Saturday, October 29, 2011

Clone Wars Recap S4 E07: Darkness on Umbara!

The Clone Wars animated series returns after a two week hiatus, and begins what I believe will be the first of a four-part storyline. After two humourous Artoo and Threepio themed episodes hardened fans have been openly weeping that Clone Wars isn't dark enough. Well put those fears to rest, because in Darkness on Umbara Uncle Lucas saves some power by turning off the lights and casting his heroes into the pitch black shadow world of Umbara.

Does this fan-pleasing, eco-friendly gambit pay off? Join me after the jump and I will shower you with all the SPOILER filled information that you need to know!

Okay, and if you think that setting this episode in darkness is a cop-out then you are embarrassingly wrong and its no surprise that the other children mock you. Yes, it's dark, but the eerie world is lit by luminous plants (if you've played Warcraft it's essentially Zangarmarsh - complete with glowing flying manta creatures), and the various vehicles and soldiers are equipped with roving light sources. So visually, it's a very impressive episode, and the good news is that the action and story are pretty decent too!

As the clones prepare their attack we even actually get to see Obi Wan briefly, who has been suspiciously absent this series - no doubt practising to be a hermit for A New Hope. We always knew that these would be clonecentric episodes, and sure enough Obi Wan is going to lead Commander Cody and a team on a killing spree, while Teen Vader Anakin is going to slaughter the natives with Captain Rex. Obi Wan is being prissier than your maiden aunt, so we leave him to bake scones and focus instead on Anakin who leads a ton of gunships through the darkness and onto the planet's surface. As fireballs explode in the darkness around them it's a pretty tense and impressive looking scene.

Once on the surface they all go hollering through the shadows blowing the shit out of the unsuspecting dome-faced natives who, to be fair, put up a pretty great fight of their own. It's a big old old skool Star Wars party down there, complete with lasers, screaming, lightsabers, troops getting pwned, electronic scorpions and even a big old tentacle rape alien who crashes the party and nearly drinks all the beer. It's all pretty great stuff - all skirmish and no story - but then, half way through, something unexpected happens...

General Krell arrives on the scene...

Do you remember in Attack of the Clones there was that disgusting muppet who ran the diner from the fifties? Well, Krell is the same race as that guy, but in much better shape, but still a big old muppet, and he has even more evil eyebrows than Bert, so you know straight away that he's going to be a total douche to everyone. And we've had some mild douches that were Jedi in the past (Obi Wan springs to mind) but this guy is easily the most hardcore Jedi douche you've ever experienced. He'll leave you more irritated than refreshed. 

You see, it turns out that Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (the Emperor! SPOILERZ) has requested that Anakin leave the party and be replaced by Krell, and I'm reading between the lines here but I think that Palpatine wants to fuel the clones' hate for Jedi so that when Order 66 comes around it will be a pleasure for the clones to murder them. Krell treats them like the interchangeable, dispensable, idiots they are and he barks orders at them and makes them stand up straight and won't let them set up camp even though their little clone feet are tired. 

But don't think that Krell is all mouth and no trousers, because he's a formidable opponent himself, as he proves when one of those Zangarmarsh mantas snaps up a clone. Krell flips out like a ninja and, as you can in his picture - fights with two double-bladed lightsabers, which is pretty badass (and still has two hands free to flip through a magazine). Lucas is really escalating things here, because Vader fought with one blade, Maul fought with a double-blade, and Grievous fought with four blades, and this guy fights with two doubles. I'm looking forward to the bad guy that is made entirely of lightsabers and wields two human children.

Anyway, Anakin's plan was to do a sneak attack on the city from various angles, but Anakin's not here, man, and Krell thinks that plan is a lot of shit. So he gets the clones to attack the city full frontal and sure enough all hell breaks loose and a lot of guys die, but eventually the Umbaraians (making that word up) retreat back to the city. And Krell is pretty pissed off, but kind of has a new respect for Captain Rex for looking out for his men, and being all noble, and giving good speeches. But that's all we get for now, and it's really just a set up for the next three parts where I'm assuming that something amazing will happen!

All things considered, I had a lot of fun with this episode. Great look, solid action, I always love to see the clones, and I'm intrigued by the new character. Not a whole lot happened, but this is really just the set up and I'm looking forward to the next one. Maybe we'll get to see the tea party that Obi Wan is throwing for Cody. 

And by the way, I think Thundercats is back too, but I don't know if I have the strength...

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