No animated show may benefit more from the saturation of HDTVs and Blu-ray players then Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Season Three saw a fully matured animation style that delivered some of the most breathtaking animated visuals on par with anything seen in an animated feature film.
My mouth absolutely dropped during the season premier when Asajj walked into the Clone DNA chamber, it was a photo realistic shot. Just incredible work by Joel Aron and the visual effects crew on TCW.
The animation wasn’t the only thing that took a major step forward in Season Three, we saw a transition into more linear storytelling and the second half of the season saw some absolutely terrific story arcs.
The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”
Witches of the Mist (3.14):
The Nightsister’s Trilogy will always hold a special place in my heart because my wife and I were able to attend one of the theatrical screenings, but taking a look back at the episodes all these months later it still is clear to me that this trilogy and this episode in particular is probably my favorite of the entire series.
The Empire Strikes Back is probably my favorite Star Wars film and the favorite of many fans and one of the best parts of that movie is Yoda’s training of Luke on Dagobah. In Witches of the Mist we get the awesome converse to those scenes with the Dark Side training of Savage Opress by Count Dooku on Serrano.
If that was the most memorable scene in the episode it would still be awesome, but we also got the Republic Commando Delta Squad cameo, the awesome platform battle in the Toydarian throne room, the Dark Side brawl between Dooku, Ventress, and Opress, the battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Opress, and the cherry on top of the Sundae the big reveal that Darth Maul is still alive.
The Nightsisters Trilogy culminating in this episode was one of the most authentic feeling Star Wars stories anywhere in the EU or in this show. I can’t wait for the Blu-rays to come out in October so I can experience this again in glorious High-Definition.
ARC Troopers (3.02):
I love the visuals of Kamino both in Attack of the Clone and in the two premier episodes for Season Three. The return of Clone Troopers Echo and Fives, the inclusion of ARC Troopers, and the Battle of Kamino was lots of fun. I particularly liked the Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea inspired Separatist vessels and the aqua-droids.
I am probably in the minority, but I found the character of 99 to be over the top. He is a very noble character and promotes a great message about not only the capabilities of those with handicaps but how we should view them. The way the character was drawn and portrayed however seemed a little too Igor-ish.
This episode did serve to get my hopes up pretty high for the rest of Season Three, if only they hadn’t taken the political detours that followed this one. Ooof, but we will get to that in a second.
Altar of Mortis (3.16):
I may not know what to make of the Mortis Trilogy as a whole and how it fits into the life of Anakin Skywalker and the Star Wars continuity; however that doesn’t take away from the quality of the story telling. The Mortis Trilogy has some of the most dramatic visuals and richest voice acting that we have seen in the series.
One of my favorite scenes in the series is Dark Side infected Ahsoka siding with the Son and confronting Obi-Wan and Anakin. Awesome!
There are a number of great and some neat episodes in Season Three, the Citadel Trilogy which featured Captain Tarkin was great popcorn fun, the appearance of Chewie in the two-part season finale was a nice touch, but one episode that I think gets lost because it was a stand-alone was Assassin (3.07). In Assassin we have Ahsoka having Force visions and acting as Padme’s Jedi secret service detail. We have Aurra Sing attempting to assassinate Padme, and we get a nice trip to the planet Alderaan.
The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”
I try not to be a negative person and I recently posted a rather long winded defense of the TCW Mandalorian story line, however I can’t be so kind this time.
Corruption ( 3.05):
If you have watched the recent SyFy channel version of Battle Star Galactica, then you are used to seeing a TV show were every other word is Frak. While in this episode it seemed like every other word was Corruption. Talk about beating a dead Tauntaun.
This episode revolved around smugglers bringing in tea to Mandalore, then diluting said tea with a toxic chemical (Slabin) and then giving it to school kids which made them ill. Of course the meddlesome Senator Amidala has to investigate wither her new Cagney & Lacey partner, Duchess Satine.
Why the heck would the smugglers not just dilute the beverage with water instead of a potentially harmful chemical? Someone needs to explain that to me. This just seemed like a poorly thought out plot to introduce the concept of corruption on Mandalore.
Pursuit of Peace (3.11):
You can’t keep a good Rodian down, or in this case dead. In a timeline jumping episode we see the return of the dead Senator Onaconda Farr. Honestly besides a brief speeder bike chase I can’t think of anything memorable about this episode.
The Academy (3.06):
Ahsoka teaching Mandolorian School kids, who go all Scooby Squad (Scooby begat Buffy, Buffy Begat Korkie). Korkie and his pals investigate Prime Minster Almec and his nefarious ties to the underworld.
This one wasn’t as bad as Corruption, but I view this episode as a missed opportunity. There are some scenes and some dialogue which seem to foreshadow a dark and even villainous turn for Duchess Satine. I think it would have been much more interesting for her character and her relationship with Obi-Wan if Satine was behind the corruption. In the end, the moral of the story is that Satine needs much better Human Resources personnel, because it seems like everyone she hires is gunning for her.
That is it for this week and wraps up our look back at the first three season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Get ready for the Season Four premier tomorrow night on Cartoon Network at 8 P.M.