Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 2.16 - Cat and Mouse

Anakin uses a prototype stealth ship to rout a Separatist blockade above the planet Christophsis.

This was a tightly-packed and tense episode which gave us the best startship tactics on the show since 1.19 (Storm Over Ryloth). Nothing much occured to advance the overall narrative of the series, particularly considering this was evidently a flashback to events just prior to the Clone Wars theatrical premiere, but it was nice to give Admiral Yularen a bit more of the spotlight than usual, and cool to see him observing Anakin's special brand of bravado for the first time. It's worth noting that this isn't the first time we've flashed back to events just prior to the Clone Wars movie's Battle of Christophsis. This happened previously in 1.16 (The Hidden Enemy) just as inexplicably -- and in that episode there weren't even any character firsts (like Yularen and Anakin's interactions) to justify it being a prequel. I'm fine with the IDEA of revisiting past events and scenarios and adding to them, but if the writers are going to bother, it would be nice to have a little more apparent reason to do so.

In addition to Yularen, the character that shined the most thorugh the episode was newcomer Admiral Trench. I've never been a fan of the insert-animal-here-and-turn-it-into-a-humanoid brand of alien design, but the Trantula-inspired Admiral and his clicking noises were very entertaining to watch. It would be a shame if we were never to see him again - particularly considering that none of our characters got a chance to meet him up close and personal -- but considering that the episode began with Yularen and the Republic thinking he'd been killed in a previous altercation, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Trench found a way to survive this one. Maybe the uggly bug can cocoon himself to safety while floating in space or some such creepy thing. It'd be great if he then slammed into the windshield of some Republic cruiser ;)

The named Clone troopers of the episode didn't fare as well as Trench. Yes, they survived, but while their story had a beginning (Rookie trooper on first assignment) and an end (Rookie trooper gets a pat on the back), it didn't realy have a middle of any kind at all. The sparse moments these guys had dialogue only served to make me wonder why exactly they were bothered with. Their plot went nowhere and served no purpose. That said, it was also SO minimal that it didn't harm or hinder the otherwise intensely focused narrative of the episode.

The show continues to impress visually, and also continues to expand the kinds of stories Star Wars can tell. The classic submarine stealth movie overtones in this episode were overt to the level of sonar-style radar and pinging. It was a fun veneer on a meaty little mission and gave the episode a good deal of atmosphere. But even though this was a far better examle of the Clone Wars borrowing classic narrative trappings from other sources than last week's Agatha Christie-infused misfire, I do hope the creators of the show don't make too much of a habit of apeing other classic styles in lieu of inventing/solidifying their own. As much as I've enjoyed seeing what a Star Wars zombie plot is like, and a Star Wars submarine plot is like, and a Star Wars murder mystery plot is like, they need to make sure the show retains its own core identity admist these fun spins. Though if these fusings always work as well as "Cat and Mouse" did... perhaps my misgivings are unfounded. 4 stars.

No comments: