SEASON TWO: RISE OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS
MAIN PRODUCTION CREDITS
Created by and Executive Producer: George Lucas
Executive Producer (for Season One episodes incorporated into Season Two): Catherine Winder
Produced by Cary Silver
Supervising Director (including additional dialogue and story material): Dave Filoni
Story Editor/ Series Writer: Henry Gilroy
Staff Writers (Season Two): Scott Murphy, Katie Lucas, Brian Larsen
Supervising Writer: Drew Z Greenberg
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS made by LUCASFILM ANIMATION
Distributed worldwide by WARNER BROTHERS
Above image: copyright LUCASFILM ANIMATION. With thanks to Chris Baker for the image composition.
Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker
Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano
Catherine Taber as Padme Amidala
Anthony Daniels as See-Threepio
James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi / Plo Koon
Dee Bradley Baker as the Clone Troopers/Admiral Trench/ Bossk/Geonosian Queen
Tom Kane as Yoda / Admiral Yularen / Tactical Droids/ Narrator
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress (does not appear in Season Two)
Corey Burton as Count Dooku/ Cad Bane/ Mandalorian Troopers
Terrence "TC" Carson as Mace Windu
Ian Abercrombie as Chancellor Palpatine/ Darth Sidious
Tim Brock as the Medical Droid/various voices
Matthew Wood as General Grievous/ Battle Droids/ Poggle the Lesser
Olivia D’Abo as Luminara Unduli
Gwendoline Yeo as Nala Se (Kaminoan)
Tom Kenny as Nute Gunray/ Lt. Divo
Phil Lamarr as Kit Fisto/Bail Organa
Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura
Brian George as Ki-Adi-Mundi
James Mathis III as Captain Typho
Meredith Salenger as Barriss Offee
NOTABLE GUEST VOICE ARTISTS
Seth Green as Todo (Episode One only)
Daniel Logan as Boba Fett (Episodes Twenty to Twenty Two)
Robin Atkin Downes as Rush Clovis (Episode Four), Castas (Episode Twenty One/Twenty Two)
Anqelique Perrin as Adi Gallia (Episode Nine),
Chris Edgerley as Eeeth Koth (Episode Nine)
Jamie King as Aurra Sing (Episodes Twenty to Twenty Two)/ Cassie Cryer (Episode Eleven)
Gregory Baldwin as Tera Sinube (Episode Eleven), Casis, Seripas and Gwam (Episode Seventeen), Doge Urus and Dugs (Episode Eighteen)
Kath Soucie as Mon Mothma (Episode Sixteen)
Jon Favreau as Pre Visla (Episodes Twelve to Fourteen)
Jim Cummings as Hondo (Episode Seventeen and Twenty Two)
Julian Holloway as Admiral Kilian (Episodes Twenty and Twenty Two)
Cara Pifko as Doctor Sinova Bell (Episodes Eighteen and Nineteen)
Dave Filoni as Embo (Episode Seventeen)
Anna Graves as Duchess Satine (Episodes Twelve to Fourteen)
EPISODE ONE: THE HOLOCRON HEIST
Writer: Paul Dini
Director: Justin Ridge
Made in Production Order: Season One, Episode 23
First US transmission date (CARTOON NETWORK): October 2nd 2009
First UK transmission date (SKY MOVIES PREMIERE): October 24th 2009
Notes: In the US, this episode was shown as part of a special one hour double bill alongside CARGO OF DOOM.
Story: Hired by Darth Sidious, the ruthless bounty hunter, Cad Bane, with two of his associates, break into the Jedi Temple on a mission to steal a Holocron. Can Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka stop him before he escapes with his prize?
Review: A confident start to the season, the episode has a smashing, full on action sequence on Felucia (as previously seen in EPISODE III’s ORDER 66 sequence) that gets the pulse racing (it even has a Plo Koon moment to keep Mister Filoni happy!!), and the new animation is impressive, though the episode possibly peaks too early because of it. The heist plot that follows on is good, though, and there’s lots of great opportunities to see more of the Jedi Council, the Temple and the Archives (and a neat move in having the previously reckless Ahsoka placed there in punishment by the Council), as well as officially showing the Jedi Holocrons themselves-the stuff of Expanded Universe legend for years now become a reality, as well as the nice mention of the Kybur crystal (previously created, but unused, for STAR WARS in 1975, and then for Alan Dean Foster’s 1978 SPLINTER OF THE MIND'S EYE novel, as a very powerful Force object, but now, in the new Lucas/Filoni created realm, sadly relegated to being little more than a mere information device). Equally welcome are appearances from Jocasta Nu in the archives and another of those eerie Changeling creatures (with a neat little lightsaber duel involving it and Ahsoka to boot!). Not so welcome, however, is Seth Green’s droid character of Todo 360, who I found subtly annoying and visually jarring with what’s already been created in the STAR WARS universe-the character was created for the kids, though, so I’ll have to accept that fact.
Overall, even with some nice little flourishes from expert animation writer Paul Dini, it feels as if the Holocron story was created more as a lead in to CARGO OF DOOM, once it was transplanted into Season Two, rather than as its own fully fledged installment, after LUCAS ANIMATION realized the potential of expanding the Bounty Hunters involvement into this new season. In that respect, THE HOLOCRON HEIST works less as an individual episode but better as a nice little taster for what looks to be a more ambitious and exciting set of adventures than what we’ve seen previously (and which had already been terrific in its own right!!).
AFICIONADO RATING: A Holocron stealing 4 out of 5
EPISODE TWO: CARGO OF DOOM
Writer: George Krstic
Director: Rob Coleman
Made in Production Order: Season One, episode 13 (Note: this episode was previously created for Season One but held over for Season Two instead)
First US transmission date (CARTOON NETWORK): October 2nd 2009
First UK transmission: October 31st 2009
Story: Finding Bane in the Devaron system, Anakin and Ahsoka board his Separatist Cruiser in an attempt to retrieve the Jedi Holocron and the also stolen Kybur crystal, which, when used together, will give the Sith dangerous knowledge of the locations of the next generation of Force-sensitive children. With his prior hostage Jedi, Bolla Rapol, now dead from torture, Bane knows that he must capture one of the new Jedi boarders alive so as to complete his mission…
Review: Another confident winner in the excitement stakes from Rob Coleman, and it’s a real shame that there is only one more episode of his to come before his sad departure from the show. Bar some Battle Droid comedy dialogue that falls totally flat, CARGO OF DOOM is a winner from start to finish, with a well plotted story by George Krstic. I particularly liked the Walker battle on the hull of the Separatist ship, followed by the superb zero gravity fight in the hangar (loved that slow mo shot with Anakin and Bane). Unlike the previous episode, where he was really in the sidelines whilst his aides did the hard graft, this time the nasty bounty hunter gets more opportunity to test his mettle against the Jedi, firstly torturing that poor Rodian Jedi, Bolla Ropal, and then creating a great boo-hiss sequence when he captures Ahsoka and forces Anakin to activate the Holocron info. Overall, Bane is an excellent new addition to the show, nicely designed- with that creepy voice from Corey Burton- and I hope that his villainy gets even more complex, adaptable and dangerous as time goes on (as he so amply demonstrates in the stories finale). Though, with his prominent rise to villainy, let’s not forget the previously successful Grievous (now unseen since the middle of Season One!!) and Ventress, eh?
AFICIONADO RATING: A head bumping 5 out of 5
EPISODE THREE: CHILDREN OF THE FORCE
Writers: Henry Gilroy and Wendy Meracle
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Three
First US transmission date: 9th October 2009
First UK transmission date: 7th November 2009
Notes: with a two week holiday transmission gap between episodes 4 and 5, this episode got its first repeat on October 23rd 2009.
Story: With several Jedi children now captured by Bane, of which Darth Sidious plans to turn them into the first of his new Dark Side converted agents, it’s a race against time by the galaxy traversing Jedi to find the captured Younglings and stop any further kidnappings.
Review: The first officially created episode of Season Two gets underway. Concluding the Holocron Trilogy, CHILDREN OF THE FORCE is a great planet encompassing adventure moving at a very strong pace. Finally, Darth Sidious gets a much bigger part to play in proceedings, having pretty much more to do in this one episode that he had in the entire first season of the series, and is played with relish by Ian Abercrombie. I Loved Darth Sidious’s plans for the Jedi Younglings-he’s now become the ultimate child minder from hell!! In his alternate guise as the kindly Supreme Chancellor, there was also a fun little scene between him and Anakin adding to their Father/Son relationship (I loved the scene where Palpy looked down at Ahsoka with a polite ignorance and then shut her out of the meeting!!)- however, plotting wise, wouldn’t Anakin have just spoken to him via hologram about the Jedi mission, rather than see him in person? Why go all the way back to Coruscant to tell him and take himself/Ahsoka out of the mission like that? Perhaps this interesting little character scene was added late in the day and the stories plotting had to be adjusted. Equally welcome, as a nod to the Prequel movies, was the villain’s secret lair-a return to the lava world of Mustafa in a nice tie-in with EPISODE THREE. Like Sidious, Cad Bane is once again proving an equally tough cookie to capture, as his Black Stall space station trap for Mace and Obi-Wan (James Arnold Taylor sounding more like Ewan McGregor every day than Ewan McGregor!!) proves- great little INDIANA JONES reference, too, when Mace reaches for his lightsaber as the shield door is coming down. With more of his bounty hunting to come, Bane needs to be even more villainous and nasty if he’s to ever equal the silent but deadly Boba Fett. Misters Filoni and Gilroy take note.
As with THE HOLOCRON HEIST, it’s great to see more development of the Jedi, too- interesting seeing how they are changing during the three year war, indeed resorting to drastic measures in order to fight the Dark Side, particularly uncomfortable being the necessary use by Mace, Anakin (who suggests the idea) and Obi-Wan to interrogate Bane, using their Force mental powers in a combined effort to try and crack the location of the kidnapped Jedi children out of him-the uncomfortable look on Ahsoka’s face says it all, really, in this dramatic and subtly disturbing sequence. The titular characters of the episode were also cute to see, with a nice diversity of onscreen alien races, including a Gungan, Rodian and Nautolan.
All in all, this was a solid, thoroughly enjoyable ending to the three part saga, with mature storytelling-though I still feel that CARGO OF DOOM was, by far, the best part of the trilogy story and direction wise, with a bit more verve than its climax.
AFICIONADO RATING: A lava-ry 4 out of 5.
EPISODE FOUR: SENATE SPY
Writer: Melinda Hsu (with additional material from Henry Gilroy)
Director: Steward Lee
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Five
First US Transmission: 15th October 2009
First UK Transmission: 14th November 2009
Notes: in the US, the series takes a two week break after this episode due to Halloween/Autumn holidays.
Story: Against Anakin’s wishes, Padme accepts a mission from the Jedi Temple to re-acquaint herself with Scipian senator Rush Clovis, with whom she previously had a close relationship, in order to determine whether he is a traitor to the Republic and working with the Separatist’s banking clan. Accompanying Padme in the guise of a Naboo security officer, will Anakin be able to protect her during the vital spy mission/visit to Cato Neimoidia, or will his dangerous jealousy get in the way?
Review: SENATE SPY is a fun, outside the norm, beautiful looking episode that gives voice actors Catherine Taber and Matt Lanter- who work really well together in the series when given a chance- some good character depth and dramatic meat to work with in their vocal guises as Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, in this STAR WARS version of the classic Cary Grant/Ingmar Bergman war time love/espionage drama NOTORIOUS- SENATE SPY pays homage to it right down to that film’s spiral staircase finale (and if you haven’t seen the original film then you owe yourself to check it out-it’s great, an American movie classic). The STAR WARS re-interpretation doesn’t quite match the original for suspense, though, but it’s a bold try, in which both the writers and animators have fun playing with Anakin and Padme’s relationship- this series strength being that it can do things in the episodes which time had never permitted in the movies, so the love/marriage between the pair doesn’t seem as forced as it occasionally did in the Prequels (so much of their scenes having been paired down to the bare bones, or coming across occasionally as a bit forced dialogue-wise, especially in EPISODE III)– here they have the chance to breathe a bit as characters in this new medium and become a bit more developed and complex. Then, as the episode goes on and Padme’s spy mission unfolds, there is the adding suspicion and jealousy to Anakin in his behavior towards her (a fan expected element and subplot that was also eventually cut out from III).
Despite the strong central idea, though, story logic and certain aspects of established continuity within this episode went out the window. I’m assuming that parts of the Banking Clan are neutral and, like their modern day counter-parts, play both sides of the fence in war, but why would the Trade Federation, the enemies of the Republic, still be represented in the Senate? Surely Padme, with all the threats from Nute Gunray-the leader of the TF, would face a death sentence for going to Cato Neimoidia, no matter whether she was a spy or not? Though I applaud the proud creative team for an episode without guns, explosions or violence (and I hope we see more of these character based episodes in future seasons), SENATE SPY’s resolution ends a little too quickly, and easily accomplished, for my taste, though the sub-plot of the Geonosians re-building the Droid Forces works well as an intro to what looks to be an action packed fifth episode.
Though not defined enough-perhaps he’ll return in the Geonosian mini arc-Rush Clovis was an interesting character. There were also some fun little moments in the episode linked to Anakin’s jealousy towards him-I actually laughed out loud when the jealous Jedi piloted the ship in a way so as to separate him from Padme-a comedy moment that worked in relationship to the Anakin of the animated series-that scene would never have been successful in live action with Hayden Christensen. Another great example of the creative latitude and scope of the series within its new animated home.
It was great to see Threepio in his first appearance in Season Two, and Anthony Daniels, as ever, is excellent (though, as the only true voice star from the films, I think its time he had a lot more to do within the series in general, beyond his protocol duties-perhaps a solo adventure where his involvement is truly critical to the Republic, or one just with Artoo). The same goes for Captain Typho, too-whom the writers seemed to have conveniently forgot this episode- shouldn’t the Senator’s top bodyguard have done far more than just sit in the ship awaiting orders?
On the visuals side of things, the episode, as ever, was terrific and had lots of things to keep the heavy duty fans happy-again a lot of it nicely leading in to EPISODE III, like the bridge world of Cato Neimoidia, and other Prequel places likes the impressive Senate building interior and corridors, the Jedi Council (nice to see Padme there, too, conferring with them). Equally nice were the little appearances from the aforementioned Lott Dodd and Poggle the Lesser. And how can I not mention that outfit Padme wore towards the end-Hai Karumba!! Was George Lucas designing another Padme outfit? If only Natalie Portman had worn that in the films!!
AFICIONADO RATING: A well deserved character episode, though good could have been greater with a bit more script work. A spy-ing by numbers 3 out of 5.
EPISODE FIVE: LANDING AT POINT RAIN
Writer: Brian Larsen
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Seven
First US transmission: November 4th 2009 (this was a special presentation airing on CARTOON NETWORK, followed by a repeat on Friday November 6th)
First UK transmission: 21st November 2009
Notes: According to Dave Filoni on a video commentary at STARWARS.COM, the original first version of the episode was rejected by STAR WARS creator George Lucas, and the episode was subsequently reshaped with his total involvement in it, insisting that the battle sequences keep the in your face realism style of the work he had previously created for the movies, and using old time war footage as a basis for the heavily revised action sequences. Thanks to the intensive hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of the Production Team to meet Lucas’s last minute requirements, this episode would soon prove an unqualified success.
Story: With the Republic distracted by the continued attacks of General Grievous, the insectoid Geonosians have managed to restart their colossal Battle Droid/weapons building program for the Separatists. Now, against a truly overwhelming planetary army expecting their arrival, a huge Republic task force, led by its major Jedi commanders, begins an invasion of Geonosis in a final once and for all bid to stop the weapons factories, contain the planet and capture its greedy and vicious ruler, Poggle the Lesser.
Review: To say this episode was one of the most spectacular segments of any type of STAR WARS would be a colossal understatement. This must have been both an animators dream and an absolute nightmare to realize in equal measure. Incredible camera moves and hundreds of different elements (characters, ships of all shapes and types of flying, weapons, laser blasts and lightsabers, explosions and environments-more than you normally got in half a season of the previous premiere run) are brought to life in an adrenaline rush of action and fierce conflict on the dry catacombs world of Geonosis. From the moment you see the mighty legion of Republic starships coming out of hyperspace you know that this new storyline is going to be something far bigger than anything seen previously with the equally epic Ryloth trilogy. It was great to see the Jedi and Clones fighting against a more deadly and skillful enemy than the regular Battle Droids-the Geonosians are just as loathsome as ever-creatures with independent thought and dangerous abilities that can fight ruthlessly and in unexpected ways (loved that creepy moment when they flew out of the dark cave and started taking away Clone Troopers, and the sequences where they showed relish using their heavy weaponry against both the Clones and Jedi). The final battle with our heroes attempting to smash through the enemies huge wall defenses was incredible (and I loved the scene where the Droidekas unexpectedly popped out from the floor hatches against Anakin and Ahsoka in a heart pounding moment I wasn’t expecting). There was genuine threat and danger in this episode and a return to the STAR WARS excitement we’ve known and loved for years-all mixed with the kind of WORLD WAR II type realism we’ve come to expect from George Lucas. This was obviously the STAR WARS creators attempt to do the ATTACK OF THE CLONES battle of Geonosis take two-only ramped up 1200 times faster and more intense. This managed to incorporate a lot of elements of which there was simply no time to include during the second Prequel film, as well as improving existing elements of the animated series (both Anakin and Ahsoka worked very well together as a fighting force-I’m much more comfortable with their pairing nowadays). Amongst the many other joys of this episode was the first appearance animation-wise of Jedi Ki-Adi-Mundi (with a nice rendering from Brian George, last heard as the Toydarian king in Season One’s AMBUSH). And it was great to see RYLOTH’s Waxer and Boil involved in the action, too-with the battle around them becoming more and more dangerous as they rescue Obi-Wan. On the injuries front, I was actually quite shocked to see both Ki-Adi and, worse, Obi-Wan suffering, and the final moment where the latter was sitting down and out of the fight brought a little lump to this reviewers throat-amazing, I almost thought of this animated figure as a real person (Filoni and the gang are certainly doing something right, here!!)- I’d never seen the character look so powerless. Admiral Yularen, though, is starting to annoy me- he’s on the fast track to become one of those irritating commanders that Vader liked to dispense his anger on in the Original Trilogy!!
There was so much going on during the battle that it will require multiple viewings to see all the detail (And this episode is only the beginning, as the hunt for the dug-in Poggle the Lesser begins). This made the previous highlight battle of Teth look like a picnic stroll. With the first stage of the Republic landing operation just about successful, it was nice to have a little moment of humour to end the episode, with Anakin getting a surprise from Ki-Adi.
If any AFICIONADO members haven't been interested in seeing THE CLONE WARS animated series, I really, really do suggest that they watch the latest episode and give it a try from now on. If there was ever a time to start watching the series and enjoy it, this was it. It’s a shame that we’ll never get to see all four parts of this put together on the big screen-perhaps someone at CELEBRATION V can do some big screen showings of these major episodes.
Kudos to everyone at LUCASFILM ANIMATION for such a terrific episode.
AFICIONADO RATING: Even bigger in the risk factor, this was an intense and highly exciting episode-truly the best episode yet, with the most spectacular war scenes ever seen in the series so far. If I could give it more than 5 out of 5, I would. This episode was the business and truly captured the magical action and adventure element that the saga does so well. THE CLONE WARS is well and truly back with a bang after its US short break. A crash-tastic 5 out of 5
EPISODE SIX: WEAPONS FACTORY
Writer: Brian Larsen
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Eight
First US transmission: November 13th 2009
First UK transmission: November 28th 2009
Story: With the battle raging on Geonosis, Jedi Padawan’s Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee undertake a daring, and highly dangerous mission, to infiltrate and destroy the enemy Droid factories.
Review: A quieter but nonetheless efficient second part to the epic new battle of Geonosis, with a special mission for Ahsoka and the Padawan to Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee-nicely voiced by CLONE WARS newcomer, Meredith Salenger, though looking a bit younger than I anticipated in relation to her last film appearance in ATTACK OF THE CLONES, presumably a decision made to have her and Ahsoka look more equal on visual and character terms. Making a welcome return to the saga, Barriss’s pairing with Anakin’s Padawan in their mission to destroy the Geonosian droid foundry from within, whilst their Jedi masters create a diversionary assault from outside, proves a nice idea, though, in all honesty, there wasn’t much time to create depth with their pairing beyond the fact that both represented the traits of their Masters teachings and personalities- Ahsoka being more reckless in the mission, whilst Barriss was more controlled. Added to that central idea there were lots of great action moments (the bridge top scene was terrific-I loved seeing Luminara, her usual stoic battle hardened self, and Anakin hanging underneath it setting the bomb charges, as well as some cool moments created from unused EPISODE II animatics, like the aerial sneak attack on the Clone ground forces by the Geonosians-once again it’s nice to see a non Droid enemy, and the introduction of their new tank weapons, with ray shielding, was an interesting addition to the series. There were also a few effectively creepy moments, too- the scene where Barriss, in the underground tunnels full of sleeping Geonosians, is caught in the hand of one of the insects whilst it slept, being a notable highlight. Some more of that kind of fear and atmosphere would be most welcome in future episodes, adding another effective layer to an organically improving series.
AFICIONADO RATING: A simple but effective continuation of the Geonosis arc, with ever improving and refined animation. 4 out of 5
EPISODE SEVEN: LEGACY OF TERROR
Writer: Eoghan Mahoney
Director: Steward Lee
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Nine
First US Transmission: 20th November 2009
First UK Transmission: 5th December 2009
Notes: In the US, after transmission of this episode, the series takes a one week Thanksgiving break before resuming with Episode Eight.
Story: Having disappeared whilst on the hunt for the escaped Poggle the Lesser, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead a clone force in search of Luminara Unduli. Entering an unknown underground region of catacombs, they encounter a new form of Geonosian-the deadly Queen of the species-as well as discovering her legion of totally subservient, undead slaves. Can the Jedi rescue Luminara before the Queen absorbs her mind into the ranks of the undead?
Review: Some good old fashioned scares and further creepy Geonosian moments make LEGACY OF TERROR another successful entry in the series. Nice to see Obi-Wan recovered for action, with Anakin, amongst some fun homages to ALIEN and its sequel, whilst the poor Clone Troopers, and Luminara Unduli to some extent, really go through it. With the current popularity of Zombies across the world, and in all types of media, their appearance in Geonosian form in both this episode, and as possessed Imperials in the recent DEATH TROOPERS novel, is most welcome, as was the concept (though kinda pinched from STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN and the Ceti Alpha eels) of their being infected as part of the Geonosian Queen’s rule of terror (I didn’t really guess that it was Dee Bradley Baker doing the vocals-great stuff, but why was she speaking basic rather than her native language??!!). And, rounding it all off for those fans really serious about things like this, Luminara finaly gets the right lightsaber to use!!
AFICIONADO RATING: Nothing new concept-wise, but still atmospheric enough and beautifully animated to be entertaining. A cave busting 4 out of 5
EPISODE EIGHT: BRAIN INVADERS
Writer: Andrew Kreisberg
Director: Steward Lee
First US transmission: 4th December 2009
First UK transmission: 12th December 2009
Made in production order: Season Two, Episode Twelve
Notes: In both the US and UK, the series takes a Xmas break and airs re-runs, resuming for the formers advance transmission from January 1st 2010, the latter the end of January 2010.
Story: On a medical supply mission to aid General Windu’s forces currently in fierce battle on Dantooine, Padawan’s Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee find themselves fighting for survival within their Republic frigate when the crew and Clone forces become infected by Geonosian mind control worms.
Review: You’ve got to love that episode title, eh? This is a great looking episode by the ever confident Steward Lee, with a good starting script from THE CLONE WARS newcomer Andrew Kreisberg. BRAIN INVADERS continues and successfully concludes the previous three parts of the Geonosis storyline and maintains the creepy atmosphere developed in LEGACY IN TERROR. The zombie like infected Clones scenes are handled well- scary but not too terrifying for the shows predominant younger audiences, and, like LEGACY, there are more little film homage moments- the distribution of the worm pod scene reminding me a little of 1978’s excellent re-make of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
On the visual side, it’s great to see the Blockade Runner-like interior and deep core of the Republic Medical Frigate (and kudos for a few shots recreating camera angles from A NEW HOPE), there’s more development on those intriguing worm parasites, some nice creepy horror moments, and some good lightsaber duels between Ahsoka and the possessed Barriss, both characters having a good share of the episodes action and horror. As the situation on the cruiser deepens, things get even better towards the episodes final act when Anakin interrogates Poggle to find a solution to the dangerous worms-and a nice subtle use of the Imperial March here in a moment that is easily one of the best scenes of the episode, though the way Anakin sidelines the torture issue with his Jedi colleagues was a little weak and unresolved-surely they’ll find that the Geonosian has some serious neck injuries now!!
Overall, the dark leanings towards EPISODE III are moving along nicely-there’s the scene where Ahsoka talks to Barriss about Anakin’s “radical” ideas on the way the Republic should be led, and the obvious overtones of the possessed Clone Troopers as they fire at their Jedi leaders. There’s also a nice nod to the 2003 CLONE WARS animated series episode of Mace Windu fighting on Dantooine, though LUCASFILM still doesn’t seem to officially want to tie the two animated series together continuity wise, a fact which I find most annoying.
AFICIONADO RATING: Again, nothing new on the story front, but the episode was well plotted with some good moments and looked terrific. And, hey, ole smiley Kit Fisto was in it!!! 4 out of 5
EPISODE NINE: GRIEVOUS INTRIGUE
Writer: Ben Edlund
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode 14
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 1st January 2010:
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 30th January 2010
STORY: When Jedi Master Eeth Koth is taken hostage and tortured by General Grievous, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Adi Gallia devise a daring rescue plan that may also finally see the capture of the feared Droid leader. But, upon their first engagement in the Saleucami system, they soon realize that Grievous has initiated a cunning entrapment plan of his own.
REVIEW: Unseen for a lengthy absence of the last half the first season, the dreaded General Grievous thankfully returns to his diabolical and vicious schemes to destroy the Jedi Knights in this excellent, almost mid-season, return. With an exciting and lengthy fight that goes some way to making up for their all too brief face off in REVENGE OF THE SITH, the duel between Grievous and Obi is nothing short of fabulous-brilliantly choreographed and full of good banter between them. One fan critic has said that these new animated episodes have gone a long way in making /rehabilitating Grievous as a more palatable and deadly force-a statement I fully agree with, and is, as always, voiced with relish by Matthew Wood. It was also a pleasure to see more of the Jedi roll call being established in this series, especially those that had previously been in the furthermost sidelines-like EPISODE ONE’s Eeth Koth (Back from an Expanded Universe demise-again, another subtle decision by Lucas impacting on the Expanded Universe and its continuity. There’s bound to be more changes when those pesky Mandalores turn up!!!) and Adi Gallia. Both characters have nice moments and some great action to partake in (I loved the opening when Koth threw Grievous against the observation glass). As ever, the ambitious animation continues to impress, with a fine space battle (utilizing previously unused OT/PT designs for the Republic fleet), some great angles (like the hyperspace jump right into Grievous ship by Anakin and the 180 degree turns of his ship as he is forced to rescue Obi and Gallia) and the aforementioned action sequences. There’s also the return of the Clone Commander Fox, now sporting a mechanical eye, those fearsome Droid Commandoes and the return of the Jedi Temple war room. This season certainly showcase THE CLONE WARS subtle harder edges-it’s going to be very interesting to see how far it goes dramatically and whether it will venture beyond its target younger demographics.
AFICIONADO RATING: Straight back into action with this highly exciting tale-another terrific episode for the second season with a strong plot and dialogue from newcomer Ben Edlund (any relation to Richard?) and some great direction-the strongest yet- from Giancarlo Volpe. 5 out of 5
EPISODE TEN: THE DESERTER
Writer: Carl Ellsworth
Director: Robert Dalva
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode 6
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 1st January 2010
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 6th February 2010
NOTES: Returning from its Xmas beak, this episode was shown in the US alongside GRIEVOUS INSTINCT as part of a special double bill re-launching the series on CARTOON NETWORK.
STORY: As the hunt for General Grievous by Republic Forces spreads out across the alien plains of Saleucami, an injured Captain Rex, sheltering with a farming family, encounters a deserter Clone Trooper- Cut Lawquane.
REVIEW: Though its not exactly anything spectacular like Geonosis or Felucia, the planet Saleucami, previously mentioned in REVENGE OF THE SITH, finally comes to life as a subtly intriguing jungle/grasslands world and proves a worthy background for THE DESERTER’s character drama and action sequences. Directed with flair by Lucas’s old friend now noted film editor, Robert Dalva (who, for all you info fans out there, was also a second unit director for the Sandpeople scenes shot in Death Valley for STAR WARS waaay back in January 1977), the previous pursuit of Grievous takes a bit of a back seat in this episodes diversion from the normal kinds of storytelling, as the ever reliable Captain Rex is injured after a commando droid sneak attack and is forced to recuperate in the unexpected company of a fellow clone, Cut Lawquane, who turns out to be a deserter from the Republic army. The early tense relationship between the pair proves interesting (the concept of Lawquane reminding me a little of the very early CLONE WARS novel called THE CESTUS DECEPTION, written by Steven Barnes-perhaps that tale, with its strong character development of one particular Clone Trooper, may have had some influences on this episode’s genesis), especially with regards to their differing views on loyalty and the Clone War, but, being a family show, any realistic conclusion to the story by series newcomer Ellsworth instead becomes something completely predictable-even though the army of commando droids show up to terrorize Cut’s family we know that they are going to get through the danger pretty much unscathed. Likewise, despite some interesting action, the same kind of predictabilty hampers the danger and excitement with Grievous’s final escape, too, making this episode a beautiful looking beast with sadly very little real bite.
AFICIONADO RATING: Interestingly created before the first part of this Grievous plot line, THE DESERTER is hardly a classic tale by any means, and could perhaps be considered a let down for die hard fans, but it does dare to be different and proves another intriguing change of pace. Cut Lawquane could be an interesting character to revisit if put within a stronger Saleucami based storyline at some point in the future. A nostalgic, Dejarik playing 3 out of 5
EPISODE ELEVEN: LIGHTSABER LOST
Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode 6
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 22nd January 2010
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 12th February 2010
NOTES: After a two week transmission break, the series returns for a three week continuous run in the US.
STORY: Assisting Anakin in arresting an arms dealer, Ahsoka loses her lightsaber to a thief. Unable to ask her Master for help, she enlists the aid of an elder Jedi, the Bothan Master Tera Sinube, well versed in the seedy side of Coruscant and its criminal inhabitants, in an attempt to find it, and, in doing so, discovers both a murderous plot and an agile bounty hunter.
REVIEW: A charming little entry in the second season. LIGHTSABER LOST owes more than a passing nod to the work of Akira Kurosawa and his movie STRAY DOG (in which a rookie policeman similarly loses his gun to a villain). Ahsoka holds her own nicely as the star of the episode, with excellent support from the lovable new character of Jedi master Tera Sinube (great to see what a Bothan finally officially looks like after all these years!!), who I think will prove very popular with fans of all ages (I loved his very cool lightsaber/cane), voiced exceptionally by Gregory Baldwin-the mix of an elderly and young Jedi working together in the central story being an element that I found very pleasing from series script writer Drew Z. Greenberg.
Madame Jocasta Nu makes a welcome re-appearance, as do Yoda’s younglings, and we also get a chance to see a lot more of the seedy underbelly of Coruscant, seen all too briefly in EPISODEs TWO and THREE, plus a wide variety of the alien species which have helped make STAR WARS such a standout success over the years.
The rest of the plot after Ahsoka begins her quest, however, is pretty humdrum (I wasn’t a great fan of the Ione Marcy character), though the sequence where she is chasing the alien killer Cassie Cryer is a fun and exhilarating homage to the free jumping chase that launched the beginning of Daniel Craig’s James Bond career with CASINO ROYALE in 2006, and is well put together by series regular stylist director Giancarlo Volpe. Plus there’s a nice little holo speech from Palpatine, written by Dave Filoni, that’s well worth looking out for.
AFICIONADO RATING: A fine blending of central story idea and animation, LIGHTSABER LOST, like THE DESERTER before it, isn’t going to win any best episode of the season awards, but was overall a satisfying, general audience friendly 22 minutes, with a great introduction for Master Sinube. 3 out of 5
EPISODE TWELVE: THE MANDALORE PLOT
Writer: Melinda Hsu
Director: Kyle Dunlevy
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode 13
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: January 29TH 2010
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: February 20th 2010
NOTES: An idea for a Mandalore story was originally pitched by Henry Gilroy and Dave Filoni for Season One but was turned down by George Lucas, who thought it was too early to introduce them into the Clone Wars conflict. Lucas changed his mind for Season Two.
STORY: Obi-Wan Kenobi travels to the planet Mandalore to meet with the leader of the Council of Neutral Systems, the Duchess of Satine, about a sinister new series of events transpiring on her world and affecting its people. Together, the pair travel to the segregated Mandalorian moon of Concordia to investigate the inter-linked return of a deadly super commando army called DEATH WATCH, whose re-appearance could have devastating effects on the out come of the Clone Wars and against their sworn enemies- the Jedi.
REVIEW: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lone, subtle investigation in to the Mandalore plot of this adventure has the same kind of 1920’s/30’s detective style mystery that fans, for the most part, enjoyed, in the second STAR WARS Prequel, with this animated episode keeping an equally similar slowly building level of intrigue and mystery, laced with some finale action that, unlike EPISODE II, is decidedly quite small scale. Equally intriguing is the acerbic but obviously mutually attractive relationship between the Knight and the neutral leader, the Duchess Satine (intriguingly the name of Nicole Kidman’s character opposite Ewan McGregor in MOULIN ROUGE- Co-incidence? Dave Filoni and Henry Gilroy say it is!!)-again, drawing parallels to 1920/30’s Hollywood movie storytelling, the pair almost like a poshed up version of Indy and Marion from RAIDERS, with the kind of polished dialogue/camaraderie that Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn would have enjoyed if they were in an action film- prickly but loving!! And let’s not forget another type of cliffhanger with the finale factory scene, where one of our heroes is caught in another diabolical predicament!!
Overall, Melinda Hsu's script was far above much of the normal animation fare we get- nice to see a lone Obi-Wan tale with a bit more character building - and a continual example of the way THE CLONE WARS is going from strength to strength in that area, and quite sophisticated. Good, too, was seeing a few more British actors partaking in the series voice work, like Julian Holloway as Prime Minister Almec, and there was also a welcome return for actor/comedian Greg Proops (who last played one of the alien commentators of the Boonta Eve pod race in EPISODE ONE) as Tal Marik.
With the Duchess Satine we finally have the first blonde lady in STAR WARS, and a Cate Blanchett look-a-like at that (a deliberate, and much welcome, move by Dave Filoni-picking an actress with a face and acting talent that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the aforementioned classic Hollywood film studio system era-with a range capable of making her both a dangerous and alluring femme fatale as well as a plucky heroine). Skilled voice talent veterans James Arnold Taylor and actress Anna Graves, as Satine Kryze, put their experience to good use in helping the episode’s writer, Melinda Hsu (who wrote the fun episode of LOST called SOME LIKE IT HOTH in season five!!), create a believable relationship that we’ll discover more about as the next few weeks roll on (there’s obviously a lot more to his relationship with the Duchess than we think).
So, THE MANDALORE PLOT had some nice moments, but I actually have to say, like Hsu’s previous SENATE SPY, I found the episode mildly disappointing (perhaps I was just hoping for something to rival ATTACK OF THE CLONES in the defining story landmark stakes). After all the recent exciting episodes, especially on Geonosis and with the return of Grievous, I was expecting something a bit more deadly, exciting and in your face confrontational and awe-inspiring from the DEATH WATCH Mandalorian warrior outcasts on Concordia (and I still prefer their original home world name of Concord Dawn-its sounds much more mysterious and evocative of them)-the few soldiers that did appear in this episode, led by Jon Favreau in a nicely surprising guest spot as Pre Vizsla (whose character was another welcome new addition to the seen on screen STAR WARS pantheon of villains), had very few good moments to shine (though once more it was nice to see the Jedi fighting off against adaptable humanoid enemies: and they certainly gave Obi a bashing at one point, though, a few minutes later, disappointingly went into dumb villain mode a few minutes later!! Why does that happen??!!). I understand that this is a three part story and that the producers don’t want to play their trump cards just yet with the characters, but I hope we get to see a lot more of them en masse in a future episode, as well as discover even more about their genesis-how about a flashback tale?
I gather that some of the established EU history of the Mandalorians is present in this episode (including the revised addition of the EU character of Vizsla?) but much has been changed, leading to a great deal of hissing fits in the worldwide EU fan community and frustrations by certain authors, the end result of this episode being an unusual hybrid of Lucas and EU ideas that won’t please everybody. Overall, what do I think about all the changes to EU continuity that have angered the fan base? Well, its Lucas’s universe-he’s the father creator-what he says goes as far as I’m concerned the storyline is concerned. What he wants to create doesn’t have to tie in with anything that the EU does-people will just have to accept that fact and everyone, including LUCAS LICENSING and LUCAS BOOKS will adapt to the changes as they always do. Perhaps it’s time, finally, to officially just make the EU realm of STAR WARS a completely separate entity, especially now that the animated series, and the eventual live action one, are on the air in a constant state of evolutionary flux. I have to say I’ not an expert on the Mandalore race and its warriors as so many of the EU cult are, but the ideas presented in the episode were intriguing (loved that black darksaber-bravo, Mister Lucas for that one!!), and I was curious about the reference to Jango Fett- so, is he a Mandalorian or not?
My take from the dialogue between Obi and Prime Minister Almec is that he isn’t.
As for the rest of the ingredients, well, once more, the look of the planet was great (the interior look of the domed city of Sundari was different to what I expected but still felt very much in the all defining and stand out STAR WARS mould-a closed in Coruscant built within a framework of cubes and glass on a white sand planet was both intriguing, contrasting nicely with the later seen forest/factory worlds of Concordia, and exciting to look at), and the direction was certainly adept and as confident as ever. So why wasn't I as fully impressed as I should have been? Well, its back to the Mandalorians again. As the visual forebears to Boba and Jango, I wanted something bigger and tougher than what we got (though the suicide bomber idea was pretty dark for a children’s show, I have to say!!)-we’ll have to blame the trailers for my disappointment (they just did too good a job of arousing my keen imagination and excitement for the episode). Here’s hoping that my expectations are completely satisfied by this three parter’s conclusion and that the Mandalorians get the action they deserve.
AFICIONADO RATING: The appearance of Mandalore-its civilization and its super commandos- in the series was always going to be controversial. Just how much of an impact they’ll make in THE CLONE WARS animated series is unknown, but I have high expectations of some epic conflicts to come in the next few seasons. Despite promising direction from newcomer Kyle Dunlevy, I have to give the episode a not quite what I expected 4 out of 5 (ideally it should be a 3 out of 5, but the welcome first appearance of the Mandalorians pushes it to a 4).
EPISODE THIRTEEN: VOYAGE OF TEMPTATION
Writer: Paul Dini
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 5th February 2010
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 27th February 2010
Made in Production Order: Season One, Episode 21
NOTES: This episode was created quite some time early in the production schedule, before THE MANDALORE PLOT and THE DUCHESS OF MANDALORE.
STORY: En route to Coruscant to plead the case for her system’s neutrality within the Clone Wars conflict, the Duchess Satine, traveling with her advisors and senators on her Royal starship, must rely on Obi-Wan and Anakin to defend her from a malicious series of assassination attempts. But who on board is secretly aiding the Death Watch in their cause?
REVIEW: A tense journey for all concerned in the second part of the Mandalore storyline. The welcome return of Paul Dini brings some good story plotting and a nice biting interplay between ex-lovers Duchess and Obi that builds on the hints of an earlier relationship established in THE MANDALORE PLOT (nice to find out a little bit more about how he first met the Duchess when he was with Qui-Gon Jinn (c’mon, lets have a novel about this, eh?), and I loved Satine’s dialogue regarding Obi-Wan, such as "Senators, I presume you are acquainted with the collection of half-truths and hyperbole known as Obi-Wan Kenobi?" Some nice role reversal relationship moments, and teasing, too, between Anakin and Obi-Wan), then a rather traditional adventure story kicks in a short time later with nothing truly exciting about the episode bar some albeit great visual flourishes (the terrific exterior and interior look of the CORONET spacecraft, which reminded me a little bit in places of the cruise liner from THE FIFTH ELEMENT in its grandiose regal stylings) and some interesting action moments (the assassin droids), though the episode is lifted to a more notable conclusion with an excellent scene involving Anakin who, in a satisfyingly true Vader moment, has to make a critical life/death decision that only he could make. An additional plus to the tale is the return of Artoo- its feels like a very long time since we’ve last seen him, and the STAR WARS universe doesn’t feel the same without him.
Sadly, the Mandalorian presence is pretty indifferent in the story-they play no real part in it and they could just as easily have been any Separatist villains in charge of the assassination plot (and at least if Ventress or Dooku had been in it we may have had a lightsaber duel!). Instead of the Super Battle Droids, it would have been fun if the enemy boarding party had been a squad of Mandalore Commandos (I want to see Rex and Cody take ‘em on!!) but I suppose it was not to be due to this episodes required story constraints that will lead into the finale.
Unless I’m proved wrong by the next episode, I’m now starting to assume that the Mandalorian presence is indeed just a taster for something hopefully much bigger in scale further down the road, otherwise this could all be the biggest wasted opportunity of the animated series so far.
AFICIONADO RATING: Some good moments of action and dialogue and the usual supreme production values, but this was pretty much a by the numbers episode for this reviewer- sophisticated, yes, but lacking the full kind of STAR WARS excitement that I expect from the series, especially when its linked to the enigmatic and dangerous Mandalorians. 3 out of 5
EPISODE FOURTEEN: DUCHESS OF MANDALORE
Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode 16
FIRST US TRANSMISISON: February 12th 2010
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: March 6th 2010
NOTES: A sequence of Anakin getting ready to lead Republic soldiers to Mandalore sadly never made the episodes final cut.
With this episode the show once more takes another transmission break until March 19th 2010 in the US.
STORY: When a transmission from Mandalore indicates their being overrun by the Death Watch terrorist organization, the Republic plans a pre-emptive strike/occupation of the planet- the ultimate response that Count Dooku has been waiting for in unleashing Pre Visla and his new army, firmly hand in glove with the Sith Lord and primed for battle with the Republic. The Duchess Satine, pleading the case for her planets neutrality, denounces the transmission as false, and, in a race against time before the situation escalates, goes on a secret mission within the streets of Coruscant to discover the truth, though Death Watch have also sent one of their best assassins to destroy her. Can Obi-Wan help her in time?
REVIEW: A satisfying, though hardly amazing, episode, concludes the Duchess of Satine/Manadalore arc. With no real pizzazz or grandeur, or even an accelerated sense of heightened danger, it was very much the visual side of the episode, and its many links to those elements I loved from the Prequels, that made THE DUCHESS OF MANDALORE as enjoyable as it was. Great to see all the main characters back from the Republic Senate, like Palpatine (loved his brief Sidious scowl at the chamber podium near the end of the episode), the intimidating Mas Amedda, Padme and the like-I’m probably one of the few who always liked the political shenanigans and intrigue of the Senate and all its varying characters good and bad (and we also saw Mon Mothma-how cool was that!! It can’t be long now before she’s got some big stuff-perhaps’ alongside Bail Organa in March’s SENATE MURDERS episode?) Nice to see the animated series own pantheon of characters making cameos, too (like a second non-speaking cameo from TRESPASS’s Senator Chuchi). As the drama plays out, and the Sith maneuvering of Satine and her people begins, our episode opening visions of armies of Mandalore soldiers going into battle fizzles out, sadly never coming to fruition (at least not yet), the race kept in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future, though the singular assassin we see striking on Coruscant certainly shows he’s up to the task of fighting a Jedi, especially one of Obi-Wan’s talents, in an interesting little combat sequence reminiscent of the Rumble in the Rain from EPISODE II (and I really loved Filoni’s incorporating some of Ralph McQuarrie’s classic paintings into the sequence, too, where the cloaked Satine and Obi-Wan covertly meet up at the plaza, as well as the Clone Troopers holding defensive shields like the early Stormtrooper concepts for STAR WARS in 1975-its nice touches that make this show even more worth while to watch). A further note of kudos to Kevin Kiner for the excellent, and highly sinister, Manadalore theme which made a re-appearance at certain points in this episode.
Talking of the two ex-lovers, the Satine/Obi-Wan Kenobi relationship had no real resolution, either, so a future re-appearance looks equally likely, though I do have a bad feeling about the Duchess’s future….
So, although this arc had a definite beginning, middle and end, this reviewer had been hoping for sooo much more. The Mandalorians certainly deserved something more epic scope-basically, they needed a plot the size of a singular movie or perhaps a feature length TV adventure, to do them the justice they truly deserve.
AFICIONADO RATING: Fans of Obi-Wan Kenobi will certainly be pleased with the way he has been such a strong focus in the story-arc, but Mandalorian fans may be disappointed overall. A bucket head wearing 3 out of 5
EPISODE FIFTEEN: SENATE MURDERS
Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Made in Production Order: Season Two, Episode Ten
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: March 13th 2010
FIRST US TRANSMISISON: March 19th 2010
Notes: This story was shown first on the UK SKY MOVIES PREMIERE channel, a week before the US’s CARTOON NETWORK. The UK will now see the rest of the series from this point in an uninterrupted run and before its US counterparts.
Story: As Padme and her fellow senators prepare to counter against a new bill sanctioning the Republic’s increased production of Clone soldiers in the escalating war, one of her dearest friends is poisoned, leading the Naboo politician, alongside Bail Organa of Alderaan, to discover the murderous culprit.
Review: The Coruscant political arena becomes more dangerous than ever for Padme and her closest friends in SENATE MURDERS. It’s great to see her and Bail Organa working together again (and involved in some action, too), as is seeing them immersed in with what will ultimately become the Delegation of 2000 committee against the actions of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in EPISODE III. Catherine Taber once again impresses as Padme and her scripted character is fine throughout, too -I especially liked that knock out punch she gives the villain at the end!! It’s always nice to have any story with Bail Organa though I would prefer Jimmy Smits to be back as his voice. Rumours that Smits was returning to the role now seem unfounded. Another plus was a nice little scene for the serene but powerful Mon Mothma. With so much of their political resistance cut out from the final edit of REVENGE OF THE SITH, this building collection of senate involving episodes is overall a positive step in restoring their believability in their attempts to stop the Clone War from escalating further.
The introduction of the corrupt Kaminoan senator, Halle Burtoni -proof that not everyone in that race is so seemingly benign- was a pleasing addition-more please. Onocanda Farr, or “Uncle” as Padme would lovingly refer to him, proves the perfect choice to kill off for the story, and adds some depth to both Padme and to the intrigues and powerplays going on within the Senate, though the sinister and intriguing Mee Deechi was killed off way too early in the episode and could have been an effective recurring obstacle for our heroes. However, the Republic inspector Divo (I’ll just call him Div!!), a bumbling, over-gesticulating character whose facial features had more than a passing resemblance to the excellent British actor Toby Jones, though probably a very good idea on paper-I’m sure they were hoping to make him a loveable COLUMBO-type- lacked a decent execution onscreen and his vocal playing by Tom Kenny was a misstep to this reviewer, much like Seth Green was as Todo earlier in the season- both roles looked like they had come straight off the set of a direct-to-DVD- DISNEY film rather than belonging to the STAR WARS universe as believable characters. If this is first of many future appearances for Divo, then I really hope they get better.
In an adventure so full of characters, what about the actual story itself, though? Well, pretty basic and hardly anything classic on the STAR WARS front, to be honest-all conveniently tied up with no sense of serious challenge to our heroes within its twenty two minute running time, with Padme discovering the truth in so quick a time as to probably make Agatha Christie and Jessica Fletcher green with envy!!.
Helping greatly to redeem the tale were the beautiful minutiae that continually adds depth to the STAR WARS universe- loved the nicely staged cinematography where the Republic cruiser departs Coruscant with Onocanda’s body, and the return of Palpatine’s blue honour guards.
And one final bit of praise for Ian Abercombie who really is marvelous as Palpatine- the other Ian- McDiarmid- would be proud of his animation voice counter-part.
AFICIONADO RATING: Though an improvement on SENATE SPY with regards to Padme, it may have been a mistake having two Senate related episodes in a row-to have broken it up with CAT & MOUSE, an Anakin space adventure, in the middle may have been a better idea, especially for the US as there has been quite a long break between episode transmissions recently.
Overall, SENATE MURDERS attempts to keep the political arena less heavy and more involving but is, in the end, only a mild success, though Catherine Taber shines throughout and always makes it worth the viewer’s investment of time. 3 out of 5
EPISODE SIXTEEN: CAT AND MOUSE
Writer: Brian Larsen
Director: Kyle Dunlevy
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Seventeen
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 20TH March 2010
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 27TH March 2010
Story: Blockaded by a Separatist fleet led by the cunning alien, General Trench, Bail Organa is trapped on Christophsis with his relief teams, and in dire need of help. Whilst Anakin and Admiral Yularen’s task force try to penetrate the blockade, Obi-Wan offers new hope in the form of a prototype cloaked ship.
Review: Back to the kind of space adventure fare we haven’t seen since the first part of the Ryloth trilogy, Anakin plays a deadly war game against a clever and unusual alien tactician, a legend at destroying enemy ships, in CAT AND MOUSE. Lots of elements of this episode reminded me of the close combat scenes of STAR TREK movies II and VI (right down to the destruction of Trench’s bridge, echoing the death of Christopher Plummer’s General Chang in VI) with a little bit of the wartime submarine drama U-571 (and THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, too) atmosphere thrown in. Even Kevin Kiner’s music had a touch of the WRATH OF KHAN about it. None of these observations are meant to be negative but it does show you how Classic STAR TREK continues to affect STAR WARS and vice versa. In combat, Anakin’s tactics continue to be daring, as does his further disobeying of Obi-Wan’s orders (again (!), and prior to the arrival of Ahsoka). Equally calculating is the enemy’s dangerous Admiral Trench (another well realized villain-his spider form being a cool visual motif-nice to see more alien species that are part of the Separatist forces-keep ‘em coming) I loved the new ship design for the stealth vessel (a snazzy upgrade on the Discovery craft seen in 2001: A SPACE ODYESSEY if ever I saw one) and its equally snazzy Clone compliment- fans may wonder what a cloaked ship-an idea common in most other science fiction series- may be doing in a STAR WARS series but the idea of this type of vessel had been mentioned as early as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, so its place in the series is justified, plus there were some nice scenes between Admiral Yularen and Anakin (technically, thei relationship is brand new here-this is the first episode of the series before both THE HIDDEN ENEMY and the animated theatrical pilot (originally the opening episode of the TV series, to have been called THE NEW PADAWAN, which was expanded into the eventual film), and a great little cameo from Bail Organa, where its nice to see him away from Coruscant and getting mixed in with relief duties across the Republic. The fascinating world of Christophsis makes its third enjoyable return to the STAR WARS universe also, which again is most welcome-though it would be nice to see more of its people and culture in a later episode, perhaps.
AFICIONADO RATING: Whilst there was very little that was actually new within Brian Larsen’s straightforward script, it was still exciting stuff, well told as ever, and a nice change of pace from the Coruscant episodes. 4 out of 5
EPISODE SEVENTEEN: BOUNTY HUNTERS
Writer: Carl Ellsworth
Director: Steward Lee
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Nineteen
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 27th March 2010
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 2nd April 2010
STORY: Crash landed on Felucia, Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka join forces with some hired Bounty Hunters to protect some of the planets local farmers from the greed and cruelty of space pirates who, it turns out, are being led by the Weequay known as Hondo Ohnaka. Can the Jedi reason with old enemy Hondo, or will a battle to protect the oppressed farmers be on the cards?
REVIEW: THE SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa-it’s an old and classic story which film-makers always find fresh ways to re-make and bring to life. There’s been one foray into the sci-fi movie re-make arena with Roger Corman’s BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, but now Lucas takes his old friends tale and gives it the animated STAR WARS treatment it deserves (and beyond a similar, more quirky STAR WARS MARVEL comic tale written by Roy Thomas in 1977), creating a fine and enduring tribute to his late friend’s work with the CLONE WARS episode BOUNTY HUNTERS (though concept-wise there are also obvious parallels to early Season One episodes like last years DEFENDERS OF PEACE, with a similar score from Kevin Kiner!!).
Making a villainous comeback after another Lucas inspired two parter from last year, this episode sees a much better, more ambitious use for pirate Hondo Ohnaka, with his character lines now drawn towards him being a bit more ruthless and dangerous in his dealings with the Felucian farmers and their Jedi/Bounty Hunter protectorates (though there are still a few nice bits of comedy dialogue to enjoy, too, like "Speak softly, and drive a big tank!!"). Also welcome alongside Hondo is the return of his naughty Kowakian Monkey Lizard buddy, Muk Muk- I loved the scene where he was manning the tank cannon in battle and also when he was trying to eat Anakin’s leg in order to protect his master. Though the farmer aliens the Pirates threaten prove no great shakes-a bit of a wet lot, here- there is some nice interplay between the other characters to compensate, with the Bounty Hunters deservedly get the most spotlight in this episode. I liked the idea of seeing some of them as being reasonably friendly, though they prove as equally tough as some of the Jedi’s past opponents in the field, like Cad Bane. The varied look of them and their unique abilities was also another nice plus, with the two stand out characters for me being the highly impressive Embo (voiced by Dave Filoni no less!!- great in the action sequences and with a very cool metal hat!!) and Seripas, the little guy in the robot suit. Some of the excellent rendered action scenes of them in battle alongside the Jedi and against the pirates were beautifully rendered, and reminded me a little bit of the kind of fast paced angles and moves seen in the terrific KUNG FU PANDA!! I’m assuming there will have to be a sequel to this tale at some point explaining what happened to the farmers prior to THE HOLOCRON HEIST and its full Separatist invasion of Felucia. Another pleasing touch in this episode was the early scene with a small herd of Rancors (looking like the one cut from the CLONE WARS movie) – a welcome little visual treat, as was the return of George Lucas’s favourite flying saucer!!
AFICIONADO RATING: A warm tribute to the legendary director Akira Kurosawa by his friend Lucas if ever I saw one (right down to the episode’s opening dedication), this was a lovely tale that was great fun to watch, with a nice balance between action and danger, perils and laughter-I have a feeling this particular band of Bounty Hunters will re-appear in later seasons. Yet another triumphant entry for Season Two. 4 out 5
EPISODE EIGHTEEN: THE ZILLO BEAST
Writer: Craig Titley
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Twenty Two
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: 3rd April 2010
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: 9th April 2010
STORY: Wanting to secure a vital trade deal for their planets heavy fuel resources, the Jedi and the Clone Army assist the Malastarian’s ward off a huge Separatist army with the help of a new weapon- the prototype proto-electron bomb. Though the device proves a success, its detonation brings to the surface an even deadlier weapon of a more organic kind-the mighty Zillo Beast-a legendary creature living underground which proves indestructible. Though Palpatine wants to destroy the beast so as to push the trade agreement through with the Dugs, the Jedi, Mace Windu in particular, are reluctant to follow his order, unwilling to destroy a creature that proves to be the last of its kind. Can some kind of compromise be reached in trapping the creature before it tears the planet and its peoples apart?
REVIEW: STAR WARS meets GODZILLA and its smash, smash, smash for our poor Clone Troopers, as the Zillo Beast makes its first larger-than-life appearance in George Lucas’s universe, in ways much similar to the origins of the classic Japanese beast it homages (in that a man-made detonation/seismic event wakens it from its underground home allowing it to wreak havoc (for the Japanese population we now have those charming Dugs-nice to see them back en masse, as we find out that its not just Sebulba that’s devious and crafty-it’s the whole race!!). Craig Titley’s second script for the series may come across as pretty basic but its good fun nonetheless. Look out for more classic examples of CLONE WARS dialogue referencing other classic film sources, too (I liked the adaptation of the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK Indy/Sallah dialogue to Mace and Anakin (“You go first!!”), plus further cool visual references to the Toho Studios series (so see if you can spot them), and the return of the infamous Wilhelm scream!
And what about the actual star of the show? Well, old Zillo was certainly an intriguing new beast for the STAR WARS universe’s ever growing collection of alien wonders- well designed and animated, and enjoyably fearsome, but designed in a way that kids in particular will enjoy without being too scared of it. Kudos also to Mace Windu (welcome back-you haven’t really been in it much since CHILDREN OF THE FORCE- whose pairing in this tale with the pre-EPISODE III Anakin works pretty well), and the other Jedi, for not wanting to destroy what is more than likely the last of its kind (and, in the process, giving us all a nice little moral message with regards to the need to preserve the endangered species living in our own modern world).
The action of this episode in and around the beast’s revival is generally great on all fronts, from the spectacular ground and air battle that launches the episode between Republic and Separatist forces (I was thrilled to see the ARC-170 fighters being introduced into the series-so where does this tale now fit into the overall time scale-I’m assuming this adventure is much nearer REVENGE OF THE SITH?), to the Clones and Jedi then trying to fend off the advances of the awakened creature (I liked seeing the Republic’s technology being rendered absolutely useless against it, and the same with the Jedi, too, with the great scene where Anakin leaps into battle against the beast but proves equally powerless with his saber (in the end needing the ever heroic Artoo to jet back and rescue him-a nice touch)), to their finally, only just, knocking it out with concentrated concussion beams (I liked the diabolically enthusiastic look on Palpatine’s face when he’s told of the creatures natural abilities to ward off heavy weaponry, plus his subtle baiting of Windu for his not wanting to kill it).
Stopped the Zillo Beast eventually is, but, oh boy, the worst is yet to come!!!
AFICIONADO RATING: This gargantuan tales gives the animation teams a chance to flex and push their digital talents even further, pushing their visual ambitions and creativity ever forward and bringing to life an adventure and star creature that will hopefully become highly memorable with fans of all ages (and who doesn’t like seeing big monsters smash things up spectacularly!!). We can’t wait to see old Zill’ let loose, CLOVERFIELD-style, on Coruscant in the next episode. 3 out of 5
EPISODE NINETEEN: THE ZILLO BEAST STRIKES BACK
Writer: Steven Melching
Director: Steward Lee
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Twenty Three
First UK Transmission: 10th April 2010
First US Transmission: 16th April 2010
Story: Now transferred to a secure research facility on Coruscant, Chancellor Palpatine, keen to tap the Zillo Beast’s genetic make-up so as to develop armour resistant to heavy weaponry, orders the creatures demise for biological study, against the wishes of both the Jedi and Padme Amidala. It’s not long, however, before the angry Zillo beast has other plans- escaping its bonds. Hungry for revenge against its enslavers, it smashes its way into the very heart of the cityscape. Can Anakin and the Jedi find a way of stopping it that doesn’t resort to genocide?
Review: RAMPAGE ON CORUSCANT!! This great adventure romp made the most of pretty much all of its ensemble cast-great to see Threepio and Artoo back together again, especially- and there were some terrific little scenes to savour-Yoda and Aayla Secura leaping onto the beast to buy time, Anakin rescuing Padme in a nice cliffhanger moment, Obi and Mace using their Force powers combined to stop disaster, Artoo rescuing Palpataine (if only he’d had dropped him, Artoo could have saved the Republic so much pain and suffering in the years to come!!) Backed with the superb creature animation as it wreaks carnage across Coruscant, THE ZILLO BEAST STRIKES BACK was an example of all the tremendous scope and range for STAR WARS that it wasn’t able to incorporate into its movie life.
I loved all the GODZILLA, CLOVERFIELD, VALLEY OF GWANGI and KING KONG references throughout the tale (sadly, there was no Fay Wray moment for Padme with the beast but perhaps there will be in the future) - it certainly gave THE HULK a run for his money against those Republic gun ships!!- and it was actually very sad when it was killed-a victim of fate and greed (in fact, you could say this was a story about two kinds of “beast”-one, the Zillo, fighting against all odds, just wanting to survive in the natural order of the universe, and the other, Palpatine/ Sidious, comprised of a far nastier and vicious disposition-this time it’s the human evil that dwarves the bulky monster!! Ian Abercombie as Palpatine was once again a pure evil delight throughout this episode (and his final scene/line of dialogue was excellent) - no wonder the creature was determined to take a lump out of him –we were with you all the way, Zil’!!).
With the creation of this monster two parter, its funny how, back in 1997 the STAR WARS team were kind of chastising the US version of GODZILLA (an internal ILM poster at that time proudfully declaring, in reference to EPISODE ONE, that “Plot DOES matter!”), yet how things have changed…now the CLONE WARS universe has a beast with the same kind of size and destructive power to rival Japan’s favourite city crushing icon. I guess what goes around eventually comes around, eh.
Special credit for the sound team, too, with the creatures realization-they really helped give it believability (I also loved the use of the 1940’s air raid warning sirens blaring when it attacked), especially towards the end with some brilliant work representing the tragic death throes of the gassed beast, backed with a fine KING KONG-esque score from Kevin Kiner.
Some terrific camera angles and bits of comedy mayhem also added greatly to the final episode-in fact, more damage was probably inflicted on Coruscant in this than anything seen from the huge opening atmosphere space battle later seen in EPISODE III (in which the city looked pretty untarnished!!). Once again, the very basic plot didn’t matter-it was the creature carnage that we were we all wanted to see, and this was another grand effort from Dave Filoni and the Gang that was much better than I ever expected, and a fine conclusion to the Zillo Beast arc (or is it?).
Wrapping things off, it was equally fun to see the line, “I have a bad feeling about this,” now being used by Palpatine. It seems that not even the citizens of the Dark Side are immune from saying such iconic words!!
AFICONADO RATING: It’s not easy being a Zillo Beast!! Superior to its opening part, THE ZILLO BEAST STRIKES BACK was another winning episode of the series. A creature-tastic 4 out of 5
EPISODE TWENTY: DEATH TRAP
Writer: Doug Petrie
Director: Steward Lee
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Fifteen
FIRST UK TRANSMISSION: April 17th 2010
FIRST US TRANSMISSION: April 23rd 2010
Story: Infiltrating a Clone training mission on the Republic Cruiser Endeavour, the young bounty hunter-to-be, Boba Fett, is determined at all costs to exact his revenge on Mace Windu-the Jedi who killed his father during the Battle of Geonosis.
Review: Finally, after eight years, that all-important question of just what happened with young Bob Fett in between the period of EPISODEs II and III, is finally answered. And in a most satisfying way, too, with the first of his three part epic re-introducing him to the Saga- immersed in a well constructed script from newcomer Doug Petrie- before he dons the rusty Mandalorian armour we know and love him for.
I was a bit unsure about how Boba would be exactly brought into the series (done at Lucas’s specific request, apparently) especially whilst still an angry young child, but what could have been problematic was effortlessly realized on screen, and the opening sequence where he was smuggled in with the other Clone Troopers was excellent and well thought out. The little urges to kill, but not quite (though it surely won’t be too long before the disintegrations start!!), proved interesting, and Daniel Logan did a very good voice job standalone and alongside Dee Bradley Baker as the rest of the Clone children. The only thing missing was Daniel’s Boba laugh-perhaps that’s being saved for the last episode.
With revenge on Mace clearly on his mind (so much so that the Jedi should have picked up who he was when he walked past him on the Republic cruiser), Boba couldn’t have gotten a more accomplished Bounty Hunter teacher, mentor and planner in all things chaos and destruction than the mysterious Aurra Sing, who had a great little cameo here, which also saw the actress/model finally getting some meaty dialogue (with more to come). There was also the terrific first appearance of Slave One (and that welcome ominous sound of its engines tearing up space).
Jedi Mace Windu continues to be as steadfast and cooled in his attitudes towards Anakin as always- almost treating him with attitude and disdain at times- obviously building up on the uneasy relationship between the pair that will prove catastrophic in EPISODE III-and their pairing in the next couple of episodes is going to be very intriguing, especially with Anakin against Fett- considering the later kind of evil partnership they will have in the Classic Trilogy, Anakin shares similar problems with boy Boba with regards to not having a father, as well as certain aggression issues, which will be very interesting to explore if they go down the route-presumably much later in the series run, and after this opening three parter. Perhaps Anakin may later, unconsciously, hinder Mace in his attempts to capture the boy.
On the supporting guest voice side of things, UK actor Julian Holloway’s tough, Scottish Republic commander Kilian (named after Plunkett we presume!!) was a welcome standout addition to the series (I’m assuming Holloway got the accent job because Simon Pegg was too busy playing Montgomery Scott in STAR TREK!!), though it also reminded me of Holloway’s previous Scottish sci-fi role, as the out of his depth Sergeant Patterson in the original, classic DOCTOR WHO story from 1989: SURVIVIAL. As usual, there was also the nice visual touches adding to the episode, like the gun port firing scene, the shots of the Endeavour docking (very EPISODE IV!!), and the brief cameo of everyone’s favourite Trandoshan- Bossk.
Playing only slightly against the tale, however, was its disappointing ending, with the abandoned boy clones being discovered by Anakin and Mace too easily and quickly. Boba’s deliberately choosing to strand his brothers in space forever would have been a far more dramatic, uncomfortable and satisfying end-the first true stages to his relationship with the dented helmet being cemented. I’m sure many fellow fans will have been equally annoyed a little with the resolution, but, at the end of the day, it’s a family show with morals, so our personal EMPIRE misery-like expectations were never going to be realized.
AFICIONADO RATING: Despite the aforementioned ending, this was a fantastic start to Boba Fett’s epic, audience pleasing three part adventure, and was certainly very worthy of the STAR WARS name, feeling a little bit more adult in the storytelling stakes. 4.5 out of 5
EPISODE TWENTY-ONE: R2 COME HOME
Writer: Eoghan Mahony
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Eighteen
First UK transmission: 24th April 2010
First US transmission: 30th April 2010
Notes: In the US, this episode was shown as part of a finale one hour double bill on CARTOON NETWORK on 30th April 2010, a week after its previous exclusive premiere in the UK.
Story: With Anakin and Mace now arrived on Vanquor to look for survivors of the crashed Republic cruiser Endeavour, the duo are unaware that Boba Fett and his bounty hunter colleagues have sprung a deadly new trap against them. Trapped under heavy debris on the vessels bridge, which is now about ready to explode, can R2 escape the planet, and Boba Fett, to get help?
Review: The Boba Fett revenge saga keeps up the pace with its second installment, with Daniel Logan once more getting some fine character material to work with, especially alongside Jamie King as the almost surrogate mother hen-like teacher/murderer, Aurra Sing. Will she continue into the future to be his ultimate trainer in the ways of bounty-dom? The episode, scripted by veteran Eogahn Mahony was well constructed (he seems to be born to do episodes that are of a darker framing) and animated with verve and style once again by another CW vet, Giancarlo Volpe-its funny how you can see his style of animation direction more clearly than many others who’ve worked on the show (with the exception of Dave Filoni and the now sadly departed Rob Coleman). Setting the episode for the most part in and outside the remains of the devastated and fracturing Republic cruiser was inspired and lent itself to lots of tension and atmosphere. It was interesting to see the often uneasy Mace/Anakin dynamic from the previous episode explored more fully, as was seeing the neat pairing between Artoo and Areight (before its unfortunate demise-some droids just don’t have the luck!!). With their booby trap soon sprung-good use of Jango’s helmet!!-the bounty hunters keen anticipation to recover Mace’s head was well established and it was great to see such a varied mixture of alien characters alongside Boba-another nice nod to EMPIRE’s previous Bounty Hunters assembled sequence. Of the group, Castas proved annoying, though Bossk was terrific, with a brilliant rasping and reptilian voice that was perfectly brought to life by Dee Bradley Baker.
Other creatures it was pleasing to see again for EMPIRE’s anniversary year were the Gundarks, one of which is taken out in a crowd pleasing scene, where Artoo sends it, attached to a starfighter, crashing into the remains of the Endeavour. Wonderful stuff and I laughed out loud and applauded the little droids cunning.
And, as the title said, this was Artoo’s episode-certainly as the Jedi were conveniently, but effectively, incapacitated- and our favourite little astro droid certainly gave Lassie a run for his money in the getting help against all odds stakes, didn’t he? The way he was immersed in the story was great and it was fun seeing him using all the internal gadgets at his disposal to beat back the bounty hunters-there was one moment where I felt he was almost re-enacting a scene from the first HOME ALONE movie when he dropped debris down on the ascending trio of villains!!. And his formidable talents as a star fighter pilot, in a terrific and tense race against time scene, against Slave One, to get to the in orbit hyperspace rings, certainly could give Anakin a surprise. All in all, this episodes uses of Artoo was far more ingenious and effective than in his previous Season One’s stories as main star.
AFICIONADO RATING: This story trilogy is getting better and the animation this week was superb. One of the series very best. I’m very much looking forward to Part Three. Here’s hoping it ends on an even more spectacular note: 4.5 out of 5
EPISODE TWENTY-TWO: LETHAL TRACKDOWN
Writers: Dave Filoni and Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Dave Filoni
MADE IN PRODUCTION ORDER: Season Two, Episode Twenty
First US Transmission: April 20th 2010
First UK Transmission: May 1st 2010
Note: This story was shown in the US as a season finale double bill with R2 COME HOME.
Story: With Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker recovering from their injuries previously sustained on Vanquor, and a threatening ransom message now received for Windu’s life, Ahsoka Tano and Plo Koon, having found clues in the dense realms of the Coruscant underworld, make haste to the planet Florrum to stop Boba Fett, Aurra Sing and her Bounty Hunter posse from killing two of the Endeavour’s captured officers, including Admiral Kilian.
Review: There must be a new STAR WARS mantra out there in Lucas Land: if Plo’s in it, then Dave’s gonna do it!! And I’m sure the Great Maker himself is only too happy with his results. Yep, that man with the hat Filoni is back in the full directorial seat for this fast paced, critical finale to the entire second season, re-establishing the same kind of serious tone for the next series in the way that HOSTAGE CRISIS did in linking Season One into Season Two. Between them (Filoni and series writer Drew Z. Greenberg) they’ve got the rare choice of penning what must have been one of the coolest story ideas they’ve had in a short while (the conclusion to the overall Fett trilogy), and it’s nice to see Filoni let loose creatively in this episode (there’s some great visual imagery, like the Coruscant nightlife sequence, and with Slave One) that I’m sure he’s been busting to release to fans over the years, and he also gets to add some nice touches of dark edginess and brutality here and there (in a nod to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK-his favourite STAR WARS film), like the killing of Clone Commander Ponds and his subsequent jettisoning into space, and the bloodthirsty Aurra Sing’s calculated shooting in the back of Castas (handy for the writers, too, as they needed a way for the bounty hunters to be tracked down!!), without damaging the shows overall family adventure tone. Despite such great talent at work, however, the final shape of LETHAL TRACKDOWN doesn’t ultimately feel like a wholly satisfactory end to the season or the Boba Fett trilogy-we’ve been with Windu and Skywalker for two previous episodes and we the viewers expected them to have some kind of involvement, alongside Ahsoka Tano and Plo Koon, in wrapping things up. Pairing Plo and his ex-Padawan was a nice idea but done at the wrong time and at the expense of the overall story, no matter how neat an idea the CLONE WARS team thought it would be- doing something that went against the traditional grain in the evolving story process. Mace’s eventual final scene with the arrested Boba was also a major let-down, and the dialogue between the pair-with Mace basically telling Boba to get used to the fact that his father’s dead, and that’s the end of it!!- seemed too short and undeveloped. I know that the Jedi don’t take revenge but, unless that aspect is re-awakened to a stroner, more developed degree later in the series run, it fell a little flat.
Ultimately, bar Boba, this episode was now Ahsoka’s chance for the spotlight after a run of episodes she hadn’t appeared in much, with her character seeming more mature now and her place in the series fully confirmed. She had some great sequences, especially in the action- from her speeder bike chasing Aurra Sing, to her fight to stop Slave One at the end (very cool moment when she clipped one of its wings off with her saber, and its subsequent crash (though we think the explosion was faked and that Sing, the queen of cold, escaped)). Plo Koon also proved a good support throughout- I really liked the complex little fight sequence he and Ahsoka had when taking on Aurra and Boba in the darkened gambling table room-very western like (did you notice that cool little Spaghetti Western-like score for Boba Fett from Kevin Kiner?)
Though our favourite Trandoshan, Bossk, was ultimately wasted in the entire tale (boo!!), Hondo Ohnaka’s brief non-story advancing cameo was great fun, as was the revelation of his fling with Sing (loved his “he’s not one of mine?” question to her about little Boba!!). Jamie King was excellent throughout the three-parter as the notorious Sing-now a character we can’t wait to see return at a hopefully not too distant point- boy, has she got some serious attitude problems!!- though hopefully not to the detriment of that other bald lady of darkness we like: Asajj Ventress. As for poor Fett, well, he wasn’t shortchanged, but there was no more real character development beyond his juvenile hatred and desire, and whining, for justice against Mace. I’m assuming the producers will slowly but surely enhance the character in further appearances over the next few years towards his eventual Classic Trilogy state. And there’s bound to be some kind of major jail break on Coruscant in the near future.
AFICIONADO RATING: I can’t quite pin my finger on it, but the episode felt as if it ended a bit too abruptly. Despite some great sequences, it was a little underwhelming after the previous two fun episodes (again, all the previous LUCASFILM hype may have hurt our viewing experiences prior to transmission-building our expectations up just too high), with a satisfying yet not quite taking your breath away with excitement kind of conclusion to the season. It was, however, a far superior ending to what was seen in the previous Mandalore Trilogy. 4 out of 5
AFICIONADO SEASON REVIEW: With more ambition in the story and animation departments, Season Two of THE CLONE WARS, with what was an intriguing mixture of tales, was a marked improvement over its premiere year in many ways-a commendable effort by Lucas and Filoni’s hard working team. However, Season One still has the edge over it with some better scripts and faster paced episodes, often with more satisfying conclusions, too. With the exception of the majority of the Geonosis saga (including the superb LANDING AT POINT RAIN opener), not all of the Season Two mini-arc episodes lived up to their initial promises (the Mandalorian Saga, in retrospect, was a let-down), and some of the individual stories seemed a little bit weak in final development. However, episodes not too bogged down in continuity, like the superb Season One holdover CARGO OF DOOM, and the Zillo Beast two parter, proved great fun, as was the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN-esque BOUNTY HUNTERS. Also, a special mention of the terrific GRIEVOUS INTRIGUE-which got the season’s second half transmission batch off to a great start. Let’s hope that the General has more than a few dangerous encounters with Jedi next year, and that we also have the return of Asajj Ventress and Count Dooku.
Overall, the RISE OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS title for the season worked as a marketing idea but didn’t quite live up to its promise as lengthy story potential-with the exception of Cad Bane and Aurra Sing there weren’t enough of the baddies and their evil-dom through the series (especially as one showcase episode, the aforementioned BOUNTY HUNTERS, showed a group of them fighting primarily as paid goodies!!). Hopefully, next season will have more of a stronger core focus if they return to the concept of the umbrella theme-from the trailer we’re assuming part of the 2010/2011 series might be linked to Filoni’s previously mentioned return of Jabba and his Hutt clans. We look forward to the future of the series, and what looks like a darker road for the character of Ahsoka Tano to travel, with great anticipation. Roll on, next October!!
OVERALL SEASON RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5