TMNT – “Tale of the Yokai” Review
“Yokai? This cannot be.” – Oroku Saki (Shredder)
After being dumped through time in Japan, the turtles find themselves on the run from ninjas of the Hamato clan, Splinter’s former group. However, they are even more surprised to come face-to-face with a young Oroku Saki. During the surprise, the boys escape and try to figure out where they are in time. They inadvertently arrive at Master Splinter’s old dojo and find a human Hamato Yoshi side-by-side with Oroku Saki.
The brothers – Yoshi and Saki – begin sparring, but soon start arguing about loyalties and love. While the turtles question the reason for their arrival in this particular time and try to find some food, an unsuspecting Tang Shen and baby Miwa stumble upon them in the forest. Startled, Miwa begins crying, drawing both Saki and Yoshi to the turtles’ location. Saki scares the boys off, then tries to win Tang Shen back from Yoshi. Unfortunately, Yoshi sees the events unfold, as do the turtles.
While the boys contemplate ending the threat of the Shredder before it can ever be born, Donatello checks on any possible effects their presence has had on the time stream. With Casey Jones fading from their memory, the turtles set out to correct history’s course. They confront Shen and bend her ear about Shredder and Splinter, however time still strays, and April disappears as well. The only choice left is to take out Shredder.
However, while the boys set their plan in motion, Saki seeks his own revenge on the Hamato clan, and the Foot rises. The turtles go head-to-head with the Foot clan while Saki goes after Yoshi and the Hamato clan’s dojo. Dispatching the Foot, the boys arrive just in time to see Shen running into the burning dojo – and Saki strike her down. As the Hamato dojo burns, a battered Saki takes Miwa and disappears into the night. The turtles pull Splinter from the wreckage, but his family is gone and history is set right. Finally, Renet returns and takes the boys back home to be with their family again.
The time travel element of the prior two episodes was a great break from the story that had become a bit monotonous over the prior two-and-a-half seasons. Seeing the events of Splinter’s past first-hand, and knowing that the turtles were always destined to be a part of the story was a nice touch. However, there were two big problems: First, it didn’t last nearly long enough, and second, it would have been very cool if the writers hadn’t fallen into the same time travel cliché. An entire season could be built around time travel (and not in a TMNT: Fast Forward way). The turtles could go to the past, present, future, and everywhere in between to become the true turtle warriors of legend.
But, it would have at least been nice to see something change from their interference. It seems like every time a show does a time travel plot, there’s always a race to not change history. Why not actually let it change? What if they had finished off Shredder? What if they had arrived seconds earlier, and saved Tang Shen as well? There are many possibilities, and while it’s understandable why the writers didn’t choose to change history, this was the perfect place for a risk that could have defined this particular TMNT incarnation as an even more unique chapter in the franchise.
While it’s sad to see the time travel come to an end (hopefully just for now), there are only six episodes remaining for the season, which means the action back in NYC is likely to be ramped up as much as possible in the coming weeks. There is still Karai to deal with, and Shredder’s mind control to break. Plus, while the Kraang have been defeated, it’s unlikely they’ll stay away permanently, and with a trip to space coming next season, the Triceratons or Lord Dregg could be only mere weeks from making their first appearance, possibly setting their sights on Earth. Who knows what’s to come still, but it will be one heck of a ride to the season finale.