Wormquake! (originally titled The Manhattan Project) is an hour-long episode that honestly feels like a really awesome animated movie. There's cheerworthy action, character development and some very interesting progress with the overall plot. But most important of all: it's really, really entertaining and is without question my favorite episode yet. Seriously, it's that good.
First and foremost, a series like this strives to make you smile, and the comedy was sprinkled perfectly throughout in this one. Splinter's phone, Tiger Claw taking a drink, and a look at Mikey's thoughts is barely scratching the surface of all the moments that are certain to make you chuckle and grin from ear to ear. To say any more would spoil some of the humor, so I'll leave it at that.
Then there's the action and, sweet mother of Mikey, there's so much ninja melee goodness for our eyes to enjoy! The new mutant, Tiger Claw (who strikes a strong resemblance to a certain Star Wars bounty hunter), offers some ridiculously thrilling combat. Watching him dance around the turtles' attacks as he spins his guns was amazingly badass. Oh, and did I mention Splinter once again steps up and shows us why he's a total boss? Because he most definitely does and it's once again a real treat. Even when he's drugged, Master Splinter will make you drop your jaw with his swift displays of skill and mobility. As if that wasn't enough action, we also see a little more as each hero matches up with a counter-part. Mikey takes on Rahzar, and while that seems like an unfair fight, the writers make it obvious that Michelangelo's speed and agility can keep him out of the savage dude's claws. Raphael once again clashes with Fishface, and Leo parries with Karai. That said, my personal highlight is a pretty brief scene involving Leo taking out some Footbots that are guarding Shredder's lair. When the eyes go white, you know it's go time. And this isn't even diving into the action that goes on with the Kraang story (prepare for more of the butt cannon!). Needless to say, there's a whole lot of excitement.
"Fun action and laughs are good and all, but what about the plot?" Good question, random reader! This episode makes major strides in both the Kraang and Shredder/Karai plot. On the Kraang side of things, we continue to see more of their society and technology. We also learn where the mutagen comes from, and let's just say Futurama fans may get a bit of nostalgia with that one. The Kraang aren't any closer to taking over the Earth (I'm still waiting for that ship in the ocean to get massive tank treads and become the technodrome!), but it's really interesting to continually learn more about them. This series is absolutely doing plenty to make sure its mythos is unique and intriguing.
Wormquake! also brings the situation with Shredder and Karai front and center. The writers give a little bit of exposition so new viewers don't feel left in the dark, but they do it in a manner that makes it enjoyable for those who already have all the facts, too. They utilize the motion comic style and it's a well-written yet short segment. Truth be told, Karai's role hasn't been all that gripping in newer episodes. It's primarily just "dad is gone, the turtles are mine" and even though Leo did tell her the truth, she's of course shrugging it off and doesn't trust him. This episode finally changes all of that and teases that a major change with the character could happen sooner rather than later.
The story successfully juggles each character, too. Major development is made in the Donatello, Casey and April situation as they're isolated from their friends and forced to work together. The other dudes and even Splinter are by no means swept aside, either. Each character has an opportunity to let their personality drive a scene. Raphael is quick to question Leo when things go wrong, Mikey drops plenty of jokes, and Leo does an admirable job considering the crazy situation he's thrown into. Even though we're talking about one story being spread across two episodes, it's still commendable how no character was left behind.
I grew up with the '87 show and all I can say is this episode filled me with joy. Words can't properly describe how happy I was with two scenes and it made me feel like a kid all over again. The team behind this show loves this franchise and episodes like this one clearly prove it. The last episode had Kevin Eastman doing a small role and now this? Man, this show is just full fan service.
This hour-long adventure had quite literally everything I love about this show and then some. It's ridiculously fun, full of laughs, gives all of the characters plenty of love, and is sure to hit you with a heavy dose of nostalgia. It's simple: this is a must-watch episode for any TMNT fan.
Missed the episode? Well, it's on Nick's site! If you haven't watched it yet, to do the right thing.