If nothing else, Season 3 certainly has lived up to its tagline. Secrets were revealed all over the place – secrets about the Sith, secrets about the Separatists, secrets about the Hutts, the Clones, and of course, the Force. There’s also been some cool action, some very impressive animation, and a whole bunch of memorable new characters. (Are you there, Hasbro? It’s me, Stoogey. My request is the same: an Arok the Hutt figure.) The one thing that’s been missing has been emotion, and if it takes a death or two for me to feel something like I felt in Season 2… well, bring on the carnage. And spoiler alerts – bring those on, too. ‘Cause they’re needed.
So let’s tackle the evenpiell in the room. First off, I haven’t read the Coruscant Nights books, so the ol’ continuity switcheroo didn’t bother me. (And honestly, even if I had read the books, I doubt I’d have cared. If anything, it would have made the death even more surprising.) Second, damn that was horrific. Kudos to whoever decided that poor Master Piell deserved the most gruesome death possible, because I gotta say, “getting throat ripped out by devil dogs” was not something I expected to see on The Clone Wars. And third, even though not everything in this episode clicked, Even Piell’s demise was handled perfectly. His final speech to Ahsoka was superb – smart, dignified, and humble, the exact right tone for a tough, no-nonsense Jedi.
But the best scene in ‘Citadel Rescue’ was his funeral, which was the single most emotional moment in the season so far. There was something weirdly noble about this small body, wrapped head-to-toe in a cloak, being Force-lifted into a volcanic river and then silently falling over a waterfall of lava. Seeing the characters stand there in tribute, all of whom (including Tarkin) looked genuine in their admiration, was worth more than a speech could have conveyed. And I have to give credit to writer Matt Michnovetz for ending the act right then and there, instead of throwing in some convoluted oh-no-danger-is-approaching beat to keep the kids hooked through the commercials.
Michnovetz also does a good job with Tarkin, bestowing the good Captain with so much arrogance that you can’t wait to see him taken down a peg… except it never happens. In fact, Tarkin seems to be the only guy in the galaxy who’s thinking about The Big Picture, and when he proposes that the Jedi be removed from the war effort, it’s strange to realize that he was, of course, 100% right. And for such a lanky guy, Tarkin apparently does know how to use a blaster, and it was fun seeing him fire off a round or two. Before he was a Death Star desk jockey, he was… the Tarkinator.
That said, the action scenes were some of the stranger ones we’ve seen on this show. I enjoyed how everyone got a chance to shine (including R2-D2!), but after each hero moment, the characters would freeze for the camera in some sort of dramatic, actiontastic pose. It’s certainly stylish, but these theatrical flourishes tended to slow down the narrative. Stop posing, I kept thinking, more commando droids are on the way! Go! Move! Shoo! Still, as quibbles go, it’s a minor one.
Less minor was how the episode kept spelling out its theme again… and again… and again, just in case we were too dumb to figure it out before. I’ve grown to dislike the fortune cookies at the beginning of each episode, but this time it seemed especially unnecessary, since Obi-Wan repeats the message in the very last line of the show. I get it: Jedi honor and galactic warfare don’t mix. I’ll keep that in mind. The quiet scenes in ‘Citadel Rescue’ were works of art, so it’s a shame that the whole episode didn’t live up to that standard. Still, this story actually moved me, and on that level, it was a welcome return to form.
- More wasteful dialogue: Dooku begins a truckload of exposition with “I need not remind you…” Please, Count, don’t remind us.
- The battle droids, as usual, provide the best laughs in the episode. Their devotion to R2 would have been touching if it wasn’t so funny.
- Meanwhile, the crab droids finally get their due here. When they crawl up walls, those dudes are freaky.
- Plo Koon’s little fib at the end was a very odd moment, and I suspect it would have worked better if he wasn’t in that mask. Was he amused by Ahsoka? Pissed off at her? I couldn’t tell, so I found it hard to care.
- They’re certainly putting Ahsoka through hell, aren’t they?