TMNT (2012): “Enemy of My Enemy”

Well, this was interesting.  Karai seems to bring out the best in the show, and this was no exception, as this episode was filled with things like–gasp!–moral ambiguity.  While the whole course of Karai’s relationship with the turtles still feels, on the whole, too accelerated–I can buy that either Karai or Leo believed that their interactions thus far constituted the basis for an actual friendship, but not that both do–it makes the story feel…not quite as disposable as others have felt.

Random thoughts:

  • While I like the idea of Karai as a straight-up antagonist, I’m not sure about the path taken here, in which her previous interactions are cast as genuine attempts at friendship.  Given that what made the character fun for me was the character’s openness about her lack of genuine feels for the turtles, the fact that that was apparently never the case feels like a misstep.
  • In any case, Karai is seriously messed up. I can get why the 4Kids version of the character felt that she and Leonardo were friends.  Here, not so much, given that the whole of her interaction with him has consisted of her trying to keep him off-guard and off-balance, and generally, treating him as a disposable plaything. If that’s what she thinks friendship is supposed to be like, I don’t have that much sympathy for her “I thought you were my friends” angst.
  • Okay, so last episode, the turtles were all “let’s let bygones be bygones and save our enemies for a moment while we deal with a greater threat, even though, there’s no obvious benefit.” This episode was “let’s turn on and piss off our potential ally, whose help we definitively need, because of reasons.” Either would be fine on their own; both together in back-to-back episodes? Consistency, please—or at least an acknowledgement that an inconsistency exists.
  • The arms dealer looked badass and we better see more of him. I’m still disappointed we’ve only seen Carlos Chiang O’Brien Gambe once since his debut.
  • I really hope there’s an acknowledgment that the turtles were straight up trying to murder the Shredder–or at least, I hope they were straight up trying to murder the Shredder, because if they weren’t–if they were only trying to annoy him, or even disable him for a while–they are just too stupid for words.  In any case, it’s an interesting place for the characters to be, given episodes like “Never Say Xever”, so I hope something comes out of it.
  • For all that the Kraang are the season’s main threat, the series hasn’t done a whole lot to make them feel actually threatening. I mean, given the events of this episode, one can only assume that the reason why the National Guard of the Nick equivalent of Agent Bishop’s outfit didn’t notice the ship or shoot it out of the sky is because they don’t exist.  Not that they’re off-screen, but they are simply not there in the world.
  • Which brings me to my next theory: every one of the characters is unknowingly part of a Truman Show-like social experiment, set in an underground almost-empty replica of New York.
  • Just like Bradford and Xever last episode, The Shredder seems to have come down with a case of  the 24-hour villain decay.  While this could conceivably be a result of the turtles’ training, it is one of the things that requires acknowledgement in order to truly be effective–have the Shredder be surprised at their increased skill or something.

TMNT (2012): “Baxter’s Gambit”

Random thoughts edition.  And yes, I am still working on my next Gargoyles piece.

  • While I’m not totally against the idea of the turtles teaming up with not!Bebop and Rocksteady, I think the episode could have dialed up the anviliciousness a notch or ten. As is, it makes Stockman—who is already comedically inclined–seem considerably less threatening than he could be: I mean, why make a deathtrap with that specific weakness? Sure, there’s pleasing irony to it, but still—success before catharsis, Baxter!
  • On that note, their cooperation seemed rather contrived—it felt a bit as if the characters had read the script beforehand and knew they had to cooperate to get out. Yes, I realize that the immediate deathtrap means they can’t afford to worry about the enemy mutants who also want them dead, but killing those enemy mutants solves that problem rather easily. I mean, the turtle and Hun’s temporary truce in “Hun on the Run” works because everyone knows the stakes—that Bishop can take them all on—but that same sense of recognition isn’t really here.
  • Speaking of Bradford and Xever, I found it a bit disappointing that the turtles seemed to have little problem holding their own against their combined might, given the trouble the two gave them individually. I thought we’d get at least one episode before villain decay set in.
  • I did like the short Xever flashback. It’s a bit standard, but it works.
  • You totally know that the aesthetic of Stockman’s trap came about cause the animators couldn’t be arsed to create anything with actual detail. Still, I have to admit, they sold it.
  • The April/Splinter interaction was, to me, the real meat of the episode, and I felt it really worked. I do find it interesting, that the Splinter who had April try all the weapons before choosing one was also the Hamato Yoshi who chose a weapon for his daughter before she was ever able to decide if she’d even care to become a martial artist. It speaks to growth in his part, or the sort I’d wish had been explored more. They really do need more scenes together.
  • That said, I’m ambivalent about the fact that Miwa’s weapon suited April; I would have preferred that it didn’t, preserving the solemnity of the moment while acknowledging that hey, they’re two different people. I’ll be especially disappointed if, when Miwa inevitably returns, she turns out to be just as proficient as April.