Okay, let’s tackle the bantha in the room. ‘Witches of the Mist’? Really? Were the gorillas busy? What kind of silly title is this? And more importantly, why focus on the witches? They were pretty prominent in the past two episodes, but here, the Sith take center stage. And to stretch this metaphor to its limit, those Sith sure know how to put on a show.
To start, we get not one but two Sith training sessions, and they’re both fantastic. There are no new insights into the dark side or the nature of the Force, but what we do get a lot of is Count Dooku being The Teacher From Hell. I’m not sure why I got such a kick out of hearing him say “You have no technique,” but it was so deliciously cruel that it probably stung worse than a million volts of Force lightning. (Though there was plenty of lightning, too.) His other great line, which came in the second session, wasn’t quite so evil, but it was still fascinating: “The task is only impossible because you have deemed it so.” It’s essentially a Sith version of “Do or do not.” Count Dooku is the Anti-Yoda!
What was new (for this show, at least – I imagine it’s been toyed with elsewhere in the EU) is the idea of artificially imbuing someone with Force powers. As I understand it, Jedi are traditionally born with the talent, and Sith tend to be former Jedi, so the concept of creating – or perhaps enhancing – Savage Opress’s midichlorian count is heavy stuff. He’s clearly supposed to be a Frankenstein-type monster, but does that make the Nightsisters more like mad scientists than witches? And are they on the same path as Darth Plagueis, manipulating the midichlorians to create… life?
Which brings us to the next big topic, and I suppose I’ve got to throw in a SPOILER WARNING here, in case you’re the last person on Earth to hear about this: so, yeah, Darth Maul is alive, and the whole thing has me conflicted. Obviously, Star Wars isn’t terribly concerned with death – there are Force ghosts wandering around, after all – and The Clone Wars in particular is known for bringing characters back by playing fast and loose with its chronology. But death is a major part of drama, and if it gets to the point where anyone can simply rise from the grave (or the reactor core, in this case), then nobody’s ever really in danger. I hope there’s a good rationale for Mr. Maul’s resurrection, but until then, this is being filed this under Wait And See.
Of course, it’s not like we haven’t had our fair share of death lately. Ziro was offed earlier in the season, as was Padme’s Seppy friend, and now we see the Toydarian King getting choked like a chicken. And there have been other important changes, as well: Ventress is suddenly a free agent, and Ahsoka has a love interest (just writing those words made me shudder) on the other side of the war. So even though the first half of the season was pretty dull, it looks like Season 3 may be a major turning point for the show.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with Savage Opress himself, who went through a helluva lot in just this one episode. In addition to his brutal training regimen, he was later sentenced to die by Dooku for messing up just one assignment. Ventress saves him, but she’s also just using him. So by the time the Jedi arrive, and Opress is left on his own, he’s more pitiable than fearsome. I found myself rooting for him to get away safely, and now I’m left wondering what the show has planned for him. People may be excited to see Darth Maul again, but to me, he’s almost an afterthought. Aside from having a dumb name, Savage Opress is a much more intriguing character than Maul ever was.
- Obi-Wan and Anakin are paired up quite a bit here, and it’s a nice idea… but their scenes were probably the weakest parts of the episode. The dialogue fell pretty flat, almost as if it were just on the verge of being funny, but not quite there.
- Anakin seems awfully concerned for the Toydarians considering that, um, he was once enslaved by one.
- There was a nice shout-out to the whole Dathomir/Iridonia question.
- Funny how the Iridonian males thought Ventress took Savage for a mate. Have at it, internet.
- Iridonia would be a good name for an anti-itch cream.
- Cute reference to Darth Maul when Savage stepped on Anakin’s fingers to get him to fall off a ledge.
- King Katuunko was a great character, noble and brave right up until the end. Sorry to see him go.