Artificial Continuum

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Clone Wars for its near three year run now has been a series of heroism. Even if recently that line has begun to blur, the clones, Jedi, and most importantly Anakin himself have stood as true heroes in the conflict that has consumed the galaxy. However, Clone Wars has really developed into a series that thrives off its villains. Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, or Assaj Ventress, the dark side has always been a scene stealer. Nightsistsers took a turn for the better in giving us our first villain centric episode, and a step away from the clumsy politics driven installments that were prevalent in the beginning of the season.

Nigthsisters picks up in the middle of a massive space battle, led by Dooku’s prized assassin Assaj Ventress. The Republic is on the run, and it appears that the Seperatists may pull off a surprise victory. However, the prowess of Ventress has drawn the attention of Darth Sidious. Worried that his apprentice may be growing too powerful, Sidious orders the death of Dooku’s apprentice, setting off a chain of events that could shape the face of the war.

The shift of focus in Nightsisters is its most apparent attribute. Although we are given glimpses of Obiwan and Anakin in the first act, the villains are the centerpiece here and for that reason alone this episode becomes a must watch.
As the title suggests Nightsisters introduces the Dathomir witches to the Star Wars G canon for the first time. Long time villains of the expanded universe, the inclusion of the Nightsisters is a welcome addition to the series. Although both Dathomir and the clan themselves have undergone some changes since their initial appearance in the Star Wars comic line, little damage appears to have been done to the overall continuity. Even a brief glimpse at Ventress’s origins stays relatively close to the already established backstory.

Earlier in the season, Ventress stole the show in the supposedly clone centric episode Arc Troopers. It seems only appropriate that here Ventress’s spotlight is stolen by her master Dooku. Although her ever present malice and violence is at its peak here, her motives and actions in Nightsisters are all too familiar. This cannot be said for the Count, who is more fascinating in this single episode then through the entirety of his roles in the Star Wars prequels. Early in the episode when Sidious orders Dooku to murder his assassin, a surprisingly human display of compassion breaks through and makes the dynamic between the two all the more powerful. The bearded Sith shines yet again at the episodes climax in a spectacularly choreographed lightsaber duel that outshines many of those in the live action films. Dooku fights with a strange finesse and elegance that is only hinted at in the films.

Despite all that works, Nightsisters has one major flaw and that is one of pacing. As seen in Assassin and to a lesser degree Arc Troopers, there is quiet simply too much going on this episode for its own good. When sitting back and examining the episode as a whole it is sometimes surprising at simply how much story has progressed within the space of twenty two minutes. While a fast paced storyline works, Nightsisters often feels clunky. The story that the writers and directors of this outing are trying to tell is just too grand in scope for the time frame they are given. Although writer Katie Lucas, daughter of the big man himself, does a stellar job at setting pieces into place for the following two outings not everything can be salvaged.

The animation and score continue to improve at an amazing rate. Characters are more vibrant and expressive now than they ever have been, and the action sequences are often breathtaking.

Overall, Nightsisters is a welcome change to the series. Exciting, colorful, and with heavy doses of dark side this stands as one of the better episodes of the series. Let’s just fix those pacing issues.

Score: B+