Sunday, September 25, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Prisoners (4.03)

Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces. ~Quint aboard the Orca, JAWS (1975)

The third and final installment of the Mon Cala arc left Separatist forces in pieces and chummed the calm waters of Naboo for potential Separatist retaliation in next weeks episode. 

Prisoners was without a doubt my favorite of these three episodes centered on the Mon Cala civil war.

"Crowns are inherited, kingdoms are earned."

The Republic and Gungan forces have been captured by Riff Tamson and his Karkarodon enforcers. Now, it is up to Ahsoka and the young Prince Lee-Char to unite the fractured people of Mon Cala and drive out the Separatist invaders.

The show opens with the Jedi, Jar Jar and Padme in shackles before the politicians are imprisoned in the very cool Mon Cala Crab restraints while the Jedi are restrained by electric eel prisoner cages.  We get more good dialogue between Ahsoka and Lee, and a cool prison break in scene where the Prince raises the spirits of the Mon Cala, Clones, and Gungans.  The episode turns after Lee Char is captured and while in captivity is able to convince Nossor Ri to see the error of his ways, leading to the dramatic conclusion a the Prince's aborted execution. 

This episode shows a tremendous amount of growth from young Prince Lee Char.  The clarity of vision and simple wisdom that he displays by seeing behind the lies and getting to the truth of the matter that Riff Tamson murdered his father, the King.  He also shows tremendous bravery infiltrating an internment camp and demanding to see the Separatist leadership, clearly unafraid of what the Force may have in store for him.

Nossor Ri gets a fun little scene with Riff that had me flashing back to Lando Calrissian's Cloud City conversation with Darth Vader.  I kept waiting for Riff to say, " I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

One would think that Kit Fisto would be able to sense Anakin's very very high feelings of concern for Padme when her life is endangered by becoming Riff's chew toy.  The Anakin-Padme relationship is quickly approaching the Superman/Clark Kent level of being too obvious to remain secret.  Clearly the population of the GFFA is about as observant as the population of Metropolis.  It would be pretty interesting to see a minor Jedi character accidentally see Padme and Anakin in an embrace, then have Anakin mind-wipe the Jedi.

There were some really cool weapons and tactics in this episode.   I loved Akbar's Baton Blaster.  I am coming around on Akbar's headgear, while I think the seashell design on it was a weird motif for a warrior, the Mon Cala battle tactic of using their gigantic skulls as a battering ram and headbutting opponents was a very interesting and anatomically astute way of customizing there hand to hand fighting style. 

Riff Tamson's explosive knives were awesome.  I really liked the way they blew their victims into little floating chunks.  The final confrontation between Riff and Lee Char felt like it was straight out of an 80's action movie.  

Two other things I enjoyed were the cool Clone ScubaTrooper Commander Monnk and the bulkier Karkarodon goons.

If this story arc and the future "Slaves of the Republic" adapted storyline are any indication, slavery is going to be a major theme running through this season.   I am not sure where exactly it first appeared in canon, but as far back as I can remember fandom was aware that Chewbacca had been enslaved by the Empire and Han freed him resulting in the life-debt and a friendship for the ages.  The idea of slavery has been further expounded by the Expanded Universe and by the Maker himself in the Prequel Trilogy.  The Empire enslaved many non-human populations (Wookiees are but one example) in order to provide cheap slave labor for projects such as the construction of the Death Star. 

Slavery is the ultimate degradation of a person, it is turning a person from an individual into a piece of chattel, who get treated worse then beasts of burden and are subject to the capricious whims of often harsh masters.  Even with a "kind" Master, slavery is anathema to the human spirit and in Star Wars parlance, the Will of the Force.

I love the fact that this episode directly addresses the literal enslavement of the Mon Calamari and the de facto enslavement of the Quarren.  This one plot device provides a great dramatic background for Lee Char's growth from Prince to King, but it does so much more as well.  By using slavery, this episode foreshadows the ultimate goal of the Sith / Galactic Empire, by sowing strife between rival species, they set up a number of scenarios that are beneficial.  By dividing the Mon Calamari and the Quarren, they weaken the planet Mon Cala from defending itself.  If they simply tried to invade and enslave the entire population at the same time the Mon Cala people would unite and defend each other from the external threat, making it much more difficult.  But by getting the Quarren to do the dirty work of defeating the Mon Calamari and helping to enslave them, then there would be no one to help the Quarren once the Separatists turn on them and place the stun shackles on them as well. 

It serves to help connect this series with the Expanded Universe where we see this Imperial enslavement in much more depth, without stepping on that continuity. The fact that in the EU Ackbar later becomes the slave of Grand Moff Tarkin is another interesting little moment in EU history and slavery in the GFFA.

Rating:  Prisoners (4.03) gets 8.5 Riff Tamson chunks for a well constructed story that saw the maturation of Prince Lee Char, the redemption of Nossor Ri, and a very explosive final confrontation.  I hope we get more episodes like this in the rest of Season Four. 

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode 4.04: Shadow Warrior

"The Sith control everything, you just don't know it!" ~Count Dooku to Anakin Skywalker

The scene in the preview for next week's episode looks awesome.  Dooku has become such a much more compelling character then he was in Season One of the series.  It is also another time that he speaks the truth only to be thought to be lying or in this case exagerating, much like his converastion with Obi-Wan in Episode II. 

Sources: and Wookieepedia

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