Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Clone Wars: Bounty

Asajj Ventress has escaped death almost as many times as people around her have died. Last week’s “Massacre” of the Nightsisters was the second time Asajj has left a significant body count behind her. Despite being shuffled from one Master, Ky Narec, to another, Count Dooku, she is far from a child; she spent some time in control of an entire criminal organization on Rattatak and taught herself the two-lightsaber style, Jar’Kai. Ever since she joined Dooku she’s been hounding Anakin and Obi-Wan. Her biography is a list of narrow escapes punctuated by machinations and a flirty sort of elegance. Along the way she’s become one of the more complex characters in the Expanded Universe, in part because of her contrasting characteristics.

Showing contrast is a great way to make viewers curious about a character, and it shows up a lot in Star Wars. Instead of all barbarian anger all the time, Darth Maul has a soft Coruscanti accent. Instead of being the pure white knight he dresses like, Obi-Wan is surprisingly skilled at impersonating bad guys and cutting off arms at bars. In the same way, Asajj Ventress is a mix of ferocious, adult skills and a childlike need for a place to call home. “Bounty” explores her reactions to recently fleeing the world that was very temporarily her refuge.

Exotic music accompanies the opening shots of Asajj entering her new hideout. Her costume is complex and asymmetrical. It shows off some leg while keeping the tabard and boots common to Star Wars aesthetic, which makes sense for the hot climate. I like the purple accents, and the whole costume has an air of being patched together. Ventress is trying to get lost in Tatooine’s small-time scum and villainy. She’s still got her Sith attitude, though. An alien chats her up with a line that is amusingly specific – “bald babe” – and it makes sense since he’s bald, too. Ventress makes like her rival Obi-Wan and stabs the guy, but does it a lot more subtly than Obi-Wan ever did. It was a cool bit of lightsaber wielding, and for a moment I thought the bar’s other occupants wouldn’t notice. But they do, and after an amusing reaction shot of some aliens, including a pigtailed Theelin, Ventress utters what may be my new least favorite Clone Wars line: “I’m not much of a talker,” promptly contradicting herself. I hope this was intended to show how she gets confused when she’s nervous, or how epic Sith banter just doesn’t quite work as well with lowlifes. Otherwise, it seemed to entirely remove the impression that would have been made if Ventress had just not spoken.

I loved the design of the Theelin. Her purple skin, orange hair, and green shirt were bright and childlike. The conversation between her, Ventress, and Bossk is full of so much hissing and elongated syllables that it’s tense based on attitude alone, which was probably the point. Bossk’s “merry band” sounds oddly flowery in comparison. One doglike creature later we get to Dengar, and his accent matches his relaxed posture perfectly.