War! It’s neverending in that Galaxy Far, Far Away. Throughout the Star Wars saga we’ve seen battles on icy tundras, deserts, and grassy plains. In forests and planet-covering cityscapes. Even a showdown in a giant sinkhole (R.I.P. General Grievous). But until tonight’s aptly-titled fourth season premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “Water War,” George Lucas’s saga had never given us a full underwater conflagration.
When I spoke to Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni last March, before last season’s finale, I laid my geek cards on the table and said that if there was one thing I wanted to see from his show above all else it was a trip to Admiral Ackbar’s homeworld of Mon Calamari for some ultra-hydrated action. At that time Mr. Filoni would neither confirm nor deny that such a storyline was in the works, but he did indicate that I was not alone in my sentiment. Needless to say, despite an unfortunate Gungan incursion into the azure seas of Mon Calamari, I found “Water War” and its follow-up “Gungan Attack” to be pretty amazing spectacles—and more importantly, confirmation that The Clone Wars is making the jump to lightspeed from the get-go this season. No more episodes about corrupt Mandalorian school superintendants!
“Water War” opened with an image that immediately let us know we’d been transported to a totally alien landscape. The squid-headed king of the Mon Calamari had been murdered—his mollusk guts impaled with a spear—and his limp body floated like an expired goldfish turned upside down in its bowl. Not your typical image of an assassination, to say the least. If one of the drawbacks of Lucasfilm’s animation style has been how characters are subject to a curious weightlessness, that lack of physical presence works perfectly when the Clone Wars’ heroes are supposed to be underwater. Which they were for pretty much the whole hour. Padmé and “her Jedi bodyguard” both performed graceful swan dives into the ocean—after all, Padmé’s sister from another galaxy is the Black Swan!—and joined a meeting between the Mon Calamari and their tentacled neighbors, the Quarren, because every prequel-era storyline has to begin with a talky Senate scene. Still, we got a panoramic overview of the Mon Calamari’s capital city, buildings all decked out in Finding Nemo pastels and interconnected by an awesome rapid-transit tube system/water-park ride.
NEXT: Captain Ackbar goes rolling in the deep. He could have had it alllll!