Sunday, February 26, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.19 Massacre

"Choono slalem denni tay'lori olee-ay. Lucheno vadem klavlane. Blenay vedi nalem koreem. Blenay vedi nalem koreem. Villos susko kono lamal! Vlemon tagoo!"

Asajj Ventress, Mother Talzin, General Grievous, and Count Dooku return with avengence in this week's episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Things quickly go from bad to worse in this aptly named episode.

"One must let go of the past to hold on to the future."
Count Dooku is determined to have revenge against the Nightsisters of Dathomir after their betrayal. General Grievous launches an all-out droid attack against the magic-wielding witches, and Mother Talzin and Asajj Ventress lead the defense with all the dark powers at their command.
I am curious where this episode fits in the timeline.  The episode opens with Asajj Ventress returning to Dathomir after licking her wounds following last season's "Witches of the Mist" (3.14).  While we know at least some time has passed it is not clear chronologically when this episode is set.

One has to wonder what exactly the fates have in store for Asajj as she seems to be a perpetually cursed figure.  This episode pushes her character in an interesting a new direction but leaves this viewer with a lot of questions it's impact on the greater story.

To briefly summarize the episode:

 Ventress returns to the Nightsisters and is greated warmly and initated fully into their ranks.  Meanwhile on Serenno, Dooku learns of Ventress' reapparance and dispatches General Grievous and just about the entire Separatist Droid army to the planet for a good old fashioned witch burning.  Vastly outnumbered, the Nightsisters turn to necromancy and unleash zombie Nightsisters on the droids.  Whilst her forces are battle the droids, Mother Talzin turns her magicks on a voodoo doll of Count Dooku injuring and potentially killing him.  Dooku redirects the Separatist attack to go after Mother Talzin, thankfully for the droids, Mother Talzin and Old Daka (who is controlling the zombies) are both in the same hidden cave, so when the droids attack Talzin, Grievous also kills Daka ending the Nightsisters' zombie reinforcements and leading the way to a Seperatist victory.  Mother Talzin bamfs out of there and has a brief conversation with Ventress, declaring Ventress' fate lies along a different path then her sisters.  The episode closes with Ventress is left once again feeling like a failure, betrayed and abandoned.

This was one creepy episode of TCW.  Aside from a few shots of the fleet arrive at Dathomir I thought this was a beautifully animated episode.  The undead Nightsisters had a very cool look to them.  The story was solid as usual with most of Katie Lucas' TCW stories, but there were a few internal consistency issues that I had with it.  The first and obvious issue that instead of using her massive magick powers to face the immediate threat, Mother Talzin retreats to her cave and starts working voodoo on Dooku, either to kill him or to get him to call of the attack.  It seems like it would have been a better use of her time to meet the immediate threat head on, she was laying the droids to waste with her lightning in the beginning of the invasion.

Also if the Nightsisters' magicks appear as a green mist that is visible to all, wouldn't Mother Talzin have known this would have left a trail of bread crumbs for the Droids to follow to her "hidden" cave?  Better defenses should have been set up around the cave or at the very least, Daka and Talzin should have been at Separate locations for strategic reasons.

The other issue I had with this episode was with the portrayal of the Nightsisters themselves.  It seemed that when faced with a threat they resorted to purely combat skills and didn't take advantage of their magicks.  Ventress used her Force abilities, Talzin used her magicks, Old Daka used her magicks, but everyone else simply relied on their bows, blades and blasters.  I was hoping for the rank and file witches to act more like witches.

So after over-analyzing the episode it sure doesn't sound like I enjoyed it as much as I did, so lets discuss what I did like.

My favorite moment is rather morbid.  I actually laughed out loud when the statute fell and squished Karis.  Oh look, Asajj made a friend...SPLAT! At this point, in TCW you can be sure of one thing, either Obi-Wan is going to suffer some physical trauma, or Asajj is going to suffer some emotional trauma.

I loved the fact that apparently the Separatists can just abandon fighting the Republic for a little while to invade a neutral planet full of Force wielding witches simply to exact personal revenge of Count Dooku.

I loved the fact that Dooku and Grievous are masters of overkill, 50 billion battledroids, Super battledroids, and commando droids along with air support to take out a few dozen Nightsisters, really?

I loved that Ventress engaged in a personal honor duel with Grievous and actually was about to win when Grievous cheated and had the droids open fire on her.

I loved the look on Ventress' face and pain in her voice when the specter of Mother Talzin appeared and basically gave her the heave-ho.

In the end this episode opens up a ton of interesting questions and story telling possibilities.

1) Do the Separatists leave a garrison on and occupy Dathomir?

We know that Palpatine eventually placed the planet under interdiction during the Imperial era, but did the Separatists leave a presence behind during the Clone Wars?

2) Where their other Nightsisters either on Dathomir or working off-world as mercenaries? 

Mother Talzin at the end of the episode after all the Nightsisters were presumably wiped out, still referred to the Nightsisters as "us" she didn't refer to herself singularly when talking to Ventress.  The implication is that there are still other Nightsisters.

3) What does this mean for the other Witches of Dathomir?

Completely unaddressed in TCW is whether the other daughters of Allya still exist and what there fate is after the Separatist invasion.  Whether it is the Singing Mountain Clan, the Misty Falls Clan, the Red Hills Clan, the Dreaming River Clan, the Frenzied River Clan, or the Great Canyon Clan, we are left simply to wonder about the other inhabitants of Dathomir.

4) What does this mean for the Nightbrothers?

We know the Zabrak Nightbrothers live in a separate community far away from the Nightsisters' enclave.  Would Separatist clean up operations include the targeting of these men?  Will the elimination of the Nightsisters "free" these men from their enslavement?

5) Where does Mother Talzin go from here?

One has to believe that we haven't seen the last of Mother Talzin on TCW, as she regroups and presumably reforms the Nightsisters, what will her role be going forward?

6) Where does Asajj Ventress go from here? 

It looks like we will be getting the answer to this question rather quickly, as Ventress takes another starring role in next weeks episode, "Bounty" and throws in her lot with Boba Fett and his crew.

Rating: Massacre gets a creepy 8.5.  A very solid and very dark episode that's awesome action leaves me with many many questions.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars 4.19 "Massacre"

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Bounty" (4.20)

"Who we are never changes, who we think we are does."
An aimless Asajj Ventress joins a team of bounty hunters under the leadership of young Boba Fett. On an alien world, they undertake a dangerous but profitable mission that tests the limits of their skills, and the strength of Asajj's character.


  1. I never thought about what happened to the Nightbrothers. If they were all completely wiped out it would explain why there are no Zabraks mentioned on Dathomir in future EU material.

  2. I was also wondering if the Separatists left a garrison of droids to guard Dathomir, but after watching season 4's last episode Revenge, when Darth Maul and Savage Opress returning to Dathomir, I didn't see any droids so maybe not.