When you think of a concept like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the last word that pops into your mind is “loneliness”. Yet at the very core of these characters is that very word. For the last fifteen years the only “people” the turtles and Splinter have interacted with is each other. No wonder Raph’s angry all the time! Even factoring in the presence of April and possibly Casey Jones (if he ever shows up), the turtles’ interaction with the human world above them is limited. So it’s no surprise that an episode focused mostly on Michelangelo would involve the ups and downs of making new friends. Of the four turtles, Mikey is the social one. He’s the “party dude” to borrow from the ’87 cartoon a bit, which made him the most popular of the turtles back when I was a kid. He’s fun-loving and always ready to hang out, but with that desire for social interaction, a thing like the internet can be dangerous for someone like Mikey.
Interestingly enough, “Old Friend, New Enemy” reminds me of Gargoyles’ “Thrill of the Hunt,” in which Lexington sees a TV show about superheroes known as The Pack. Believing The Pack to be just like he and the other gargoyles, Lexington reveals himself to them in a desire to make friends and allies. It does not go well. Mikey, pulls the same stunt for the most part. After a failed attempt to return a cat to its owner, Mikey laments that he has no real friends, despite April sitting right next to him. Unfortunately, she introduces him to a social networking site on the internet where our hapless hero becomes “friends” with famous martial artist Chris Bradford (Clancy Brown). Unbeknownst to Mikey, Bradford is actually the prize pupil of The Shredder charged with finding the ninjas trained by Hamato Yoshi – Splinter, as we know him. Bradford attempts to get intel from Mikey under the guise of being friends, but when the nunchaku-wielding turtle isn’t as forthcoming with the information, Bradford and his partner Xever decide to take a more direct approach to finding The Shredder’s lost enemy.
I absolutely loved this episode! The A-plot with Mikey notwithstanding, there are a lot of little character moments that continue to build up the turtles as individuals that correspond to a lot of the action and the dual threats of The Shredder and The Kraang. How the turtles discover Bradford’s treachery is a very organic moment that doesn’t feel like a plot contrivance as it was very cleverly set up from the beginning of the episode. But the best thing about this episode, by far, is the sewer fight between the turtles, Bradford, Xever, and The Foot clan. It is a beautiful display of fight choreography as well as the best use of shadow and mystery befitting trained ninjas. And because this show already loves to play with genre, there’s just a touch of horror and suspense added in that makes the turtles formidable opponents to Bradford and The Foot. As a self-proclaimed TMNT fan, it does my heart well to see such effort put into the turtles. If the fights actually stay at this level of intensity and the characters develop as organically as they are, I don’t know how I could not love this show every weekend! (Knocks wood)
- April seems to be rather well-adjusted for a girl living with her aunt after her father was kidnapped by robots housing alien brains. But I’m sure the guys are working on a plan, right? Right?
- While splitting the enemies of the turtles into two camps seems like a good idea, it really shows when one plot isn’t being addressed versus another. Hopefully the two will merge soon.
- Apparently the creators were aware of my concerns expressed last week because Leo’s really happy to just be fighting people and not “robots or aliens or weed monsters.” Well played, show. Well played.
- Splinter’s lesson in seeking victory, not fairness with Leo
- Love Bradford’s 1970’s Chuck Norris look
- Donnie’s continued awkwardness around April
- Guess whose friend #5,286 of Chris Bradford’s? Daniel Ramirez, but Mikey’s right next to him!
- The little gestures between Leo and Raph after a flip well done as well as Leo’s brotherly head rub of Mikey after they rescue him
- Again, the whole sewer fight at the end
- Mikey unfriending Bradford. Revenge!!!!