After last week's incredible episode, I knew it would be hard to top. And though I don't think this episode tops it, 'Altar of Mortis' certainly maintains the pace and leaves us off heading in an incredible trajectory. In order to keep Anakin on Mortis, the Son (voiced by Sam Witwer, the apprentice from The Force Unleashed) kidnaps Ahsoka right from their ship and infects her with the Dark Side.
Obi-Wan and Anakin take separate paths to gain her return. Driven with purpose, Anakin seeks a direct route, wishing to confront the son in order to rescue Ahsoka. Obi-Wan knows that the Son will not be so easily cowed, and wishes to seek the help of the Father and the Daughter.
Neither option works out very well.
There is a lot to love in this episode and as a middle act, it was very reminiscent of Attack of the Clones, both visually and thematically. When Ahsoka is captured and finds herself shackled to the wall, the lighting in the room looks very much like the prison Obi-Wan spent time in on Geonosis. And in the finale, the Daughter and the Son have a "wizard's duel" much like the showdown between Yoda and Count Dooku in Episode II.
Thematically, we have the Master Vs. Apprentice fight between Anakin and Ahsoka (under the toxic influence of the Son) that hearkens back to both Dooku and Yoda, but also foreshadows the future conflict between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Aside from that, you have Anakin struggling with loss (in Ahsoka) and a drive to prevent her from dying. The Dark Side wins in this installment and is strengthened, just like the end of the Attack of the Clones, and we are left wondering if the world can ever be right again.
But on the other hand, is this really a world? This entire episode seemed hazy, and, to quote Luke, like something out of a dream. The edges of the screen were feathered with a white haze most of the episode. And nothing on Mortis is what it seems, like the Star Wars equivalent of Wonderland. Though the most bizarre thing in this episode must have been the gnomish form taken by the Son to bamboozle Ahsoka. It was weird, and a little creepy in all of the right ways.
While I'm thinking about it, did anyone else catch all of the pretty overt references to classic Star Wars film dialogue? This episode was littered with things from the saga just like last week. Have I mentioned that I love it when they do that?
And before I forget, I'd like to call attention to Ahsoka here. Aside from the facial animation and voice work being the best it's been with the character since her inception (kudos to Ashley Eckstein), Filoni and his crew are using this character like an emotional bartering chip. I've talked a lot about this before, that we're all expecting her to die at any moment and she won't. And the second we let our guard down and we're in the middle of laughing at a joke, she's going to be killed. In this episode, I really thought there were three or four moments where I actually thought she was going to die and tears were ready in my eyes.
The Clone Wars team is playing with us. Completely toying with our emotions. And they're particularly deft at it and it had my heart completely racing.
And they're going to keep playing with our emotions concerning the fate of Ahsoka until it's too late.
Though this episode was really good (and better the more I seem to chew on it), it is easily overshadowed by the power of the trailer for next week's episode. I'm just bursting with excitement for next week I can't even begin to explain. James Arnold Taylor doing moments directly out of Revenge of the Sith? That's just exciting.
I can't wait to see where they take things from here.