Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Wrath of Tiger Claw review

Karai grapples with her parentage and Tiger Claw returns in this new TMNT episode!

It’s hard to keep a good bounty hunter down. Last seen being eaten by El Blanco and sent to another world, Tiger Claw fought his way out of the worm and through alternate turtles and dimensions, losing an eye and part of an ear (and creating a new variant for his action figure) in the process. Back in the 2012 cartoon dimension, he’s ready to serve Shredder and get his revenge against Han Solo Casey Jones and the Turtles. Shredder has a new plan that no one has ever thought of before. Fighting the turtles directly hasn’t worked, so he’ll hurt them elsewhere by going after Casey and April.

The show plays it off as clever, but it really just means he’s been reading the scripts to the back half of this season. An ongoing complaint I’ve had for at least four episodes straight (and in episodes before then) is that April is continually being used as bait. The show/characters have gotten lazy; they just keep putting April in danger in order to give the dudes dramatic stakes.  It’s frustrating that the one heroic female character WHO HAS BEEN TRAINED BY A NINJA MASTER has her agency repeatedly taken away and turned in to a helpless character that needs to be rescued by the male leads. Plus, how bad of a criminal mastermind is he when Paul Reubens used the same plan for a LARP over a month and a half ago?

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While it was frustrating to see Karai go after April, the show thankfully managed to at least subvert expectations. April sensed the villains first and Casey and she were able to split off and prepare before they were attacked. Well, “attacked.” April and the audience expected a fight, but instead Karai wanted to talk about Splinter being her true father. It was a pleasant change of pace that Casey was the one needing to be rescued. It’s still problematic (the female characters talk about emotions while the men get a well-executed chase scene), but hey, they finally let April have agency again! With her reclaimed agency she decides to trust Karai and help convince the turtles that she should come back to the lair.

Raphael is the only one that protests the decision; much like Mikey’s clever suggestions, hot headed Raph ends up being the voice of reason.  Karai sets off a tracker, signaling Tiger Claw to where she is. Splinter shows her old family photos; she’s honestly shocked by his sincerity and accidentally slips out of her cover. The turtles are surprised, but Splinter is not; he knew she didn’t believe and wanted her to come home to see the truth for herself. He tells her that, “you are who you chose to be, not what others make you.” Karai realizes she was wrong and runs away with the turtles from the lair, leading Tiger Claw on a wild turtle chase.

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The Turtles face off against Tiger Claw inside a frozen meat locker and kitchen. They have the advantage at first, using the meat to cover up their scent; but while fighting in the kitchen, Tiger Claw is able to use the turtles against each other and defeats them. Karai joins in to save the turtles, but he catches her and threatens to kill her if the turtles follow him as he leaves. Back at Shredder’s, Karai asks her adopted father if Splinter is her birth father; he responds “yes” and then has her thrown in a jail cell. While the show has built up a Han Solo/Boba Fett rivalry between Casey and Tiger Claw, Karai’s the one that ended up in carbonite.

Random Asides

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– Mikey gives an inspirational and passionate speech, but delivers it with a full mouth so none of it was audible.

– I know the show’s done it before, but I really want to try pizza gyozas. It’s got to be a real thing, right? Where in Williamsburg do I have to go to eat one?

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– To further Tiger Claw’s Star Wars connection, we got “Tiger Claw : Mr. Murakami :: Storm Troopers : Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru”

– Poor Irma. All she wants to do is watch a bad B-movie with her friends and talk about it afterwards, but everyone always has mutant business to attend to.

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– April: “You want to do this, fine. I’m warning you. I’ve been training with Master Splinter big time and I’m ready to kick your butt.” Karai: “I didn’t come to fight. I came to talk.” April: “Oh. Well… I’ve been trained in that too.”

– Mikey uses his tPhone to triangulate the location of other phones so he can stalk pizza delivery guys. And I always thought Donnie was the “Nice turtle.”

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– Mikey: “Everyone STAHP! I know exactly where to go.” Donnie: “I feel scared.”

– That final fight scene had some haunting shots. There’s a shot in the freezer of two turtles standing behind frozen meat; as it swings back and forth, they disappear one by one. When they move to the kitchen and have another standoff, the camera cuts to close ups on objects including flickering florescent lights and a buzz saw. Creepy.

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– On the opposite end of creepy there’s the “epic-ized” theme song playing as background music in the buildup to the fight and some Zimmer BRAHMs around the meat locker.

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Rating:

4 out of 5