The Clone Wars – The Academy Review

Welcome to the first installment of EUCantina’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars review. I’m Austin Blankenship, and each week I will review the latest episode of The Clone Wars, offering thoughts on everything from animation, to character development. I will write with the assumption that you have seen the episode, and will include an abundance of spoilers and minimal plot summary. Once you read the review, feel free to leave a comment and offer your own thoughts!

This week I am reviewing Episode Six of Season 3: The Academy.

I’ll start by warning you that this is not meant to be your typical The Clone Wars review. I have never reviewed anything in my life. I am probably the least qualified person EUCantina had to do this job. However, I’m also the webmaster, and I wanted to write reviews, so I’m writing reviews. Just a note – by “least qualified”, I mean to the point that I came up with my format for this in under 15 minutes while taking a shower. I do take solace in the fact that I spent just as much time preparing for this review as the writers spent on the dialogue for this episode.

That’s a bit harsh, and I don’t mean to start these reviews out on a negative note. Especially since first impressions are important. But today, I can’t help it. In an episode where the dialogue was key to selling any part of the plot, we get constant contradictions and head-scratching moments that it simply made me wonder who could come up with such silly conversations.

Katie Lucas, Daughter of You-Know-Who

Cyclops the female

On my scoreboard, Katie Lucas is 0-2 in the writing department this season. To be fair, Cameron Litvack also wrote for this episode, though if I were him, I’d be happy to give all credit to Katie. I’ll just make this plain – the dialogue was very poor. Let me offer a few examples. At the start of the episode, Anakin informs Prime Minister Almec and Duchess Satine that he “must return to the battle immediately.” The dear Prime Minister, bless his heart, deems it necessary to ask “So, you will not be staying, Master Skywalker?” I’ll allow Almec the assumption that he was too busy conniving against the Duchess to be listening to Anakin, but only because I like him. Some of the other characters will not be shown mercy. The worst of these lines came from the teenagers (more on them later). Cadet Soniee (the girl with the Cyclops visor) is quick to inform Satine that they have a recording of a secret meeting “between what we know (she stresses that) was a government official and” – hold on a second. Up to this point in the episode, the kids apparently had no clue who the meeting was between. The guy Soniee knows was a government official was in a cloak with his face hidden by the hood. They didn’t hear anything being said. I guess little Soniee felt it was best to lie to Satine, hoping that the bigger the suspect, the more help Satine would give.

Speaking of lies, Korkie (Satine’s nephew) informs his aunt at the end of the episode that he and the other teenagers never doubted her. Somehow, this line does not include Korkie and his friends saying that Satine didn’t trust them, “she acted like nothing was wrong”, and “She thinks we’re just a bunch of stupid kids”, a conversation that resulted in the conclusion that Satine would not fix the problem, and that they should talk to the Prime Minister instead. When the meeting with the Prime Minister turns out to be a trap (insert Ackbar here), Korkie tells security that “We’ve done nothing wrong”…except break into that government building, right? Either these kids are chronic liars, or we’re dealing with some terrible writing. I have to lean towards the latter, because let us not forget such memorable lines as “These doors are heavily secured by the government” (said as if it was an evil thing for the government to secure their own buildings), and Korkie, on why he thinks the Prime Minister will listen – “I’ve known him my whole life!” Korkie just went to his aunt, who I would assume he has known his whole life, and doesn’t think she listened. See the problem? When watching each of the above examples, I would stop and think of how ridiculous or contradicting the line was. If I have to do that more than twice in one episode, there’s a major problem.

Pretty Animation

Look, I’m already messing up the structured The Clone Wars review format! Instead of making the good animation the preface of my review so that I don’t turn off the readers who hate criticism, I’ve stuck it in the middle. If I’ve broken any written rules, please stick me in the Mandalorian prison, because that is one awesome piece of architecture. Yes, it’s a cube. But take note, designers world-wide. It’s a pretty cube. Really, the setting of Mandalore has been beautifully designed, from the academy to the palace (nice fish tank, Duchess) and even the landing platform. In this episode, the prison steals the scene. Using the massive search lights that are constantly running, and making it a floating fortress-like tower, worked fantastically. Adding the landing platform to the underneath of the tower was a cool design idea as well.

Pretty Prison

And then we go inside (an extraordinarily easy task, by the way), and see the rows of prison cells, with blue tinted glass doors. We see the inmates in their traditional orange outfits, and while some ignore the passing Ahsoka, others take the time to glare at her. The uncomfortable feeling these men were meant to place on Ahsoka certainly passed on to me, and I think part of that was the tight spaces in the design of the walkway.

The animation of the characters was fairly good this week, particularly with the facial expressions. Ahsoka pulls off two at the prison that really came out well. The first came as she prepared to enter the tower and her lip twisted in a way that would make Timothy Zahn proud. Later, as she walks into the main prison room, she looks up at the tall glass tower that Satine is in, and does a pitiful movement of her shoulders and face that clearly conveys “This isn’t going to be easy. ” I was able to read her perfectly in that moment.

Plot Points

Ahsoka likes to play 20 questions. At the Academy, she decides to find out why Korkie seems to be preoccupied in class. The conversation proceeds like this:

  • Ahsoka: “What’s going on?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “What do you mean?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “Food?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “Someone just let you in to inspect the warehouse?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “So you committed a crime?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “Do you have proof?”
  • Answer
  • Ahsoka: “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

I just had to put that in here. I seriously was worried that she would just spend the last 20 minutes of the episode asking questions.

Those meddling kids need a talking dog

Writing isn’t all dialogue (can I get an amen, George?), and that saves Katie Lucas and Cameron Litvack, because the plot is actually half decent, and towards the end becomes quite entertaining. The one element I couldn’t get behind were the cadets, specifically Korkie. I understand building him up as an annoying, arrogant, misunderstood teenager to start the episode. But that has to change at some point, or the audience won’t care about the character if he gets into trouble. When you only have one episode to tell the story, you have to develop characters quickly, and that just didn’t happen. Korkie is getting caught in a set-up by Almec? Serves him right. Korkie is going to get a shock collar on him? Maybe he should have trusted his aunt to help him. It’s just very hard for me to care for a character who remained a cocky know-it-all for the entire episode.

Oh, I just remembered another line from Mr. Korkie that made me cringe. When talking about Almec, he tells Ahsoka that “He couldn’t possibly be a traitor, he’s the leader of our system.” Did Ahsoka not just give a lesson on corrupt officials? Was Korkie’s entire initiative not finding corrupt officials? Why should it be so hard for him to believe that the leader of his system is a traitor when the entire first half of the episode was about how leaders are corrupt? I am banging my head on my desk right now.

Thank goodness for Almec. The Prime Minister redeemed this episode in a way I doubted he could. In fact, I was sure that the only way to make this episode great would be to pull a major twist and have Satine be behind the corruption. Using Almec was so predictable, and I expected him to be a predictable villain as well. I’ll admit, he really was… and yet, he was so enjoyable. Julian Holloway did an excellent job voicing him, and I’m mainly talking about the final scene with Almec in the prison. He was Tarkin-esque to me. I can just picture him in an Imperial uniform, giving the order to destroy Alderaan or to terminate Princess Leia. He was a ruthless villain, and I knew for once in The Clone Wars, this was a bad guy who wouldn’t be getting away. His overconfidence, like Tarkin and even Palpatine, was his undoing. An excellent character who really made the whole end of the episode work, and I am glad that he survived. We’ll need more of him in the future.

I can’t forget the whole “I.D. a Hologram”. But it’s really not even worth discussing. This is one of the silliest ideas I have ever seen, and it raises a million questions about why this was never used for other certain characters who liked to keep their face under a hood. It made no sense and was a very lazy bit of writing in an effort to find the bad guy. Easily the most incredible part of the episode, but for all the wrong reasons.

Five Things I Think Kids Would Like

  1. Breaking and Entering. They made it seem so exciting, didn’t they? I’m just happy they came back and had Ahsoka tell the kids that they were wrong for doing it.
  2. Ahsoka Battle One. Kids love action.
  3. Jedi Mind Tricks. A Jedi Mind Trick is something all kids love to see and pretend to use.
  4. Ahsoka Battle Two. Kids love action.
  5. Watching Satine get the shock-collar. Okay, maybe I’m thinking of things some adults I know would like (yes, they are a bit twisted).

Final Rating

This was not a great episode, and I was originally going to give it a failing grade. But after watching it again, I decided that the performance by Almec and the final sequence in the prison really make up for much of the episode’s problems. It was fantastically animated, poorly written, and had a terrific villain. An odd combination, to say the least, and it doesn’t make for a very good episode. It had good qualities and was a decent concept, but the multiple lines that had me scratching my head just held me back from enjoying this episode until the end.

3.0 (out of 5.0)

I promise not to be so negative in the future! Okay… I actually don’t. Let’s put it this way – I really, really don’t want to be negative, because I want the show to be great. If I had started these with say, Supply Lines, you would have caught a much more positive review. I’m just being honest with these.

Be sure to check out our weekly podcast reviewing The Clone Wars, We Talk Clones. Look for my review of the next episode on Saturday, October 23th.

Thank you for reading!

-Austin

About the Author

Austin Blankenship is the webmaster of EUCantina. He is a host of our official podcast, EUCast, and also founded our sister website, SoloSound.net. Austin helped turn EUCantina from a forum into a website in 2007, and continues to operate the site and the EUC social media accounts. Austin works as a librarian in a small town above Atlanta, Georgia.