You have to give the powers that be at Lucasfilm credit for one thing, and that is they don’t waste time. It feels like only yesterday that they launched the first season of Star Wars: Clone Wars instead of last September. Starting tonight, the first part of a new trilogy of episodes will debut. Entitled the Ryolith trilogy, it also marks the last three episodes of the season.
The episode itself is entitled “Storm Over Ryolith.” The basic plot is this Twilek-populated planet has been captured by the Separatists, and now its up to Anakin (Matt Lanter), Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein), Obi Wan (James Arnold Taylor), Mace Windu (TC Carlson) and their respective armies of clones to reclaim it for the Republic. Standing in their way are two new villains, “Emir” Wat Tambor (Matthew Wood) and General Mar Tuuk (Corey Burton).
On the plus side, the episode kicks off with what Clone Wars does best, a deep space battle. On the Republic side is Ahsoka and her shiny new Blue division of clone fighters. What she doesn’t realize is Tuuk is no slouch when it comes to military tactics, and has a truly nasty surprise waiting for her fleet. By the time he’s done, she barely manages to get out alive. Even worse, Admiral Yularen (Tom Kane) and his battleship wind up among the casualties.
And this is only the first five minutes of the episode. The consequences are Anakin must now lead a suicide mission to break the blockade Tuuk has on Ryolith. At the same time Ahsoka suffers her first major confidence crisis, and Anakin himself could end up on the casualties list if she doesn’t snap out of it.
According to the press materials supplied, episode director Brian Kalin O’Connell (who previously worked on the episode “Trespass”) and writer George Krstic (“Downfall of a Droid”) welcomed the opportunity to explore the responsibility of the Jedi in light of the consequences of their actions.
“It’s easy to make the Jedi into superheroes, but showing their vulnerability really makes them far more interesting and believable,” O’Connell says. “You have this Padawan in the footsteps of the Chosen One. And she fails…badly. Clones die, and that’s horrible. We really get to feel that weight. We also get to see how Anakin rebuilds Ahsoka’s confidence, and how she comes back and rises to the challenge.”
“This is a very epic episode,” Krstic adds. “It’s grand and operatic ala the old days of the original Star Wars. Ahsoka must deal with real life and death situations. She gets her first experience dealing with the burden of command, and finds out that it isn’t all heroics. It really is a burden.”
While the emotional stuff does fall a bit flat, the battle scenes truly are what make this episode. Watching how Anakin manages to stay truly cool under pressure is also well worth watching. Also, while Burton’s voice performance at Tuuk will not rank as one of his finest, the character itself is so good, so cold and calculating, one hopes we see him again next season.
When all is said and done, Ahsoka’s actions will leave the Republic stretched even thinner than before. In the next episode, “Innocents of Ryolith,” Obi Wan and Windu have to deal with the consequences of that as they take the battle to the planet’s surface. Learn more in next week’s column.