Easy is the path to wisdom for those not blinded by themselves.
Both “Ambush” and “Rising Malevolence” began with less than a simple ease into their individual stories, and whereas those episodes practically hurled background information and context at the audience, a single proverb here was plenty enough.
If its title were any indication, “Shadow of Malevolence” picks up where “Rising” left off, though to what extent in that sketchy timeline is anyone’s guess. The important thing to remember is General Grievous still has that damn ion cannon, and he continues wreaking havoc on the Republic through hit-and-run surprise attacks — FYI that’s three in a row, Clone Wars writing staff. Grievous’ latest target is the Kaliida Shoals Medical Center, the Republic’s floating galactic respite for thousands of recovering clone troopers. With Republic forces, Jedi, and generals alike off fighting other battles yet again, — Seriously, where are these more important battles when taking out Grievous seems like the obvious strategic coup? — Anakin suggests a surprise assault on the Malevolence itself, hoping to take out Robo-Wheeze in the process.
“Rising Malevolence” is contained enough, and while its subject matter clearly isn’t probing any character depths, it affords us a nice doubling between Anakin and Grievous. The episode’s primary concern lies with exploring the motivations and consequences behind wrongheadedness, a subject all too fitting for a story centered around the “Chosen One,” even if the aforementioned proverb makes this none too subtle. Anakin’s improvisation to intercept Grievous via smuggler’s shortcut, the Balmorra Run, jeopardizes the safety of himself, Ahsoka Tano, the rest of Shadow Squadron and tagalong Plo Koon, in addition to hurting the Republic’s chances of saving the Medical Center from Grievous’ attack. The danger, of course, is a bit of a letdown in that it’s less greedy pirates and more migratory patterns of Neebrays — picture airliner-sized whale sharks with billowy side fins. They fly.
Anakin’s brashness to not think past where he was leading Shadow Squadron’s Y-Wing fighters — much less, bother to ask Master Plo about a shortcut he’s familiar with — is amplified and embellished when Grievous arrives out of hyperspace to spring a would-be surprise hit on Koliida Shoals. If only to distract Grievous’ attention and the ion cannon’s overpowered devastation, Anakin leads a full-on assault on Malevolence’s bridge, but Shadow Squadron is forced into a sloppy evasion in avoiding the superweapon’s blast. And troopers die. The Clone Wars growing a pair here is illustrative of a willingness to demonstrate costs and risks of decision-making, and while Anakin’s quick thinking certainly goes on to spare Koliida Shoals’ infirmary patients from certain death, the Republic pays the price in another way. To his credit, Anakin leads the charge himself, a fitting blend of self-sacrifice and headstrong confidence.
Grievous shares much of the latter with General Skywalker; where the two differ is the former. Grievous, like nearly every Star Wars villain really, is driven by vengeance and self-sacrifice. He has no qualms about smacking around hapless droid pilots and has proven time and again he’s not afraid to ditch a battle. When Shadow Squadron fires a volley at the ion cannon just as its charging reaches its apex, the weapon overheats (or something) and explodes, crippling Grievous’ warship. Obi-Wan and a fleet of cruisers arrive to finish the job, but Grievous stays true to form and high tails it on outta there. Erm, spoilers?
As mentioned earlier, “Shadow of Malevolence” is the second of a three-part story arc, though I struggle to find any real connective tissue beyond the eponymous ship and a certain android general’s incompetence. All was not lost however, and “Shadow” definitely deserves credit for having the cajones to kill off characters and, you know, show some actual stakes in this Clone Wars business.
- Shadow Squadron? Malevolence? Oh I see what they did there…
- Today in Confederate gaffes: “Grievous, those battle droids are expensive.” Um, no Dooku. They aren’t. They’re cheap and easy to mass produce. That was the whole point. Sith Lords these days.
- Yesterday in Confederate gaffes: Only an episode ago, Dooku left us with a palpable disgust of Grievous’ obvious strategic failures. Now? Dooku has supreme confidence in his mechanical underling. Someone must’ve done some serious Sun Tzu cramming last night.
- First-person Y-Wing cockpit action? Great band name and a nice addition in this episode.
- Why is he Master Plo and not “Master Koon?” General Kenobi; General Skywalker; Master Windu. Unless Koon is his equivalent “first name,” in which case the Kel Dor are the closest to a Chinese proxy in the Star Wars Universe