Thursday, February 7, 2013

Season 4, Episodes 14, 15 and 16 - Maul and Mandalore

The three episode story arc of "Eminence," "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless" are a spectacular addition to the Star Wars canon and feature much earned, emotional high points that have been hinted at throughout the Clone Wars series. Deaths of major characters, high action, prominence of fan favorites; it's more than a stand-alone adventure. It exists squarely in the expanded, thrilling world created by Filoni and his team, and shows how invested in new characters.

In this arc, Maul and Opress are found by Death Watch floating in space. Near death, the brothers are saved by the Mandalorian terrorists. Immediately, both parties begin to use the other for their respective, temporarily mutual goals. But as with all villainy, betrayal is inevitable. The Sith don't share power. (Not even with Black Sun, a crime syndicate first introduced in the EU in the mid-1990s.)

Woven throughout the story is the resolution of the fantastic Satine story started back in Season 2; which places her pacifism up against the bloody history of her people. It's a compelling story, which expands on our understanding of Obi-Wan, the politics of the war, the fate of pacifism in the face of unrelenting war. We also find Death Watch's story come to what appears to be an effective and thrilling close.

Finally, the story of Savage Opress is also finally resolved here, sadly and satisfyingly, in a way that feels appropriately grand and brutal.

Visuals of the arc are top-notch, including Maul-inflected designs for Death Watch, the gorgeous environs of Mandalore, and the home of Black Sun.  Action is also thrilling, with non-stop duels, battles in the air, fist fights; culminating in a Sidious/Maul/Opress showdown that will surely thrill most of the faithful.

So...what more could a Star Wars fan ask for?

Well, I will say that there are times when "getting what you think you want" borders on fatigue. Where once the idea of Boba Fett and Jango Fett was unique and mysterious, we've now literally seen 15 on screen at a time, firing flamethrowers. Star Wars has to closely guard that specialness. I loved the episode, but I was aware that there's a danger in too much of a good thing.

Also, I've always felt that Sidious should fight a little less like Maul. A little more lightning and a little less two-handed dueling. But that's a quibble. At best.

This arc was an answer to the disposable last arc, but also seems to herald (perhaps) Clone Wars moving towards new stories entirely. What lies in store for Ahsoka, considering what we've just witnessed? Is her fate sealed? I'm excited to find out.

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

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