Coming to Netflix Canada on December 1st
Season 16 of Ninjago should simply be called Ninjago Crystalized The Movie. I refrained from continuing to post weekly looks back a few episodes after the mid-season cliffhanger when I realised that. Now that the run is finished on Teletoon, I can finally reflect upon all that’s been revealed, said and done. With no surprise, now that one contract is over, other services can stream it.
These days, the team led by Lloyd isn’t always hailed as heroes. Nearly everybody loves them, except for the new Mayor and certain bounty hunters like Hounddog McBrag. That made up the first half of the series. By the time the team figures out who’s the mastermind, chaos erupts, we learn a few emotional things about certain characters, namely P.I.X.E.L., and see the return of characters from previous seasons. With no surprise, when the populace sees the Overlord is back, everyone is running! Even that leader of the city is considering abandoning his post.
Curiously, the New Ninja team introduced earlier are missing for much of the action. Its a shame because while annoying at they were regarding their protocol for saving the day, we still don’t know who they are, and if they have a future in the series! Instead, between episode 25, “Safe Haven” and 28, “An Issue of Trust,” what’s offered only affirms what we already know. Old threats no longer put out the pasture. They’re given new abilities and a lease on wrecking havoc upon the world.
Elsewhere, we see a bit more character development between how close Jay and Nya are. While her resurrection and ability to connect to the sea is weakened, we learn that she always had the power. We’re reminded of it existing in her heart much like her brother’s kinship with fire back in season eleven “Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu” and regarding Cole in “Master of the Mountain,” when they were lost in the Netherrealm. Back in the city, Zane is malfunctioning and P.I.X.E.L. is doing everything she can to help repair him and just how that resolves is perhaps the most tearful moment ever presented in a cartoon.
Another story arc concerns trying to further Lloyd’s arc where he has to come to terms with his father who is forever Oni. What’s featured in the comic book doesn’t explain how Garmadon behaves here. While he’s not true evil, the seed planted in terms of him finding redemption is perhaps the most curious–I would love to see Ninjago continue with a series strictly focusing on him.
The other story arcs featured in Ninjago Crystalized do not seem to matter. While they represent an easy weekly view, I feel the creators wrote a movie script and simply chopped it up for broadcast. Some fan will most likely put together an edit so that we’re not dealing with credits every 12 minutes or so. When the calamity known as the Crystal King finally reaches the capital, nobody is safe. While the Ninjago team tries to push them back, their attempts are futile. They have to make “Distress Calls,” otherwise the city will be destroyed again. The situation is not as dire. We know who will win, and the mythology is told in full–the conflict is cyclic. For every occasion the world falls and tears itself apart, there’ll be people who can rebuild.
Having this knowledge doesn’t help to bring Ninjago Crystalized to an end. What’s offered as the finale feels very anticlimactic. It turns this franchise into another Star Wars. Garmadon is like Darth Vader in that regard. Eventually his final death may provide some sense of peace, but those who’ve seen the movies know where that goes. Even though he can’t affect the physical universe, perhaps his Force Ghost (i.e. Garmadon) might be the person who’ll train the next generation.
I’m thankful the series is continuing, but it won’t be the same now that Tommy Andreasen has left the team to pursue other interests for the LEGO Company. Hopefully, the new blood can take the cartoon into a direction with other threats than to recycle what’s been done in the 16 or so years since Ninjago started. Sure, it’s had a few weak seasons, but to stick it out means appreciating the storytelling more than the tales of togetherness that the toy product represents.