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TFN Review: Legacy of Terror

Posted By Eric on November 21, 2009

The Clone Wars Season 2 Episode 7: Legacy of Terror

ACT ONE

In the aftermath of the attack on the Geonosian weapons factory, wounded clones are being evacuated to medical facilities, as weary Padawans Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee prepare to leave the planet. The next phase of attack will be spearheaded by their Masters. When Obi-Wan tells Luminara that, despite clone scout search parties spreading out to find him, Poggle the Lesser has managed to evade detection. Luminara decides to strike out on her own, telling Obi-Wan that Poggle is too valuable to lose. She and her clone commander Buzz head off on speeder bikes.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Geonosis, an AAT traverses the desolate dunes, led in the gunner's turret by Poggle the Lesser. The tank, which is hauling several munitions boxes, hits a bump in the sand and loses one of the crates. Poggle is clearly anxious, for he tells his guards to leave it behind and push onward.

Onboard a Jedi transport in the Republic landing zone, a transmission from Luminara is beamed in to assembled Jedi Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ki-Adi-Mundi. Luminara has found the dropped munitions crate in the middle of the dunes, and Buzz estimates the enemy's trajectory as being on a straight course for the Progate Temple. The Jedi ponder the meaning of this: why would Poggle head for a temple that was heavily bombarded during initial Republic strafing runs? Anakin tells Luminara that a sandstorm is approaching, but rather than being deterred, Luminara decides she must press forward.

Luminara and Buzz eventually reach Progate Temple amid the heavy, sandy winds. They enter the temple to take refuge from the storm, and we see shots of creepy gargoyles adorning the upper edges of the temple walls. Luminara tells the other Jedi that she made it, and Obi-Wan advises her to stay put until the storm lets up enough for reinforcements to arrive. Meanwhile, Buzz locates an entrance to an underground area. Just as Luminara tells the others that she thinks Poggle must have gone down there, Buzz screams in the background, and Luminara whirls, lightsaber ignited, facing a threat unknown to the Jedi back at the staging area. Anakin wants to rush out to aid Luminara, but the others tell him that the sandstorm would make gunship travel impossible. The act ends with the face of one very disgruntled Anakin.

This act had more going for it visually than plot-wise. The first thing I noted was that Ki-Adi-Mundi's comments about the Progate Temple seemed na´ve: why wouldn't he realize that underground facilities could exist? It seems especially foolish given the Geonosians' propensity to organize in dark underground hives.

There was one good thing about this act plot-wise: Anakin's rescue impulses. The whole "Anakin wants to save someone but is held back by other Jedi" plot point may be utilized often on this show, but it never gets old. Anakin is constantly being held back by others asking for him to sit by idly, and it's easy to see through his eyes and understand how this gets annoying. One thing The Clone Wars does really well is make us think about every side to a conflict. Nothing within the Jedi Order is black and white, and TCW excels at showing us these different perspectives.

On a lighter note, I enjoyed the shot of the battle droid getting stranded in the sandstorm. Some people may not enjoy battle droid humor, but I think it's good to have some running comic relief in a show that would otherwise be nearly weighed down by the depth and seriousness of the issues.

Visually, this act was excellent. I like the vast sweeping shots of the Geonosian plains. It lends a certain feeling of desolation and expanse. I also like the sand effect in this episode. I don't know if it was hard to do, but it was well-done regardless. The camera angles used for the first few shots when Luminara and Buzz enter the Progate Temple are very effective. The Geonosian gargoyles are very creepy. I like that they went to a commercial before we knew what happened to Buzz; we didn't actually know if he survived, and that's a rare situation with characters on this show. There was some actual suspense there.

ACT TWO

After the storm clears, a Geonosian gunship arrives, and Cody and his men disembark with Anakin and Obi-Wan. They rush inside and Cody discovers (truth be told, I was pretty much expecting this) Commander Buzz's dead body. Obi-Wan finds Luminara's lightsaber, but no Luminara. Anakin isn't sure how Poggle could possibly have defeated Luminara, but when Obi-Wan sees a hideously ugly statue of a distorted Geonosian, he muses that a mythical Geonosian queen might have been to blame. The group decides to descend into the caverns.

Much deeper in the caverns, strangely-behaving Geonosians drag an unconscious Luminara to an unknown destination. Poggle the Lesser leads the group. Luminara suddenly wakes up and breaks free. She manages to break a Geonosian's thorax in the process, but the being doesn't drop. Luminara grabs her comlink and quickly warns Obi-Wan to get out while he can, but before she can go on she is recaptured by the Geonosians. Obi-Wan decides to ignore Luminara's advice, reasoning that she must be nearby. As the clones and Jedi turn a corner, they run head-on into a group of Geonosian warriors. In the ensuing battle, the clones notice that their blaster bolts are not taking down the warriors, despite dealing normally-lethal wounds. As the battle progresses, one of the clones sees a green worm slithering up into the nose of a Geonosian.

Obi-Wan realizes that they are outnumbered, and orders a hasty retreat. The clones blow up the supports of the tunnel, trapping the very-much-dangerous Geonosians in place. Anakin doesn't understand how the Geonosians could have been so relentless. Obi-Wan describes rumors he's heard of a Geonosian hive mind so tremendous that it could reanimate those warriors who had already passed on. Obi-Wan orders two of his soldiers to head for the surface and tell Ki-Adi-Mundi that they need reinforcements. As befits the creepiness of this episode, the two are quickly killed by Geonosian warriors.

In the central chamber of the catacombs, Luminara wakes up to find herself trapped once again. She looks up and sees a the gigantic (and disgusting) Geonosian hive queen watching over her. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Cody, and the remaining clones arrive and notice Poggle kneeling before the queen. Hidden in the far shadows, the Jedi and Cody quickly formulate a plan. Anakin would rather charge in and rescue Luminara, but Obi-Wan wants to get to the bottom of all of this. The act ends with the group splitting up to take their respective positions.

This act was also very strong, but it shone in terms of plot as well as visuals.

First, the visuals. Some of these shots of the gunships look almost like they were pulled out of AOTC. The vehicle shots are extremely well animated. As for the catacomb scenes, they too served the act well. The whole second act is framed and lit in a very creepy way. Poggle the Lesser looks positively (Poggletively?) insidious as he and his cronies are dragging Luminara along the catacomb floor. The camera angles used to highlight the Geonosian Hive Queen are also great. The fact that the Geonosians can't speak Basic adds a lot to their scariness.

Plotwise, the dialog and combat lent a lot to this act. When Captain Cody says that Luminara's clone is dead, the silence is unsettling. I'm glad they were able to kill someone high up in the Geonosian detachment and have that death contribute to the suspense of the plot. Also, the Geonosian zombies are extremely scary even though we know that Luminara survives. The shots of the catacomb walls -- with shadows of Luminara fighting zombies hand to hand -- are also disturbing. As a big fan of Death Troopers, I am thrilled to see zombie versus trooper combat in this episode. I love that The Clone Wars is delving into undead creatures. Of course, in the category of very predictable, I knew from the moment Obi-Wan dismissed those clones that they were dead meat. The crunch sound effect at the end of that sequence was sickening.

I found the conclusion of the act very satisfying. We have seen so much grand-scale planning, but now we get to watch Obi-Wan, Anakin, and just a few clones formulate a plan with little in the way of resources and a lot in the way of consequences. I do find it odd that Obi-Wan would sniff out a more complicated plot while Anakin wouldn't. Of course, given his apparent need for some regicide, it is possible that he's just too distracted by a fear for Luminara and some good old-fashioned bloodlust.

Minor note: did anyone notice that Anakin's line, "That can't be true! That's impossible!" closely resembled Luke's line in Empire? I don't think it's significant, but I do like that the Clone Wars team is thinking about the ways in which Anakin is a lot like his son.

ACT THREE

As Obi-Wan and Anakin emerge from the shadows and approach the hive queen, we see the differences in tactics between Anakin and Obi-Wan. The older Jedi begins talking to the queen, while Anakin is practically spoiling for a fight. Obi-Wan tells the queen to release Luminara, who, for her part, is surprised to see the Jedi coming to her rescue. (Did nobody send her the memo about these two and their penchant for "rescues"?) The queen refuses to give in to Obi-Wan's demands, saying that instead of destroying the Jedi, she will control them. Obi-Wan stares in amazement as one Geonosian zombie brings a small egg over to Luminara. From within the egg, a green worm appears -- the same worm seen in the earlier battle sequence.

Obi-Wan and Anakin casually debate the possibility of letting the worm invade Luminara, who sides with Anakin and voices her disapproval. Obi-Wan asks Anakin whether he thinks the worm will enter through the ear or the nose. Anakin seems resigned as he chooses the nose. Luminara asks if this is part of the plan, and Obi-Wan finally triggers their strategy. Cody and his clones activate their helmet lights, temporarily incapacitating the zombies. Anakin takes this opportunity to free Luminara and capture Poggle. Obi-Wan grabs the mind control worm, but in the ensuing conflict it falls to the ground. Obi-Wan asks Anakin to refrain from killing it, intending to study the creature, but Anakin ignores him and crushes it under his boot.

The clones again blast the ceiling supports in the large chamber, trapping the hive queen and her zombie Geonosians under a mountain of rubble. The Jedi, clones, and their Geonosian Archduke captive emerge on the surface, narrowly escaping the zombies crawling behind them.

This act had many great moments, from the humorous to the homage. I like Obi-Wan's line, "I make observations while you think with your lightsaber," because it's very true. But, in keeping with the balance of perspectives and "truths," Anakin's response about his weapon-thinking often saving the day is also true. The Geonosian hive queen's shrill voice took quite a bit away from her scariness, but not from the episode overall.

And was it just me, or were there parallels between Obi-Wan negotiating for Luminara's release and Luke trying to free Han from Jabba? In both cases, the Jedi appear powerless and trapped, and in both cases a fat slug-like creature holds someone valuable hostage. But maybe I'm just grasping at straws.

I really liked the contrast between Obi-Wan wanting to study a threat and Anakin just wanting to eliminate it. Anakin always prefers the more direct route to eliminating a problem, whereas Obi-Wan would rather figure out the story behind it. Of course, they ended up following a mix of Obi-Wan and Anakin's plans. The two Jedi are very different in their methodologies, but they want the same thing. This united objective sets the tone for the series: there are many ways to get to a solution, but some of them are more situationally appropriate than others.

OVERALL

In what seems to be a recurring paradox in TCW Season 2, this episode was light on plot and heavy on other redeeming elements. Legacy of Terror shone because of the underlying messages about different Jedi approaches and the intense creep-out factor. I do enjoy these message-heavy, content-light episodes, but I really want to see more straightforwardly exciting episodes too. Season 2 needs to balance the episode templates (think Landing at Point Rain versus Weapons Factory) while also providing an overall plot. And where are those bounty hunters who are supposed to be rising?





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