Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Citadel Review

The easiest way to summarize this episode is this: a fun Season One story with Season Three graphics and audacity. Perhaps that's just what we all needed following the infinitely deep Mortis Trilogy. The Clone Wars continues to produce a wonderfully varied montage of stories, and "The Citadel" fits in well. The plot was simple: let's free a Jedi master from a dungeon and keep vital information from being turned over to the Separatists. In fact this was one of the simplest plots in a long while. Yet this episode did not ride on the depth of its storyline, but on the coolness of how it was told. And that is what I took away from it.

Let's start with the first cool thing to show up: Master Even Piell! Yet another addition to the Jedi Council in the series, his uniqueness was refreshing. Aside from the obvious trait of his stature, Piell's humor and voice reminded me of the dwarves in many fantasy novels. Characters like Gimli from Lord of the Rings come to mind. I hope we see much more of this jovial master, and I can't wait to see him in action! The second cool thing to show up in the episode was a carbon freezing chamber, and I thought the crew nailed that. Both the sound and look of the chamber and its products matched the material from the films well; it even had Ugnaughts operating it. So does this mean that there is some connection between this chamber and the one on Bespin? It could even be the same company. I'm not sure if the Cloud City on that planet existed during the Clone Wars, but if it did I would love to see it.

The next cool thing in this episode was an appearance by none other than the great Grand Moff Tarkin. This little development left me both excited and a little puzzled. On the positive side it is interesting to see Anakin develop relationships with officers that he would serve with in his years as Vader, like Yularen, and it should be noted that neither Yularen or Tarkin have taken a liking to the Chosen One so far. However I, like most people, assumed that Vader met Tarkin for the first time at the end of Revenge of the Sith. This begs a question to be answered: Did Tarkin and Yularen know that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader were the same person, and if they did, how would it effect their perception of Vader in the Original Trilogy? I'm sure the question will be answered promptly by the Clone Wars crew, but I still want to throw it out there.

Now the villain in this episode, the antagonist that controlled the Citadel, was an interesting character. But I am not impressed with him yet. He doesn't seem to have the intelligence of a character like Thrawn from the Zahn books or the brute force of Savage Opress. The two traits of his that stand out to me the most are his oddly high-placed nose and the alien like cadence of his voice. Hopefully in further episodes he will win my respect, but for now I'm not on the bandwagon yet.

Some other notes about things that caught my eye or ear in this episode: Clone Troopers Echo and Fives are back and in full elite ARC regalia! It is awesome to see their storyline continue through Rookies, the Season Three premiere, and now this story arc. Ahsoka's theme was used a few times, and this was the clearest I have heard it since the Clone Wars movie. The look of the planet that housed the Citadel was fantastic! It reminded me of the incomplete Death Star in Return of the Jedi. The scene where the Jedi and Clones scaled the cliff was a great visual! And finally the side storyline involving Anakin's reluctance to share the risks of the mission with his padawan was interesting. I wonder how Ahsoka convinced Plo Koon to let her come along or if she did at all.

Overall "The Citadel" was a really cool "Star Wars" episode. I would have liked the plot to have been a little thicker, the characters to be more compelling, and the pacing to be quicker at the beginning of the episode. It felt like it dragged on for 6 minutes or more before the Jedi finally reached the Citadel. I was shocked when the episode ended, as the writers left us with a huge cliffhanger. In fact it was like the episode was more than 22 minutes long and just got clipped at a point. Hopefully things will continue to heat up in the sequel, because so far this seems a little like a filler between the Force and Chewbacca. The only things that really carried my attention were the awesome references to the Original Trilogy and a certain monocular master. 

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