Review: Nickelodeon TMNT "Baxter's Gambit"

BaxterGambit

Baxter Stockman was introduced early on in the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, in the episode “I think his name is Baxter Stockman”.  Starting right away Baxter was a joke to the Turtles, as the only chance of him becoming a threat was by using the T-Pod to infuse his robot suit to make him into the Baxter Pod.  Since that episode Baxter has appeared in a few other episodes, as he was forced to join the Foot and help make Fishface some legs.  In the newest episode of Nick TMNT, Baxter is pushed too far and plans a trap for the Ninja Turtles, Dogpound and Fishface.  Here is my review of  "Baxter's Gambit".

The Turtles have once again found the Kraang loading a dangerous weapon into one of their trucks.  Donatello explains what they have, yet Michelangelo is not understanding so Raphael says it goes Boom.  Donatello corrects him with the sound this device would really make.  On another rooftop across the way, Baxter Stockman is also eyeing the Kraang for their weapon. As he’s trying to lead the mission, Dogpound fastly reminds him that he is not in command there.  Fishface is happy to join in to set fear into Stockman that they are the ones in charge.  Though this only angers Stockman.

This is not the first time in Ninja Turtles that we get to see the Foot treating Stockman like he’s trash.  If you watch the original cartoons, Krang throws Baxter into the machine to kill him and instead mutates him into a fly.  In the 4Kids series Hun was always in Baxter’s face reminding him his place there.  And in both versions Baxter got pushed too far.  Once turned into a fly Baxter tries to destroy the Foot as well as the Turtles in the original cartoon.  In the 4Kids series, Baxter tries to take Shredder and the Turtles out in “Return to New York”.  While Baxter is usually connected to the Foot Clan, he’s always treated badly by them and always seeks ‘revenge’.

Once the Turtles jump down to attack the Kraang, the Foot jump out at the same time.  Raphael ie excited about the mix of villains they have to face.  As the fight begins.  The brawl has Turtles vs. Kraang vs. Foot.  All of which after the Kraang’s weapon.  The Kraang uses their weapon once in this fight, aimed at Michelangelo though thanks to a fast save it did not hit Mikey, but a car behind him.  The sound matches up to the example that Donatello did earlier, Mike is impressed with his brothers impression matching up.  Though the Kraang is able to use this chance to get away with their weapon.  While the fight seems like it was going to keep going between the Turtles and Foot, the police is heard coming and they have head in different ways.  All disappear from the scene, besides for Baxter who is trapped up on the roof where the Foot left him, as the door out of there is locked.

The thing that troubles me here is that the Kraang got away with this dangerous weapon, and no one seemed to care about it anymore.  It was ‘get the turtles’ and ‘get the foot’.  Even though they were the two losing teams in that fight. What are the Kraang going to use their new weapon on?  What if it was important?  Look what happened with just a strong lens in “Cockroach Terminator”.  At this point it should of been top priority to get the weapon away from the Kraang.  Not growl about a grudge match with the Foot.  If the Foot got the weapon, it would've made more sense for the Turtles to be going after them later in the episode.

The Turtles are training with Splinter in the Dojo.  He’s swinging the sword at their head from behind, their job is to dodge the swing.  The only Turtle to pass this lesson is Leonardo.  Splinter explains that is important to be able to dodge the hit from the Turtles.

Good lesson, though I still find this timing off.  As the Turtles do not seem to have any concern for the Kraang still having that weapon.  There is no mention of it even.  Why are they not troubled by it?  If the outcome of that fight was only to prove that they are in each others way, should it have been over something like getting some canister of ooze or something else that we’ve seen before and know is not a high risk in the Kraang’s hands?  A part of me is just really troubled that this was dismissed so easy in the show, when we’ve seen the Turtles hunt them down for other things that they messed up on.  Our last episode was a full Kraang chase.

At the Foot base Shredder is getting after Dogpound, Fishface and Stockman for not getting the weapon from the Kraang.  Dogpound and Fishface blamed Stockman and to their surprise Stockman agreed that it was his fault.  Though pleaded that has a plan to take down the Turtles, though he needs Dogpound and Fishface to do this plan.  Shredder agrees that the two mutants are at his disposal.

I like that Dogpound and Fishface both looked surprise when Baxter did not argue their choice to blame him.  Their expressions showed that they were ready for a show from him of whining about them blaming him.  And their looks on their face when Baxter said he’s going to need their help with his trap.  It’s clear Dogpound and Fishface are shocked and not thrilled with this.

The Turtles are out on a nightly run when Donatello spots Dogpound and Fishface out in the open.  Leonardo is concerned about this, though like normal his brothers are jumping into action before he could get a plan out.  They take down Dogpound and Fishface too easy, then the two get up and start to run.  Raph is hot on their trail as Leo tries to warn his brothers that something is not right.  Though the chase still happens.

This is something else we’ve been seeing a bit in the Nickelodeon TMNT series.  Where Leonardo tries to tell his brothers to stop and think about something, instead they follow Raph’s lead.  From important missions to just day to day stuff.  A good example goes back to “I think his name is Baxter Stockman”, where Raph gets the others to go looking for a Skate spot.  There is also a big example in “Rise of the Turtles” Part 1, where Leo is already the chosen leader, but his brothers still jump down to attack Snake without hearing any thought of a plan of attack.  Of course that’s when they were new to being a team.  One would hope that after “New Girl in Town”, Raph may have some more respect towards Leonardo as a leader and listen when Leo’s yelling something is not right.

Splinter is now training with April.  April is doing well on hand to hand combat, though she wants to move forward.  April asks Splinter when she gets a weapon.  Splinter reminds her that she’s already got the strongest weapon, which is the mind.  Though when she reminds Splinter that you can’t hit a guy outside the head with the Mind he agrees to get her a new weapon.

This is the first time we’ve seen April since “TCRI” where we learned that she is the one that the Kraang are truly after.  Though we do not get mention of that at all.  It’s good she’s so focused in her training, though I think my mind may be on that to the point where asking for a weapon instead of “hit a guy outside the head with the mind” I would’ve said “Will my mind protect me if the Kraang find me alone?” or something along the lines that, my life is in danger and I would feel better with a weapon to protect me from the Kraang’s weapons.  I do not disagree about her keeping her mind in training, I just think that we could've had a little bit of her fear of the Kraang played off here.

The Turtles have followed Dogpound and Fishface into a warehouse.  Though when Dogpound and Fishface come out with smiles saying “Okay you got us”, Leonardo is even more on edge.  Raphael snaps at Leo asking why he’s always so afraid.  Just then the floor starts moving and Raph realizes they got pulled into a trap.  Mikey warns the others that this could be a trap, as Baxter Stockman welcomes them to his maze of Doom.  Dogpound and Fishface realize that they’re in danger as well, as Baxter explains that he’s had enough of them.  He warns them if they survive they will have to fight his Monster of... Leo very unimpressed finished “doom”.  Baxter drops them into the trap.

Once again, Raph doesn’t seem to learn.  He realizes after the trap is set.  And I have to wonder, when the floor started to move why didn’t the Turtles just jump out of the circle?  It was not going at a high speed drop.  There was no mentioned of their feet being glued to the floor.  Just seemed like a trap they could've gotten out of, if they wanted to.  The Turtles have also learned that Baxter can be a threat when he wants to be, as Raphael and Leonardo could not beat his mousers alone in “Mousers Attack”.  So for them to be picky about the name of Baxter’s attacks is pointless when they know whatever it is, it could be dangerous.

The Turtles land in the first part of the maze with Dogpound and Fishface.  They start to fight each other, as Leonardo is the first to notice the big blades from the ceiling starting to come down at them.  Raphael saves Fishface then questions his action.  Leo calls for a truce, between with Dogpound and Fishface.  Dogpound refuses the truce, but only to be saved by Leo.  He agrees, and they start to make their way to the first exit they see.  Raph is worried about trusting them, as he mentions they will turn on them.  Leo says they’ll just have to see it first.

I like that in the little bit of a fight that we see, we do see Fishface trying to bite Raph again.  I was getting worried that they were forgetting about his mouth being one of the weapons.  It does still annoy me that no one goes for his breathing machine, just like I never understand why they don’t go for the Kraang themselves instead of the robot bodies.  Guess it’s because it’s a kid show, and they could easily kill their enemies which is what Nickelodeon does not want.  Another thing I enjoy in this is how Dogpound refuses to have a truce at first, as he’s very loyal to the Shredder.  But his close call, gets him to realize he does not have a choice here.

Splinter is working with April on choosing her weapon.  As he tells her that the weapon chooses us, as much as we choose them.  Though each weapon he gives her, she is not doing well with.  And at one point she almost gets stabbed in the head as Splinter suggests they keep looking.

I do like this scene, because I totally agree with Splinter’s lesson here.  I remember when I was in Karate, I thought my weapon of choice would be the nunchucks, since Michaelangelo was my favorite Turtle.  Though my Sensei wanted me to start off with the bo staff.  While I found that I did love working with the bo staff, I still wanted to try the nunchucks.  I trained for a long time using only the staff, and even came home with first place at a tournament in weapons.  When I finally got a class in the chucks, I found that while I learned them and could do the moves.  It was not the same as my bo staff.  I find that a bo staff is nearly everywhere, from brooms, racks to sticks in the woods.  While Chucks, sais and swords are only around if you have them with you.  I did not feel like I picked the bo staff, but it choose me.

The Turtles do not trust Dogpound and Fishface as much as they do not trust the Turtles.  They come to a room where Dogpound can smell fresh air, but neither of the groups want to go first into the hall.  These silver balls come out and start to attack them.  They dodge and knock these Balls of Doom around the room, till they all race into a hallway.  Leonardo destroyed most of the balls, but one remains connected to Don’s bo staff.  When he finds it, he takes it off and throws it to the ground where it rolls up to Fishface.

What gets me during this is watching a very weird and pointless fight during the running around.  As Donatello and Michelangelo are running along side Dogpound.  You see Don grabbing Dogpound’s arm, while Dogpound keeps bringing his hand down on Michelangelo.  It’s funny to freeze frame on this run.  While it’s clear there’s some sort of fight going on right there, it just did not make sense to me.

Once getting away from the attack balls, Dogpound and Donatello realizes that they’ve been in this area before.  A wall comes down splitting Raphael and Fishface from the group.  Leonardo can not cut through the wall, then realizes Don is up to something with his T-Phone.  Don is making it so his T-Phone can track Baxter’s voice.  Leo tells Michelangelo and Dogpound to keep Baxter talking, so Mike asks Baxter what turned him to this life of crime. Baxter decides to share his story with them, which bores Mike right away.

I like how Donatello has come up with a plan to track Baxter and find their way out.  That was a clever way of cutting the maze down fast.  And Michelangelo’s question is awesome.  I do find it sad that none of the Turtles thought to listen to this seriously to better understand Baxter for future battles.  It was a great question and should of been listen to more seriously, but no one in there really seem to want to hear his story.

Splinter is still working with April.  As we get to see that April has a problem with her weapons, she can not hold onto them.  They go flying from her hands.  This time the weapon flies into Splinter’s family picture, as we hear April ask him who is in the photo.  Splinter shares that his him, his wife and daughter.  This reminds Splinter of something and he leaves April.

All the times April has been around, she never asked about the photo?  Not even in the episode “I, Monster” where Splinter held the photo in front of her as he was scared about losing to the Rat King.  Now, she’s just now learning that’s him and his family?  I am shocked, and even a bit disappointed in this.  He’s been teaching her since “Monkey Brains”, and she’s never had interest in learning about his life before being a mutant rat?  I like the idea of us seeing her learn about this, just wish it was earlier in the series.

Fishface and Raphael are walking down what Raph calls the “longest hall of Doom”.  Just as they think it’s safe, a giant fan thing forms in front of them and starts to pull them towards it.  Fishface is able to use his robo feet to stick himself to the ground.  But Raph is flying towards the fan, just as it looks like Raph is going to be chopped into Turtle bits, Fishface saves him then jumps breaking a hole through the floor bringing them into an all black hall under the floor.  Fishface says he’s not going to let Baxter finish Raph off, he’s saving that for himself.

This is a good scene.  Though it felt fixed so that Fishface would save Raph.  I was waiting for Raph to grab out his sais and plunge them into the wall to hold himself from going into the fan.  I do like how Fishface did save him, just felt that there should of been a reason he could not grab his sais.  I also like the look on Fishface when he tells Raph he’s saving that for himself.

The other Turtles are walking with Dogpound listening to Baxter share his story of the school science fair.  Just as they all seemed bored lasers started to come up from the floor, spin around and shoot at them.  They start to go through breaking up the lasers, helping each other.  Mike was able to bounce off of Dogpound to hit the ones on the ceiling.

Nice team work here.  I still find it sad though that no one was really taking it into account what Baxter was telling them.  He was hurt, he was bullied, he just got sick of it and snapped.  While yes Dogpound should not care one bit about this, the Turtles should.  It goes back to “I think his name is Baxter Stockman” again, as he says they were not the first to put him into a trash can.  Baxter is a hurt soul.  While that does not make it right for him to do what he does, it does give some ideas on how one could turn him.  He’s looking for something he never got.. respect.  It is good to see that Dogpound is not fighting with them during the fight this time.

Raphael and Fishface are walking together, now outside of the maze they got time to think. Raphael asks how he got into working for the Foot, so Fishface shares his history of how he started stealing when young and that Shredder freed him from jail.  Raph and Fishface realize they do have a lot in common, though Raph does remind him that he’s going to kick his butt as soon as they’re out of this mess.

I really do like this scene.  First I enjoy that Raph calls him Xever when asking Fishface about his history, that was a nice sign of respect to use his given name.  And to know their real names are not forgotten.  And we get to see Xever’s history, which is not something that we normally see for the sidekicks so I truly enjoyed this touch to the show.  As it does win my favorite moment, with the character growth shown here.

Dogpound is fed up with this mess as they finish breaking the lasers.  He calls out for Stockman.  Fishface and Raphael hear this through the wall.  Fishface kicks a hole in the wall bringing the groups back together, as Donatello’s plans come through in finding their way to Baxter.  If you want to find out how they got out of this and what weapon April gets, watch the episode!

I really did like this episode.  I like the touch on both Baxter and Fishface’s history.  I like seeing April train, instead of just hearing that she’s training.  I enjoy seeing the Turtles having to work with Fishface and Dogpound.  I like the connection made between Raph and Fishface and how well they worked together.  I did feel that Dogpound slacked a little in character growth in this episode, it was a surprise that he did not challenge Leonardo more for the leadership role.  And there was nothing between Dogpound and Mikey being this close together, as Mike knows this is his X Friend Chris Bradford.  Would've been interesting seeing those two stuck together to where Mike could've said something to him, to find out why he’s with Shredder.  And hope if Mike is the one to pry that out of Dogpound, that Mike takes that more serious than he took Baxter.

Another enjoyable episode to add to the list, which leaves us only 7 more episodes in Season 1 of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  With so many open questions still around... “Why does the Kraang want April”, “Why is Saki this determined to kill Yoshi?”, and “Will Leatherhead be able to return from Dimension X?”  I can not wait to see where the show takes us next!  All I can say is more Kraang and Mutagen man on their way before this season ends!

Have you watched “Baxter Gambit”?  What is your thoughts on this episode?  Please share reviews, comments and questions below.

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Comments

Thanks for this good review. Its interesting how this episode links with the toy line, like LEGO Raph vs Fishface. Do you think that April will find out that Kari is Splinter's daughter?

Michele Ivey's picture

Heh, I'm not going to try and predict anything with the show. I like to see where they take it. ;)

I thought mutagen man was'nt scheduled to appear till season 2?

Michele Ivey's picture

"Mutagen Man, who plays a big role in the second season but will appear near the end of the first, had a distinctive look from the old '80s cartoon and toy, and the TMNT producers didn't want to get too wacky with a new design." from : http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2013/04/03/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtl...

([;{-)

"Will Leatherhead be able to make it back from Dimension X?"

Not a day goes by that I don't ask myself that question. I'm hoping the answer is a big YES!


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