I've mentioned before the lack of Obi-Wan this season, and this episode is no different. But, given that Darth Maul will be making a return this season and I'm sure Ventress will pop up at some point, as well, I think we're gonna get a lot more Obi-Wan action in the second half of the season. I'm sure Maul isn't too pleased with him for slicing him in half.
Fives is an ARC Trooper?! WIN! It's really awesome to see the progression of the Clones. Sure, they all look the same, but they come with different personalities and character traits. And, to see certain characters advance in rank just makes you care for these characters that much more. Especially Captain Rex, who looks like he will be front and center in this arc.
My first really big geek-out moment was in the first 3 minutes, as all the Cruisers are dodging fire en route to the landing point and having the AT-RT's jump out the back of the moving ships and immediately charge into battle. Excitement welled up inside me, as I watched all these amazing images flash before my eyes, and my heart would race in the same way it did as a child watching the original trilogy for the first time. I stared wide-eyed in fascination as troopers stormed the area, blasting heavily, ships flying above. Laser fire everywhere!
Mind = blown.
Star Wars-meets-Saving Private Ryan is always a win.
The sweeping of the camera mixed with the clever ways of manipulating light in this episode were just breathtaking. Umbara is a planet shrouded in darkness, and it seems to me the animators were having a great time playing with what little light they had to use. Without the blaster fire, lightsabers, and the occasional glowing, Umbara creatures live where there wouldn't be much light at all.
There was a nice, little horror movie segment with a Sarlaac-type creature tossing troopers around like rag dolls and even eating one. I loved Fives' reaction, "That's not right!!" and then tossing a thermal detonator in its mouth. Afterwards, they make mention of several new Troopers; Hardcase and Dogma were what I believe they were called. My first reaction was that they were setting us up to give these Clones names, just because they want us to get attached to these troopers before they kill them off later in the arc. At least, that's my guess. But, then again, I thought the same thing about basically any trooper, kinda like Fives, and now look at him! Arc Trooper! Anakin points out that Dogma reminds him of Rex, to which Rex replies, "Maybe, back in the day." Should be interesting to see how the relationship between Rex and Dogma will progress.
The Umbarans' sneak attack was well played, though one thing did bother me. Why are the Umbarans, who are indigenous to the planet, wearing those masks? If there's anything I've learned from Sci-Fi, it's that, if you're wearing a helmet like that, then you must not be able to breathe on that planet. Am I crazy here? Or was it just to add more cool glowing effects to the mask, which, if that is the case, I will allow it.
And then, we're introduced to Jedi Master Pong Krell, who shows us that, apparently, not all Jedi are awesome. This guy has a completely different manner in which he commands his troops, unlike say... Anakin, who, although, their General also treats the Clones with respect. You immediately get the idea that Krell has some sort of distaste for Clones, in general, adding comments to Rex like, "I'm surprised you were able to notice that... for a Clone." A nice, little sequence involving the troops being attacked by these flying creatures was cool and getting to see Krell in action was sweet. The man is very intimidating given his size, 4 arms, and his lightsabers look as big as lampposts. And, yes, I said lightsabers, plural. Oh, and their both double bladed. Hardcore...
I think the moment when Krell refers to Rex as "CT7567" was almost heartbreaking. We've come to know the clones as people and not something that was just created in a lab, and yet here comes Krell to just completely demean them. Rex puts up with a lot of crap this episode but he's dedicated to his job and even though he doesnt believe what the General is doing, he must carry out his orders. Krell's plan of attack is clearly suicidal, and I have to wonder exactly what it is his motives are.
After Rex disobeys orders to save his troops, Krell tries to bring down the hate on him until Fives steps up and just throws it right back in his face. I loved it. That Arc Armor must be getting to Fives head because he's definitely standing up for what he believe in, which in turn, leads to Rex finally growing a backbone and explaining all the flaws of Krell's plan. "A plan that cost the lives of men. not clones, MEN!" was a beautifully executed line by Rex with him raising his voice, taking off his helmet, and the music slowly picking up.
This was, by far, my favorite episode of the season, and the fact that this was just part 1 of 4 makes me that much more excited for the next 3 installments.
'Till the next episode!