It’s finally back! After a long wait, TMNT is finally back with new episodes, and this first episode really feels like a return to form. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the galactic adventures of the last volume, and it’s been fun seeing the Turtles and company save the world in various ways. To me, however, the Turtles have always been at their best when the fight is personal, and located in New York City. That the episode is entitled “City at War”, itself a major arc in Turtles lore, seems to be the writers signaling to fans that this volume will be going back to the roots of the series. And you can count me as excited.
“City at War” definitely acted as a introduction to the new status quo of Season 4. Taking the time to do some world building and character development, as we step away from the turtles in space scene, was a good decision. When last we left off, the Turtles, April, Casey and their younger selves were able to defeat the Triceratons and Shredder, and save Splinter and the world. While their younger selves set off for their own space adventure, the now current Turtles and friends went home.
We pick up a few weeks later, with Leo narrating, informing the audience that without the Triceratons, Kraang, and Shredder, things have calmed down in the NYC. So much so, that Splinter decides to initiate April formally into Clan Hamato, and make her a kunoichi. I love that their bringing the series back into a martial arts perspective, and doing so through the lens of April is a cool idea. More over, seeing April struggle with her new title, and the skills of new character Shinigami, was welcome. Last volume, April felt like a walking deus ex machina, her powerful psychic abilities acting as a get out of trouble free card. April’s character will really benefit from a more grounded arc.
Shinigami is looking like a great addition so far too. Using the mystical side of the TMNT universe gave us some great visuals in the episode and I’m sure will continue to entertain. Revealing that Shinigami was not, in fact, a new henchman for the Shredder, but rather a partner for Karai, was a nice, if brief, twist early in the episode. I’m happy they got to the point where Karai is taking the initiative to bring honor back to the Foot Clan. This is an important motivation in all interpretations of the character and I’m interested to see how the youngest version will bear this burden, as well as deal with her snake transformation.
Who knows what different “gangsters and super villains” will appear to fill the power vacuum Shredder left? Maybe we’ll have the return of the Purple Dragons? Whoever it is, they didn’t wait long to show that Shredder is still a player. I didn’t realize how beat up Shredder was. I had to go back and watch the fight with Splinter from last episode. Splinter certainly did a number on him, hitting him in various pressure points to disable him, but the reveal at the end of “City at War” really made it look like he got caught in another fire or something. We know that Splinter has mystical powers in this iteration of the TMNT, and it did look like Shredder had bruise and burn marks where Splinter attacked his vitals. It seems we haven’t seen the full strength of Master Splinter, a possibility that is very intriguing.
Watching Stockman pump Shredder full of mutagen was a chilling site. Who knows what he’s going to look like when he’s fully healed? Will we get this iteration’s version of Super Shredder? Or will it be a completely new transformation? I’m definitely looking forward to that reveal.
“City at War” was a great welcome back to Nick’s TMNT. It set up new conflicts, introduced a new character, and began new character arcs for April and Karai. It acts as a symbol that the show is returning to the roots of what make the TMNT great: family, honor, and the defense of one’s home. With the new status quo set, and a firm focus on the martial and mystical arts, “City at War” starts off the second half of Season 4 on strong footing. I for one am very excited to see it hit stride.