“For everything you gain, you lose something else.”
Just in case anyone needed a reminder of how thrilling and heart-pounding The Clone Wars can be, the unfortunately titled episode “Grievous Intrigue” will serve notice that, as far as action-based shows go, there’s almost nothing that can compare to this particular series. Oh sure, the story itself isn’t exactly deep or profound, but in terms of a dark, kinetic episode, you couldn’t ask for a whole lot more than you get from this installment.
The episode begins with an attack by General Grievous on a Republic ship under the command of the Jedi, Eeth Koth. Grievous and his droids board Koth’s ship and a vicious battle ensues. Grievous, along with super battle droids and commando droids overwhelm the clone defenders and soon Grievous is using his lightsabers to cut into the control room — where Koth is waiting for the inevitable duel. Once inside, the commando droids quickly dispense with the clones and Koth is left to fight Grievous and his henchmen droids (seen in Revenge of the Sith) all on his own. Despite his valiant efforts, he is overwhelmed by the sheer number of opponents and is captured by Grievous.
The sequence itself is notable for just how lethal the results are. A fair number of droids end up on the scrap heap, but an even greater number of clones end up being killed. Plus, once Koth and Grievous are engaged in battle, Koth is shot in the arm, then stabbed — repeatedly — by the “electrostaffs” held by Grievous’ henchmen. The lightsaber duel is fast … and intense. And Grievous contacting the Jedi and taunting them with the imminent, and painful, death of Koth is absolutely diabolical.
Fortunately for Koth and the Jedi, during the communication between Grievous and the Jedi Council, Koth is able to use hand signals to convey his location. This sets up the inevitable rescue mission. Obi-Wan will lure Grievous into boarding his own ship as a diversion to allow Anakin and Adia Gallia to infiltrate Grievous’ ship and rescue Koth. If all goes well, they will not only rescue Koth, but also apprehend Grievous.
All does not go well.
The space battle is fantastically rendered. It’s pure spectacle. And consider this: While there are plenty of ships thrown into the mix, the episode is free from the glut of ships seen in the opening battle of Revenge of the Sith. The result is a conflict (in the episode) that is much more immediate and meaningfully engaging. Besides, the pyrotechnics are really, really cool.
At any rate, Grievous seemingly takes the bait — but he doesn’t do so without hedging his bets. Part of what makes Grievous so formidable is his ability to anticipate his opponent’s actions. And to that end, he rightly guesses (after Obi-Wan sets the trap) that Anakin will soon arrive as part of Obi-Wan’s diversion. With that in mind, Grievous sets a trap of his own for Anakin: an overwhelming number of commando droids and a tactical droid set with orders to kill Koth if Anakin resists. Of course, Anakin does resist — and succeeds — but the tactic delays Anakin’s rescue, making it possible for Grievous to escape Obi-Wan.
And as far as the battle between Obi-Wan and Grievous goes, it is quite a bit of fun. It’s far more intense and frenetic than the confrontation between Grievous and Koth. Obi-Wan fares much better (dispatching the henchmen and commando droids), but he doesn’t escape the encounter unscathed. Worse still for everyone involved, Grievous manages to slip past Obi-Wan and return to his ship where he orders the immediate destruction of the Republic cruiser.
What follows is a thrilling escape sequence in which our Jedi heroes survive, along with a handful of clones. But commanders on board the Republic cruiser are still on board when it spectacularly explodes. Grievous escapes to the planet below and so, while the rescue attempt was successful, there is still much work to be done.
Overall Grade: B+
Just about everything in “Grievous Intrigue” works very, very well. The action is well-choreographed and exciting. The episode is absolutely lethal in its portrayal of the battle. And, visually, the whole affair is a feast for the eyes. What the episode is missing, though, is a story that has a deeper meaning aside from just a flat-out action sequence. True, the story doesn’t try to be anything more — and it succeeds in its intent — but without any deeper layers, it just isn’t as good as it could have been.
Plus, there’s the issue of the title. I know Lucas likes pulpy titles (“Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones”) but c’mon … Grievous Intrigue … really? The episode had nothing to do with intrigue — it was about as obvious as it possibly could have been. Ah, well.