As discussed previously, the TMNT season finale brought the battle with the Kraang to a close … somewhat. The story didn’t have to be anything spectacular, because ultimate battle could be all action without requiring the same elements as other episodes (like character development, new plot points, etc.). Anything extra is just a bonus that takes the production up a notch. “Showdown” proved to be a better than average finale in its storytelling because it addressed most of the show’s plot elements,while opening itself to future development. The revelation of Karai, the survival of the Technodrome, and the return of General Traag all gave the show extended life for the next two years.
It’s always exciting when a show calls back to its own continuity. A season finale should bring all previous episodes full circle, and subtlety is the best way to accomplish that. Throwing in small, meaningful elements from the months past (such as Metalhead, the Kraang power core, the Karai/April fight, and the mousers) gave the finale that sense of completion. It showed that this was, in fact, the end of all those other plot points, and the show can move forward successfully without them, even though they may form the basis of one or two future episodes.
“Showdown” also added a character moment that could not have been foreseen, and gave the episode a larger than life feel. Splinter’s words about sacrifice brought Leonardo’s training to a head. The mark of a true leader is being able to complete the mission, and not asking anything of the troops that he or she would not also be willing to take on. When Splinter first said that someone may need to be sacrificed, the thought was probably that Leo would give up one of his brothers or April or Kirby (with Kirby being the greatest possibility, since he’s a character that has been all but nonexistent in the show so far, and things could have carried on just fine without him). However, when Leonardo decides that he should take one for the team, it shows that he is the leader Splinter knew he could be, which will help him in the future. (Though it would have been amazing for season two if Leo had been absent for several episodes, giving the impression that he had been killed, only to show up unexpectedly and save the day.)
The season finale did have its negative aspects, though. First, there was no sense of finality. Even though it’s obvious from the beginning that the Kraang are never going to be destroyed, it would have been nice if the Technodrome hadn’t been immediately revived. Let the audience believe that the bad guys were defeated, if just for a couple episodes. Second, renewing the show for two seasons early on sucked some of the energy from this season’s end. It’s hard to get excited for a final battle when it’s already established that this was in no way the end. The lingering plot points didn’t have to be addressed at all because of this (anyone know yet why exactly April is special, or what happened to Leatherhead if General Traag returned to Earth?), which made this feel like nothing more than an average episode. If the future of the show was still hanging in limbo, then this hour would have definitely been something much more special.
Overall, the finale was very good (perhaps not great, but it didn’t have to be). As a way to wrap up everything that’s happened over the past season, it was effective, and still left enough loose ends for the writers to draw on in the coming years. The story was sound, the characters all got their appropriate airtime, and the little goodies for continuity were outstanding. While renewing the show so early may have hurt the finale a little bit, it was not enough that it took away from the battle or what the show had accomplished this season.