The Third Act: “Return to New York”, part 1

Written by: Marty Isenberg and Michael Ryan
Original Air Date: September 27, 2003
Teaser Narrator: Raphael
Characters Introduced: Shredder Clones
Gargoyles episode I could make a forced comparison to: N/A

The Beats:

  • The gang returns to the sewers and find that the Foot no longer surrounds their lair, and apparently never discovered it.  They conclude, correctly, that the Shredder believes them dead, and decide to use the tactical advantage this provides to strike back at their enemies.
  • The turtles organize a two-pronged attack on the Foot Tower: April will disable their communications  and provide logistical support from the lair, while the turtles and Splinter will attack directly.
  • The turtles decide to bring the Sword of Tengu with them.
  • Using the Battle Shell as a decoy, the turtles manage to make inside the tower, but not before being identified by Hun.
  • In a vehicle hangar on the thirty second floor, the turtles are attacked by a trio of Foot Tech Ninja.  These are eventually defeated thanks to specialized shuriken created by Donny.
  • On the thirty-third floor, the turtles arrive at a Foot Genetics lab, where they are attacked by three mutants in Shredder garb.

Continuity Notes:


As you can probably tell from the “Continuity Notes” section, lots of plot points are beginning to come together at this point; “Return to New York” is the season’s climax, and, with a few tweaks, could have served as a more than adequate series finale.

That said, this isn’t a particularly plot-heavy episode, nor does it really need to be; one of the benefits of twenty-six episode seasons and continuous storylines is the ability to decompress and just do pure action once in a while, and while this isn’t the best the show has to offer in that department, it still makes for a fun time.

I actually saw this before I ever read the original storyline, and thinking about it, I’m surprised at how dissimilar they are, in the end.  This episode, in particular, shares almost nothing with its counterpart.  The original began in Northampton, with Raph leaving the other three turtles after a heated brawl with Leo.  After arriving in New York, he fights the Foot Clan in the sewers and runs into a Triceraton named Zog.  Only the last element makes it to the show, and as part of a different storyline–Triceratons haven’t been introduced in the show yet. Each version of the story works for each different incarnation.  Here, strife between the turtles and sudden additional guest stars wouldn’t really work–it’s the final battle, which means the turtles should be at their strongest, and the sequence should be free of distractions.

Random thoughts:

* When the series was airing for the first time, this was the episode where I first noticed the little Utrom on the Sword of Tengu.

* This is the first story where April gets designated as mission control for the turtles, with Casey as her teammate/bodyguard (although he’s actually never really needs to act in that capacity).  It’s a good dynamic for them both, and keeps them both as part of the action without involving them in the middle of it, a place in which they would feel extraneous.

* While I feel the various CGI assets used in the show generally work, I still think it’s totally hilarious the way the Battle Shell shifts from CGI to cel-based depending on the shot in its big action sequence.

* On a related note, for some reason I especially like the use of continuity involved in Hun’s recollection of the Battle Shell.  It’s something that’s completely natural, but still manages to feel exceptional–possibly because it’s the kind of conclusion that feels like it would have escaped any of the Shredder’s other lackeys in previous incarnations.


2 Responses to The Third Act: “Return to New York”, part 1

  1. Pingback: Guardians and Pigeon Puppets: “The Search for Splinter” Part One « Monsters of New York

  2. Pingback: Making a Name: The Ultimate Ninja | Monsters of New York

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