It’s the summer and the Turtles are back! This review is going to focus on two things, but let’s start by celebrating. After another long (long) hiatus, Nickelodeon’s Tales of the TMNT has finally returned. “When Worlds Collide” was a fitting return too. It had a big fight feel, and the hour long run time made this seem like a season finale. Ultimately, this was beneficial, since it means fans got a great episode after a long wait. All that being said, there’s something I have to get off my chest. If you want to go straight to the review, skip the next five paragraphs.
I’ve said this before, but the way major networks market cartoons in the United States is insanely frustrating. We already know that this will be the last season of TMNT, before a new, younger skewing series debuts next year. That’s fine. Nickelodeon wants to take the franchise in a different direction, and numbers for this series have declined year over year. It’s a business and I understand that. I am looking forward to the new series and you can count on us to deliver reviews when it debuts.
However, this is the fifth season in seven years. Season 4 began in October of 2015 and ended in February of 2017, showing only 26 episodes! Season 5 started only two and half weeks later, we’ve only seen five episodes (6 if you split up this weeks into half hour blocks), and it’s already June! The next episode is currently scheduled for July 29th, but that’s not even official Nickelodeon information, so it’s subject to change. How is the audience supposed to keep track of episodes when they’re delivered like this?
The first two seasons of this show routinely pulled in over 2 million viewers. That was a Sunday at 10am time slot. You want to know when ratings dipped? At the end of season 2 when the show took off two whole months before airing the last three episodes of the season. From that point on, each season was marked by three to five episodes before taking at least a month off. Every time it felt like the show was picking up momentum, we’d hit another one to three month break, with nary a message from Nickelodeon on when episodes would return. “When Worlds Collide” was advertised six times on Nickelodeon’s social media pages, five of which were in the last 5 days.
Now, I don’t work at Nickelodeon, and we haven’t had the chance to ask anyone behind the scenes why these breaks have happened. Maybe this is just the schedule for making the show. Maybe it comes down to how and where the animation is done and when it becomes available. All I know is that there are other shows I watch where I have a reasonable understanding about when breaks are going to happen (mid-season and end of season), and when the show is coming back from said break. I routinely have no idea when it comes to TMNT.
The only reason I care so much is because this show is really good and it deserves better. With the show coming to an end, Nick should be celebrating this series. It’s carried on this incredible franchise to a new generation of fans, while also staying true to the long time ones. This team of writers and animators have routinely given us legitimately great stories, and they deserve to have their work in front of as many eyes as possible!
Which brings us to “When Worlds Collide.” Not just a new episode, this was an hour long special event, which reunited the team with their Salamandrian pals Sal Commander and Mona Lisa. The team up also extended to Bishop and the Earth Protection Force, and the Utrom High Council! With all these players, you knew the episode was going to be big!
The episode itself was billed as the return of the Newtralizer and teased a mysterious ally for him, raising the stakes even more. This ally turned out to be none other than Lord Dregg, a huge payoff from the season in space, and a welcome return.
I will always give props to the voice cast of this series. It was great getting Zelda Williams, David Keith, Peter Stormare, and Danny Trejo back on the show! Every one of their scenes added weight, lending to the high stakes feel of the episode.
As a whole, “When Worlds Collide” did what every great episode in this series has done before it; tell a story with a balanced mix of adventure, humor, danger, and action. What started with the Newtralizer attacking Utroms in order to exact some perceived revenge, escalated to a full on invasion of New York City by Lord Dregg! And even though Dregg seemed to just pop up on Earth (an event explained by saying he followed the Salamandrians here after he was forced off their homeworld) the pacing of the episode didn’t really suffer. Sure, they could have built this up slowly over a four episode arc, like what was done with Kavaxas, but it was also nice to get everything up front this time.
The episode started off by building an emotional core. We followed Raph (and Chompy) through the lair as each of his brothers were paired off with someone they care about. Donnie and April were being all cute throwing popcorn at each other, Leo and Karai were training, and even Mikey was on a holographic phone call with Renet! But just as Raph was feeling sorry for himself, he receives a call from Mona Lisa, his girlfriend from space, informing him that she and Sal Commander were on their way to Earth and need his and his brothers’ help.
Everyone has been through a lot lately, and it was cool to see some genuine happiness for our heroes. More than that, the episode seemed to be building to a loss, and it was easy to think that Mona Lisa would be the one. There were a couple of scenes where she was separated from everyone, but always managed to pull through, a testament to the characters strength. Actually, everyone had their own scare at some point, with Leo and Donnie being separately abducted by Dregg’s forces. However, it was Mikey that seemingly bit the bullet, or rather was electrocuted to dust. This show continues to prove that it will do some pretty gruesome things.
The most gruesome moment of all, however, was actually pretty joyous. You see, the Newtralizer somehow developed electricity based powers after his last defeat. Powers he used to zap Mikey, hence the electrocution to dust. However, we found out, Mikey was not killed, and instead became living energy, just like the Newtralizer! This was shown to us through an electrical storm which reformed Mikey from his organs out, showing us his organs, skeleton, and finally his skin! Brutal! Armed with his new powers, Mikey was able to save his friends and family (minus Leo, Donnie, Karai, and Sal Commander, who were already captured), and give everyone time to regroup for a final attack against Dregg and Newtralizer.
The final battle was glorious. The Earth Protection Force led a diversionary campaign against Dregg’s ship, while April, Raph, Mona, and Bishop piloted the Turtle Mech, doing enough damage to the ship hull to give Mikey an opening to get inside. Once there, he freed his brothers, Karai, and Sal, and an all out battle with Dregg, his minions, and Newtralizer began. Mikey and Sal took on the Newtralizer, while everyone else took on Dregg and his minions.
Leo, Mona, and Raph were able to get the final blow on Dregg, electrocuting him to unconsciousness. The group then headed down to the core of the ship, where Sal and Super Mikey were still fighting Newtralizer. Just as it seemed Newtralizer got the upper hand on Mikey, Sal tail whipped him down into the core of the ship, Emperor Palpatine style. There, Newtralizer’s electrical powers disrupted the ship, setting it to blow. Mikey used his own powers to hold off the blast, letting everyone escape, seemingly sacrificing himself, but at the last moment, he used his powers to dash away.
And with that, the battle was over! Dregg and Newtralizer are seemingly dead, the city is safe, and our heroes can celebrate! Plus, Mona Lisa decided to stay on Earth, reuniting with Raph, and also joining the Mutanimals.
All scheduling qualms aside, TMNT continues to delight. This was an epic episode, and a fitting call back to the season in space. We should be seeing more of Mona Lisa now, and as mentioned before, it’s cool to see our heroes have some joy in their life for once. “When Worlds Collide” showed us that even if we only get to look forward to two new episodes every so often, as this final season winds it way down, we’ve got some special moments to look forward to.