After last week’s Volume One review, I was excited to dig into the second batch of episodes. I was a little taken aback by just how different of a series the back half turned out to be.
1. More dialogue, more plot, more import, more Jedi
The first volume presented a show that had very little dialogue and was very modular. With few exceptions, the episodes seemed detached from each other, with only one or two through-lines that connected the season. This season, made up of five 12 minute episodes, felt far more like a mini-film with a more strongly established narrative. It also has far more to do with the films on either side of it than the first volume did.
Sure, these are all meant as tales from in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, but this volume seeks to do that through its main character(s), whereas the first volume was more of an overview of the war. Here, we see how Anakin goes from Padawan to Jedi Knight, and how Palpatine gets kidnapped by Grievous. Volume Two is as close to an Episode 2.5 as was possible at the time and, like all in between material, is probably unnecessary, but pleasant.
One thing that was also very appreciated is that we got a lot of time with a variety of Jedi. Shaak Ti, Roron Corobb, and Foul Moudama don’t exactly get full arcs, but we spend enough time with them to get a sense of who they are and a little about what other Jedi lives look like. To me, as a kid who grew up on the original trilogy, I’m always fascinated to see Jedi who aren’t Skywalkers or Kenobis, as just about all I knew about the order comes from Luke, Ben, and Anakin.
We also got some nice Mace Windu and Yoda action, with each of them showing why they are on the Jedi Council, as their mastery of the Force is something to behold. This season, more than the first two, did a really nice job of making episodes that had emotional and storyline consequences while also having badass fight sequences.
2. Eating bugs
There was a scene that really stuck out to me in the second episode, where Anakin and Obi-Wan are forced to eat bugs for sustenance. At first, I wasn’t sure why this scene had any resonance with me, aside from the fact that eating in Star Wars is reasonably rare – blue milk, Degobah stew, Jabba grabbing a fish. But then it struck me: this is one of the few times that we see the Jedi need to do something to preserve their bodies instead of their minds. We see lots of Jedi training to make them the best they can be, but we rarely see them do the stuff that we all do every day. Rarely does Obi-Wan say “I’ve got to take a shower.”
It was a nice little reminder that, yes, these Jedi still are regular folks on some level (Jedi are just like us!), and sometimes have to eat bugs so they can get some protein.
3. Badass Grievous
In Episode III, General Grievous looks menacing, but is dispatched with relative ease and never really earns the reputation he’s accrued. Here, he does. We see him training with Count Dooku, and see him be absolutely cruel to any number of foes throughout this series. I know that there was a lot to cram into Revenge of the Sith, but giving Grievous something to do would’ve been very appreciated.Continued below
The time that Anakin and Obi-Wan spend on Nelvaan is both the most that this series spends with a non-human species, and also the closest that Star Wars got to replicating the Ewoks, but with better results. Sure, Ewoks are far cuter, the we see Nelvaanians with agency and a plot that works, even though we never truly see our heroes communicate with them outside of Obi-Wan’s loose translations.
For a series that is populated by lots of aliens, we rarely get to spend too much time on their home planets, or with more than one member of a species at a time, so I really appreciated this segment.
I am both put off by a lot of the Jedi stuff in the prequels and fascinated by ideas like Jedi Trials. Seeing Anakin have to go through a makeshift trial here was one of the more fascinating looks into his character that we got before The Clone Wars launched in 2008. We see both the great Jedi and the angry Sith fighting within Anakin, and it makes for a fascinating viewing experience. Because there is no one pulling his strings, the Jedi wins out; not long from now, with Sidius has his claws in him, the results will be quite different.
Well, I’m taking next week off, but I’ll be back on November 29th for the start of The Clone Wars Season 2! Happy Thanksgiving to all!