Retro-Reviews: The Clone Wars Micro-Series by Nathan Butler (2003-2005)

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Back in 2003, my friend Nathan Butler penned quite a few guest reviews for this site including a complete, episode by episode review of The Clone Wars mirco-series by Genndy Tartakovsky that aired on Cartoon Network. Lucasfilm had ventured into animation before with the likes of Ewoks and Droids, not to mention the Star Wars Holiday Special, but this series of shorts was different. Nathan’s reviews were posted as individual articles dated November 2003 to March 2005, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big retro-review. Here’s Nathan…


Complaining seems to be the only thing that Star Wars fans do with great efficiency these days, doesn’t it? I mean, the Prequels are a “disgrace,” Jar Jar “should die,” the Death Star in Attack of the Clones “has wrecked the Expanded Universe forever,” and certainly the New Jedi Order saga has “forever despoiled the saga by killing and twisting our beloved characters.” Seriously, folks, when did this stop being a fun bit of escapism and become a blasted cult?

Now, I’ve been as big a fanboy as anyone. I’ve been working on the Star Wars Timeline Project for six years now, been hosting ChronoRadio for almost forty episodes, and got myself so fascinated with Brian Daley’s old Star Wars radio dramas that I ended up creating my own and eventually launching Star Wars Fanworks. You’d think that I’d be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that no one besmirch the reputation of the saga I grew up with. But . . . nope.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my reviews for T-Bone’s Star Wars Universe over the years and my work on the radio show, it’s that we have to be objective when viewing the saga. There will always be good points, bad points, and gray areas, but being a true fan lies in recognizing and acknowledging Star Wars for what it is, not some idealized vision of the saga we’ve had in our heads since the days of playing with action figures. So, let’s dispense with the bickering and the Clone Wars micro-series bashing, and actually take a fair look at the series.

 

CLONE WARS MICRO-SERIES (OVERALL)

Clone Wars is the fourth Star Wars cartoon to be aired in the United States (and elsewhere). Until now, we’d only been graced with the Holiday Special cartoon feature in 1978 and the Droids and Ewoks tales of the early 1980s. It’s been nearly two decades since the last time Star Wars was adapted for cartoon features, so we should probably be considering it a positive thing that the series was made at all. Those who are bashing the project at this early stage, after one episode, should be asking themselves whether Star Wars fandom would really be better off if the series had never existed, leaving Star Wars cartoons to die off with Ewoks.

Now, that being said, the way the launch of the series was handled leaves much to be desired.

First, Cartoon Network apparently doesn’t talk to their own creators, nor consult their own schedules. All the way up until the week of the series premiere, CN was running advertisements that said, “The five-minute chapters begin Friday.” Well, that’s all well and good, but if they’d bothered to actually pay attention to Genndy Tartakovsky and Lucasfilm’s comments about the project, or, hell, even Tartakovsky’s own comments in the documentary they aired about the series, they’d have known that the episodes were about two minutes shy of their advertising. So, before the series even began, we were hearing two different things about the series length: three minutes or five minutes. That wasn’t helped by the fact that in some places, the series was noted as twenty episodes, and in other places, it was said to be twelve episodes.

Okay, so it’s either a series of twelve three-minute episodes, twelve five-minute episodes, twenty three-minute episodes, or twenty five-minute episodes. So the full series is anywhere from 36 minutes to 100 minutes. No wonder people are whining and griping at the small length of the first episode. I’d be annoyed too, if I weren’t, y’know, privy to enough common sense to have taken the word of Tartakovsky over that of the Cartoon Network promos.

The advertising glitches didn’t stop there, though. A quick look at the schedule posted on StarWars.com, reveals that episodes are to air at 8:00 ET, then premiere on the site at 8:30, followed by an encore airing at midnight. Well, as many angry fans can attest, the encore never aired. Yet again, it looks like communications between the Lucasfilm folks and the Cartoon Network schedulers led to some angry fans. On the plus side, the website premiere was at almost 8:30 on the dot.

Of course, the web situation is an even bigger fiasco to begin with. Up until now, most of the site’s video files have been regular Quicktime files. They load in your browser, then if you have paid for Quicktime Pro, you can save the file to your hard drive. No problem, right? Well, no problem until this time. For Clone Wars, the site premiered the first episode files (a 320 x 240 file for regular viewers, a 480 x 320 version for Hyperspace members, and a 480 x 320 version with commentary for Hyperspace members) as streaming Quicktime files, which cannot be saved to the viewer’s hard drive, helping to negate the reason that many people (a) have paid for Quicktime Pro and (b) paid for Hyperspace at the last minute. Not only that, but the streaming server was kicked in the head by the sheer number of people wishing to download the Hyperspace member versions, leading to them being almost impossible for most members to stream effectively. As web video premieres go, this one was an absolute flop.

However, the saving grace here is that Lucasfilm and the Cartoon Network responded to fans almost immediately. The premiere was at 8:30 p.m. on November 7. By morning of November 8, the Hyperspace streaming files had been replaced by regular Quicktime files which could be saved and did not have to be streamed for viewing. Never before has the official site or, to my knowledge, Lucasfilm itself come through for its fans so quickly. Kudos to them for the quick response time, even if they or the Cartoon Network should probably have run more tests on the streaming files (or never turned to that idiotic format at all) before release time.

So, release-wise, the Cartoon Network gets a C for its on-air release (a great premiere, but no encore and preceded by an absolutely moronic lead-in), while the website staff get an F for the premiere night presentation, but a hefty dose of extra credit for answering the cries of the fans within 24 hours.

Now, moving on to the actual episodes . . .

 

CHAPTER 1: A Fair and Balanced Review Series

I don’t know what some fans were expecting of the first chapter here, but what I keep hearing is “I thought it would be longer,” “it didn’t have enough content,” and “I hate the artwork,” so let’s hit those.

First, I can understand if you thought the episode would be longer, based on the CN promos that said five-minutes. On the other hand, if you’re one of those who knew the three-minute length to begin with, you should be jumping with glee, shouldn’t you? The actual episode ran about 40 seconds over three-minutes. If we use the Quicktime runtime, 3:44, then you got about 25% more content than Lucasfilm said you would. So why are you whining? Griping about the length of the episode, after having known that it was a three-minute micro-series to begin with, is like going into Matrix Revolutions and being upset that it stars Keanu Reeves. Hello! You knew what you were getting into when you chose to watch it.

Second, for a three-minute short, this one did manage to carry a nice chunk of content. What precisely were the people griping about “lack of content” expecting? This is part one out of twenty! If this were a feature film, you’d still probably be watching the opening credits three minutes into it. By the time three minutes passed in Attack of the Clones, the landing struts of Amidala’s vessel hadn’t even touched down on the landing pad yet! It’s the first three minutes in a presentation that will last an hour in total. It’s there to set up what follows, and in that regard, it did a very good job.

It didn’t suck up a lot of time with an opening crawl or closing credits. It gave us our first looks at the cartoon versions of the clonetroopers, gunships, the bulbous little walkers, hailfire droids, spider tanks, super battledroids, battledroids, Republic assault ships, Jedi starfighters, AT-TEs, Saesee Tiin, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, Palpatine, Dooku, Mace Windu, Luminara Unduli, Bariss Offee, Kit Fisto, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Arc Troopers. It also introduced us, for the first time anywhere, to Anakin’s special Jedi Starfighter and the clonefighters. Meanwhile, Yoda’s voiceover (with one serious tense change that makes part of his commentary awkward) sets up the background of the conflict far more efficiently than an opening crawl. Once that’s taken care of, the remainder of the chapter sets up the mission to Muunilinst, the roles Obi-Wan and Anakin must play, Palpatine’s growing flattery and seduction of Anakin, Obi-Wan’s inner doubts, and highlights, in what might be one of the quietest, but moving, moments of the series, the strain that the Clone Wars places upon the marriage of Anakin and Padme.

And it was done . . . in three minutes. What else did the naysayers want? If an entire battle had been squeezed in to please those who would gripe, the gripes would simply be that it was rushed. (And don’t even try to deny that, naysayers. You would find fault with a perfect jewel if given the chance.)

In terms of presentation, the episode is hit or miss, depending upon your taste in cartoon adaptations. Some people’s tastes tend toward realism and exact translations. (Yeah, the same people who hate comic-based films because the creators take liberties with characters and costumes.) Others are more into the exaggerated stylistic nature that can come through adaptations. (The same extreme who might argue that, even though the Dolph Lungdren version of The Punisher was far, far from the comic book it was based on, it was still Frank Castle, so it was a great adaptation.)

Me, I tend toward a balance. We want a series that takes full advantage of its medium, but we still want traditional Star Wars. In that sense, the series is, again, hit or miss.

The artwork had me worried to begin with. After Jan Durseema’s wonderful comic book art and the bulk of my Cartoon Network experiences being in the form of Powerpuff Girls and Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, I was afraid that the galaxy far, far away would become simplified artistically into something more akin to Charlie Brown than Jedi butt-whupping. I needn’t have worried. The artwork here is clean, smooth, and blended just enough into fantasy and away from Star Trek-like adherence to minute technological details that we get a sense of fun without losing the sense that this is still Star Wars. Those who bemoan the style should perhaps check out the three earlier Star Wars cartoons, with their stretchy, bending-like-rubber droids and bland, not-realistic-but-not-exaggerated interpretations of the characters. Believe me, as a child of that era: the art here is a treat, not a drawback.

Sound-wise, the sound effects were on-target, which is a given, since they have access to the real film sounds, and hearing my favorite music of any Star Wars film (the blended ending of Attack of the Clones), used for the final minute or so of this production, particularly with Anakin saying goodbye, was superb. The voicework, however, left much to be desired.

I do fan audio. Heck, these days, that’s about all I do in fan productions. I’ve personally played Palpatine in Resurrection, Yoda in Dreamscape and That Prequel Movie, and Obi-Wan in That Prequel Movie. Folks, the Yoda here was good, but even I could’ve done a better Obi-Wan or Palpatine. Obi-Wan sounds like a generic fan trying to do Obi-Wan, not someone professionally hired for the job, while Palpatine (whose presentation here as “Supreme Chancellor Burns AKA Darth Smithers,” as some have said, is a unique and entertaining take on the character’s slimy political nature) sounds like any old boss character in any other cartoon series. I’m glad we had the visual of Palpatine. If this was an audio drama, I would’ve had a hard time figuring out who that voice was supposed to be.

Now, that leaves a lot, certainly. We don’t know how any other characters, including Anakin, will sound, and we haven’t seen what previews lead me to believe are very simplistic, almost dishearteningly so, versions of Asajj Ventress and Durge. However, for now, what we do have is a solid start to the micro-series. The execution of the premiere left much to be desired, but it’s worked out now. As for the chapter itself, it’s not perfect, but it’s a damn good start.

 

Chapter 2: Banking on Gunships

The saga continues, as fans get another mini-dose of Clone Wars. In Chapter 2, the assault on Muunilinst begins, Obi-Wan chides Commander Anakin on his maturity level, and a gunship full of Arc Troopers is shot down within the city. Now, I said these would be fair, balanced reviews, and I aim to stick to that, even though I love the concept of the series. So, let’s try to do this evenly.

THE GOOD: The “good” for this chapter is the fact that the action has started. And, I guess it’s cool that we got to see the cartoon versions of the starfighters from Geonosis, albeit briefly.

THE GREAT: The great this time would have to be the Arc Troopers’ use of military hand signals rather than comlinks. That’s a nice little touch of realism in the storyline.

THE BAD: Is it just me, or did the release of the clonefighters and gunships look way too much like the release of the Drej ships from the Drej mothership in Titan AE? Go back and watch both. It may not be an intended comparison, but it certainly yanked me out of the story, such as it was. This edition also had a nice cliffhanger . . . but very little forward movement. Again, though, that’s something mitigated by the series format.

THE UGLY: Remember what I said about how I could do a better Palpy or Obi-Wan than these yahoos? Well, we can add Anakin to that list. Did the people doing voice casting even see the most recent film?

THE RIDICULOUS: (THIS PERTAINS TO THE AIRING ON CARTOON NETWORK ONLY) Okay, how much do we really need to see a “Previously” clip from Chapter 1 and a “Next Time” clip for Chapter 3? Also, what is the point of running the new chapter at all if the preview at the end of (someone shoot me for bothering to watch even a minute of it) the cartoon before it basically spells out the entire plot? Short serials like these, especially when under five minutes, should not follow the “lead-in and lead-out” format of hour-long dramas. The spoiler potential and ratio of the preview time versus the entire production’s time is, well, ridiculous.

OVERALL: Let us pray that the overall impact and quality of the series increases after this setback, rather than this being an omen of things to come.

Sorry, folks. Chapter 2 is a disappointment after Chapter 1’s great start.

 

Chapter 3: Consider Thy Butt Kicked

Memo to the creators of Ed, Ed, and Eddie, or however you spell it: Do you realize you made a show that really only appeals to those who “sniff glue and eat jawbreakers,” as a student of mine once said? Just checking.

Okay, yeah, the third micro-series episode!

THE GOOD: Solid butt-whupping. Very nice action. In particular, the leap into the tank and subsequent leaping away while it went poof from the inside was sweet. I wanted to see that in TPM, but to have it be clonetroopers instead of Gungans certainly make it a better experience. I gotta say, though, it must suck to be the commanding Arc Trooper. Everyone else has dark color schemes with their white, to blend with the background, and here’s your sorry butt with bright bloody red that screams “SHOOOOOOOOT MEEEEEE!” He handles it with grace, though. Heh heh heh.

THE GREAT: Virtually a silent production in terms of dialogue. Now, granted, I may have dug that because I hate some of the voice casting that’s been done for this series, but just straight “solid butt-whupping” with military hand signals and not a lot of talk (even when orders are being given) makes for some hardcore clonetrooper action. Great call on the creative team’s part.

THE BAD: No real complaints with the voice acting this time, given how little there was, but oh, if only this could’ve been a truly “sans dialogue” episode. What a thing that would have been for the Star Wars history books! But then, that’s like saying “Oh, if only they were longer,” and I’ve wanted to slap those gripe-mongers, so I should drop this one. No real “bads” this time.

THE UGLY: Only the Cartoon Networks’ continued use of spoilers in the pre-show preview and such, like last time. No sense in rehashing that one. I guess it would’ve been ugly to have been in that tank, or that one battledroid, or that OTHER battle droid, or . . . well, yeah, any target would’ve been ugly, but it’s all good for the good guys, right?

OVERALL: Far better than Chapter 2 and perhaps even better than Chapter 1. Keep the segments like this one coming and I’ll have to quit griping, won’t I?

 

Chapter 4: Enter Giraffe-Man, Galactic Bounty Hunter

Well, the series seems to be ramping up well. This edition was better than the last, but it’s not all golden. Maybe semi-golden. Quasi-golden. Anyway, on with the review.

THE GOOD: The introduction of new characters! Okay, I guess I should’ve included the Quarren back in the review of Chapter 1, when I was talking about the first micro-series appearances of cartoon versions of things we’ve seen in the films. Well, despite that oversight, we’ll keep right on noting them! This episode sees the first cartoon appearances of the InterGalactic Banking Clan officials (including San Hill), Durge, and the SPHA-T tanks (“Sphat,” get it? It’s like the sound of a splat of metal, or, uhm, slang for “It’s good.” Y’know, ‘s phat!). We also get our first-ever glimpse of the black, almost-but-not-quite IG-88 droids and their jousting speeders of doom.

THE GREAT: The clones have frickin’ rapid-fire blaster rifles! And then several of ’em go splat after a slam from a jousting droid or Durge. Both are great additions to Star Wars combat. And, good lord, was that a BUILDING that they pounded until it literally crumbled? Woohoo!

THE BAD: Some things seem just a tad overblown. The tanks don’t see the big-ass swarm of swoops coming at them from the side before they’re hit? None of the troops around them even try to protect them? (Oh, wait, all those ground troops are GONE in the next shot, when we see the tanks all alone. What, did they run away? Were those “spots on the camera in the overhead shot?”) And what exactly is in that jousting spike that allows one hit from Durge to the viewport to cause an entire tank to explode like it was bombed from orbit?

THE UGLY: One word: Durge. More words: Okay, so we know Durge was developed in part for this very cartoon series, but if you’re going to do that, why make his comic book appearance menacing and humanoid, then make the cartoon version something like a man’s body with a giraffe’s neck? Early previews suggest this is how Asajj Ventress will look as well. I sincerely hope he dies by having his head chopped off at some point. That’d at least make the Stretch Armstrong effect (“C in a circle copyright someone other than me”) more amusing.

OVERALL: A worthy installment and the best of the first four in this reviewer’s opinion.

 

Chapter 5: And Now for Something Completely Different

Apparently, Durge’s assault on the Republic troopers on Muunilinst was the end of that conflict, or at least a major “pausing” point for us, as we now leap away from the conflict of the first four chapters to a completely different force on a completely different world. This time, Kit Fisto leads an assault against forces of the Separatist-allied Quarren, who are attacking the Calamari on their shared home world, Mon Calamari.

THE GOOD: A chance of pace is nice, every once in a while. In this case, we get a battle with some fun moments, including Kit Fisto’s very stylish dive into the ocean, the surprise moment of the first blast from the Separatists’ underwater cannon, and the first appearances of the Mon Calamari species, underwater clonetroopers, Mon Cal serpent thingies, underwater vessels for the Separatists that look like modified droid starfighters and other underwater enemy craft. And, oh yeah, Kit Fisto is the star!

THE GREAT: The pace of the action is superb. It feels a lot longer than its three minutes, which is definitely a plus. The best feature, though, has to be Kit’s underwater lightsaber, which fits with some fans’ images of such use (including mine) perfectly, as it causes the water around it to seemingly boil and swirl around it.

THE BAD: The bad in this case would have to be the continuity fixes this might entail if considered Official. The Republic battleships land (and float!) in the ocean, and, of course, some will have issues with the lightsabers-in-water issue.

THE UGLY: The only real “ugly” this time is a feat of logic. Kit’s great final attack is carried out by somehow creating a Force bubble under the water that has the strength of several wrecking balls when tossed (apparently without water resistance) against the underwater cannon. While that’s something that can be explained away as a new Force ability, it seems a bit contrived as a means of ending the battle quickly. (Oh, and why would a Jedi in a “galaxy far, far away” have a Taoist Yin/Yang symbol on his belt?)

OVERALL: Very nice. Maybe we should have more one-shots like this one . . .

 

Chapter 6: Asajj Ventress, Bald Lady of the Sith

Another familiar face has arrived! Asajj Ventress, Bald Lady of the Sith! (Sorry, Asajj Marvel’s old character Lumiya claimed the “Dark” Lady of the Sith title, so you get stuck with a different adjective.)

THE GOOD: First appearances again, baby! But we’ll get to that. What’s probably the primary good of this episode is the voice of Count Dooku. Like that of Yoda and Obi-Wan (after a fashion), and very unlike Anakin and Palpy, Dooku actually sounds like he should. Other than Yoda, this is the best voice work in the series yet. Why is it not “great?” Because, frankly, this is something that should’ve been a given. The fact that the other voices tend to suck with the force of a hundred black holes doesn’t make it spectacular when a voice actually sounds right. We also get Dooku’s solar sailer in this episode as a first cartoon appearance.

But, oh yeah, back to the first appearances. Here, we get our first look at a Gammorean, Aqualish, and some various alien creatures. We’ll get to them in a moment…

We also have the first appearance and recruitment of Asajj Ventress. She’s “Miss Badass Chick of the Universe” for the Clone Wars era, making her first appearances in the comics, much as Durge did. It’ll be nice to see her in action against the Jedi, or, apparently, against Dooku in the next chapter.

THE GREAT: Having Ventress and Dooku actually in action in the story is the highlight of this chapter. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to, and to couple that with a classily-done bit of alien subtitles makes this chapter a definite keeper.

THE BAD: The creatures. For the most part, they resemble rejects from the old Voltron cartoons, and I have to wonder if the Drules sent them. Call Keith, Lance, Allura, Pidge, and Hunk, quickly! GO VOLTRON FORCE!

THE UGLY: Two uglies, both dealing with Ventress. First of all, what the hell is going on with all these insanely long necks? And, speaking of Ventress (and this is more of a gripe overall, not for the micro-series, per se), I really loved her character the first time I saw her; y’know, back when she was called Komari Vosa. Don’t create two characters that are almost identical, alright? What’s next, Jedi Master Wobi-Kon Benobi, the bearded Jedi Master with the turquoise lightsaber, who trains the Picked One, Danakin Atmospherestrutter? (Sorry, that’s always irked me.) But, if we’re stuck with two versions of the same character, at least the Ventress concept is getting more playtime than Komari, who appeared in only a couple of stories in her days.

OVERALL: Great chapter, and probably the best overall, so far. I’m sure that’ll change next time, though. Bring on the saber duel!

 

Chapter 7: Sinead O’Connor vs. Saruman

At last, an episode of the micro-series that truly adds to the continuity. We learn much, and it plays quite well.

THE GOOD: While I’m still a bit less than excited at the voice work for Asajj, the voice work for Dooku remains solid, and the introduction of the Sidious voice is well done as well. Given that this one has three characters, it stands up best among those episodes that have aired thus far in terms of performances and voice emulation.

THE GREAT: Again, great butt-whuppin’ scenes, but the biggest treat here is the continuity-related content. Some were worried about how Ventress had a blue and green saber in the previous chapter, but we know she has red ones later on. Well, while some fans made note that she obviously doesn’t get her curved Dooku-esque red ones until she hooks up with Dooku (uhm, duh), we actually get to see how that happens here, and the fact that Dooku had them ready makes me wonder if the Sith looked into the future and saw that Ventress would be joining them. Along with that, we also get a reference back to Yoda’s TPM line (“I sense much fear in you.”) in a moment explaining, very quickly, that Ventress is not a Sith, but a Sith Disciple, much like, say, Granta Omega of Jedi Quest. (See, folks, some continuity issues get resolved if you give them time.) Overall, a great new backstory.

THE BAD: Not much of a complaint, given how good the chapter was, but, now that I’ve grown accustomed to the somewhat time-wasting “Previously” segments at the opening of episodes on Cartoon Network . . . where the heck did it go this time? I find it odd that of all episodes, this would be the one they’d yank the “Previously” segment from. But, then, that could be due to how the opening seconds directly overlapped with the previous chapter. (People editing their own full versions in Quicktime beware! You’ll need to edit a bit more than usual.)

THE UGLY: No uglies this time. The only “semi-ugly” is the question of why in the world they’d want Ventress to eliminate Anakin, but my guess is that she’s being sent to her doom, just to keep challenging Anakin and pushing him closer to the brink. I guess we’ll find out.

OVERALL: ::drool:: ‘Nuff said.

 

Chapter 8: Munnilinst Reloaded

Can you believe I showered through this one? Yeah, I taped it, but still. One of those kinda days, I guess. AAAAAAAnyway . . .

THE GOOD: We get a return to the original micro-series story. It appears to be picking up right where we left off, so it might seem a bit disjointed when viewing later (or as one file), but it’s very nice to see that the battle on Munnilinst hasn’t been forgotten in the sweep of Asajj and Kit stories. The concept of a Star Wars joust is also quite nice to see on-screen, especially after having seen it used in gaming and having played the online time-waster game.

THE GREAT: The first great has to be Obi-Wan’s outfit. The idea of a Jedi in a cross between his own robes and a clonetrooper outfit, akin to Luke and Han in ANH, is very cool to me. The real treat, though, has to be the fight between Obi-Wan (we’ll call him Neo) and Durge (how about we call him Agent Smith)? The comparison there is pretty close to what we saw in the first Matrix. The protagonist is at an extreme disadvantage in sheer power and is being beaten down by the antagonist, when he manages to finally get the upper-hand in a relentless attack, finally “killing” the enemy, whom it seems will return, reborn, very soon. I found myself muttering, “I am going to enjoy watching you die . . . Master Kenobi.” But that’s not a bad thing at all! For this series, this is the most exciting and involving battle thus far, a far cry better than even last chapter’s battle between Asajj and Dooku.

THE BAD: Again with the one- or two-stab tank destruction. What is in those frickin’ jousting pikes, huh? I mean, even if these had blasters on the ends, could they really take out an entire tank in one or two blows?

THE UGLY: Am I the only one who thinks that the way that Durge looks cut apart is really, really nasty. It reminds me of one of those pieces of sausage you get when you bite into one of those hard, icky parts. ::gag::

OVERALL: Even better than Chapter 7, and that says a lot right there.

 

Chapter 9: Kal-El Kenobi vs. the T-1000

Twas a night for exaggeration and oooooooooooze! Let’s get into the ninth micro-series chapter!

THE GOOD: The tale on Muunilinst, at least on the ground, seems to be over. Granted, it was nice to have one continuous battle as our focus, but after a while, the Muunilinst ground battle was starting to get old. Kudos to the team for giving us at least a bit of closure before the months-long gap until the final 10 episodes.

THE GREAT: The final (?) battle with Durge has some great moments, making Durge seem a much bigger threat than one might’ve first surmised. Whereas the comics handle him as a major powerhouse with great skills, this series takes the monster features to new levels. Obi-Wan’s casual destruction of droids upon first entering the Separatist command center is great as well, as is the electrocution attack by the Arc Trooper (even if it reminded me of Michael Jackson’s Captain Eo).

THE BAD: There were a few moments here that, to me, stretched the Star Wars dramatic license (though I guess after Waru in The Crystal Star, anything is possible). Obi-Wan’s insane leap from the swoop from halfway up the tower near the opening stretches credibility in just how powerful Obi-Wan can be. It reminded me more of Superman, or shall we all him “Kal-El Kenobi” from now on? I also have to wonder about how he uses one saber slash to destroy two Destroyer Droids. I guess that’s a super-lightsaber, huh?

THE UGLY: The only ugly here is the gross-out factor. Star Wars has some gross moments in the films, but nothing to the level of this micro-series chapter. If the oozing nature of the Durge “Gummy Worm T-1000” wasn’t icky enough, the idea of Obi-Wan being sucked inside then blowing him up from the interior into something that looks like Valentine’s Day-hued explosive diarrhea is flat-out nasty. This is why Obi-Wan never gets the girls.

OVERALL: Not quite the straight, badass Star Wars action of the previous two chapters, but still a far cry better than some of the early episodes. Sadly, we have only one more chapter to go before the mid-series break.

 

Chapter 10: Old Tricks, New Ship

And, so, the first half of the Clone Wars micro-series comes to an end, and we have to wait months for the continuation. Those who missed any episodes can catch them all in one showing tomorrow night at 7:30 ET. For the most part, we end on a high-note, with little to disappoint.

THE GOOD: The good here, I think, has to be the starfighter combat. Yeah, the whole thing is starfighter combat, but in particular I’m talking about the far-off views that are reminiscent of old video games. Granted, this can be seen as undetailed, somewhat less than spectacular framing of the action, but for a fan of the old Gradius series and other Nintendo and pre-Genesis Sega shooters, I enjoyed what I hope was an honest homage, not an issue of laziness.

THE GREAT: The great here is twofold. First, we have a change of pace to something totally new, an entire episode of space combat. Second, we have the sheer density of fast-paced combat crammed into this three minutes. I’m reminded of the early clonetrooper episodes in which the action was fast and furious.

THE BAD: The bad here, I guess, is that sometimes it can get too fast. It’s sometimes difficult to see specifics in what’s happening. Also, the Geonosian pilots don’t seem to bright, and their space-faring weapons fire has all the accuracy of an ANH-era stormtrooper’s blaster fire. Time for some remedial training in starfighter gunnery.

THE UGLY: The only ugly is the same ugly from, I believe, the second chapter. Anakin sounds horrible. Why they chose this guy for the micro-series and the game(s) that preceded it, I’ll never know. The guy sounds more like Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell than Anakin Skywalker. Next, I suppose, we’ll have a new powerful Sith Lord, Darth Screech. I can’t say it enough: GET VOICE ACTORS WHO SOUND RIGHT, DAMMIT!

OVERALL: An excellent episode, if a flawed jewel thanks to the Anakin voice actor’s pitiful imitation of Hayden’s voice. Kudos to the creative team for this first half of the series, and if the quality level keeps ramping up as it has been, I can’t wait to see the second half.

And, you will see me again for the second half of Clone Wars. Until then, keep the repeat showing tomorrow night in mind, may the Force be with you, and if you do any voice casting for a fan production, make sure the voices sound right.

 

Chapter 11: Anakin Disobeys . . . Again

Finally, the Clone Wars micro-series has returned for its second “season.” And we kick it off with a bang, the conclusion of the space duel between Anakin and Ventress started above Muunilinst at the end of Chapter 10. And, of course, we get the standard “Obi-Wan says one thing, Anakin disobeys and does another” cliché that has become commonplace in the Clone Wars era.

For the most part, the episode is a good kick-off to the second round of episodes.

THE GOOD: The dogfight is carried out well. The fact that they moved from space to the city made for a much more exciting battle than it would have been just in space.

THE GREAT: References to Darth Vader flowing from Anakin’s mouth! Okay, well, just the one, but having Anakin, locked onto Ventress’ ship, saying, “I have you now,” is a perfect touch for fans of A New Hope.

THE BAD: The bad is still the voice work on Anakin. However, given how much I’ve bashed it in the past, I should note that I’ve grown fond of the same voice actor’s portrayal of Anakin in the Clone Wars videogame, so I’m wondering what precisely it is about the voice work for the cartoon that drives me batty, when it’s the same person. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the visual style that the actor’s Anakin interpretation is paired with. Or perhaps it’s because the performance of Anakin in the cartoon series is so ungodly wooden. Y’know, maybe.

THE UGLY: Did we really need the plot device of Anakin disobeying Obi-Wan again? How many times can he do this in the Clone Wars storyline, be it in cartoons or comics, and not get himself slapped down by the Jedi Order? To me, all it does is make Obi-Wan out to be a total pushover and terrible Jedi Master, allowing his Padawan to disobey any time he so desires.

OVERALL: Quite entertaining. Definitely a good start, even if it does contain some clichés and the requisite dull Anakin performance.

 

Chapter 12: Being Piston

We cut away from the conflict at Muunilinst and that ever-so-disobedient Anakin to catch up with Jedi Master Mace Windu on Dantooine for the first of two episodes in a break-away arc, reminiscent of that of Kit Fisto during the first “season” of the micro-series.

It’s an odd one to stay the least . . .

THE GOOD: The cool part about this episode is that it’s almost verbally silent. Only two lines of spoken dialogue are heard throughout this entire episode. Instead, we are left to view the battle between the Clonetroopers (led by Mace) and the droids, followed by the awesome power of the Pancake Maker of Doom, in an almost pure action environment.

THE GREAT: And what an action environment it is! We see Mace (in his first real appearance), blazing through countless droids, with Clonetroopers kicking sufficient ass as well, for an almost non-stop-action episode. If battle droids had balls, they’d be to the wall, I’m sure. The opening of a child running up a hill and discovering the battle taking place is a great start to the episode as well.

THE BAD: What happened to the tactics of the Clonetroopers and droids? Now, granted, this is animation, but why reuse the same easily-recognizable “trooper firing a missile” shot from an earlier chapter? Why do the battle droids just stand there, while Mace kicks their asses, one small group at a time? Why, when the droids SURROUND the Republic force, do they not fire on them EXCEPT where Mace is standing? Why do the Clonetroopers fire back only when we see from behind Mace, but never when our POV faces Mace? A major “duh” of a blemish on an otherwise great episode. But, wait, what’s the ugly?

THE UGLY: I’m not sure which is the ugly here. The in-universe ugly would be how so many Clonetroopers die, splatted to death by what looks like a one-tower World Devastator with a big-ass piston enemy-squasher on the bottom. I guess the viewing “ugly” would be the same. Sure, it works as a cartoon, but a BIG-ASS SQUASHER THINGY? THAT’s the great super weapon of the Separatist forces now? Can you imagine how that’s going to sound when taken in the context of the entire Official Continuity? It’s Waru from The Crystal Star all over again!

OVERALL: Alas, a great cartoon episode that plays very strangely in the overall universe, but certainly entertaining. And now, Mace lies in the custody of the battle droids. Bring on the second half of “Mace Windu vs. the Big-Ass Piston Thing.”

 

Chapter 13: Mace Windu, Last Son of Krypton

Chapter 13 of the series picks up where Chapter 12 left off, with Mace Windu cornered by super battle droids, after having witnessed a… big… splatting… thing… wiping out his troops. They’re pancakes, flattened, squished even, and he’s without his lightsaber. What’s a Jedi to do?

Well, apparently, the answer is to draw upon his Kryptonian heritage, the power of the sun, and show the cast of Smallville how it’s done.

THE GOOD: Again, we have the kid to add some humanity. Again, it’s almost silent. And, yes, we see the end of the Squisher of Doom.

THE GREAT: How utterly obvious was this part of the review, huh? Of course, the pace and action of this episode is thus far unparalleled in the series. Mace cleans up the battlefield, leaping around, nearly flying, and acting like any indestructible Last Son of Krypton, Man of Tomorrow, or Man of Steel should. You have to see it to appreciate how badass he truly is. “Did I break your concentration?”

THE BAD: When did Mace gain the ability to fight like this and virtually fly? When did he lose it? Oh, he didn’t? There is no dramatic character change here? Then why in the hell doesn’t he fight like this in every one of his other encounters, you nits!?! Seriously, his fighting was great, but all of the previous encounters of Mace are made to look puny and somewhat weakened in light of the fact that, apparently, he would pull this kinda fighting power out of his ass on any given Sunday. If Mace dies in Episode III, which Samuel L. Jackson has pretty much said he will, then he had better fight like this beforehand. Otherwise, he’ll be seen as holding back and the continuity gaffe of extreme dramatic license will cause some issues.

THE UGLY: I saved a literal ugly for this one. Is it just me, or does the only bald black guy in the ‘toon have a head shaped like the Punisher’s skull, only with eyeballs?

OVERALL: Quite an entertaining episode. But the sheer amount of questions it raises about every other story in which we’ve seen Mace fight is staggering. Of all the potential continuity issues raised by the “dramatic license” used for cartoons, this is the one that bugs me most. It kicked ass, but it bugs the hell out of me at the same time.

 

Chapter 14: Damsels On Ice

And now, in true Star Wars fashion, we leap from the barren landscape of Dantooine from the previous two chapters of Super-Mace and launch headlong into the icy landscape of Ilum, first seen (I believe) in Jedi Quest, as we are propelled into a three-part micro-series arc.

THE GOOD: Very nice, solid action. Granted, in a few places I’d yell at the screen “Hey, don’t STOP and look up, you’re gonna get SHOT,” but other than that, the action goes well. And it’s all female action. Of course, that sets up those women to then be the damsels in distress for the second part of the tale…

THE GREAT: We get to see another long-running Padawan, Bariss Offee, become a Jedi Knight, or at least be told that her training as a Padawan is over. That’s something we just don’t seem to see enough of. It’s always seemed an interesting moment to me, but it’s yet to be covered as well as in Rite of Passage.

THE BAD: Purple crystals on Ilum? I guess Mace’s “electrum lightsaber” isn’t so special after all. The main “bad,” though, is cloaking technology. I hate seeing it in Star Wars. Seems too cheap, especially since it only shows up at just the right time, like on these droids.

THE UGLY: Just a little ugly, but . . . why is it always the female characters who end up in trouble? Even the Jedi women get into trouble, it seems. In a saga that was so renowned for putting Leia front and center as a strong female character, it seems that the stereotypical portrayals are in full force in the prequel era. Well, except for all the trouble Obi-Wan gets into.

OVERALL: A good, solid episode. Very few complaints. Again, I’d drop back with a note of caution for future Star Wars cartoons to watch those colors and other subtle choices. They might just be continuity errors waiting to happen.

 

Chapter 15: Yoda On Ice

The arc that I’m gonna call “Star Wars on Ice” continues, picking up where Chapter 14 left off. Luminara and Bariss are in trouble on Ilum, and someone needs to save the day. So, who ya gonna call? Yoda, Amidala, Typho, C-3PO, and R2-D2. (Interesting choices, I guess.)

THE GOOD: Hahahaha, it looks like Yoda’s syntax is passed right along with his mind tricks. Even the droids thought it was amusing.

THE GREAT: Again, we get to see Yoda in fast-flippy-badass mode. Granted, he’s a cartoon, so it’s not as impressive as on the big screen, but he’s doing more than calling the shots again. He’s actively engaged in battle, and that is always a plus for a character that is supposed to be so powerful.

THE BAD: Yeah, Yoda is short, but DAAAAAAAMN he’s short in this one. Seriously, in the first few scenes, I’m wondering if he might have been a co-star in that old vampire movie Ankle-Biters. (If you didn’t get that, you’ll need to listen to Requiem of the Outcast’s interview with Tim Zahn and Aaron Allston when it’s released in May.)

THE UGLY: So, wait, C-3PO’s voice box is basically just a telephone line now? Granted, I’m told that Daniels phoned in his lines for the series, but still, could it not have been cleaned up somehow? I mean, it’s so glaringly obvious to anyone who has done any audio work that it’s just sad. Like pathetic sad, not crying sad. Y’know?

OVERALL: Not bad. It has its amusing moments and its butt-kicking moments. Sure, Yoda’s no Mace Windu, Last Son of Krypton, but give him time.

 

Chapter 16: Amidala On Ice

And the three-episode arc on Ilum concludes… with some of the most out-of-character, piss-me-off moments yet.

THE GOOD: Again, we have a nice reference back to the original films, as C-3PO points out the approaching droids in a similar fashion to picking out Tusken Raiders in A New Hope.

THE GREAT: Amidala gets to see some action. Granted, it’s not carried out all that well, but at least she’s back in the foreground of a story, rather than being some off-screen object that Anakin keeps brooding over. Her voice is pretty decent as well.

THE BAD: It seems odd that Typho would have let Amidala out of his sight for that long, but then, that could be a matter of the snow obscuring his ability to find her. And, yes, the C-3PO phone-in voice is still phone-y.

THE UGLY: YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. Padme’s gonna send Threepio into a SWARM of blaster bolts as a decoy, then TOSS A FRELLING GRENADE at his feet and let it EXPLODE, blowing him across the area. Yeah, because Amidala’s that callous and uncreative. Right. Seriously. Sorry, guys, you BLEW the characterization on this one.

OVERALL: AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH! This makes me long for the days of Infinities: A New Hope when Yoda killed millions of innocents to get at Palpatine. It’s just that jarring.

 

Chapter 17: The Obligatory Yavin IV Arc

Time to return to Yavin IV, former hideout of Naga Sadow, base of Exar Kun, site of a Rebel base, a Jedi Academy, and, yes, a Yuuzhan Vong victory. What Star Wars story would be complete without Yavin IV?

THE GOOD: The general good here is simply that we are back to the original Muunilinst storyline, somewhat. This chapter, unlike the five that preceded it, finally continues the story of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s mission that was begun back in Chapter 1. It’s nice to see that they are likely going to be ending the series, or coming close to ending it, coming full-circle to the original storyline, rather than on some random off-shoot tale.

THE GREAT: Awesome ending imagery with the fire, great cliffhanger (sorta) ending, lots of troopers getting themselves taken out without seeing their attacker. This is the creepy jungle tale that Star Wars has rarely pulled off well. Here, they do it very well.

THE BAD: I seriously hope that they were trying to suggest that Ventress was using the Force to toss around the troopers. Otherwise, we now have a stealth Dark Jedi, or we’re back to that selective cloaking gimmick that bugs me.

THE UGLY: Yes, I was being facetious before. WHY IN THE HAPPY HELL DOES EVERY DAMN JUNGLE STORY HAVE TO TAKE PLACE ON YAVIN IV??? Let’s just make sure that EVERY major character in the saga makes it to Yavin IV at some point. Let’s take a throwaway jungle world from A New Hope and turn it into Disneyland for the Dark Side, why don’t we? Seriously, could they not have picked some other planet? Why recycle the same worlds over, and over, and over, and over again?

OVERALL: Awesome episode. Watch it. If you don’t, you shouldn’t watch the rest of the series. You’re missing one of the best parts. ‘Nuff said.

 

Chapter 18: Brat Goes Splat

And the grudge match begins! It’s been building to this since Chapter 10. Anakin Skywalker versus Asajj Ventress. But who can win: the arrogant Jedi brat with the poor voice work and penchant for whining because he’s the Chosen One… or the delusional Dark Jedi wannabe conceptual clone of Komari Vosa with the giraffe neck and penchant for whining because she’s not a Sith? Bring it on!

THE GOOD: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Anakin going splat against a tree when an unexpected tree segment slaps him like a cat in a hurricane is priceless. Slapstick without losing the action brings a smile to my face. The same goes for her twig-snapping move when Anakin is in the trees.

THE GREAT: The great here is obviously the action with built-in humor, but overall, it’s nice to see an episode that doesn’t pretend about what it is. No fluff, no fooling around, no dialogue. Just action from start to finish. Oh, and that rain. Hooyah!

THE BAD: Hey, Anakin, do you think you’re being drawn into a trap? Maybe? Perhaps? And what’s up with clothes in Star Wars? Anakin being pushed along the ground gave him a T-shirt kind of look, very stylish. Amidala getting attacked in Episode II sliced off a sleeve and turned her outfit into a midriff. Curious, that. Very curious. I’d talk to wardrobe.

THE UGLY: The one ugly is the shot to the face that Anakin takes from a stone. Damn, son. And I thought that slow-mo punch from Neo to Smith in the third Matrix was ugly. This was animation, and I still felt that.

OVERALL: Two episodes left. If they’re all like the last two, we’re in for a real treat. Could anything top Anakin vs. Ventress? (Well, of course… we have yet to meet General Grievous.)

 

Chapter 19: Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fightiiiiiiiin’

And the Anakin vs. Ventress storyline concludes, tying up most of the loose ends of the series. As probably expected, it’s a hell of a fight, but it has its surprising moments.

THE GOOD: Remember how last chapter, it was hilarious to see Anakin go splat at the “hands” of a tree? This time, we get a reversal of the same on Ventress. Again, priceless, but this time, we can sit back and say, “Yeah, that’s what you get, Sith wannabe!” Also, the hiss of steam from the lightsaber in the rain is great.

THE GREAT: Aside from the fighting, which is standard grade ass-kicking for the series, the best part is the surprise of the ending (well, it surprised me, anyway) of Anakin getting one of Ventress’ red-bladed lightsabers and wailing on her with it. I had expected some further “uh-oh, that Anakin is a baaaaaad boy” moments, but nothing that dramatic. Good show.

THE BAD: Again, the “wardrobe malfunctions” lead to some perfect results. Ventress actually manages to Force-push Anakin just right to blast off his sleeves and leave him with a perfect Jedi tank top style look. That’s just way too convenient for me, and comes off as goofy, not dramatic.

THE UGLY: The only ugly… Ventress is dropped off the top of a temple to plunge into the depths. Uhm, this was supposed to be their first encounter, right? So, if that’s the case, how does she manage to survive? You’re gonna have continuity issues, again, unless this Sith wannabe can sprout wings.

OVERALL: An excellent end to the Anakin/Ventress arc. Now, only one episode remains. Bring on Grievous!

 

Chapter 20: Grievous Errors

Finally, the Clone Wars micro-series comes to an end. The series ends with a bang, culminating in a double-length episode that introduces the new Episode III villain, Separatist Army General Grievous.

As with the first episode of the series, since this is the last one, I’d like to provide an Omega for that Alpha (uhm, not the ARC Trooper), and deal with this episode without the usual Good/Great/Bad/Ugly/Overall format.

The final episode is both a one-shot tale and a conclusion to the arc started in Chapter 1. Only the first tiny bit of the episode connects to what has come before. Several Jedi (whom we have never seen before, one of whom was voted on by Cartoon Network website visitors) assist in the Battle of Muunilinst, helping clean up the last of the battledroids. As that part of the tale comes to an end, Asajj Ventress’ ship arrives, bearing Anakin (remember, his ship was destroyed in two chapters ago). Anakin is, of course, dressed in his post-battle “miracle tank top,” described in the last review. Obi-Wan expresses a worry about the Sith’s interest in Anakin, which I liked a lot.

However, this opening sequence just compounds the continuity issues of the previous chapter’s ending. This is a long time before the Dark Horse comic book stories that feature Ventress. So, obviously, she somehow survives her insanely long fall in Chapter 19. Now, not only does she have to survive, but she has to do so on Yavin IV and somehow get away without her ship, then she has to somehow get her ship back, or have another one exactly like it made for her, before the capture of Obi-Wan on Jabiim, so Obi-Wan can steal it (what the hell? Did Obi-Wan and Anakin join the cast of Gone in 60 Seconds?) and escape later. Sure, there can be stories in the middle to cover these issues, or even a brief mention somewhere would do it, but to me, that takes away from the overall power of the series to leave these glaring questions.

Oh, but it gets more frustrating. Trust me.

The main story of the chapter takes place on Hypori, where a group of Jedi including (but not limited to) Ki-Adi-Mundi, Shaak Ti, and Aayla Secura, are fighting a losing battle against super battle droids and the evil part-alien, part-droid General Grievous. The action is intense. Grievous (apparently having taken lightsabers from fallen Jedi on the battlefield, as his Databank entry suggests) fights with two (then three, with one in a foot) lightsabers at blinding speed, and the fact that the scared Padawan that gives away the Jedi’s position is flattened by Grievous was a nice touch. It’s a great battle, even if the number of combatants doesn’t give it the same sense of urgency as the battle between Anakin and Ventress or Obi-Wan and Durge.

But see, then it ends. And it doesn’t just end. It ends on a cliffhanger, when we have been told the series is over. Grievous, bearing three lightsabers, leaps the hell into the air, pouncing toward Ki-Adi-Mundi, who we know has to survive based on stories set at later times, ready for a final showdown. And then it cuts to a stormy Coruscant, a few choice words from Yoda, and… roll credits.

After twenty chapters, two “seasons” spaced out with months between, this is how they decided to end it? WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING??? That’s not a climax. That’s anticlimactic. This is the Star Wars equivalent to the end of Matrix Reloaded, people. No resolution, no big finale, but just a dead stop.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I despise this episode. Way to waste an opportunity. Or maybe it wasn’t a waste. Maybe the opportunity was not to tell a good story, but to piss off the fans.

There had damned well better be a Chapter 21 in our future somehow.

 

Chapter 21: Let the Continuity Errors Begin!

Y’know, I was so excited to see a new season of the Clone Wars micro-series. I mean, this time they were longer than three minutes, and five of them would make up approximately the same running length, we were told, as the first two seasons combined. How awesome would that be, huh???

And then reality struck in the form of an avalanche of continuity errors already in Chapter 21. Now, I can forgive these in the original two seasons. Those were made before they decided to make the cartoons part of the continuity. But there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for screwing up continuity AGAIN when they KNEW AHEAD OF TIME that the cartoons would be in-continuity. Whoever allowed this: SHAME ON YOU. YOU SHOULD BE FIRED, at least from the job of making sure the materials fit into continuity how they’re supposed to. Someone slap whomever was in charge of that for this third season.

So, yes, I’m pissed off. What continuity fan wouldn’t be?

As you may recall, we left Season 2’s Chapter 20 on a ridiculous cliffhanger that was never meant to be resolved until AFTER the series aired on Cartoon Network for the first time and George Lucas decided to order another season-worth.

To recap:

ANAKIN SKYWALKER has stolen Asajj Ventress’ ship and returned to MUUNILINST in his blasted-up outfit (a sort of Jedi tank top). OBI-WAN KENOBI is on Muunilinst as well, having just lead the successful capture of SAN HILL and defeat (for now) of DURGE.

Meanwhile, on YAVIN IV, ASAJJ VENTRESS has fallen to her doom (well, at least until she reappears in the comics after somehow getting away from Yavin IV without a friggin’s ship!).

On HYPORI, a group of Jedi has come under attack. While his droids are halted outside the wreckage of a Republic cruiser, GENERAL GRIEVIOUS reveals himself to the Republic by taking on DAAKMAN BARREK, AAYLA SECURA, Barrek’s Padawan SHA’A GI, TARR SEIRR (a human in the credits but later a Cerean on the Official Site’s databank), K’KRUHK, SHAAK TI, and KI-ADI-MUNDI.

As we leave Chapter 20 to check in with Yoda on Coruscant, the following has taken place. Daakman has died while sending a transmission to Obi-Wan on Muunilinst. Sha’a Gi has been squashed (and killed) by Grievous. K’Kruhk has been cut down (which is glaringly inconsistent with his later appearance in the Republic issue “Striking from the Shadows”), but we can’t be certain he’s dead just yet. Tarr and Aayla have both been tossed WAY up into the “rafters,” not to be seen again in the chapter. Shaak Ti has been knocked out. Finally, Grievous is leaping into the air to pounce on poor Ki-Adi-Mundi. It is very unlikely that the Jedi will all survive.

So, you’d think that this would all be resolved so that at least the ones we know must survive (Ki-Adi-Mundi, Shaak Ti, K’Kurhk, and Aayla Secura) do survive, right? Well, you’d be wrong.

So, we begin Chapter 21, the first episode of Season 3, minus what might’ve been hoped for in the first minutes (a recap of what has gone before like they did for the other episodes!).

We enter the action as a group of ARC Troopers readies themselves aboard a sort of shark-like blue-painted gunship, charging across the surface of Hypori toward the Grievous/Jedi battle site. The clone voices seem very different from last time around, and they have only the vaguest of discernible alteration to sound like they’re in a helmet at all.

The gunship mows through the halted Super Battle Droids that Grievous told to stand still back in Chapter 20, who are 100% oblivious to the gunship until they are nearly blown up by its bombs. (I guess this goes back to those idiotic droids on Dantooine in the Mace Windu episodes last time around, when the droids didn’t fire unless they were in the foreground of the “camera” shot.) The troopers then land and charge into the cruiser wreckage, just in time to save Ki-Adi-Mundi, now disarmed by Grievous, from getting killed. They open fire on Grievous to drive him off, up to and including bringing the gunship into the wreckage to open fire as well. Grievous runs like hell and manages to escape, naturally.

They gather up their wounded to escape. Now the continuity flubs return. They specifically tell us that Aayla and Shaak Ti are gravely wounded and need immediate medical attention. The others are reported as DEAD and LEFT BEHIND. Among them is K’Kurhk, who MUST survive.

Now, if we went ahead and watched the chapter straight through, we’d now assume everything that takes place from here takes place one after another. That’s certainly how it’s set up in terms of the chapter. But no, even BEFORE the chapter was released, Leland Chee was already having to backpedal and save their butts by telling us that the episode is cut into pieces. Thus, only the first scene, that on Hypori, takes place immediately after Chapter 20.

Now we move ahead to later in the continuity. Now, it seems like it is just after the Grievous battle, as the Jedi Council discusses Grievous as if the events on Hypori are somewhat recent (but that’s subjective). But it must be later, as Obi-Wan sits on the Council. They are debating the notion of Anakin being given Knighthood without actual Jedi Trails, since he has more than proven himself. This puts the scene sometime just after Anakin’s trials and tribulations in the novel Jedi Trial, a mere six months before Revenge of the Sith. (Quite a jump from the original time frame we were given of the micro-series’ first two seasons taking place around four months after Attack of the Clones, isn’t it?) The debate is made more intriguing by a vision Yoda has of Qui-Gon Jinn taking young Anakin to the Dark Side tree on Dagobah (or somewhere similar), repeating the Trial of the Spirit test.

Now, we know that Anakin is a Knight in Dreadnaughts of Rendili (in the Republic comic book series), but he isn’t a Knight yet in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous or Jedi Trial. We’ve been told that Y:DR is after JT. He proves himself in JT, but we’re told that they don’t have enough time between JT and Y:DR for him to be promoted, so he is promoted between Y:DR and DOR. Okay, great. So this is very likely either just after Jedi Trial, but just before Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. In theory.

We then leap back out again momentarily, according to Chee, into the last two pages of Jedi Trial before going back into Chapter 21 of the micro-series, where we follow Anakin as he meets secretly with Padme. They share a tender moment, but are interrupted by C-3PO, who appears for the first time in front of Anakin with gold coverings! Padme has switched his plating, and now he is finally able to show it off to Anakin. It’s a scene with touching moments and some funny, over-the-top moments with Threepio.

Anakin is called away to the Jedi Temple to meet with Obi-Wan. Anakin talks back to him, big time, showing the frustration of the character and his need to be slapped simultaneously. Obi-Wan informs him that he will now be a Knight, a brother, not a student any longer. In a ceremony reminiscent of a real world knighting, Anakin is dubbed a Jedi Knight. He sends his Padawan braid to Padme to be kept with the japor snippet he gave her during the Naboo crisis. (It’s a cool scene, but somehow Anakin’s hair has gone back to short after Jedi Trail and back again to long by the time of Dreadnaughts of Rendili. What great continuity efforts are made here! Such insight! Such depth! Such a friggin’ shame they couldn’t get it right without a ton of fixes thrown into the mix.)

Finally, we leap ahead AGAIN (according to Chee) to about a month later, after the Republic issue “Trackdown,” but before the Obsession comic book mini-series. Here, we see Anakin board his newer model Jedi Starfighter and leave Coruscant (and Padme) for a new mission. This, we presume, is the mission that will take him away from her that he’s returned from when we see him with Padme on Naboo again in Obsession.

And with that, Chapter 21, such as it is, concludes.

Now, I don’t mean to say it’s a bad episode. It’s great to see longer episodes, and, kept in the proper continuity context, the scenes are pretty good, especially Anakin being knighted. It’s stirring, interesting, and good television. But the continuity issues make me want to hurl broken pieces of my new Clone Wars DVD at someone. Seriously, would it have been that damn hard to check the overall continuity for the time period before finalizing a story? Don’t these yahoos have to go through the same quality and continuity checks that Dark Horse and Del Rey do? These kinds of foul ups are just plain inexcusable on the part of those who are PAID TO DO THIS.

I eagerly await Chapter 22, if the continuity errors continue to compound, there’ll be little to redeem the micro-series from a storytelling, saga-expanding standpoint.

Blessed be Leland Chee. You’re the friggin’ man to be able to make sense of all of this and have yours be the official voice for the solutions. You’re a fan’s kinda LFL gent!

 

Chapter 22: Spaghetti-O’s Western

We now return to the Clone Wars, already in progress.

Chapter 22 picks up in the midst of a new Clone Wars battle. Actually, we’re in the mist of new battles, plural. We are hit with a fast montage of numerous battles, all of which must take place, as I’ll explain below, after Yoda: Dark Rendezvous and his promotion to Knight in Chapter 21 and the events in the Republic arc “Dreadnaughts of Rendili.”

Our montage begins with Anakin and Obi-Wan leading the charge against an alien leader and his battle droids with Republic cruisers and ARC 170 starfighters (replacing the previous seasons’ V-9 starfighters) with clone pilots.

We see Saesee Tiin under attack from tri-fighters in his newer-model Jedi starfighter with Anakin covering his back, all amid a massive space battle.

We visit an icy Hoth-like world where Agen Kolar, Voolvif Mon (remember, the character viewers voted for that appeared in Chapter 20?), and Aayla Secura face off with walkers. Again, Anakin saves the day.

Finally, we see Anakin landing on Coruscant to see Padme. For the first time in this series of shots, he bears the scar on his face that he was given by Asajj Ventress in the pages of Republic’s “Dreadnaughts of Rendili” arc.

We then leap to Obi-Wan and Anakin on a rain swept world. They have been there with their troopers (under Commander Cody, all in the newer stormtrooper-esque clone armor) for a month (or the Republic force has, at least). They intend on blasting through the enemy shield in three months, but that’s not going to be necessary. Anakin has found a swear entrance that he and Obi-Wan use to infiltrate the enemy encampment, under their shield. (“What an incredible smell you’ve discovered,” opines Obi-Wan in another not-so-subtle reference to the films.)

Upon entering the enemy camp, Obi-Wan takes out numerous droids with miniature explosives. (“There are alternatives to fighting,” he again quotes the Classics.) Their mission is a success!

Next, we move to Kashyyyk, where we see the arrival of Separatist forces, as well as on several other planets in one montage.

We move out of our montage and to Dooku’s lair, where he spars with General Grievous, using lightsabers. It is just another step in Grievous’ continued practice and training with the weapon of the Jedi Knights. They are contacted by Darth Sidious, who asks for a status report. Grievous says that their offensive is going as planned, stretching the Jedi very thin. Their secret assault is ready to commence soon (the attack on Coruscant that we have already seen carried out in Labyrinth of Evil and Reversal of Fortune, plus in shots from the first moments of Revenge of the Sith).

As the next stage in their plans, Sidious (as Palpatine) contacts Obi-Wan and Anakin with Mace Windu at his side. He tells them to go after Grievous, who has been spotted deep in the Outer Rim territories.

When, upon arrival, they discover no enemies in sight, they take a transport down to investigate strange thermal readings. After landing, the Jedi and their clonetroopers are set upon by a huge ice-dwelling beast, whose death angers the local tribe of natives.

With that, Chapter 22 ends . . .

This episode, outside of the deliberate, no-longer-funny quotes from the Classic Trilogy, is definitely an improvement upon Chapter 21. While still the same length, it doesn’t have nearly the continuity issues the previous chapter had.

Now, we do have to wonder what’s up with Anakin’s hair. It’s the correct length here, but, of course, it was far too short during his dubbing as Jedi Knight back in Chapter 21. There is a nice touch, continuity-wise as well when we see Anakin several times without his new scar, then see Padme’s first reaction to it (apparently).

So, the opening montage has to take place sometime after Anakin grows out his hair and leaves Coruscant at the end of Chapter 21 in his newer model Jedi starfighter, once he’s a Knight after the dubbing in Chapter 21 . . . which has to take place after Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, according to Leland Chee. But then the mission that gives him the scar is “Dreadnaughts of Rendili” . . . so apparently, all of the opening montage takes place between Y:DR and DOR. That’s a pretty jam-packed timeframe, since Y:DR, DOR, and Jedi Trial, plus now these Clone Wars micro-series bits, all take place in the span of one month (6 months before Revenge of the Sith). But, hey, we’ve seen more crammed timeframes in the Classic Era at times, so I won’t quibble.

The end of the montage must be pretty soon after “Dreadnaughts of Rendili” (where he for some reason uses his second version of his older modified Jedi starfighter, not his new one), so Padme can see his scar for the first time, before they see each other again in “Obsession,” five months before ROTS.

Presumably, the rest of the tale is set to take place very soon before ROTS, sometime between Boba Fett: Pursuit (5 months before ROTS) and Labyrinth of Evil (which starts 1 month before ROTS). Into this fertile ground, we get what looks like it will be a fun little tale, even as the Outer Rim Sieges ploy and the planned assault on Coruscant that we know are coming build up in the background.

From a story standpoint, this was a keeper, even if the montage makes things a bit cramped. The performances seem more campy this time around, but the stories are more in-depth due to the length, and you have to love the idea of seeing the build-up to ROTS from another point of view. That is, of course, if this point of view is going to coincide with Reversal of Fortune, Labyrinth of Evil, and the rest. We shall see, won’t we?

Bring on Chapter 23, Genndy. We’ll be watching carefully.

 

Chapter 23: Tiin Horn Trouble

It’s Clone Wars versus the Official Continuity.

“Round one . . . FIGHT!”

Last time, I said we’d be watching the continuity issues in the upcoming three episodes, starting with this one, very carefully. I needn’t have bothered. Anyone who has read LABYRINTH OF EVIL (LOE) or REVERSAL OF FORTUNE (ROF) will be able to tell you that this episode and the pair that follow COMPLETELY butcher continuity. To blend this seamlessly into the Official Continuity is going to take a miracle of biblical proportions. Perhaps that’s why Season 3 is ending on Good Friday?

So, let’s get into this continuity train wreck, shall we?

During Chapter 22, Obi-Wan and Anakin were contacted by Palpatine and Mace Windu. They were told to proceed to Nelvaan, where Palpatine says Grievous has been spotted. Upon arrival, Anakin defeated a large creature in battle, which led to them being confronted by some annoyed natives.

Now, at that point, we were okay. They were called away, sure, but we had no clue how closely those events were tied into REVENGE OF THE SITH (ROTS).

In LOE (and as a result of a discussion in ROF), something similar takes place. That time, though, it’s a mission to find Dooku when he is reported on Tythe, and, heck, they even mention that Dooku and other Separatists are fleeing to Nelvaan in LOE. So, maybe they could work together. Maybe Nelvaan was a strike at Grievous BEFORE the strike at Dooku on Tythe.

Well, no such luck, unless we’re going to be told that the Nelvaan parts of the tale and the Coruscant parts are not happening concurrently.

This chapter begins with Grievous’ forces invading Coruscant. Yoda is awakened in his meditation by a sense or urgency as Mace comes in and tells him they’re being invaded. Mace heads for his Jedi Starfighter, as does what appears to be Saesee Tiin (and we later hear his name, so we have to assume it’s him). Unfortunately for continuity, Tiin’s horns are perfectly pointed and whole in this chapter, when the character’s horn has been broken for decades. (What, did it magically regrow since we last saw him in Chapter 22’s montage, and will it magically be hacked off again by the time of his appearance in ROTS? PUH-LEASE.)

Meanwhile, on Nelvaan, Anakin and Obi-Wan are taken to meet with the Nelvaan elder, where they learn that they’d accidentally interrupted a rite of passage. They also learn of the disappearances of numerous Nelvaan male warriors, sent out to take on an unknown enemy. The elder says that it is Anakin’s destiny to “journey into fire.”

Back on Coruscant, a blast cuts through a wall near Padme, C-3PO, and Captain Typho. They head off to get to safety. Outside, Mace participates in the Battle of Coruscant in his Jedi Starfighter, racking up plenty of kills, including a stint outside of his craft, riding atop a droid starfighter like it’s some kind of crazed rodeo. Above, Saesee “Look, Mom, No Chipped Horn” Tiin leads starfighters in battle in space before landing aboard a nearly-downed Republic cruiser. He and his clonetroopers then literally leap from their docking bay with jetpacks and onto the hull of a Separatist ship, cutting their way in to take it over.

Back on Nelvaan, Obi-Wan volunteers Anakin to fulfill a role he seems he was prophesized to play.

Back on Coruscant, Yoda uses the Force to throw destroyer droids into the paths of starfighters and to crash a pair of Trade Federation landing craft. (Apparently he’s joined the “Kal-El Kenobi” and “Mace Windu, Last Son of Krypton” club. I hereby dub him “Yoda Kent.”)

Back on Nelvaan, Obi-Wan packs up his gear, clad in boots and pants, with a bare chest and tribal warpaint. He then heads off to face his Trial of Spirit, one of the Jedi Trials that comes with life experience for the young man.

On Coruscant, Yoda rides around on the same creature as in Chapter 1 (nice coda there), fighting alongside Mace.

Shaak Ti and two other Jedi, Moudama and Corobb (the two “loser” Jedi from last year’s “pick a Jedi” contest on Cartoon Network’s website), along with clonetroopers, arrive at Palpatine’s quarters to take him to safety. As they debate the merits of him running from his own residence, General Grievous himself bursts through the window! Cliffhanger time, ey?

So, how is the episode . . . ?

Well, I guess we’ll have to look at these last three chapters from two different perspectives.

From a straight cartoon perspective, leaving out all other Expanded Universe in-continuity materials, it’s a decent little episode. We get a heck of a lot of badass starfighter combat, and Mace is back to his old Super Jedi tricks, but in a more realistic fashion this time after what we saw Anakin do when jumping to Zam’s speeder in ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Plus, seriously, this is the Battle of Coruscant! This is the battle we’ve seen in all of the REVENGE OF THE SITH previews! We’re seeing ROTS set up right here, right now. And, granted, the Obi-Wan and Anakin story isn’t all that engaging, but it keeps them from Coruscant for a while and it at least serves as part of Anakin’s various trials to prove himself, even if he’s already a Jedi.

From the standpoint of the chapter in relation to the rest of the in-continuity Expanded Universe materials out there, this episode is utterly bogus and quite a clear example that the creators didn’t give one good damn about continuity when writing their scripts, nor apparently did whomever approved them for Lucasfilm.

Among the numerous problems here, given that we are told at the moment that LABYRINTH OF EVIL and REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, which agree with each other by the way, are the “true” version of the Battle of Coruscant, let’s just tick off a few of the continuity issues raised:

1. Saesee Tiin’s magically-regrown horn that gets broken again by ROTS, based on what we see in the full trailer

2. Obi-Wan and Anakin being on Nelvaan on a wild goose chase for Grievous as the invasion begins, rather than being on Tythe on a chase for Count Dooku.

3. Saesee Tiin and Mace Windu both take to the skies in their Jedi Starfighters. Tiin should be there, but Mace should be on his way toward 500 Republica to help get Palpatine out of there.

4. When Shaak Ti arrives to get Palpatine here, she has Corobb and Moudama at her side, and Palpatine has one blue Senate Guard with him. In LOE and ROF, she has Stass Allie at her side, not Corobb and Moudama, and there are several red Chancellor’s Guards there, not blue Senate Guards, along with some of Palpy’s advisors like Sate Pestage.

5. When Grievous bursts into the window here, it is just him, and he smashes through himself. In LOE and ROF, Grievous has captured a gunship, which blasts through he window, and then and numerous battle droids leap in through the shattered window. Grievous himself does not enter the room during the firefight.

We’ll certainly get into more later as the story continues to diverge, but that’s all for this chapter at least.

On the plus side, at least the opening bit of Mace racing into a meditating Yoda, followed soon by Padme, Typho, and C-3PO racing out of the room, presumably to run into Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, then Shaak Ti, as seen in LOE and ROF, all seems to fit correctly. Granted, we have to sorta figure that Typho eventually just vanished, but given his need to get Padme to safety, it’d make sense if he sent her on her best chance to get to cover and stayed behind.

I’m starting to feel like we have to fall back to Chris Cerasi’s classic comment about “windows” into the saga. We know Palpatine must be kidnapped to start ROTS. We know it’s amid the Battle of Coruscant, that Shaak Ti was unable to save him, that Corobb and Moudama will die in his protection, and that Anakin and Obi-Wan are on a diversionary mission elsewhere. It’s the specifics that don’t match up. So, if we can think of it in terms of there being a “real” STAR WARS out there, but all stories are just different windows upon it, some clearer than others, some more foggy than others, then I suppose we can just chalk this up to the same historical discrepancies that plague such events as the life of Vlad Tempes or the differing tales of how Jim Bowie got his knife.

For the fan of continuity who wants it all to fit, needs it all to fit, and expects it all to fit if we’re being told by the powers that be that they ARE supposed to fit, though, the disappointments just keep on coming.

Time to go all Zen and keep my brain from exploding. I suggest you do the same. It doesn’t get any better continuity-wise from here on out.

 

Chapter 24: Continuity Takes a Body Blow.

It’s Clone Wars versus the Official Continuity.

“Round two . . . FIGHT!”

We pick up exactly where Chapter 23’s continuity-crashing ending left off. Anakin and Obi-Wan are still on Nelvaan, where Anakin has just left to defeat whatever has been defeating numerous Nelvaan male warriors. Meanwhile, General Grievous has just crashed through the window into Palpatine’s quarters on Coruscant, where he was there debating the merits of leaving with Shaak Ti and the two “loser” Jedi from last year’s “Pick a Jedi” contest, Moudama and Corobb. Behind the Jedi stand numerous clonetroopers and at least one blue Senate Guard. (And just where are his Red Guards? Oh, right, they’re in the novel LABYRINTH OF EVIL, but not here. Gotcha.)

Grievous remains in the office as the only Separatist attacker. As the Jedi and a few troopers take him out a rear door, Grievous decimates the remaining clones and the Senate Guard.

As the sound of battle rages in the office, Shaak Ti and the others wait for the elevator to get them the hell out of there. When Grievous bursts from Palpatine’s quarters, he gets a few blasts from the Force via Moudama and Shaak Ti’s Force pushes and an Ithorian four-throated Force scream from Corobb. It buys them enough time to get into the elevator.

Moments later, Grievous scales the wall outside, pacing the elevator! A quick missile blast from a clonetrooper knocks him off, but once they reach the ground, they are dozens upon dozens of super battle droids in their path, along with Grievous. Another Force scream from Corobb sends many droids on their way, but Grievous’ claws allow him to continue toward his prey.

As they race for safety, knowing the comms are jammed, they are set upon by two of Grievous’ MagnaGuards. They manage to escape, but the MagnaGuards and Grievous pursue.

Back on Nelvaan, Anakin follows prophetic instructions into an underground cavern, where he receives his own vision of what amounts to animated cave paintings, showing him as a hero, but then also as an enemy, including a series of lines showing a Vader face.

Anakin then finds his target, an underground Separatist lab . . .

Back on Coruscant, the three Jedi continue running with Palpatine, with Moudama carrying the old man. They leap from area to area, eventually landing on a transport craft. Grievous causes it to crash, though, forcing them to flee into a mag-lev (train) station. The two warrior trios do battle amid (but not aboard) the trains, even as more MagnaGuards emerge. They are able to take out the MagnaGuards, but Grievous is still around. After being pushed toward a dead-end, Shaak Ti is able to use the Force to wrap Grievous’ cape around part of a train, so that when it leaves, it yanks his metallic butt along with it. They then escape further pursuit by leaping out a window, again with Palpatine in tow in Moudama’s arms.

On Nelvaan, Anakin sees several Techno Union agents working on a secret project. They are turning Nelvaan warriors into mind-controlled, blaster-armed (that is, a blaster for one arm, not just armed with a blaster) battle beasts. Anakin cuts down numerous droids, but it only causes the Techno Union goons to unleash the beasts against him. Only one isn’t against him, and that one is in a tank similar to those used for bacta, about to be altered himself. It seems Anakin’s in for a bit of a rumble . . .

So, again, how does it fare? Again, we cover it in two ways or we lose our minds.

From a “blinders-on” standpoint that thinks just in terms of the films and the micro-series, no other EU included, it was a fair episode. Not great, but not bad. The battle with the MagnaGuards and Grievous is decent, but it stretches out a bit long. It’s nice to see our two “loser” Jedi in action though, if only because they’re so much more “alien” than the Jedi we have seen in action in the films. The cartoony way that Shaak Ti gets rid of Grievous for a bit is great, and the vision of Vader’s face in the cave art nearly makes up for the fact that Anakin’s basically hallucinating that the pictures on the wall are alive. Decent, but nothing to write home about. (But apparently something to write a review about, no?)

From a continuity standpoint, the smacks in the face of continuity thus far presented in LABYRINTH OF EVIL and REVERSAL OF FORTUNE continue.

1. Here, we see Shaak Til, Corobb, and Moudama as the only three Jedi, or warriors of any kind, guarding Palpatine after they get away from 500 Republica. In LOE/ROF, Stass Allie is there, but Moudama and Corobb are not.

2. Here, they make their way to a train complex but don’t actually take a train, per se. (They’ll eventually take a different kind of tunnel-travelling vehicle.) Instead, they fight around the trains. In LOE/ROF, the are aboard a train, as is Mace Windu. There’s an entire fight scene with Grievous on the outside of the train.

3. In the cartoon, the Jedi get Palpatine onto the top of a transport that Grievous causes to crash. In the novel, they are all aboard the train when a skirmish between two gunships (one piloted by Separatists) ends in a blast that causes the train to lose power and fall.

4. Here, Moudama and Corobb are with Shaak Ti and Palpy the whole time. In the novel, the two arrive with two others when the train is knocked out, which bears Palpy and Shaak Ti (among others).

5. Here, Shaak Ti will stay with Palpy, Moudama, and Corobb for a while before she stays behind and the other two get Palpy to safety as she holds of MagnaGuards. In LOE/ROF, Moudama and Corobb are among four Jedi (the other two are a human male and female Twi’lek) who show up after the train crashes, and Palpy is escorted by six Jedi (the four, plus Shaak Ti and Stass Allie) until Shaak Ti and Stass Allie stay behind and let the other four take Palpy to safety in a speeder.

We’ll call it there for now and handle the rest next time.

So, a so-so episode that branches further and further from the official continuity. I’m not at all impressed with this season so far. Sad, but true. Let’s hope Chapter 25 can salvage it . . .

 

Chapter 25: Continuity Isn’t in Their Vocabulary

It’s Clone Wars versus the Official Continuity.

“Round three . . . FIGHT!”

The massive continuity flub that is Season 3 of the Clone Wars micro-series finally reaches its conclusion in Chapter 25. After one week of new episodes, it’s over. If only it would be that easy to fix all the continuity problems that the series raises if left in-continuity.

We pick up where we left off, more or less.

On Coruscant, Mace Windu and Yoda realize that the attack is just a diversion, so Mace leaps aboard a Republic gunship and orders them to head for Palpatine, believing he must be the true target.

In the train tubes below, Shaak Ti sends Palpatine, Moudama, and Corobb on their own in an escape vehicle heading for a safe house, while she stays behind to face MagnaGuards.

On Nelvaan, Anakin battles the altered Nelvaan warriors, but when he frees the one that wasn’t altered yet, he learns that he can free the warriors’ minds by removing their chest plates. He and the other warrior do so, saving them all, mutated as they may be. The warrior then points Anakin to the source of the weather-control apparatus that is plaguing their world. Anakin prepares to strike at its heart, a crystal behind a force field that would gravely harm living matter. He reaches into the field with his droid arm to destroy it, and he is able to do so, but in doing so, his droid arm is destroyed, nearly to the elbow! On the plus side, the weather above clears up.

Upon exiting the underground lab, Anakin makes short work of the Techno Union goons trying to flee, including killing one with a sort of Force choke, giving in to the Dark Side for a moment. The warriors hail him and he returns with them to their village as a conquering hero. His vision of darkness is somewhat disconcerting, though.

Back on Coruscant, Moudama and Corobb get Palpatine to the safe house, but Grievous is already there! He pounces upon them, killing both Jedi. Elsewhere, Shaak Ti realizes what is happening when the Magna Guards retreat. She races to get to the safe house, but when she enters, the two Jedi are already dead. Grievous subdues her and ties her up with electrified ropes, hanging her from the ceiling.

Outside, Mace arrives aboard the gunship just in time to see Palpatine carted into Grievous’ shuttle. He crushes part of Grievous’ chest with the Force, but is unable to stop the fleeing craft from escaping with Palpatine. He then finds Shaak Ti all tied up.

Finally, aboard the cruiser under Obi-Wan and Anakin’s command, Anakin and R2-D2 fix his droid hand (which now looks a bit different, with more black to it). Before they can discuss much about the mission, they receive an emergency transmission from Mace Windu, informing them that Coruscant is under attack and Palpatine has been kidnapped. Anakin orders the Republic cruiser to set course for Coruscant immediately.

The stage has been set for REVENGE OF THE SITH.

But has it been set well? That may be another story.

Again, let’s look at this episode as we did the previous two, from two different perspectives.

From a purely cartoon-and-film standpoint, leaving out the rest of the EU as if it didn’t exist, this episode was certainly a far cry better than the one that came before it. We got the end of Anakin’s Nelvaan quest, we got to see the destruction of one droid arm for Anakin and the addition of a new (cooler looking) one, we got to see the final capture of Palpatine, we saw the sad failure of Shaak Ti, and, of course, we heard the order that will send Anakin and Obi-Wan rushing headlong into the opening crawl and minutes of the final prequel, set to be released just under two months from the airing of this chapter on Cartoon Network. It was a decent saving grace, if not an entirely successful one.

From a continuity standpoint, I feel an urge to give up. Again, I’m trying to keep things in a “foggy/clear window” Cerasi-esque perspective, but it’s difficult in light of what we’re seeing.

Of the day’s annoying contradictions, these:

1. In the cartoon, Mace only belatedly realizes that Palpy is in trouble and boards a gunship to race to his aid. In LABYRINTH OF EVIL and REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, Mace is already with Palpy and the others on the train, never needing that wake-up call. He didn’t do his crazy acrobatics in the air, and there’s no mention of Yoda fighting while on a “fair weather tauntaun.”

2. Here, Moudama and Corobb are alone in defending Palpatine, and they are both killed in a two-on-one duel. In LOE/ROF, there are four Jedi defending Palpy. (The human male dies first, then Corobb, then Moudama, then the Twi’lek female.)

3. Here, the MagnaGuards fight Shaak Ti in the tunnel, while Grievous captures Palpatine and takes on the Jedi alone. In LOE/ROF, Grievous and his MagnaGuards all show up at the hideout and take on the Jedi, capturing Palpy.

4. In both ROF and the cartoon, Shaak Ti is found tied up by Grievous. It isn’t mentioned in LOE, but they do mention her exhaustion and physical condition.

5. Here, Mace Windu contacts Anakin and Obi-Wan aboard their Republic Cruiser after their distraction mission to Nelvaan. Mace tells them of what is happening on Coruscant, and they set off in the cruiser for the capital. In LOE, Anakin and Obi-Wan are board their cruiser, but they are at Tythe instead of Nelvaan. In fact, there are comments that the Separatists are fleeing from Tythe to Nelvaan. Rather than being contacted by Mace, they are contacted via an emergency signal from Palpatine. Then they set out in their cruiser, just as in the cartoon.

So, all in all, a decent episode that turns out better than we might’ve expected, and is a very nice wrap-up if we toss out all other continuity and focus on this just as a lead-in to the film for those who have never picked up a SW novel.

 

OVERALL FINAL IMPRESSIONS

So, the series is over (again). My general impressions of Season 3 are mixed. Am I glad they had longer episodes? Yes, but sometimes they sort of plodded along. During Chapter 24, I was wishing for the days of shorter chapters where time was at a premium so content value was high. Am I glad they did a third season? Yes, as Chapter 20 wasn’t much of a true ending. Do I wish they’d stayed with continuity? Oh, hell yes.

It utterly boggles my mind that they could know ahead of time that this season would be in-continuity, that they would know enough from the plans or final manuscripts/scripts for Labyrinth of Evil and Reversal of Fortune to include various nods, that LOE/ROF could add their own little nods to the cartoon, and somehow still NOT be able to keep the damn thing in-continuity. They just HAD to completely screw up what could’ve been a wonderful opportunity. Somehow, I can’t imagine that with all the effort going into the multimedia Clone Wars storyline that they couldn’t pull off something that they already proved they could several times, including years ago with the Shadows of the Empire project. It’s not friggin’ rocket science is it? Put the script side by side, make sure they fit well together, and that’s that.

In essence, Season 3 in my mind was a beautiful new car, full of potential and flashiness. The starting point was clear from Chapter 20, the road was paved by general story concepts, and the destination was a big target named Revenge of the Sith. And we got from start to finish, carried along by that flashy new car . . . only someone was asleep at the wheel, and there was just too much collateral damage to the neighborhood to consider it a successful journey.

I truly hope that if there will be a Star Wars TV series after ROTS, as we’re being told there will be, that it is not handled in the same fashion as the Clone Wars micro-series. If it ends up handled the same way, I weep for the future of our beloved saga.

Loved the art, folks. But this time, you blew it. Next time, take your audience seriously enough to consider that some of them might have a clue what has already been established in the story you’re mangling. Mkay?

With that, we end.

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