Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Clone Wars: Episode 9 - "Cloak of Darkness"

My expectations were quite high for this episode, since Paul Dini, co-creator of Harley Quinn and the single best writer on Batman: The Animated Series, wrote it. For the most part, Dini delivers: the plot is tighter than most, the pacing feels just right, the dialog is solid, and the jokes actually tend to be amusing. This was only the second time in nine episodes that the wife didn't sigh, shake her head, and leave the room with her back radiating disappointment and disgust at me halfway through an episode.

Despite numerous story improvements, Cloak of Darkness is almost brought down by one element beyond Dini's control: Ahsoka Tano. She's less annoying here than in other episodes. Like Duel of the Droids, she has something to do for the whole episode, which helps considerably. The writers of the show are starting to get that every character should have a purpose in the story, that characters both propel the plot and are propelled by it. They do not exist to pad screen time or to come up with cute nicknames or lame jokes.

Dini does what he can with the character, but she doesn't belong in this story. Ahsoka is added in without any real explanation so that one of the show's regular characters would be in the episode. Her part could have been easily been rewritten as Luminara Unduli's Padawan, a character that could have been a little older and a little wiser, making the whole "the student teaches the master" a bit less cloying. Or Luminara could have carried the story herself. Having a single Jedi carry the story would be a welcome change. Almost all of the episodes so far have lacked focus because of too many characters.

Anyway, I'm getting rambly here. Cloak of Darkness is only the second episode I'd recommend to casual sci-fi fans who aren't sad, lonely, depraved geeks such as myself.

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