I can't believe another Clone Wars season is over! This one went by really fast and fortunately went out with a pretty big bang. After the first Maul episode didn't live up to the hype for a lot of people, I was worried that this one might be a mixed-bag too and came in with pretty low expectations hoping to be pleasantly surprised, and I was. Revenge pretty much had everything right where Brothers had it wrong, from the pacing, to the music, to the animation. Unfortunately I still feel like this arc as a whole is flawed because there was so much filler time in the previous episode. I believe that the part with Morley should have been cut out and everything moved up, with Brothers ending after the first act of Revenge, leaving more time in this episode for action and character development. But I still think this arc ended strongly.
I'm going to start by talking about the most important thing for me in this episode, and that is Maul and the explanation of why he is still alive and needs to affect the story. Personally, I wasn't completely satisfied with the simplistic notion of his "hatred" keeping his spirit alive while his body turned into an animal. I was really hoping for more than that, and hopefully we might get more. However I think I have a good idea now of why he was brought back from a plot point of view. Initially I was confused because Obi-Wan really didn't need any development forced by Maul; he already had avenged his master's death, so battling Maul again would be pointless. But I think that Maul's return isn't supposed to have much of an affect on Obi-Wan, but rather on two characters whose fates are unknown, Savage Opress and Asajj Ventress. The return of Maul puts both of them in a really interesting position.
One of the issues with the past episode, is that for me, there was no suspense. Everyone knew the entire story from previews and common sense, and the only surprise was Morley's involvement, which a lot of people could have done without. I felt like I was anticipating everything before it happened, and it didn't feel fresh or exciting. But this episode was completely different. Obi-Wan Kenobi was the only character that I knew wouldn't die. Everyone else was fair game and I had no clue how things would end up. There was also a very tension filled feel to the editing that made the experience of watching it for the first time very engaging.
One thing that really stood out in Revenge was the music, which I felt was a little more familiar than the score of Brothers. A lot of the themes echoed John William's Sith theme. There was a good mix of instrumental and choral pieces, and even one that sounded similar to the Order 66 music. And let me say this, the scene when the brothers arrived on the planet to "slaughter" the civilians was extremely well done and heavy. I think that the way violence was portrayed was one of the reasons why this episode was more enjoyable to watch that the previous one. Sometimes it is better not to show violence, but to heavily infer it by building up a scene with music and contrasting shots of the villains and victims, then cutting away right before it happens, leaving the viewer feeling unbalanced and uneasy. This was in stark contrast to the graphic scenes of Savage killing the inhuman Junkers and was reminiscent of Anakin killing the younglings in Revenge of the Sith.
The animation and design of this episode was really good. I think the way that Maul's new mechanical legs moved was very fluid and I also liked the last few scenes of him on his spider legs. The entire reconstruction scene was very well done, from the writhing model of Maul, to the coils and gears being called to him, to his metal legs being forged in a stone mold and then the stone breaking away to reveal molten metal. The shots of environments, characters, and vehicles all were executed from a variety of different perspectives that emphasized different things. Some shots of Maul talking with the camera panning upwards providing a backdrop of the Dathomir sky was very artistic, and the close shot of him igniting his lightsaber before the camera cut away in the scene leading up to Maul taking the villagers hostage was very good. Overall the editing of this episode was superb and all the shots flowed into each other very well.
Another aspect that also stood out in Revenge was the action. The climactic duel between the Zabrak brothers, Obi-Wan, and eventually Ventress might possibly be the best in this series so far. It including a lot of other elements that just bland lightsaber clashing, like the characters moving around the cargo hold, utilizing their surroundings, and employing a good mix of Force use, hand to hand combat, and sword play. The fact that Savange had two blades, Maul had only one but had mechanical legs, and Obi-Wan had one of Ventress' sabers at a point made the duel very unique and interesting. There were many awesome shots like the brothers clotheslining Obi-Wan, Maul pushing Kenobi back and taunting him, and Ventress riding Savage by his horns like a bull and punching his face. There were many other cool shots involving characters jumping from place to place and using martial arts moves against their opponents.
The dialog in this episode was also superb. There were tons of great one liners. Maul was portrayed in a much more believable fashion after Talzin repaired his body and mind, Ventress was her usually catty self with an interesting twist, and Obi-Wan never failed to utter a witty line in the tensest of situations. I also really liked the scene with Yoda where he denied help to Obi-Wan because he sensed that Ventress would be making a surprise appearance. This reminded me of the Yoda from the Empire Strikes Back who was actually able to perceive things unlike the Prequel Yoda whose mind was always clouded and seemed pretty useless.
In conclusion this was definitely one of the best episodes this season, same with the arc as a whole. I am glad that Revenge ended on a slight cliff hanger, because I felt this story was too good to wrap up in 22 minutes. I'm really looking forward to Season 5 where we expect to see a continuation of this plot line as well as a Mandalorian arc. I have had a blast writing my first full season of reviews and I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my opinions on the episodes! Until next time, may the Force be with you!