Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 3 episode 16 review: Altar Of Mortis

There's a Lord Of The Rings vibe running through the latest episode of The Clone Wars. Here's Cameron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

3.16 Altar Of Mortis

Although last week’s episode may have seemed like a standalone story, it was just the start of another trilogy that delves deep into Star Wars, creating waves in its lore and ripples in the Force.

Altar Of Mortis sees Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi just leaving the planet Mortis after the eventful time there witnessed in the previous instalment, when the gang are pulled back to the planet by last week’s bad boy, the simply named “Son”, an amalgamation of Jedi and Sith (Jith? Sidi?), but far more powerful than either.

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He’s haunting the mind of Anakin and plants himself there posing as his double (in a knowing nod to the Dagobah cave scene in The Empire Strikes Back) in an eerie couple of minutes that betray the child-friendly facade of The Clone Wars. The adult tone continues as Son kidnaps Ahsoka, leaving her Master and Obi Wan no choice but to return to Mortis.

Anakin’s Padawan is in for a rough time, as Son uses her to trap the ‘Chosen One’ and thereby help him destroy the Jedi and Sith. And he’s not afraid to kill to get his way. Death hangs over her here and one wonders if some of the youngsters watching this (and I assume there are some) will get pretty upset at the unfolding events.

Son is menacingly played by Star Wars videogames voice artist, Sam Witwer (currently ghouling it up in the US version of Being Human). The actor brings a malevolence to the role that isn’t simply ‘evil’, but full of childlike petulance, as he takes on his own family (“Father” and “Daughter”) in pursuit of power. A memorable performance.

The style of the episode is very much a tribute to Lord Of The Rings with swords, buildings and beasts to match. The more fantastical nature of the story, primarily the power of the Force, is also in keeping with the magical themes of the Tolkien trilogy. It’s a very different feel to the more ‘grounded’ world of Star Wars and Obi Wan’s unease at being in this world is apposite, realising that this is a different kind of galaxy that has ramifications for the entire universe.

Altar Of Mortis also continues with some wonderfully directed set pieces, notably the chase between the Jedi’s craft and Son (transformed as a flying beast) and the final lightsaber battle between the three Jedi.

Yup, you read right. Just the three Jedi.

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The possession of Ahsoka takes a deeply disturbing turn as she takes on the two chums, and I shan’t spoil the outcome for you.

In tone, The Clone Wars is certainly getting bleaker week by week, whilst still keeping its spirit and life in the form of the Jedi. Altar Of Mortis does suffer from featuring a rather fairy tale ending mixed in the midst of the Dark Side engulfing all, but as this story arc has one more episode to go, it’ll be most interesting to see if it has further repercussions for the Star Wars story.

Read our review of episode 15, Overlords, here.

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