After a two week break, the best animated show around makes its triumphant return and it has yet to disappoint me. Honestly, I feel like a broken record reviewing this show -- it consistently delivers sharp comedy and ridiculously enjoyable action, and there's only so many ways I can praise it. This week, Dexter Stockboy... er, Baxter Stockman, is fed up with the way he's being treated by all of the mutants, so he lures them all into his maze of DOOM (sorry, couldn't resist)! Naturally, this forces an uneasy alliance between the Turtles and Dogpound & Fishface. Good times follow.
As always, the show tends to kickoff with a big laugh or joyous action scene, and "Baxter's Gambit" is no exception. Seeing the two sides prepare to attack the Kraang did a superb job building the excitement. Then, when the clash finally began it was super fun to watch. There were so many cool moments to enjoy here, but my personal favorite was seeing Donny's display of agility as he danced around projectiles before taking down a Kraang. And it's impossible not to love Mikey as he screams and kicks all kinds of butt. Impossible I say! And that's just the tip of the Turtle iceberg when it comes to action, too. The various "...of DOOM!" obstacles were a blast and the final battle -- as usual -- was amazingly exuberant. Plus, Raph's shuriken toss was an 11 out of 10 on the awesome-ometer.
While the episode does nothing to move the overall narrative with the Kraang forward, it does a brilliant job juggling an absurdly amusing plot with the Turtles and a solid development with the bond between April and Splinter. The discussion over his daughter and how she would be April's age now of course feels like a very strong connection to Karai and I'm sure we'll see more of that in the coming episodes. Witnessing April slip-up with various weapons wasn't a gut-buster or anything, but it was a cute segment with a somewhat heartwarming conclusion. Plus, I always welcome a chance for Splinter to drop our jaws with his skill. Splinter's always the voice of reason so it was rather adorable to see April one-up him when it came to needing a weapon. The best weapon is the mind, eh?
April: "When was the last time you saw someone hit a guy over the head with their mind?"
Splinter: "...True. Let's find you a weapon!"
Additionally, it was nice seeing Splinter's earlier lesson come into play in the final moments. It was definitely a fitting way to conclude the connection between Raph and Fishface.
Once again the show continues to deliver big laughs. From Mikey's astute observation ("Careful, guys, this may be a trap..") to Baxter screaming at them to stop using teamwork, this show never fails to put a silly smile on my face. And in the end, isn't raw entertainment what these shows are all about? The series may be moving at a slow pace when it comes to Shredder and the Kraang's ultimate plans, but it's a constant source of levity and that's something worth praising. Even if an episode technically is filler, it's still time very, very well spent.
My only small concern with this one is the treatment of Dogpound and Fishface. Having villains make an impressive debut and then turning them into total jobbers is such a common trope. They're still capable of holding their own, but based on how things have been going since their mutated debut, I fear they'll eventually be turned into incompetent buffoons like Bebop and Rocksteady. That would be a real shame because both are legitimately interesting characters and -- while we already knew the basic details -- I loved seeing Xever's origin play out in the comic book-esque style. I understand having them able to take on the Turtles by their lonesome isn't something that should happen consistently and would indeed get repetitive, but hopefully they'll be a little more formidable down the road.
Packed with strong action scenes, a consistent flow of laughs and decent character development, "Baxter's Gambit" is yet another episode of pure fun. But what did you think about this episode, Viners? Speak your mind below!