The first episode of the second season made me nervous for the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It was a bit boring and lacked both the weirdness we love with the Ninja Turtles, as well as the character interactions that make the show special. The second episode, The Incredible Shrinking Turtles, turns this around quickly, introducing new alien species and mysterious crystals to the turtles adventures.
We’re introduced with the turtles practicing their combat skills in a park. During training, a spacecraft crash lands in the lake nearby. The turtles rush on the scene and rescue the alien creature. He tells them the Eye of Sornoth has been split in to 3 fragments, and now it’s up to the turtles to find the rest. Of course, Shredder is a master hacker and has cameras everywhere. He decides it’s up to him to find the fragments before the Turtles. Krang still wont help him, so he needs to go it alone.
Just as the turtles find the first fragment, Shredder appears to ruin their treasure hunt.
Shredder gets the upper hand and takes the shard of the Eye, to find out that it has a mysterious power. He causes the 4 turtles to shrink to the size of ants where the street curb seems 8 feet high. They escape with a shard but remain tiny and vulnerable.
While the turtles escape, the Shredder has quickly made use of the fragment. He starts shrinking buildings with people inside. Soon the Empire State Building is no larger than a dollhouse. The turtles continue coping with their new size limitations, facing tidal waves and sewer snakes.
Shredder is proud of his work, but Krang is determined to find the turtles. Baxter Stockman is a permanent ally of the Shredder now. His primary function is equipping Shredder with new machinery to help find, and destroy, the Turtles.
The episode is filled with coincidences that cartoons of the generation were known for to advance the story. While the turtles are being chased by a fish, Baxter Stockman is able to find them in a giant lake. Yes, he had the tech, but it’s impressive how quickly he could find them. In a fight scene, the captured turtles are knocked over to the floor in an easy spot for April to find them, and the Eye of Sornoth fragment.
Despite these clichés, this episode returns to what we love about the Ninja Turtles.
The turtles have a clear mission, and the action is spread through. We get a solid dose of weirdness to move the story, but it’s grounded in a reality we can accept. Part of me wonders if this episode was originally supposed to air first in the season to set up the rest. This episode not only returns us to the world we love, but gives us a new story to continue for potentially a whole season.
While Shredder’s plan is good, it moves so fast we never get the full drama of it. It’s an actual evil plan, and it seems to get glossed over. We didn’t get the full supporting cast of Bebop and Rocksteady back, but this is a really good episode to get us back to the Ninja Turtles Universe.