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TFN Review: Holocron Heist

Posted By Eric on October 3, 2009

Hello, I'm Eric Geller. I'll be reviewing The Clone Wars for TheForce.Net. Look for my reviews the day after the episode airs. Here is my first review.

The Clone Wars Season 2 Episode 1: Holocron Heist

Let me start at the beginning. The opening space battle was very well-animated. The "camerawork" was excellent (in my notes, I didn't use quotes, because it felt that much like live-action content). I was reminded of the opening space battle from Revenge of the Sith. The viewpoint became shaky after an explosion, which lent a more realistic feel to the scene. It was also exciting simply because of the pace. As the camera panned around, following fighters and gunships, I felt like we were watching a new Star Wars feature film.

When we finally reached Felucia, we were rewarded with stunning visuals and rich detail. The Clone Wars team really studied their Revenge of the Sith reference material. The Felucia scenes were film-accurate, and the beauty of the planet itself certainly didn't hurt.

Now we get to one of the major plot points -- not just in this episode, but, I believe, throughout the whole season. As the Republic pulls out of the battle, we learn that Ahsoka is once again in over her head. Anakin orders her to fall back, but Ahsoka refuses. At this point, it had better be clear to everyone that Ahsoka is a Skywalker-in-training. She has been around Anakin for so long that she has begun to develop the same hero complex her Master displayed in the Geonosian hangar in Attack of the Clones. (More on that later.)

I like that the series is fleshing out Ahsoka to this extent. Not merely content with keeping Ahsoka's personality static, Dave Filoni's team has realized that anyone who hangs out with Anakin Skywalker for this long is bound to develop "eccentricities." When Anakin finally reaches Ahsoka, he and his Padawan have the most heated, vicious argument I've seen all series. It is clear that she is passionate about committing herself to this battle. Eventually, Ahsoka relents -- a wise choice. The AT-TE on which Ahsoka was perched explodes from Separatist blasterfire just as Anakin pulls his apprentice onto the rising gunship -- this is an action show after all.

Back on Coruscant after the battle, the Jedi Council reprimands Ahsoka for her inappropriate conduct. It's archive security duty for Ahsoka, Master Yoda declares. Ever the frustrated Padawan, the young Togruta asks for how long she will be serving this duty. Leave it to Master Windu, my hands-down favorite character in Star Wars, to tell her, "Longer now."

As Ahsoka is walking with Anakin to her new job, she apologizes for her behavior, and her Master consoles her with the statement, "I was a Padawan once." This is some good character exposition on Lucas Animation's part. Here, they humanize Anakin, shedding more light on his compassionate side. It's good to see that Anakin feels sympathy for Ahsoka. After all, it wasn't long ago (relatively speaking) that Anakin was traveling the galaxy as Obi-Wan's apprentice.

We then travel to another corner of Coruscant, where Cad Bane is staring out an apartment window. Here, we get the first major swelling of the Cad Bane theme music. It's creepy, sinister, and foreboding -- in other words, it's perfect for the Duros bounty hunter. The drum beats really sell the tension. Bane soon gets a holo-communiqu? from Darth Sidious, offering him a job acquiring a Jedi Holocron. Here we see the all-business side of Bane; it's clear that he's been doing his job competently for quite a while. Of course, Sidious laughs off Bane's requirement of a tripled rate, saying that money is no concern of his. Despite Bane's malevolence, it's clear who's in charge here.

So far my review has been very positive, but I did have several problems with this episode, and one of them cropped up right about now in the episode. It occurs when Yoda senses a disturbance in the Force -- ergo, Cad Bane is in the house. My problem is not that Yoda can do this. Rather, it's that Yoda couldn't do it at the end of Season One, when Cad Bane held several Senators hostage in order to free Ziro the Hutt. I understand that there is a difference between Yoda sensing a Temple intruder and him sensing one miles away at the Senate. But come on, this is Yoda we're talking about. I just don't buy that he can sense Bane now, but that he couldn't do it previously.

We then transition back to Bane's base of operations, where he and a Clawdite bounty hunter named Cato Parasitti are planning their infiltration of the Jedi Temple. It is revealed to us then that Cad Bane had previously murdered a Jedi Knight named Ord Enisence, whose form the Clawdite shapeshifter immediately takes as part of the ploy. When we first see Enisence's body, the weight of Bane's casual maliciousness becomes clear. It is a testament to Bane's character that we don't even need a backstory for this Jedi murder. Bane dismisses the being's death -- it was just necessary to further his cause. The Clone Wars team is learning to master the art of building up characters based on what they do off-screen -- based on what they don't discuss.

As Bane and his droid Todo 360 (voiced by Seth Green) reach the Temple, we get a great sweeping shot of the building that harkens back to the dramatic visuals of the Prequel Trilogy. As a side note, I really like Todo 360. He's very quirky, technically-savvy, and reminds me a lot of R2-D2.

When Bane, Todo 360, and Cato enter the Temple, Yoda senses their intrusion. He suggests that the intruders must want to access the Communications complex. Here, I find yet another glaring problem. How in the stars does Yoda not sense Bane's intentions? Can Sidious's reach be clouding the wizened Master's mind to that degree? It occurs to me that the greatest Jedi Master the galaxy has ever seen should be able to locate and penetrate the end of a simple bounty hunter. After all, no matter how skilled Bane may be, he couldn't possibly protect against the thought-probing of the Grand Master of the Order.

Another problem I had with this part of the episode was the scene in the giant fan shaft. Bane and his droid are free-falling past fans that have stopped spinning, on their way to the Holocron room. Bane soon sets off a motion sensor that Cato (who at this point is in the Temple Archives) hasn't yet deactivated, and alarms begin blaring as the fans start up again. Cato is able to deactivate the fans (just in the nick of time for Bane) and the alarm.

Yet here I find a problem. You would think that the Jedi Temple, with some of the most confidential and secure information and resources on Coruscant, would want to link their fan shaft motion detectors to a central security alarm. That way, any motion sensor alarm would set off red flags for Yoda, Windu, and the others. Nope! The alarm set-off goes completely unnoticed, and Bane and his droid are able to continue on their not-so-merry way.

At this point, Obi-Wan and Anakin have reached Bane's exterior entry point to the Temple. Here's another problem. Obi-Wan and Anakin again suggest that Bane must be headed for the Communications complex, and they set off in that direction. Can somebody please explain to me why Obi-Wan and Anakin wouldn't use the Force to detect Bane's path through the Temple. Jedi aren't supposed to assume things. I think the real-world explanation is that The Clone Wars creative team needed to stall for time, allowing Bane to reach his objective before being apprehended.

Back in the Temple Archives, Ahsoka catches Cato Parasitti (now disguised as librarian Jocasta Nu, whom the Clawdite had to render unconscious earlier in the episode) in the act of aiding Bane. After a brief lightsaber duel, Parasitti runs, but Ahsoka catches her when the Clawdite trips and falls. Again, I have problems here. (Sorry Dave Filoni.) If Parasitti is a bounty hunter, how does she use a lightsaber so well? She's no Mace Windu, but she manages to fend off a skilled Padawan's attacks for a remarkable amount of time. This is especially strange given what we know about non-Jedi wielding lightsabers. If I remember correctly, the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back tells us that Han Solo had difficulty slicing open his Tauntaun -- the weapon seemed heavy and unwieldy to him. So unless Parasitti has used a lightsaber before, she should be in the same position. Yet she's not.

It also struck me as weird that the Clawdite just gave up Bane's next move so easily! I thought this woman was a ruthless contract killer, not some two-bit thug with -- gasp! -- a conscience.

We then switch back to Anakin, who for all his Jedi training is pretty bad at trailing Bane. He just won't give up the idea of the Comm Center. And of course, Bane sends his Todo 360 droid there as a diversion -- he seems to know just what the Jedi will do, how they will think, and how he should respond so they play into his game. When Todo 360 reaches the communications room, a hidden bomb that Bane placed within him almost kills Mace Windu and Yoda, before the former Jedi Force-pushes the droid back into an air duct, where Todo 360 detonates pitifully. Meanwhile, Ahsoka learns from the captured Cato Parasitti that Bane is actually after the Holocrons. (Finally!) But Bane's diversion has already allowed the bounty hunter to blow open the Holocron vault and retrieve one of the devices.

It's time for me to complain one last time. Bane escapes from the Temple with his holocron by donning a Jedi robe. He walks right past the now-revived Jocasta Nu, who is helping Ahsoka transport Cato Parasitti elsewhere. You would think that Jocasta Nu would have sensed Bane's presence, even if she had just woken up.

The episode ends with the revelation that Bane is after Bolla Ropal, the keeper of the Kyber crystal and one of the Jedi Masters who can intepret and unlock the secrets of Bane's new Holocron. I was worried that we would have a continuity problem when the Kyber crystal was mentioned (I heard it as the Kaiburr crystal, which is a Force-enhancing gem found in the EU novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye).

Overall, this episode was a fitting introduction to the new season. I liked it, for all its faults, and while I saw room for improvement, I also saw it as a measure of just how far The Clone Wars has come in terms of animation, plot and character development, and trueness to Star Wars as a whole.

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