Sunday, March 3, 2013

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Wrong Jedi (Episode 5.20)

Yoda: "Ready he is, to teach an apprentice. To let go of his pupil, a greater challenge it will be. "
 The Season Five finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was an amazing piece of cinema shown on television. Complete with a full orchestral score, stunning animation and the best voice acting of the lead characters in the series, the story of Padawan Ahsoka Tano wrapped up in compelling, satisfying and heart-wrenching fashion.
"Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem."
On trial for murder, Ahsoka faces her greatest challenge.
There is so much to say about this episode, but the highest compliment I can pay is that it made me care and feel about characters in a way that no animated television series ever has.  The relationship between Anakin and Ahsoka is so deep and complex by this point in the series that the emotional pain that both are feeling during this episode is clearly conveyed to and felt by the audience.  I was very skeptical of Ahsoka's character at her introduction, but I can without equivocation say that she is my favorite character in the series.  Her relationship with Anakin is an odd amalgamation of parent-child, teacher-student, friend, and at time co-conspirator.  

The trial scenes both in the Jedi Temple and in the Republic military base where dramatic and well done.  The revelation of Barriss Offee as the traitor was handled well and the action and story where so compelling that even a Expanded Universe devotee such as myself didn't event think about continuity once while I was devouring this episode.   The exchange between Anakin and Asajj was beautifully done and  Nika Futterman  once again delivered some incredible acting.  

I could say more, and I have speculated on Ahsoka's ultimate fate and the fate of the series, but what I want to focus on are the final two scenes, the Jedi Council's apology and Anakin and Ahsoka's goodbye. 

The Jedi Council, so quick to bow to political pressure and self-doubt to believe that Ahsoka could be guilty comes back to the Ahsoka in what can only be considered a half hearted apology. As Yoda says, "back into the Order, you may come." The council acts as if it is doing Ahsoka a favor by asking her back and offering her the promotion to Jedi Knight. 

Ahsoka's rejection of the Council and the Order feels to Anakin like a personal rejection.  The animators really worked over time in this scene. From the body language of Ahsoka and Anakin, the moment as Plo Koon reaches out to restrain Obi-Wan from going after his former Padawan as Anakin chases down Ahsoka, and the look of sadness that washes over Yoda are all conveyed beautifully.  

In the final scene on the steps of the Jedi Temple, Ahsoka reveals to Anakin that she needs space to work out everything that happened. This is important because it doesn't foreclose the possibility for her rejoining the Order at some point down the road. It is clear that whatever happens with Ahsoka's relationship to the Order it will be on her terms not Anakin's and not the Councils.

This scene also shows the desperation and attachment that Anakin has developed for Ahsoka.  Anakin cannot handle loss, it isn't in him to give up or let go.  This is both his greatest strength and his greatest flaw, Anakin wins in battle because of this, but it also causes him to lose himself.  

His confession to Ahsoka of his thoughts of leaving the Order and her simple yet full of meaning "I know" reveals just how close the master and padawan have become. Not only can Ahsoka sense Anakin's emotions and desires, but she knows his great secret and his forbidden love of Padme.  This scene works so well because Ahsoka treats Anakin not as her master but as her equal and her friend.  It is clear just how much she cares for him and how difficult Ahsoka's departure will be for both of them.  

 I could watch that final scene on a loop and be a very happy Clone Wars fan.  From lighting, animation, sound and acting it was pitch perfect. It was worth every minute I have spent obsessing over this series to reach this point.  Thank you to the entire cast and crew at Lucasfilm for this brilliant episode.


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