The first episode of The Clone Wars for 2011 really kicked things off with a bang. 'Nightsisters' is the first part of a three episode trilogy devoted to Asajj Ventress' quest for revenge against Count Dooku for his betrayal of her.
The episode is pretty straightforward and it serves its purpose well. Sidious, sensing that Ventress has grown too strong with the dark side of the force, orders Dooku to eliminate her. It's an incredibly Sith like thing to do and caught between a rock in a hard place, Dooku carries out the order. The rest of the episode is Ventress working hard to stay alive and get revenge.
It's hard to talk much about specifics here. This is the opening act of a three act play. It's a setup. But it's a very well put together set up, with very interesting players moving their pieces into place in very interesting ways.
This episode probably has more lightsaber dueling than the last 10 episodes combined. Anakin and Obi-wan spend quite a bit of time dueling Ventress and Ventress and her two Nightsister companions spend a tremendous amount of time fighting Dooku. My guess as to the reason there haven't been as many lightsaber duels? They've been saving it all up for this episode. The choreography here was pretty stunning and must have been a nightmare to coordinate. The animators really got a feel for the fighting style of Anakin and Obi-wan from the movies and Ventress moves with a deadly grace that I just love to watch. But the real superstar in lightsaber combat always has been (and probably always will be) Count Dooku. His fighting style in the films was always incredibly powerful and elegant and they improved upon that tenfold here in this episode. And I must say, I've been dying to see this episode since Celebration V, when they showed snippets of Dooku fighting blindly... He's a badass... There's really no other way to put it.
As always, the animation and lighting department has continued to step up its game. The space battles were stunning, the landscape of Dathomir was intriguing, and Count Dooku's palace had an incredibly beautiful and elegant architecture.
And as far as character design, Count Dooku's pajamas will forever go down in the Star Wars history books. He looked like Hugh Hefner in his silk pajamas, but a thousand fold more deadly.
As I said before about the story, this is really the set up and it's hard to comment on the overall writing. This is Katie Lucas (George Lucas' daughter) writing here, and this episode is completely competent. Though it doesn't surpass 'Assassin' as my favorite episode this season (by Katie or otherwise) this is episode is certainly getting us to where we want to be.
I'm thirsty for more and if they tease Savage Oppress (who was barely a whisper in this episode) I might explode. I suppose there is a reason Cartoon Network has dubbed this the "Nightsisters Trilogy" but I think I speak for everyone when I say that we want more Darth Maul-like goodness. And with Clancy Brown voicing him, we can't get to him soon enough.
This was a very solid episode. And I can't wait for more. This is a very solid start for Clone Wars in 2011.
And I'm sad I couldn't make it to one of the screenings...