Star Wars: The Clone Wars Review - Season 2, Episode 19: "The Zillo Beast Strikes Back"
(Image via StarWars.com)
By Chris "HothIcePlanet" Smith
Original Air Date:April 16, 2010
Key Players:The Zillo Beast, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Chancellor Palpatine, Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Dr. Boll and Aayla Secura
Tagline:“The most dangerous beast is the beast within.”
Newsreel:A calculated risk! Following a costly victory on the planet Malastare, Chancellor Palpatine orders Jedi Knights Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker to transport a fearsome Zillo beast captured during the battle Back to Coruscant.
After seeing that not even a lightsaber could harm the beast, Chancellor Palpatine hopes to unlock the secret of its invulnerability to create new armor for the Republic’s clone troopers. Tensions run high as the most dangerous life form in the galaxy touches down on its most populous planet…
The Story:A Republic Cruiser carrying the Zillo beast lands on Coruscant near the Republic Science and Technical Center. As the unconscious Zillo beast is being unloaded on a large slab surrounded by heavily armed clone troopers, we see Chancellor Palpatine waiting with Mas Amedda and two of his royal guards. Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2 arrive aboard a Republic gunship to join Chancellor Palpatine, who is impressed with the beast’s size and excited to learn from it. Mace Windu again expresses his concerns with bringing the beast to Coruscant, feeling it is a mistake. Palpatine claims the sooner they can unlock the beast’s secrets, the sooner they can win this war. Mace Windu turns the care of the beast over to Dr. Boll who assures him the beast will be well treated. As Mace leaves, the concern on his face is obvious as he looks back toward Palpatine.
Later at the Jedi council chamber, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan discuss the danger of bringing the beast to Coruscant and not to a more secure location.
Meanwhile, in a huge hanger in the Science Center, we see the Zillo beast being kept captive in a large frame-like structure with force fields to hold the beast in place. Dr. Boll supervises while medical droids poke and prod the beast, which cries out in pain at the prodding. Palpatine shows up and learns Dr. Boll is having trouble studying the beast; she can not get what she needs without removing the scales or hurting the beast. Palpatine feels they should just kill the beast. Dr. Boll protests, feeling the beast may be intelligent. Palpatine finds that hard to believe, saying it is just an animal. The beast reacts to Palpatine's comment with a low growl and focuses its eye on Palpatine.
Palpatine orders Dr. Boll to kill the beast and get on with unlocking its secrets. Dr. Boll does not know where to begin seeing as the beast is indestructible. Palpatine suggests starting with the toxic fuel from Malastare. If she can’t or won’t do it, he will find someone who will.
Over in the Senate building Padme and Obi-Wan meet with Anakin to convince him to talk with Chancellor Palpatine to leave this beast alone. Padme and Anakin then meet with Chancellor Palpatine in his office to discuss the secrecy of the dealing with this beast. Padme is upset that the actions have been taken in secret and not discussed openly and democratically. Palpatine feels he is protecting the people by making these decisions and that they have no choice but to kill this beast. Anakin tries to remain impartial but doesn’t seem to be helping.
Dr. Boll contacts Palpatine via comlink; she has successfully converted the fuel into a gas and asks Palpatine if he still wants to proceed. With the Zillo beast looking on, Palpatine tells her to proceed with the plan. Dr. Boll then apologizes to the beast and orders the procedure to begin. A worker droid proceeds to spray the gas, which enrages the beast and causes it to begin to break loose. After some further struggles, the beast finally escapes from its bindings, breaks out of the hanger and runs loose into Coruscant.
Dr. Boll contacts Palpatine via hologram saying, “We have a problem, sir.” We hear the sounds of alarms going off as Dr. Boll tells Palpatine she needs time to convert more fuel into gas to subdue the beast. The Jedi begin to mobilize an effort to stop the beast and save the inhabitants of Coruscant.
Meanwhile, the beast runs rampant throughout the city streets. Republic gunships attempt to stop it to no avail; the beast just continues to destroy everything in its path. We see people running and dying in its wake. The beast comes upon a giant billboard playing a speech by Chancellor Palpatine and destroys in anger. The beast proceeds to climb a building “King Kong” style and jump across rooftops. Then the beast appears outside the Chancellor’s office window and peers with one giant eye in at the Chancellor, focusing in on him. Anakin, Padme and the two droids with Palpatine start to evacuate the building.
Meanwhile, Yoda, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan and Aayla Secura start their plan to stop the beast. Palpatine and the others board an escape shuttle as Dr. Boll relays a message that she has enough toxins now to use on the beast. As soon as they take off to escape, the beast grabs hold of the shuttle in its massive claws. Mace Windu and Obi-Wan have arrived and are setting up tanks to fire upon the beast. Yoda with Aayla Secura stop them before they can attack, realizing the beast has the Chancellor. Yoda feels they can’t risk firing on the beast now.
Back in the escape shuttle, Anakin begins to cut through the ship’s hull with his lightsaber, cutting a section of the cabin from the rest of the ship. The Jedi below notice what Anakin is doing, and Yoda and Aayla board a gunship which drops them off on top of the beast as a distraction. As the piece Anakin cuts loose finally falls, Anakin, Padme and the two droids spill out, falling down the slope of the building. Obi-Wan and Mace Windu use the Force to catch the falling piece of the ship with Palpatine inside. Meanwhile, Anakin uses the Force to catch Padme before she falls over the edge to her doom. R2-D2 stops his fall by deploying a suction device to grab hold of the building, and C-3PO lands right on top of him.
With everyone safe for the moment, the Jedi order the clone gunships to open fire on the beast, which knocks away a couple of the gunships as Republic tanks open fire as well. The Chancellor and a guard emerge from the ship to find the beast staring them in the face. Anakin tells R2 to save the Chancellor. R2 rockets over to pick up the Chancellor and carry him away. Yoda and Aayla finally jump off the beast and run with Anakin, Palpatine and the others. Palpatine orders the gas bombs to be launched. The clones launch numerous gas bombs on the beast, which engulfs it and everything around including Chancellor Palpatine and the others. As they run Yoda suddenly stops, prompting the others to stop as well. Yoda, Anakin and Aayla use the Force to create a pocket and keep the gas off of them. The gas overtakes the beast, as Obi-Wan and Mace Windu look down from their gunship in despair. The beast succumbs to the gas and collapses - falling down the side of the building until it comes to a stop on the ground below. The beast takes its last breath and finally stops moving.
The next morning the dead Zillo beast is loaded aboard a transport. With Anakin, Palpatine and the others gathered around, Anakin comments, “It is a tragedy the beast paid with his life for our mistake.” Palpatine assures them the beast’s death will not be in vain. Palpatine leaves the group and meets with Dr. Boll to give her new orders. Dr. Boll looks at the orders in disbelief and rhetorically asks, “You want me to clone the beast?” Palpatine boards a gunship and leaves.
The Dish:As I stated in my review for episode eighteen, I am not overly swept away by the idea of using the Godzilla and King Kong themes in the Star Wars universe. That said, upon a repeat viewing of the episode, it really grew on me as I put those feelings aside.
One scene in particular struck me as one of the most beautiful scenes we have ever seen in the Star Wars universe. The scene I’m referring to is when the clones begin to launch the gas bombs at the beast, and we see some beautiful shots of the gunships flying around the beast as it cries out in pain. Everything slows down. Anakin and the others begin running from the beast, and the music score rises to a crescendo as the scene builds. To top it off we get a great shot of Mace and Obi-Wan aboard a gunship looking on in utter despair as the beast fights right up to its last breath. This scene really makes me hope we can buy a score for the Clone Wars someday (hint, hint Lucasfilm) because this scene really had a beautiful piece of music behind it. Kudos to Kevin Kiner, who clearly doesn’t get enough credit for his work on the series.
I do feel this episode was lacking in several ways. First off, the writing needs to be ratcheted up a notch. For example, here’s an idea that hit me while I was watching. If I was a writer on this episode I would have crafted a scene where the Jedi try to use a group “mind trick” on the beast. This should have been the first step they took once the beast escaped the Science Center. The Jedi group “mind trick” would attempt to put the beast at ease and get it to cooperate with them. That would have been epic to see all the main Jedi in the series working together like that! Considering the intelligence of the beast (which is clearly demonstrated in its singular focus on Palpatine), it makes sense the Jedi mind trick would indeed fail. But it would have proven to everyone (including the audience) just how strong minded the beast really is.
Also, I feel the writers and animators are beginning to stretch the limits of what physical actions are believable for R2-D2 and C-3PO. For instance, I can’t stand when we see C-3PO being able to grasp something over his head because it’s long established his arms will not reach up that far. In this episode we see C-3PO hanging onto a rope with both arms extended above his head. Also, I love the fact we get to see R2-D2 use his rocket jets to fly around, but I’m certainly skeptical that his thrusters could carry the weight of another person. In fact, in the past we have seen various other people carry R2 instead of him just using his jets to fly. Suddenly, R2’s a load bearing mule!
I loved Mace Windu’s line, “How can it be a plan if it is improvised?” in response to Obi-Wan’s line, “Looks like one of Anakin’s improvised plans.” Those little lines continue to expose more about who Mace really is. I also liked that the scope of this episode allowed us to see other Jedi like Aayla Secura join in on the action. Blending the “main” Jedi with the secondary ones makes situations feel more believable and more epic.
Finally, it’s nice that we get to see some of Palatine’s Dark Side tendencies in this episode. His lustful desire to kill the Zillo beast is certainly motivated by the Sith Lord within, and these veiled flashes of his deeper character are something we should see more of in the coming seasons.
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