“Good-bye old farmhouse. … Hello New York City!” – April O’Neil and Michelangelo
With the Kraang managing to fool the world into thinking everything is okay, the turtles are ready to go and set things right. Their first step: building a new ride, and the Turtle Party Wagon is born. Upon arriving near the city, the Earth Protection Force has built a barrier around the NYC, but they seem to be under Kraang control, so the heroes bust through the gates and enter their home.
New York City is a barren wasteland, with only a few hundred people left unmutated. However, it doesn’t take long before they run into a Kraang patrol, and put the Party Wagon’s new weapons to the test. The turtles and their friends manage to make it into the subway system, and head towards the lair. Their home is empty and in shambles, and a Kraang probe is constantly making rounds, scanning for life. The boys can’t return home, but April senses Splinter in the sewers. They find the rat master, but he’s lost his mind, leaving behind a feral rat body. Unfortunately, the Foot arrive on the scene and Splinter runs off, being captured in the process.
The turtles follow after their master, and arrive at Baxter Stockman’s lab. They free Splinter, but Stockman catches them and attacks. April tries to connect with Splinter while the others deal with his newest creations: Crustacean Shredder mutants. During the battle, Michelangelo accidentally alerts Shredder to their presence, but April manages to reconnect to Splinter’s human mind, and the rat master defeats all three Shredder mutants. The turtles and their family escape from Shredder’s lair, and take up residence in an abandoned pizza parlor. Next up: Taking back the city once and for all.
The turtles have finally made the journey home, and it was … rushed. It was good to see what had happened in their absence, but it felt like a lot was happening, and too much was resolved in much too short of a time. Splinter’s disappearance was a big deal, and affected them all in different ways. The idea of his mind separating from his body and the rat taking hold was excellent, but it should have been extended a couple more episodes (possible first finding Karai, and getting her to help snap him back to reality). If they could over-extend the horror episodes, then why not give Splinter’s journey back to himself more time. Plus, it would have been a great way to bring the Rat King back, even if just in his mind.
That being said, it was fantastic to see all the changes that have happened with the tone and appearance of the show. The opening theme sequence has been updated significantly (though hopefully the vision quest outfits and weapons will make a comeback at some point); the city is a wasteland, with the people mutated and working in Dimension X; and the Shellraiser has been traded in for the Party Wagon. With any luck, the changes will continue, because if not then the show may become stale by the end of this season. Fortunately, there are still plenty of new surprises coming up (including a new mutation next week, which is probably the introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady).
The turtles’ return to New York didn’t necessarily have the grandeur that it should have at this point in the season (a two-part or hour-long episodes would have been better), but it’s great to see that the story is moving forward at last. The turtles made real changes to their ninja development, and it will hopefully show in how they handle situations and enemies in the episodes to come. However, there’s no telling what Shredder and the Kraang have been developing in their absence, and it still remains to be seen if the heroes can compete with their enemies. Plenty of vendettas, plenty of surprises, and plenty of new still await as the turtles try to take back their home.