Saturday, November 12, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Plan of Dissent (4.09)

Hardcase. Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Who would have thought four episodes of Dee Bradley Baker basically talking to himself would have been some of the best episodes of the series?  Take a bow Mr. Baker, well done.

"The ignorant man follows, the wise man leads."

After the Republic conquers an Umbaran airbase, General Krell orders Rex and his men on towards the heavily fortified capital. Realizing there's a better plan, several clone troopers disobey orders to carry out a rogue, covert operation.
For all their cool technology, the Umbarans are really nothing more then an elaborate plot device to tell the story of what is occurring behind the Republic lines.  It is really interesting to see factions form within the Republic Ranks as the actions of General Krell forces Clones to make tough choices and fight against what all of their flash learning and training tells them is the right thing to do.

I love the fact that not only are we getting the Clones opposing Krell's orders, but we are having divisions within the ranks of the Clones.  The skill of the writers and the voice acting of Dee Bradley Baker, provides us with an entire spectrum of Clone Trooper perspectives on Krell and his command.

On one extreme we have the revolutionary agitator ARC Trooper Fives and his disciples Hardcase and Jesse.  Leaning towards the rebellious camp, but attempting to preserve military discipline and structure you have Captain Rex.  In the middle you have Tup (the Tear Drop Trooper) who is part of the new batch of Clones.  He wants to side with the rebellious faction but as of this episode he seems to be too afraid to do so.  On the other extreme you have Dogma who I am just waiting for one of the other Clones to punch in the nose.  Dogma is the sort of Clone that has the critical thinking skills of a battle droid and appears to be more invested in following orders then protecting his brothers.  It makes you wonder if they changed the training of the Troopers to an extreme degree to eliminate some of the camaraderie and Mandalorian cultural identification by the Troopers in preparation for the homogenized Storm Troopers of the New Order.  To me it even seemed like the Clones sent to arrest Fives and Jesse were even walking more like Episode III Clones or Storm Troopers then the way the Clones usually move in this show.

This episode except for one brief segment was relatively light on the action as compared to the previous two episodes on Umbara.  In sacrificing some of the action scenes, the Clone Wars more then made up for it in increased character development and plot development.

 In terms of the overarching plot, we have Krell introduced, Clones initial excitement turned to doubt, then we have increasing questionable orders by Krell leading to the Clones opening expressing doubts about his leadership.  Then we have the Clones led by Rex directly disobeying an order and pursuing their own plan to capture the airbase.  After seeing that they disobeyed Krell and were both successful and got away with it without any severe punishment, it was inevitable that they would disobey Krell again at some point.  It was also clear given Krell's personality that it would not be tolerated.  The conflict that we see at the end of this weeks episode and what is previewed for next week's episode was the inevitable outcome of arraigned marriage between Krell and this group of Clones.

In Plan of Dissent, neither Fives or Dogma get a ton of development.  They are both the same characters before and after the episode.  We do get some great dialog that explores their respective views, but largely they are here to exert pressure on the characters of Rex, Jesses, Hardcase, and Tup.

Jesse and Hardcase pretty early in the episode clearly go all in with Fives and his view and contempt for General Krell.  They serve to give some support to Fives views and show to the viewer that this view is not unique to Fives and would likely spread unchecked.

Tup seems to initially side with Fives' faction when they are plotting their covert operation, but then he succumbs to the peer pressure from Dogma and is ready to accompany Dogma to rat out Five's faction when Dogma discovers they are missing in the middle of the night.

By far the star of this entire arc and this episode in particular is Captain Rex.  Rex repeatedly is confronted in this story arc by Fives, whom is trying to push Rex farther and farther out of the comfort of routine and onto the unstable ground of insubordination.  Rex throughout the episode is trying to act as the mediator between the two extreme factions within the Republic forces.  Attempting to force Krell to recognize his errors and the better alternative plans developed by the Clones.  At the same time Rex is trying to keep Fives, Jesse and Hardcase in line and prevent an outright mutiny among his troopers.

Rex isn't a perfect person, he will often vocalize his views in a way that makes him sound much closer to Dogma then to the more rebellious of the Troopers.  The key to Rex is character however, is that when push comes to shove he simply always does the right thing.  When confronted early in the Clone Wars with a deserter in Cut Lawquane, Rex acknowledges that he is suppose to turn Cut in for desertion, but Rex does not allowing Cut to stay with his new family.  In this episode Rex encourages his troops to think outside the box, when Krell denies their covert op plan, Rex attempts to discourage them from acting, even telling them that if they get caught he cannot help them.  When Rex is put to the test and questioned by Krell he lies to the General attempting to cover for his three men, then when they are caught at the end of the episode he attempts to take all the blame and punishment on himself.

In the episode The Deserter, we see Cut Lawquane find love, marry a Twi'lek and act as a father to her two children.  Cut's action makes sense both as a human being and as a Clone.  The Clones were trained in small units and groups, in effect raised like brothers.  At the loss of all of his brothers, Cut was lost and fled.  The natural human longing to find attachment and belonging is universal and is no different to characters that are naturally born or grown in tanks.  While Cut found belonging in a more nuclear family, I believe Rex has formed the same sort of emotional bond with the Troopers underneath him within the 501st Legion.  Rex feels every loss from his ranks, Rex recognizes the sacrifice that is required with every order that he gives that puts his troops in danger.  Rex cares about his brothers in a way that no Jedi can, not even those who are much better men and women then General Krell.

What action will be forced upon Rex in Carnage of Krell?  Just how far will Rex go to protect his men?  I have a feeling we are going to see a showdown of epic proportions next week.

On a lighter note, there were three really cool scenes that were throwbacks to the Star Wars saga of films.  We had a very obvious scene that parallelled Han Solo's Detention Level comm call, with Fives playing the role of Han Solo.  It is a great scene in A New Hope and I really enjoyed seeing the Clones in that role.

While the Clones were launching their stolen Umbaran Starfighter attack on the Separatist supply ship, Fives tells Jesse and Hardcase how General Skywalker had recounted how to attack such a ship.  Apparently Anakin told Fives the story from his childhood and his role in the Battle of Naboo, flying into the hanger of the Droid control ship and destroying the main reactor.  This is an awesome bit of story.  I can just picture Anakin sitting around a campfire with his Clones and sharing old war stories with them.  It also shows the respect that Fives has for Anakin, adopting General Skywalker's actions that had previously proven effective in formulating his plan.

The action scene that we did get in this episode was kriffing awesome!  We had a full scale space battle going on between Republic and Separatist forces.  Droid Tri-fighters, ARC-170s, Z-85s, Umbaran Starfighters, etc.  There was so much going on it was very evocative of the Battle of Coruscant in Episode III.  The way the three Clones entered the battle, breaking through the atmosphere to stumble into the pitched battle was also similar to how Anakin and Obi-wan flew from what appeared to be relative quiet space on one side of a ship only to find a enormous space battle on the other side of the ship.  A nice moment of surprise for the audience.

Which side will the Troopers of the 501st Legion choose to be on when push comes to shove in Episode 4.10 Carnage of Krell?  Will they line up behind the General and his order to execute Five and Jesse?  Or will they protect their own and remove General Krell from his command?
Factions are being formed...Choose wisely

Rating: Plan of Dissent was one of the more dialogue heavy episodes you will see on the Clone Wars, but between the writing and Dee Bradley Baker's acting this is one episode that will be watched by this Star Wars fans many many times.  Plan of Dissent gets a 9.0.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Plan of Dissent (4.09)

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Carnage of Krell (4.10)

"Our actions define our legacy."

With two of his men facing execution for disobeying orders, Captain Rex must confront his overly aggressive commander, General Krell. Risking charges of mutiny, Rex must make a dark choice as the true face of the enemy emerges. 

I have a feeling I know how events are going to unfold in next weeks episode.  You will notice that General Krell has set up shop in the Umbaran Air Base's control tower.  Rewinding the tape Spaceballs style, we take a look at the Season Four Trailer posted on and two images from that trailer.  The full trailer can be seen HERE.
Notice that Krell is jumping from the Umbaran Air Base's control tower, you can see the transparisteel shattering around him.

As Krell lands you can see debris from the control tower raining down on him.

My bet is that the episode will play out something like this.  Rex attempts to negotiate with Krell and get him to halt the execution of Fives and Jesse.  Krell will of course refuse Rex's attempts.  Rex assembles the firing squad for execution duty, but cannot follow through on the orders and stops the execution at the last moment.  Rex  then gives an impassioned speech to his troops and makes the decision that he must remove Krell from command. Due to Umbaran jamming, Rex will not be able to communicate with General Kenobi (theoretically senior commander in theater) so he is forced to take matters into his own hands.  Rex goes to the control tower and attempts to arrest Krell with a group of Clones.  Krell takes exception to this arrest, but is out numbered so he lops off a few Clone heads (Dogma included) and jumps out the control tower's window to escape.  Where the episode goes from there I do not know.  You could have Krell flee off planet to "survive" this story arc and possibly be reused down the road  as a non-Sith, but Dark Jedi character in the series.  You could have the Clones hunt down and kill or arrest Krell.  Or I could be way off and Krell is simply jumping out the window because the turbolift is broken...

Tune in next Friday to see how close to the mark I am on this wild speculation. 

SOURCES: and Wookieepedia

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