Artificial Continuum

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Despite issues surrounding the handling of political issues in the past, The Clone Wars took an incredible leap in the right direction in its stellar episode Heroes on Both Sides. Deliviring stellar animation, great character moments, and a story that actually makes a relavant statement about the nature of the Clone Wars, this episode easily stands as one of the best in the series.

Following recent losses in the Outer Rim seiges, the Republic finds itself in need of further clone troops to support the war effort. However, the already bankrupt system needs more funds in order for such troops to be created. This quickly becomes a point for debate, especially amongst the Trade Federation, Banking Clan, and Techno union who are dealing under the table with Separatist forces. Opposed to the entire idea of further troop development is the ever idealistic Padme Amidala. In a bid to escape from the increasingly volatile situation in the Senate, she along with Ahsoka make a covert trip to vist a friend of hers on the Separatist council. Meanwhile, Dooku has taken his own measures to make sure that the war between the two factions continues.

One of the most complex stories so far, the script for Heroes on Both Sides is surprisingly strong. Devoid of the bland and silly dialogue that often hampers this series, this surprisingly strong politically centered episode provides moments of incredibly poignancy and character. Padme's idealism feels genuine instead of annoyingly naive, and Ahsoka's lack of political understanding also creates for an interesting scenario. Raised in a society already at war, Ahsoka, like many of the younger viewers of the show, does not fully understand the political realities behind the conflict. Her character growth over the course of this outing is well written and suits both the character and the series.

The politics in this episode are also handled well. In the past when The Clone Wars has attempted to use politics as the basis for an episode it has often fallen on its face. This time Heroes on Both Sides creates an intriguing economic issue that is littered with good character moments. Most importantly is the fact that the series finally realizes that the Confederacy is not simply an army of machines, but a political system with people and citizens of its own. Add in an effective and violent final act that plays on current fears of domestic terrorism and you have a well detailed and fleshed out plot.

This episode is also noteworthy for its impressive visual design. The scenes of a post attack Coruscant are shockingly realistic and create the feel for a war time atmosphere. Most breathtaking are views of the Separatist world Raxus, which is the most artistic planet design to date.

Also worthy of note is that this episode stands out as being the first to feature new character desings for Anakin, Obiwan, and Ahsoka. Refitted with outfits more fitting maturing characters, its a clever reminder by the crew that we are moving towards an inevitable endgame.

Perhaps the only down points on Heroes on Both Sides are two jarringly awkward moments surrounding the terrorist side plot. There is a scene where Grievous adresses his droid servants as if they were real soldiers. The nature of this scene and the way it is executed feel incredibly out of place and awkward. Later, the suicide droids attack a facility of maitenance workers before completing their mission. While overall an effective scene, it is bizarre to see that all of the workers have the same character model. This has never been an issue before in the series. Even the clones have distinct characteristics and details that make them individuals. This makes this design oversight seem incredibly lazy and disappointing.

Overall, Heroes on Both Sides delivers one of the best episodes of the entire series with stellar animation and an impressive script.

Score: -A