The season finale of The Clone Wars ended with a seemingly standard invasion of a Separatist base plot. Masters Plo Koon and Anakin Skywalker (with the help of "Commander" Ahsoka Tano) are leading the charge on Felucia when they decide to split up in three squads and assault the base from different directions. While covering the flank of her Clone Troopers, Ahsoka is abducted by Trandoshan Sport Hunters who transport her to a jungle world where they hunt for sport.
Attaching herself to a group of lost Padawan's who befell similar fates and finding a familiar Wookiee who can help them, Ahsoka leads a battle of survival to get them all back home.
Without a doubt, this was a very compelling episode and proves that the team behind The Clone Wars is still reaching out to the depths of their creativity and storytelling ability and something tells me we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Virtually everything about these pair of episodes were turned up to eleven. The story was well-constructed, the voice acting was better than ever, the musical cues were awe-inspiring, and the look of the show was second to none.
The photography, camera work, and lighting was incredible in a number of different places: First, the faintly lit vegetation of Felucia looked much, much better since the last time we've seen it on the show. Then there was the Trandoshan ship that was lit very much like the ship from Predator, which this episode takes so much inspiration from, and it looked incredible. The next moment that struck me was the lighting behind the Padawans during their discussion with the sun to their backs, particularly the look of the Cerean padawan in that scene. Chewbacca's reveal was also wonderfully rendered, reminiscent of his reveal in Return of the Jedi in Jabba's dungeon. And perhaps the best camera work on the show was Ahsoka's fight with the head Trandoshan in his trophy room... When the dagger hit the floor? Wow.
The animation is leaps and bounds better than it's ever been. The Trandoshans and the Wookiees all looked wonderful, from their facial movements to the way they walked and moved, it was all pitch-perfect. There were moments where I saw real emotion in Anakin's face and the life behind Ahsoka's eyes was uncanny. And Chewbacca moved like Chewbacca. It was him, through and through. The animation and filmmaking on these episodes were stunning.
The character work in this pair of episodes was... (I'm having trouble coming up with more synonyms for awesome...) We got to see sparks of Anakin's fear of loss and how much he'd beat himself up if ever he did lose Ahsoka. And Ahsoka is coming so much into her own, more than ever before. The best and worst parts of Anakin are rubbing off on her and she's become one of the most interesting and compelling characters in the Star Wars saga. The moment she first force pulled the blaster out of the Trandoshan's hand, lifted him up by his throat and cracked him into a rock was breathtaking.
And does it need to be said that seeing Chewbacca cut loose and tossing enemies off the sides of ships and choking guys to their knees was a thing of beauty. It's really the first time we've ever seen it happening and it was quite a thing to see.
There were a couple of things about the episode though that I thought could have been improved. First off, there were a couple of scenes were Chewbacca's dialogue sounded like he was talking in a totally different environment than Ahsoka, whose voice was echoing in a moderately sized metal room. It was a little odd.
The other thing was I wanted to see even just a moment of interaction between Yoda and Chewie and Tarfull. It's my ardent hope that in Season 4 we might see more of their relationship grow into the trusting one they had in Revenge of the Sith.
Speaking of Season 4... The preview of Season 4 they played at the end (which you can watch here) was thrilling. I'm already wishing I can skip summer and move straight into fall. It's got Admiral Ackbar (maybe?), General Grievous fighting Gungans, underwater battles, fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Until then, we'll still be here, reporting on all of the goings on in the Star Wars universe.