Thursday, 17 October 2013


Well armed and very dangerous. Darth Sidious wants Sith blood in The Lawless. Images: LUCASFILM ANIMATION.
We're almost at Pole Position celebrating the top five episodes of THE CLONE WARS Season Five, out now on stellar Blu-ray and DVD from WARNER BROTHERS, and the final choices were getting more and more difficult. Ahsoka's difficulties being The Jedi Who Knew Too Much was a close one, as was Pere-Vizsla's darksaber last stand in Shadow of Reason. Ultimately its was the super chaos on Mandalore with The Lawless, and Darth Sidious's revenge on his scheming former apprentice, Darth Maul, that outclassed the opposition for Number Two.

And here's five reasons why...

Mandalore's end has come?

1. Death Watch civil war! Having watched increduously as their leader, battle scarred Pre Vizsla is killed in epic single combat against the formidable Darth Maul, his aggrieved red-headed flying lieutenant Bo Katan is not ready to let the Sith warrior's control of Death Watch stand, soon leading her own fraction of skyborn dented helmet militia into epic battle in and out, above and below the capital city in some spectacular high-flying, missile-launching warfare. By the end of the episode the battle proves completely out of control and Mandalore, always having a volatile, conflict-strewn history, is doomed to self-implode unless the Republic can come to its rescue-basically via an occupying force-one of the very things that Katan was fighting against in the first place! This last adventure in the fan controversial world of Mandalore, whose Expanded Universe history was mostly chucked aside by Lucas for the animated series, had now reached its finest storytelling point, so its a shame we never got to see what happened next with the world and the consequence of its actions towards the thousands of neighbouring systems...

Obi-Wan and Bo Katan, rushing headlong into battle.

2. Obi-Wan goes solo! With the Jedi unable to help the beleaguered Duchess Satine and her call for help on the neutral Mandalore, Obi-Wan begins his own perilous secret mission to aid her. But it all goes wrong from the start, with his borrowing of Anakin's ship, the Twilight, now falling to bits from disrepair and neglect, only just making it to the planet and ultimately failing in its role as an escape ship- Darth Mauls's Death Watch fraction ultimately bringing it down with key missile strikes. Bruised and beaten, his once dead enemy has him captured and is determined to make him suffer the consequences of his arrival...

Goodbye, my love...

3. The murder of Satine. The first of this episode's two major character losses, as Obi-Wan is helpless to watch senselessly cruel Maul brutally murder his friend and former lover in front of his eyes. Trained in the Force and aware of the power, and price, of revenge, Obi has no choice but to sit there and take the pain, tremendous pain- unwilling to retaliate and pay the ultimate price against Maul that may possibly lead him to death or to the dark side. Its a tough call, and we the viewers are shocked that he does nothing in response, but such an action is the essential price of being in the Jedi Way-to ultimately let go of his attachments- an ability and bravery that his former Padawan Anakin would never have. Cradling her dying body, the pair's final goodbye is a touching moment, nicely written by Chris Collins and played by Anna Graves and James Arnold Taylor. Truth be told, Satine wasn't one of my favouritre characters in the series but her importance to Obi-Wan, who deserved a romantic sub-plot in the overall saga, was not to be underestimated.

Pity the Maul brothers!

4. Darth Sidious arrives! He'd been an irritant amongst the scores of rabble operating within the Outer rim, but former apprentice Darth Maul's growing powerbase criminal organisation and control of Mandalore, and its possible far-reaching consequences, is too much for Darth Sidious to now ignore. The Sith "rule of two" must remain in force, and he's determined to make sure that it stays that way. Right from the moment he arrives on Mandalore, his first in the flesh appearance in the series, chillingly making his way from the outer port after having choked several Death Watch soldiers, accompanied by Kevin Kilner's slow-building omnipotent interpretation of John Williams supreme "Imperial March", we know he has fury and death on his mind. His quick to double lightsaber armed confrontation with now rival Darth Maul and brother Savage Opress surely one of the series most uber-cool anticipated moments ever.

Maul's prior duel with Pre Vizsla had been superbly realised, but that was just a warm-up for things to come here- the greatest Dark Side lightsaber clash ever seen in STAR WARS, with the whirling dervish Sidious clearly enjoying his superiority in battle, Banshee-shrieking that hidous animalistic laughter of his which he'd later torment Yoda with during EPISODE III, and showing incredibly cunning dexterity, physical strength and lightsaber prowess over his soon outmatched opponents. Sidious controls this game- right from the start!

Note: the Blu-ray release contains an extended animatic sequence from the duel, here:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 5 Deleted Sequence - IGN Video

Unlimited power!

5. No Mercy!  He's already performed a stupendous back speed lightsabers move capably, efficiently slaying the once mighty Savage Opress (his corpse soon withering back to its original form-Mother Talzin's witchcraft spell broken!), and now its Darth Maul's turn to face his wrath, as Sidious disarms the robot limbed warrior and quickly showers him with an unstoppable wave of destructive Force lightning energy that literally has the horned warlord begging for his life. This former apprentice will never be allowed to rise above his station again, of that we have no doubt. Sidious clearly relishing the power anew he has over Darth Maul. "I have other uses for you..." he promises, as the mush-missed Ian Abercrombie's final vocal performance in the role (with one insert piece of dialogue from his successor, Tim Curry) chillingly resonates into the episodes end titles. Sadly, what those "other uses" entailed from the demon king we would frustratingly never see, but let's hope some future LUCAS BOOKS fiction reveals just what happened next between the pair, presumably leading to Maul's likely demise before the opening of EPISODE III!

Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 5 Blu-ray Region Free: Film & TV

Get hold of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS - THE COMPLETE SEASONS ONE TO FIVE here: Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 1-5 Blu-ray Region Free: Film & TV

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