Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clone Wars Recap S4 E08: The General!

Second verse. Same as the first? The four part Umbara saga continues with this week's episode The General, presumably focussed around four-armed, hardass, douchebag Jedi, General Krell, who spent last week bossing around the clones like the disposable, test-tube-baby, cannon fodder they are. The bastard!

Will this week be more of the same? I predict: darkness, lasers, impossible missions, gruff military screaming, a fallen comrade, a lesson learned, and a hard-won victory.

Join me after the jump to see if I'm right...

This week I couldn't find any more decent promo shots, and Google image search was filled with dirty pictures of Ahsoka. So instead I will intersperse this recap with Star Wars pet costumes. I hope that helps!

 There's certainly a very familiar vibe to this week's episode, and on the surface at least it's still pretty much the same episode as last week again. On the pitch-black planet of Umbara, the clones are getting pushed into an impossible mission (taking out a well-guarded airbase and cutting off enemy supply lines) at the insistence of the raging Jedi bastard Krell, who has no time for stealth or strategy and wants them all to charge in to their death. (Although to be fair to giant muppet maniac Krell, it's actually the prissy Obi Wan that sets the mission via cowardly hologram. Tea-drinking, scone-eating, beard-growing bastard!).

So now that all that cumbersome plot is out of the way, it gives me a clone-boner to say that the strength here is very much in the execution. This episode is actually pretty badass! Even from the opening we're introduced to some of the most intense and gritty war sequences we've ever seen - it has that Saving Private Ryan kind of chaos mixed with over-the-top fantasy violence, as a barrage of lasers light up the darkened surface of the planet and clones drop like pants.

 I think that my favourite aspect of the episode is the attention to designing the Umbaran (I might be making that word up) race and their world. They've really put a lot of thought into the unique look of their vehicles and how they work. They all have an illuminated spherical cockpit (which mirrors the design of their helmets) and it turns out that these spheres are made out of shielding energy. The pilots operate them with hand movements against a projected screen much like Minority Report or the bastard Kinect.

There are three distinct new vehicles throughout the course of the episode and we progress through them like a video game. There are jets and tanks, but the best one is a crazy mechanical centipede that has laser turrets down the length of its many, many segmented back. It bursts out of the ground like a maniac and massacres a ton of clones before they figure out they need to slam a rocket into the shielded dome. And the clones are even more hardcore than ever before in this episode - when a centipede driver stumbles out of his cracked dome and collapses, one of the clones casually pumps a couple of laser blasts into his head just to be sure.

 It's probably important to note that aside from all this action/anarchy, there is a character arc here for the clones, especially Commander Rex. The callousness of the clone-hating Krell really seems to rile Rex up, and if he's programmed to be obedient then it's starting to crack. These seeds were sown way back in season two, I think, when Rex had the run in with the clone who had deserted the war to live on a farm and bang a twi'lek. It was definitive proof that they weren't all mindless automatons that did what they were told. I'm curious to know what Rex's fate will be - I figure this is either setting up to have a raging anti-Jedi mad-on and further fuel Order 66, or be another step on his way to leaving the war entirely and going out on his own. He's a badass character, so I want them to have him secretly murder curly-maned child Boba Fett and take his place in the armour. Then I could sleep at night.

Finally, I've got to say that for an episode called "The General", Krell didn't get much screentime at all. And he certainly didn't get to partake in any of the action. He just looked through binoculars, took phonecalls, and looked like a giant muppet. I'm also interested to see where his story is headed.

Overall, though, I think it was pretty great. It should certainly quell some of the whining I've heard recently about epiosdes not being clone-focussed or action heavy enough. Dry away those tears, guys!

And for your enjoyment, here's a real General Krell from the U.S. Airforce! And he only has two arms and is presumably respected and liked by his peers:

And what a fine Selleck-worthy moustache! For this General Krell it's Movember all year round. We salute you, General!

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