Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 3

A weak script is rescued by great visuals in this week's episode of the small-screen Star Wars saga…

“Easy is the path to wisdom for those not blinded by themselves”

Without wanting to sound like Moe Syszlak, I feel I have to exclaim, “Whaa??!!??” in reaction to this week’s episode of The Clone Wars‘ opening onscreen quote (getting more oblique every week, I have to add). I’m sure the path to wisdom is, indeed, ‘easy’ but there’s no-one in this episode looking for it – all they wanna do is blast the eff out of each other. Shadow Of Malevolence carries on the mini-trilogy of stories – that began in the last instalment – concerning the cruiser Malevolence, which carries the new ‘deadliest weapon on the go’ (‘til they get another), the Ion Cannon.

Apart from the trouser-tightening introduction of the Y-Wing, there’s much to behold visually (and in a self-referential way, too) but, as seems to be the norm, the plot is startlingly simple. The Republic is trying to save a medical station, (manned by one of my favourite prequel aliens, a Kaminoan– though not particularly well-animated here) containing squillions of clones. It is in danger of being ripped a new one by the Malevolence, helmed by General Grievous (who has taken to beating up his Battle Droid staff) and its mighty new weapon, so the Jedi are dispatched to get there in time.

Anakin fronts a team of Y-Wings (nerdoids rejoice!), the titular Shadow Squadron, with some Clone buddies (some of whom have more personality than Master Skywalker), Ashoka (still being called ‘snips’ by her mentor – getting a bit tedious now guys) and Plo Koon. The ‘humour’ between the Padawan and the bad boy Jedi is forced at best, and we’re only three episodes in! I can only hope this is toned down or they manage to hire writers who can deliver ‘funny’.

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Speaking of ‘only hope’, A New Hope gets referenced; much as last week’s gave more than a nod to The Empire Strikes Back. Visually, the aforementioned Y-Wings (or their prototypes) receive much screen time and the battle scenes evoke the ‘classic’ trilogy, along with: the ‘team talk’ at the start – very reminiscent of the Rebel Troops rally before their attack on Death Star; and lines like, “Cut the chatter” and “From a certain point of view”.

Back to the visuals. The direction of the battle’s scenes, and spaceships (with lots of cocked shots of pilots in action – always appreciated) in general, is stoutly executed and the attention to the background detail makes a second viewing rewarding. Treating the eyes too was a beautiful scene when Anakin takes his squadron on a short cut through the nebula and the ships find themselves navigating through a swarm of giant (and these babies are huge!) neebray mantas. Now and again Clone Wars throws up an image that arrests you immediately and reminds you why the ‘franchise’ is so flippin’ good. Top work.

On the downside, the script is the poorest of the season so far and you’ll struggle to remember much about the characters here. You won’t forget (though you may want to): a Clone referring to Grievous as the ‘head clanker’ (enough with the clankers already!); a groan-inducing Battle Droid comment, “Boy this is a lot more fun when there’s no-one shooting back”; and the slightly inappropriate conversation between two Clone pilots discussing having a drink after the battle. But that’s okay, there’s spaceships, battles and weird new aliens to behold. Oh, and look who says, “I have a bad feeling about this”…

Check out Cameron’s review of episode 2 here.