Evil Shows Its Face: “The Shredder Strikes” Part One

Author’s note: Given that there’s a lot to say about this episode, the actual analysis part of this episode won’t be up until tomorrow.

*          *          *

“But now you need to know who Saki–The Shredder–really is. He serves no great purpose; he fights no great evil–he is great evil. Any endeavor he undertakes he does for his own selfish gain.— Splinter

He who lives without honor will end without honor. — Hamato Yoshi

“Those who are not with me are against me! And I crush anyone who stands against me!” — The Shredder

Written by:Michael Ryan
Original Air Date: April 12, 2003
Teaser Narrator: Leonardo
Introduces: Hamato Yoshi

Synopsis: As thunder falls, the turtles face the Shredder for the first time. Leo narrates that Master Splinter constantly tells them that, given a choice, they always take the harder path, and reflects how the harder path always seems to choose them.

Theme.

Inside the lair, the turtles are holding a sparring session with their weapons. As they try to get each other out, they extol the virtues of their weapons of choice. In the end, Leonardo wins, and as he speaks of the superiority of the katana, he and the others are approached by Splinter.

After congratulating Leonardo on his victory, the rat master asks him why he thinks he won. Leonardo answers that it is due to his superior weapon, and quotes Miyamoto Musashi for extra teacher’s pet points. Splinter is not impressed, saying that “Many things are said, but few are true.” He orders Leonardo to attack him with his katana, and as the turtle reluctantly does so, the rat, armed only with his walking stick, effortlessly deflects his student’s strikes, disarming the turtle. He tells Leo that a weapon is only as deadly as the hand that wields it and declares that until he has learned this, he has learned nothing.

Some time later, Leo stands at a rooftop taking out his frustrations on a stack of newspapers (which he throws in to the air, and then slices as the different sheets of paper float back down), when an unseen attacker (a Foot Ninja) throws an arrow at him. The turtle deflects the arrow, and notes that it has a sheet of paper attached to it, telling him that he has passed the first test, and asking him to show up alone at 16th South Boyle. Leo decides to obey, not knowing that he’s being watched, and followed, by his three concerned brothers.

As Donny, Mikey, and Raph arrive at the rendezvous point, they watch (and only watch–they can’t hear what’s being said) through a skylight as Leo arrives and gets attacked by thirteen Foot Ninja. After he makes short work of his foes, he is approached by another man…The Master. He compliments Leonardo on his skill and introduces himself as Oroku Saki, 8th generation Master of Ninjitsu (whatever that means–the important thing is that I can finally refer to him by name). He asks for Leonardo’s name, which the ninja turtle gives.

After heaping some more praise upon Leonardo, Saki gets down to business: despite the turtles’ recent battles with his ninja, he believes that his group and the turtles should be on the same side, fighting their true enemy. “There is a force, a corrupt and evil force that is out there, right now, working its insidious tentacles into every aspect of our world. [Cue the leitmotif for the group that had been watching the turtles and The Foot in “The Way of Invisibility“] It is an organization devoted to obtaining power through crime, political manipulation, corruption on a global level.” The only thing stopping them? Saki and his “humble” army of ninja. “It has been my destiny to fight for the side of good; I was hoping that you would find it in your heart to join me and fight against this evil.” He tells Leonardo that they have until tomorrow to choose, and presents the turtle with a gift: a centuries-old katana crafted by 16th century swordsmaster Toji Kuwahara (or however it’s spelled–Leo and Saki pronounce the name differently), a sword which Leonardo actually knows of and holds some respect for. Saki dismisses the turtle and disappears into the shadows.

As Leonardo exits the building, we see that his brothers were not the only ones eavesdropping on his conversation with Saki: the two men in trenchcoats whom we last saw in “The Way of Invisibility” have also been monitoring the encounter, and report to the council (the three people speaking with the same voice) that while Saki has made contact with Leonardo, they do not know the conversation’s outcome. The three council members tell their subordinates to continue watching the turtles: if they indeed join Saki, they may be forced to kill them.

Leonardo has just returned to the rooftops, and is admiring his new sword when he is confronted by his brothers, who are none too satisfied with Leo’s new associates. Leo tries to get them to give Saki a chance, arguing that joining them could provide them a chance to work towards a greater good, but the others are not convinced. Raph accuses Leo of selling out, and violently takes the Kuwahara sword away from Leonardo, leading to an all-out tussle between both turtles, which ends when Leo throws Raph off the roof. Fortunately, the ninja turtle if fine–he managed to get one of his sai lodged inside the wall and stop his fall–but the result is enough to convince Leo to speak to Master Splinter.

We transition to the lair, where the turtles have told Splinter of the night’s events. The rat master is saddened by what he hears, since it forces him to tell his sons something he’d hoped to keep hidden. As he holds the piece of the Foot Ninja outfit Mikey had retrieved in “Darkness at the Edge of Town“, he tells the turtles that he’s always known who these ninja they kept facing were–he knows their name, he knows of their leader Oroku Saki, and he knows of  Saki’s other name: the Shredder. Now it is time to tell them the whole story.

Splinter tells his sons of his former owner Hamato Yoshi, a ninja master living in New York and Splinter’s accidental teacher (as Yoshi practiced the martial arts, Splinter [still not a mutant] would often imitate him, until he too knew ninjitsu). One day, Yoshi was attacked inside his home by a squadron of Foot Ninja, one that included Hun and the Shredder. Despite Yoshi’s resistance, they overpowered him and tortured him for information about their enemies, which they believed he aided. However, after they proved unable to break him, Shredder orders Hun to kill Yoshi. Hun fails, however: Splinter, which had been freed in the initial struggle, jumps towards the Foot Liutenant and slashes him in the face, leaving behind Hun’s distinctive scars. However, it’s a temporary victory, as Hun throws the tiny rat through an open window, and although Splinter manages to hold on, he can only watch as Yoshi is killed anyway by an impatient Shredder. Demoralized, homeless and masterless, Splinter walked through the streets of New York until that fateful day when a T.C.R.I. truck almost ran into a blind man.

Splinter explains that he wished not to tell them of this story because he felt that it would poison their training with thoughts of revenge and weight down their hearts with sorrow, but now that knowledge has proven necessary: they need to know that the Shredder is evil, and that no good will come from associating with him. Leo is contrite; he feels a fool for trusting Saki. His brothers console him by telling him that he was just told what he wanted to hear by an opponent who knew how his mind worked. They decide they will confront the Shredder and tell him of their decision.

At the appointed meeting place–the rooftop above the Foot base–the turtles face a squadron of Foot Ninja.  Leonardo publicly rejects Saki’s offer, throwing the Kuwahara sword into one of those spinning ventilator-thingies roofs occasionally have. Upon hearing this, the Foot Ninja strike.

As the turtles deal with their enemies, they again commiserate on the effectiveness of each of their weapons, causing Leo to repeat Master Splinter’s lesson: a weapon is only as good as whomever wields it.  Soon, all their enemies lie defeated…until Hun makes his appearance.  He makes quick work of the turtles, leaving only a weapon-less Leo standing. Hun picks up the discarded Kuwahara sword, and as he prepares to make a finishing blow, Leo uses a desperate bicycle kick that manages push Hun back, until the man-mountan falls through the building’s skylight and into the floor below.

Nearby, the two guardians have witnessed these events. They report to the council that the turtles have rejected the Shredder’s offer. The council notes that this does not yet mean that the turtles can be made their allies.

The turtles regroup, but there’s little time for rest: a new group of Foot Ninja have arrived, and with them, the Shredder and a tag that reads “To be continued”…

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3 Responses to Evil Shows Its Face: “The Shredder Strikes” Part One

  1. Pingback: In Over Their Heads: “The Shredder Strikes” Part Two « Monsters of New York

  2. Pingback: Sibling Friction: “Her Brother’s Keeper” « Monsters of New York

  3. Pingback: Rest, Recuperation and “Reflections” | Monsters of New York

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