The Clone Wars review: ‘Nightsisters’

Let’s face it – Jedi are sort of boring.  When people think of iconic Star Wars figures, they think of Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Han Solo, R2-D2… almost anyone other than those stuffed-shirt lightsider types.  Yes, folks love Yoda, but that’s mostly because he (a) is green, (b) talks funny, and (c) isn’t tall enough to ride on Star Tours.  Yoda is popular specifically because he’s so un-Jedi-like.  The Sith, however, have never been boring.  They wear cool clothes, have a passion for their work, and carry a license to kill.  What, I ask you, is the downside to being a Sith?  Is there any?

Well, we’re about to find out.  Lots of shows have done episodes from the villain’s perspective, but The Clone Wars has managed to do one (three, actually) without glamorizing the evildoers.  If anything, the point of ‘Nightsisters,’as well as its follow-up installments, is to show how tough it is to be a Sith.  Sure, the whole Rule of Two thing makes the job market especially competitive, but here, we also get a sense of the personal toll that the dark side takes on its users.

Central to all this is Ventress, a character who’s usually as one-note as an armless tuba player.  (Got a better metaphor?  I’d love to hear it.)  ‘Nightsisters’ finally gives Ventress some depth, through a series of flashbacks to her tragic origins.  It could have been extremely hokey, but Ventress makes for a very cute baby, and the sequence is strangely moving – despite an unnecessary reminder of a scene that happened ten minutes earlier.  The other reason the backstory works is because of its odd framing device.  Seeing Ventress writhe in some sort of anguish (repressed memories? physical pain? heartburn?) while surrounded by swirling bowls of Tang was gloriously, unabashedly weird.  I love when this show is willing to let its freak flag fly, and this episode had strangeness to spare.

And nobody was stranger than Mother Talzin, who joins the Geonosian Queen and Mama the Hutt to complete the holy trinity of wacked out alien matriarchs.  In addition to being triumphs of grotesquerie, what’s great about these characters is that they come fully-formed, with nothing to prove and nothing to apologize for.  They love themselves, and I love them for it.

But the star of this show is, without a doubt, Count Dooku.  I know there’s been some discussion over whether this is the Nightsisters trilogy or the Savage Opress trilogy, but for my money, this is the Count Dooku trilogy.  For a character who’s mostly distant and conniving, it’s great to see him at his most vulnerable – and I don’t just mean because he’s fighting in his jammies.  There’s a great moment at the beginning of the second act where Dooku contacts Darth Sidious to tell him that Ventress has been eliminated.  The scene lingers on him for a bit before he makes the call, then stays on him after Sidious hangs up.  (Without saying goodbye, I should note.  No manners, that one.)  Both times, Dooku is deep in thought, unsure of his place in the Sith Order.  In this story, everyone’s a pawn, and everyone knows it.

Grade:

8 thoughts on “The Clone Wars review: ‘Nightsisters’

  1. Alex Johnson

    So far, this has been the best season 3 episode. I’ve always loved the character of Asajj, and it was really neat to see The Clone Wars crew handle her past and EU plotlines so well, even if they did change her species.

    Fantastic episode, and I can’t wait for Monster!

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  2. jawajames

    Stooge: great review – i agree that Dooku totally owned it.

    I liked what the did with Asajj’s history, both in depicting in – with gaps, and keeping it fairly consistent with what had been previously established. If one had only seen the Clone Wars micro series before this, it would mesh pretty solidly, while only the first detail of Asajj’s life is different when compared to other soures (comics).

    What would be interesting is to have seen the battle from Dooku’s point of view – unable to rely on sight, the master swordsman could still determine where his attackers were based on how they moved their sabers.

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  3. Sean

    The assassination attempt was well rendered and choreographed but far too rushed. I like the fact that Dooku thinks the night sisters are Jedi. Every time the line blurs between Jedi and Sith, I’m drawn in. Dooku is a prime example of this. He’s a noble Jedi who has taken on Sith-hood because of his rebellious idealism. He’s not as much a villain as he is a fallen hero. I know there’s no hope for Dooku, but we don’t know how Ventress’s story ends. Personally, I’d love to see her slowly redeem herself and join the Jedi order. That would be amazing!

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  4. Sean

    I might actually be right about Ventress turning! Filoni says in the “Monster” commentary on Starwars.com that, quote: “Ventress has a long way to go yet before she cleanses out this evil, this poison that the Sith have put in her.”

    Maybe this is a bit of a slip of the story to come?

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  5. Stooge

    James, I think there was at least one shot from Dooku’s POV, but yeah, it would have been fun to see more. Though it could have veered into Ben Affleck Daredevil territory…

    Sean, I bet you’re right. I didn’t pick up on what Filoni said, but it would be a helluva twist. I doubt she’ll go full-on lightside (that’d be out of character), but she probably will find some redemption in the end.

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