Television Series DVD
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Complete Season Four
Distributed By: Warner Home Video
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
It’s been a couple of years since the animated television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, was cancelled. I really enjoyed the show, though I did take issue with some of the storylines. I was sad to see it go. Luckily, I own all of the shows on DVD and can watch them any time I want…or rather, with any spare time I have. This time around, I chose to re-watch Season Four, a controversial season to be certain.
It all begins with a special underwater story arc in which the Republic finds itself embroiled in a civil war in Mon Cala. It would seem that the Quarren have come under the sway of the Separatists and the Mon Calamari are now under attack. Can the Jedi and Padme save the newly anointed young king from assassination? This was a three-episode arc (Water War, Gungan Attack and Prisoners) that was most notable in the fact that it was the first one to be almost entirely underwater, presenting quite a challenge to the animators. They rose to the task and the episodes turned out great.
There is a quick mission on Naboo involving a Separatist uprising (Shadow Warrior), followed by some quirky fun featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO (Mercy Mission, Nomad Droids) before we come to a new story arc. This one features the clone troopers at the forefront, battling the Separatists on the world of Umbara. A dark locale, Umbara is deadly simply due to the local fauna and creatures, but even they are not the clones worst enemy. It would appear that Rex and the men of the 501st have been taken over by a psychopath. Jedi General Pong Krell is fanatical about his goal to take over the capital. His direct approach costs many lives and he will not listen to reason. Can Rex find a way to appeal to Krell’s sense of decency and save some of his troops from destruction? This particular story arc, which spans four episodes (Darkness on Umbara, The General, Plan of Dissent and Carnage of Krell) is quite interesting and also presented a challenge to animators due to the darkness of the planet. The idea of a maniacal Jedi General is awesome and I loved how the clones struggled to find a way to follow orders without exactly following orders in a bid to survive. The revelation as to Krell’s intentions give us some insight into why the Jedi were destined to lose out to the Sith in this war.
The next story arc follows the disappearance of the Togrutan colony of Kiros as Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan struggle to free the Togrutans from the slavers of Zygerria. This involves an elaborate mission in which the Jedi must go undercover. Of course, getting themselves captured and having to free themselves from their enslavers in the midst of a power struggle for the throne was part of the bargain, right? Sure it was…not! Lasting three episodes (Kidnapped, Slaves of the Republic and Escape from Kadavo), this story arc showed that not all of the species who allied with the Separatists knew exactly what they were getting in to. After this story arc, we once again come upon Lux Bonteri. Desperate to avenge his mother’s death, Ahsoka discovers that Lux has thrown his lot in with Death Watch (A Friend in Need). In way over his head, Ahsoka must find a way to free Lux from Death Watch’s clutches to save his life.
This brings us to the next story arc with Obi-Wan at the lead. Faking his death, Obi-Wan assumes the role of bounty hunter Rako Hardeen in an effort to discover who is behind a plot to assassinate Chancellor Palpatine. He eventually teams up with Cad Bane and Moralo Eval to gain access to the assassins’ lair. This is a four-episode arc (Deception, Friends and Enemies, The Box and Crisis on Naboo) in which Obi-Wan must hide his identity from those he holds dear in order to save the Chancellor’s life…if he only knew what the Chancellor was really about! This was a pretty decent story arc and I loved the way Obi-Wan struggled, keeping his Jedi powers hidden in an effort to look as fumbling but capable to his newfound frenemies.
The next two episodes tell us what happened to Ventress after her bid for revenge against her former master Count Dooku and the near loss of her life. Having traveled back to Dathomir and the Night Sisters, Mother Talzin heals Ventress’ wounds and offers help in the fight against Dooku (Massacre). Unfortunately, neither Ventress nor Talzin realizes just what Dooku is capable of and Ventress finds herself lost in the world without family or friends. She eventually teams up with Boba Fett and his team on their next bounty, but realizes she has no taste for promoting slavery (Bounty).
That brings us to the last story arc and one that annoys me to no end – the return of Darth Maul. A two-episode arc in Season Four (Brothers, Revenge) that carries over into Season Five, this tale finds Savage Opress in search of his brother at the behest of Mother Talzin. He finds Darth Maul in the junkyards of Lotho Minor, beaten and mad with anger and anguish over his condition. It is up to Savage to bring his brother back from the brink and help him avenge his situation. His first step is to heal his brother’s mind and body. With legs fashioned from metal and a mind that is bent on revenge, Darth Maul will stop at nothing to get back at those who have wronged him and his brother – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Asaaj Ventress.
While I found most of the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Four to be engaging and plausible events in the unknown storyline of the Clone Wars, it was this last story arc that began putting me off of the series. We all saw Darth Maul cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, wounds created by lightsabers generally cauterize immediately, but I’m certain that cutting the Sith in half didn’t just mean that he lost his lower limbs. Wouldn’t there be organ damage? I know he is Sith with the powers of the Force at his will, but surviving that sort of cut, let alone the fall, should have killed him. Yes, Darth Maul was the coolest Sith we had encountered since Darth Vader, but he was dead. Why resurrect him? Simply because some fans wanted to see it happen?
The rest of the storyline in this season was plausible and I especially enjoyed the rise of a new Asaaj Ventress, but this Darth Maul/Savage Opress story really gave me a bad taste in my mouth for what the next season would bring. In my opinion, this was the beginning of the end for the series, though it would be a couple of seasons in coming. The animation was terrific, the emotional drama was awesome thanks to the amazing voice actors and the storylines (up until the Darth Maul episodes) were great, moving from dramatic to comedic, but always in keeping with what we expect from the genre.
I enjoyed re-watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Complete Season Four DVD and the commentaries included that explained how the animators and writers worked to create the important story arcs of the season. That being said, I still am bitterly disappointed about how that season ended and the next began.