Remember the first time you saw the true first Star Wars movie? I most certainly do. I was interning at an ad agency was just handsome enough of a stud to score a date with the best looking woman in the office, Roxanne, a customer service rep. If that wasn’t good enough, Roxanne was as fanatical a movie and science fiction nut as I was.
As it happened, Star Wars made its debut at a movie theater barely a half-block from where we worked. Way back in 1977, we never had seen anything like the first battle sequence, where the Imperial battleship felt like it was virtually flying over our heads. Of course, the rest of A New Hope ended up being equally as thrilling, but that initial scene alone ended up indelibly stamped into my memory to this day.
With this latest episode tonight, “Jedi Crash,” Star Wars: Clone Wars finally achieves that same sense of wonder I first felt over 30 years ago.
For this episode, writer Katie Lucas (yep, George’s daughter) and director Rob Coleman, kick the entire thing off with a gigantic space battle between Separatist and Republic forces. They also pull out the stops when it comes to characters, not only do you have Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Anakin (Matt Lanter), but Admiral Yularen (Tom Kane), Clones Cody and Rex (both Dee Bradley Baker) and the televised debut of Jedi Knight Aayla Secura (Jennifer Hale).
The basic plot kicks around Skywalker and Tano running to rescue Secura and Yularen, who’s fleet is up against overwhelming forces. In a savage twist, Skywalker’s brashness works against him. Before he knows it, he’s seriously injured and he, Secura and Tano must run for their lives. From there, their escape ship is viciously damaged and out of control.
They land on a planet occupied by a race called the Lurmen. If the name sounds funkily familiar, after a couple of minutes of the Lurmen you end up wondering if these pacifist humanoids are either going to break out to “Move It Move It” or an extraterrestrial version of the Riverdance. The Lurman’s design aside, this episode makes a smooth shift of gears. It becomes a survival story, with the ultimate fate of the comatose Anakin at its center.
Another thing about this episode is its concentration on the relationship between Tano and Secura. They are both Twi’leks, a race Lucas should have some familiarity with. Previously, the young Lucas played a purple Twi’lek, Minx, in the movie Attack of the Clones.
Hardcore Jedi fans should also be familiar with Secura. This blue Twi’lek appeared in the Dark Horse series Republic as well some cameos in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. At the same time, Secura gets her first speaking role in “Jedi Crash.” (Preview here)
“This was our opportunity to really find out what she was like,” says supervising director Dave Filoni. “When we were developing her, the original concept for her voice was street tough and recognizably American. Then we hit on the idea of giving her more of a French accent, and that really helped us define her personality. Jennifer Hale does a great job voicing Aayla, adding new dimensions to the character and making her into something like a tough, older sister to Ahsoka.
“She realizes Ahsoka cares for Anakin, but she takes an approach that’s almost like, ‘I don’t have time for these emotions, kid. Jedi have a range of personalities and attitudes, and she’s very different from Kit Fisto and Anakin Skywalker. That’s such a huge aspect of this series,” Filoni says. “We are able to fully realize these characters as walking, talking individuals with great and different personalities, to show the entire galaxy of Jedi.”
One also has to add, this is a very good episode for Ahsoka, who one might see is developing a bit more than a standard teacher/student relationship with Anakin.
“I wanted to be just like my big brother when I was growing up, and I really was just like Ahsoka – I was such a tomboy,” Eckstein recalls.
She says their relationship helped her define Ahsoka’s interactions with her Jedi master.
“I was the only girl on the baseball team and proud of it,” Ecskstein says. “I may not have been the best hitter or the best fielder, but I was the fastest runner, and I would outrun any boy on the field. I was close in age with my brother. We played in the same league, but my mom insisted that we not be on the same team because she wanted that sense of competitiveness, and she wanted me to be able to flourish in my own light and not be in my brother’s shadow.”
“It’s a challenge similar to the one Ahsoka faces, particularly since Anakin accepted her only begrudgingly. Being a girl, and a younger sister, made me strive that much harder because I wanted to prove to my brother that I could hang with him and his friends. I really loved having an older brother, learning from him and kind of being his Padawan, in a sense.”
Not that this episode is the end of things. It’s actually the first half of a two-partner. The second, airing next week should have Star Trek fans jumping out of their captain’s seats. It marks the first appearance of Sith Lord Lok Durd, voiced by George Takei.
Until then, as Takei recently said to us, Live Long and Prosper.Related: Clone Wars Weekly 19: More With the Weequay Clone Wars Weekly 18: Dooku's Day Clone Wars Weekly 17: Holiday Catch-Up Clone Wars Weekly 16: GrievancesWith Grievous