Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Episode 121

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With “Liberty on Ryloth,” Star Wars: The Clone Wars ends its three-part Ryloth epic in a fairly exciting manner. The episode finally puts Jedi Master Mace Windu in a starring role, allowing him to be the badass we all hoped he would be in the prequel films.

Part of what makes Mace such an appealing character—aside from his distinctive purple lightsaber—is that he was played by Samuel L. Jackson, an actor that simply oozes cool. Unfortunately, for the most part, Mace spent most of the prequel trilogy sitting around the Jedi Temple and furrowing his brow. An episode of Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated Clone Wars micro-series did show Mace demolishing an entire droid army single-handedly—showing us just why he sits at the head of the Jedi Council alongside Master Yoda—but fans of the character have mostly been left wanting.

“Liberty on Ryloth” doesn’t feature the over-the-top action of Tartakovsky’s Mace-centric offering, but it’s still a lot of fun. After Anakin Skywalker broke through the Separatist blockade in “Storm Over Ryloth” and Obi-Wan Kenobi laid waste to enemy gun emplacements in “Innocents of Ryloth,” it’s up to Mace and his squad of clone troopers to liberate the Twi’lek capital city of Lessu from the villainous Wat Tambor. Aided by Twi’lek freedom fighters led by Cham Syndulla, the Republic overpowers the droid defenses and forces an unconditional surrender out of the Separatist leader.

Being a kid-friendly series, The Clone Wars sometimes portrays the Separatist army as non-threatening by reducing the battle droids to shrill, clumsy comic relief. Tambor, however, knowing that he faces defeat, is sufficiently menacing in ordering bombings on highly populated Twi’lek villages to send a message. There’s a moment in this episode where Cham reacts to news of the Separatist firebombings and, in a silent instant, his sense of loss is made abundantly clear. One doesn’t always expect that kind of effective subtlety from a franchise that, just ten years ago, introduced the world to Jar Jar Binks.

But the action scenes with Mace are anything but subtle, particularly when an energy bridge gives out from underneath him and two of his men. Not only does he use the force to carry his troops to safety, but he manages to stylishly destroy a few droids along the way. It’s a jaw-dropping moment, emphasized by the momentary absence of music. One hopes that fans can look forward to more Mace action next season.

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