TMNT – “The Super Shredder” Review
Wow, what an episode. It feels like “The Super Shredder” was a long time coming, both in the case of the hiatus finally coming to an end, but also all the foreshadowing of Splinter’s death in the season. Is this actually the end for Splinter and Shredder? I’m not sure we’ll get an answer to that right away. Plus, it looks like we’re getting another big fight episode next week, with Bebop and Rocksteady leading reinforcements to take on the Turtles, April and Karai closing the episode.
The episode as a whole was actually pretty dark. Besides the climactic fight between Shredder and Splinter that covered the final third of the episode, we saw the defeat of Karai’s Foot Clan, her capture and subsequent stringing up as bait, a couple close calls for the Turtles in the big subway fight set piece and against the Elite Foot Soldiers, and finally some truly disturbing mind games played by Shredder against Splinter. Throughout, this episode was focused and serious.
There was a little play for laughs in the beginning, with Bradford laying down to watch his own show, and Turtles and April relaxing to their own marathon Bradford session, but after that it was full steam ahead. Shredder’s transformation was gruesome, especially as it started to lose control later on. Splinter’s vision during their morning meditation left nothing to the imagination either; we were going to see Splinter fall down that pit.
The previously mentioned momentum was well served by the animation department this week. Having the episode travel to multiple locations helped to establish the feel of the episode. Splinter’s vision was unavoidable. Our heroes were not in control, they were on a ride. This was reinforced by Shredder’s command to Xever and Stockman to ensure “they follow the plan.” Shredder was in control, leading Splinter and the Turtles into trap after trap. Traveling from Shredder’s facility, to Karai’s hideout, to the subway, to the Under City (a location I practically forgot existed), reinforced this and gave some excellent set pieces for the showdowns that occurred.
Ultimately, this is an interesting plot development for the show and I hope the question lasts longer than just the next episode. The question, of course, is how will the Turtles get on after the loss of their father? The show has explored this before, through last season’s space adventure. But even though they were faced with new threats and went on crazy adventures, they always knew they were fighting to save Splinter and the Earth. They may have been without Splinter, but they had a clear path to getting back to him. How will they react this time, when their father (at least to their knowledge) is well and truly gone? And what will Shredder’s apparent death mean for America’s Foot Clan? We’ve seen in various iterations of the Turtles Karai, Raphael, and even Splinter take over as Master. With Splinter obviously not an option, will Karai be able to wrest control away from Tiger Claw (the obvious next in line as far as villains go), or will he be able to solidify power and continue the fight against our heroes? Maybe this is why Tiger Claw seeks out Kavaxas?
The loss of Splinter and Shredder is a huge development and a real opportunity to tell interesting stories moving forward. Some of the most interesting Turtle stories focus on the times when the Turtles are without their master. Hopefully the writers take advantage of this and don’t resolve this in the next episode.
“The Super Shredder” was an unrelenting and well paced episode, that leaned into traditional Turtle conflicts, while also introducing one of the best iterations of the mutated Oroku Saki. Not just a show of extreme strength, this was Shredder at his peak intellect, thirsty for revenge, and no longer patient in his pursuit of it. Thus, the Turtles were faced with a great challenge, and the resolution created some interesting avenues to explore moving forward. All in all, you couldn’t really ask for better.