Sunday, October 2, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Shadow Warrior (4.04)

"Meesa more of a deep thinker."
Was Shadow Warrior the best Jar Jar Binks episode yet? More importantly why have we gotten so many episodes with Jar Jar as a leading character?  Will they revoke my OT fan card when I admit I really really liked Jar Jar in this episode?  These questions I ponder after watching the latest episode of The Clone Wars.

"Who a person truly is cannot be seen with the eye." 
When the leader of the Gungans, Boss Lyonie, is injured it's discovered there is an uncanny resemblance between the Boss and Jar Jar Binks. Binks must sway his people from rising against the Naboo and stopping a Separatist invasion led by General Grievous.
This episode opens with Padme and her Jedi escort (or is consort a better word?) flying in a periscope cockpit ship to Naboo in an urgent attempt to advert civil war.  What the galactic first couple find when the arrive at the fantastic looking Otoh Gunga, is Gungan Boss Lyione going all Malcolm X to the Gungan Power movement.  What Anakin soon realizes is that Boss Lyione apparently likes to shop for jewelry at Borgin & Burkes.  The necklace bewitched by the cunning Rish Loo is part of a grand plan by the Separatists to foment war on Naboo and deliver the planet to the hands of General Grievous and Count Dooku.

(Random aside, every time I write about Grievous I have to double check the spelling of his name, spelling is my kryptonite.)

I have a new favorite Gungan after seeing this episode.  Rish Loo is a more series Gungan and a villain it is an interesting turn for what is largely a species designed as comic relief.  While we have seen the Gungans be brave, in this episode we get to see a devious Gungan.   I loved the different spin that Corey Burton put on his portrayal of this particular Gungan.  There were some very strong influences from Burton's voice work as Ziro the Hutt, particularly when Rish Loo is giving the speech to the assembled Gungan army.

The other fascinating aspect of Rish Loo is that it introduces magic further into Star Wars canon.  Last season we got a bit of a retcon regarding the Nightsisters of Dathomir, making their magics distinct from the Force.  This season we get Gungan ancient magic and even another crystal ball.  Do you think Rish Loo sees Darth Maul's face just like Talzin?

There were some cool moments early in this episode; Otoh Gunga looked terrific, it appears TCW crew has this underwater civilization thing down. Padme looking pissed off and shooting the Commando droid in the brain case was awesome.  Anakin learned a very important lesson (insert Sean Connery voice here) "Never bring a Kaadu to a Speederbike chase."


Jar Jar's meeting with General Grievous, reminded me of Obi-Wan's parley with Whorm Loathsom in the Clone Wars movie, except much more entertaining.  Normally we would expect to see Jar Jar cowering in fear, instead we see Jar Jar playing with his adjustable chair, fighting through his voice cracking, and stalling for time in the face of the fearsome Separatist leader.

The fact that Jar Jar skedaddles while Grievous is preening like a James Bond villain only adds to the hilarity of the scene.  I enjoyed this very much and I have really come to enjoy Jar Jar as a character.


 The real star of the Gungans in this episode however is General Tarpals.  That's right baby, Tarpals is back and he is one bad mofo.  The Gungans had a great strategy by deactivating the Droids and then encircling Grievous they had him outnumbered.  Taking advantage of their spears and his open construction they were able to defeat the General thanks to Tarpals sacrificing himself to incapacitate Grievous.  Who would have thunk Gungan Kung-Fu would be so awesome.  I also think that this is about as much punishment as Grievous can take without being killed, that spear must have come close to is internal organ sac that Obi-Wan roasted in Episode III.


Which brings us to the Sith portion of our program and some rambling one liners from me.  You can Count on Dooku to take the evil up a notch in TCW.  I love any time we get holographic Darth Sidious, he is deliciously sinister.   Why does Dooku have droid lamps? Who cares, they are sweet.  Is it just me or are the clasps on Dooku's cloak the same symbols that we saw on Mortis?  Very cool cliff droid(?) head secret lair, it is reminiscent of some of the giant Buddha head carvings that exist in Asia.

Dooku's duel with Anakin has provided us with my favorite bit of dialogue from season four so far.  I absolutely loved this scene which is reminiscent of how Dooku talks to Obi-Wan while he has him imprisoned on Geonosis.  "The Sith control everything, you just don't know it!"

It was also a pretty well choreographed duel with the floating lamps, the Magna Guards and Dooku all working in concert against Anakin.

The conclusion of the episode felt a little flat to me with the prisoner transfer, but I can over look that for the fact that I had so much fun with the Grievous and Dooku scenes.

Rating: Shadow Warrior gets 8.0 Boomas.  While the beginning and end of the episode were weak, the nuggety center was delicious.

Direct Link to view Episode 4.04 Shadow Warrior on StarWars.com

Next Week on The Clone Wars: Episode 4.05 Mercy Mission
"Understanding is honoring the truth beneath the surface."
After groundquakes have devastated the planet Aleen, a Republic relief effort arrives, including the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. When the native Aleena's pleas go unheard, it becomes the duty of the droids to embark on a surreal journey through Aleen's subterranean world to save the planet.



SOURCES: Starwars.com and Wookieepedia

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