The Clone Wars and my Mother: Part 4 - The Malevolence

Published by ReckoningReviewer in the blog Reckoning Reviewer Awesome Epic Explodiness!. Views: 28

Rising Malevolence
"That is one big cruiser crusher!" - Ahsoka
We have made it to the first true arc of the Clone Wars. The Malevolence trilogy. In the future when we come across multi-episode arcs like this, I will do my best to make sure they are all watched together at once, though my mother may have trouble sitting through four episodes in some cases.
Jedi Master Plo Koon narrowly escapes the destruction of his fleet when he discovers the Malevolence, a massive starship with a dual ion cannon to neutralize power to entire fleets. Ahsoka and Anakin go out to the Abregado system to find if Plo and anyone else survived. Meanwhile, General Grievous is determined to make sure no one survives an encounter with his new ship, and has a hunting party of rocket droids searching for survivors.
This episode does a great job introducing to the Clone Wars story arcs. Eventually the show did reach a point where there were no more stand alone episodes, just story arcs, but back in the early days of the show, it felt like a big event when three or more episodes were linked together for a larger story. Eventually everything was a big event.
The Clone Wars has done a great job on many fronts, but one of the tasks they had was to give more character development and screen time to characters who were background characters in the movie. One character who got the best treatment was Plo Koon. Dave Filoni stated many times that Plo Koon is his favorite Jedi, so it had to have been a lot of fun for him to make episodes giving attention to Plo. We see him as a very wise, compassionate, sage-like character who is strong in the Force and a powerful warrior if needed. A good chunk of the episode is about him and his surviving clones Wolffe, Sinker and Boost having to survive, but while the clones are certain they're doomed, Plo knows that there is still a chance they will be saved. The subtle development of Plo goes a long way to have us feel sad when we see the character apparently perish in Revenge of the Sith. James Arnold Taylor does the voice for Plo Koon, and he really does a great job with this character, which has a lot of inspiration from Gandalf, and it really fits with Plo well both through his design and his wise persona.
We also learn more about Ahsoka in this episode, and her closeness with Plo. The entire time she doesn't lose hope that Plo survived the attack, and is determined to save him. This is because when Ahsoka was a child Plo was the Jedi who found her and brought her home to the Jedi Temple.
Later we learn that there is more to the story in Ahsoka's novel. We learn that in her past, someone disguised as a Jedi tried to steal her and use her power for themself, but Plo rescued Ahsoka. The episode gets even deeper when you consider that Ahsoka is paying her debt to her friend here.
The Malevolence battleship itself is awesome. I really love the massive shark-like design that it has, and all of that pure power it has.
The score for the episode is very well done. It is very appropriate for the quiet scenes with the characters in space, but whenever the Malevolence comes along the theme becomes more intense to bring across how imposing the ship is.
Rising Malevolence is a really great episode, a moment where the Clone Wars took a breather from exciting battles to let us better know more about Plo and his relationship with Ahsoka.
As for comments from my mother, she did kind of yell at the medical droid a few times.

Shadow of Malevolence
"The care these Jedi show for their troops is a weakness!" - General Grievous
After surviving the Malevolence, Anakin and Ahsoka plan an attack to destroy the ship, and hope to bring General Grievous down with it to shorten the war. Grievous already has his sights set on a new target, Kaliida Shoals, a medical station treating over 60,000 wounded clones. If the station is destroyed, not only will the wounded clones be killed, but future wounded clones will be vulnerable. Shadow Squadron will have to meet the Malevolence there, and the battle will begin to defend the station.
While the first episode of the arc was more of a character development type of story, you could say that this episode helps to build the universe around them. While it doesn't have the same atmosphere as Rising Malevolence, it is still good to see what Shadow of Malevolence does.
For instance, the introduction of the Y-wings is a great addition to the Star Wars canon. It shows where the ships from the time of the Empire came from, and I think it's really interesting to think about how these models carried over from the Clone Wars to the rebellion.
I also like the sequence involving the Kaliida nebula where the giant Neebrays live and the squad has to evade them without losing anyone. It's interesting to show more about the wildlife of Star Wars, and how some species are able to live in space somehow.
It is true that not a lot happens with this episode until the actual battle with the Malevolence, which is a pretty cool one, but not something on the same level as future space battles in the show as we are sure to discuss deeper in the series, but what keeps the episode from ending up being boring are the characters keeping us entertained.
I really enjoyed the time with Ahsoka, she has a few funny lines in this episode, and as you know I always love her.
General Grievous is also awesome too in this episode, and it's very amusing to see how he commands his droids when he knocks off one of their heads for not being able to hit anything. I always do love seeing Grievous in the show, the character is just so interesting, because he's not Force sensitive, but he improved himself so much cybernetically to match and overpower them in combat. Since I saw this character's introduction I've had a deep fascination with him and his power, but I also like seeing his interactions with his battle droids, particularly his temper towards them.
Still, one part of the episode that does confuse me is how the Republic has no defenses for their medical station. Sure, one could argue that since they have it hidden somewhere that they wouldn't need to have ships protecting it, but Anakin was quick to figure out that it was going to be a target. Yet still, they don't even send some starfighters to defend the station if they have to, and leave the work to Shadow Squadron. Maybe after they get attacked the first time they increase their defenses, but still, it's kind of something they needed to consider in the first place.
Even though the episode doesn't have a lot going on, it still keeps me entertained, I still like it, mostly for the universe building stuff and the fun characters.

Destroy Malevolence
"My lord, they will never capture me or this ship!" - General Grievous
With the Malevolence heavily damaged from Shadow Squadron's attack, it is forced to retreat slowly as Obi-Wan's fleet bombards it with cannon fire. However, Senator Padmé Amidala arrives onto the scene, believing she is on a diplomatic mission, but gets captured by the ship, forcing the Jedi to call off their attack while the droids fix the Malevolence's hyperdrive. Anakin and Obi-Wan board the Malevolence to save Padmé, but General Grievous is prepared.
The Malevolence trilogy concludes with an exciting final chapter. This is where everything comes together in a really big climax. It's exciting that after all of the time we've seen the ship from the outside, we finally get to see more of its interior.
The inner design of the ship is really incredible, we see that it's so massive that it has its own train system, where we do have some cool action, and there are some great looking action scenes, such as the train scene where Anakin has to save Padmé with the Force. Or when Grievous has Obi-Wan cornered in the hyperdrive, and he uses the Force to have the destroyer droids knock all of the other droids down. We also finally get to see the first time Grievous and Obi-Wan face off, and it's pretty exciting, it is a brief moment, but the way Grievous launches himself at Obi-Wan, smashing every crate in his path is just awesome, and we see the difference in their fighting styles, how Grievous focuses more on power while Obi-Wan focuses on self defense and evasion.
I also really like Padmé in this episode. Catherine Taber does a really great job at voicing Padmé through the show, bringing the same gentleness into her voice that Natalie Portman brought in the movies. She is a really worthy Padmé, and I heard that they had a few voice actresses that they were considering for the role. It's great to see Padmé using her intellect and survival skills while she's on the ship, avoiding capture from Grievous and the droids.
There are also some really funny droid moments in this episode. The battle droids are funny as always, but we also have C-3PO in this episode, and it was so hilarious when he was hit by the train and ended up being pulled away by it. Oh, Anthony Daniels, what would we do without you?
Another interesting thing to note about the episode is the alternate dialogue in it. By that I mean that in some places where the episode aired there were some changed out lines. This is also shown in the DVD release called "A Galaxy Divided", which shows a different version than the entire season 1 set.
When Anakin leaves to go rescue Padmé, there is a little exchange between Ahsoka and Plo.
Main version:
Plo: There he goes again, craving adventure and excitement.
Ahsoka: You get used to it.
Alternate version:
Plo: I'm afraid Master Skywalker is taking a terrible risk.
Ahsoka: You get used to it.
And later when Anakin saves Padmé.
Main version:
Anakin: Jump to me! I'll use the Force! You have to trust me!
Alternate version:
Anakin: Jump to me! (Pause) You have to trust me!
Personally I do prefer the alternate versions of the dialogue. For one, the first scene does add a sense of humor to Ahsoka's response, and the second scene relies on Padmé trusting Anakin to catch her without him saying that he will.
Out of this whole arc, this is the most action packed episode and the funniest, and my favorite of the three. Destroy Malevolence is a solid way to end off the first official episode trilogy of the Clone Wars.

See you guys next time for some stand alone episodes...okay, just one stand alone episode and two episodes put together.
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