From this point on, it’ll mostly be a straight shot through the rest of Season 1. After actually looking at the chronological list on Starwars.com properly for the first time, the the episodes of this anthology series are far less mixed up than I was expecting them to be.
This time though I’ll be dealing with my first three parter, the first of season one that deals with the Separatists’ new secret weapon; a massive battle cruiser which pays more than one homage to the original Death Star called the Malevolence.
S1, E02: Rising Malevolence
This episode introduces and expands upon Plo Koon, a Kel Dor Jedi Master who appeared as one of the more exotic looking aliens on the Jedi Council during all three of the prequel movies. Having a metal mask on his face, but never having any speaking lines in the live action movies. He would often stand out in the scenes he was present in, and that’s not just because he was in the foreground of most shots.
This first episode focuses on him and his fleet getting destroyed by the Malevolence and its powerful Ion Wave Cannon that totally disables any and all electronics in its wake, thus leaving him and his entire fleet as sitting ducks. Establishing the danger this new superweapon poses, while also putting General Grievous into the series for the first time.
There are more than a few homages throughout the episode to the Death Star, with the entire firing sequence being shot for shot to the firing of the Death Star’s superlaser. After getting his fleet wiped out, Koon and some clones survive in an escape pod only to discover that the droids are systematically cracking the escape pods and killing everyone inside in order to keep their new weapon a secret.
His only hope is Ashoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker who defy orders to go and look for survivors. Ashoka is especially interested in investigating the site of the fleet’s disappearance. This is because we learn that Plo Koon is the Jedi that discovered her, presumably on Shili, and delivered her to the order to begin her training.
This is a nice move that gives some more insight into Ashoka’s past and also fleshes out another of the faceless Jedi introduced in the prequels and gives them some major connection to our main cast. And Koon seems like an exemplary Jedi, going out to fight the droids off and doing everything he can to keep his men them alive while waiting for rescue to arrive.
There’s not much more to the episode. Thank’s to Ashoka’s persistence and her strong connection to Master Plo, her and Anakin manage to rescue him and the few remaining clones under his command, then manage to escape the Malevolence before it can disable them too, taking the important intel back to Republic space regarding the superweapon’s function.
S1, E03: Shadow of Malevolence
Thanks to the information brought back by Plo Koon’s first hand account, the Republic plans a counterattack on the Malevolence before it can cripple any more of their fleet.
So obviously we’ve got Anakin planning a near suicidal bombing run on the ship rather than risk any more of their cruisers. Meanwhile, we get a time constraint put on the attack as Count Dooku feeds General Grievous the location of a Republic Medical Station on the borders of the outer rim, nearby to Naboo.
The one piece of distinction Plo Koon got in the movies was that he apparently favoured the old style Jedi Starfighters compared to the newer model we see at the beginning of the Revenge of the Sith, and that meant that he was an adept fighter pilot. Thus he runs fighter escort to the bombing squadron that Anakin is
To beat the Malevolence to the medical station, Anakin takes the squadron through a short cut, right through the middle of a nebula, one filled with huge, gas gulping manta rays, after some mild peril, they get through and begin the bombing run on the Malevolence.
One thing I didn’t mention before was Anakin’s powerful determination to take Grievous off the board in this war, believing it to be a way to end the war much sooner. Which is why the bomber’s main target is the bridge. When things start to go south, it really takes some convincing from Ashoka and Plo Koon to prioritise the situation.
Seeing sense, Anakin then changes target and cripples the Ion Cannon of the Malevolence, saving the medical station and driving Grievous into retreat.
S1, E04: Destroy Malevolence
I kind of wondered how they were going to get a third episode out of this ship, what with it being all but disabled and the Republic Fleet in hot pursuit as it limps away.
But again, Dooku proves to be the most dangerous piece the Separatists have at their disposal, as he placed Padme directly into Grievous’ path, allowing him to drag her Star Yacht into the ship with its tractor beam. Thus we get one more homage to the Death Star out of the Malevolence as Anakin and Obi Wan mount a rescue operation.
Padme, once again, seems like the more capable and level headed person in the whole series. Telling the Jedi not to worry about her and continue their assault on the Malevolence, but of course Anakin would never do that. At this point though, it’s hard to tell if that’s a strength or a weakness.
Which is good writing I guess, still throwing some early indications towards his eventual fall, but framing it here as purely good intentioned. Plus, Padme hardly needs saving, as she almost kills Grievous on her own by booby trapping her own Yacht to explode on him.
Based on these three episodes, it makes you wonder why Dooku allows Grievous to be in charge, He seems like a pretty crappy leader and a worse military strategist. He had this amazing weapon and the element of surprise all on his side and he just threw it all away due to his own arrogance, incompetence and cowardice.
Even during the high speed rescue, his brief confrontation with Obi Wan just makes him look like an utter fool and makes Obi Wan look amazing by comparison. Either way, he bolts when he realises things aren’t going to go his way. Leaving Anakin to sabotage the hyperdrive and send the Malevolence lightspeeding into a nearby moon
These three episodes told three different stories, all focused around the rise and the fall of the Malevolence. They did a number of things. First off, they introduced Plo Koon, and not just background dressing, beginning his fleshing out as a real character. Doing this by giving him a strong connection to one of our main cast. It payed a ton of homage to the Death Star throughout and it also made me wonder what’s so great about Grievous.
He looks cool sure, but I don’t think I’ve seen all that much proving Grievous is deserving of his position as Supreme Commander of the Separatist’s droid army. Nor his reputation as a Jedi killer. I hope the future gives us some more to him as a villain, his origin and how he got to the position he’s now in. Because right now, he seems just about as incompetent as the droids he commands.
Otherwise though, this was some good, old fashioned swashbuckling adventure. There’s nothing too deep about the contents of these episodes.
Like I mentioned at the top, we’re mostly going in order from here on out, so next time I’ll be talking about the episode that acts as a followup to Clone Cadets (despite coming out earlier) and a two parter featuring everyone’s favourite blue and white dust bin:
Season 1, Episode 05: Rookies
Season 1, Episode 06: Downfall of a Droid
Season 1, Episode 07: Duel of the Droids