Some TMNT stuff was always meant for grownups.
- Blind Ninja
- Hamato Splinter
- Homeless Man
- Casey Jones
- Dr. Lansing
- Leonardo's Daimyō
- Leonardo's Wife
- Josie March
- New York Police Department
After his battle with the blind ninja, Leonardo no longer bears any physical injuries, but his sight has still not returned.
Leo's brother Michelangelo guides him up the stairs to the rooftop of April's building. But much to Leo's annoyance, Mike keeps guiding Leo's direction and opens doors for him. Leo reminds Mike he's perfectly capable of getting around—he's only blind. Despite being unable to see, the the building top is still a pleasant place to relax. But Leo feels that he is forgetting the appearance of everyday sights, even as he knows they're still there. Mike reassures Leo that their brother Donatello will find an antidote to the poison that has blinded Leo, but Leo knows it has been going well, having sensed doubt and fear from the tone of Don's voice.
Leo asks Mike if he thinks about their purpose in life, and what would happen if they were to throw away their weapons—if they really are anything without their weapons, and if they exist only to be weapons themselves. Leo's deep philosophical questions concern Mike, who offers to go get Splinter. Leo insists these are worthy questions, but Mike offers to take Leo back downstairs for a beer. Leo tells Mike to go ahead and let him catch up.
Left alone on the building rooftop, Leo decides to climb the building's radio antenna. He climbs a good distance, then primally roars at the cityscape sky he can't see in front of him. But the metal strut he's standing on snaps and collapses under his weight, and Leo and his swords plummet. Leo violently impacts against the cornice of the rooftop, then continues falling down to the sidewalk below, one of his swords falling below him. The end of his katana's hilt embeds itself into the concrete sidewalk blade upwards, and Leo himself falls on his front side directly on top of it, violently running him through from carapace to plastron as he shatters the concrete slab below him. Human pedestrians are alarmed by what has just happened—the mangled impaled corpse of a man-sized bipedal turtle is in plain sight of everybody.
Soon the N.Y.P.D. are on the scene, and both the rooftop and the sidewalk are examined. From the broken tower strut, they believe that his fall was an accident. The two katana appear to belong to him. The body is taken away in an ambulance.
At the morgue, medical examiner Dr. Lansing and zoocryptologist Josie March examine the body together, and quickly determine that he was once a turtle, but that he has certain anatomical features more like that of a human. The body's carapace had fingerprints similar in shape to his own, but not matching any of his own prints, suggesting there is more than one being like him. The body's gear and weapons strongly suggest he was intelligent. March wonders if the body was an alien, but Lansing believes it may actually be a mutation. The dirt on the bottom of the feet has been forensically analyzed, and is found to contain a specific kind of schist exposed in only a few places of Manhattan's bedrock, mostly in the island's sewer, and the lab is hopeful they can pinpoint its exact origin.
A SWAT team investigates an area of sewer, and quickly discovers and disables a tripwire someone has installed. The team finds a partially open brick door and crawls underneath, finding themselves in an underground dwelling with furniture and appliances. They quickly spot a bipedal rat wearing a kimono and three other bipedal turtles, and immediately order them to freeze at gunpoint. The rat and two of the turtles submit as ordered, but one of the turtles pounces on the SWAT team wielding two sai, kicking one of the officers in the face. But another officer takes this opportunity to pump the turtle's body with bullets, and he falls against a wall, rapidly bleeding to death. The surviving beings are handcuffed and their dwelling contained. The dying turtle weakly speaks.
"Leo... ...If only you'd been here... ...This wouldn't have happened..."
Back on the radio tower, Leonardo is still alive and well, albeit still blind—this entire sequence of events never happened, having unfolded entirely in his own imagination. But Leo makes an immediate decision to throw away his swords, dropping both of them onto the rooftop below.
As Leonardo tries to meditate, he observes how blindness really does enhance one's other senses, as he eavesdrops on his brothers talking about him amongst themselves. Their voices are not identified by name, but the first voice can be inferred to be Michelangelo.
"It was weird. We were on the rooftop and he was saying some stuff about his swords... And not knowing what he was without them. It was the last time I heard him speak."
Splinter interrupts Leo's meditation to tell him Casey has offered to bring Splinter to the farmhouse, and believes the change will be good for Leonardo, instructing him to be ready by tomorrow morning. Leo silently realizes that he can sense Splinter's aura—this has never happened before.
Upon arriving in Northampton, Casey offers to make Splinter some tea, but Splinter declines, instead taking Leonardo for a walk in the woods. The forest terrain presents a new challenge for the blind turtle as he struggles harder to avoid stepping on sharp objects as the rich diversity of the forest fills his other senses. Splinter guides his son to a rocky outcrop to rest and eat some provisions. They don't remain long, as Splinter insists they continue walking to exercise Leonardo's muscles. Splinter eventually stops and asks his son to hold his staff. Leo has barely done so when Splinter abruptly hits his son, sending the turtle down a blind slope and into a stream. When Leo regains his focus, Splinter is gone, but Leo can already guess what's going on—his father is now challenging Leonardo to find his way home using only his senses and the walking stick Splinter handed him.
And so, Leo starts making his way across the woods, through thickets, up and down slopes, using the stick to help detect unseen objects in front of him. He has only limited success, as he trips over a low log, chiding himself for not knowing it was there. Leo sits and contemplates his situation, wondering what happens if he doesn't find his way home, and again thinks of his purpose in life, now struggling to find even a reason to leave these woods. The overall sense of darkness is overwhelming to Leo.
Leo hears a snap nearby, and immediately picks up the walking stick asks who it is. A voice speaks back to him.
Voice: "I am the trees and the rocks. I am the wind and the rain. I am the sun in your face and the thorn in your side."
Leo silently lays down the walking stick, then bows respectfully to the voice. But the voice only laughs hysterically at him.
Voice: Isn't it delightful to submit? To abdicate responsibility? To just allow events to unfold? That is the way of nature. It is the world of the man that is the world of fear and darkness. The sun brings forth the seed and the frost kills it. Here there is no good or evil. There is just...life and death. It is all the same.
Leo picks up the walking stick and swings in the direction of the voice, soon realizing he has only struck a bush. But there is suddenly a rush of leaves blown in Leo's direction. Leo snaps the walking stick in two, wielding them as two improvised katana. Leo starts fighting what feels like a real opponent.
Voice: What are you fighting for, creature? You can't resist me. I've already beaten you.
Leo feels a familiarity to this fight, sensing that the opponent he continues fighting is actually the blind ninja he fought on the city rooftop. Leo's surroundings also seem to change, as if he's back on the rooftop itself, and wielding his real pair of katana.
Blind Ninja: You know my power, creature. The toxin I gave you took away your eyesight...but more importantly, it poisoned your mind. You allowed that to happen. The real poison—that was inside you all along.
Leo senses his opponent seemingly transforming into a flock of pigeons. The birds fly to another spot and seem to coalesce into the blind ninja again. Leo swings his sword, chopping his opponent in two at the waist. But the opponent turns into thin air and blows away.
Leo awakens to find himself lying on the forest floor underneath a fallen tree, and quickly throws it aside—it was a dream. Or was it? Leo feels a nearby tree stump that feels like it has recently been sliced clean, as if by a katana blade. Leo hears Splinter speak his name. Leo asks his master what happened here. Splinter says he found Leonardo under a tree, and could not move the tree or free his son from it—this was the same fallen tree Leo just so easily threw aside. Splinter also observes that there seems to have been a fierce battle in this spot, but there is no opponent in sight. Leo believes he fought someone or something, but can't say for certain. Nevertheless, Leo wants to go home, and he and Splinter again start walking together.
Indoors, Splinter summons Leonardo. Splinter believes his son's blindness is more than just a physical condition, but comes from some obscure source inside his mind. He hands his son a cup of tea—a special concoction he calls "infini-tea." Leo asks if the tea contains drugs, but Splinter says the tea represents a doorway into the depths of the mind.
When Leo sips the tea, he senses a change in his surroundings. More than that, he can see again, but he is clearly not where he just was, and Splinter, the room and the tea are nowhere in sight. His eyes take in the beauty of the countryside surrounding him. And he notices the context—he is a samurai on horseback, apparently in feudal Japan. Leo at first wonders why he's in this place and in this situation, but then decides to let go and accept it as-is.
Leo spots a man hiding in the tall grass nearby, moving in his direction. He sees the man appears to be unarmed and dressed in humble, worn clothing, and appears to be hiding from someone else in the opposite direction. Leo hears the yells of other horse-mounted samurai converging on the man's location intending to kill him. Leo has no idea what his own role in this situation is, but soon decides he has no intention of letting an unarmed man die.
Leo rides out into the grass, placing himself between the man and the other samurai, and declares the man to be under his protection. The samurai unsheath their weapons and attack Leo, calling him a demon. Leo is quickly drawn into a fight, and wastes little time decapitating one of the samurai and impaling another through the abdomen with his katana, shocked at having just taken two men's lives. Leo shoves his sword deep into the mouth of a third man, and quickly realizes that he can't control his own actions, not even knowing who these people are. Leo shouts at the unarmed man, telling him to run away, just before cutting a fourth samurai in two pieces at the waist. A fifth samurai attacks Leo on foot with a naginata, but Leo parries the attack and slices a deep gash in the samurai's cranium, killing him. When it is over, five complete strangers are dead, and Leo is horrified by his own actions, but he tries to reassure himself that this must just be part of a vision he's having.
As if by rote, Leo slowly trots his horse cross-country to an unfamiliar feudal village. Peasants leave bowls of rice as offerings as Leo's horse passes them. But it also occurs to Leo that they are humans, and they can see that he is not human, and wonders why they are unafraid. Leo's horse stops in front of a house, and two women greet him—a young woman named Yumi along with her mother. Yumi's mother commands her daughter to tend to the turtle's horse. Yumi welcomes Leonardo home, addressing him as "father," and asks to take the horse. Leo consents, though he clearly finds this entire situation very strange. Yumi's mother addresses Leonardo as "husband," and invites him inside to a bath she has drawn for him. Leo silently expects the older woman to begin screaming, but she remains calm.
Inside the house, the older woman begins helping the turtle out of his samurai armor, but demands he immediately put away his swords, not wanting them lying around the house. Leo sees an appropriate-looking chest and stores his twin katana inside. The woman observes how quiet her husband is, hoping not to have offended him. But Leo is not offended. She asks the turtle what is troubling him. Leo asks her if she does not find his appearance frightening. She calmly tells her husband that he is as he has always been.
Leonardo and his wife lie in their shared bed, Leo again thinking to himself that this is all just a vision.
Leo awakens in a startle as his wife announces that his swords have been stolen. But Leo dismisses it, now content that his swords are gone. He reassures his wife and Yumi that they are just swords.
But the turtle samurai is summoned by his daimyō.
Leonardo walks into his daimyō's audience chamber, fully dressed in his samurai armor but without his stolen swords. He spots a statue whose face resembles Splinter, then quickly realizes it is actually Kubira, the rat of the Japanese zodiac. The statue is shown standing near associated statues of the monkey, the snake and the chicken.
The daimyō has summoned him after learning the turtle samurai's swords have been stolen. Leo readily admits this. The daimyō angers, demanding how this was allowed to happen. Leo answers that he was asleep at the time of the theft. The daimyō angers even more, pointing out that the swords of the samurai serving under him are his property, and deems the turtle negligent for allowing someone else to steal them. Leo is clearly annoyed, and points to the sword the daimyō is carrying, judging it superior to the ones that were stolen in the night. The turtle promises to replace the stolen swords as soon as he can visit the village's swordsmith. But Leo's words are deemed intolerably insolent. The daimyō mocks the turtle, asking him what kind of swordsman he is when he has no swords. Leo admits that he has been wondering that himself. The impatient daimyō banishes the turtle from his village, threatening to kill his wife and daughter should the disgraced samurai ever return.
Leo silently walks out of the daimyō's castle, and keeps walking until he is out of the village. Soon after he has left the village, he removes all his samurai armor and abandons it piece by piece on the ground where he drops it. He goes into the wilderness, and reminds himself that this is just a vision. Still, Leo wonders why the vision is taking place here, and wonders what it is trying to tell him. He is also suspicious of the daimyō, who seemed eager to be rid of his turtle vassal.
Leo spots a man in the forest—the same unarmed man he had defended from the five samurai the previous day. The man points above and behind the turtle's position, revealing a masked woman ninja prowling on the higher rocks. The ninja jumps down and Leo engages in unarmed combat with her, but he also worries that he will lose control of his actions as he did in his previous battle. Leo soon outmaneuvers the ninja and knocks her flat on her face.
The ninja removes her mask, and reveals herself to be Yumi, Leonardo's own daughter. Leo is alarmed, declaring that he could have killed her. Yumi begs her father for forgiveness. Leo asks her why she attacked. Yumi admits having been curious what it would be like to fight against her father, and confesses that she was sent to kill him. But she relented, deciding she would rather kill herself than kill her father. Yumi again begs for forgiveness. Leo comforts his daughter and helps her up, insisting there is nothing to forgive. He asks Yumi who sent her, but she says she is forbidden from telling him that. But Leo already has a good idea who sent her, realizing that the daimyō must have framed him for the theft of his own swords. Yumi begs her father not to return to the village out of fear for his safety, instead advising him to retreat deeper into the wilderness in case of more assassins. Leo tears a strip of cloth from Yumi's ninja garb and quickly fashions it as a bandana for his face. Now dressed like a proper ninja turtle, Leo declares he will not run, and tells his daughter to return home unseen and see to the safety of her mother. Yumi offers to give her father the sheathed sword she is carrying, but Leo tells his daughter to keep it so she may defend herself. Yumi asks her father how he knew she was prowling near his location. Leo explains that a nearby man warned him. But Yumi did not see any man.
Leo prowls into the castle, locating the daimyō in the courtyard along with the swords that had supposedly been stolen. But the daimyō already detects the turtle's presence, and begins speaking to the masked visitor standing behind him.
Daimyō: There is a tale that has spread among the villagers...that you are the son of Kappa, the turtle demon. It is said that your father cast you out of his house. Kubira, the rat, saw an opportunity and took you in and raised you as his son. You were so full of hatred that Kubira knew that if you could be trained to focus that anger, that you could become the best swordsman in all of Japan. Indeed, when your training was complete, Kubira knew that he had chosen wisely. It was then that he bid you repay him for his charity in raising you. You were to return to your father and kill him. You see, once your father was dead, Kubira would be free to take the riches that he had collected over the ages. Kubira's last gift to you was a pair of magic swords with which to carry out the killing. You agreed, however, when you came face to face with your father, you found that you could not take his life. When Kubira found this out, he became so angry that he banished you to Earth, cursed to live out your mortal life among men. Perhaps in his fury, Kubira forgot to take back his magical swords.
The daimyō turns around to face the turtle, holding the "stolen" swords in his arms, confirming Leo's suspicions. The daimyō admits that he would have been disappointed had the turtle's daughter succeeded in killing him, hoping instead that the turtle would kill his daughter, discover her identity, then commit suicide with her sword. Leo is appalled that this entire situation has been about his swords. But the daimyō insists that the turtle's swords are special. The daimyō submerges the blade of an ordinary katana into nearby water, pointing out how the leaves floating in the water simply bump against the blade and continue floating off. But he takes one of the turtle's katana and submerges it in the water, and demonstrates how the leaves in the water slice themselves in half against the motionless blade on contact. THe daimyō theorizes that whoever wields these special words could not be beaten, and asks the turtle if they contain his fury. Leo insists the daimyō cannot control these swords. The daimyō asks why he should wish to restrain them. Leo tells the daimyō that he cannot control something he cannot understand—a lesson the turtle himself recently learnt—and that the only purpose these swords serve is to kill. Leo confesses to having been afraid that his own purpose was also only to kill, but now sees that the swords are only a part of him, and do not define him. The daimyō accuses his former vassal of weakness. Leo accepts this as a challenge to combat, and prepares to fight the daimyō unarmed.
The daimyō repeatedly fiercely swings the turtle's swords at him, but Leo dodges each and every attack, even as the blades easily cut through objects that get in their way. The battle moves into the audience chamber, and the daimyō senselessly slices through support columns and his own throne as it becomes clear to Leo that his opponent is succumbing to uncontrollable rage. Leo grabs and rips down a tapestry and uses it as an improvised whip, seizing the daimyō's left arm and making him drop one of the swords, which falls before the statue of Kubira. The daimyō slices the remaining sword through the cloth, then charges berserk towards the turtle. Leo quickly falls on his back and kicks upward against the daimyō's abdomen, throwing him against Kubira's statue and making him drop the other sword. The statue tips and falls against a nearby torch stand, knocking its fire onto the floor. To Leo's astonishment, the fire very rapidly moves around the room, and soon the entire chamber is on fire and Leo fears he is trapped. Leo again sees the unarmed man from before, standing amidst the flames. The man points in a direction, and both he and Leo proceed in that direction to a crawlspace. The statue of Kubira looks on as both men exit the crawlspace to the safety of the outdoors. The two keep walking as the castle starts going up in flames behind them.
As Leo and the man rest, the turtle has an epiphany.
Leonardo: I recognize you now. You were the one from the rooftop that night in New York. You were the one... That I killed.
The homeless man reaches over to the turtle, but Leo slumps over unconscious.
Leonardo finds himself sitting upright, back in the room with Splinter where he sipped the infini-tea—except, now, the turtle's sense of sight has been fully restored. Splinter asks his son if the tea worked. It did. Leo gets up and thanks his master. Before leaving the room, Leo mentions meeting someone in his vision named Kubira who may be related to Splinter. Splinter recognizes the name, acknowledging Kubira as cunning and resourceful. Leo leaves.
Splinter is now alone in the room.
Splinter: He thanks you for returning his swords.
- When Leonardo identifies Kubira as the rat of the Japanese zodiac, this is a simplification. Kubira is actually one of the Twelve Heavenly Generals, figures recognized in some traditions of Buddhism. Kubira is a general who represents the rat of the zodiac. The other generals also have names and associated zodiac signs—Makora is the monkey, Sanchira is the snake, and Shindara is the chicken.