Artificial Continuum

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When Season 3 was first teased at this year’s Celebration V, one of the most hyped plotlines surrounded a villain named Savage Opress. This powerful and intimidating villain was stated by George Lucas himself to be an important player in the shape of the series. Despite his ridiculous name, the majority of the fan base was excited for the inclusion of this seemingly brutal new villain. Savage made his debut in this week’s episode Monster, did he live up to the hype?

Still seething from her betrayal at the hands of Count Dooku and her failed attempt at revenge, Ventress has once again turned towards the Nightsisters for assistance. Following the failed assassination attempt conducted by Ventress and her witch kin, Dooku has become increasingly paranoid about attempts on his life by the Jedi and his other enemies. With nowhere to turn, he is contacted by Mother Talzin, the leader of the Nightsisters, who offers him a solution, a male from the planet of Dathomir. Little does Dooku realize that his new found apprentice will be a pawn for Ventress and her new allies.

Once again Monster focuses on the villains of the series, with none of the usual heroes making an appearance. This stands in the episode’s favor as the majority of plot surrounds Ventress’s vigorous selection process for her new pawn. Monster is brutal, violent, and contains some of the darkest material the show has visited to date.

As suspected the star of this episode is Savage Opress, who is given a surprisingly detailed and empathetic introduction. Although a member of a clan of Zabrak warriors, Savage is shown as a caring and human character. This makes his manipulation by Ventress and his transformation by the Nightsisters, who prove to be the true monsters of the episode, all the more horrifying. When Savage has become the villain we have glimpsed for months he is a completely different being then the one we were introduced to. Surprisingly this works, Monster creates a villain with all the brutish complexity of Frankenstein’s monster.

The brutal selection process makes up the majority of this episode, but was highlighted by expertly choreographed and animated action sequences. Often inventive and always engaging this sequence stands as one of the most fun of the season.
As the middle act of a trilogy of episodes, Monster acts a transition episode and once again suffers from issues of pacing. Monster works fluidly throughout the course of the plot until one horribly executed sequence towards the episode’s climax. The scene is handled so quickly and given so little thought that what could have been an effective step in Savage’s story just stands as a horribly awkward and disjointed scene.

Despite this one flaw, Monster stands as one of the single best episodes of the entire series and carefully lays the ground work for an explosive conclusion to one of the series’ best story arcs.

Score: -A