Saturday, March 5, 2011

Battle Meditation Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Counterattack (Episode 3.19)

A Moment of Silence in Honor of ARC Trooper Echo (CT-21-0408)

Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Episode Title & Number: "Counterattack" Episode 3.19

Original Air Date: 3/4/11

Review Blurb:  Only two things are certain in the Clone Wars, battle droids are stupid and clones die.

Jedi Fortune Cookie:  "Anything that can go wrong will."

Episode Dramatis Personae:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master
Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Padawan
R2-D2, Astromech Droid
Osi Sobeck, Citadel Commander
Even Piell, Jedi Master
Captain Tarkin, Republic Navy Captain
Clone Captain Rex, Clone Trooper Captain
Clone Commander Cody, Clone Trooper Commander
Echo, ARC Trooper
Fives, ARC Trooper
Count Dooku (via Holocom), Separatist Leader
Mace Windu, Jedi Master
Saesee Tiin, Jedi Master
Yoda, Jedi Grand Master
Plo Koon, Jedi Master

Episode Summary:

Escape from a Separatist prison! Carrying information about secret routes into the heart of the Republic and Separatist home-worlds, Jedi Master Even Piell was captured and imprisoned in a fortress known as THE CITADEL.

Leading an elite strike team, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker rescue Master Piell and his officers. Now the Jedi have split up to evade Separatist forces as they attempt to escape the Citadel....

Episode Guide Synopsis:
With freed prisoners in their possession and the brutal warden attempting desperately to thwart them, Obi-Wan and Anakin search for a way out of the Citadel and back to Coruscant. The prison, however, has more traps, perils and pitfalls in s tore for them than they had imagined and they must work past their differences if they are to escape.


I) Story/Writing:

I want to love this episode, there is action and adventure, dramatic moments and multiple fatalities.  But it doesn't feel like there was much story behind "Counterattack."  There was also some groan inducing dialogue. 

I actually really enjoy the battle droid humor in TCW, but in this episode particularly when the battle droids are repeating what R2 says for the benefit of the audience it got rather boring. 

Osi Sobeck had the potential to be a cool little video game mini-boss style villain based on last episode, but in this episode it seemed like he was just a cookie cutter evil underling.  (1) Lie/avoid your superior villain, (2) threaten your underlings, (3) go James Bond style villain and talk to your intended victim instead of just finishing them off.  But what bothered me most was grabbing K2-B4 by the neck threateningly.  Really, you are going to scare a droid by threatening to choke it?  Really?

The Anakin-Ahsoka interaction was also a little annoying.  Holy Passive Aggressive Jedi Anakin. 

The biggest event of the episode is the death of ARC Trooper Echo one of the two last survivors of Domino Squad.  This is the fifth episode that Echo and Fives have appeared in, including "Rookies," "Clone Cadets," "ARC Troopers," "The Citadel," and "Counterattack."  This is a lot of screen time for this group of clones.  But after all that character development particularly in the two part season premier, now we are left with only Fives alive.   On one hand, killing of this character is great for dramatic purposes, on the other its a bit disappointing as we get far to many interchangeable clone characters without any real characterization.  It seems like after investing the time getting the viewers invested in these characters that they could have been made better use of over the remainder of the series.  Hopefully Fives becomes a regular and recurring character and gets to retire to the Clones old folks home. 

II) Acting:

We had a nice little guest appearance via hologram of Corey Burton as Count Dooku.  I actually like how purely evil Dooku was in his scene. 

A bit of a letdown in the performance of Matt Lanter (Anakin) and James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan) in this episode, though Taylor had a lot of work to do with Sobeck and Koon.  These guys just did such a tremendous job in the Mortis story arc, its a bit of an unfair comparison.

Dee Bradley Baker has a lot of clone duties to pull in this episode, and while he does a very good job with the performance, there were times when I had trouble distinguishing the voices of Rex, Echo and Fives and had to look for visual cues based on their armor to distinguish them.

III) Animation:

For me the highlight of this episode was the animation.  It was very well done.  Lots of action scenes with varying backgrounds and tons of characters involved.  There was also a fairly large variety of colors involved from the different colored droids, clones and scenery.  The skies of Lola Sayu have a cool look to them. 

There was also heavy use of holograms in this episode which I always enjoy, this is one of the special effects that TCW animation team does a great job on. 

We get some nice close ups in this episode of Sobeck, Piell and Tiin in this episode and I like the look of their character models, Piell and Tiin in particular. 

This episode also highlights how good the Clone Trooper character models look, more realistic then the Jedi or other unmasked characters. 

IV) New Characters/Planets/Vehicles:

Have I mentioned I really dislike the LA Lakers?

Another ensign err Clone doesn't survive the away team mission.

Fun Jedi Hijinks

Crab cakes!

More Lakers fans. grrr

Master Tiin having a bad hair day
V) Continuity Clashes: "How I learned to stop worrying and love the ret-cons."

We didn't really get anything new story wise in this episode.  It was relatively self contained and didn't implicate much in terms of continuity.  It didn't add or subtract much from the continuity concerns regarding Wilhuff Tarkin brought about by his introduction last week.  It still is unresolved as to how this bout of military service fits into his EU back story.

VI) Rating This Episode:

This episode while solid, didn't really go anywhere.  Its basically the Jedi and Clones running around in circles on the planet avoiding or being captured.  There was the memorable death of Echo going down in a literal blaze of glory.  Fun action but less there then the previous episode.  While this review seems more critical then usual, keep in mind that its still Star Wars and is still better then almost anything else on television.  Counterattack gets a 7.5  

VII) Next on The Clone Wars:

From the Preview Clip for next weeks episode: Obi-Wan practicing Form IV: Ataru? 

Episode 3.20 Citadel Rescue

Cartoon Network Preview Clip LINK


  1. Great review. But I think you missed the most important (IMHO) scene.

    The high point of the episode for me was the discussion between Wilhuff Tarkin and Anakin Skywalker about the Jedi Code. Here we catch a quick glimpse of the thought processes that allowed him to transition from a committed peace-keeping Jedi to a morally ambiguous warlord. The scene was masterfully (and very subtly) underscored by The Imperial March leitmotif, and ends with a close-up of Padawan Ahsoka Tano, whose youthful idealism contrasts with Skywalker's cynicism and increasingly fragile loyalty to the Jedi Way.

    I really enjoyed your comments contrasting the Tarkin Doctrine with Kenobi's "there are alternatives" tactical approach.

    (BTW, you could be a little more wary of confusing "its" and "it's". You do it a lot!)

    I stumbled on you blog completely by happenstance and enjoyed it very much. Kudos.

  2. Thanks Marcello. I will be the first one to admit I could use an editor. I will try to watch the "it's."

    Great analysis of the Tarkin-Anakin interaction, "most impressive."

  3. great review and cool that you put the preview for next week in there too


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