To begin, there must be an apology to anyone who wants to be surprised by the upcoming season, or who still wants to see what’s to come with their own eyes. There was a big reveal at New York Comic Con about the fate of Master Splinter. As every fan will recall, the season three finale included a terrible scene where after putting their differences aside to save the Earth, Shredder turned on his old foe at the last possible second and ran Splinter through, killing him on screen. With the Earth sucked through a black hole and the fate of everyone who disappeared with it still up in the air (it wouldn’t be out of the question for the world to be put back together somehow), there was some clarification on Splinter from the Executive Producers themselves. So close your eyes and cover your ears, because spoilers are on the way.
During the TMNT panel, Ciro Nieli and Bradon Auman told those present that Splinter will no longer be responsible for the turtles’ training because he did, in fact, die during that betrayal by Shredder. Master Splinter is gone, and even if the world is put back to normal somehow, he will not return. So what does this mean for the turtles and the show itself?
For the boys, it means coming to grips with death. It’s hard to know how everyone will react, but this isn’t the first time Splinter died or was presumed dead. In other incarnations of the TMNT universe, Splinter has flirted with death many times, and has even died on several occasions. So that in itself is nothing new. However, for this show – one that has constantly made sure characters come back and the status quo is returned relatively quickly – it’s quite the step in a new direction. There has been great need for something that will shake things up, and so to know that this was the huge step taken proves that the new season will, in fact, be stepping out on its own and reinventing the show.
For the show itself, this won’t be a bad thing. One of the faults of Master Splinter during the last two seasons was that he never really did much. He saw action in the finale and then maybe in one other episode during the season, but otherwise he was utilized almost exclusively as a mentor that only popped in when his extended absence would seem a little too strange. While no one should ever say that he served no purpose, his utilization steadily declined over the last two years, to the point where he seemed almost unnecessary to the show’s development. That’s problematic in itself, because if such an important character is essentially a superfluous element of the show, then something has to be done. This way, his death will likely serve a greater good, and drive his sons to become better ninjas.
While Splinter’s untimely demise does come as a shock, it may not be the worst thing for the show right now. Hopefully, however, there is proper tribute paid to his memory, and the lessons he left everyone with will drive them to become even greater than what they once were. Rest in peace, Master.