Friday, January 30, 2009

TCW - "Trespass"

This was a phenomenally good episode. The Clone Wars has thus far only rarely taken its stories seriously, and this is one such example. In fact, it's probably the most serious episode thus far—even moreso than "Rookies," although that episode did have a huge gut-punch that this one doesn't. "Trespass" is a story that treats life and death with the appropriate dramatic weight, making the tension between the Republic and the Talz all the more strong.

One neat aspect of this episode is its setting. It almost seems like an alternate version of Hoth, with the Prequel-era characters wearing ESB-esque outfits. The fact that the animators actually went out of their way to design completely new character models was impressive. I hope we get to see these new designs again in the series; it'd be a shame to have all that work go into only one episode.

The portrayal of the Talz was rather strange. While it was definitely cool to see an old Star Wars alien race given some development, the Talz' primitive nature seems to stand in contrast with their other appearances in Star Wars lore.

"Trespass" is definitely one of the most memorable episodes of The Clone Wars thus far, even if it's not perfect.

Friday, January 23, 2009

TCW - "Defenders of Peace"

This was a decent episode, but nothing amazing.

While it was great to see the three Jedi and two Clones fight together against the Separatist horde, it was also slightly silly. While it's true that the battle droids were ordered to destroy the Lurmen and likely not focused on the Jedi, it seemed ridiculous that the Jedi sliced through the droids without any difficulty.

The ideological conflict from the last episode was carried over into this episode, but entirely without satisfaction. It seemed as though the writers wanted to convey a certain message, but ultimately failed.

Still, however, this episode wasn't bad. It was definitely worth watching, if not particularly deserving of praise.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TCW - "Jedi Crash"

"Jedi Crash" begins with the biggest and most chaotic ship battle we've seen yet on The Clone Wars. The art style is strong in this scene, contrasting the blue skies and the burning fires. Every bit of every shot screams "chaos!", and it's wonderful.

Aayla Secura's characterization was by far the most interesting aspect of this episode, however, as she was given a French accent (which, according to official sources, was at the request of GL himself). Her personality is also very different from most Jedi, as she is far less careful. One of my new favorite exchanges in the entire Star Wars universe came from this episode:
Admiral Yularen: Are all Jedi so reckless?
Aayla Secura: Just the good ones.

Aayla is smart, tough and commanding, yet still compassionate. She is brash and forceful for a Jedi, yet does not hold on to attachments as Anakin does. Still, however, she is shown to be using what appears to be lightsaber Form V--Anakin's style. Known for its philosophy of "peace through superior force," Form V (in both its Djem-So and Shien variations) is the most physical style, matched only in its aggression by Mace Windu's unique lightsaber form, VII (also known as Vapaad).
Simply put, Aayla is pretty awesome. Having her in an episode with Anakin and Ahsoka to form the Triple-A aggression team is probably a recipe for both disaster and awesomeness.

The plot of this episode was rather strange. Opening with a huge battle, the episode suddenly shifts to a gentler theme, with the crew of the downed Republic cruiser surviving on a primitive world. The episode seemed to be unusually tightly cut, with very abrupt changes happening very quickly. This unfortunately does hurt the overall flow of the episode, and is probably my biggest complaint. However, there are certain other elements in the episode that practically make up for it.

The biggest and most notable aspect of the episode is that it directly discusses Jedi attachment (with a great reference to Quinlan Vos of EU comic-book fame) as well as the contradicting role of Jedi as peacekeepers and war generals.

Another very cool aspect of this episode was the presence of Commander Bly, who later kills Aayla in Revenge of the Sith. He seems to mirror Aayla's slightly-tougher-than-needed attitude, perhaps further indicating that the clone commanders' personalities mirror the Jedi under whom they serve (Cody mirrors Obi-Wan's intellectual and laid back attitude, while Rex mirrors Anakin's more brash, combat-oriented philosophy).

As a last note, it's very refreshing to see Anakin do something selfless for a change in sacrificing himself to push the others to safety. It makes his credibility as a hero of the Clone Wars much more believable, and adds much more depth than was seen in Revenge of the Sith.

"Jedi Crash" wasn't perfect, but had a number of great elements that elevate it to the upper tier of the episodes seen thus far.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

TCW - "The Gungan General"

I'm really starting to think that Jar-Jar should never be seen in The Clone Wars. He takes episodes that could have been interesting and makes them into mediocre nonsense (at best).

This episode's downfall wasn't all Jar-Jar's fault, though. There was a gaping plot hole that was beyond obvious. The Jedi had evaded a trap in the last episode, yet had somehow fallen into that same trap in the beginning of this one. What?!

"The Gungan General" was a very badly-written episode. All of the character decisions were nonsensical. From the cheesy, flat banter to the gaping plot holes, this may be the worst episode of The Clone Wars yet.

Friday, January 2, 2009

TCW - "Dooku Captured"

The very title of this episode seemed rather suspect from the start. How in the stars can Dooku be captured, let alone by non-Jedi? The answers are somewhat lacking.

The story starts off with a rather shaky idea: Anakin Skywalker has allowed himself to be captured by Dooku and imprisoned on Dooku's ship, while Obi-Wan sneaks on board the ship later to rescue Anakin, so that they can both fight Dooku together.
There are many problems with that plan.
  • How do the Jedi know that Dooku wants Anakin alive? He certainly hasn't seemed to show any such mercy in their previous encounters.
  • Why did the Jedi have to go separately? If it's as easy to get on board Dooku's ship as Obi-Wan made it seem, then why couldn't Anakin simply have gone with Obi-Wan?
  • What was their goal, exactly? Did the Jedi want to capture Dooku? That would seem to contrast with their goal in Revenge of the Sith, where they only wanted to kill him and be done with it.
There's a cool moment where Dooku, while sliding down a (very conveniently-placed) escape shaft, fires lightning backwards over his shoulder at Anakin, which Anakin blocks with his lightsaber. It's cool to see lightning being used in a very specific fashion--like a weapon--rather than the seemingly random "LOOK AT MY POWER!!!" way that it's been used before in the films. The more weaponized, clever use of the Force is an apparent constant in TCW, and is always appreciated.

The Jedi/Dooku confrontation scene seemed rather odd, if only because of continuity. It seemed that the Dooku fight scene in Revenge of the Sith was the first time that Obi-Wan and Anakin had fought against Dooku together since the Battle of Geonosis, so this scene in "Dooku Captured" was a bit odd, considering that it was a very similar situation.

The cave scene bothered me. It really seemed unnecessary, though it was cool to finally see a gundark.

I must say that I never liked the comic banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had an amazing fight scene in the beginning of The Phantom Menace that was devoid of silly lines that would have otherwise ruined the seriousness and coolness of the situation. Revenge of the Sith, on the other hand, had an Obi-Wan/Anakin scene that was filled with cheesy, forced lines. If I never have to hear another line of not-so-witty banter, I'll be happy. Sadly, The Clone Wars seems to be following in Revenge of the Sith's tradition.

Dooku's capture made sense in that he really wouldn't be able to defeat 30-40 pirates, especially not without his lightsaber (and no rocks or ceilings to drop on them). However, it made the entire point of the episode rather unclear.

All in all, this episode was really very... "bleh."