“Slash and Destroy” is the first Raphael episode of the season and is much more aggressive than most episodes, even though it’s basically “Mutagen Man Unleashed” with Donatello swapped out for Raphael. That isn’t a complaint though; the Mutagen Man episode was one of the best episodes the show has done and hopefully we’ll see it emulated with Michelangelo and Leonardo this season.
Raphael rarely shows warmth to anyone, with the exception of Spike, his pet turtle that’s been around the entire series. Like Timothy’s innards to Donnie, Spike was the one character that Raph could confide his problems to. So when the confidant ingested mutagen, it took in all that baggage (in this case, anger management issues and frustrations with Raph’s brothers) that the turtle left with him.
The mutagen turns Spike into Slash (voiced by Corey Feldman, reuniting him with both the Turtles franchise and The Goonies co-star Sean Astin), a giant turtle with a Godzilla-inspired roar and Bowser-like spikes on his shell. Slash suggests that Raph is better off without his brothers and the two of them should team-up without them. Raph agrees and goes along with him, until he discovers that Slash doesn’t want there to be any other turtles, period.
The ensuing beat-downs (calling them fights aren’t really a fair description) are brutal; Slash demolishes Donnie and Mikey in one of the most violent and destructive battles the show has done. Like Donnie’s fight with Mutagen Man, there’s way more going on than in most showdowns. Raphael is forced to fight his closest friend, but unlike Donnie, he doesn’t hesitate. He tries to talk to Slash and remind him of who he used to be, but that doesn’t stop him from being aggressive. Raph hasn’t had an opponent yet this season where he’s had to let loose, and it’s interesting to see him be as aggressive as possible (and that the way to defeat Slash was to be calm was a great counterpoint).
In order to keep Leo out of this storyline until the end, he’s sent off on a wild goose chase to retrieve a mutagen canister which leads to him crashing a little girl’s tea party. Leo attempting to put his pinky out while drinking tea is adorable and the punch line after saying he’s the only imaginary turtle is perfectly executed.
“Mutagen Man Unleashed” is still a slightly more effective episode; it took a running problem with Donnie (his obsession with April) and made him confront how messed up it was. Raph’s always going to have anger issues (he’s been cool, but rude for almost 30 years now), but it’s nice to see him called out and learn from it. Unlike Mutagen Man though, Spike will probably be back at some point, so there’s still story to mine with this villain. Perhaps we’ll see Slash handling Raph making a new best friend?