Sunday, September 30, 2012

Clone Wars Review: Episode 5.01 "Revival"


By Chris Seekell

The Clone Wars is back and it picked off right on the other side of the cliffhanger it ended on last season. Revival didn’t really answer any questions from the previous Maul episodes, but it certainly continued the story and illustrated the chaos that the Zabrak brothers are adding to the already tumultuous Clone Wars era.

The first thing that struck me about the characters in this episode, was how primitively brutal the Sith brothers were, to others and to themselves. There was definitely a correlation between the Dark Side and a brooding, animalistic presence. Savage breathed like a bull, and Maul exhibited a sense of grandiosity like a tiger. Their respective heads quickly butted when Savage wanted to share control, and it was very interesting to see Maul assert himself early on as the “Master” in their relationship. He clearly has come a long way as a character from the insane arachnoid creature he was a few episodes ago. It seems like it is always the nature of the Dark Side to inspire each user to lord over everyone in their circle, and the ones most full of hate, and thus the most powerful, usually dominate, despite their physical limitations.

While the brothers had a huge capacity to cause great harm, they were introduced merely disposing of security droids. While it would have been much more intense if sentients were aboard the attacked facility, perhaps the emotional flatness of the droids was intended to provide a soft backdrop for the tension between Maul and Savage themselves. Nevertheless it is now clear that Maul’s fighting style and attitude more resembles that of General Grievous than his former self, using his mechanical features to overpower opponents rather than only acrobatically dodging and kicking.

The addition of the pirates to the story added a lot of depth. While the brothers and Jedi could have probably carried the story, the pirates contributed a certain level of unpredictability. Some were used as mere pawns by the Sith, but others like Hondo went a long way to provide flavor and humor that contrasted the intensity of the brothers and desperate determination of the Jedi. It was great to see Jim Cummings back voicing Hondo, a character whom I now consider the Lando Calrissian of the Clone Wars. While innately a rogue, Ohnaka has charm, spunk, a penchant for one-liners, and a unique way of viewing things that can aid both the bad and good guys depending on the situation. And once again, he picked the right side and survived. The only question I have, is where is the Slave I among all of the wreckage? A cameo by Boba’s ship, perhaps repainted in its Empire Strikes Back look, would have been a nice original trilogy nod.

I found the Jedi in the episode to be a little flat and one-dimensional as characters. Obi-Wan merely was focused on containing Maul, and Adi basically said a few lines, parried a few blows, and died. Her death to me didn’t really add to her character. Clearly she wasn’t intended to be as fleshed out as some of the other council members like Plo Koon. She merely served as a plot device to thicken Obi-Wan’s dire circumstances and illustrate what he can do under extreme duress, which was definitely extraordinary. Warding off not one but two powerful Sith not only shows how skilled a warrior he has become since he first faced Maul, but how strong Count Dooku must be in Revenge of the Sith to handle Kenobi so easily. But seeing Kenobi wield two lightsabers was certainly a highlight of the episode.

There weren’t a whole lot of new designs in this episode. However the security droids were cool and it was good to see so much variety in the pirates. The newer models especially had a fantastic range of facial expressions. The action in Revival was pretty well done, from the decent scale battle between the pirate factions, to the duels involving Savage, Maul, Kenobi, and Adi. One element I found lacking in this episode was the soundtrack. The music was decent, but didn’t really do much to stand out like good Star Wars music should.

In conclusion this was a solid episode, but I personally don’t feel anymore invested in the Maul storyline than I was coming in. However what I’m really looking forward to is when the likes of Black Sun, Death Watch, and Darth Sidious himself get involved in this. But for the time being, it looks like we are going to be traveling across the galaxy to planets like Onderon before the intensity ramps back up.


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