Liberty on Ryloth caps off the last multi-episode arc of Season 1, The Ryloth Trilogy. Part one (Storm Over Ryloth) focused on Anakin Skywalker breaking the blockade over the embattled system, part two (Innocents of Ryloth) featured Obi-Wan Kenobi in an homage to The Guns of Navarone and part three centers around Mace Windu and the liberation of Lessu, the Twi’lek capital.
The episode began strong with Mace Windu and his clones battling along a mountain path and unveiling Lightning Squadron, an elite group of clones who attack with blinding speed atop AT-RT walkers and break the droid attack.
Knowing that the only way to free the capital is with the help of the Freedom Fighters, Windu seeks them out.
The middle of the episode is bogged down by politics and little action. Normally I don’t mind politics in these episodes, in fact I think there isn’t enough political maneuvering on the series overall. But the Senator from Ryloth and the leader of the Twi’lek rebels have had a disagreement that Mace Windu negotiates away in a single scene while Count Dooku as ordered the firebombing of everything on Ryloth.
This is where things get good again. Knowing full well that they’ve lost the system, Dooku thinks that he can send a larger message to systems hesitant to pick sides in the war with a scorched earth campaign.
The third act is like a Hemingway novel in reverse. In For Whom The Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan is tasked with going behind enemy lines and working with the freedom fighters to blow up a bridge so the fascists reinforcements can’t interfere with their assault on the city. In “Liberty on Ryloth” the bridge is made of energy and can be turned off like a light switch and there’s no way to get into the city without crossing it. Mace Windu, much like Jordan, is tasked with recruiting the guerrillas to turn the bridge on so that allied reinforcements can successfully retake the city.
I think this battle was perhaps the strongest third of the episode, ending with the liberation of Ryloth by Separatist forces.
I liked the idea of breaking up the episodes in order to focus on three different aspects of the war and the Jedi leading those aspects, but I’d almost have rather seen the whole story cut a lot more dramatically together, each segment intertwined. But it’s also really hard to say if things would have been better that way over the course of three weeks worth of episodes. And then there’s my usual complaint that I wish the show’s format was for an hour-long timeslot so there could be more development.
Perhaps my favorite moment in the episode was when one of the Twi’lek mounts, a blurgg, pulled a move right out of the Golden Axe video game. They look just like the dinosaur/bird mounts who sweep bad guys with their tails in Golden Axe and one of the Clones pulls the same move in the episode. Perhaps that dates me and the animators a little bit, but I really liked it.
And it goes without saying that it’s great to see Mace Windu in action and the feats of daring-do he’s able to accomplish, from shattering that pane of glass with the force to that little maneuver over the bridge, are always a sight to see.
Overall, I’m not sure I would count this among my favorite episodes. It was entertaining and had all the things I would have expected, but it seems as though something was muted and I’m just not able to put my finger on it. In the end, I think I got more pumped for the trailer for next weeks episode than anything else. Cad Bane, for some reason beyond my rational and cognitive abilities, is consuming my thoughts and I want to see him in action. Badly.
So, next week, we’ll see how that goes.