"Monster" is the second part of the Nightsisters Trilogy and was the first appearance of the new Star Wars bad guy Savage Opress, who is billed as (at the very least) Darth Maul's blood kin.

The Nightsisters, bent on their quest for vengeance against Dooku select Savage as their instrument of revenge and install him as Dooku's new apprentice.

It doesn't get much more straightforward than that.  The episode revolves largely around Ventress choosing the correct pawn and settling on Savage for her work.  Somehow the Nightsisters imbue him with their dark power to enhance him even further and turn him over to Dooku who immediately sets him off on a mission to test his mettle.

This is another set up episode, but the set up contains lots and lots of action.  Perhaps my favorite bit of action was during the second trial Ventress ran her candidates through.  It was pitch black and she concealed herself in the force, picking them off one by one.  It was reminiscent of the fight she had with the clones on the jungle planet in Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars series.

The story is a little more brutal and more dark than we're used to seeing on The Clone Wars as well.  Savage works hard to protect his brother, and his sense of protective loyalty to his brother is what drives him to make sure he's the one chosen by Ventress.  But it backfires and after he's turned into an evil tool in Ventress' game, he is forced to snap the neck of the one he tried so hard to protect.  It gives the character and interesting depth and raises a lot of questions that make him more interesting than Darth Maul.  So he's forced to kill his brother, but why was he so protective of him in the first place?  Did they watch this happen with Maul?  He's bent to the will of the Nightsisters, but is he really plotting his own revenge against them or is he completely under their control?  Will he be a longterm player in the duration of The Clone Wars?  Or will he suffer a fate much like his brother (too much bad-ass, not enough screentime, cut short in his prime)?  Did he have force powers because he's from Dathomir?  Or is it because of what the Nightsisters did to him?

That last question right there makes me wonder about the nature of the Force and the midichlorians.  I really, really, really hope we get to see Dave Filoni and his crew delve into midichlorians and explain them to people who didn't seem to get them in The Phantom Menace.

I'd also like to point out one more touch that brought a smile to my face this episode:  In the night sky there was a falling star in the background, just like those that Steven Spielberg seems to manage into most of his movies.  (My favorite is the one in Jaws.)

I've already heard rumblings from people upset with this because this pretty much rewrites the history of Darth Maul (unless Mother Talzin is lying, which I doubt).  I just want to register my annoyance with these complaints.  This stuff in no way discounts the Expanded Universe.  I'm glad they keep it out of the writer's room and aren't trying to incorporate it.  In most cases the stuff they're coming up with is better than the EU.

But in any case, this is another great stepping stone to what I'm sure will be an explosive finale.  I've read reviews from the screenings that this arc is "better than the prequels" and they better pull out all the stops for the next episode to make me believe that.

Until next week.

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