Friday, January 23, 2009
Season 1, Episode 14 - Defenders of Peace
I was, when I read the premise of Defenders of Peace, concerned that the showrunners would wind up treating the pacificism of the Lurmen as misguided or somehow cowardly. My lack of faith was unwarranted: more than any other episode thus far, Defenders of Peace allows for ambiguity.
It helps that the Separatists aren't just asking for the Lurmen's lunch money. The Separatists are led by Lok Durd (voiced with smarmy relish by Star Trek veteran George Takei); and he's testing a weapon that wipes out all organic life, leaving droids intact. The Lurmen are done for, and the Jedi feel obligated to protect them. The Lurmen (or at least their leader) seem willing to die before the compromising their values.
This premise not only sets up a dramatically interesting conflict, but just good old fashioned fun action sequences. There's a grand scope to Lok Durd's weapon that makes it worthy of all this bluster. The Jedi and Clones work together to remain hidden, sneak into the Separatists' outpost, and, finally, do battle against tremendous odds.
The action is all tremendously put together; especially the dimly lit sequence when the Jedi steal a Neimoidian shuttle. The final stand, with the energy shield, is reminiscent of the battle between the Gungans and the Battle Droids on Naboo in The Phantom Menance, with a bit of a Seven Samurai twist. The action is well-supported by zippy dialogue and increasingly nuanced animation.
Tee Watt Kaa, the Lurmen elder, closes the episode worrying about the unrealized cost of the events in Defenders of Peace. It would be interesting to see if the show revisits this planet in later episodes and explores the impact that these episodes had on their leadership and traditions.
The episode's "fortune cookie" is "When surrounded by war, one must eventually chose a side." Instead of wagging its finger at pacifism, Defenders of Peace sees that war itself forces those with good intentions into choices they'd rather not make. Why else would else would the war be an end unto itself for the Sith?
Rating (out of five): **** 1/2