Friday, April 29, 2016

Initial Thoughts-Earths Last Stand.

Hey Turtle fans, welcome to initial thoughts of the TMNT.

This is a show where I can give my thoughts about the current episodes while I am catching up on a backlog of retrospective reviews. This can help me get my thoughts out on the episodes that are currently airing as means of catching up with the series, but still enabling me to give a more thorough look at the episode later.

These are my initial thoughts on the finale to the Turtles in Space arc: 'Earth's Last Stand'.

I have to say I really did enjoy this episode. It closed some open plot threads, introduced some concepts or possibilities that would come to light in future episodes, and also opens the door for a new arc. Maybe more than that.

In regards to Leo's behavior, I didn't find it out of character for him to lash out at the Fugatoid and attempt to take out the Triceraton's on his own. Leo has a determination driven character.

  • He is determined to save the Earth and Splinter. 
  • He is determined to protect his family from any danger. 
  • He is determined to see the mission completed. 

And sometimes he's so driven to succeed that he does act recklessly, even to the point of flying in the face of his own morals. As this season has progressed Leonardo has become increasingly more stressed by the task that he feels has been placed on his young shoulders. Over the past six month's he has had to lead his make-shift family into dangerous situations in order to obtain the pieces of the 'Heart of Darkness' before the Triceraton's do. He has faced off against alien threats that have tried to hinder their goal of saving the Earth and lost the pieces of the 'Heart of Darkness' to the enemy. Leo's greatest fear is his fear of failure, particularly failing his family. So he was already wound up rather tightly by this point.

I didn't find it all that surprising that the Fugatoid was the inventor of the 'Heart of Darkness'.

After all, in every incarnation he has appeared in, he has created or at the very least is involved in the creation of a device that he intends to be used for the purpose of good. But other people such as the Federation, Krang, or the Triceraton's see it as something they can use for their own selfish ends. The Fugatoid's involvement in the creation of the Heart of Darkness was notably hinted at in 'Arena of Carnage' when Emporer Zanraman was telling Honeycutt that he would spare the lives of the Turtles if he built the Heart of Darkness for him.

Still when Professor Honeycutt admits that he was the one who built the 'Heart of Darkness' and willingly sold it to the Kraang. The whole thing felt like one big slap in the face for the whole group, but for Leo especially. So it was only natural that he would accuse Fugatoid of being the cause of Earth's destruction.

All the Turtles and co were naturally shocked to hear this and yes they do lose trust for the Fugatoid following this. But Donnie, April, and Mikey also try to act as the voices of reason by pointing out that the professor had helped them numerous times and that he was trying to make amends for his past.

Moving forward in the episode to Leo's battle with the Triceraton's in the scout ship was intense and very well animated. Including the suspense of seeing Leonardo's helmet cracking and seeing Donnie use his space bo as a defibrillator in order to revive him. Though realistically the Ulixes would have had to rescue Leo when his helmet was beginning to crack in order to really save him.

I know Leo is the noble turtle and part of his nobility is him placing his families lives before his own.But I think the show should take a break with the death/ near death scenes with Leo and Splinter. While they do add to the drama, they have been done quite a few times over these last four season. Leo is particular has a fairly lengthy list of self-sacrifice and near death moments. And you can only drive a character death into the ground so many times before they become as pointless as funerals for superheroes.

However, this one near death held a lot of weight to it because of how his family reacted. One of the common themes in this series is the theme of family, and how the Turtles & Co must work together to stop the forces of evil as a family, not as individuals. Raph's angry comment of how a leader is supposed to lead a team really hits home in that moment. as it shows that the six of them are aware that they all they really have, and both Raph and Donnie are sick tired of seeing Leo needlessly putting himself at risk. Because whatever affects Leo, affects them all.

Meanwhile in the battle, there is a good chunk of footage from Annihilation: Earth. While this helps us figure out where things stand in the history of events leading up to the activation of the Black Hole Generator, it still felt like it was excessive padding that could have been used to focus on other events. Or if the footage needed to be used, have another point of view of it. Such as Mikey's reaction when he saw the stealth ship his brothers used to try and rescue him getting blown up, and then Raph pointing out they were okay because Donnie had conveniently picked up a transporter

Eventually, the battle features eight Turtles on the ground. With both the Turtles that went into outer space and the temporal copies of themselves on Earth. For the sake of confusion, I will call the Space Turtles: Team-A and the Temporal Copies: Team-B.

I'm not going to go into issues about what was right or wrong about the both Team-A and Team-B encountering each other. Because there aren't any set rules in regards to time travel aside from time being affected in some form.

But I can point to a story I enjoyed called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The story follows a shepherd boy named Santiago, who longs to see the world. He receives a reoccurring dream telling him that he shall find a great treasure. After selling his sheep he takes a journey to find this great treasure. But when he finally finds his treasure he finds it meaningless because he realizes that he was by far richer in taking the journey, then he would have been if he had simply known where the treasure had been to begin with.

Much like Santiago, the Turtle's journey to save the Earth had made them far stronger than they would have been if they had simply won the first time around. By failing to stop the Triceraton's the first time, Team-A got a firsthand look at what sort of horror the 'Heart of Darkness' could unleash. So when they were able to go back in time, they possessed the knowledge of the stakes they were up against and what they would lose if they failed. As history needed to set up for the eventual attack on earth, it was inevitable that the Turtles would fail at truly destroying the Heart of Darkness before it fell into the hands of the Triceraton Empire. But it's because of this journey they were able to depend on one another, gain reliable knowledge, allies, and skills in while space. And gaining the means of the Heart of Darknesses destruction though the noble sacrifice of someone they have come to trust over their journey.

Which leads us leads us into the final moment of the episode where the Fugatoid's ship arrived taking Team-B into space. There are naturally lots of insights and questions regarding this. But Peter Di Cicco, one of the writers for the TMNT series did sum things up rather well with three plausibilities on his Tumblr feed. 

1. Time Loop closes: Team-B goes back in time and in doing so merges with Team-A closing the time loop.

2. Stable Time Loop: Team-B goes into space and vanishes as their timeline ceases to exist following the destruction of the Back Hole Generator.

3. The Turtles simply are on an adventure through space: Team-B doesn't go back in time because they don't need to. The Turtles are simply journeying through space without the added pressure of having to save the Earth within a set period of time. Thus opening up possibilities for fan authors to work with, and cleanly creating a door for a plausible spin-off allowing the setting of space to expand. 

All three of these moments are left to be taken by personal point of view and not as absolute cannon. So it just simply falls to what makes the most sense.

So all in all, I liked this episode and thought it was a good episode to close out the space arc. However, I do agree that more could have been done with this episode just as making at least two episodes long. I look forward to seeing what will happen going forward with this season particularly since the next episode is titled City at War. Not to mention the hinted at Humans vs. Mutants and Dark April events that also shall come out of this season. 

And now I must ask you, dear reader:

  • What were your thoughts on this episode?
  • What plausibility for the Team -B characters makes the most sense to you?
  • How would you have done this episode differently if you were writing?
  • And what are you hoping to see in final twelve episodes of season 4?

As always, I'm Venka Le Fay. Thank you for reading. 

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