The battle to save the galaxy reaches new heights of peril and new depths of darkness as our heroes are tested like never before as Anakin is haunted by the realities of his past, Ahsoka fights to free her people and an undercover Obi-Wan braves a deadly bounty hunter tournament. Meanwhile, the return of a villain from the past shocks the Jedi to its core….
Season 4 of The Clone Wars could have been truly wonderful. From the first episode to last we should have gotten memorable Star Wars animated television. Instead I was left deflated.
While I complained in my earlier season reviews that I wanted more story arcs and less single episodes I was given what I wanted during season 4… up to a point.
The opening arc situated on the homeworld of the Mon Calamari looks spectacular. The work by Dave Filoni and his effects team really raised the animation to new levels. Unfortunately, the story centering on the Seperatists creating conflict between the Mon Calamari and Quarren was weak and certainly not worth devoting three episodes to. While it’s great to see a younger Admiral Ackbar introduced for the first time the story is stretched thin.
Following a standalone episode featuring Jar Jar Binks on Naboo, with an interesting dual between Anakin and Count Dooku towards the end, we are then taken on a small story involving R2-D2 and C3PO. While both droids are wonderful support they certainly don’t have enough character to sustain for a couple of episodes. Definitely one for the kids.
However, things get interesting with the Umbara arc. Anakin is about to lead an attack on the Umbaran capital, which is defended by both Confederate and local Militia forces. However, the arrival of Master Krell to take over proceedings because of issues elsewhere lead to some great storytelling for the first time this season.
What a great character Krell is. As soon as we meet him there is definitely something different about this Jedi. While Anakin may well be heading towards the darkside he shows compassion to his troops. Krell on the other hand is a hard nosed commander…. Sith-like in his attitude to the lives of others. Could he be in league with Dooku, Sidious etc? Well, make sure you check out this arc. Very intriging for those who love their Jedi/Sith stories.
The Zygerrian Slaver arc is another interesting story involving our three main heroes (Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ashoka) as they battle to free slaves from the clutches of a race of beings manipulated by Count Dooku and his evil forces. What’s interesting about this series of episodes is that we see Anakin deal with his past as a slave (something he is very uncomfortable with) and the way Obi-Wan is turned into the shell of a Jedi we know and love.
I do love how Count Dooku is involved in a lot of the dealings that leave our heroes in peril, ably manipulated himself by Darth Sidious, and it’s during these episodes that things certainly come to the fore. Again, the battle scenes are spectacular, the little nods to Anakin’s future interesting and the struggles of the Jedi captivating. While our three main protagonists emerge from this story intact it’s not without heartache.
As we come to the end of season 4 we get a few more standalone episodes and mini-arcs however it is the return of a former Sith favourite from The Phantom Menace that really brings this series to a fantastic end.
While I kinda knew Darth Maul would be returning (having overheard friends talking about it beforehand) I was dubious to how Filoni and his team could pull it off. There’s no doubt that this was a big risk but I think it works pretty well.
Aided by his brother Savage Opress, Maul is found a broken ‘man’ on Lotho Minor. ‘Brothers’ is quite an opening episode for the returning Sith and is quite dark. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that very young children would find it quite scary. However, for us adults this villainous favourite has all the attributes we remember from Episode 1 but with even more hatred.
His anger at Obi-Wan is there for all to see and as we go into the final episode, ‘Revenge’, viewers get to see both brothers go after the Jedi Master with all the hatred they can muster. However, help is at hand for James Arnold Taylor’s character in the shape of a former Sith character from earlier episodes. Asajj Ventress is having her own problems having been betrayed by Count Dooku so, as we enter the final moments of season 4, these unlikely allies take on their savage (excuse the pun) opponents in a deadly lightsaber duel.
It’s a fitting end to a season which promised much, but under delivered at times, however the return of an old favourite has given me hope again. Will season five build on Darth Maul’s re-emergence.
3 out of 5 nerds