TMNT – “Within the Woods” Review
“He’s all leafy and weird lookin’! Like a salad!” – Michelangelo
The turtles failed to stop the Kraang invasion, and have fled to the old O’Neil family farmhouse. With Leonardo hurt and Master Splinter missing, the boys and their friends can only bide their time as best they can until their brother is back on his feet. While the team trains together often, they are still all on edge, with Raphael keeping watch over his brother the whole time. After three months, however, Leonardo finally wakes up. Donatello perfected a mutagen medicine, but it doesn’t seem to agree with Leo. While out for a walk with Raph, he suddenly becomes ill, and vomits mutagen all over the ground, waking something down below.
As Leo recovers, the farmhouse starts to experience some electrical issues. With the fire dying out, Raph goes to collect firewood, but is attacked and captured by some sort of creature. The others split up to go look for him; April and Casey head off, but April senses something following them. Meanwhile Donatello and Michelangelo come across an abandoned shack, where they find a strange altar built around Leo’s medicine, and a plant in the corner that turns out to be a mutated, infected Raphael. The boys try to escape, but they’re quickly captured, and the source plant mutant goes after April and Casey, leaving only Leonardo to save his friends and family.
Back in the Creep’s lair, the monster seemingly absorbs Raphael, turning him into a plant. But Leo is back in action, and ready to save the rest of his family. He manages to subdue the creature long enough to free the others, but the Creep refuses to be defeated. Distracting him by stealing the mutagen medicine, Casey and April manage to chain the monster up. While they have a moment to breathe, Donatello rigs a system to put the mutagen back into Raphael, returning him to normal and defeating the Creep for good … or is he?With the team back together, it’s time to take back New York City.
This episode featured a lot of really minor but significant details that show once again the care that the writing and animation teams have put into this show over the last two seasons. First, it was a terrific homage to the first live-action film in the opening minutes of the episode. Sure, it was Raph watching over Leo instead of the other way around, but that fit with the story. Even April’s narration was similar, as well as her journal and sketches. The respect shown in this TV show for the incarnations that have come before it has always been evident. But it is especially so here.
Second, they addressed Leonardo’s voice. When shows change voice actors after a few seasons or episodes, there’s rarely anything about it in the show itself. It happens all the time, for one reason or another. There’s no sense in calling attention to behind-the-scenes issues when you’re simply trying to make an outstanding product. But the way the last few episodes were put together gave this particular show the opportunity to address Leo’s voice without it seeming out of place. Of course it was possible his throat was damaged during his battle and subsequent coma. So why not deal with the issue up front? It was well handled, and gets the whole thing out of the way before it ever really becomes an issue.
The episode didn’t necessarily accomplish a lot towards the major plot points of the season, and it seemed in a lot of ways (plot-wise) to be a mirror of the Squirrelanoids episode. But it did set up a number of things, and get the viewers ready for what’s to come. Most importantly seems to be that retaking the city is going to be a slow and arduous process over the next 25 episodes, so everyone will have to be patient. But it’ll likely be well worth the wait. So strap in everyone, because the fun of season three is just beginning.