Thursday, March 31, 2011

Battle Meditation Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 Finale: Padawan Lost and Wookiee Hunt (Episodes 3.21 & 3.22)

Episode Title & Number: "Padawan Lost" Episode 3.21 and "Wookiee Hunt" Episode 3.22

Original Air Date:4/1/11

Review Blurb:  Where Ahsoka gets lost in the fog of war,  Ahsoka shows she is more mature then Anakin, and Wookiees rule and lizards drool.

Jedi Fortune Cookie:  "Without humility, courage is a dangerous game." & "A great student is what the teacher hopes to be."
Episode Dramatis Personae:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master
Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Padawan
Yoda, Jedi Grand Master
Plo Koon, Jedi Master
Lo-Taren, Trandoshan Hunter/Slaver
Garnac, Trandoshan Leader
Dar, Trandoshan Hunter/Slaver, Son of Garnac
Kalifa, Jedi Youngling (Human Female)
Jinx, Jedi Youngling (Twi'lek Male)
O-Mer, Jedi Youngling (Cerean Male)
Chewbacca, Wookiee
Sugi, Bounty Hunter (Zabrak Female)   
Seripas, Bounty Hunter

Episode Summary:

Padawan Lost: Turmoil in the Outer Rim! Located near a major hyperspace lane, the planet Felucia is caught in an unending battle between Republic and Separatist forces. Clone tank divisions make a valiant push deep into Separatist- controlled territory, led by Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano.

General Grievous, learning of the impending Jedi attack, has dispatched reinforcements to one of his droid outposts, hoping to secure his grip on the system...

Wookiee Hunt:   Jedi abducted! Ahsoka Tano is missing in action. Captured and released into a hostile jungle, she fights to stay alive with the help of a small band of Jedi younglings.

As Anakin Skywalker scours the galaxy desperate to find his lost apprentice, Trandoshan sport hunters track their youngling prey.

With the death of their leader Kalifa, and separated from their friends, we find Ahsoka on the run as the hunters close in around her....
Episode Guide Synopsis:
Padawan Lost: Ahsoka and a group of abducted younglings find themselves trapped on a Trandoshan moon, prey in an elaborate and cruel hunt. The forlorn younglings have lost all hope, despite the best efforts of their spirited leader, Kalifa. Ahsoka rallies them to defend themselves and strike back against the Trandoshan, an effort with deadly consequences.

Wookiee Hunt:  As Ahsoka and her youngling allies struggle to evade the Trandoshan hunters, their efforts receive an unexpected boost when a new captive -- Chewbacca the Wookiee -- arrives. Chewie scrounges parts from a wrecked Trandoshan slave ship, assembling a communicator to send out a distress signal. Help arrives in the towering, shaggy form of Wookiee warriors led by General Tarfful. Freed from captivity, Ahsoka returns to the Jedi Temple and is reunited with Anakin Skywalker.

Don't eat the neon mushrooms..


I) Story/Writing:

One of the benefits of being the Supervising Director of the Clone Wars is that you get to pick and choose what episodes you direct.  Well Dave Filoni certainly picked a couple great episodes to take the reigns of and close Season 3 with a bang...err growl as it were.

As I discussed in the Preview for the season finale, the two episodes were written by Bonnie Mark who is a writer with television writing experience on  hour long dramas like NYPD Blue, Homicide and Third Watch. 
With the level of animation, acting, and production talent on this show there is no reason that the writers cannot take this show in a more complicated and mature direction.  I think what we have seen in The Clone Wars is the evolution of storytelling that is raising the bar for what we should expect from animated shows and so called "kids shows."  There is no reason that animation cannot be done on the small screen like it is done by Pixar and others on the big screen, with stories that work on multiple levels and for multiple age grouped audiences.  It feels like this is the direction that The Clone Wars is going and its being done in an organic, evolutionary way.  Some of the nuances of some stories may be lost on younger children, but challenging them to think is only a good thing.

The story itself is top notch, not only the main plot (Ahsoka), but the secondary plot (Anakin) is very well done.  The Anakin plot also does a lot to build his character and in my opinion foreshadows and helps explain the fear and desperation that we see driving him in Episode III.

This story I think also puts the Mandalore arc from the first half of season 3 into perspective.  Episode 3.6 "The Academy," saw Ahsoka travel to Mandalore and take the role of teacher and mentor to some young Mandolorians.  This experience helps Ahsoka grow and gives her experience interacting with younger people who look to her as the older more experienced person.  This is a change from her leadership role with Clone Troopers, and also a change from her role as Padawan/student as a Jedi. 

We are also seeing Ahsoka starting to really pile up a body count.  While she is not on the Jack Bauer ("24") role yet, she certainly has something against saurian alien species it appears.  First Osi Sobeck and now the Trandoshans.  If I am a Barabel, I am walking on the opposite side of the street then Ahsoka. 

One of my favorite parts of the episode was the jet pack scene in "Padawan Lost."  It was a little thing, but after Plo Koon tells his troopers to follow him and then Force leaps over the wall, I was laughing.  I'm thinking in my head, what kind of sarcastic responses the troopers must have been muttering under their breaths.  But then they had jet packs and did follow him. A nice little surprise.

Lots of deaths in these episodes, but I think they all worked well for story telling purposes.

The closing scene had a very interesting look on Yoda's face as he gazed at Ahsoka and Anakin walking away.  My interpretation was that he was pondering Anakin's reactions and trying to determine how he was doing with his attachment issue. This brings this episode very nicely in line with The Clone Wars movie and Yoda's explanation of the introduction of a Padawan to Anakin.  As he is watching Ahsoka and Anakin leave, I think Yoda is sinking into the Force and I am not sure from his animated reaction whether he was happy, bemused or contemplative with what he felt.

The biggest surprise for me was that the season finale didn't really end on a cliff hanger.  It was a pretty clean storytelling break.  I was expecting a little more of a " be continued." ending to Season 3.
II) Acting:
Ashley Eckstein is getting pretty good at this acting thing.  Matt Lanter really had me feeling Episode III Anakin in this one.  Solid job all around. 
III) Animation:
I would so move to Wasskah.  Its real pretty looking especially at night.  I really liked the little floating yellow criters.   To cute.  The scene with Anakin and Plo Koon in the Jedi Temple looks like a brilliant painting.

IV) New Characters/Planets/Vehicles:
Trandoshan Slave Ship

Wasskah, Moon

Wolf Pack
Wampa Throne.. Space Pimp
Trandoshan Hunting Pod
Kalifa, One and Done

O-Mer and Jinx

Trandoshan Hunting Base
Sugi, Serapis and Tarfful to the rescue

Wookiee Backrub

V) Continuity Clashes: "How I learned to stop worrying and love the ret-cons." 
"Go, I will. Good relations with the Wookiees, I have." ~ Yoda, Revenge of the Sith

Its nice when Star Wars media serves to enrich the tapestry of continuity instead of creating snags in that tapestry.  In the case of the Season 3 Finale, I think we got a lot of enrichment without any major clashes with continuity.  I have already discussed how the events  of the finale enrich the story of Anakin.  But one of the last scenes in "Wookiee Hunt," immediately made me think of Yoda from Episode III.  In "Wookiee Hunt" after rescuing Chewbacca, Ahsoka and the younglings we see a huddle of Wookies on a platform on Coruscant.  When that huddle breaks up, who is at the center but Master Yoda.  Its a small touch but it takes a line from the movies and gives it added depth. 
VI) Rating This Episode:

The first half of the season finale "Padawan Lost," was really solid, but its tough to give it the same or a higher grade then "Wookiee Hunt."  I would give "Padawan Lost" a 8.0 and "Wookie Hunt" a 9.0.  Combined the Clone Wars Season 3 finale gets a 8.5.  Very solid duology.   My advice to you, let the Wookiee win. 

Did anyone else catch Jar Jar's head mounted on the wall? (I know its another Gungan but lets pretend.. )
VII) Next on The Clone Wars:

SEASON 4: ?????????????????

Unfortunately Season 3 is now over and we will have a bit of a wait for new Clone Wars. What will we see in Season 4? I am not sure yet, but if I was a betting man. A Darth Maul/Savage Opress arc and possibly a larger overarching arc involving Maul for the whole season. I think we see continued independence of Ahsoka from Anakin, possibly with solo missions and team ups with other Jedi like Plo Koon. Visits to some new worlds. It would be cool to make a trip to Corellia. Hopefully now that they have the character models we see a Republic Commando arc.

Don't forget to keep visiting Lightsaber Rattling as we will be updating with the latest news and rumors for Clone Wars: Season 4 as news breaks.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Pete great review as usual but I wanted to get your thoughts on the great conversation between Plo Koon and Anakin in the Jedi temple. Not only were the visuals top notch but the story concept was better then i expected it to be. I absolutely love Plo Koon. The fact that Dave Filoni has fleshed out his character this much is truly astonishing. I mean he was one of the jedi i visually loved throughout the prequels but now he has so much more depth to go along with the cool visuals. He is an extremely wise jedi master and i wish he would have gotten ashoka rather then anakin. It would just feel right for Plo to be her master. The conversation between him and anakin in the temple really sealed why he is a jedi council member for me. Looking at the clone wars Plo Koon I love that he is getting the screen time. The visuals have also come along way since season 1 and the little creatures flying around in the background was awesome. Is it just me or did it seem that A couple characters got model updates. I think Plo Koon had a major model update. It seemed like he was way more expressive. And its weird becuase he doesnt have a mouth but rather a mask but his mannerisms seem to convey a great sense of what he is feeling. Thats pretty extraordinary. I also like that felucia got a huge upgrade. this is quite easily the best visual episode of the series to date with the bugs and animals in the backgrounds. It really sells the planets exotic vibe. i hope they continue to use him in this way. Also that force jump was incredible. reminded me of Mace in the micro series


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