This episode starts a turning point for the season, as things being to pick up speed. We've had a couple of stand-alone episodes that were basically treading water to establish the new status quo, and now we're ready to move forward. Leo's progression here comes at a good time, as the constant angst was starting to get a little irritating and overdone. It's interesting character development, but it was basically the same one-note "I couldn't save my family" schtick for a few episodes too many. Maybe if they had showed a gradual deterioration in Leonardo, the scene of him fighting and hurting Splinter would be more justified. Regardless, there's some gorgeous lighting in the scene where Leonardo and Splinter talk, and the scene is in general very well directed. On to the Japan stuff. It's all well and good, but most of it is pretty cliche. The pupil learns his lessons through several obstacles blocking his way to the Ancient One, and his traveling companion is more than they appear. We've seen this before, and in fact an episode of Teen Titans (aired around the time this one did) covers much the same plot. Not to say the proceedings aren't fun, because they are. But at the end of the day, this episode isn't very original. Originality isn't one of the show's strengths. Actually, I'd score this episode a bit higher were it not for the very stereotypical voice of the Ancient One. Whoever thought it was okay in this day and age to cast a character like some old Charlie Chan movie needs to get up to speed. Considering 4Kids' treatment of their anime properties, maybe I shouldn't expect much else. I'm not one for fart jokes, and didn't care for this particular aspect of the character.
So there's a few flaws and annoyances, but overall this is a good start to the second half of the season.