Friday, September 9, 2011

Review of The Clone Wars Season 4 Premiere "Water War"

Episode 4.01: Water War
When destiny calls, the chosen have no choice
On August 27th at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto I had the privilege of seeing the first episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4: "Water War," at the world premiere screening! No, I am your father! This article contains SPOILERS and plot details from the first episode of The Clone Wars Season 4, may the Force be with you!

We're back, baby!

In order to avoid sounding like a broken record in this review, I have compiled a list of synonyms of the word 'incredible' to describe this episode of The Clone Wars: astounding, marvellous, dumbfounding, unbelievable.There was so much packed into this episode that looking back it is hard to believe that it was only 22 minutes long! It easily felt like a feature film! The episode was incredible, absolutely incredible!

"Water War" is hands (or flippers) down one of the best-looking The Clone Wars episodes I have seen to date. Hugemind-blowing underwater battle sequences, detailed facial animation (even with the squid-faced Quarren), and absolutely stunning visuals.

So much incredible my mind was mush after the viewing.

Oh and to add to the sheer incredibleness, we see Admiral Ackbar in The Clone Wars for the first time! Yet this time he is a Captain of what I assume is the Mon Calamari Knights, Coral City's representative on the Calamarian Council, and very close and influential to the King and Prince of Mon Calamari.

When Ackbar's name was first mentioned in the episode, one of the younglings in the audience could be heard whispering excitedly to his father, ‘Ackbar? Admiral Ackbar!?!”

It's an elaborate ruse!

As you can imagine, the phrase “It’s a trap!” was uttered by an audience member every time Ackbar appeared during the screening. Something to be expected in a room filled with Star Wars fans.

While this is the Mon Calamari’s most popular catchphrase, not once in the episode did he actually say those words. The closest we got was when there was during the surprise Quarren invasion and Ackbar exclaims “It’s an attack!”

It may not be the exact line, but it seemed to satisfy the audience. It was said with the same nuance.

Now while this episode has a pretty straightforward plot, one side wants to rule the planet while the other feels oppressed, the epic battles and superb visuals make this into an epic.

The Scuba Troopahs come to the rescue

The current King of Mon Calamari, Yos Kolina, has been assassinated and his young son, Lee-Char, is heir to the throne. However, the Quarren have no desire to continue to serve under a Mon Calamari King and demand a Quarren Leader or they will go to war.

The Mon Calamari seek envoys of the Republic to help negotiate a peace and Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala are sent to attempt to quell the tensions. The Quarrens respond by looking to the Separatists for help and the fierce shark-like Karkarodon Riff Tamson is sent on behalf of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

The peace summit between the Quarren and Mon Calamari fail and the Quarren leaders, along with Riff Tamson, leave in a fury.

The Calamarian Quarren allowed here

Unbeknownst to the Mon Calamari, Riff Tamson confides with Count Dooku and we learn of the Karkarodon's true intentions of becoming king of the planet! The Separatists begin secretly landing Trident-Class assault ships, the same ships we saw in the "Arc Troopers" episodes of Season 3, and deploy hundreds of Aqua Droids that join forces with the Quarren warriors in preparation for the invasion of the Mon Calamari cities.

In a surprise attack, the Quarren and Aqua Droids catch the Mon Calamari off guard and the Jedi and Mon Calamari Knights under Captain Ackbar's command fight to protect the new Prince Lee-Char from harm.

A shirtless Kit Fisto and Ahsoka Tano in a new underwater suit along with a battalion of badass Clone Squba Troopers dive into the seas of Mon Calamari from LAAT/i gunships and assist the defence of the Mon Cala cities from the Separatist invasion!


Mon Calamari/Quarren tensions are not new to Star Wars lore. Countless novels, comics, and even the Clone Wars micro-series of 2004 detail these conflicts on Mon Calamari, or Dac as it is known by it's natives.

These two species share the same homeworld with the fish-faced Mon Calamari living in the shallower waters while the squid-faced Quarren live deeper in the dark depths of the sea. In 4,500 BBY, the Mon Calamari won war against the Quarren which resulted in their near-extinction and the Mon Calamari became the leading representation of the planet in the Galaxy.

Around the time of The Clone Wars, the corrupt former Republic Senator Tikkes, a Quarren, became a leader of the Separatist Council and the Free Dac movement and sought to cut ties between Mon Calamari and the Republic.

According to current Star Wars Expanded Universe canon, the planet was attacked twice before the battle in this episode of The Clone Wars. The first time was when Count Dooku devastated the world with the Dark Reaper, a Force Harvesting superweapon, as shown in the Clone Wars XBOX game of 2002. Later, the Techno-Union backed Quarren Isolation League attempted to overthrow the Mon Calamari Council but was defeated by a shirtless Kit Fisto and the Mon Calamari Knights as we saw in the Clone Wars micro-series.

Kit Fisto leads his troops into battle. No shirt, no shoes...he doesn't care. He's a freaking Jedi.

Now whether the Battle of Mon Calamari detailed in "Water War" will be a separate battle from the micro-series or the same battle we will have to wait for the official word from Lucasfilm, but for now they will be treated as two different battles by our trusted news source Wookieepedia.

Now one thing I noticed in this episode was that the Mon Calamari species were constantly referred to as the "Mon Cala." I've heard Mon Cals and Calamari used before but this is the first time I have heard that term used to describe their species.

Also, not ONCE do they refer to the planet of Mon Calamari as Dac, the name of the planet as it is know in Mon Calamarian, Quarrenese, and Basic. Is this another smack in the face for Star Wars Expanded Universe fans or just a mere coincidence? Other than that, I was happy to see is that there was little in terms of Star Wars Expanded Universe continuity conflicts in this episode. Nothing as drastic as say the death of Even Piell...

What stood out right away was the voice of the Mon Cala Prince Lee-Char. He sounded incredibly young and this was obviously to gain sympathy from the audience. He sounded handsome, or at least what can be handsome for a Mon Cala, but was quite naïve. I was taken aback by the voice at first because of how innocent he sounded. No matter what he said it felt like we were being forced to sympathize with him.

Ackbar sounded goofy as always, like he had cotton balls is his mouth, and this was quite acceptable! He was voiced by Tom Kane who also voiced him in the Battlefront video game.

Look down in the water! It's a fish, it's a boat, no it's...SuperMonCala!

I would love to see later in The Clone Wars a meeting between Captain Tarkin and Captain Ackbar. Both are of the same rank but after the end of The Clone Wars and the fall of Mon Calamari under Imperial Rule, Ackbar becomes a slave to Tarkin. An episode with this two great leaders and rivals would make for great foreshadowing for their future slave-master relationship.

In this episode there was much more detailed lip animation for the Mon Calamari because if you remember in Return of the Jedi, the Mon Calas didn't have much versatility when it came to talking save for the flapping of their mouths. Now they have much more expression to their faces.

The villainous Karkarodon, Riff Tamson, was insanely epic and totally made this episode. The subtle Jaws theme that played in the background when he snuck up on the battlefield was a clear shout out to Steven Spielberg's famous shark movie, considering the Separatist representative did have the head of a shark.

Dun nuh. Dun nuh. Dun da dun da dun da dun dun dun da dun dun dun da

The Karkarodon was so incredibly fierce and brutal! So brutal that this episode probably barley avoided a PG-13 rating because the Mon Calas he tears into only bleed bubbles. I was somewhat disappointed when no blood was spilled just a crazy amount of bubbles. Maybe it's just me but when I see a Jaws-head alien rip apart Mon Calamari it almost seems like it is necessary...

Riff is a vicious killer and tears the Mon Cala up like they are mere rag dolls. We can only imagine what he does off camera. The sequences where he swoops down upon dozens of Mon Calamari Knights and tears into them are quite intense, he doesn't holds back for nothing.

There is a scene where the Prince and Ahsoka are in those neat Mon Calamari underwater tunnels or highways fleeing the battle but Riff follows them. He bashes headfirst into the glass tunnels from the outside like a maniac in an attempt to crack through the glass and after a couple intense smashes he gets through. I was actually worried for our protagonists.

The underwater battle sequences were incredible! Some of the best battle scenes I’ve ever seen in The Clone Wars and maybe even Star Wars! The sheer scale of the battles was intense and it is hard not to appreciate the animation, this is something we would have NEVER seen in 2008. When the Trident Drills first start their landing and begin deploying Aqua Droids, you know sh*t is going down.

My mind went blank because this is way to badass for words to describe.

A little thing that didn’t really make sense though is during the battle, the Mon Cala lay very close to the ground in a sniper position not near any cover while the Quarren attacked from above but conveniently continued to miss shooting above the Mon Cala. Just aim a bit lowers fools!

Yet when the Mon Cala get off the ground and meet the Quarren and Aqua Droids, the battle really gets started. It was such an immense battle sequences with literally hundreds of combatants on the screen and so much eye candy. The sequence where the LAAT/i gunships fly low above the water and the Squba Troopers led by Ahsoka and Kit Fisto dive into the water to come to the Mon Calamari's aid, was just so incredible. I can't think of anything else to describe the sheer awesomeness of that sequence. The lighting, animation, and music just blew me away and I get shivers just thinking about it because it was so damn epic. I can't wait to see that again on my TV in HD.

Yet one little thing about that scene. When Ahsoka leaps into the water an underwater speeder was very conveniently waiting for her right where she dived. How in the blazes did she aim her fall into the incredible vastness of a planetoid ocean and manage to drop right above a tiny underwater speeder. And where did it come from? Was it placed there ahead of time by the Mon Cala or an off-camera gunship? Oh wait, it was the Force…duh.

Easily the best sequence in the entire episode. The gunship sequence...and the looking at Ahsoka part.

While watching these battle sequences I began wondering about Star Wars physics again. There was a lot of blaster fire in this episode, but the fire acted the same underwater as it does above. Does the water not slow down or distort the blaster fire in any way?

Another thing was at some point during the scuffle, Anakin’s scuba helmet is torn off and it falls away from reach while he fights off a dozen enemies. The helmet slowly drifts away into the depths of the water and Anakin seems to have way to much trouble to get it even when there were no enemies around him. He didn’t even try to force pull it to him since the helmet wasn’t even that far. People in the audience at the screening were muttering why isn’t he using Force? Doesn’t he have the Force? This raised the question, does water ‘dampen’ ones use of the Force? Or was the sheer pressure of the sea too much for Anakin.

In a random twist at the end of the episode, the Separatists reveal their superweapon that would win the battle for them after being hyped up with music build-up during the last minute of the episode. Their superweapons of doom were just giant jellyfish with electroshock tentacles. Bit of an anti-climactic moment if you ask me.

Giant Jellyfish of Doom

Padme doesn't do much in this episode other than observe the failed Mon Cala/Quarren peace summit. I did find she looked really odd in a scuba suit because it looked like she had no hair. She will probably play a much bigger role in the next episode "Gungan Attack."

"The Jedi soon realize they will need the help of a powerful and amphibious ally to stop the war and drive out the Separatist invaders."

"Gungan Attack" is part-two of the one hour premiere of The Clone Wars on September 16, 2011. The Jedi look to the Gungan Grand Army on Naboo for assistance in helping them defeat the Separatist threat on Mon Calamari. The third episode and last act of the Mon Calamari trilogy will feature a return of Riff Tamson who captures the Gungan and Mon Calamari armies and it is up to Ahsoka Tano and Prince Lee-Char to rescue them in "Prisoners."

This was an incredible start to another season of The Clone Wars and judging by the trailers we have been seeing this is going to be one jam-packed and EPIC season! The Death Watch are back, Darth Maul and Savage Opress, the Nightsisters vs. Grievous, a Besalisk Jedi with TWO double bladed lightsabers…way too much incredible.

Sith just go real.

Episode Info

World Premiere: August 27th, 2011 at Fan Expo Canada

Original Air Date: September 16th, 2011 on Cartoon Network and Teletoon

Directed by: Duwayne Dunham

Written by: Jose Molina

Jedi Fortune Cookie: When destiny calls, the chosen have no choice

Episode Dramatis Personae:

Anakin Skywalker: Jedi Knight

Padme Amidala: Republic Senator

Ackbar: Captain of the Mon Calamari Knights

Riff Tamson: Karkarodon Separatist Envoy

Yos Kolina: King of the Mon Calamari (mentioned only)

Lee-Char Kolina: Prince and heir to the throne of Mon Calamari

Kit Fisto: Jedi Master

Ahsoka Tano: Jedi Padawan

Official Synopsis:

Underwater unrest! The assassination of the King of Mon Calamari creates conflict between the Mon Cala and the Quarren, so Anakin and Padme are dispatched to make peace. But the Separatists have other plans…

My rating: 4 and a half lightsabers out of 5

The special, one-hour Season Four premiere event of Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs Friday, September 16, at 8 p.m. (et/pt).


  1. I'm super excited to watch this now! Ahsoka looks so cute in a scuba helmet and I really want to see the 'Jaws' bit!

  2. Dude You cant forget about the awesome fight between riff and kit at the very end that was bad ass just wish it lasted a little longer as kit is one of the best things that came out of the prequels

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