“The class is Pain 101. Your instructor is Casey Jones.” – Casey Jones
Having been sidelined for the invasion of Dimension X, Casey Jones is starting to doubt his role on the team. But he’s still ready to take on the scum of NYC, especially the Purple Dragons. Unfortunately for Casey, the Dragons have a new leader – Hun. In their first encounter, Hun sorely defeats the boy, leaving him to the cops. Meanwhile, the turtles start the tedious task of cleaning up the lair, but when Casey comes back he’s disgusted that they aren’t out protecting the city.
Mad at his friends, Casey heads off and encounters Shredder and the Foot Clan actively out in the city streets. Shredder is attempting to consolidate his hold on the city’s crime organizations, and Casey manages to overhear some of his current plan before being removed forcefully from the meeting. Wanting a little backup, he texts Raphael, and the turtle goes to help him out. Not one to wait for help, Casey tracks Rahzar and Fishface to the docks and attacks. Just when it seems like the mutants will hand Casey another loss, Raph arrives and the two escape with a case full of dangerous chemicals.
Trying to get his friend to think twice about his actions, Raph suggests taking the case back to the lair, but Casey Jones is set on going after Shredder. Casey finds the evil warlord in a meeting with Hun, who delivers some of the chemical and provides the necessary factory space to synthesize it. Meanwhile Donatello is stumped by the nature of the find, but thy inadvertently discover that the Purple Dragons’ territory has the machinery necessary to make more. While Shredder is touring the plant, Casey arrives to test his hand against the villainous master, but the turtles arrive just in time as backup.
While mutant faces mutant, Casey seeks revenge on Hun. As the battle rages, Donnie uncovers the chemicals for Michelangelo’s snacks, and sets out to contaminate whatever Shredder is trying to make. With a little ingenuity from Casey, the plan succeeds, and Shredder’s manufacturing is delayed. Back at the lair, Casey finally gets his props from the turtles, but Donnie manages to figure out the purpose of the chemical: A mind control formula for enslavement of the entire city.
A long time ago in season one, the show had opportunity to do an episode like this with April O’Neil. It was nice to see some major focus on one of the secondary characters, but perhaps Casey Jones wasn’t the best choice just yet. Casey, April, Splinter, and several other characters have shown that they can support their own episodes of the show – at least when their focus is split fairly evenly with one or all of the turtles. So no one has had the chance to prove that the turtles can be secondary to the episode and still have a worthwhile story told. This episode proved that it could happen, and it was handled admirably. The only issue, as mentioned above, is that it seems a little strange that Casey would get the first such episode. Karai and April had a chance late in season one, but too much time was spent with the turtles in the Turtle Sub to do real justice to the story. From then on, every time April or Karai or another character was the “focus,” the turtles were also heavily involved in the action.
Hopefully, fan and viewer response to this episode is positive. If the writers are searching for a way to keep the show vitalized and moving forward, more episodes where the turtles are missing or secondary to others would be the way to go. There have been missed chances to do this in the past, but hopefully those days are done. With Casey Jones proving to be a viable choice for a focus episode, hopefully others will follow for even some of the more minor characters (another Baxter Stockman episode with an even heavier focus on him could prove very enjoyable); if not, then the turtles will be back in the spotlight soon enough.