I was initially really excited about this concept of these three episodes. Not only were they harkening back to one of the most popular moments from the original traditionally animated Clone War series, but it was a story set in a totally new and unfamiliar location within the Star Wars.
A story entirely set in an undersea city, with all the visual benefits and hindrances that come along with it.
Season 4, Episode 01: Water War
We begin amidst a budding civil war on the planet of Mon Cala. The Mon Calamari king has been assassinated and his young son is poised to take over from him. A coronation the other sentient race that call Mon Cala home have a problem with. The Quarren people are tired of being second fiddle on their own homeworld. A homeworld that’s named for the Mon Calamari mind you, it’s no wonder the squid heads have a perpetual chip on their shoulder.
The strange thing is that there is a representative of the Separatists present for this fiery debate. Now please correct me if I’m wrong, but both races of Mon Cala are allied with the Republic, why on earth is a presence from an unconstitutional faction who is at war with the galaxy’s government even allowed to be here at all?
Then again, if Sharkman Riff Tamson wasn’t present then this entire miniature civil war probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Especially considering he’s the one who assassinated the previous king and the one who coursed the Quarren into thinking they were getting a better deal by aligning themselves with Count Dooku. Oh wait, they don’t reveal that till later on.
The crux of this whole episode is Prince Lee-Char’s inexperience and not actually being said to lead his people yet, especially in battle. Spending almost all of these three episodes getting saved and ordered around by the Jedi there to aid and his Captain Gial “It’s a trap!” Ackbar.
Almost right away, this episode descends into chaos, with the Separatists and the Quarren banding together to battle the Republic and the Mon Calamari army. Assisted by Jedi in diving suits, except for Kit Fisto, who is darting around shirtless. Much of this story is about adhering to tradition, and the Mon Calamari’s insistence on following Lee-Char, despite the fact that he’s clueless and ends up getting himself into trouble rather than leading his people.
Season 4, Episode 02: Gungan Attack
You can see where this story is going during the opening scene of the second episode, with both Dooku and Tamson being transparently evil right in front of the Quarren leader Nossor Ri and him not being too happy about it. It’s almost a mirror of the events in the season 1 episode: Bombad Jedi, in which the Separatists strike a deal with a Republic planet and the ultimately shoot themselves in the foot in the final hour by revealing how scummy they are before the deal has been closed.
For the most part, this episode just feels like padding. The Republic/Mon Calamari forces have been trounced by the enemy and the only backup the Jedi Council can rustle up at short notice are the Gungans. Whose goofy deliberations as to whether to answer the call to action did admittedly make me smile.
The only bit of development Lee-Char gets here is a pep talk from Ahsoka about not having to be in the midst of battle to be considered a great leader. A message that ultimately falls flat in the following episode, when being a warrior king is the thing at ultimately wins everyone over to his side.
For the most part, this is all pure action and battle. Rift Tamsen actually turns out to be the most effective Separatist leader I think we’ve seen in the series up until this point. While being tactically astute and having a capable mind for both military strategy and diplomacy, he’s also a deadly combatant to face underwater more than a match for any of the Jedi he comes up against in battle. Defeating Kit Fisto in a fight barehanded.
Resulting in all of the good guys getting captured except for Lee-Char and Ahsoka.
Season 4, Episode 03: Prisoners
Anakin, Padme, Kit and Jar Jar are all getting tortured by Tamsen, using electric eels to try and force young price Lee-Char’s location out of them. All so he can execute the Mon Calamari and take over the planet himself. Yeah, all that talk from the Separatists that the Quarren would take over leadership of the planet under their flag has gone out of the window.
Which is so dumb. Being indebted to Dooku would make the Quarren Government little more than a puppet leadership and put Mon Cala under CIS rule. But no, Tamsen couldn’t resist revealing his evil plan right in the face of the Quarren leader, almost guaranteeing a double-cross within the following 15 minutes of the episode.
I get that this is a kid’s show and the bad guys are stupid at times, but this is just lazy writing. Especially when this is far from the first time this exact thing has happened within the series. Especially when it seems like the Confederacy have all but conquered the planet already.
When you’re going to call the Quarren “more gutless than the Mon Calamari” in front of their leader, you’re just asking for them to stab you in the back. Full Saturday morning cartoon villain stuff here.
There’s not much else to say. Lee-Char appeals to the Quarren to remember that they and the Mon Calamari are brothers of this planet. Then he throws an exploding knife into Riff Tamsen before shooting it with a blaster to finish everything off with one big fat homage to Jaws.
This collection of episodes didn’t do a whole lot for me, I’ll be honest. It’s a story that probably could have been told in less time. While there were some cool visuals associated with an entire story being told in an underwater city, the downside to this is that there isn’t a massive draw distance when submerged in water.
While some of the battle scenes were impressive, more often than not the visuals were dark, murky and difficult to make out. I get that the animators wanted to give the visuals a more realistic style to what light levels would be like this deep underwater, but it just made them unpleasant to look at for the most part, where everything was masked in a dull green filter.
The story didn’t do anything for me either, they were all story elements I’ve seen used several times before in the series, the only major difference being the setting. Riff Tamsen was a cool, intimidating villain and for the most part he seemed like he had the good guys wrapped around his little fin. That was until he balls it all up by revealing his evil plan far too early.
I feel like this story may have been a nod to the much-loved episode from the 2003 Clone Wars series, but outside of any reverence for that one, these episodes didn’t do much for me. If anyone is actually using this as some kind of viewing guide for the series. Then I’d say skip these three entirely. Which is something of a bummer for the first handful of episodes of the 4th season of the show.
Next time, I continue this 4th season, and for once, I have no idea what I’m getting myself in for:
- Season 4, Episode 04: Shadow Warrior
- Season 4, Episode 05: Mercy Mission
- Season 4, Episode 06: Nomad Droids