TMNT (2012): “Mouser Attack!” (Spoilers)

“I Think His Name Is Baxter Stockman” left me conflicted regarding this show’s take on our favorite can’t-stay-human mad scientist.  While amusing, there didn’t seem anything to make him viable as a long-term character.  His skills did not indicate a way in which he might be a threat, his motives did not give him a reason to interact with the turtles in a way that felt natural, and I didn’t see what else could be done with the character aside from the clichéd “tries to get revenge on the turtles” plots, or any way that would go that would say anything new about the character.  In short, unless something about him was retconned, he seemed like the sort of character destined to star in Batman Cold Opens–there to provide a familiar face to filler action scenes.

After watching “Mouser Attack”, it seems like retcon is it, as the Baxter shown here seems fundamentally different from the one seen in his debut, in a way that hearkens back to Batman: The Animated Series and its tendency to have its villains undergo motive decay, or, if you’re inclined to be less kind, to more mediocre fare like Ben 10. Unexplained throughout the episode is how the same Stockman who could barely make a semi-functional battle armor, whose motives were limited to harassing his former employer, and who had been taken away by the police after his rampage is now once again free, possesses the skills and the resources to build  an army of robots far more advanced than anything he’d built before, and has progressed to semi-random theft–in fact, it’s not even a question any of the turtles ever thinks to ask, which suggests its a question the writers don’t care to have the audience thinking about either.

In any case, the only notable thing about Stockman here–aside from his unexplained changes–is that he is now in the Shredder’s inner circle, a historically familiar position for the character, and one that I fear might have been drained of all novelty value.  He’ll almost certainly be responsible for giving the recently sushified  Xever a measure of mobility, but after that, who knows?

Random thoughts: 

  • The way the robbery of April’s cell is played is really interesting.  She’s rather blasé about it, which while not implausible,  does feel notable enough (she’s been kidnapped by the Purple Dragons before, and it’s the sort of thing that can be rather traumatic) to require additional context.  In the end, I’m unsure if it’s meant to signify that the character itself is cynical enough to not care, or if it was just a plot point to get the episode moving and not meant to be thought about.  I wish we’d actually seen the theft, not just because it would have provided additional context, but because it would have developed the Dragons as well.
  • The limits in the show’s ability to develop assets like characters and backgrounds was always going to cause problems when it came to the show’s world-building, and by now, the seams are beginning to become rather hard to ignore.  With the Purple Dragons continuously being represented by the same three members, the street gang is  beginning to come across a less fun version of the Beagle Boys.  It’d be sort of fun if the series were more self-aware and made light of this fact, or if they had more distinct identities, but as is, they’re just there.  I did like their role this episode, though.
  • I’m really hoping that the sniping between the turtles gets toned down a notch or five, or that at the very least it isn’t made into the focus of further episodes.  While some amount of conflict and teasing is to be expected, stuff like this, where a turtles actively and systematically try to put down the others for no reason, makes them come off as abusive, bullying, prats.  And given how I feel about them, I don’t really like it when the show forces me to take Michelangelo and Donatello’s side.
  • Although, it is nice whenever Donatello’s crush is downplayed, as is here.  Here’s hoping it’s the start of a trend, and that when it once again becomes a factor, there is at least some sort of progress.
  • The Shredder’s single-minded pursuit of Splinter is beginning to wear dangerously thin, particularly since little explanation has been given for it aside from “he hates his guts”. Either more varied motivations or additional context for the motivations he has would be much appreciated–as is, his plotline hasn’t progressed much since “New Friend, Old Enemy”, and the backstory between the two characters is one of the more interesting things about the show.
  • The show can feel very contrived at times, and Xever’s current status quo is a perfect example.  I understand why the writers have had Saki keep him in his inner sanctum–it keeps the character in play, and it means they don’t have to design an additional set for whenever they want to feature him.  What I don’t get is the in-universe reason why the Shredder would do so, instead of keeping him elsewhere and/or using him as a guinea pig.  Sure, he might have been useful as a human, but there was nothing indicating that he was irreplaceable.  I can think of reasons why he’d be kept this way–reasons that would flesh out the Shredder a bit, were they stated explicitly–but as it is, it’s another thing about the show that feels off.
  • Eleven episodes in, and April is still the only woman in New York, and the only female character in the series to appear for more than five seconds or get any lines.  Even Space Heroes, the Star Trek-like show within a show appearing in several episodes, is missing its Uhura counterpart, which, given the character’s significance to the series and to culture in general, feels like an odd omission.  Given everything else, it’s hard to think of it as a purely accidental one. (ETA: Actually this episode at least hints at a second woman, as April’s phone gets a phone call from “Irma”, complete with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it photo of part of her face before it gets destroyed.  Here’s hoping she turns out to be more than an Easter egg.)

3 Responses to TMNT (2012): “Mouser Attack!” (Spoilers)

  1. Scott says:

    The only thing that bugs me about this Baxter is that atrocious pink shirt he’s wearing. I understand they had him wear something like that to make him look ridiculous on purpose, he’s meant to be a dorky character. Hence his line boasting about the genius of Baxter Stockman before being knocked out by one of the Purple Dragons.

    I honestly don’t know if I prefer sinister Baxter, as seen in the IDW comics, or more goofy/comedic Baxter as seen in the original toon and the Nick cartoon so far. 4kids Baxter was the most arrogant and easily the smartest.

  2. Pterobat says:

    I will do a slightly longer episode review for my regular Turtles blog post, but I can’t find anything to disagree with here.

    However, Baxter Stockman was a lot of fun,and this means I’ll have to start watching the series regularly from now on.

    I do realize media franchises should promote novelty above all else, but I can’t help but like another dorky, put-upon Baxter, and he justifies his presence simply by being entertaining.

  3. Ian says:

    Hello and welcome, Scott. I’ll have to admit that I rather like the pink shirt and its connotations. I’d rather the color wasn’t coded that way, because there’s no reason to equate pink with anything (I’m ignoring color theory for the moment), but as long as it is, this works. That said, I wouldn’t have minded if the artists had decided to make Stockman somewhat more stylish–Neil deGrasse Tyson always looks stylish, and he’s as dorky as they come.

    Although it goes unsaid here, I like Stockman too, Pterobat : ). The series so far tends to do better with the minor villains, and he works as one. Whether he’ll be up to the more prominent role that has been given to him…we’ll see.

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