Sunday, April 10, 2011

Citadel Rescue Review

If this episode did not "rescue" the Clone Wars TV series for every cynical Star Wars fan and harsh critic in the universe, then they might as well cancel their Cartoon Network subscriptions, seriously consider if they are Star Wars fans anymore and watch reruns of Star Trek and Firefly for the rest of their lives. It. Was. That. Good. Considering this trilogy as a whole, we were treated with relevant plot exposition that added to one of the most classic relationships in the galaxy far, far away, that between Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader. And just in this concluding episode we saw unbelievable action sequences, breathtaking animation, poignant dialog, bone-chilling villainy, nail-biting drama, and commendable valor. It's a pity if the CGI animation is deterring any fans of excellent story-telling from watching this series, because it's something that should not be missed. On to the details...

One of the largest looming questions that existed after the previous episode concerned whether or not Tarkin knew that Darth Vader was once Anakin Skywalker. Some fans felt that the events of this trilogy seemed to suggest that he did, but others still wished that the identity of Darth Vader was a secret known to only a few Force-users. Tactfully, the Clone Wars crew left that question open to interpretation. They masterfully expanded upon Tarkin and Vader's relationship without defining it. At the end of the Citadel mission, the character of Tarkin has been thoroughly introduced to the series, and I hope that they will continue telling stories about this "foul stench" that lent so much villainous gravitas to the original Star Wars film. We know from Expanded Universe sources that Tarkin oversaw the construction of the Death Star during the waning days of the Clone Wars. It would be awesome to see this story told in the series, as well as see further exposition on the "Triangle of Evil" consisting of Vader, Tarkin, and the Emperor.

From the relevancy to the drama-- in my opinion the death of Even Piell was the most shocking demise that has occurred and probably will ever occur in the series aside from that of Ahsoka Tano. This is for two reasons. The first is that this is the first time a Jedi from the films has died in the Clone Wars series, and the second is that it contradicts a lot of Expanded Universe and reference sources. This proves once and for all that the series supersedes every other Star Wars property canonically with the exception of the six films. Even though we all thought Piell was on the council in Revenge of the Sith, since he was never seen on screen or mentioned by name, this fact was not set in stone. I hope this successful play for drama in the Clone Wars outweighs the bashing that the Expanded Universe took at the hands of none other than George Lucas himself.

Aside from the technical implications, the death of Master Piell served as an extremely compelling event. One of many that have occurred recently as this series has elevated in terms of drama and suspense. The significance of this moment will live on in the memories of both Star Wars fans and the character of Ahsoka Tano, as she witnessed the honorable death of a true hero, one that fought to his last breath to better the chances of restoring peace to a corrupted galaxy.

Almost lost in the introduction of original trilogy elements and shocking deaths was the birth and eventual demise of a new villain in the Clone Wars series, Osi Sobeck. He vexed our heroes to the very end, while teetering between cruel efficiency and utter insanity. Ultimately it only took a little prodding from the merciless Count Dooku to push the Warden off the edge and force him into one last risky assault on the fugitives. And in typical fashion, the psychopathic antagonist met his doom while basking in the fear of the helpless Captain Tarkin. Sobeck was a memorable character, but one that will forever be overshadowed. Interestingly it was not Anakin but his padawan that thrust her blade through Sobeck to finally end his reign of terror. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time I can recall Ahsoka killing a sentient being. She has been fighting no one but mindless automatons and invincible Sith warriors. Perhaps the insect like Geonosians were the closest things to living beings that she has had to kill. I wonder how this incident will affect her.

The action sequences in this episode were fantastically choreographed and animated. Scenes of the heroes warding off various typez of battle droids were excellently shot. The commando and crab droids along with battle droids flying STAPS proved to be dangerous competition for the fleeing Jedi and clones. But the things that pushed this episode over the edge action-wise were the deadly tracking beasts that Sobeck unleashed upon the fugitives. I thought the animation of the Jedi's struggle against these ferocious looking creatures expanded upon the bare-bones fighting choreography of a previous Season Three episode "Monster". Not only was the choreography of the action exhilarating but the careful camera direction and editing created an emotionally charged environment. For me, these scenes were just as exciting and impactful as those in the live-action films.

In addition to all of these elements, "Citadel Rescue" also including the first Saesee Tiin action that the series has seen. This took place in several --and unfortunately abbreviated-- clips of the epic space battle that occurred above the broken surface of Lola Sayu. I know that they only have twenty-two minutes to work with, but I was disappointed that the crew chose to focus so little on this battle. Saesee Tiin was one of my favorite peripheral Jedi from the films and had the reputation of being an excellent pilot. I hope one day we will see more of his skills and tactics expanded upon. But that is the beauty of this show. Just like in the Star Wars films, we are now seeing awesome characters get only a little screen-time. If the crew had shortened the final sequence in this episode that consisted of two-minute long dialog, and added more of the space battle I would have been thoroughly satisfied and would consider this episode the best Star Wars since Revenge of the Sith. Alternatively, a clandestine meeting between Tarkin, Anakin, and Palpatine would have also achieved this effect with identical pacing. But I guess if they reach perfection now, we would not be able to look forward to any improvements in the future.

In conclusion, I was extremely entertained and impressed by "Citadel Rescue". Due to the things I just mentioned, I still hold to my belief that the Mortis episodes were the best of this series so far. Yet the Citadel trilogy reached a compelling climax that causes it to stand with the Mortis and Nightsisters story-ars. Even though the musical score of this trilogy had fewer direct references to John Williams, it still echoed the classic Star Wars soundtrack to an adequate extent. By the end both an honorable clone and Jedi were lost, a new friendship with an evil destination was formed, fans young and old were thrilled, and the Clone Wars series continues to push the boundaries of CGI television. With the revelation that more original trilogy characters will be introduced into the series in the final episodes of Season 3, I expect this run of epic episodes to continue, to infinity and beyond, where no man has gone before, in a galaxy far, far away.

1 comment:

  1. I like this episode because it was great way to end it. also it showed a great friendship in the works between Capt. Tarkin and Gen. Skywalker. I always thought that Tarkin was held in high regard by the emperor and given control over vader reason. I think this story arc paints that relationship well.