Sunday, April 10, 2011

Counterattack Review

So the story continues. In the second installment of the Citadel arc, the Clone Wars series continues the high adventure of the the original Star Wars trilogy, with a little prequel flair. Even though "Counter Attack" did not include the shocking revelations of the Mortis trilogy or the epic duals of the Nightsisters arc, it still beckoned my attention. In my opinion, it brought together most of the elements that make a good Clone Wars episode, cool visuals, interesting character development, exciting battles, and a few homages to classic film. And as this story arc has established, those homages are to none other than the original Star Wars films themselves.

There were two things that stood out to me in this department. Firstly, Obi-Wan looking out the window at the Jedi's shuttle reminded me greatly of a similar sequence in a New Hope where the heroes peek out a window at their own escape vessel, the Millennium Falcon. And secondly, the turret guns that fired upon the fugitives during the climactic hanger battle were very reminiscent of those on the exterior of the Death Star. These nods to the ultimate space station along with the presence of Tarkin himself went a long way to tie this arc to the events of a New Hope.

Concerning Tarkin, after the previous episode I was interested to see how his and Anakin's relationship would develop as this arc moves along. And I was most certainly not disappointed in this episode. Tarkin hits Anakin with a tough observation during one of the quieter moments in the story. How can peace-keepers effectively lead soldiers in battle? This issue has been brought up in Clone Wars episodes before. In Season One the pacifist Lurmen accused the Jedi of this duality, and even Ahsoka herself wondered how the Jedi would be able to return to their old ways after the war concluded in Season Two's Brain Invaders.

Yet Anakin shows his character clearly in his response to Tarkin. It seems that rather than being worried about how the war is stretching the Jedi Code, he is dwelling on how the Jedi Code is impeding the Jedi's ability to fight. For the first time we see the future Grand Moff and Dark Lord agree with each other, as their shared corruption is made evident. Aside from the intelligent and relevant dialog, the fantastic visual and vocal portrayal of Captain Tarkin lends greatly to scenes like this, as this story arc is emerging as a direct prequel to a New Hope itself in many ways.

After his first appearance the character of Osi Sobeck did not impress me. I was humored at his facial features and strange voice, and was not given any reason to respect his strategic competency. However he is slowly winning me over. Sobeck, like Grievous and other minions, struggled to live up to the demands of the meticulous Count Dooku. But by the end of the episode, the Warden of the Citadel succeeded in predicting and thwarting nearly all of the Jedi's moves. Even the supposedly brilliant Tarkin has yet to find a way out of the Citadel's region, as the rescue party is forced to ask for backup.

Finally a few notes about the episode. Unfortunately it featured the death of a beloved Clone Trooper. We have seen Echo mature from a dysfunctional cadet to an inexperienced rookie to an elite ARC trooper. And a story line that has continued throughout the first three seasons of the series has been reduced to a single thread, as Fives remains the last surviving member of the fabled Domino Squad. Additionally we continue to see glimpses of the Jedi Council member, Master Saesee Tiin. But have yet to hear him talk or see him be involved to any degree in the story. However it looks like he will finally see some action when he leads the rescue team in the following episode. Voice actor James Arnold Taylor's talent is displayed in the episode, as I was amused to hear two very unique characters of his, Osi and Obi (oddly similar names), dialog face to face.

Overall "Counter Attack" was a worthy Star Wars story. Upon seeing it, the "counter attack" seems to be on the part of the Separatists and not the Republic, both similar in name and concept to the Empire Strikes Back, keeping with the Original Trilogy vibe. The visuals of the chasms around the Citadel were stunning, as the animation of the battles were breathtaking, evoking the escape from the Death Star and the ensuing space battles. I feel like this story arc grows at it goes, and I look forward to what should be a fitting conclusion next week.

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