Star Wars: THE CLONE WARS Season 5 More Intense Than Ever

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Season 5, Episode 1: Revival

'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars moves to Saturday mornings at 9:30 this September, but that doesn't mean Season 5 will be dialing back; no, in fact, Clone Wars is more intense, and better, than ever before.

For the first time ever, a season premiere directly follows the events of a season finale. It's been a few weeks to months, but Darth Maul's return is still the most important thing going on for the Jedi, especially Obi-Wan Kenobi, who thought he killed Maul when he cut him in half way back in the live-action Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. [Newsarama Note: the current Darth Maul comic book miniseries from Dark Horse fills in some of the blanks between the episodes.] Maul, and his new legs, is traipsing about the galaxy with his brother Savage, and they are… not being so nice.

The two decide that if they're going to join a war, they're going to need an army, and begin by recruiting some pirates; of course, those pirates belong to Hondo, and he's not happy about their loss in loyalty.

Without going any further into the plot for fear of major spoilers, this episode manages to encapsulate all that is right with The Clone Wars. There's politicking. There's action. There's tons of action. Major character development for our regular cast like Obi-Wan is there, along with big moments for recurring guests like Maul, Savage, and Hondo. The episode shows love for Clone Wars faithful and love for fans of the greater Star Wars experience in perfectly equal doses.

The best thing this episode does, however, is set things up for the season while still telling its own complete and exciting story. In a show that almost always does multiple-episode arcs, especially at the start of seasons, it was nice to get a one-and-done that also still had farther reaching consequences.

Actor Sam Witwer, the voice of Darth Maul, promised us on the red carpet we'd get to see more of the cunning Maul more of the Sith, and that's something that pays off immediately. While there's still a lot of anger and focus on revenge in Maul's mind, he's learning very quickly how to focus that and use it to harness the Dark Side of the Force once more.

Something special has to be said about Witwer and James Arnold Taylor's performances, as well. The two have such a perfect malicious give and take, you'd think they personally had been mortal enemies for years. Maul, in just three appearances on this show, has already gone from the one-note lightsaber wunderkind to a diabolical menace who can shake even Kenobi. Taylor's Jedi Master, meanwhile, experiences more emotions than perhaps a Jedi should. It's hard not to wince during the battle scenes, thanks to some truly masterful fight choreography and animation, as even these cartoon characters make you feel it.

If there's one "complaint" it's that this is a very Obi-Wan centric episode, and we don't get anything of substance from our other stars Anakin and Ahsoka, but when the writing, delivery, action, animation (oh yeah, that's seen a big jump once more, even from Season 4) are this good, it's hard to wonder much about where other characters are. Instead, you just soak in the awesome and get excited to see them later.

Darth Maul and Savage Oppress are clearly in this fight for the foreseeable future, and if this episode is an indication of what it will be like to have them as persistent thorns in the sides of the current Clone Wars cast, then I couldn't be happier.

Fair warning to parents out there, this episode bears the "red title," where the font at the beginning is turned to red to indicate intensity. This episode has, without question, the most graphic violence seen on the program, with some very real injuries shown in some pretty vicious ways. If Darth Maul is approaching the embodiment of the Dark Side, his episodes need to reflect that, and this one does.

Welcome back, Clone Wars. Now, Darth Sidious, tell me what you know about the Rule of Two…

Star Wars: The Clone Wars premieres Saturday September 29, 2012 at 9:30am EDT/PDT! Stay tuned for a new 3 and a half minute trailer for the season tomorrow, plus interviews with most of the cast and Dave Filoni!

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