Picking up after an undisclosed amount of time after last year's season finale, we find the Zabrak Brothers causing a ruckus around the galaxy. Shortly into their introduction, we are already given hints of some shift in power: Maul clearly taking the more dominant role of "master" over his own brother. It seems in the time they've been absent from our lives, Maul has had time to formulate a new plan while we, the audience, are left in the dark. The opening scene also presented us with Maul and Savage being referred to as "Jedi" by their victims. I will go more into that later as it would be difficult to review this episode without some major spoilers, so I will have those thoughts/ideas for after the break later in the review.
Maul and Savage take the role of "Crime Lords" and adopt a slew of Hondo Ohnaka's pirates for their own personal army, promising them riches not even Hondo could provide. Things take a turn for the awesome when Obi-Wan and Jedi Master Adi Gallia show up to form an alliance with Hondo. What follows is an intense four-way lightsaber battle between the Jedi and the Zabraks. While not as spectacular as the battle from last season's finale, it's clear the animators have stepped up their game in terms of fluidity of these fights. Maul's remark before the duel that, "it's too soon, I'm not ready yet," hint of a bigger plan yet to be revealed. Of course, ready or not, there still had to be an epic lightsaber battle, am I right?? Filoni and crew promised plenty of lightsaber action for this season and episode one delivers on all counts.
There were specific directing choices I particularly enjoyed, mainly the focus on the Jedi attacking Savage's knee. Quick glimpses of Kenobi trying to weaken his leg were a nice touch and showed the difficulty of taking down a tank like Savage. It's not all about swinging that magnificent, glowing blade all the time. There's strategy involved.
Hondo's return was a stand out point of the episode, as he helped bring in some comic relief to what was some pretty dark material. He had some of the best lines of the episodes, most of which escape me at the moment, but Jim Cummings delivered them flawlessly. Still, humor or not, it was still a violent episode and left me scratching my head as to why they thought Saturday morning would be an appropriate time slot to move the show. I also felt that as a season opener, they kind of dropped the ball on not having an hour-long premiere. Don't get me wrong, the episode is fantastic, but I didn't get that grand sense of The Clone Wars' return as we had in previous seasons.
Oh, and (Blue) Snaggletooth made in appearance. 'Nuff sai . . .
Now, I will go into some of the major points in the episode and my thoughts for the future of this season. Read ahead at your own risk . . .
You still with me? Alright, I'm going to make these short and sweet. First of all, Adi Gallia's death was a wasted opportunity. I felt no emotional attachment with her in this episode and only really felt bad because of Kenobi's reaction. Had there been at least a few more episodes building her up as a character, it would have had more of an impact, but here it just falls flat and was probably my only negative comment about the episode.
This episode might have had my favorite "Oh s@!#" moment for Kenobi when after being backed into a corner, he power slides past his attackers, relieving Savage of his arm. Wow! Having that green mist seep out of his wound was a nice reminder of his creation. Same goes for Maul and his leg later. Talzin's magic courses through them and here it shows.
As mentioned earlier, Maul and Savage are referred to as "Jedi" several times during this episode. This stuck a major chord with me, because we kind of forget that the public is not really privy to the Sith existence. They see guys with lightsabers and they assume Jedi. So, while I found that an interesting tidbit to absorb, it wasn't until the end of the episode where Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin meet with Palpatine and he actually discourages the Jedi from pursuing the Sith.
Since my brain is wired to the big scheme of things in the Star Wars universe, my immediate thought is Palpatine/Sidious' plan might go deeper than we thought. Maybe, just maybe, allowing the Zabrak Twins to run amok plants the seeds of distrust the public will later have towards the Jedi. See what I'm getting at? Then again, I often look TOO deep into these things, but I'm calling it now just in case.
Season 5 is off to an action-packed start this year, and next week's episode looks to keep that momentum continuing in the right direction.