Saturday, March 12, 2011

Battle Meditation Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Citadel Rescue (Episode 3.20)

So long Sobeck...Talk about heartburn

Episode Title & Number: "Citadel Rescue" Episode 3.20

Original Air Date: 3/11/11

Review Blurb:  Continuity gets smashed but it was sooooo worth it.

Jedi Fortune Cookie:  "Without honor, victory is hollow."

"Unfortunately war tends to distort our point of view.  If we sacrifice our code, even for victory, we may lose that which is most important, our honor." ~ Obi-Wan Kenobi

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
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
Adi Gallia, Jedi Master
Admiral Coburn, Republic Navy

Episode Summary:

Trapped behind enemy lines! Carrying secret information vital to the Republic's war effort, Jedi Master Even Piell and Captain Tarkin were taken prisoner by the Separatists. An elite strike team led by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker landed on the planet Lola Sayu and infiltrated the prison.

The team rescued Master Piell and Tarkin but they were pursued by the prison's evil commandant, Osi Sobeck. During the escape, their ship was destroyed.

Now, we find them on the run, desperate to escape the trap that is the Citadel....

Episode Guide Synopsis:
After their ship and only way off the planet is destroyed, Anakin and Obi-Wan must lead the escaped prisoners across Lola Sayu's perilous landscape as Plo Koon commands a task force of four cruisers and their fighters through the Separatist defenses in a daring rescue. Even Piell is ravaged by anooba tracking beasts, but before he dies, he passes on his Nexus Routes coordinates to Ahsoka. When the survivors return to Coruscant, Ahsoka knows half the intel, and refuses to disclose it to anyone but the Jedi Council, while Tarkin refuses to hand over his half to anyone other than the Chancellor.


I) Story/Writing:

Lets take a look at the story through the lens of a couple characters in this episode as well as a few random things that stuck out to me.


"General Skywalker, I stand by my principles no matter what. Besides, I needn't worry about my career, I have fallen into favor with the Chancelor. He shall support me." ~Captain Tarkin
I really enjoyed Tarkin in this episode.  His continued banter with Anakin, both fleshed out his philosophy and ambition, but it also started to show how the two shared a great deal in terms of attitude and ambition.

It is certainly clear that there is a lot going on off stage with Palpatine and Tarkin already.  Tarkin tells Anakin that Palpatine is basically his benefactor/mentor at this point while they march across the Citadel.  At the conclusion of the episode Tarkin also reveals that he was under orders to be debriefed personally by Palpatine following the mission.

The fact that in the original script Tarkin was to kill Sobeck in cold blood, and the fact that in the finished episode he takes a blaster shot at the disarmed Sobeck, gives us a glimpse at the dark side of Tarkin's character and foreshadows the Tarkin we know and love from Episode IV.

I was hoping we would see a scene between Palpatine and Tarkin in this episode, but I think they are saving that for later in the series.   What I take from this is that we will be seeing Tarkin again in TCW and this foreshadows an interesting turn in the series that may occur.  I think that we are going to see a gradual change from Republic to Empire by way of personnel changes within the Republic military and political structure.  People like Tarkin becoming more involved in the series helps you understand how this change could occur in the midst of war and also makes it more logical how overnight the government of the galaxy could change without missing a beat.  I think we see a conscious effort going forward to show this transition occurring as Palpatine gets all the pieces in place before the events of Episode III. 


Jedi Master Even Piell made a brief but memorable series of appearances in TCW series.  He will almost certainly be a highly sought after action figure.  The continuity effects of his death in this episode will be discussed in depth in the continuity section of this review (see below), but I believe his death served a very good story telling purpose.   There are two major deaths in this episode (Sobeck and Piell) and they both profoundly effect Ahsoka.

There will be some of the more intense EU fans that will be in denial of the characters demise.  They will point to the fact that his body was wrapped in a funeral shroud and force dropped into the river of lava.  Once his body is in the river of lava, we see the shroud on fire, but we never see it completely consumed.  The shroud containing Piell then goes over a lava fall and presumably to oblivion.   They may argue that he put himself into a Jedi hibernation trance and somehow created a force bubble around his body to prevent it from being consumed by the lava.  He thus escapes death to being a covert Jedi operative in the galaxy who everyone believes to be dead.  In fact Tarkin will report directly to Palpatine that he saw him dead, so Palpatine will believe Piell is dead.  This gives you a possible way for Piell to survive Order 66 and escape Palpatine's notice and survive until the events of the Coruscant Nights series. 

I do not believe the forgoing theory because the Episode Guide is definitive on the character's fate, and because he was a film character he is one of George Lucas' characters not an EU creation.  In this situation I think Lucas put his foot down on continuity because of the story he wanted to tell. 


When we look back at this episode with a little bit of perspective, I believe this will be a crucial episode for the character of Ahsoka Tano.  There is just so much going on with Ahsoka in this episode that she is quietly the star of the show.

We see a very powerful Jedi in Ahsoka in this episode.  She is able to force push an Anoobas off of Master Piell and over a ridge into the lava.  We also see Ahsoka disagreeing opening with Anakin and being very skeptical of Captain Tarkin and his views. 

Yet even though she dislikes Tarkin she takes another individuals life (Sobeck) to save him.  This was a pivotal scene.  Much like Anakin in the earlier Mandalore story line, she stabs Sobeck through the back with her lightsaber killing him.  Outside of Geonosians and Droids, this maybe the most personal killing of Ahsoka's young life.  No doubt the effects of her actions will cause her to reflect and have a profound effect on the character going forward.  Its one thing to kill droids its another for a Jedi to take a sentient life and feel the death in the force.

We also see Ahsoka giving her words and thus committing her honor to her promise to the dying Master Piell to memorize his half of the Nexus Route coordinates and gives those coordinates only to the Jedi Council.  She stands up to Tarkin and the Jedi at the end of the show to fulfill this promise to Piell.  This is a very bold move for a teenager surrounded by adults with very powerful personalities.   Piell's death also has to weigh heavily on Ahsoka as the mission has gone wrong, and there is no doubt she will blame herself for some of the missions failure and as a result blame herself for Piell's death.

Lastly we have the relationship and interaction between Plo Koon and Ahsoka.  In a perfect world, Koon should have been Ahsoka's Master.  Yoda and presumably the Jedi Council sensing the issues of attachment with Anakin assigned him a Padawan and presumably they needed one powerful enough to keep up with him, hence Ahsoka's assignment.  This episode we have Anakin opening asking Plo if he assigned Ahsoka to the mission, it is clear that Anakin thinks Ahsoka is lying.  Plo says that it "appears" he did, this is open to two interpretation, either Plo is lying or he is taking a very Obi-Wanish view of the truth and feels that the Force actually assigned Ahsoka to the mission.

We also have a very dramatic closing image with Plo Koon's arm around Ahsoka leaving Obi-Wan and Anakin behind.  Could this foreshadow a potential rift between Anakin and Ahsoka that leads to Ahsoka changing Masters to Plo Koon.  Or a potential promotion of Ahsoka to Jedi Knight who works more closely with Plo Koon and his troops?   I will be examining this in depth at a later.


Lets start off with the score by Kevin Kiner.  This episode was perfectly composed musically.  With all of the danger, action and death, the music complimented the visuals perfectly.  I love how this episode sounded. 

One of the things that TCW does best is space battles.  The space battles look so good.  Many look almost Episode III quality.  I hope that we get to see many more of these as the series goes forward.

Obi-Wan was in full effect in this episode kicking butt.  It is nice to see the younger Obi-Wan in action and this gives the character more martial legitimacy.  We know Anakin is a bad arse fighter, but he is bested by Obi-Wan in Episode III and unsure of how he will fare when confronting Obi-Wan in Episode IV.  This episode gives us further evidence of just how well rounded a Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi is.

Are the Nexus Routes the path with which General Grievous uses to stage his invasion of Coruscant and kidnapping of Palpatine in Episode III?  If Palpatine eventually forces the Jedi to disclose their half of the information, then he has an easy way to set up the events at the beginning of Episode III. 

II) Acting:

Very well rounded performances by the actors in this episode.  Loved the continued interaction and budding friendship between Tarkin and Anakin.  Ahsoka's sarcasm and scepticism came through in Ashley Eckstein's performance.  This episode also featured a ton of different voices and characters which was nice.  I really liked Dee Bradley Baker's turn as Saesee Tin, this character comes off as calm and measured. 

III) Animation:

Going into Season 3 we heard a lot about the rain and water effects in TCW.  This was brought up at Celebration V and we saw a very good use of this both in the Season Premier and the Nightsisters/Savage Opress arc.   In the Citadel arc we saw a tremendous amount and quality of lava animation.   In contrast to the red of Mustafar, the sulfuric yellow lava of Lola Sayu was consistently impressive through out this episode.

The quality of the facial animations was also on display.  On the gang's long march across Lola Sayu we get Ahsoka raising her eyebrow and rolling her eyes.  The animation style of the characters is so much better then the beginning of the series and I think that makes the show much more accessible to the casual fan or those who may be Star Wars fans but Clone Wars agnostics.  

IV) New Characters/Planets/Vehicles:

New clone pilot design
Master Gallia's Starfighter

Plo's Bros Space Gunship
Master Tiin's Starfighter = Awesome
Master Tiin where he belongs..
I love the look of this ship. Love!

Anoobas: Ep I Concept Art with the ears of an Egyptian god. 

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

"Oh, don't be an idiot.  Move me and I'll come apart like a holopuzzle.  I'm done--we both know it.  Someone must take over my mission." ~Dying 'Even Piell' to Nick Rostu.

This may be the most controversial episode of Season 3 for Expanded Universe fans.  It invalidates two entire chapters in Michael Reaves' 2008 book Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight.  This book begins with fugitive Jedi Master Even Piell running from Stormtrooper pursuit on Coruscant.  The first and third chapters of the book are told from the perspective of Piell before he dies in the third chapter.

A summary of Piell's role in the book from Wookieepedia:

The novel starts off with former Jedi Master Even Piell running through the Coruscant Underworld, chased by stormtroopers. Piell is cornered in an old abandoned building and is forced to confront the stormtroopers in a violent battle. He is killed, but the building is then raided by members of the rebel team Whiplash, led by Nick Rostu. The Whiplash members defeat the stormtroopers, and in his dying words, Piell tells Rostu about a droid dubbed "Bug-Eyes" that contains information vital to helping the Whiplash underground in its battle against the Galactic Empire. Before he dies, Piell also tells Rostu to contact his former apprentice, Jax Pavan, and inform him about Bug-Eyes
The new wrinkle in continuity caused by Piell's death in this episode is addressed directly in the Episode Guide:

The Expanded Universe of Star Wars novels originally had Even Piell survive the Clone Wars only to be killed while as a fugitive in the early days of the Empire. Piell's death in the Citadel Mission is the character's true fate.
Thankfully, Leland Chee the keeper of the Star Wars Holocron and enforcer of Continuity has commented on his Blog:
This certainly affects a chunk of the continuity of the first Coruscant Nights book in which Even Piell's death was originally depicted. The rest of the continuity of that series will remain intact, though this does leave open the question of who was Jax Pavan's Master.

Piell has long been a sticking point because we never killed him off in the pre-Ep3 Clone Wars EU, and yet he was still missing from the Ep3 Jedi Council (he was in the Ep2 Jedi Council only because they reused Ep1 footage). We never fully explained who Anakin replaced when Palpatine appointed him to the Council and so we just went off the assumption that it was Piell who got the short shrift. So when we went looking for a prominent Jedi to kill off early on in Coruscant Nights, Even Piell fit the bill.

It wasn't until after the Coruscant Nights trilogy was completed that we learned that Even Piell's death would be rewritten with this episode. In the interim, we've tried to minimize that number of sources that mentioned Piell's fate.

Hopefully this answers some of the questions regarding this change in continuity.
This addresses some of the questions but not the totality of them.   One thing for certain is that Even Piell is dead.  From here we have a number of scenarios we could follow:

Scenario 1: Clone Piell

The Emperor loves cloning, and we have precedent for cloned force users from the Force Unleashed as well as the EU.  Could Palpatine have had a DNA sample of Piell and cloned the dead Jedi Master for some reason, including surgical reconstruction of the real Even Piell's scars and lost eye.  Also with some kind of flash learning about the real Even Piell.  The clone is convinced he is Master Piell and somehow escapes from the Emperor's control.  This makes the Even Piell in the novel believe he was Jax Pavan's Master.

Scenario 2: Lannik Solidarity

What if there was another Lannik Jedi, who happened to have a Padawan named Jax Pavin.  Perhaps this particular Jedi took on the persona of Piell for the purposes of paying tribute to the great Jedi Master but also as a way to confuse Imperial forces who know that Piell died during the Clone Wars.  Why would he do this? Perhaps he has family that he fears for (not the most likely scenario given he is a Jedi, but you never know).  Perhaps he just wants to play mind games with the Emperor.

Scenario 3:  Nick Rostu is Crazy

I blame the fever wasps.  Perhaps Nick Rostu is simply nuts and imagined the whole scenario with Even Piell. Or perhaps chapters 1 and 3 of Jedi Twilight can be treated like a story that Rostu told to Pavan to attempt to get Pavan to take on the mission which was really Rostu's idea.  This seems like a clumsy fit. 

Scenario 4:  Jedi Twilight Chapters 1 and 3 Thrown Out

This is both the easiest, the cheapest way to go. as well as the surest way to anger EU fans. The official line could simply be that while they exist in print, for the purpose of continuity chapters 1 and 3 of Jedi Twilight are not part of continuity and are to be treated like they do not exist. 

Solution:  Short Story Retcon

I think the most elegant solution in terms of preserving Jedi Twilight and continuity would be for Michael Reaves or another author be commissioned to write a short story, published as a free e-book/PDF at as well as re-printed in the Star Wars Insider Magazine.  This story could and should go with the cloned Even Piell story line as roughly outlined above.  

VI) Rating This Episode:

Citadel Rescue was a plump TCW episode, feeling more like a 45 minute tour de force then the actual 22 minute running time.  There will be much hand ringing by Expanded Universe fans over the continuity issues that this episode runs into, but this issue aside, it was a terrific Star Wars adventure.  While I don't think this is the best episode of the series, it is arguably the most complete and most polished presentation of Star Wars in this series.  The animation and particularly the score for this episode where immaculate, and the story which featured tons of action and drama was the best of this arc.  Citadel Rescue scores a 9.0 out of 10.  A job well done to the cast and crew of The Clone Wars. 

VII) Next on The Clone Wars:

From the Preview Clip for the 1 Hour Season Finale Event featuring Episodes: Padawans Lost and Wookiee Hunt.

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