Friday, February 10, 2012

Crisis On Naboo Review

After a fairly good trio of episodes, I was anticipating the conclusion of the Bounty Hunter Arc to at least match the level of the prior episodes. But unfortunately for me it did not. There were a few cool moments in "Crisis On Naboo", but the overall story lacked cohesiveness and relevance. It felt a bit rushed and forced, similar to "Shadow Warrior". It also had dropped plot points, like the previous arc concluding episode "Escape From Kadavo". But ultimately this episode suffered from a lack of both originality and suspense. Everything transpired the way I expected it to, and whenever there was a deviance, it was for the worse and not the better. I knew nothing about the plot save a short description, yet I felt like I was watching the episode for the second or third time. It only mildly entertained me, and there were no laugh-out-loud or eye-popping-awesome moments.

The plot situation was very reminiscent of "Escape From Kadavo"; in the previous episode, Anakin and Queen Miraj had formed an interesting relationship that challenged both characters. Yet in the concluding chapter, Dooku was thrust into the story, and he bulldozed over any of the subtleties in the other characters' development. The same thing happened in this episode; there was an intriguing and evolving dynamic between Cad Bane, Moralo Eval, and Rako Hardeen. Initially Eval was in charge, and Bane was skeptical of Hardeen, but thing moved in different directions until the end of "The Box" where Bane was supplanting a jealous Eval and beginning to trust Hardeen. However this whole story was interrupted in the final episode. There was no closure in any of these three characters' relationships, and they all ended up back to square one, with Dooku casting them aside and re-enacting the abduction plan himself upon learning of Obi-Wan's intrusion, with the possible compliance of Palpatine.

This episode included a few good Bane and Embo moments, but I would have ratherred that the conclusion to the Bounty Hunter Arc had not brushed off the title characters to give us a redundant and pointless lightsaber duel at the end. Perhaps for members of the audience who haven't seen the films, the plight of Palpatine was more suspenseful, but to me it seemed like an irresponsible and meaningless charade that only served the purpose of justifying action sequences. The only thing that I can fathom, is that Palpatine has endeavored to pit his current apprentice Dooku and future apprentice Anakin against each other repeatedly until Anakin becomes powerful enough to defeat Dooku. That explanation justifies an episode that would be utterly pointless otherwise.

But even if the plot fit into the grand scheme of things, there is still that pesky Anakin line from Revenge of the Sith declaring that his "powers had doubled". Now I believe that Dooku's comparing of Anakin and Obi-Wan at the end of the duel rectified the situation. He incited a competitive desire in Anakin by hitting him in a weak spot, his brotherly rivalry with his former master, and it now seems natural that Anakin would refer to this next time they met. But just when one door closed, another opened. The line that Palpatine spoke in Revenge of the Sith about Dooku being a Sith Lord, which led to the brilliant Obi-Wan line, "Sith Lords are our specialty", makes no sense now. Just like how the fight between Anakin and Dooku has been diminished by its frequency in the Clone Wars series, now Palpatine's kidnapping has been diminished. That whole scene aboard the Invisible Hand has effectively been rendered a complete rematch, with no references by the latter to the former. Anything that was added to the overall story by the events of "Crisis On Naboo" does not compare to what was taken away by the same token.

If there is one thing that unsettles me, it is stories that climax weakly and too early, only to crescendo again in an unrelated way. It caused the episode to feel rushed and off-pace. If Dooku had to be used, I wished he had interceded immediately when the bounty hunters' plot had failed, and honestly that was what I was anticipating. But instead, there was an odd lull between two points of intensity in the last third of the episode. The point of stories that take place in a timeline with a fixed future, is to illustrate character development and illuminate the plot; this episode did neither. Did we really have to see Anakin disagreeing with Obi-Wan or being prodded by the Chancellor again? It would be much more interesting to see how the Chancellor was manipulating other characters, like Tarkin or Mas Amedda. Another opportunity that this series has is to show us straight battle action, devoid of overall plot, but filled with the development of minor characters. If we are going to see a pointless battle or duel, I would rather it not involve the main characters. Sure, the choreography of the fight between Dooku and Anakin was decent, but it had such a been-there-done-that feel to it that undermined what was happening on screen.

I could ramble on about plot for a while, but moving on to other elements, I enjoyed the animation of Naboo and Theed. It was cool to see Sio Bibble in CGI-form. I find it interesting that Naboo has taken a more active role in this series than Tattooine. The design of Padme's outfit was also interesting to see, I'm glad that they are taking a cue from the prequels and changing her wardrobe frequently. I found it a little odd that Mas Amedda joined Palpatine on this trip to Naboo, since Mas seems to have no ties to the planet. Perhaps I would rather see what he was up to when he wasn't with Palpatine, than that redundant scene of the Chancellor talking to Anakin.

The action is this episode was adequate, all of the sequences with Bane and Embo were classic and despite its plot shortcomings, the duel between Anakin and Dooku was executed well. The issue I took with the action is that it didn't mean anything and wasn't very suspenseful or intense. Perhaps if the lightsaber duel had been intercut with the bounty hunters' attempted abduction, the episode would have flowed better. The stand-off between Eval, Bane, and Obi-Wan was too short, and the intercession of the other Jedi was unnecessary from a story-telling point of view. It would also have added to the episode if there had been a speeder chase between Hardeen and the bounty hunters that preceded their altercation. It was just awkward how Hardeen walked up to Bane and Eval when they were in possession of the Chancellor.

In conclusion I didn't care for this episode. It had both a flawed plot and pacing, lacked suspense, and was ultimately pointless. There was very little humor, and the action scenes were merely adequate. I am slightly disappointed how this arc concluded; it started with bounty hunters, and it should have ended with bounty hunters, but instead Bane was sent back to prison and we got yet another Dooku-Anakin duel. For me, this arc finale sits between "Duchess of Mandalore" and "Escape From Kadavo". It had dropped plot points like Kadavo but the diffusion was not as great as with Mandalore because there wasn't that much at stake to begin with. I'm really hoping that the Maul Arc proves to be intense and relevant, because I can't imagine a season ending on a note as low as this.


  1. You sir, are a genius!!!

  2. I agree, this one I was dying to see Bounty Hunters vs Jedi but all we got was another boring Anakin-Dooku duel that seemed to be a remake of Episode Shadow Warrior

    1. They should have let embo do a whole lot more this was a waste for the bounty hunters

  3. They didn't let embo do anything that was pointless im a very upset about that were was jedi vs bouty humters embo should have fought anakin asoka vs twazzi but nooooo just the same old stuff

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  5. I really disagree. I thought that the pacing was excellent. I thought that this was the first time that we really see Anakin feeling like the council is leaving him out of things and it enhances the feelings that we see in EpIII. It was also good to see that there is a cord of distrust in Obi-Wan now for Anakin. I also like that Obi-Wan, again, is shown to be a great Jedi. He has learned a lot from Anakin and Qui-Gon; he does his best to look at things from the "other side". He follows the Jedi Code, but he also understands the realities of the universe and that leads him see the plot within the plot. The defiance that he has gotten from Qui-Gon really pays off sometimes.

    I believe the thrust of this entire arc has been to begin to plant the seeds of doubt in Anakin about the Jedi; Sidious has been waiting really drive that wedge in. With the Darth Plagueis novel's revelations of how Palpantine works to undermine the Jedi, this really fits well in the story as a whole. So now we are really starting to move the story to a point where the anger and frustration in Anakin are approaching the levels that will be twisted by Palpantine into turing on the Jedi, because trust has been broken. "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate....leads to suffering."

  6. This episode tried to do 2 very different things at the same time, and miserably failed at one, and did ok at the other one.

    The first thing it tried to do, is give a conclusion to the arc, which was about the plan against the chancelor, Obi-wan's transformation and journey, and his realisation that Anakin is dangerous to him (literally dangerous, as in trying to kill him). In that regard it was godawful, it was incredibly dull, predictable and didn't feel right at all. We almost didn't get to see Obi-wan even though he's been the central character of this arc; that's a slap to the face.

    The second thing it wanted to do, and suceeded in, is to show Anakin's change in personality and make his turn to the dark side in episode 3 more understandable. To this day before watching this episode I still had no freaking clue what Anakin was talking about in episode 3 when he was all like "I feel like the Jedi are hiding something or whatever" WTH was he talking about? Now it all makes sense alright.

    The thing I don't appreciate though, is when Lucas takes the liberty of ruining an episode of this series to try and fix his mess (i.e. the prequel trilogy, in this case episode 3), when the episode had absolutely nothing to do with that.

    So Lucas, if you want to fix your mess, how about making a proper arc dedicated to Anakin's journey to the dark side and growing distrust of the Jedi, which any fan would be dying to see, instead of ruining a perfectly fine arc that had nothing with that?

  7. On a side note, this episode gives a whole new perspective on Episode III. I mean isn't it incredibly ironic how every Jedi looks down on Anakin and consider him as trash because he has emotions, and yet they manipulated and used the very emotions they criticize him for to sell the whole plan to Dooku in this arc. I mean that's just so funny, it's like:

    -Obi-wan: "thanks bro for putting up a great show at my death, Dooku totally bought it. We still don't trust you though, and don't even think about making it Jedi Master, not gonna happen. kthxbye."

    -Anakin: "WTF"

    You can't blame Anakin for turning on them in Episode III after they pulled a stunt like this on him AND they still criticize him for the very thing that made their plan fly.