Yoda gets to be the center of attention as he starts hearing Voices. A little bit of dialogue from Revenge of the Sith gets extrapolated and moved around a bit, with Yoda encountering suspicion from the Jedi council and Anakin's proclivity toward dumping on authority start off what may well be one of the more important - or at least interesting - stories of this entire series. Read on!
While Ahsoka's journey put quite the button on the series' end on television, "Voices" certainly gives the series reason for this encore. Building on the last installment, Yoda starts hearing the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn and everybody thinks he's going nuts. Generally speaking when the voice of Liam Neeson is heard, it's on the Late Late Show and merely a decent approximation, but they really got him for this one - again. The whole ordeal shakes Yoda's concentration and the unflappable Jedi Master is clearly off his game. Naturally this causes Mace Windu to suspect something is up, which pretty much gives the audience a reason to see why anyone could have a problem with the Jedi. Who dares to knock Yoda's reputation? We all know he's just fine.
Meditation, visits to the doctor, and going into some sort of sensory deprivation tank didn't quite help so much as make things worse, so what do you do? Frighten your co-workers into placing you under guard and ignoring 900 years of loyalty to your brotherhood, of course. It does do wonders to show just how much the Jedi are off their game and unable to realize how relatively small the threat is - dangerous, sure, but the boogeyman succeeds in destroying trust forged over decades. Yoda exploits Anakin's willingness to screw with the Jedi in order to help Yoda escape and go on whatever quest Qui-Gon and the Force have in store for him, which leads him to... Dagobah!
This episode manages to capture the characterization and tensions seen in the movies while bringing us a new adventure - this is quite the challenge, particularly as it treads on some existing ground. The mysterious and utterly heartwarming visit to the swamp planet gives us a little backstory to Luke's training in The Empire Strikes Back. We get a glimpse at many of the creatures of this world while Qui-Gon reveals that his incomplete training lets him speak to Yoda, but not to manifest himself beyond being a swirling cluster of glowing lights, not unlike what you've seen in Willow or the Ewok telefilms.
Seeing Yoda taken to the challenges of the cave gives us a look at how this scene might have gone were the original trilogy produced today - thick smoke and vivid digital hallucinations replace the dream-like and choppy duel experienced by Luke. Yoda simply looks like a sad cat while he gazes into the future of the galaxy, which must be incredibly difficult for the character as he realizes that he is indeed powerless to stop it. It clearly drains the diminutive character, and shows us the kind of vulnerability we haven't really seen since watching him die in 1983. He's not a magic being - he struggles to keep his composure.
In the end this episode is mostly backstory, providing us with a glimpse into what the series could have provided. It's a kid-friendly tale packed with familiar locales, and that miniature Jedi vehicle would have made a spectacular toy. The cinematography is quite good, and for a TV show it's wonderful. It also makes me glad that we spent our time on Dagobah prior to the advent of digital cinema - the subtleties of that sort of moviemaking did wonders to bringing it to life, while this episode instead seems content to throw in digital dinosaurs to distract us from the pain and confusion our hero faces. If this episode isn't on anyone's top 10 list, you have no heart and you have no taste.
Takeaway from this week:
R2-D2 has been to Dagobah before the original trilogy? Makes sense.
The Jedi doctor Rig Nema is voiced by Catherine Taber and sounds pretty much exactly like Padme.
The medic proclaims Yoda as healthy, while continuing to avoid explaining whatever the heck he is.
"Do something for me you must. Blamed for it, you will be." Hey, Yoda's honest.
Next time: The pentultimate episode "Destiny" shows us the progress Yoda makes while seeking immortality, but the real danger is still out of reach. See you next mission!