The second episode in any show’s history is an important one. Where the pilot introduces the characters and the new world we’ll be living in, the second episode gives us a taste of what the show will be on a regular basis.
The second episode of “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” does this well. We were introduced to the characters, now we get more time fleshing them out with two, smaller, grounded stories.
The first half, titled “Repo Mantis,” only features Michelangelo and Donatello. The brothers are at a junkyard while Donnie looks for extra parts. There, they find the Jupiter Jim Moon Buggy, a moon rover used in “Jupiter Jim’s Last Trip to the Moon” and it’s 60 sequels. The brothers need the Moon Buggy. They’re able to work out a negotiation with the Junkyard owner (who happens to be a mutant mantis.)
They head to the site of the RV, expecting the worst, only to find Todd, owner of Cuddle Cakes Puppy Rescue. Mikey and Donnie need to navigate being “hard as nails” to the nicest mutant on Earth so they can get the RV, to trade the RV for the Moon Buggy. While I won’t spoil it here, it ends with the only real action scene in
Next, the second half features the four brothers and Master Splinter. It’s still a very small story. Master Splinter has the flu, and suffers through 7 stages of sickness. If the brothers make it to the seventh stage uninfected, they an ask Splinter for anything and he’ll say yes. The “Must say yes” stage.
This shows us a lot more of how the characters interact with each other. Leo and Raph show a bit of their competitiveness with a Dance Dance Revolution game in the beginning, but all turtles quickly work together as brothers in a scheme against Shredder. I surprisingly didn’t view it as mean either. You know the turtles still care for Master Splinter, but they work together to get something they want.
The episode is a lot of fun. It’s more silly than any TMNT episode of any series, I think. The difference here is that it’s on purpose. It’s not cheesy, it’s well written jokes. It’s more frantic than I’m used to, but it fits with the overall style. The character designs are a bit jarring but again, make sense when you see it in motion.
I like that in this world, mutants don’t communicate with people, but are part of society. They own businesses. They help rescue puppies and repo cars. I like spotting the pop culture references from My Neighbor Totoro, Drive, and Indiana Jones littered throughout.
I thought it was interesting that we haven’t seen much use of magic or their weapons in this episode. There was action, but not big group fights where the turtles need to fend off a group of robots to save a city. These episodes didn’t seem to advance the overall plot of the show at all. Baron Draxum wasn’t featured. It might pay off in the long run, but I would have liked to have seen some moves to see where the show is headed. It’s only the second episode, so maybe they just wanted to take a rest to establish characters more. Although this maybe wasn’t the best showing of Master Splinter. I still don’t know if I like his character yet, and this episode wasn’t the best way to showcase who he’ll be as a character.
Overall, I really liked the episode. Each was toned down and let us know a bit more about who the characters are and what kind of world we’re living in. I’m interested to see when we’ll see more Baron Draxum or magic weapons, but this was a great way to ease in to a reboot with so many new things. I appreciate the silliness. I have a lot of faith in the new iteration.