Review of The Clone Wars Shadow Conspiracy Arc

February 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Reviews, Television, The Clone Wars | Leave a comment

The team behind The Clone Wars have been eagerly anticipating the airing of the Shadow Conspiracy arc. Season five opened with the first episode of the arc, “Revival”, thus kicking fans right back into the Maul action where season four left off. Followed by “Eminence”, “Shades of Reason”, and “The Lawless”, it’s been one action packed roller coaster of drama and death. With some of the most epic duels yet, the Shadow Conspiracy arc has certainly raised the bar on expectations.

Visually, the arc looked amazing. In the last episode alone, there was some superb animations with the Mandalorian factions fighting each other. The duel between Darth Maul and Pre Vizsla looked to be top notch, but was overshadowed by the three way battle between Maul, Savage Opress, and Darth Sidious. That battle was sheer perfection. From the animated snarling, laughing, and mocking on Palpatine’s face to the wonderfully choreographed lightsaber duel, it looked superb. Yet even with such an epic scene to worry about, no corners were cut. For example, one of my favorite visuals from the episode “The Lawless” was Anakin’s beat up ship, Twilight. It would have been easy to simply reuse the old model, but instead they make a new one, compete with shooting sparks and plumes of smoke which added a lot of visual humor to a very serious episode.

When it comes to being a hunk of junk, Twilight gives the Falcon a run for her money.

With great battles and awesome duels, one of the most important aspects of the arc was the after effects. These episodes propelled Darth Maul to the leadership of a criminal empire. They established Pre Vizsla and the Death Watch as the rulers of Mandalore. Then they tore it all down. The ever present result in the arc was a series of increasingly important deaths. First it was Adi Gallia by the hands of Savage Opress. This was followed by the surprising death of Pre Vizsla. Then Obi-Wan was brought to his knees by the death of Duchess Satine. Last but not least, the death of Savage, leaving Maul utterly defeated before his true master, Sidious. All of these events will have a lasting affect on the characters. Obi-Wan will have to live with losing Adi Gallia to Savage, and Satine to Darth Maul. Maul himself will have to live with the death of his brother, the crushing downfall of his conquest of Mandalore, and his humiliating defeat before Sidious. And then there’s Sidious to consider. Just what will he do with Maul now?

Overall, the arc turned out really well. “Revival” was a solid episode and a great way to start the season. “Eminence” felt a little crowded given all that was done in the episode. Maul managed to unite a series of criminal organizations, take control of Death Watch, and duke it out with a bunch of bounty hunters on Nal Hutta. The elements on their own were pretty cool though, and I enjoyed the brawl with the bounty hunters. However, it all felt too brisk. I think it would have helped if the Hutt portion could have been split off into it’s own episode, giving more time to flesh out the uniting of the criminal organizations like Black Sun and the Pykes.

“Shades of Reason” was a nice follow up to “Eminence.” The episode slowed down a bit and nicely developed the Death Watch and the coming chaos. Maul came to the forefront in this episode as a thinker. The audience gets a chance to see his ability to scheme and manipulate like a Sith Lord. When he battles Pre Vizsla, Maul does not simply cut the Mandalorian down, but instead goads him into a drawn out battle, thus fulfilling any requirements for honorable combat. He manipulates Mandalorian traditions to his advantage. All the while he’s careful not to go full steam on revenge against Obi-Wan, but to make sure his path of revenge serves other purposes along the way.

Of course it all builds up to “The Lawless.” Maul’s schemes appeared to be a complete success with his capture of Obi-Wan. Yet things go down hill once Obi-Wan escapes. The arrival of Palpatine brings Maul’s games to an end. Without a doubt, this episode had the best lightsaber duel we’ve seen in the show. It’s also the most climatic episode we’ve seen to date. While the show built up Darth Maul and had everyone hyped to see what he would do and what would happen to him, it set up the story for a very subtle play. As fans, we may have thought we wanted more Maul, but once Palpatine showed up, I think we all realized that what we really wanted was more Sidious. The Dark Lord of the Sith (in his first appearance in the show other than a hologram) showed that he easily trumps Maul. And now we’re all waiting to see more of the Emperor-to-be.

Without question, the Shadow Conspiracy arc earns a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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