By Chris Seekell
I can't believe that Season 4 is already half over! It seems like yesterday we were all getting excited about the Mon Cal episodes. However I think the first half of Season 4 has been better and more appreciated by fans than the first half of Season 3, especially due to the strong Umbara episodes. After that mind blowing arc, this episode had a little too much to live up to, in my opinion. But compared to the cringe-worthy droids episodes and rushed Shadow Warrior, Kidnapped still was a solid episode. After the heavy Carnage of Krell, I'm a little glad things loosened up a bit and we got WWE meets the day that Anakin and Obi-Wan ran out of hair gel.
After being spoiled with theatrical-scale action sequences over the last month, I found the opening with the Togruta colonists negotiating with the Republic and then the CIS a little boring. One thing that really stood out to me was how similar this situation was to that of the Lurmen in the Season 1 episode, Defenders of Peace. Both peoples were pacifists who were coerced into being "protected" by the CIS. But once again Dooku's motivations were revealed to be sinister, as he sold the whole colony to slave traders.
Something that I picked up on in the scene with the Togruta leader and Dooku was that it appeared that the Togruta was ready to refuse the occupation, but Dooku used mind control to silence him. We all know that Sidious and Dooku claimed to influence many politicians with the Force, but this is the first time I recall actually seeing it in action. Following this, it was refreshing to see the battle droids being portrayed as menacing drones of evil rather than bumbling cannon fodder as they herded away the Togrutas.
I really thought the episode should have began with the next scene with the Jedi and clones landing on Kiros and investigating the situation. The fact that we knew the colonists were taken away made the Zygerrian leader's bomb threat a little empty and pointless to the audience. And considering that two of the main action sequences with Obi-Wan buying time by wrestling the slaver and Anakin and Ahsoka disabling the bombs were hinged on this bluff, it sucked a lot of suspense out of most of the episode.
However the weak plot of these sequences was supplemented by a satisfying use of the Imperial March when Anakin destroyed the holoprojector. Ahsoka's curiosity concerning Anakin's past has been evident since the very beginning in the Clone Wars movie, and it's interesting to see the Padawan start to put the puzzle pieces together. I wouldn't be surprised if Ahsoka ends up understanding her master more than even Padme and Obi-Wan by the time this series wraps up.
A highlight of Obi-Wan's shellacking at the hands of the slaver was the amazing character expression on the Jedi's face. At one moment I clearly saw Revenge of the Sith era Ewan McGregor come through. I was actually surprised at how inept Obi-Was was in this fight, and wondered whether or not he was holding back anything. The apparent laughing of some of the slaver's "pets" during this sequence was reminiscent of Salacious Crumb's sneers in Jabba's palace. I will also add that the Zygerrian's strategy in this episode was completely idiotic, and obviously blurred by the blood lust that accompanies his species' profession.
After the failed suspense of the bomb threat was resolved, the episode finally drew me in with a fantastical ending scene with Anakin and Ahsoka chasing down the fleeing slaver. I fully expected Anakin to stand there in frustration when the Zygerrian ship took off, and was pleasantly surprised when he leaped off the cliff with Padawan in tail on the AT-RT walkers. Having seen how far away the ship was at that point before they jumped off the edge, I instinctively anticipated them falling short of the ship in vain, and was surprised yet again as they Force-leaped off of the vehicles and onto the moving ship. Completed by great animation and choreography as they maneuvered around and eventually inside the vessel, this whole sequence was thrilling and very well done.
Watching saber-yielding warriors take on large, crazy-looking monsters seems to be a hallmark of Star Wars, and I loved the scene with Anakin and Ahsoka fighting the tentacled creature. Having an open ledge at the end of the cargo bay added even more suspense to this sequence, and Anakin finally letting himself be drawn near to the monster's mouth and then pointing his saber into its throat was great foreshadowing of Luke's defeat of Jabba's Rancor in Return of the Jedi.
When Ahsoka approached the Zygerrian and he stood up and ignited his light-whip, I was expecting an exciting and inventive duel, and was very disappointed that they cut away and then cut back to Ahsoka having already disarmed the slaver. Yet it was interesting to see Anakin's "agressive negotiation" with the slaver in front of Ahsoka. She clearly was unhappy with her master's behavior and even asked him to hold back. This scene is important to illustrating that while Anakin's impetuous nature has rubbed off a bit on the Padawan, other mentors such as Plo Koon and Tera Sinube have influenced her enough to keep her wary of the Dark Side.
I was very happy to see nearly a full Jedi Council in the concluding scene, but I wish some of the lesser members had done some of the speaking, rather than the featured Yoda and Plo Koon. But what can you do? Yarael Poof pointed this out and we didn't see him again... Hopefully we will see a few more additions to the council in the remaining seasons to complete the collection of elite Jedi.
All in all, this was a solid episode; it has its flaws but was generally entertaining, especially towards the end. I really hope this heightened action and suspense continues into the further episodes of this arc, and Anakin's relationship with both the Dark Side and his Padawan are explored. It wasn't as great as Umbara, but it wasn't boring either, leaving me mildly interested in seeing how this all plays out.