“The End.” The season finale. The funeral of Splinter. The end of the Shredder. When you think about it, there could be no more fitting title for this episode; “Owari,” translates to “The End.” This episode was quintessential TMNT. With a story that focuses on family, honor, spirituality, and revenge, “Owari” harkens back to issue #1. We get the Turtles at their best here.
Whereas the season as a whole has been far darker than previous ones, I wouldn’t describe “Owari” in the same way. This episode was mature. Beginning with the funeral of Splinter, the creative team sets a somber, yet beautiful tone. The patriarch of the series has fallen, and everyone is there to mourn. The fade away of each character, until only the Turtles remain is a powerful moment. Seeing Leo fade next raises the stakes. It’s unfair to say that Splinter’s death hit Leo the hardest, but it definitely weighs heavy on him. He was the one Splinter confided his fate to, and he probably feels guilt for not being able to save him.
The next scene was my favorite. Calling back to the original TMNT movie, where Splinter called out to Leo at the campfire, this takes the concept and runs with it. Splinter comes to Leo when he needs him the most. He informs him that Shredder is still alive and gives him the strength to face this challenge. It is a beautiful and well done scene. The way Splinter appears from everywhere and nowhere all at once signifies the supernatural element of the scene, but reinforces his message; in death he has become one. Or, to borrow a quote from the first movie, “I am here, my son.”
You would think the stakes were already high, but the visit with Karai remind the audience that they’re actually much higher. Karai is recovering, but in no shape to fight. The Turtles need her intel in order to stop Shredder and Michelangelo raises the stakes even higher: Shredder might come after Karai again, or April and Casey’s families.
With the Karai’s blessings and her information in toe, we get one of the more badass moments in the series: the preparation montage. There’s so much emotion packed into this quick bit. April has a moment with the fan Splinter gave her. Casey makes his brand new, more grown up (and classic) mask. Leo takes one of Splinter’s swords, the case marked with the Hamato family crest. Finally, that group pose at the end; does it get any cooler?
From here on out it’s around 12 minutes of solid ninja action. There are few animated series that do action better than this show. They’re never content to have a battle in one location. Rather, it’s set piece, after set piece, after set piece. We go from the forest, to underwater and lakeside, to Shredder’s private quarters, to Shredder’s dojo, to Tiger Claws quarters, and finally the rooftop (the pinnacle of Turtle set pieces).
Each fight has something new to offer too, and our heroes pull no punches. They tear through Footbots in the forest. Overcome the Elite Footbots underwater, while Raph nearly (probably/definitely?!?) kills Fishface! We then got a brief breather in Shredder’s private quarters, where the guys make quick work of Baxter Stockman. Michelangelo even transforms him back to human, which Mikey humorously points out Baxter didn’t thank him for.
The dojo scene was next and was a blast, oozing with danger, and let Donnie play to his strengths by hacking into the system. Then he pushes the envelope even more by not just saving his family, but also blasting Bebop and Rocksteady off screen! With those two out of the way, the groups next foe is Tiger Claw, who has replaced his lost hand with several detachable upgrades. A hand, a gun, claws similar to Shredder’s, there were many tricks up his sleeve, but the biggest one was a trap door that led to a pit of tigers! April got to shine in this fight, using her telekinetic abilities not only against Tiger Claw, but to save her and the guys from the very hungry tigers. Tiger Claw was ultimately dispatched by two arrows from Leo, causing his jetpack to malfunction and blast him off to parts unknown.
Side note: Was that a painting of Ninjara on Tiger Claw’s wall?
Finally, we come to the final fight. The big boss battle on the rooftop. The Turtles versus Super Shredder. Honestly, my descriptions are not going to do it justice. Just go watch it. There was some spectacular team work by the Turtles, disappearing and reappearing from all angles. Shredder’s brute strength continued to be intimidating and even how fast he was. Somehow his martial arts technique is still intact. The moment where Raph and Mikey chain down Shredder and Donnie goes in for the killing blow was another nice homage to the original comic, but Shredder stopped the blade at the last second. With the retro mutagen not working, it ultimately came down to just Leo vs Shredder. Boy what a showdown it was.
Leo almost reached Saki. Questioning whether it was Saki’s fate to be a demon, it looked for a moment that somewhere there was still humanity in Shredder. Leo used the opening to try and finish the fight, but that only triggered Shredder, who caught Leo’s arm and nearly broke it, before tossing him aside. Faced with death, Leo heard Splinter once again, pushing him and giving him the strength once again to overcome. The crossed blades in mid-air shot is such a classic, and it worked so well here. Having the fight end with Leo showing Shredder’s empty helmet to his brothers and friends was really impactful too.
I can’t say enough about this episode. Nickelodeon has already released the teaser trailer for Season 5 (you can watch it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ-n4k5DHlY/), but if this was how the series ended, I wouldn’t be mad. “Owari” was epic in every way; an emotional story with the best action, some moments of levity, and just enough teaser at the end to show that life goes on for our heroes. The best Turtle stories are the ones that focus on the familial conflict between Splinter and Shredder. They highlight honor and bonds, and the conflicts they create, through the visual artistry of martial arts and with a flair of spirituality. “Owari” hits all of these marks, and I believe it will ultimately stand with the company of giants, remembered as fondly as issue #1, the 1990 movie, and other classic storylines. The creative team on this show has hit such a stride, I can’t wait to see what Season 5 has in store.
Are you ready for Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?