“Belief is not a matter of choice but of conviction”
I’ll be honest, I’m in my mid-thirties (and well schooled) but I don’t quite ‘get’ the opening onscreen quote from this week’s episode of The Clone Wars, Rising Malevolence. Having said that, belief is something that is shared in abundance by Ashoka and Plo Koon, both making their televisual debut in the Star Wars spin-off show. Turns out, these guys have a bit of history (not like that!) and it proved to be pivotal as they ‘Force Bonded’ (I’m not sure if that’s the right expression but I’ll fly with it for the moment) evoking Luke and Leia’s moment at the denouement of The Empire Strikes Back.
So what the flip is going on? This story sees the start of a three episode mini arc involving a new ship, the titular Malevolence, that carries a devastating new Separatist weapon – the Ion Cannon. Plo Koon is sent out to investigate and gets trapped, along with his Clone chums, in the midst of the debris after their ship was rendered useless by the aforementioned weapon. The Jedi aren’t keen on helping out (deciding that all the troops must have perished) but Ashoka and Anakin have different ideas…
There’s a lot of good imagery going on here with nods to the prequels, sequels and equals all round. Dooku and Grievous make an a intriguing couple and their relationship echoes that of Darth Vader and The Emperor – no more so that when the droid general thoughtfully mans the deck of his ship, arms folded behind his back, after a dusting down from the count. Very Empire. The second of the ‘classic’ trilogy also gets referenced with an appearance of everyone’s favourite medical droid, 2-1B and the mimicking of the Falcon; notably Plo Koon’s escape pod (complete with Tie Fighter-esque window frame) hiding in the asteroid field and Anakin’s ship, the Twilight, flying ‘silently’ by the Malevolence to avoid detection.
These scenes in the space debris are incredibly well realised and directed, with a real sense of tension as a handful of Clone Troopers and the sole Jedi are left to be picked of by ‘The Hunter’ – a ship manned by Battle Droids (looking not unlike miners with lamps on the heads) that tears apart the pods like a tin opener. There’s even a slightly horrific moment as Plo Koon and co. watch as another pod turns slowly around revealing the death inside with one sole trooper slumped in the window frame – half in his ship, the other half in space. Later, we even see some sucked out of their pods. Younger viewers may want to look away. (Not me though, I lurved it!)
One point that may irritate is the use of the Battle Droids here – very ‘comedic’ but not very funny though the sight of one the little guys singing away while killing will either make you laugh or groan. Or make them more gruesome. But that’s the only notable downside to this episode that acts as a top start to the Malevolence trilogy. Oh, and look out for the Ion Cannon when it blasts – it may remind you of another weapon, yet to come…
Check out Cameron’s review of episode 1 here.