Monday, April 19, 2010

Season 2, Episode 18 - The Zillo Beast

Okay. Yeah. That was awesome. Where to start?

First of all, the Zillo Beast is an episode that introduces us to the Star Wars equivalent of Godzilla. It's like someone got their chocolate in my peanut butter.

One of the facts that makes Star Wars such an enduring universe is how adaptable it is by nature. It's a mythology of spare parts and mash-ups. That's why Clone Wars episodes that quote the films themselves are less, perhaps, in the spirit of Star Wars than episodes that appropriate new material.

The issue I had with Bounty Hunters was that it took a four hour epic and crammed it into 22 minutes. Godzilla, to me, often seems full of filler in between Man In Suit rampages. The Zillo Beast never feels like there's less of what you'd want. It's filled with action on a mammoth scale, but it doesn't let the spectacle stomp all over the story.

Taking place on Malastare, populated with Dugs, the Zillo Beast addresses some honestly complex issues for our heroes. Malastare's leader Doge Urus drives a hard bargain with the Jedi, knowing that the Republic needs their fuel rich mines to fund the war effort. When the use of a highly volatile weapon - the Electro-Proton Bomb - uncovers an ancient sleeping creature, the Dugs insist that it be killed. The Jedi resist the taking of the life of the beast, the last of its kind. But is the life of a single creature worth alienating the Dugs and their necessary allegiance?

Anakin eventually finds a way to split the difference (the beat itself could be used for weapons research) but that doesn't solve the problem of disturbing a practically unstoppable force.

Inevitably, the Beast goes on a classic rampage, complete with Wilhem scream, tossing tanks, and stomping on troopers. The creative team makes The Beat both sympathetic and terrible. By the time the Beast is brought down, in a perfect moment, we see the hubris of the Republic leadership promise more carnage (see: the next episode). It's classic Godzilla. The folly, as always, is ours.

By taking time to highlight the ambiguity of the Jedi's place in the war, and infusing that with a joyful explosion of beautifully cinematic nostalgia and mayhem, The Zillo Beast is a fanboy's dream episode. One of the best of the series.

Rating (out of five): *****

1 comment:

Rose said...

I didn't even notice the Whilhem scream! And I TOTALLY agree with you-epic episode!!!