TMNT – “Race with the Demon” Review
“Speed Demon’s King of the Road, baby!” – Speed Demon
Casey and Donatello are at each other’s throats again on the way back from the store, when all of a sudden a purple hot rod forces them off the road violently. Casey wants to go back out after it, but April calms him down enough to keep him inside. The next day, he and Donnie are hard at working hard on a new drag racer, and a quick test drive proves their effort wasn’t in vain. But Casey isn’t satisfied with a test, and takes the car out to look for that reckless driver. He bites off a little more than he can chew, however, when he realizes there’s a mutant named Speed Demon driving the purple racer.
The turtles and Casey tow the beat up racer back to the farmhouse with Casey still fuming at his loss. Desperately wanting revenge, he engages Donnie’s help to trick out the car even further and give himself a chance of taking that racing mutant down for good. Reappropriating materials from the Kraang ship in the basement, Donnie builds a brand new engine, but struggles with the artificial intelligence to make it work just right. Fortunately, one of Michelangelo’s chickens gets into the last of the mutagen, making it hyper intelligent and able to solve the issue. So, the Turtle Racer is born.
Back on the road, Casey is finally able to keep up with the Speed Demon, and with Donnie’s help, they separate the driver from his car. However, once out of it, Donatello realizes that the driver wasn’t the mutant at all. It was the car itself, and it swallows Donnie whole, incorporating him and his mutant power into its own structure. Casey challenges the new-and-improved Speed Demon to a race for Donatello’s freedom, putting his own on the line. As the two amp up their speed, Casey manages to free Donatello from the car, and before it can reclaim him, the others arrive in the party wagon to push the demon over a cliff. The Demon Racer explodes and is gone forever, while Casey and Donnie embrace their new friendship.
Though past episodes this season have been problematic because of the lack of any real development, this one was unique and provided a very interesting tidbit to the larger picture of the TMNT universe. So far there have only been mutated people and animals. But, as was seen during the Kraang invasion, inanimate objects can be changed too. So why wouldn’t it be possible that given the right conditions, those objects could also become mutants. It opens up a realm of new possibilities, and gives the writers something to work with when they’re looking for ways to fill time in between major events. It’s a clever idea, and one that hopefully they’ll explore further later.
After three seasons, however, there’s still something that has not been answered, or made clearer. Why does it just so happen that every Donatello-focused episode (or episode where he’s a major player) turns out to be an extraordinarily fantastic showcase? There’s always either major story development, major character growth, or something important developed that will influence the turtles’ world forever. This one was no different, as he and Casey seem to have finally forged a tentative alliance and friendship. It’s understandable if the reason is how underdeveloped Donnie has been in the past, but it’s still a wonder that without fail his episodes prove to be the best.
Overall, this episode was actually a step in the right direction from the previous ones. It didn’t feel like another chapter of the same story, which was getting old. It added something truly new and unique to the story, and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the show’s future. As long as this momentum isn’t lost in the episodes to come, then this could be the beginning of everything turning around and the energy being cranked back up to what fans have come to expect.