Friday, February 18, 2011

Battle Meditation Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Citadel (Episode 3.18)

Even Piell is a bad, bad Lannik

Episode Title & Number:  "Citadel" Season 3, Episode 18 (3.18)

Original Air Date: February 18, 2011. 

Review Blurb:

Its a Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Attack of the Clones Mash-Up this week on The Clone Wars.  Classic Star Wars.  EV-9D9 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I used to love that action figure!  "You're a feisty little one, but you'll soon learn some respect. I have need for you on the master's sail barge, and I think you'll fill in nicely."  Wait, is it wrong that I am more excited about Eve then I am about Tarkin? 

Jedi Fortune Cookie:  "Adaptation is the key to survival."

Episode Dramatis Personae:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master
Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Padawan
R2-D2, Astromech Droid
C-3PO, Protocol Droid
Osi Sobeck, Phindan Citadel Commander
Even Piell, Jedi Master
Captain Tarkin, Republic Captain
Clone Captain Rex, Clone Trooper Captain
Clone Commander Cody, Clone Commander
Echo, Clone ARC Trooper
Fives. Clone ARC Trooper

Episode Summary:


Captured! Returning from a perilous assignment in the Outer Rim, Jedi Master Even Piell's cruiser has fallen under attack and been boarded. Seeking vital information he carries about secret hyperspace lanes called the Nexus Route, Separatist forces have taken him alive.

Now the Jedi are preparing a stealth mission into the heart of Separatist space in an effort to rescue Master Piell from the deadly prison known as the Citadel....

Episode Guide Synopsis:

With help from R2-D2 and a squad of captured battle droids, an elite team of Jedi and clone troopers led by Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt to free a captive Jedi general, Even Piell, from an impenetrable prison.


I) Story/Writing

This episode (written by Matt Michnovetz & directed by Kyle Dunlevy)  starts with a nice MacGuffin, Jedi Master Even Piell has found some super secret super important hyperspace lanes that go between the home worlds of the Republic and the Separatists, called the "Nexus Route."  Do we really care much about the Nexus Route? Besides the fact it gives us a potential update for the Star Wars Atlas book?  Not really, it serves as a purpose for the droids to keep Master Piell alive and for the Jedi to pull out all the stops in a uber dangerous rescue mission.  MacGuffin mission accomplished.

This episode is full of cool action, imagery and Star Wars movie references. I will be discussing some of the stuff that caught my attention in the following paragraphs. 

The Citadel:

We learn that the Citadel isn't exactly new, its very old and it was designed to hold Jedi who have lost their way.  This could be a throw away line, but its one of those little things that you could build an entire story around in the EU.  Why did the Jedi/Republic/Whoever feel the need to build a prison for Jedi?  Was there a rash of Jedi becoming Dark Jedi, Sith, or going crazy as we have seen in the Fate of the Jedi series?  I can't wait to find out more about the original purpose of the Citadel. 

Carbon Freezing:

I don't want to end up a wall decoration ~Clone Captain Rex

Carbon Freezing brings us right back to ESB and RotJ.  Rex not wanting to end up a wall decoration, as Han Solo later ends up as Jabba's favorite decoration at his Palace.  Nerdgasm

In this episode the infiltration by carbon freezing to get past the Separatist's scanning for life-signs  was Anakin's idea.  Makes you look at ESB carbon freezing a little differently. Just how much of Anakin still is part of Vader in ESB?  Does he think of carbon freezing as a convenient and effective way for transporting personnel?  Nerdgasm

But the carbon freezing scene does leave me with a major question.  Is that a mobile carbon freezing station or do the Jedi keep one on their hanger deck usually?  We know from the EU that carbon freezing is a way to transport highly valuable perishable materials, but the Jedi aren't exactly the intergalactic UPS.  Why would they have a carbon freezing facility in the Jedi Temple? 

The Shuttle Ride:

"Shuttle Tydirium, what is your cargo and destination?
When our Jedi strike team arrives at the Citadel, aboard there Separatist shuttle with its captured battle droid crew, we get a scene very reminiscent of the Rebel insertion onto the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi (RotJ).  Much like the shuttle Tydirium being challenged for its cargo and destination on its approach to the Imperial fleet surrounding Endor, the Jedi's shuttle is challenged by Citadel Command, for their cargo. 

They need a better cargo manifest on the shuttle.  The droids load carbon frozen stow away Ahsoka.  It was pretty funny when Anakin greets her instinctually coming out of carbon freeze before realising she is not suppose to be there.  It made me think of Luke's conversation with the Force Ghost of Obi-Wan on Dagobah, when Obi-Wan makes the "certain point of view" argument.  Ahsoka "discussed it" with Master Plo about going on the mission all right.  Ahsoka is a sneaky one and picking up some poor discipline habits from her Master. 

Guard the shuttle R2, Guard the X-wing R2, what is he a car alarm?  R2 must get a little frustrated sometimes. 

Jail Break:
How kick butt are the Clone Commandos?  They keeping up with the Jedi, free climbing the sheer cliff face that is lined with electro-mines to get to the prison entrance.

Ah the old ventilation duct entrance trick.  Good thing they brought Le Petite Padawan.

Clone Troopers Echo and Fives aren't going to like the "special unit" droids very much, "Rookies" flashback time.

EV-9D9: Some Droids like it Rough

Some droids are nice and friendly, some droids are subservient, and some droids like to torture other droids or sentient lifeforms.  Its always nice to see a droid enjoy their work.  The torture scene of Jedi Master Even Piell echos two movies at the same time.  It immediately makes you think of RotJ as C-3P0 and R2-D2 are taken to Jabba's Droid Overseer EV-9D9 for job assignments and we see poor little droids being tortured.

The way Master Piell is being imprisoned is straight out of AotC when Count Dooku has captured Obi-Wan Kenobi on Geonosis and has him suspended in bindings.   Double Nerdgasm

Look Who's Tarkin:

Rapid Entry by Jedi by far my favorite way to make an entrance.

Very interesting character development on Tarkin in his few lines in this episode.  We get a glimpse into his psyche in the debate between he and Obi-Wan on how best to attempt to escape.  Size/Strength in number philosophy by Tarkin,  two separate groups/diversion strategy of  Obi-Wan. These two strategies fit into what we know of these characters in ANH.  Obi-Wan goes off on his own to shut down the shield generators instructing Han and Luke to stay behind in the control room.  Tarkin believes in overwhelming force and power is the way to go, and he has the biggest ship and biggest gun in the galaxy. 

The other very interesting angles of this story arc are that Tarkin knew Obi-Wan. Just how much does Tarkin know of Vader/Anakin's past?  There are a lot of potential implications of this that I need to think about some more, and hopefully we see more Tarkin interaction in the next episode.

II) Acting

Matt Lanter did another good job this episode exposing the major character flow of Anakin's attachment. In this case it was Anakin's attachment  to Ahsoka, telling her she can't come on the rescue mission because its not a mission for training.  The subtext is that he is afraid she could die.  From the EU its was not uncommon for Jedi to lose Padawan's during the Clone Wars as well as other conflicts, and taking part in dangerous missions was par for the course of being a Padawan. 

Even Piell had a cool german influenced accent. 

James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) also portrayed the dastardly Citadel Commander Osi Sobeck.  The Episode Guide from confirms what my ears told me watching the episode. Christopher Walken.  I got a fever and the only solution is more cowbell.
For James Arnold Taylor's characterization of Osi Sobeck, he performed the dialogue with pauses and inflection inspired by Christopher Walken's distinctive speech patterns.

III) Animation
Lola Sayu may be my favorite planet yet depicted on TCW, how awesome was that?  Part of the planet is molten and breaking up.  It looks incredible. 

Facial twitches of Plo Koon, his fangs for lack of a better word were moving independently.  

Obi-Wan's hair is blowing in the wind?  I would love to know how much that cost?

Ahsoka's padawan beads swigning and the fluidity of Commando droids were also nice touches and once again show how far the animation has come in this show.  

IV) New Characters/Planets/Vehicles  
Echo and Fives
Separatist Escort Shuttle Class B

Lola Sayu from space


Commander Osi Sobeck

The Citadel

Commando Droids

Captain Tarkin

Jedi Hanger w/Carbon Freeze Facility (Concept Art)

Concept Art

Trooper Longshot? RIP

V) Continuity Clashes:  "How I learned to stop worrying and love the ret-cons."


As an interesting character and a fun villain to use, Grand Moff Tarkin has made appearances directly or by reference in lots of EU material.  This episode re-introduces him as a Republic Captain during The Clone Wars.  How does that fit into what we know about his backstory at this point.  In Cloak of Deception, set in 33 BBY we see Tarkin as Lt. Governor of Eriadu.  In 29 BBY, Tarkin is involved in an attempt to get special starship technology from Zonoma Sekot in Rogue Planet.  The Clone Wars run from 22BBY and 19BBY, by 22 BBY Tarkin had risen to the Governorship of Eriadu.  This brings us to the issue of when and how did Tarkin set aside his office as Governor and re-enlist as a Captain in the Republic Navy?  Was he drafted in or did he volunteer in?  It seems like a pretty dramatic step for a planetary Governor to step down in the middle of a galactic conflict to join the Republic's military forces.  At some point the ret-con story that fixes this back story inconcistency needs to be told.  (Research on this section via Wooieepedia)


Not a major issue, but this episode introduces us to the "Nexus Route," which is a secret hyperspace lane that allows transit between the home worlds of the Republic and Confederacy.  My only problem with this is that it seems like these routes should be fairly well known at this point of time, especially any route that heads toward Coruscant. 


In this week's episode the Jedi and Clone Troopers use the trick of freezing themselves in carbonite in order to cover their life signs and slip past Separatist scanners and get behind enemy lines.  In this episode Anakin says that this is the first time they have tried this.  However we have an earlier (9/24/08) Clone Wars story featuring the same trick, also Anakin's idea, also with Ahsoka stowing away, that is apparently set before the events of this episode. 

"We are early in this conflict Lord Tyrannus." ~Darth Sideous via hologram to Count Dooku in Shipyards of Doom

If we take Sideous' comments at face value, then either Anakin is forgetful or TCW production team dropped the ball on continuity here.  Simply removing the line of dialogue from the episode would have prevented a continuity issue.  As it stands, 'Citadel' is set later in the Clone Wars with new character models and should be placed later in the timeline then Shipyards of Doom, but unless you make Shipyards of Doom after Citadel, then Anakin's dialogue doesn't make sense. 

Old character models and carbonite
From the Episode Guide: 
During Season One, discussions about getting past droid scans led to Superising Director Dave Filoni and writer Henry Gilory developing the carbon-freezing tactic, though it never made it into an episode. Gilroy later used it in an Expanded Universe Clone Wars comic book story, The Shipyards of Doom. Its use in 'The Citadel' brings it to the screen.

Shipyards of Doom is available in multiple formats from digital to print.  It is available from Amazon HERE.

VI) Rating This Episode

10 out of 10.  This episode flew buy and there was a throwback to one of the films in almost every scene.  I can't get enough of this.  An awesome way to follow up the mind bending mythology heavy Mortis arc with a good old fashion Star Wars swashbuckling adventure yarn.

The only negative for me was that the cool space battle and capture of Evel Piell was handled in the Newsreel instead of in the episode proper.  I want to see that scene with sound effects and music. 

VII) Next on The Clone Wars

Next on TCW is Episode 3.19, "Counter Attack." The Clone Wars is taking a week off and will be returning with a new episode on 3/4/11.  Will our heroes escape the Citadel?  Can Echo and Fives survive more Commando droids?  How many more movie references can they throw into this story arc?  Tune in to find out.

1 comment:

  1. I loved to see C-3P0 back in this episode. He has gotten lost and been under utilized. I loved the scene when R2 comes up with the battle droids and C3-P0 freaks out he is hilariously funny. I loved the talk ashoka had with plo koon as well. Its a great bit of commentary expressing anakin's charcter flaw like u said. Plo's response is great and u can see the concern and contemplation on his face which really shows the animation has come along way because he doesn't have as mouth!!!