Monday, May 12, 2014

Resurrecting For Movement Toward Closure: The Clone Wars Season Six Has A Few Moments, But Is Largely Unimpressive!

The Good: Generally good animation, Leads into the final Star Wars movie well.
The Bad: Some of the arcs are utter duds, Light on character development, Inconsistent vocals.
The Basics: The Clone Wars Season Six was a Netflix-continued season of television which filled in a few of the gaps between the animated series and final prequel film . . . with a few annoying divergences.

When the Cartoon Network cancelled The Clone Wars, the show was picked up by an unlikely source: Netflix. Netflix continued the series even after Cartoon Network released the five seasons it produced as a Complete Series set. Season Six of The Clone Wars was designed to fill in just a few more of the gaps between the prior five seasons and Revenge Of The Sith (reviewed here!). Given the climactic moment of season five of The Clone Wars (reviewed here!), it is virtually impossible to discuss the sixth season of The Clone Wars without revealing a few significant spoilers. The funny thing is The Clone Wars Season Six only really spoils events from earlier seasons of The Clone Wars, though it has a few pointless divergences that keep the show from making a focused lead-up to Revenge Of The Sith. Interestingly, Season Six also does not make it to the point where it would lead directly into Revenge Of The Sith the way the earlier Clone Wars season (reviewed here!) did. Instead, this creates more of the backstory that clears up inconsistencies between the prequel Trilogy and the original Star Wars films.

As fans of the Star Wars Saga figured from the very beginning of The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano had to disappear before Revenge Of The Sith and her write-off at the climax of Season Five causes her to be left out of Season Six. Season Six might not use Ahsoka, but the show continues her problematic presence in the Star Wars universe. What Netflix did right with the sixth season of The Clone Wars was simple: the show maintained the style of the prior seasons. The animation in Season Six is consistently good, even when the stories are unexceptional.

Anakin leads the defense of a planet under siege by Separatists with the help of clone troopers and twin Jedi, Tiplar and Tiplee. One of the Clone Troopers, Tup, suddenly turns on Tiplar during the battle and kills the Jedi. Investigating Tup puts Sidieous and Dooku on the defensive as the clone’s snap threatens their future plans. Admiral Trench launches a massive Separatist attack to recover Tup before the Republic can study what happened to him. Anakin and some clone troopers rescue Tup and Clone Trooper Fives returns to Kamino to find out what caused Tup to snap. Shaaki Ti tries to get a very deep brain scan, but the Kaminoans are working with Darth Tyrannus and they work to keep Fives and his droid companion from performing an atomic brain scan. After discovering a tumor in Tup, who dies shortly after its removal, Fives and Shaak Ti return to Coruscant to plead the case that the Clones have been engineered with a flaw. The Kaminoan scientist Namas Sul works to discredit Fives when Fives is brought before Palpatine with evidence of the inhibitor chips. After appearing to attempt to kill the Chancellor, Fives goes on the run. This arc clearly establishes the concept of Order 66.

Rush Clovis returns when the Banking Clan on Scipio has trouble maintaining business operations due to the war. Senator Amidala is attacked on the neutral world of Scipio while visiting the central vault. A bounty hunter tries to kill Clovis because he knows that the Banking Clan is on the verge of collapse. Amidala is granted unprecedented access to the vault, where she discovers that Clovis is right and that the Banking Clan is corrupt. Returning to Coruscant, Amidala works to expose the Banking Clan while the Sith reorganize to bring Clovis back to the Separatist fold. Clovis allows himself to be manipulated by Dooku to take control over the Banking Clan when he exposes the corruption in the Banking Clan. With a wedge driven between Anakin and Padme, Palpatine tasks Anakin with learning what Clovis is hiding and Anakin is forced to rescue Scipio from the Separatists.

Fives is put in virtually the same situation and arc as Ahsoka was at the climax of the prior season. Fives puts doubt in Anakin’s mind as to the Chancellor’s benevolence before he is killed and fans of The Clone Wars are likely to feel like they have seen the arc before. It also makes the viewer feel like the Jedi should have seen Palpatine’s influence about five years earlier than they did! Similarly, The Clone Wars Season Six spends a lot of time on Dooku’s extortion of Clovis. That extortion comes in the form of a particularly tedious exchange that involves raising interest rates on Republic loans. This calls to mind a joke from The Simpsons about Episode I wherein the political machinations of the Sith was reduced to boring parliamentary issues, which undermined the wow factor of the Star Wars franchise.

The penultimate arc has Jar Jar Binks going on a mission with Mace Windu and earning his respect. Jar Jar and Windu visit a planet where Binks is infatuated with the queen and when she is captured, it is Binks who arranges to rescue her. In the process, Mace Windu comes to respect Jar Jar for his skills.

The season climaxes with a mini-arc featuring Yoda. Yoda hears the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn and goes on a quest to find the source of midiclorians in the galaxy. This leads Yoda to understand most of the Sith conspiracy that plagued the Jedi

The sixth season of The Clone Wars might maintain the animation style of the prior seasons, but it does not keep the voices consistent. Sidious, for example, does not sound like he does in other seasons. The tone of the season – save the annoying Jar Jar Binks segment – is distinctly intended for adult or young adult audiences, as opposed to children. The result, though, is a thoroughly mediocre season of television that might be worth watching for free on Netflix, but is not likely to wow fans into shelling out money on DVD or Blu-Ray when it is released in that form.

For other Netflix exclusive seasons, please check out my reviews of:
Arrested Development - Season Four
House Of Cards - Season 1
House Of Cards - Season 2
Orange Is The New Black - Season 1


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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