It seems like I just started season four, but here I am at the end! Thus far, this has been the best season of The Clone Wars, and while there are still some episodes/arcs that don’t work for me, I am really glad I’m taking this journey. Let’s get to it!
1. Ventress becomes more interesting
This isn’t to say that Ventress wasn’t an interesting character before, but this season has really given her some additional depth. Her character has gone from garden variety Sith apprentice to something Star Wars hadn’t really done to this point – the character that has changed, but hasn’t changed sides. We see that a lot more in The Clone Wars, between her and Lux, but it feels more raw and real with Ventress because we saw so much more of her, pre-change.
While I don’t expect her to go full Jedi anytime soon, especially because she is still so motivated by her own interests, it is interesting to see more grey area on the show. Sure, lots of planets/races have declared themselves neutral, but that’s usual from a responsibility to remain peaceful. This is someone out entirely for themselves, with very little, if any, conviction beyond self-preservation.
2. Dooku in danger
I mentioned that this fourth season is the first where Dooku seems like slightly less of a fuck-up, and then here we see him come closest to being defeated thus far, and its through magic, that rare ingredient in the Star Wars world. Sure, the Force is magic adjacent, but there’s a lot of precedent for that. Here, this is just straight up voodoo-ish magic.
The whole Nightsisters plot is very un-Star Wars-ish for a bunch of reasons, but that’s part of what makes it effective. Especially early on in the series, the plots all seemed remarkably similar. But now, with the universe expanding and the introduction of characters like the Nightsisters, everything feels fresh when returning to it. There’s rarely a moment of “oh jeez, this again?” because we don’t stay on one thing too long.
3. That said…
Having just said that things don’t linger too long, this arc lingered too long. Specifically, the second episode, “Bounty,” was almost totally unnecessary. Sure, it showed that Ventress was changing as a person, but this could’ve been the tail end of the episode before it and not missed anything. While the episode had some cool action sequences, as well as the return of Bossk and Boba, it felt more like it was just there for the final few moments. If anything, “Massacre,” the prior episode, did far more for the character than “Bounty” did. “Bounty” just made it more crystal clear what was happening. But for those that were paying attention, no clarification was needed.
4. “We’re going straight! To! Dathomir!”
Okay, so it took me until the fourth thought to get to the real meat of the arc here: Maul is back, baby. We’d seen hints of this before, but this is the first time we’ve spent any time with Maul, now replete with Wild Wild West/Superman Lives robotic spider legs. Most of “Brothers” is spent hunting down Maul, and showing just how deranged he has become in his madness.
I find the role of Talzin really interesting here. She seems to be playing both sides against each other to a certain degree, although they are all against Dooku at this point, so maybe she just hates Dooku that much? But Ventress and Opress/Maul are on opposite sides, and she’s feeding both of them. I hope we get more with her character in season five.
5. Long term payoffs
If this final arc of the season did anything, it really paid off, or began to pay off, threads that have been planted for years, if not more than a decade. Maul was cut in half in the summer of 1999, and appeared here in the spring of 2012. Boba Fett is still not exactly the fella we saw in Empire, but we are seeing how he became that person. Ventress, getting her real first taste of the spotlight in the hand drawn Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series 9 years earlier, and here, we are seeing the character adapt and grow.Continued below
This is the type of longform storytelling that makes comics my favorite medium for continuing stories, and Star Wars is nailing it. I’ve never been more enthused about The Clone Wars than I am right now, and that’s without one prevailing, blown away moment. It’s just a dense mythology that I’m having a blast digging into.
Next week…season 5!