In Over Their Heads: “The Shredder Strikes” Part Two
30 June 2010 4 Comments
“None of you will leave here alive” — The Shredder
Written by: Michael Ryan
Original Air Date: April 19, 2003
Recap Narrator: Leonardo
Teaser: Leo recaps the events of last episode, focusing specifically on how each successive encounter was more challenging than the last, and how the upcoming encounter with the Shredder may prove to be the hardest of all.
Rain pours. After a few would-be parting words to the turtles, The Shredder orders his ninja to attack. As his foot soldiers keep the turtles busy and distracted, he is free to attack his foes unopposed.
Eventually, a flung sword hits a power generator, causing it to explode. As a fire quickly spreads through the roof, Leo and Raph try double-teaming the Shredder, but he easily counters both their attacks.
Inside the turtles’ lair, Splinter has just finished meditating on the matter of the Shredder and is ready to give them his answer. As he looks for his sons, the ninja master concludes that they’ve done exactly what he’d told them not to do: face the Shredder. He sets out after them, but not before picking the controller for the Battle Shell.
Back at the rooftop, the Foot have taken the upper hand. As the Shredder prepares to kill an unarmed and helpless Leo, the conflagration causes parts of the building’s roof to collapse, separating the turtles from their opponents and each other, and causing them to fall to the street.
As Don regains his bearings, he notices Mikey nearby, whose legs had been trapped under some rubble and has hurt his ankle. After freeing his brother, Don lends him his bo staff and tries to help him walk. They don’t get far when they notice the Shredder exiting the burning building, unaffected by the flames surrounding him. As he is rejoined by his Foot Ninja, Saki orders them to find the turtles. They hear the sirens from approaching police and fire trucks, and so the ninja vanish from the scene.
As he avoids the Foot Ninja searching for him, Leo retrieves his swords and sets out to find his brothers. Not far away, Raph exits the dumpster he’d fallen into when he fell from the roof and sets out to do the same.
After narrowly avoiding the Shredder and his ninja, Don and Mikey enter an apartment’s bathroom to hide, and take the opportunity to search of something for Mikey’s injury. They eventually settle on a pair of pantyhose, and as Don uses the hosiery to immobilize his brother’s ankle, a kid enters the bathroom and notices the turtles. However, by the time he’s able to bring his mother into the room, the Don and Mikey have already left.
As two Foot Ninja search for their quarry, they notice the stink of trash, just before they’re knocked unconscious by Raph. As the turtle takes the time to see if he really does smell that bad, he’s grabbed by a pair of unseen hands. It’s Splinter.
Leo has been found by the Foot Ninja, and has been cornered into an alley dead end. As the ninja turtle prepares to defend himself, a man swoops down into the fray–one of the guardians. Smiling, he takes a glowing katana from his trenchcoat.
In an alley looking a lot like one where the turtles first fought the Foot Ninja back in episode one, Don and Mikey run into Raph and Splinter. After some inappropriate joking from Mikey, the group sets out to move, but it’s too late: the Foot Ninja have found them.
As Don and Raph fight off ninja, Splinter tries to summon the Battle Shell, hitting every button in the remote except the right one. Growing frustrated, Splinter hands the remote to Don; now free to join the fray, the rat ninja takes down the remaining Foot Ninja with ease.
We return to Leo, who watches as the newcomer fights off the Foot Ninja in the alleyway. Once his opponents are defeated, the stranger approaches Leonardo, and identifies himself only as “a Guardian”. He tells Leo that there is very little that he can tell the turtle, except that he and his brothers have been caught in a battle much bigger than themselves (which mirrors what Leo had been told last episode–the Guardian comments that it was the only true thing Saki had said during that encounter) and that by rejecting the Shredder, the turtles have made new allies. The two ninja shake hands.
The two new allies are joined by the Battle Shell, which has been driven by Donny and backseat-driven by Splinter. Before Leo can introduce his friend, however, he finds that the guardian has vanished.
With his sons now reunited safely inside their armored truck, Splinter slaps the turtles for their stupidity. He explains that with the hornet’s nest now stirred, they have no choice but to confront and defeat the Shredder. Hamato Yoshi will be avenged.
Later that night, the Shredder and his ninja find the Battle Shell parked next to a building. They jump their way into the building’s roof, where they find the turtles looking cool below a water tower and Splinter atop it. “Let the butt-kicking begin,” Raph declares.
Splinter watches and gives directions (or, as Don calls it, “backseat ninja-ing”) as his sons fight the Foot Ninja. Unfortunately for the turtles, the battle quickly turns into a replay of the first, with the Shredder eventually driving the turtles towards a wall. As Oroku Saki prepares for a finishing blow, he is stopped by Splinter.
As Shredder battles this new opponent, he drives him back towards the water tower. Splinter is more skilled than the turtles, however, and faster: the Shredder can’t land a blow, instead cutting the water tower’s support beams. Eventually, Shredder notices the tower teetering above him, but it’s too late: with a kick (punctuated by the words “This is for Master Yoshi!”) Splinter brings the entire structure crashing down, sending its contents gushing out. Helpless against the torrent water, the Shredder is sent flying into the streets, and can only watch as the falling tower crushes him.
With the Shredder defeated and Hamato Yoshi avenged, it is time for the turtles to go home, ignorant of the fact that seven stories below them, a fist has punched its way out of the rubble of a wrecked water tower…
One of the good things about this show’s liberal use of multi-parters is that it allows for episodes such as this one, which focus almost entirely on the action without feeling deprived in the plot development area. It also means that I don’t have much to say about it, which is a plus–less work for me!
While this episode isn’t terribly hot–it’s surpassed in almost every conceivable way by its follow-up, “The Shredder Strikes Back”–it still has some notable details.
The first really notable thing is how tough the Shredder is. The turtles barely manage to lay a hand on him, only managing to hit him once while his back is turned. Even Splinter has a hard time during a straight-up fight (as we’ll better see in “The Shredder Strikes Back”) resorting instead to outright trickery in order to win. This formidableness will remain consistent through the series, and will allow the character to avoid villain decay.
This episode also sets up the way in which the Shredder will be defeated in future episodes by establishing his Foot Ninja as a vital part of his fighting strategy. While he’s still formidable without them, his ability to use them to draw fire away from himself is what renders him untouchable. Remove them, and fighting him becomes easier (but never easy) due to sheer numbers–it’s a nice aversion to the law of conservation of ninjutsu, and a nice way to give some bite back to the mooks.
While last episode established that Splinter is not motivated entirely by revenge (unlike his comic book counterpart) here we see that while it’s not his main priority, revenge is definitively still on the agenda. Its a nice contrast to most cartoons, which tend to take “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind” as a basic tenet; while I do believe that the idiom holds true most of the time, I’m glad that avenging Master Yoshi by killing the Shredder is seen as a net positive here (it’s not, as we eventually see–at least as things currently stand), and that the turtles are allowed to want to kill their enemies, as in the original comic books. All well and good, except for one thing: the actual “killing” just doesn’t come off very convincingly. Even if you take away the final scene, having a water tower fall on somebody just doesn’t seem like something that would kill someone in a cartoon–we’ve seen characters survive far worse. Yes, we all know he can’t be killed off yet no matter what, but the resolution here feels tamer than it could be–why not check the body, and stab him afterwards to make sure he’s dead? It wasn’t until future episodes that I realized that the turtles assumed the Shredder dead, which undermines the entire scene.
* This episode is the last part of the show’s adaptation of the first issue of the original comic book. The first part (the turtles’ origin) was adapted in episode three; the second (Hamato Yoshi’s story) was covered last episode; this one covers the final part, the turtles’ first confrontation with the Shredder, resulting in his “death”.
* The events of this episode will eventually be revisited in the show’s sixth season, in which we learn what happened to the Shredder immediately after he got out of the water tower, and worse still, that apparently Splinter’s gambit did nothing to harm him.
* One of the oft-mentioned complaints about the first few seasons is how blade-wielding characters are never seen using these weapons directly on their enemiesEm. While this is usually the case here, you can actually see Leo and the Guardian slashing some Foot Ninja in a few shots.
* Splinter’s comments that he instructed the turtles not to fight the Shredder strike me as odd, and a bit of a continuity error. While yes, he has warned them repeatedly not to engage the Foot, and had told them that he had not told them about the Shredder because they did not want them to try to engage him, the fact remains that the turtles did not particularly hide their intentions last episode after he’d told them of Yoshi–he’s right there when they talk about what their response to his invitation will be? What the heck was he expecting, then?
* Splinter’s attempts to activate the Battle Shell continue to develop an idea set up in the first episode, that Splinter is rather hopeless with technology. This is the last we really see of it, however, and in Turtles Forever we actually see Splinter activating the Turtle Hauler’s missiles with little trouble. Guess that time in the year 2105 forced him to do some learnin’.
* One of the nicer details of the episode is how Raphael is continuously watching his brother’s backs, saving them from the Shredder’s attacks at least twice. It’s a nice, subtle character detail that feels perfectly appropriate for the character.
* Last episode, Hun was left unconscious inside the building whose roof the turtles and the Shredder are initially fighting in. Given that he eventually turns up alive and well, one can assume that he regained consciousness at some point and was able to escape before the building burned up. If so, one wonders where exactly he went to.
* The quote at the top of the post will eventually becomes a catch-phrase of sorts for the Shredder. While the phrase its sort of awkward–it’s basically a way of saying “I’ll kill you all” without having to say “death”, “die” or “kill”, I like it quite a bit.
So, not much to say after all. Next time, we catch a breath, and we learn a very important thing about the TMNT-verse.