TMNT – “End Times” Review
Just like that, the threat of a resurrected Shredder and an unleashed Kavaxas has been dealt with. Maybe it’s because this is the first mini-arc of the Tales era of Nick’s TMNT, but “End Times” felt a little rushed and tonally mixed. The first three episodes of the season had a deliberate pace, one that was familiar to the rest of the series. Suddenly, “End Times” put the whole arc into over drive. Shredder was revived (even the Turtles were surprised), Xever had abandoned the foot, Kavaxas is betraying Tiger Claw in order to rule the world, and everyone (good guys and bad guys alike) are teaming up.
It’s almost as if the first three episodes were created before the team knew the show was ending after this season. It definitely seemed like Kavaxas was going to be a big part of the whole season and, for life long TMNT fans, it must be pretty surprising to see Shredder not permanently resurrected. Yet here we are; everything introduced in the previous three episodes neatly tied up with a bow and an upbeat, almost season ending, ending. It’s a little conflicting.
The four episode arc was enjoyable overall. It’s always a pleasure hearing Mark Hamill voice act. We got some pay off for Leo seeing Splinter so much, with the whole family being reunited one last time at the end. The writers threw a curveball by having Mikey, not April, wind up being the one to control Kavaxas, much to the evil demon’s surprise. It’s always nice when they subvert our expectations like that, and it’s an added bonus for Mikey to get another heroic moment. There was also a nice Ghostbusters vibe throughout the end of the episode, with Donatello forging his own kind of proton packs.
Side note: Best line of the episode goes to Leo for explaining to Casey, “We just don’t trust you with anything that shoots anything, especially lasers!”
Moving onto the tone of the episode, while the themes remained dark, the tone itself felt way more silly. We’ll find out if this is a larger pivot for the rest of the season, or if this was just the way for the production team to keep it light for the audience. Being totally honest, Zombie Shredder was creepy, especially when Leo cuts his arm and head off and they make their way back to the body! The goofiness was ok in comparison (things like Mikey’s bubblegum dance to save the day were fun), but it still created a large shift from the previous three episodes, and even the previous season.
The more I think about it, the more the tone becomes a mixed bag. On one side you’ve got Leatherhead giving a booyakasha; on the other, you have Rahzar dying again (again!). For every Space Heroes: The Next Generation, there’s a Kavaxas caused apocalypse where all the dead are pouring out of the netherworld. I understand it’s to balance out the two, but whereas previous seasons used whole episodes as balance, or a couple moments within an episode, “End Times” felt like it was bouncing back and forth between constantly. Maybe this is just another side effect of the rushed pacing?
That being said, “End Times” was an enjoyable episode. It had the shows amazing fight sequences, a great send up to the Ghostbusters, the return of old (dead) enemies, and an actual reason for Splinter to return and see his family. And while the major threads of this arc were resolved, there’s still more to go on moving forward. We still have time to continue the exploration into April’s abilities. Leo is still struggling as Sensei, and the end of the episode really makes it seem like Splinter is gone for good this time. It will be interesting to see how our heroes cope.
All told, the Tales style has room to improve. Hopefully this was a test run for the new story arc organization, and we’ll get better pacing moving forward. With each tale focusing on a different theme/concept, and promises of a Usagi Yojimbo debut, the return of Renet, and a classic monster arc (think vampires, werewolves, etc), things are looking promising.