by Kyle Tobey

The first “special” for “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles” starts fast and hard.

It drops the viewer right in the middle of the story (with Donnie there to catch us up) as the turtles head to stop Draxum’s Oozesquitos. They ride the moon buggy to a nearby hotel,  for a scene reminiscent of the Ghostbusters. A bellhop is stung and ironically transformed into a bull, charging through the hotel. We meet the head of the hotel, Big Mama, voiced by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones). She fits the more elegant tone of Big Mama well, while hinting at something more sinister underneath.

Big Mama is full of surprises. First, the hotel she runs is mutant friendly. All the workers are mutants, and they don’t need to hide from humans. Second, Big Mama is a giant scary spider. None of the turtles seem to mind, aside from Leo, thinking they found a new ally. She gives them a webbing to help catch the mutating bugs.

The turtles head out to hunt down the Oozesquitos before they can mutate any more people. They rampage through the city, grabbing all they find before returning to Big Mama. Soon, though, they find she has a different motivation for capturing the Oozesquitos. She wants to use them to transform more mutants to help run her fighting ring. Leo is able to escape, leaving the others to deal with Big Mama and her minions. Here they meet Gus, a goofy mutated hound dog.

Leonardo works his way through the vents, finding a safe and his brothers. He makes a portal and rescues them, only to keep encountering Gus. He does a bad job at eating the turtles at the sight of a tennis ball. Leo comes clean about Big Mama’s safe, despite his wanting to leave and go home. They crack the safe (using the very easy code), but get trapped by Gus and Big Mama. Big Mama is wins this round, until Baron Draxum breaks in! He’s back for his Oozesquitos, and he’ll fight for them.

Here we got a really fun Easter egg. While Draxum was talking about his vision for a future, he imagines a cast of mutated characters including Bebop, Rocksteady, Leatherhead, Armaggon, Halfcourt, and Sandstorm! This might be Sandstorm and Halfcourt’s TV debut! From here, we get some great battles, with the turtles splitting in to duos to take on the villains. Having 2 villains is a lot more fun than 1.

This episode did a ton of great things. I love the cameos, but I mostly love how it didn’t give us a slow lead in. It dropped the viewer right in the middle of the story. The writers had confidence we could figure it out and it worked. I love the growing cast of villains, and I love how they can easily explain why so many mutants now exist.

This continued the overall story so far, but didn’t end any chapters. It made the turtles and the villains seem stronger than they started, which remaining a lot of fun. This was one of the best episodes of the new series to date. It’s filled with humor, action, personalities and story. We also get a huge reveal at the end, which adds more layers to the relationship between Draxum and the turtles. I hope the series continues along this route.




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