One Step Forward, Two Steps Back is the ninth episode of the twelfth season of Ninjago and the 137th episode overall. It aired on April 18, 2020, in Asia and Australia, paired up with "Racer Seven." It aired in the US on August 9, 2020.
Extended: Having obtained the first Key-tana, the ninja enter the second of Prime Empire's game zones, Terra Technica, where they learn that the second Key-tana can only be won by winning a dangerous race called the Speedway Five-Billion. The ninja realize that they don't have enough game credits to enter the race but can earn credits by entering a dance competition.
At Ninjago City, Zane, P.I.X.A.L., and Master Wu walk through the streets of the city, following the directions to Milton Dyer's childhood home through his records. Zane says that there might be a chance that his parents might still be living there and P.I.X.A.L also adds that hopefully, they could help them. Zane says that from what Unagami is doing, he is a criminal, so they have no choice. Wu tells him that they must handle this in the right way, which Zane agrees.
Knocking on the door to the apartment, Mrs. Dyer opens it and asks if they need help. Wu says if they could meet Milton Dyer. Mrs. Dyer becomes surprised and asks if they really do know her son, which Zane responds to with a no, in some way. He explains the situation of Prime Empire and that it is important that they find him. Mrs. Dyer recognizes her son's talent of games, making P.I.X.A.L. realize that she does not know where Milton Dyer is. She confirms this and welcomes them inside, thinking that maybe they could find something that would help them find out where he is.
Inside Milton's old bedroom, Mrs. Dyer tells them that she never thought her son could make a career of video games, and how since making the last game, Prime Empire, they have not seen him. P.I.X.A.L. shows Zane a photo of Milton and his friend graduating, they ask if that was Milton and who that was with him. She says yes, but does not remember who that friend was. Before they leave, Mrs. Dyer asks them to tell Milton Dyer that they miss him.
Back inside Prime Empire, Jay welcomes the team to Terra Technica. He explains that the Yellow Key-Tana is here and the only way to achieve it is to enter and win the Speedway Five-Billion. Wanting to know what that was, they watched on a giant screen of the race going on, also witnessing the danger it held. The team then goes to register the race by talking to the Admin Droid, a helping robot that gives people advice in racing and also registers players to the race. Asking to enter the Speedway Five-Billion, the Admin Droid tells them the entry fee is 200 credits each and since the team of five is entering, it would cost 1,000 credits. The ninja pull out their credits, which everyone held an average amount, except for Kai, who has 12 credits. Wanting to know what he had spent most of his credits on, Kai shows them that he had spent it on a new avatar. Changing into his avatar, Kai turns around and shows them the details, with Jay being the only one impressed. As Nya tells them they need to find a way to get more credits and that they are 317 credits short, they are all ambushed by Red Visors, forcing them to fight.
As they fight, Nya notices that there weapons are being damaged. Knowing that it will cost credits to upgrade them, she tells her friends not to do so. However, Jay's kusarigama breaks when being surrounded by a group of Red Visors, forcing him to spend 100 credits to upgrade it. He is able to take the enemy out but is told off by his team for spending his credits. As they begin looking for a quest that pays, the same TV announces a dance competition is being held and the winners receive 500 credits.
At the competition, Nya and Jay compete together as a dance couple. Believing Jay is a bad dancer, Kai, Cole, and Lloyd, think they stand a low chance of winning. Once the competition begins, Jay and Nya get off to a good start with their moves from Dancy Pants and previous dance lessons, surprising their friends. They both notice another couple dancing and are doing just about as good as them. Noticing how worried Jay is, Nya tells them they have something as an advantage, chemistry. The two begin to step it up, getting them more points. Knowing how well they are doing, the dancers from earlier make their way to them. One of the rivals pulls Jay aside and threatens him before pushing him back to Nya. Kai, Lloyd, and Cole congratulate their friends and encourage them.
As the competition goes on, the theme changes and two dancers mess up, disqualifying them. Cole jokes around by picking up Kai and dances with him, giving them "tips" while Kai hits him. Another pair messes up their groove, losing their place in the competition as well. The dancers that threatened Jay and Nya earlier shove another pair of dancers over, throwing them out of the game too. Feeling threatened by Jay and Nya, one of the rivals attempts to kick them out by kicking Nya in the heel, making them both realize that they are cheating to win.
Red Visors appear at the scene, getting the attention of Kai, Lloyd, and Cole. Knowing that they were here to kill them and that Nya and Jay are close to winning, they go to fight the Red Visors and keep them busy.
Hearing gunshots in the crowd, Nya and Jay see Kai defeat two Red Visors, only to run out of view while being chased by more. Some of the Red Visors' attention gets caught by the pair and they try to shoot them. Seeing that they were so close to winning, Jay and Nya use the Red Visors as an advantage by fighting them while also dancing, getting them more points and messing up the other dancers' moves, the ones who were cheating, much to their annoyance. Cole gets cornered by three Red Visors and, for the first time in years, performs the Triple Tiger Sashay and defeats them.
Jay and Nya see only 30 seconds remaining, more Red Visors are approaching, and the other dancers are ahead of them by at least 1,000 points. Knowing that in order to win, they must perform a big dance move, Nya jumps at the Red Visors and kicks them away, telling Jay to catch her. Jay panics, knowing that they never performed that move. Nya denies this and says that she trusts him, as she runs at him. Jay then tosses Nya in the air, spinning her around until Jay holds her up by the foot, then throws her back up. As she spins again, Jay then catches Nya by the hands while she is upside down and they spin, tripling their points. As they perform the move, Jay happily announces his love for Nya, again, and she smiles at him.
Their points make it up to 99,999 as the competition ends. As they win their 500 credits, another Red Visor appears to attack them but is trampled by the crowd rushing to Jay and Nya and toss them up and down in the air. As the Red Visor tries to get up, Kai gets his attention and punches him in the face.
They return to the Admin Droid, who was watching a video, ready to pay the entry fee. The Admin Droid collects their credits and asks for their team name to race. Jay speaks up and says their name is "The Fast Chickens," much to everyone's confusion. The Admin Droid tells them to get their vehicles ready by dawn. Knowing they need to get their own vehicles by tomorrow, Jay, along with Kai, switches to their Digi robes and tells them he knows a place where they can get some mobiles. As they leave, the Red Visors appear again. One contacts Unagami and tells them they have entered the race. Unagami tells them that if they need vehicles to enter the race, he knows who they can get them from, and orders them to find Scott.
- Admin Droid - Michael Adamthwaite
- Cole - Kirby Morrow
- Dance-Bot Announcer - Paul Dobson
- Game Narration - Adrian Petriw
- Jay - Michael Adamthwaite
- Kai - Vincent Tong
- Lloyd Garmadon - Sam Vincent
- Mrs. Dyer - Mary Black
- Nya - Kelly Metzger
- P.I.X.A.L. - Jennifer Hayward
- Red Visors - Sam Vincent
- Unagami - Dean Redman
- Wu - Paul Dobson
- Zane - Brent Miller
- Dancy Pants (indirectly mentioned)
- Level 999 Stealth Barrier
- Prime controllers
- Samurai X suit
- Yellow Key-Tana (mentioned)
- Prime Empire
For the transcript of the episode, click here.
- Narrator: Nya
- In Japan, the episode is narrated by both Jay and Nya, with Jay saying the first part of the title and Nya saying the second part.
- One of the dancers resembles Dogshank in "The Tall Tale of Dogshank."
- The phrase "one step forward, two steps back" means a situation where progress is made but even more progress is lost. In the context of this episode, it refers to dancing.
- When asked if the two female avatars participating together in the dance competition in this episode are a same-sex couple, Tommy Andreasen said it is up to the viewer to decide.
- Cole makes a reference to the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, when he says "Nobody puts Cole in a corner."
- This episode marks Master Wu's first physical appearance since "Awakenings."
- This episode marks the first (and only) appearance of Kai's avatar, and also marks the final appearance of Jay's one.
- This episode marks Jay's first appearance in his Digi suit.
- Cole performs the Triple Tiger Sashay successfully for the first time since "All of Nothing," when he first performed it in a battle.
- This episode references to one of the Prime Empire Original Shorts, "Let's Dance."
- This is the first episode to focus heavily on dancing since "The Royal Blacksmiths."
- It is unknown whether Milton Dyer's father is alive or not, because Zane says that both of his parents still live in Milton's childhood home, although he does not show up at the house later.
- Jay asks if he can have an avatar when he sees Kai's, even though he already has one. However, he may be referring to the fact that he wanted one that looked like Kai's.
- When Lloyd uses the tire against the Red Visors, his shoulder pads disappear and then appear again.
- A sign advertising the dance competition written in Ninjargon mistakenly spells the word "one" as "qne."
- Jay and Nya earn 99,999 points by the end of the round, however, it seems points are given in increments of 50.
- This may be due to 99,999 being the max number of points obtainable.
- Adrian Petriw was credited for voicing Scott in this episode despite Scott not speaking in the episode.
For the gallery of the episode, click here.