The Clone Wars review: ‘Witches of the Mist’

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.

Stray thoughts:

  • 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.


7 Replies to “The Clone Wars review: ‘Witches of the Mist’”

  1. I kind of figured Savage already had some Force potential – hence Ventress’s test where she turned off all the lights and attacked the Nightbrothers. So it’s probably more “enhancing” than “creating” his Force sensitivity.

    Also, and this is a tangent, I didn’t really get the feeling that they were setting up the Separatist pretty boy (“Ahsoka’s love interest”) as a recurring character. I figured he was just there to emphasise the whole “the enemy is made up mostly of normal people as well, even though it’s battle droids that do all the fighting” moral.

    But anyway, good review.

  2. Thanks Josh. I suppose everyone has some Force potential, since midichlorians are in everyone, right? So you’re right, enhancing seems to be the right word. Still, an odd concept.

    As for the Seppy boy, I dunno. He was clearly flirting with Ahsoka, and I got the impression from some official source (can’t remember where it was) that he’ll be back at some point. But maybe they will just go with the non-romantic angle.

  3. I would predict that Seppy boy isn’t coming back. His flirting with Ahsoka was about as important as Asajj kissing a clone; it was there because women in Star Wars are with very few exceptions always sexualized. Or does that view come entirely from how annoyed that fact makes me?

    “Cute reference to Darth Maul when Savage stepped on Anakin’s fingers to get him to fall off a ledge.” Good catch; I liked this too. Your point about Anakin’s grudge toward Toydarians also sounds like a fanfic waiting to happen.

    Speaking of “Have at it, internet.” made me laugh, although there has actually been surprisingly little online talk about that pairing…or maybe I’m just looking in the wrong (right?) parts of the internet.

  4. My probably-obvious prediction is that somebody at Lucasfilm noticed the apocryphal comics story “Old Wounds,” really liked it, and decided to make it canon. Which is honestly fine by me.

  5. I too will miss King Katuunko of Toydaria. But I am glad that Opress is still out there, and a free agent – though perhaps i felt it too soon for Asajj to flip her sleeper, but perhaps she had to do it before Savage got too powerful or she was discovered.

    I don’t think that Dooku would have actually killed Opress for his failure – Dooku probably realizes that replacing him is going to be much harder, now that he’s burned up his one favor with Talzin. So he might show some mercy or give him a mulligan on this first real mission more because Opress is still useful instead of failure not being tolerated. Grievous has failed so many times, and yet he still has a job and a pulse (though it is required for him to live).

    As for Anakin and Toydarians – while he was indeed enslaved by one, I think Anakin realized that Watto as a slave owner was not the mean or abusive owner that some of his fellow slaves had to deal with, and that Watto himself is not the typical Toydarian if the King and his men represent the customs of most of Toydarian society. Maybe there’s a reason Watto’s on Tatooine – he doesn’t fit at home.

    My wife, who is not as well-read on Maul’s background or Dathomir’s culture, was confused a bit on this episode about:
    A) how the Jedi knew that Opress was from this one village on Dathomir, and not any other village on Dathomir, and definitely not from Iridonia. If they’d put in a line saying that there’s only one spot on Dathomir where Zabrak live, and that they’d done their homework after Darth Maul’s appearance, it would have cleared things up.

    B) and if the Nightsisters take Nightbrothers as mates (as the males seem to think), are they the same species (just with different sex-linked characteristics, like horns)? There seem to be no visible males in the Talzin’s group, and no visible females among the Zabrak warrior village.

    Stooge, I liked the focus on some of the aspects the overall plotline, but no mention of the lightsaber battles?

  6. I do love that Dooku’s approach to training carries many of the hallmarks of his own Jedi past. Makes me wonder what a ‘natural’ darksider’s approach would look like; I wonder whether that contrast was intentional on KRL’s part, or just my inference.

    Savage’s tapping into the Dark Side through primal fury at the expense of technique nicely emphasises that distinction (“Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side!”), and I’m reminded of someone’s comment on Luke’s brush with the dark path: when he lets his rage overcome him at the climax of ROTJ, there’s no fancy choreography, no precision forms; “Luke’s just wailin’ on Vader”.

  7. The simplest in-universe explanation for Darth Maul’s return is cloning.

    I enjoyed this arc more than most. I couldn’t watch it with my toddler son; a little too intense for him. As a result, he’s been complaining about the lack of “The Green Bunny Show” (as he calls it) the past few weeks.

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