Sunday, January 15, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.14 "A Friend in Need"

Ori'buyce, kih'kovid
What happens when you combine TCW head writer Christian Taylor and Supervising Director Dave Filoni ?  You get an episode packed with 22 minutes of Ahsoka kicking butt.
"Friendship shows us who we really are."
A peace conference between Separatists and Republic delegates is interrupted by Lux Bonteri, the son of a late Separatist Senator, who involves Ahsoka in his dangerous search to find justice for his mother's death.
Now that was a fun episode of TCW.  I am a huge fan of serialized story-telling, but when done write episodic writing has lots of merits.  This episode should serve as an example of what a stand alone episode can do to advance the story, provide character development and pack an exciting story into 22 minutes.

This may have also been my favorite Ahsoka centered episode of the series.  Which wouldn't have been possible without to creative choices that TCW team made.  The first was to jump forward in the timeline starting last season.  This time jump allows us to see an older and more mature Ahsoka, which in turn lets them explore more mature emotions and actions including her attraction to Lux Bonteri which features heavily in this episode.  The other was to develop a second (shoto) lightsaber for Ahsoka and give her a more distinct fighting style.  The use of two lightsabers, one of which (the shoto) is held in a reverse grip provides for much more dynamic fight scenes and moves and leads to less generic Jedi in battle scenes.

Ahsoka vs. Death Watch, like the entire Death Watch...I think they'll need more Mandos
We got to see some interesting things in this episode.  Let's start with an older and world weiry Lux Bonteri, publicly accusing Count Dooku of murder showed that Lux has developed some Death Star sized cojones. But just when you are thinking, hey I like this Lux kid, he goes and tasers his would be girlfriend.

Clearly Lux still is a little naive to the way the galaxy work, because he gets the brilliant idea to partner with Death Watch to attempt to exact their mutual revenge against Count Dooku.  We learn that Lux' accusation of Dooku was simply a means to an end to get Dooku to make a holonet call so that Lux could trace the connection and find out Dooku's location.  This information would then be used by Death Watch to attempt to kill the Count.

Apparently George Lucas wanted Death Watch to be more like a biker gang, and I think he got his wish.  In the new version of Death Watch we get less uniformity, we get new sub-groups (complete with emblems and patches), new skill sets, and nifty new armor.  We also get some rather nasty behavior towards droids and local women-folk.  Typical bully behavior.

The scenes with the droids were particularly well done, showed the senseless violence of Death Watch and the droids' drive to avoid deactivation/destruction.  Poor R2 had a lot of work to do to put those droids back together.

Which brings us to Katee Sackoff's new character Bo-Katan.  Katan is Pre Vizsla's second in command and the first female Mandolorian warrior we have seen in the show, though hardly the first female Mando in the EU.  While Katan held her own in battle there wasn't a ton for the character to do in this episode and according to Dave Filoni, it seems like this was an introduction to a character we will be seeing much more of.


              I hope you all enjoy the episode tonight. I think the Death Watch has gotten significantly cooler, and we are going to build on that next season. One of my favorite things about this episode was the introduction of female Death Watch troopers led by Bo-Katan named The Night Owls. We were incredibly fortunate to get Katee Sackhoff to join the cast and portray the deadly Bo-Katan. Her character didn’t originally exist in the script; she was simply a character called “Death Watch Lieutenant” and was a man. I changed that when I went to direct the episode. This was done late in production, and while we were able to create her armor we didn’t have time to do her head, which requires much more complex rigging and time to develop the facial shapes. I decided to leave her helmet on and do a more developed, expressive face in season five. So, for a little sneak peak at what’s to come, I did this quick illustration for all of you. It gives you a glimpse of her face, and who knows, if you can make it to Celebration 6 in Orlando you might get to see more Death Watch action than ever before.

The Force will be with you… always!

Dave (From Dave Filoni's Public Facebook Page)

But lets get back to Lux for a moment, it is clear that while he is disillusioned with the Separatists because of Dooku, he doesn't trust the Republic even if he does trust Ahsoka.  He acts rashly but bravely to shut up Ahsoka and potentially save her life as Vizsla and his cronies enter the tent they are staying in at the Death Watch camp.  This scene gives us what one can only assume is Ahsoka's first kiss.  We know both Obi-Wan and Anakin have had their romantic relationships and now it seems like Ahsoka may be exploring a similar path, does she take the route of her Master or of her Master's Master?

In typical Death Watch fashion, the gang is being very uncool to the local villagers.  After the local chief asks them to leave and return the captured villagers, Viszla agrees but only to go back on his word, kill the chief's granddaughter and starts to set the village ablaze before Ahsoka intervenes.  Ahsoka manages to impale (and presumably kill) one Death Watch warrior, incapacitate two others before battling Viszla and being subdued by multiple cables.

Ahsoka is taken back to the Death Watch camp where she is being restrained by four guards while Vizsla taunts her and an imprisoned Lux, he is about to kill Ahsoka when R2 comes to the rescue and creates a diversion and returns Ahsoka's lightsabers to her.  This is when Ahsoka goes all Anakin and in one move decapitates four Death Watch commandos, before once again doing battle with Vizsla.  The battle continues with the help of the droids that R2 repaired and while Bo-Katan gives chase and another duel occurs atop a speeder, the trio of Ahsoka, Lux and R2 are able to escape.

This leads to the final scene between Ahsoka and Lux which to this scifi fan made me immediately think back to Star Trek II in which Spock dies and we get that memorable scene.  I could almost hear Lux saying, "I have been and always shall be your friend."

I mentioned Star Trek, I feel dirty.

I had two minor quibbles with this episode.  The first was that when Lux pulled a blaster pistol on Ahsoka aboard the shuttle it was referred to as a "gun" this doesn't really seemed to fit with standard in universe terminology.  Not a huge deal but if Han Solo calls it a blaster, it's a blaster.

The other thing that struck me as odd is that when Bo-Katan is bested by Ahsoka and falls under the Speeder, Katan shoots and damages the bottom of the Speeder.  It was odd to see them to take the time to animate the damage to the speeder but for it to not have any impact to the speeder, it drove fine and they abandoned it at the shuttle when they got to it.  I was just waiting for the speeder to blow up or crash.

Rating:  I give A Friend in Need an 8.5, it was a self contained story that showed us a more emotionally complicated Ahsoka and showed us her Force abilities and fighting ability have been honed to the point that she is an exteremly formidable warrior.  Oh, and we got to see more of the Darksaber.

Direct Link to view Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Friend in Need (4.14)

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Deception (4.15)

Next week kicks of what looks to be a mind bending Jedi undercover arc starring Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Obi-Wan faking his own death and Anakin and Ahsoka not being in on the plan?  What exactly is the Jedi Council up to and what repurcussions will it have for our heroic trio? Why exactly is Duchess Satine invited to the Jedi Temple for a funeral?

"All warfare is based on deception."When the Jedi learn of a Separatist plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine, one of them must go deep undercover as a hardened criminal to extract information from the conspirators.


  1. I thought it was too much of a love story. The end diolugue was just horrible. Heard too many times. I guess seeing the death watch was cool though

  2. Obi Wan gets shot by a sniper I think, or thats what it looks like from season 4 previews.

  3. Satine was romanticaly involved with Kenobi at one time, thats problably why she was invited.