Friday, December 5, 2008

TCW - "Cloak of Darkness"

This episode has raised the standard for The Clone Wars in nearly every possible way. "Cloak of Darkness" is (as its name suggests) dark, violent, and amazing.

The often-stiff animations of previous Clone Wars episodes are rarely seen in this episode. The lightsaber battles, often the weakest point of the series, are amazing here. Every strike of the saber is purposeful and well-animated, giving an ultra-stylized yet realistic feel. Without a doubt, the engine room saber fight is actually better than many of the battles seen in the Star Wars films.

Luminara Unduli's characterization was great. Yoda aside, she seems to be the only Jedi we've met thus far who is genuinely gentle. Her voice, movement, and dress all compliment her soft personality. However, she is also shown to be a great warrior. Her only real flaw is her blind belief in the superiority of the Jedi, which she eventually learns from.

One extremely notable thing about this episode is that it begins to show Ahsoka's darker side. She is most definitely the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, as she uses force (and even fear) to accomplish her goals.

The character of Captain Argyus was very cool. His voice was excellently done by James Marsters (of Buffy and Smallville fame), and his characterization was great. His not-so-noble end was perhaps the most shocking thing seen in this show thus far, and perhaps even in all of American TV animation history. Argyus literally is stabbed through the chest and chokes on his own lung.

All in all, this episode stands as the pinnacle of storytelling in this series thus far. Its editing, animation, dialogue, and story are astounding to watch. There were very few moments in which I had to remind myself that this is a TV series with budget constraints. This may be the only episode of The Clone Wars that I can watch completely relaxed, without having to find fault.

If you watch any episode of this series, watch this one.

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