Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 4 Episode 1: Water War
What is it ? : The Mon Calamari king has died and his son, a juvenile Prince has taken the throne. However while the Mon Calamari accept this, the other species on the planet, the Quarren doesn't agree. When the Mon Calamari call in Amidala and Anakin to mediate, the Quarren object to the Republic getting involved and call in the separatists.
War breaks out, and an Aqua droid army attacks backed up by Quarren soldiers and the head of the Separatist forces, a shark dude called Riff Tamson. The Mon Calamari hold the line, but the young prince has to learn the realities of leadership in wartime, supported by Captain Ackbar. Kit Fisto and Ahsoka arrive with Clone Trooper forces and the attack is defeated.
The Separatists bring in cyber augmented jellyfish, which are virtually immune to the weapons of the Mon Calamari and Clone Troopers, which forces the Mon Calamari Prince to order a retreat into the caves deep underwater.
High Points : It may be my imagination, but the animation looks a lot smoother in this season, and there are some lovely touches which I've never noticed before. The Aqua Droid rotating propellor feet are a lovely touch, along with the effects of the laser bolts going through water (the water reflects some of the light of the bolts as they pass through, making an attractive laser show during the enormous battle during the episode.
I'm also impressed with the scale of the battle, and the number of new vehicles shown, with many hundreds of opponents fighting in the backgrounds of some scenes, and new technology being shown which is only right for warfare occuring underwater. The submersible speeders look fantastic, and a very cool merging of real world technology with a Star Wars look to it.
And the environment itself looks brilliant, with the Mon Calamari city having an organic look to it, reminiscent of the Gungan ones of The Phantom Menace, but having their own style, with water pressure travel tubes to move quickly around the city, and many rooms not simply having doors, but exits in the ceiling, and walls, as is only right for a 3D environment when you can just swim in any direction.
Low Points : The villain of the episode is Riff Tamson, a member of a shark-like species, which makes some sense given the Mon Calamari and Quarren resemblance to terrestrial species. And the fact that the Separatists were sensible enough to send a native water breather to the negotiations, when the Republic sent a human is well thought out. The Republic would have been far more sensible to send Jar Jar Binks and Kit Fisto from the start.
But, not only is he a stereotypical Separatist bad guy, but he's got superpowers, just by diving at several armed and armoured Mon Calamari soldiers with his mouth open, he can kill them on impact. He swims as fast as a speeder, and can shrug off the effects of several blasters shooting and hitting him. I would have prefered a more subtle villain, and given his effectiveness, why didn't they just send a battalion or two of his species into battle.
I mentioned above how much I liked the travel tubes which are used to get around the Mon Calamari city, however they do lead to several problems during the episode. A couple of times during the episode, the tubes are breached by weapons while people are travelling down them, and they fall to their deaths. However, given the tubes are filled with water, and the ocean around them is filled with water, why don't the Mon Calamari just swim across the breach, or just swim out of the breach and into the sea around? Every time I saw this happen it annoyed me as it was obvious that it's not how it should work from the first time.
There's a lot of pretty things to look at in this episode, but to tell the truth there's not much going on. There's not much dialogue, there's no real characterisation, and there's not a lot of plot. Bad guys attack, heroes hold, more bad guys attack, more heroes arrive, bad guys introduce new weapon, heroes run away, is pretty much the entire episode. What's there is well done, but it just doesn't feel very substantial.
So what do you really think ? : Not a terrible start to the new season, but I hope this is something they can build from. It feels formulaic and while looking great, it doesn't feel like anything we haven't really seen before. There's a possibility it's building the Prince and Ackbar for some good character pieces in the second part of the story, but that doesn't feel much like Clone Wars.
Final Words : This is a very bittersweet episode for me, it's got loads of cool stuff I can do stats for tomorrow, but was a slightly disappointing episode to watch. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad episode, and I enjoyed it, but I hope there's better to come.
Score : 7/10
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