Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Force is Strong in Season 3 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars


Now in its third season, it appears that Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars has finally rocketed into hyperspace in terms multi-episode plots and overall epic scope.


I've always thought that Clone Wars was a pretty impressive show. I grew up with the original trilogy and had to wait three years at a time for the sequels Empire Strikes Back and then Return of the Jedi to hit the theaters; thus, when Clone Wars first arrived, the idea of having a fresh dose of Star Wars with high-quality CGI animation on a weekly basis made my head spin. Yet while it's been consistently fun to watch, Clone Wars has really upped the ante in its third season with its most recent sets of three-episode story arcs.

First, there was the Savage Opress arc, where Count Dooku/Darth Tyrannus betrays Asajj Ventress and she returns to her home world of Dathomir to plan her revenge. This story arc provided a look into how the Sith operate outside of their standard master-apprentice dichotomy. Sure, there may always be two Sith at a time but it now appears that there are usually more than one would-be Siths waiting in the wings, biding their time and performing a whole lot of nefarious deeds until they can become part of the inner Sith circle. (This aspect of the Savage Opress arc also sheds some light into the stories within the Force Unleashed video games.) Other interesting parts of the arc were the appearance of the Nightsisters, Force-wielders who are neither Jedi nor Sith, and the possibility that Darth Maul might still be alive. (I suppose that the short story involving Maul in Dark Horse's Star Wars: Visionaries might actually be canon after all.)

Adding greatly to the quality of this arc was the addition of Clancy Brown to the Clone Wars voice cast as Savage Opress himself. Brown will always be the definitive Lex Luthor as far as I'm concerned, so to see him as a new Star Wars villain is total bliss for me.


The Savage Opress arc was followed by the Planet Mortis arc, where Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano find themselves on a mysterious planet with unusually high concentrations of the Force that is inhabited by a family--an elderly father and his two adult children, a son and a daughter--who have unimaginable levels of Force powers. It's hard to summarize this story, but it felt like watching an ancient Greek myth where three heroes suddenly find themselves on Mount Olympus and are asked to mediate a vicious conflict between the gods. It's truly epic stuff, and it also provided a glimpse into how Anakin thinks. These episodes effectively bridge Anakin's character development between the Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith movies, revealing a character whose outward displays of bravado hide a psyche burdened by intense guilt and confusion. Furthermore, Liam Neeson and Pernilla August contributed their vocal talents as part of this arc to reprise their Phantom Menace roles of Qui-Gon Jinn and Shmi Skywalker--sweet!

I don't know how many more seasons Clone Wars has left in its run on Cartoon Network but if these two story arcs are any indication, the remainder of this season will be fantastic. The upcoming episode promises to involve two more great bits of Star Wars history--carbon freezing technology and Captain Tarkin--so be sure to catch it when it airs this Friday. Between this season and the upcoming Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars video game for the home consoles, 2011 is looking to be a great year for Star Wars fans.


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