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Friday, 26 October 2012

THE CLONE WARS SEASON FOUR. AFICIONADO's TOP FIVE EPISODES. NUMBER ONE: 'THE CARNAGE OF KRELL'


Captain Rex and his men face their true enemy in AFICIONADO's favourite Season Four episode: The Carnage of Krell.

Well, we’ve hit pole position for the Top Five episodes of Season Four of THE CLONE WARS, out now on stunning Blu-ray and DVD from LUCASFILM ANIMATION/WARNER BROTHERS, and after the excellence of The General, which reached yesterday’s second place, the Umbara storyline seemed to stall a little and feel padded out by episode three’s airborne action in Plan of Dissent. Fortunately, events on the doom-laden world came to a striking and shocking climax, which made for a great pay-off for the characters, especially Clone Captain Rex. Full of action, and suspense, as well as a vital turning point for the series overall darker storytelling shift, The Carnage of Krell would prove to be one of the most satisfying milestone episodes not just of Season Four, but also of the whole series.

And here are five reasons why it justifies its success…

Apocalypse: Umbara. The worst battle yet for the Clones.

1. Brother versus brother. In one of the story’s most tragic moments, Captain Rex and his team, fighting against an enemy force they’ve been told is masquerading as fellow Clone Troopers, discover the terrible truth behind Krell’s ultimate lies: that they’d been shooting at their own kind all along, their ranks now further decimated and morale sunk lower with the carnage-so much so that Rex drops to his knees clutching his head in shocked sorrow and horror at the events that have transpired around him. Adding to the pain of the events, Rex has lost another friend to the growing ranks of deceased: Waxer, one of the last survivors from the second Battle of Geonosis, who sheds a solitary but audience felt tear at what’s happened: a brilliant little visual moment-the first tear seen in the animated series-from behind the scenes veteran Joe Aron.

Evil in disguise. General Pong Krell.

2. General Pong Krell shows his true colours. He’d shown no liking for Clones, considering them inferior and often defective, willing to sacrifice them, often needlessly, in battle. Making matters worse, he orders the unsuccessful execution of two clones for violating his orders despite wining a key victory for their side. But now the cat is out of the bag, as his actions in deliberately turning Clone Troopers against each other reveals him as a wannabe obsessive Sith Lord out to impress Count Dooku with his aggression and thirst for power, to become his disciple in all ways Sith. There have been 20 other individuals in the Jedi Order, who, through their own unique circumstances, have turned their back on their friends and their ways and teachings, but Krell, not afraid to kill or wreak as much chaos and destruction as possible in order to become more powerful with the Dark Side of the Force, is probably one of the most potentially dangerous renegades yet against the already tarnished Republic if he isn’t stopped…

A special nod to Dave Fennoy for his brilliant and memorable voice work as Krell in this episode.

Krell goes on the rampage on the surface of Umbara.

3. Clones versus Jedi. Now at breaking point with their ideals and with each other, the Clone Troopers have no choice but to turn against their Jedi leader, as his true threatening nature is revealed. In an earlier time in the animated series, such things wouldn’t have been thought possible for the steadfast soldiers, but thing’s change, resulting in a chain of events for our heroes and the audiences that will never be quite the same again…

In one of the season and the show’s most memorable battles, the four-armed Jedi berserker’s bulking frame, taunting tongue and multiple lightsaber wielding might prove too much for a Jedi opponent let alone a squad of psyche damaged Clone Troopers, but we’re talking about the 501st here, and they mean business, as they take on their brutal ex-leader in fierce blaster and hand-to-hand battle. In a sequence directed with whirling dervish skill by Kyle Dunlevy, it’s a bone cracking, back breaking experience for our heroes, led by Captain Rex, who only just subdue Krell, not through brute strength nor overwhelming firepower, which they ultimately just don’t have enough of to defeat him, but by using their brains to trap him in an all-enveloping cactus plant creature-a natural inhabitant of Umbara’s darkened climes.

Krell: too dangerous to be left alive...

4. Death sentence. Another one of the series finest moments as the cracks go ever wider in the psyche of the Clone Troopers on Umbara, already physically fatigued and brutalized by Krell as both a leader and opponent and by the technological might of their Shadowmen combatants. Now that they’re on Umbara, in a situation where they known that their once prized captured airfield might soon fall back into enemy hands, and that the incarcerated Krell, too dangerous to take with them, could soon become a thriving Separatist ally, Rex and the surviving clones, already feeling seething hatred for their once leader, become vigilantes and decide that the disruptive ex-Jedi is just too dangerous to be allowed to fall into enemy hands, and that he must be executed.

As Captain Rex enters Krell’s cell and levels this blaster to shoot him, there’s a moment-a genuine dramatic moment where we’re not watching animation, where it all feels dramatically alive- when we actually think, thanks to the previous established events of EPISODE III’s Order 66, that he might, just might, actually cold bloodedly execute the Jedi. Fortunately for him and us the viewers, we know that Rex is above all this, at least for now, as the final killing blow comes not from his blaster but that of Krell’s once loyal Clone Trooper supporter, Dogma, disgusted at the way his almost blind trust and dedication was so betrayed by the Jedi.

We are relieved that Rex didn’t pull the trigger (although in the behind the scenes visual commentary, Dave Filoni reveals that, in the original version of the script, he actually did!) but also repelled by the overall events that have transpired on Umbara, a place of nightmares that I don’t think will go away any time soon from the memories of those Clone Soldiers that survived Krell’s traitorous acts. It certainly affects Rex further, showing a brutally efficient killing streak in the following Zygerrian slavers plot, as he gets justifiable revenge against the evil prison warden on the Kadavo mining station for the savage treatment shown towards himself, Obi-Wan and the Togrutan slaves.

What's next for Rex and the 501st?

5. Continuing darkness. The Carnage of Krell is probably the closest the show has yet come to full-on gritty adult storytelling, with writer Matt Michnovetz delivering the goods yet again with this storyline. We can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the table next for our Clone Trooper heroes, before their own fall from grace with Order 66. Just how much the events on Umbara will further influence and develop the psyche damaged Rex and the 501st’s decision making in battle, and test their dedication to the Jedi who they have sworn allegiance too, should prove very interesting to witness as the shows remaining seasons build up…

A director’s cut of The Carnage of Krell can be found on THE CLONE WARS: THE COMPLETE SEASON FOUR Blu-ray and DVD boxsets.


Get STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SEASN FOUR on Blu-ray or DVD here:

Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 4 Blu-ray Region Free: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV

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