Sunday, February 12, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.18 Crisis on Naboo

Oh those silly Sith, it is always wheels within wheels when it comes to their schemes.
"Trust is the greatest of gifts, but it must be earned."The Chancellor travels to Naboo to preside over a public ceremony, guarded by Jedi Knights. Dooku and his bounty hunters -- including an undercover Obi-Wan Kenobi -- launch their kidnapping plot.
Let's unpack what is going on in this episode.  We have Count Dooku is is playing both the Bounty Hunters and the Jedi.  Dooku has the Bounty Hunters and the Jedi convinced that his "plot" is for Cad Bane and his crew to kidnap the Chancellor. The reality is that Dooku knows that he has a spy in his midst and his true purpose is for the Jedi to let down their guard following the successful foiling of this diversionary kidnapping plot.

The unfortunate thing for Dooku is that once again he is being used by his Master Sidious for Sidious' own purposes.  Sidious views every single being as mere tools in his own quest for ultimate power.  It almost makes you view Dooku as a tragically misguided character who was mislead down the dark path as Sidious poured sweet nectar in his ear and seduced him to the Dark Side.  In this episode once again, we see Dooku using both the Jedi and Dooku as whetstones upon which he can sharpen Anakin's frustration and anger.

Palpatine/Sidious is playing the long game with Anakin, Palpatine sees this glorious vergence in the Force, which can be turned to the Dark Side and used as an "Apprentice" to further Palpatine's grand plan.  Palpatine however is very much aware just as Yoda said in last week's episode "Skywalker, A powerful Jedi you are, but unpredictable.  Dangerous you can be, to both your friends and enemies."  Ankin is the type of tool that if used properly could immensely beneficial to Palpatine, but one misstep and Anakin could blow up in his face.  So Sidious is meticulous, slow and calculating as he manipulate young Anakin, planting seeds of doubt in the young man, and creating situations where a wedge is driven between Skywalker and the Jedi Order, and between Skywalker and his Master, mentor and friend Obi-Wan Kenobi.

In last week's episode, "The Box" we saw Anakin get rather agitated in his discussion with Yoda, but that petulant anger that we saw in the films in Episode II and III remained contained.  In this week's episode that petulance broke through the surface in his full blown yelling at Obi-Wan.  It is this mercurial temper of his that leads Anakin in to rash actions that are ill conceived.  It has me wondering if like an abused animal that becomes hyper-violent, the abuse inflicted upon Anakin as a slave and the forced separation from his mother, created such a fundamental trauma within Anakin, that Jedi or not there was not way for him to lead a normal well adjusted life.

We also get a very curious line which sounds an awful lot like the pledging of a life debt to me as Anakin promises Chancellor Palpatine, "As long as I live, no harm will ever come to you Excellency." This line is certainly eye-opening regarding Revenge of the Sith as we know how highly Anakin values honesty and friendship.  Does this promise by Anakin force his hand in disarming Mace in the Chancellor's office?

That is what you call a tangent ladies and gents.  Back to the episode itself.  We got some really cool new technology in the show this week as the Holographic Disguise Matrix designed by the bounty hunter Sinrich was used as part of the bounty hunter teams plot to infiltrate the Naboo festival and kidnap Palpatine.  Really neat visuals accompanied the use of the Matrix.

When the bounty hunters first arrive on Naboo, they take out some cookie cutter government workers, that were the same character model's seen in Season Three's "Heroes on Both Sides" episode.  I understand the budgetary and time constraints the crew is under but it would have been nice to see a different character model used in this situation.

As I noted in last week's review, I simply love Palpatine scenes.  The nature of the character and his duplicity allows the writers and actors to imbue his lines with double meaning and foreshadowing that is very enjoyable to see.
Yeah! Mas Amedda

I particularly liked his exchange with Mace Windu on the landing platform from which it is clear Mace wants someone around Palpatine at all times.  Is this because he is growing suspicious of the Chancellor or is it simply because he knows the Chancellor's value to the Republic?  I wonder what you think, personally I don't think Mace trusts Palpatine at all.
Lee Harvey Kenobi

After the Jedi foil the bounty hunter's plot, once again arresting Cad Bane and Moralo Eval (How will they get out of jail this time?) Anakin and Obi-Wan get into their argument and this leads Obi-Wan into some deep thought that sends him back to the Naboo Book Depository to inspect his sniper's nest and his sniper rifle and case.  Obi-Wan discovers that Dooku planted a listening device in his rifle case, which leads him to the insight that Dooku knew the Jedi where on to him the entire time and must have had another plan to get after the Chancellor. Obi-Wan rushes off to find Anakin and the Chancellor only to arrive after Anakin has been bested by Dooku.
"We would be honored if you would join us"
For a change this season it is Anakin and not Obi-Wan that really takes the beating in this episode.  Shades of Empire Strikes Back as Dooku assumes the role of Darth Vader and Anakin assumes the role of Luke.  We have Dooku sitting down at the long table much like Vader's suprise appearance on Cloud City.  Then the lightsaber duel between Dooku and Anakin, we have Dooku using the Sith technique of throwing everything that is not nailed down at your opponent.  Of course because Dooku is such a refined aristocrat, he only hurls the finest of china and upholstered furniture at Anakin.

Anakin and Obi-Wan once again prove what a formidable team they form when they work together, while Anakin distracts Dooku, Obi-Wan is able to rescue the Chancellor.  The episode ends with Palpatine praising Obi-Wan and Anakin, and Obi-Wan once again declaring what the Jedi's specialties are.

One of the more interesting aspects of this week's episode and is really brought to the front in the episode guide is that we get some real continuity back story on Naboo.  We learn in the episode that Naboo joined the Republic 847 years before the events.  We also get further details on Naboo's plasma production, while giving his speech Palpatine mentions that this area had not to long ago been covered by plasma mines.

In the episode guide we get the a history of the founding of Naboo with (1) the crash of the Grizmallt colony ship on Naboo, (2) Kwilaan's discovery of the world, and a nomadic tribe venturing into the Gallo mountains (3) nomadic tribe arriving at the Dee'ja peak, settling there and developing a farming community on that land and (4) the growth of Theed.

Rating: Crisis on Naboo gets a 9.0.  It had cool toys, lots of action and loads and loads of Sith machinations.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars 4.18 Crisis on Naboo

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars 4.19 Massacre

We are in for a couple weeks off as TCW will return with Episode 4.19 Massacre on February 24th.  This will be the first episode of the four-part season final, the arc will featuring the debut of Darth Maul on TCW and the returns of Savage Opress, Asajj Ventress, and the Nightsisters.

Link to to watch a Darth Maul preview clip


  1. Great review, Pete! I've enjoyed your coverage of my whole arc. Love that you noted the obscure Naboo historical references. In an earlier draft of the script I had Palpatine's speech much longer, highlighting some of the beats you reference. In fact, in my first draft one aspect of the kidnapping plot even utilized the abandoned plasma mines.

    Can't wait to see what you think of the next arc!

    Brent Friedman

  2. I felt the arc started off very strongly and ended good. It was very good to see Dooku's plan with the Bounty Hunters merely as a diversion. One has to question why Palpatine only had Anakin and not some clones or guards. Also, it would have been better, if Obi-Wan had gone back to himself at the very end. A bald Obi-Wan would have been nice to see in action.

    How may prison breaks are we going to see in this series. The point of the kidnapping on Dooku's part was Seperatist leaders like Poggle and Wat Tambor out of prison. Now we have all those Bounty Hunters in prison and even though they don't have their destiny already determined (like Poggle), I'm certain we'll see Cad Bane and Embo et al. again.

    They are just my rumblings. Good review. Also, a very interesting first comment. I wonder if it is legit.