Artificial Continuum

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our heroes are in a dire situation. "Prisoners" brings about the final episode of the Mon Cala arc with a opening that is probably as bleak as we've seen on the show (perhaps outside of "The Citadel" arc last season). Heroes are captured, a king is on the run, and Riff Tamson stands as proud leader of Mon Cala. While, "Prisoners" brings about a suitably satisfying conclusion to this opening art to Season 4, it (like its predecessors) is still flawed, but suitably entertaining.

Following the disastrous results of the battle seen in "Gungan Attack", Anakin, Padme, Ackbar, Jar Jar, Fisto, and their armies have been captured by Separatist forces. As Tamson attempts to torture the location of Prince Lee Char out of the surviving Republic leadership, Ahsoka and the fleeing Prince must develop a plan to not only rescue their people but win back their planet.

One thing that "Prisoners" and the entirety of this arc has provided well is a sense of scale. The battles, environments, and even the consequences of battle seem larger than we have seen so far in the series. Although the end result of this episode is really no surprise, there is a suitable amount of tension leading up to its climax.

Perhaps the most notable improvement is how the character of Lee Char seems to have undergone a drastic improvement in both writing and voice acting between episodes. Although his overall story arc is still predictable, Lee Char is no longer as cringe worthy a central character as he was in the previous installments. His dialogue feels more natural, and for some odd reason his voice has grown on me.

Tamson, of course, is once again a welcome addition to "Prisoners". His brutality makes a comeback, and the shark headed general kills in some truly jarring ways. With the conclusion of "Prisoners" it is easy to place Tamson alongside such classic Clone Wars villains as The Son, Cad Bane, and Savage Opress.

Like "Gungan Attack", the action in "Prisoners" is better shot and more suited to its underwater environment than the opener "Water War". That being said, the return to land and spaced based battles will be a welcome decision by the production crew. While these past episodes were an interesting experiment and obviously a valiant effort on the part of the animation crew, they were not as successful as one might have hoped at conveying a sense of visceral action.

Despite the positive improvements "Prisoners" made to the Mon Cala storyline, it also made some rather jarring missteps. The conclusion itself rang as being to hollow and predictable, and there are some moments of ridiculous Gungan/Jar Jar slapstick that stand completely completely at odds with the rest of the episode.

That being said, "Prisoners" was an entertaining conclusion to the first arc of season four. While it was flawed and frustrating at times, its easy to see that quite a bit of work went into the production of these episodes and in that regard alone they are respectable.

Score: B