Two weeks without The Clone Wars is finally over. I took the downtime to stick in my Season Three Blu-Ray and enjoy some of last year’s magic. The visuals are stunning, and I loved watching the episodes as they filled up the whole screen; thankfully Cartoon Network HD was added to my cable service provider’s lineup just before Season Four started. I always go to the back of a book first, and that’s what I did with the discs too.
The featurette “Secrets of Mortis” was… frustrating. Obviously George Lucas understands all ideas and themes embedded in the arc, what they mean, but he’s not talking and neither is the rest of his team. Perhaps Lucas really has been a Sith Lord in hiding all along? Joking aside, effective myths have to come from a very definitive place; the fun in storytelling is using perspective to lead people astray, or possibly just confuse them for two or three decades. (So I get it. Have your Evil Author fun at our expense, Clone Wars team.) Hopefully, in three years or so we all can look back on those three episodes with a little more enlightenment.
On the other hand, the “Chewbacca Returns” featurette was spectacular. Dave Filoni tells a story about telling a story, and along the way we get to look in on the process. It’s undeniable that the artists and writers really care about the characters and the story they’re bringing to life. Dave Filoni’s eyes actually turn misty when he talks about the moment he gave Yoda hope for a happy ending as the Jedi Master watches Anakin and Ahsoka reunite in the final scene of Season Three.
This is the strongest reason for thinking Season Three closes the first half of the series’ run, in my opinion. Something tells me Dave lays awake at night, pondering all the in-universe and out-of-universe implications of Ahsoka’s fate. I sleep better knowing he’s worrying about it. He’ll do what’s best for the story, and it’ll be stunning and probably heartbreaking to watch.
One of the highlights of the featurette was hearing about the new advances they made in giving texture to background elements. Not only is this TCW making progress in storytelling, but side-by-side with that they’re reinventing the technology. Even though the season-opening Mon Cal arc might have proven too restricted by the underwater setting, who knows if the tools they developed in that episode won’t open huge opportunities for filmmakers. (I can imagine now Pirates of the Caribbean 5 set in the watery realm of the mermaids.)
Season Four has opened a bit slower than some would like. I too am really anxious to see the storylines featuring Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Anakin, and Yoda, but first I think we’re going to learn more about what makes the clones tick. Dee Bradley Baker discussed the difference for each clone; it’s well worth the watch going into this new arc.
One of the reasons I’m really excited about the upcoming arc is the clone cavalry. At SDCC, we saw a clip that I haven’t seen since, showing the mounted AT-RT troopers in battle. Being a competitive rider, the movement of the “mounts” caught my eye. In the real world, back in the day, cavalry horses were trained in the art of dressage. They had to be willing to go forward, sideways, turn on a dime, and jump fences. In the modern Olympics, the equestrian events are a modernization of the test of superb cavalry horses. Even though the clones are riding mechanical horses of sorts, the movement of their legs suggests that the animators did their homework.
Tonight at 8:00 p.m., though, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, I’ll be joining Jason and Jimmy Mac on The Clone Wars Roundtable to discuss this episode. I hope you’ll listen in and join us. [Update: Apparently “Darkness on Umbara” was so well received that Jason and Jimmy Mac ended up overbooked for the November 1st show, so we’ve rescheduled my guest commentator appearance for next week, November 8th.]
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