Friday, February 13, 2009

Season 1, Episode 18 - Mystery of a Thousand Moons

Following Blue Shadow Virus immediately is Mystery of a Thousand Moons. This installment embraces a larger view of the Force: it's one of those wonderful moments in Star Wars, like with the Cantina or Jabba's Palace, when we're presented with a wealth of new designs and characters. It's also more than just the successor to Blue Shadow Virus chronologically; in both episodes' DNA is The Phantom Menace.

When Padme, Ahsoka, Jar Jar and the Clones find that the virus has been set free in the underground laboratory, they battle to keep the Droids from breaking through the outer shell and releasing the airborne virus into Naboo's atmosphere. In the midst of this, they find themselves exposed to the virus. The only way to save them is to find a cure, and quickly. Obi-Wan and Anakin rush to the planet of Iego, to find the rare root from which an antidote can be fashioned.

Iego (as anyone bothering to read this blog will remember) is name dropped by Anakin Skywalker in Episode I, when, as a 10 year old boy, he tries to put the moves on Padme. "Are you an Angel?" he asks. "I've heard the deep space pirates talk about them. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They live on the moons of Iego, I think." 

Ahem. 

The quality of the line not withstanding, here, our patience is once again rewarded. Not only do we find ourselves in Iego, but Iego is richly realized. Abandoned and trapped by what the denizens call Drol (because their terrifying God tells remarkably good jokes at dinner parties), the characters we meet on Iego are eccentric to say the least. And yes, we get a look at an "Angel" (voiced by Padme's voice performer Catherine Taber in a nice touch). We also meet a few new creatures, and an Anakin-esque boy named Jaybo Hood.  

Jaybo, for his part, wasn't a part of the episode I relished. Maybe it was that David Kaufman's voice work lends Jaybo a decided Saturday morning cartoon tone. Or perhaps it's because there seems to be no limit to the remarkably smart children in the Star Wars prequel universe.

There also seemed to be something "off" about the timing. As Padme and Ahsoka are rapidly dying in a small contained area, Obi-Wan and Anakin go to Theed, interrogate a prisoner, fly to a completely foreign planet, find a cure to a disease, escape the inescapable, etc. It felt a little like time was being truncated for the heroes, but stretched out for those in peril. Also, if opening the laboratory at all would cause the virus to kill most of the life on Naboo...how did they get Padme, Rex and Ahsoka out of there?

The episode has its definitive strengths; most prominent among them is how well Anakin and Obi-Wan's differences are played. While we know that Anakin's headstrong nature will lead him astray in the long run; it's also hard not to sympathize. His wife is, in fact, dying. It's also wonderfully obvious that Obi-Wan is no fool. When Anakin refers to the Senator as Padme, it's Obi-Wan who gives him a non-verbal reminder to keep up appearances. 

Also, as with many of the later episodes, the animation has matured. I love the brilliant blue of the virus's haze; which stands out against the yellow uniforms and red safe room. The look of the re-purposed battle droids, and the Angels, are all memorable as well.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed this episode, but it didn't have the compact plotting of its predecessor, and a few logistical issues nagged at me as I watched.

Rating (out of five) *** 1 /2 


1 comment:

Dave said...

Not a bad episode...some strong designs and a couple of cool moments. I'd forgotten about the angels of Iego, nice little tie in.

I agree on the pacing, also the fact that they were able to deduce what the cure is so easily when it was supposed to have been an incurable plague.

That being said I really did like the web constellation thing.