and backed very poignant, heartfelt moments. No matter what season three has to offer, this finale will stand as one of the better episodes in the series. Season three begins soon, and with it the turtles will have to retake their city. Hopefully they can gather the allies they need, and make it happen.