The latest episode of The Clone Wars, "The Gathering," sees a group of young Jedi padawans travelling to Illum under the tutelage of Master Yoda and Padawan Ahsoka.
The episode is incredibly straightforward and certainly aimed at the younger segment of the audience, but there's so much to love for the older fans as well. The young Jedi are taken to the crystal cave on Illum and, in a very "Well of the Souls" like moment, the sunlight hits a crystal and melts an ice door leading into the caves. Yoda and Ahsoka send the younglings into the cave to look for their own, unique lightsaber crystals. Each of the younglings has a character flaw that they'll have to overcome before they can get their crystal and find their way back before the ice door freezes.
One of them must overcome selfishness, another a reliance on technology, another patience, and the like. Perhaps my favorite was the Ithorian padawan who had to overcome his fear in a Temple of Doom-like cave. The story was by the numbers, but very fun.
Seeing different aliens as much younger versions is always something I enjoy seeing, especially when the Clone Wars team can manage to pull it off so adorably. And who didn't love that moment in the opening with Plo Koon finding a young Ahsoka?
The animation and lighting for this episode was stunning. Lowlight situations (as one would find in a cave) always seem to be the most visually fascinating.
Whenever we get episode arcs that are on the lighter side, they seem to be followed up with something much darker, so I can't wait to see what comes next. But for the time being, I'm going to enjoy all the time we can get with the younglings.
Perhaps the thing I loved most about this episode, though, is the exploration of Jedi mythology. We were given the briefest of glances of Illum on the Tartakovsky show and seeing it adapted into a much more full view of what Jedi in their prime went through never ceases to fascinate me. It's very much a child-like version of Luke's test in the cave on Dagobah. I really enjoy seeing faint echoes of what we've seen in other iterations of Star Wars, and I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the arc.