LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu Episode 7 Review
SEASON 1 EPISODE 7: TICK TOCK
Huh-boy, have I been excited to review this episode. It’s my favorite in season one, and probably the best stand-alone episode. If you only watch one episode of the show, watch this one. Seriously guys, please watch this one first.
We open with Zane breaking his own record for time under water, at ten minutes. The guys are immensely impressed, and Jay says they’ve all been training for so long, and learned so much that they must have reached their full potential by now! The ninja excitedly rush in to ask Sensei Wu what’ll happen when they reach their full potential, only to find that he’s packing.
Sensei: I’m sorry if I’ve been distant lately, my mind has been… elsewhere since Lloyd has gone missing. What can I help you with?
Cole: Sensei, what if we’ve done enough training? What if we’ve reached our true potential? What if we’re ready?
Sensei: Hmph. You may have reached peak physical condition, but you’ve yet to reach your inner potential. In each and every one of us there are obstacles that hold us back. Only when you conquer that fear will you be free. Only then will you reach your true potential. Only then will we have a fighting chance against stopping the Serpentine from releasing the Great Devourer.
Zane asks if there’s anything more to this Great Devourer they should know, and we get the sad story of how the Great Devourer kinda ruined Sensei’s family. When Wu and Garmadon were kids, they were best buddies, back before the dark lord was evil. One day Wu lost his katana over the monastery wall, but was too afraid to go out and get it. Garmadon told his brother not to be a wuss and went out to retrieve it himself, but when he reached under a bush to pick up the sword, a vile, frilled snake bit him.
Sensei: When my father found him, he was very ill, for he had been bitten by a legendary snake that would grow forever, as long as it consumed. A great evil had found its way into my brother’s heart, for the snake’s venom could turn the purest of things wicked.
Me: The moral of the story is, don’t stick your hand in places you can’t see, or you might turn into an evil mastermind.
I’m of two minds on this plot twist. On the good hand, this is an interesting tragic backstory for both Lord Garmadon and Sensei Wu, as Sensei feels responsible for his brother’s corruption. It’s a unique twist on an otherwise clichéd “He turned greedy and evil and we had to fight” plot. On the bad hand, I don’t really like the idea that Garmadon was forced into evil. I believe it is our actions and choices that determine who we are, and not the other way around. I’ve got some head-canon stuff we’ll go into for later episodes that helps me get around this.
Sensei goes on to say that the guys have learned all they can from training, and that they should focus on stopping the Serpentine from reviving the Great Devourer. Zane asks how they’re supposed to unlock their true potential, and Sensei is just like ‘I dunno, it’s different for everyone. Anyway, I gotta go find someone who can help me bring Lloyd back. See ya.’
Meanwhile, with the Serpentine, Pythor and the other Generals have returned to the Constricti tomb to look at the cave paintings of the prophesy about the Great Devourer. He’s hoping to find something about the location of the four silver fang-blades, which they need to revive the legendary snake. Unfortunately, they aren’t finding anything. Skales tells Pythor if he doesn’t get his act together the rest of the snakes will revolt, but the snake king assures his second-in-command he knows what he’s doing.
Meanwhile, the guys have heard about the fang-blades from the legend, and are looking for them by… putting out lost posters.
Zane: –Sigh of irritation– This is silly.
Me: I agree.
Zane is putting up posters when he senses something and completely zones out, dropping his stack of papers in front of some jerk’s shop.
Jerk: Hey, weirdo! You’re making a mess of my store-front. –Zane makes no sign of noticing the man– Yoo-hoo! You got a problem? Maybe I should teach you a lesson on manners. –Zane walks away in a daze-
Kai: I-I’m sorry sir! Sometimes our friend is in another world.
Jerk: He’s littering all over the place!
Cole: We’ll pick it up. So sorry.
Jay: Zane, what’s the deal?
The deal is, he’s spotted the falcon from episode two. The guys get excited; every other time they’ve followed the falcon, it’s led them to something important. So obviously they follow it again. Only this time the bird is leading them a lot further than it ever has before. Like really, really far away. So far that Jay and Cole both get so tired that they need to stop and rest.
Zane keeps on going though, with Kai huffing and puffing right behind him. They soon find themselves in a birch forest with a sign reading “Beware of Treehorns”. Kai says he’ll wait here for the others and that Zane should go on ahead. The white ninja follows the bird a bit further when it stalls in the air and crashes to the ground. He takes a closer look at the bird to see what happened to it, only to find it’s a robot!
It’s not the only one. Zane hears whirring footsteps and looks up to find a huge brass robot scanning him. It decides he’s an intruder and starts firing lasers at him. They proceed to have a pretty awesome fight. The white ninja notices a control panel on the metal behemoth’s back just beneath its head, so he jumps up there and pulls out a few wires. The sentry robot has the same symbol on its panel that the falcon’s panel had. He soon finds the same symbol carved into the trunk of a rather large tree, marking a hidden door.
Zane goes inside and follows the stairs down into a small, dusty living space with a workbench full of blueprints. Before I go on I just have to say the atmosphere leading up to this scene is perfect. The music is very quiet, there’s no dialog, and the animation makes it feel like this place has been empty for a very long time.
On top of the stack of blueprints is one for the falcon. Zane looks it over and fixes the bird. It starts back up and flies onto his arm.
Zane: You brought me here. But why?
He looks through the stack of blueprints. Suddenly he drops them in shock.
Zane: No. It can’t be. No! Nooooooooo!
Wanna give character X a hug: Zane= 2; Lloyd= 3.
Uhm, usually I think the big, drawn out “Noooooooo!” is over-dramatic, but I think this one was warranted. Also, big props to Brent Miller, Zane’s voice actor here, his delivery stops it from being Narm-y. That and the atmosphere.
Moving on from that bombshell, we find Sensei Wu entering a teashop and asking for some “travelers’ tea”. The shop lady insists she’s never heard of such a thing until he drops a bunch of coins on the counter. Then she warns him ‘Those who drink, never return!’ Sensei is just all ‘Well then you won’t have to worry about me bothering you anymore.’
Back in the birch forest, the three other ninja have caught up and find the door in the tree. They climb down the stairs, looking for Zane. They see him curled up on the floor and run down to check on him.
Jay: Zane? What’s wrong?
Cole: Are you hurt? Are you ok?
–Zane sighes, picks up a blueprint, and places his hand on his chest–
Cole: Hey, what–?
All: Eugh! Whoa! What!?
Kai: You’re a robot!?
Zane: All this time… and I never knew.
Jay: Uh… guess this explains why you’re always acting so weird, right? –Nervous laugh–
Yeah, this explains a lot of things. Like the reason Zane doesn’t have a sense of humor is apparently because his “Funny switch” wasn’t on. When it is on… I’d call it a Big-lipped Alligator Moment, except it does have something to do with the plot so… yeah, he dances to “Hello My Baby”, it’s weird, let’s leave it at that.
The guys are understandably freaked out by this, (The fact that Zane’s a robot, not the dancing. Although that may have freaked them out a bit too) but bless their hearts, they assure him he’s still the same Zane, and he’ll always be their brother whether he’s a robot or not. Awwww, you guys are awesome. I take back all the times I said you were terrible last episode. Cole tells him they still need his help to find the fang-blades, but Zane says he still needs some time to let this set in. The others are completely understanding and give him some time alone without trying to talk him into coming along or telling him to get over it. I repeat. You guys are the best.
Outside Kai says they just need to give Zane some time, and the other two agree, when they spot something moving in the trees. Only it appears to be the trees that are moving. Either that, or the ‘trees’ are actually the legs of giant creatures.
Apparently the big brass robot from earlier was supposed to protect the lab from these things. Now that it’s down the three ninja are going to have to take care of the things on their own, but the enormous monsters easily kick the guys around with their long tree-trunk legs. Cole impressively manages to pick one up and swing it around, but there are just too many for them to handle.
Back inside the lab, Zane looks over his blueprints and finds he has a memory switch. He turns it on and…. This scene. THIS SCENE. The music, the montage, what we learn. It’s pretty near perfect. You guys have to see this episode for yourselves because I’m really not doing it justice. We get a quick rewind through Zane’s life before reaching a man with glasses and brown hair leaning over him. His name is never given in the series, but according to TV Tropes it’s Dr. Julien, so I’ll go with that.
Dr. Julien: Hello Zane.
We get a sepia-tone flashback/montage of Dr. Julien teaching Zane how to walk, bounce a ball and cook. He builds the falcon to give his ‘son’ a companion. We see them generally just living a happy life together. But as the montage goes on Dr. Julien’s hair changes from brown to grey, and from grey to white.
Dr. Julien: You were built to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
We next see Dr. Julien lying on the bed, sick.
Dr. Julien: –Weakly– You were always the son I never had. It’s time you begin your next stage in life… and the only reason I’m about to do this is because… I love you. –He reaches in and turns off Zane’s memory switch. Zane’s face goes completely blank, and the doctor’s glasses drop to the floor–
Excuse me, I need to go wipe my eyes.
Wanna give character X a hug: Zane= 3; Lloyd= 3.
I’m not the only one. Zane wipes a tear away as he comes out the memory, and finds a picture of himself with his father and the falcon. (Which I guess is kinda like his pet/ brother) He smiles, puts it back gently, and runs up the stairs.
Zane: Hey guys, wait up!
But outside, things are not going so well for the guys. They’re getting quite literally stomped into the ground by the treehorns. Zane isn’t having any of that though. He charges in and pinballs off the monsters’ legs using spinjitzu. This allows the others to get up, and they start beating back the creatures. At least until the queen shows up. It’s about to charge them, and the others back up uncertainly, but Zane holds his ground.
Zane: You will not hurt my friends! There is nothing that will hold me back! I know who I am! –He starts glowing-
Me: Oh my gosh that is so BA!
Zane has unlocked his true potential. He rises up in the air and shoots a beam at the treehorn queen, encasing it in ice.
The rest of the monsters flee, and he falls back to the ground. The others help him up and congratulate him on a job well done. Zane tells them how he remembered his father, how his father cared for him, and that was what did it.
Back with the snakes, Pythor still can’t find any clues to the locations of the four fang-blades. The Generals start fighting amongst themselves, knocking each other about with their staffs. The anti-venom from two of the staffs mixes, and Pythor notices it causes a color-changing reaction. He gathers up all the staffs and drips the anti-venom from each on a sheet of paper. The five colors mix to create a map. (Ok, that doesn’t seem possible, but whatever) Now that the Serpentine know where to find the fang-blades, they are that much more united, and that much closer to reviving the Great Devourer.
We then cut to Sensei Wu, who has finished brewing his travelers’ tea, and proceeds to pour it on the ground in a circle around him. A portal opens up, and he steps inside. On the other end of the portal, he comes out in a dark, red-skied world. And someone is waiting for him.
Lord Garmadon: Hello brother. What took you so long? Muahahahahaha!
This episode is the best in season one, and maybe even in the whole series. Don’t think that this means there aren’t any more great episodes left, or that it doesn’t get better than this. This show still has a lot of awesome left. But this episode just hits the sweet-spot with the perfect combination of character development, plot development, and atmosphere. We start off with some interesting plot/character development regarding Sensei Wu and Lord Garmadon, then we finally learn where Zane comes from and why he is the way he is. The best part is that they’ve built it up and left just enough hints that it is a huge surprise, but it makes sense, and pays off perfectly. Heck, they even left a blatant hint at the beginning of the episode.
Kai: Ten minutes! The guys just broke his own record, he’s inhuman!
Me: Clever. Very clever writers.
The feels in this episode! The feeeeeels! I tear up every time I see Zane’s flashback, and the story about how Garmadon turned evil is pretty feely too. How can I feel this much emotion over a bunch of minifigs in a goofy little boys’ cartoon? Two reasons: character build-up, and atmosphere. We’re half-way into season one, and by this time we’ve gotten to know Zane pretty well. We know he’s got his quirks, and we know he’s a very caring guy. We’ve gotten to know his character enough that we feel for him, and seeing him go through this emotional roller-coaster is both exciting and a little heart-breaking. The atmosphere also does an excellent job of setting the mood. The quiet moments, the limited dialog, even the lighting in the animation set up your emotions perfectly. This show knows how to do a quiet moment. It doesn’t necessarily have to have no dialog, it has to have just the right amount.
On top of all that we also have some really awesome fight scenes and a truly BA moment when Zane reaches his full potential. That scene makes me squeal like the fangirl I am every time. It’s just the perfect episode.
Character Corner: Zane
Yep, no surprise there. Zane’s always been the wisest, most technically skilled on the team. He’s reserved and has a tendency to zone out, but it also becomes apparent that he’s a very caring person. When he first learns about his true identity, he’s understandably freaked out, and I feel like they handled the pacing for this just right. He needs some time to come to terms with it, but he’s not angsting about it forever, he accepts it. Again, major props to Brent Miller, he plays the emotions just right. After remember how much his father cared for him, he relays that caring outward to his friends. Zane’s complexity is one of the main reasons he’s the most popular character; that and he’s really adorkable at times.
So, we see Zane and Dr. Julien live their whole lives together, meaning Zane actually a lot older than the others. He could easily be anywhere from 30 to 100. I personally think he’s 42, because 42 is the answer. It’s also interesting that when the queen treehorn shows up, Zane immediately knows what it is. I think he probably encountered the monsters before his life hit the reset button.
Over-all Episode Quality: Great
Maybe even perfect. Character, plot, and atmosphere all come together to make a great, action-packed, emotional and intriguing story.