All Your Favorite Characters
(are hardly in this season)
If we may start in the movie-guy voice: “In a world– er, universe, where everything goes wrong for the good guys, and Jedi are ineffectual playthings to be outwitted, tortured, and slaughtered…”
The series continued its format of filling 22 episodes with four or five multi-part arcs. It worked, allowing deeper plots and characterization than possible in one-off 20 minute episodes. This meant the choice and quality of story and writing were more important than ever. A bad writing effort could now sink three episodes at once! That’s bang for your writing buck.
Sadly, this was too often the case regarding the last couple seasons of this series. Really good visuals tied to high school writing efforts. The franchise, we must reiterate, did not do itself any favors placing the setting between Star Wars Episodes II & III. It is the darkest, most depressing era of the timeline, capped by the empire’s complete takeover in Revenge of the Sith. Anyone would be hard pressed to make a balance of episodes in that environment, much less writing interns.
However, the visuals continued to impress. From underwater environments to desert; daytime scenes and moody night, the visual team knew what they were doing. Considering the colossal scale of scenes thrown at them, and the number of different characters, and the tremendous amount of scene blocking, they did an entertaining job with the writing they were given.
The series was still seriously lacking in comeuppance. The good guys lost lives by the star destroyer loads, while the bad guys usually just lost a few machines. Bad guy leaders killed indiscriminately for episodes, only to receive no justice, or a quick end not fully satisfying the penalty for their gratuitous homicide.
What about first tier characters like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Yeah, we did not get to spend much time with them. We got episodes where C3PO somehow bumbled into being a hero spending time with boring aliens for which we cared little. Speeder loads of second tier characters interacting with whiny arc characters.
Oh look, we got to spend three episodes with no-name characters after spending a couple with the droids as the stars… all in a row? Noble clones got their lives uselessly thrown away by a jerky, uncaring and ultimately turncoat general. But do not worry. After thee episodes of pointless carnage lit by a 40 watt bulb, the general (and his tired plot) did get comeuppance. Well, that’s one.
Otherwise its a whole season of traitors, slavers, criminals, and sith. The Star Wars universe is either uglier than we ever thought, or we just see the seedy underside each and every episode.
A certain amount of action could be counted upon, often good and exciting. It was cool to see the bounty hunter Cad Bain in action again. He is a fun returning villain. His multi-episode arc was one of the better. The effects and music were quality too. However the overall feel of the season was not one that we looked forward to. We just started caring less.
The restoration of Darth Maul was a big deal (he was sliced in half at the end of Phantom Menace, after all). Perhaps they were getting desperate for ratings. The arc was strange, contrived, and a little unresolved. But it was interesting and the saber battles decent. Obi Wan (our favorite character in the series) and Ventress, opposites for sure, made an unusual but entirely fun team to wrap the season.