I Thought This Was Supposed to Be About School?: TMNT (2012): The Alien Agenda (Spoilers)
8 February 2013 6 Comments
(Gosh, these things are just taking over the blog, aren’t they?)
You know, as creatively bankrupt as the concept “the turtles in high school” can sound, I was kinda hyped for this episode as described. I was especially curious about how it was going to be done, since featuring a school would have almost certainly required far more character models than the show has proved capable of creating, and the show has generally been reluctant to show sides of April that don’t involve the turtles. Which makes the actual episode funny—of course the high school bit would be tangential, and of course the school would be completely empty save the main players. Still, it gave us a couple of funny moments, and the first episode that passes the Bechdel test—and considerably earlier than the 4Kids cartoon did, too–so that part of the episode wasn’t a total loss.
(The scenario makes no sense at all, though.)
In a way, the limitations the show operates under have become the most interesting thing about it. Granted, there was never any chance that the show’s version of New York would be as lush as something like Brave, but I never would have expected it to feel like an actual play, with everything having to take place in the same space. I mean, just what in-universe justification could there be for the Shredder’s personal throne room to also be the place where Bradford goes to relax, and where Baxter Stockman does his engineering work on Xever? Or for no one to notice that hey, there’s a robot fighting giant turtles inside a high school in what I assume is meant to be daytime?
I liked Karai last episode, and I like her still. Granted, she still doesn’t feel a whole lot like Karai, but she’s fun and by far the most competent antagonist we’ve seen so far (at least, if you ignore the whole “pushing a button despite having no idea what it does” bit). I even like that she calls out Leo for being stupid when it comes to her, even as I’d prefer that Leo not be stupid about her at all.
(I do like that the whole “Raph is the only other turtle actually aware of her” thing was followed up upon this episode.)
(In fact, I found Raph quite likeable this episode.)
On the other hand, I’m far less sanguine about the Shredder, whose setup, like much of the series, also seems wholly artificial. Still unexplained is why this ruthless, allegedly-accept-no-failure ninja cares about the mutated Xever at all, and the combination of his lack of curiosity about the world he inhabits and his weird reluctance to take care of the turtles himself, even after the turtles have proven a) ridiculously easy to find and b) unable to take him on make him feel…well, kind of stupid. The show is stalling, and it shows. It makes a certain sort of sense, I suppose—antagonists whose sole motivation is narratively impossible to accomplish are particularly prone to villain decay, so it’s logical for the writers to want to delay that for the show’s Big Bad—but still, I really wish that Saki’s badass moments weren’t limited to occasions in which he is actually fighting the turtles.
As for The Kraang, I’m just not sure what to think about them anymore. They feel a lot like Snakeweed did last episode, as catalysts for plots that aren’t strictly about them rather than as agents in and of themselves. As much potential as they showed in the pilot, they now seem kinda blah—not threatening or smart enough to be effective, not comedic enough to be funny, not weird enough to be memorable—not a particularly good place to be, if one is meant to be the show’s second Big Bad.
Now, if there was one particular loser in this episode, it was April. For all the hullabaloo about high school, she felt mostly extraneous. Plus, I was saddened by the part where she expresses disappointment in high school—while it’s a throwaway line that, without context, could indicate a whole host of different things, I feel that it takes away one of my very favorite things about the character (or at least her 4Kids incarnation) which his her expressed and explicit love of learning.
One final note: I know that these mini-reviews have come to be known a bit for their mostly caustic nature, and that it sometimes seems like there’s nothing I like about the show. I just want to say that while I do focus almost solely on the negative, it’s not because of a lack of affection for the turtles, or because I don’t get anything from the episodes, but more because I feel the Internet generally does a more than good job of covering the fun parts and doesn’t need me to also play along. Also, just because I may not like the episodes doesn’t mean that y’all aren’t free to gush about the things you liked in the comments. I might push back against some of the stuff if I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean you’re not free to like ’em.