Continuing our journey through ‘The Clone Wars Legacy,’ today brings us to the first of two arcs that were released as ‘story reels,’ essentially very rough animation meant to act as a demo of sorts for the episodes. This batch of four episodes – “A Death on Upatau,” In Search of Crystal,” “Crystal Crisis,” and “The Big Bang,” have been collectively titled ‘Crystal Crisis on Utapu.’ Let’s dig in.
1. Bah gawd
When you’re watching these story reels, it is pretty obvious what was trying to be achieved. This isn’t about animating mouths speaking, or to get the running exactly right. It is to present the action to the actors, as well as give the final animators a rough guide to work with. This makes for a less than ideal viewing experience but, especially due to having the voice actors record their parts, instead of what often happens and various staffers fill in, they work reasonably well.
And then Anakin looked up and his head and neck were separated by a gash like Juno in Beetlejuice, and I wanted to scream.
Aside from the unknown horrors of having people with grotesque anatomical features pop out of nowhere, the crudity of the animation tends to fade away a few minutes in, until things like Jedi riding creatures holding invisible rein makes you laugh. But really, this is about as good as you can expect from half-finished episodes.
2. Addressing the Ahsoka situation
This is the first episode that really addresses the fact that Ahsoka left the Jedi Order, even if that acknowledgement is relatively brief. It accomplishes two things: it shows Anakin continuing to struggle with attachment, and it lets us know that her presence was important. It can be easy, especially if you just watch the films, to think that Ahsoka is a minor character, relegated to animated series and side material, without any real impact on the Star Wars canon whatsoever.
Showing how much this has messed up Anakin is important. It is also important that neither Anakin nor Obi-Wan particularly blames her for her decision to leave. They may disagree, but they get it. Ahsoka was done dirty by the Jedi, and even other Jedi can see that.
3. You complete me
These episodes were produced in the early 20teens, and yet, the biggest laugh moment of the four episodes is supposed to be a diminutive alien saying “show me the money.”
4. Cool Kyber stuff
I’m a sucker for Jedi lore, and so all the kyber crystal stuff, particularly Yoda’s monologue at the end of “The Big Bang” about weapons like this, is right up my alley. All of this ephemera that was floating around the old EU and various other places before becoming canon in The Clone Wars is a lot of fun, but kyber crystals are particular Star Wars catnip for me.
This also ties into, in one way or another, the Death Star, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and various new canon novels. Kyber has become a major focal point of Star Wars media, but it has never quite been used as it is here. This was fun.
5. Particularly violent
There is a reason – the aforementioned anguish over Ahsoka – for Anakin to be particularly violent in this batch of episodes, but Obi-Wan seems to take greater delight in droid destruction than usual. Maybe this stuff would’ve been edited out of the final version, but where a usual force push would be sufficient, here, Obi-Wan basically executes each droid for fun. He pulls them over, cuts them in three pieces, and then moves on.
And I’m not talking about when the battle is really heated, or they are severely outnumbered. For most of the episodes, aside from “The Big Bang,” they are more or less on equal footing with the droids, and Obi-Wan still has some sort of circuit-thirst.
Next week: “The Bad Batch” arc of story reels.