The Clone Wars review: ‘The Citadel’

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.

Stray thoughts:

  • 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?

Grade: A-

15 Replies to “The Clone Wars review: ‘The Citadel’”

  1. Sometimes the straight action ones come out quite well. But what happened to hibernation sickness and blindness? maybe when you’re only frozen for a few days, it doesn’t get you.

    Exposed planet core is cool, if not gravitationally stable. The Citadel definitely had a Death Star vibe… maybe Tarkin instructed his designers to take a cue from the facility. Nothing like sneaking into the Death Star to rescue the prisoner from Tarkin’s clutches.. wait, we’re rescuing Tarkin…

    as for why there’s a balcony over the volcano? It’s their garbage exhaust port. some poor droid has to walk out every day with the trash and throw it into the lava.

  2. Loved the nods to the Death Star throughout the Citadel – yeah, I grinned when the klaxon started up!

    I’m still on the fence over the carbon freezing: part of me is “Heh, yeah, that’s an awesome plan” and part is “Aww… but now it doesn’t seem so special in ESB any more”.

    Very cool ep all round though and I’m waiting to see where it goes tonight, having managed to avoid any spoilers that might be out there.

    Oh, and Stooge? Plo’s been calling Ahsoka “Little ‘Soka” since the first time we saw them together (Malevolence?). It’s almost his catchphrase.

  3. James, I also figured that hibernation sickness only applied to hibernation and not what I’m guessing was the equivalent of a red-eye flight. Red-eye Jedi, that’s them. And I totally didn’t catch the symmetry of rescuing Tarkin/rescuing Leia! Nice.

    Glyph, I liked the carbon freezing because (a) as Filoni mentioned, it makes sense for Vader to know about it in ESB and (b) I admire their restraint in not using it until the end of the third season. (Plus, even early EU used it, so it was hardly special at this point.) But yeah, it’s a shame that some kids will see the carbon-freeze in ESB and think “What’s the big deal?”

    And I had no idea Plo had been calling her that for so long. I guess this is the first time I heard it! She should get a cape, though, so she could be called Super ‘Soka.

  4. Stooge, your review got me excited to watch the episode again, and two nitpicks jumped out at me:
    1) why the heck would the Republic hangar on Coruscant need a cluster of carbon freezing chambers when Cloud City, a place where they would need lots of chambers, only appears to have one. What exactly are they freezing all the time on Coruscant in a military hangar?

    2) Clonetrooper discrepancy – when they are climbing up the exterior of the prison, they have 7 troopers (4 blue, 3 orange), and then Charger (blue) falls to his death. Later, when they shoot up the laser projector area, they show the six troopers… and then when the moving laser gate hits them, Longshot (orange) goes down, and Obi-wan says they have to keep moving. But later, when they spring Even Piell, there’s 3 orange again, and there’s a total of six troopers again (3 and 3) when they face the commando droids. Either Longshot didn’t die after all, or someone was really really straggling behind and later caught up.

  5. My brother pointed out the lack of hibernation sickness to me as well. The only explanation I could offer was “maybe they weren’t under that long. Han Solo was in there for a pretty long time.”

    Great review, Stooge!

    it wasn’t so much of a Big Reveal as a Big Wait For The Reveal.

    I agree with you here, but as you say, it’s par for the course. It was still interesting to see the tension developing between Tarkin and Anakin. :)

  6. The lack of suspense is one thing that bothers me about TCW. They don’t air the episodes chronologically, so if we want to know when the heck they take place we need to go look it up online and of course see spoilers in doing so. I wish they could just incorporate it into the actual episode somehow. What if I didn’t have a computer? I suppose it’s not a huge deal but it really bugs me. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to see movie previews of a movie I know I’m going to go see because the less I know the better.

    …of course, it’s silly of me to read things like this review when I’ve not yet watched the episode :D (ok so I just skimmed) but I don’t care enough about remaining unspoiled for this, really.

  7. I was going to tell my girlfriend before we watched the episode that Tarkin was in it, but then I decided against it. I’m glad I did – it was worth seeing the look on her face when she worked out who it was.

    There’s certainly something to be said for not keeping up with the spoilers and whatnot.

    I’m not going to tell her about Chewie either.

  8. Hey, I love Soka’s nickname of Snips…Don’t be dissing that name.

    Great review Stooge. And I agree with most of your points. ;)

  9. More on the Nitpick patrol:

    – Why did Even Piell surrender to two battle droids?

    – How do they intend to get back past the fleet guarding the planet without everyone being refrozen in carbonite ?

  10. @Titanium:
    A) Piell may have surrendered to save his crew.
    B) i think they were just gonna run for it – chances are that they would have already set off the alarm, so speed over sneakiness when departing.

  11. James, I didn’t notice the clone trooper numbers… but I guess it’s possible that it was just a genuine mess-up. (They all look the same to me! And it doesn’t help that I’m color-blind.) But the carbon-freezing platforms didn’t bother me… I figured that they were just installed for the mission. How expensive can one be, right?

    Josh, I’m with you. Spoiler-free is the way to go! (I managed to avoid getting Darth Maul spoiled for me, at least.) It’s just hard when you’re a twitter addict like I am.

    And Titanium, I second everything James said.

  12. LOL, you nailed it with that Christopher Walken call. I knew there was something familiar immediately. :)

  13. Can’t take credit for that, Turgon… the OS Episode Guide mentioned it, and I think they were the first place to do so.

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