With mutagen serving as a key focus in season two, it's only fitting the show would make the decision to introduce Mutagen Man. The clumsy pile of organs generates a ton of fun as it storms through New York, but "Mutagen Man Unleashed" is also a solid insight into Donatello. Oh, and it also introduces some lesser-known character named Casey Jones.
The opening segment is pretty much a love letter to older fans and it's all kinds of awesome. New and younger viewers will probably still get a kick from it, but fans of '80s cartoons are sure to soak in every single second of it. "TEAM! COMBINE IN TEAMWORK MODE!" I haven't paused it yet, but I'm hoping there's some easter eggs in Mikey's box of VHS tapes. This is yet another superb example of how the show always manages to hit us with a heavy dose of nostalgia.
Splinter's role is minimal this time around but that makes it no less impactful. The episode mostly revolves around Donatello's struggle with April leaving the team and, naturally, it's Splinter who delivers the Turtle a much needed wake up call. It's a moving lesson but executed in a pretty hysterical manner. Even when the show aims for some emotional strides it still manages to put a smile on your face. It's a win-win.
To no one's surprise, the laughs remain strong and consistent. Mutagen Man's a huge threat and produces some decent action scenes, but seeing the clumsy character waddle around and scream for April is absolutely hysterical. From holding the little picture to its clunky walk, the character brought about some big humor. As expected, there's still plenty of levity from Mikey as he interacts with his brothers, too. "ROOF PIZZA IS ONE OF MY TOP 10 PIZZAS!"
The creative team fills this episode with emotion and comedy, but there's also some really cool Turtle moments to appreciate as well. There's an emphasis put on stealth and watching their eyes go all white as they fade into the shadows and flip around is pure win. Plus, it's always a good time when we get to see the team leap and race across the rooftops -- that never gets old.
Some of Casey Jones' scenes dragged with their shots a tad too long and he wasn't overly thrilling, but all of the elements needed to eventually turn him into the dude we love are there. Ultimately, it'll come down to whether or not you're open to his new design. Seeing as he's into hockey and is assertive, the missing teeth makes sense. But, I've seen people legitimately upset over Donatello's tooth gap, so if you're one of those people, odds are it'll take some time to get over the character's new look. For everyone else, you probably won't fall in love with him yet, but it's definitely a serviceable take on the character and I'm excited to see where they'll go with him. And yes, we get a goongala.
I understand it's difficult to populate the streets in cgi shows and I appreciate the fact they've been filling the city with some life, but it is slightly distracting when the same character models are used over and over. It's a really minor gripe, but having a, "Wait, I know him/her!" response numerous times is a bit distracting. Also, I'm cool with suspending disbelief as the team fights mutants in the streets of the city, but it's kind of tough to believe there would be no police response when a car literally explodes in a residential area (especially when police responded earlier in the episode).
The spotlight on Donatello was surprisingly gripping and I loved how Mutagen Man was basically there to serve as a reflection of his situation. It's a character who seeks a bond that just cannot be. While it was cute and moving the way things concluded, it also seemingly shatters the development Donny could have undergone. It would have been fantastic to have the episode end with Donatello realizing there's no hope for a romantic connection, but they can still remain close friends. Instead, it apparently leaves him with hope that maybe -- just maybe -- she could one day fall for him.
"Mutagen Man Unleashed" is another episode of TMNT which shows just how much the creative team loves the franchise. It's loaded with heart but also brings some great laughs and action front and center. As Donatello would say: FOUR STARS!