The problem with the whole “Secrets Revealed” idea is that the marketing campaign feels compelled to reveals all the secrets before the show gets a chance. This episode is a good example – the late introduction of Captain Tarkin was clearly supposed to be a surprise, a sudden twist that makes the story seem much more important… at least for us old-school fans. (Despite everything I hear about The Clone Wars being the only Star Wars kids know – and it’s true, if my daughter and nephews are any indication – this season proves that the writing staff also cares about the older demographic. The past seven episodes, for example, only make sense if you’ve seen the movies and read some EU.) But because the Cartoon Network promos decided to spotlight Tarkin, and the news broke online even before that, it wasn’t so much of a Big Reveal as a Big Wait For The Reveal.
Of course, this is how teevee works – the best stuff is always teased well in advance. And the Tarkin stuff is rather cool, especially his evolving relationship with Anakin. Thankfully, though, there’s a lot to love in ‘The Citadel’ even before we get a glimpse of those legendary cheekbones. To start, we meet Even Piell, who’s missing an eye and wears a constant scowl and, juuuuust in case that’s not tough enough, speaks with a Russian accent. (I especially loved his intonation of “Obi-Van.”) You just know that this guy has vodka running through his veins. If nothing else, we have to thank The Clone Wars for taking all those Prequel-era background Jedi and imbuing them with such huge personalities.
The other new character, Osi Sobeck, doesn’t work quite so well. Maybe there are Shrek-like layers to him that have yet to be peeled back, but so far, he’s seems like a pretty typical cackling baddie. His vocal performance certainly is unique – it’s a reptilian play on Christopher Walken, which I didn’t notice until my second viewing – but it’s more distracting than entertaining. He also monologues to nobody in particular, and for no particular reason, about how the Citadel is used to strike fear into the hearts of Jedi. But that’s the episode’s only clunky scene.
The rest of the plot moves very quick, and has fun surprises throughout. I loved the idea of battle droids working for the Republic (apparently, they can reprogram loyalty, but not personality), and having R2-D2 and C-3PO argue about them was a perfect bit of exposition. The use of carbonite was also a cool gimmick, and gives Hasbro a great new exclusive to offer retailers. And the Jedi finally seem to realize that Anakin is an awful, awful mentor. Everyone from Plo Koon to Ahsoka to Obi-Wan talks about it openly, with Obi-Wan even making fun of Anakin to his face. Mr. Pot, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Kettle.
I was also struck by the use of cutaways, those short reaction shots of secondary characters during key moments. It gave ‘The Citadel’ an almost realistic feel, and credit goes to director Kyle Dunlevy for treating this episode like a straight-up action movie. Compared to the Mortis arc, ‘The Citadel’ seems a bit simplistic in its scope, but it’s also faster, tighter, and more involving. And that’s all I ever want out of a Clone Wars episode: a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. In other words, some action, some humor, cool visuals, and interesting character moments. ‘The Citadel’ had all that, plus Vladimir Putin as a Jedi. May the Force be with us, comrades.
- As usual, Captain Rex has the best scene in the episode, when he shoots the security camera.
- The planet with the exposed core, though viewed very briefly, is awfully cool.
- But why is there a door to a balcony overlooking a volcano? Is that this planet’s version of a scenic view?
- Keeping with the Tarkin theme, the Citadel has a bunch of cool visual and audio throwbacks to the Death Star. Nicely done.
- Commando droids are constantly revealing new levels of badassery. Their inclusion is always welcome.
- Plo Koon called Ahsoka “Little ‘Soka.” (I turned on the captions to make sure I heard it correctly.) Better or worse nickname than Snips? Discuss.
- Doesn’t Dunc live in the Citadel?