Saturday, November 19, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Carnage of Krell (4.10)

All war is based on deception. ~Sun Tzu, The Art of War

General Krell's flawed tactics finally make sense as his diabolical strategy is revealed.  Only one thing stands between Krell and his ambitions and that is the brave Clones under the command of Captain Rex.  Can the Clones stop one of the fiercest warriors in the Jedi Order?

"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.
There are so many layers of story to unpack in the review, grab a drink and get comfortable because this review is going to take awhile to read.  Before I get into the meat of the review, I would like to give some serious praise to Dave Filoni, Joel Aron, Director Kyle Dunlevy, Writer Matt Michnovetz, and actors Dee Bradley Baker and Dave Fennoy for the terrific concluding chapter to the Umbara arc.

The episode opens with Rex again trying to bargain with Krell to pardon the insubordination of Fives and Jesse and to place any blame on Rex as the pair of rebellious trooper's commander.  Instead of helping the situation, Rex's lobbying only expedites Krell's Court Martial decision and he orders the immediate execution of Fives and Jesse.  But Krell isn't going to carry out the execution himself, instead he is ordering the Clones to execute their own brothers.  This reminds me of a story line from Karen Traviss' Republic Commando: True Colors, where ARC Trooper A-30 "Sull" went AWOL, and Chancellor Palpatine ordered Secret Ops Clones to track down and execute Sull.  In the end, one of the central characters of that book series Darman kills the two Secret Ops clones, only realizing what he has done after seeing the face of one of the dead clones.  This opens up all kinds of moral questions for Darman personally and what the heck is going on in the Clone Wars in general.

Asking the Clones to execute one of their brothers is the ultimate test of whether or not they will follow orders.  All the Clones have is each other and if they cannot trust each other then what do they have?

Of course every one's least favorite clone, Dogma is leading the execution party, but lucky for Fives and Jesse, their ability to duck combined with their brothers shooting like Death Star Storm Troopers combined to save their lives.  This scene was interesting, but the thing that stuck out at me was the behavior of Rex.  Even after Fives gives his impassioned plea to not be executed, Rex just stands there and allows the execution to move forward.  Rex still isn't able or willing to stand up and do what he knows in his heart is right.  This serves to show there is a great deal of personal conflict swirling within Rex, but combined with his actions in the rest of the episode it seems to keep Rex on relatively safe moral and legal ground.  I am just surprised based on the character growth we saw from Rex in this arc, that it wasn't until after the execution went of the rails that he intervened.  Perhaps, in spite of his leadership skills, were are seeing the effects of what are basically over sized adolescents dealing with very complex issues (based on true age and experience) as these rapidly aging Clones are forced to grow up unnaturally fast. 

The Clones should have been a little more suspicious when General Krell didn't unleash hell on them after their refusing to carry out the execution.  Instead they and he acted like it was business as usual when reports of a new Umbaran offensive reached the command center.  As Krell and Rex ride the elevator down to the base of the control tower, the General emphasizes to Rex to remind his troops that the Umbarans have been stealing Republic armor and may be posing as Clones on the battlefield.  That seeming throw away lines comes back to have some serious consequences for the Clones.  

My first clue that something bad was about to happen was the fact that we only saw one color of blaster fire as the Clones engaged the "enemy."  Fans of Star Wars will know that conveniently opposing forces always use different colored laser bolts for their blasters.  As soon as you saw the orange armor markings, you could see what direction this scene was going to go in.  It wasn't until Rex found the body of what he thought was an Umbaran wearing Clone armor that he realized what was really going on.  Rex is horrified upon looking at the face of a dead clone that his men have killed.

The next scene may be Rex's finest hour of the entire series and the entire war.  Despite a full scale battle raging around him and Clones dying left and right, Rex removes his helmet (Buy'ce or bucket, whichever term you prefer) and rushes onto the battle field between the two battle lines, waving his arms and shouting like a mad man for the Clones to cease fire, shouting that they are all Clones.

This is the ultimate betrayal of the Clones by a Jedi.  The Clones recognize that they may not always understand their Jedi commanders, but they trust in the Jedi Order to be on the same side as they are, on the Republic's side.  In this scene, Krell knowingly and intentionally places two forces of Clones in battle against each other and convinces both sides that the other are actually Umbarans in disguise.  A Jedi has lied to the Clones and forced them to kill their brothers, in doing so betraying any trust that the Clones had in them inspite of their mysticism, mystery, and aloofness. 

When the dying Waxer reveals the truth to Rex, the Captain finally finds the resolve to do what must be done.  Rex assembles his remaining troops and tells them of his plan to arrest General Krell and remove him from command.

After Rex heads down to the airbase brig and springs Fives and Jesse, the Clone posse goes up to the command center and attempts to arrest General Krell.  This scene is evocative of the Episode III scene where the Jedi go to arrest Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in his office, right down to the line, " it's treason then."  I like the way this scene was set up, because in many ways throughout the episode Krell is like a pale imitation of Palpatine.  Krell is setting the Clones up against each other, just like Palpatine is setting the galaxy against itself in playing both sides in the Clone Wars.  But whereas Palpatine is cunning and patient, Krell is clumsy and lacks finesse.  Krell's plan may survive the initial fog of war, but as soon as that initial confusion dissipates if he thought it through, some Clones would have had to survive the battle and know the truth about what he was doing and would attempt to stop him.

What ensues is a battle between Krell and the Clones, it is readily apparent that Krell is an incredibly formidable warrior, there is a fluidity to his motion that is unexpected for a being with his size and power.  He uses his two dual-bladed lightsabers, as well has his hands and feet to dispatch clones left and right before making a quick escape out the control tower window.

When the Clones led by Captain Rex go to pursue Krell, they are confronted at blaster point by Dogma.  Even thought Dogma was horrified at having killed fellow Clones, he is still unable to shake off his training and unable to think outside the box and not blindly follow regulations.  Dogma is out numbered and eventually surrenders, which leads to his arrest and detention in the air base's brig, which conveniently ensures that he will be present for the climactic scene of the episode, but more on that in a minute.

When the Clones eventually catch up to Krell in the Umbaran wilderness, the battle definitely isn't going well until Tup stumbles upon a nasty Vixus creature and comes up with a plan to attempt to make plant food out of Krell.  The Clones lead Krell into the trap, unfortunately the Vixus isn't up to the challenge of finishing off the Jedi Master, if the mighty Sarlacc can't contain Boba Fett, is there any way its little cousin will be able to take down Krell?  I don't think so.

Finally Tup has the bright idea to use the stun setting on his blaster and stuns Krell.  Apparently the Clones forgot that a) Jedi can't use the Force when their nervous system is being shocked either by electricity or a stun bolt, and b) it is much harder to block the ring shaped discharge of a stun beam as opposed to the linear blaster bolt.  Recommendation for anyone fighting a Jedi, stun first, then kill the Jedi once they are unconscious.

I absolutely love the scene that happens next, Rex leads a group of Clones into the brig and begins to interrogate General Krell about his actions.  Let us take a look at a bit of that exchange. 

Krell: A Jedi? Hahaha.. I am no longer naive enough to be a Jedi. A new power is rising, I've forseen it. The Jedi are going to lose this war and the Republic is going to be ripped apart from the inside.  In it's place is going to rise a new order.  And I will rule as part of it."
I loved that Krell dropped the "new order" line, Palpatine's Empire is often called the New Order in the Expanded Universe, this little head nod was a nice touch.  It is also very interesting to see that Krell is claiming to have had what we can assume are Force visions of the future and the fall of the Jedi, are other Jedi having the same visions? 

Krell: I serve no one side, only my own. And soon my new Master.
Rex: You're an agent of Dooku?
Krell: Not yet, but when I get out of here I will be.  After I have succeded in driving the Republic from Umbara.  The Count will reward my actions and make me his new apprentice.
Wait so all this was Krell's elaborate attempt to impress Count Dooku?  Couldn't he just have shown up on Serenno and been like, "Listen Count, I know your last two apprentices didn't work out so well, but I here you need a new one, I have four arms, two dual-bladed lightsabers and I can kill Clones by the dozens, you should give me a job."

I couldn't help but thinking about how cool a Sith Apprentice Krell would make for Dooku, but visions of the would be Sith Lord quickly were snuffed out a short time later.  My theory about Krell's fall is that through the course of the war, the power that the General held over life and death, by nature of the orders he gave his troops slowly got the better of him.  He began to enjoy this power, he began to abuse it as he fell, which led to higher and higher casualty counts.  The Jedi were desperate enough to win the war, that they looked the other way in spite of the casualties because Krell was winning battles.  Just like they were blind to the darkness within the Chancellor, the Jedi were not able to sense the growing darkness within one of their own, the Dark Side clouds everything. 

As Rex and his troops leave the impromptu interrogation, they return to the surface of the airbase and learn that communications where intentionally sabotaged by Krell and that those communications have been restored.

It is interesting that once communications are restored the Clones do not attempt to call General Kenobi to deal with the rogue Jedi, instead they decide to take matters into their own hands and without authorization go back down to the brig to execute Krell.  What is Rex thinking right now?  Is it simply a matter of revenge and he is afraid the Jedi won't execute Krell?  Does Rex not trust any Jedi at this moment? 

Again in this episode we have interesting behavior from Rex, who is unable to follow through on his plan to  kill Krell, seizing the moment of Rex's hesitation, Dogma does the job with Five's blaster pistol, shooting the imprisoned General Krell in the back.  

Before the episode ends we see Dogma led off in stun cuffs to a LAAT, Dogma looks to Rex and nods, and Rex returns the gesture.  What does this all mean?  Is Dogma going to be arrested and court marshaled for killing Krell?  Is Rex allowing Dogma to take the blame for what Rex was going to do himself? Are the Clones going to cover up what happened with Krell or will they come clean with the Jedi and tell the the truth about Krell's fall to the Dark Side?   The one thing that bothers me about the way this arc ended, I am worried that like the Mortis Trilogy from last season, some of the fall out from these episodes will not be addressed directly any time soon. 

The concluding exchange of the episode is between Rex and Fives and gives us a clue as that Rex will be spending a great deal of time thinking about the future for himself and all his brothers when the war comes to an end. 

Fives: We did it. We took Umbara
Rex: Whats the point of all this? I mean Why?

Fives: I don't know Sir. I don't think anyone knows.  But I do know that  some day this war is going to end.
Rex: Then what? We're soldiers. What happens to us then?
The final shot of the episode is the transport's doors close locking away Dogma.  Is Dogma's fate the fate of all the Clones, to follow orders, only to be used and discarded? 

Rating: Without any reservations, Carnage of Krell gets a 10, this episode was simply incredible from visuals, to sound design, to acting, to writing.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  When we were all kids and saw Star Wars for the first time, we heard Old Ben mention the "Clone Wars" and our imaginations attempted to fill in the storytelling gaps.  I will say that this episode blew away anything I could have imagined the Clone Wars being, it was incredible.  This is not only one of my favorite The Clone Wars episodes ever, but it is one of my favorite episodes of any television series ever. 

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Carnage of Krell (4.10)

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Kidnapped (4.11)

After the Clone-centric Umbara arc, we return to the big three Jedi as Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan deal with slavery and a missing Togrutan colony. 

"Where we are going always reflects where we came from."

Zygerrian slavers are behind the sudden disappearance of an entire colony of people on the planet Kiros. As Anakin and Ahsoka rush to defuse a series of bombs planted by the slavers, Obi-Wan must fight with their imposing leader. 

SOURCES and Wookieepedia

1 comment:

  1. But what is going to the Umbarans since their allegiance is to the Separatists. The Republic can't force them to return to their government. We may never know the aftermath.