If you're a fan of the classic Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird comics, then you know Casey Jones' first appearance (in Raphael #1) was all about big action and building a bond between Jones and Raph. The latest episode of Nick's TMNT is heavily inspired by this issue and, just like the source material, it delivers tons of brawls and creates a strong connection between the two dudes.
Being inspired by the issue obviously generates quite a bit of fan service, but the team behind the show goes seriously overboard when it comes to hitting us with plenty of easter eggs and references. Irma makes a quick debut, Eastman and Laird's names can be spotted on Casey's gear, there's a moment taken right out of the first movie and there's even a glimpse of Eastman's artwork. Needless to say, longtime fans of the franchise are going to have a real blast with this episode.
The action in this episode is ridiculously fun. Not only do we have a quick sparring session between the heroes, but we also have a very lengthy melee between Casey and Raph and an all-out battle between various leads and the Footbots. Much of the action aims to impress instead of making us laugh, too. There's some legitimately badass moments in here (particularly love a few brief POV shots) as Splinter shows off his technique and slow motion is used at just the right moments yet again. The decision to use an extended shot during the subway fight was brilliant and full of energy, too.
We've already had at least two episodes focusing on Raph and how he needs to control his temper, but what makes this episode stand apart from the others is the fact it also brings Casey Jones into the group. Sure, having a reflection of Raph is something we've seen before, but the sheer amount of fan service, solid directing and the fact it finally introduces Jones to the team helps this one standout and feel fresh. This leaves his teammates somewhat in the dust, but each still has a few moments to shine and remind us why we love them oh so much.
Also worth noting: the show is clearly making a stronger effort to make the city feel alive. There's more vehicles and people in the background, so that's definitely appreciated. It is a bit odd when Raph and Jones are just brawling in the middle of the street and no one notices (especially after a car alarm goes off), but it's really not that big of a deal and is totally countered by how awesome the scene is.
The negatives I have with this one are pretty minor as well. What makes April "unique" is still really unclear and, despite him previously destroying Footbots, I have no idea why the Foot was following Casey in the first place. Maybe they were also observing Raph and Casey caught their attention? Or maybe they just saw a potential threat and wanted to check it out? I also noticed a small mistake in one of the shots. At the lair's entrance, there's a stack of pizza boxes that disappears in one shot. We're talking about a matter of seconds that many likely won't even notice, so it's hardly a big deal.
"The Good, the Bad and the Casey Jones" may not move the plot with the mutagen forward, but it's a phenomenal episode nonetheless. There's an unparalleled amount of love given to the franchise, it constructs the iconic friendship between Jones and Raphael, and, best of all, it's simply a crazy amount of fun thanks to some strong directing and legitimately exciting action scenes. This is without question one of my favorite episodes yet.