LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu Episode One Review
SEASON 1 EPISODE 1: RISE OF THE SNAKES
We open with a quick recap of the show’s mythology/back story: the tale of the golden weapons. Then we see the theme song for season one. It’s nothing special, but it grows on you.
After that we open into the episode proper with Sensei Wu trying to meditate over the noise of our four heroes. He goes to tell them to keep their training down, only to find they’re not training, they’re playing video games. Sensei ain’t havin’ none o’ that though, so he pulls the plug, eliciting complaints from the guys.
Sensei gets on their case about needing to train. After all, Lord Garmadon is still out there somewhere. However, Zane points out things have been pretty peaceful since the baddie disappeared, and, Jay adds, boring.
Sensei tells them this episode’s Aesop: don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. (Ah yes, the bane of every Procrastinator’s existence)
This leads to this little gem:
Cole: Well, I was going to save this pizza for tomorrow, but if that’s the case…
Sensei: –slaps the pizza out of his hand– No pizza for you!
After more wise old mentor babble about reaching your full potential, the guys are about to brush him off and go back to playing when Nya rushes in with bad news: Lord Garmadon has returned!
The guys freak out and scramble into action. There’s a cute little bit where Nya hands Jay his nunchucks and he has a hard time stammering out a ‘thank you’. She then asks if there’s anything she can do to help, but Kai’s all ‘We don’t want your sister cooties everywhere, this is a job for ninja only, and could you please hand me my dragon’s reigns BTW?’ OK, to be fair, Kai isn’t that much of a jerk, but he does completely brush her off.
Nya: –sigh– Do you think they’ll ever reach their full potential?
Sensei: In time… Maybe a long time, but in time.
Me: Y’know what? I’d probably like Sensei better if he said funny and relevant things like that more often.
On the way to the village the guys all discus how great it’ll be to actually finally use the golden weapons in a fight. But they’re in for a disappointment. They’re facing Lloyd Garmadon, not Lord Garmadon.
Turns out the kid is the son of the dark lord Garmadon, and he demands the townspeople hand over all their candy at once! Or face the wrath of the Serpentine!
Unfortunately for the kid, the Serpentine are believed to be just an old wives tale. And what exactly is the Serpentine? It’s a hydrothermally altered basalt that makes up a large portion of the oceanic crust… No wait, these are my geology notes…
The Serpentine are an ancient race of snake people who used to rule Ninjago until humans rose up against them and sealed them away in five different tribes to keep them from uniting and rising up against humanity. Kai insists they don’t exist, but the others aren’t so sure.
Whatever the case, this Lloyd kid isn’t very good at the whole ‘evil’ thing, and the townspeople throw vegetables at him.
The ninja, however, have no such dilemma, and hang the poor kid up on a sign by his cape. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! Though to be fair, I do like that they proceed to buy some candy, to show the kid the right way.
… And then they rub the fact that they have candy and he doesn’t in his face and just leave him there vowing his revenge. OK guys, bad move, you don’t humiliate the “pathetic” villain. He’s gonna come back with a giant mech or something to make your lives unpleasant.
On the way home, Kai finds that he accidentally grabbed Sensei’s bag, and it contains a strange scroll written in Ye Olde Kanji, so only Zane can read it. He finds a prophesy.
“One ninja will rise above the others and become the green on ninja: the ninja destined to defeat the dark lord.”
The guys quickly deduce that dark lord = Lord Garmadon, and Kai, Jay, and Zane get into an argument over which one of them is going to become the green ninja. Cole steps in and reminds them: Hey, we’re all supposed to be a team.
Cole: We probably weren’t meant to see this and probably for good reason.
So they all head home, suddenly much more eager to get on with their training.
We now check back with Lloyd, who has somehow gotten down and is now wandering about aimlessly on some snow-capped mountain muttering about revenge. He comes across a strange mosaic, which he accidentally opens. It turns out he’s opened the prison of one of the Serpentine tribes! How convenient.
These ones turn out to be the Hypnobrai, who, as the name suggests, can hypnotize people through prolonged eye contact, Kaa style. Fortunately for Lloyd, the place is full of reflective ice crystals, and with one trip he shoots the hypno-beam back at the Hypnobrai general, putting him under Lloyd’s control!
See, what’d I tell you guys? You shouldn’t’ve humiliated the kid.
Back with the ninja, they’ve decided that the green ninja must be one of them, and they’ll have a tournament to determine who is the best, and therefore the green ninja. But first they’ll have to kick Nya off the training equipment.
First off it’s Kai VS Jay. Jay’s off to a bad start, shocking himself with his lightning nunchucks. Then Kai gets him with a sword-beam style fireball right in the chest-plate. Somehow this thin leather armor is enough to protect him from burning, but Kai is still the clear winner.
Next is Cole VS Zane. Zane manages to freeze Cole’s feet to the ground, but Cole is still able to block all of Zane’s subsequent attacks and knock him off his feet, winning the match.
So finally it comes down to Kai VS Cole. (Unfortunately for Kai, ground is good against fire) Cole uses his scythe to create a small tremor, knocking Kai back into some training equipment. This gets Kai mad enough that he loses control of his fire and sets the courtyard ablaze.
Luckily it’s about this time that Sensei Wu comes out to see what all the hubub is about, and he uses Zane’s shuriuken to put the fire out.
Sensei: What were you thinking!?
Me: Uh, they weren’t?
So Sensei finds out that they found out about the green ninja. He isn’t pleased at first, but hey, if it’s motivating them to train more, then that’s good.
Meanwhile, Lloyd’s returned to the village with his new snake army in tow. And now he can take all the candy! Muahahahahah!
The second-in-command snake, Skales, is questioning the General why exactly they’re using their hypnotic powers for sweets, but he replies angrily ‘I am in charge, I have the staff, so what I say goes!’ Personally I like this scene because it shows our villains aren’t complete idiots.
And very quickly we are back with our heroes. The “Spirit Smoke” has informed Sensei that the Serpentine are back. (Spirit smoke. Sure.) The guys reassure him that they took care of the little kid, but Sensei insists that this is for reals. Kai has a quick “oh crap” moment when he realizes Nya is still out in town. So they hop on their dragons and fly out.
When our heroes arrive they realize that they are dealing with real Serpentine and hypnotized townsfolk. Unable to use their weapons for fear of hurting the people, they run away through town until they find Nya, well and unhypnotized. She explains that the Hypnobrai get you through eye contact, and that their leader’s staff has the anti-venom. (There’s anti-venom for hypnosis? Also, how did Nya learn all this?) Jay points out that they can’t exactly fight with their eyes closed, but Kai gives a stereotypical ‘We can do it with teamwork’ bit and they go out to fight.
They’re doing an ok-ish job (Jay mentions that they’re really out of shape) but Zane manages to corner Lloyd, causing the kid to call a retreat. While the Hypnobrai retreat, Cole gets the staff from the General, but not before Skales hypnotizes him. Nya intervenes by kicking Skales in the FACE and Cole manages to stick the staff into a fountain, releasing the anti-venom into the water supply and curing the town… Somehow.
So the town is saved, but not before the snakes get away. Skales confronts the General about letting a little boy boss them around, and he replies ‘The boy did free us, and I’m still the leader around here, so buzz off!’
The other snakes complain to Skales that it’s obvious to everyone that the General is under Lloyd’s control, and are all ‘So why don’t you do something about it?’
Skales: Now is not the time. I still hold the key to destroy the ninja, and when I do that, everyone will see that it is I that should be in control!
Gasp! It turns out Skales is still in Cole’s head! Oh noes!
So this is a pretty good introduction to the series even if you missed the pilot. It gives a quick overview of the premise and characters, then gets straight into this season’s plot. Our four heroes have four elemental weapons that they used to defeat one Dark Lord Garmadon, but he’s disappeared since then. Kai is the hot-headed passionate one, Jay’s the goofy fun one, Zane’s the levelheaded wise one, and Cole’s the grounded leader and the glue that holds the team together. Sensei Wu is the stereotypical wise-old-mentor and Nya is the tagalong girl who wants to show her brother that girls can fight too, dang it!
As for this season’s plot, we’re introduced to Lloyd, son of the Dark Lord Garmadon, but we spend most of the episode just feeling sorry for the kid. No, the real threat here is the Serpentine. Although they’re currently under the control of Lloyd through their General, Skales is plotting to overthrow him. And judging by the fact that I know Skales name and not the General’s, it should be apparent who sticks around on the show longer.
Character Corner: Nya (VA Kelly Metzger)
Last time we didn’t have much to go on for Nya, but I feel now we have at least enough for a basic description. Nya is Kai’s little sister. In the pilot she insists on helping Kai fight off the skeleton army, which I’m sure is supposed to show us that she’s a feisty, strong girl who can take care of herself, not a damsel in distress. Unfortunately the fact that she immediately becomes a damsel in distress kinda undermines that. In this episode it’s a lot more believable because we actually see her training and fighting. Heck, she kicks Skales in the face, and it’s pretty awesome! Unfortunately the guys don’t seem to want her around. Well, at least Kai doesn’t. I guess I can kind of understand that; she did get kidnapped once, and he does have a natural big brother instinct to protect her.
It seems at least one of the guys would like her to come along though! Yes Jay’s crush on Nya carries over into the series, and I actually like how they did it here. In this episode, there are just a few little nods slipped in, like when she hands him his nunchucks, or when he asks her how her training is going. They’re short and barely noticeable, rather than beating us over the head with it like some other shows.
Not much this time since this is only the first episode of the series, but you’ll notice that Cole says Lloyd must have escaped from his boarding school again. I take this to mean this isn’t the first time Cole’s had to deal with this kid, probably before Kai or Jay began their ninja training, since they don’t recognize the kid.
Overall Episode Quality: Average.
It’s a fair representation of the first season.