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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Lair of Grievous (The Clone Wars - S01E10) - Animated Series

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: Lair of Grievous

Season: One

Episode: 10

Chronological Episode: 15

Original Air Date: December 12, 2008

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Most powerful is he who controls his own power.

Viceroy Gunray escapes! En route to Coruscant to stand trial for war crimes, evil Separatist leader Nute Gunray has broken free of his Jedi escort. With the help of Count Dooku's sinister agents, the villainous viceroy has made a daring getaway. Alerted to the bold prison break, Jedi Master Kit Fisto has traced the stolen ship to a remote system, hoping to recapture Gunray and return him to justice.

Too often, General Grievous was reduced to the role of the cowardly, mustache-twirling villain. He would serve his role as the weekly punching bag and run away in defeat. In episodes like that, we didn’t really know who Grievous was as a character. What motivated him? Why is he leading the droid army? Where did he come from? Not every question needs an answer, but we need more than he’s an evil cyborg with a cough who hates Jedi. I love the design of General Grievous and I’ve always liked him as a villain, but he needed to be developed further. “Lair of Grievous” finally let us look inside the twisted mind of General Grievous. Much like the previous episode, “Lair of Grievous” deserves to be in the discussion about the best episodes of series. In addition to developing Grievous, this episode provided a creepy horror film-esque story, demonstrated how the war affected young Jedi like Nahdar Vebb, and brought back Kit Fisto and his trademark smile. “Lair of Grievous” also wrapped up the Nute Gunray storyline that began with “Bombad Jedi.”

   

Kit Fisto and his former padawan Nahdar Vebb followed the tracking beacon from the ship Nute Gunray used to escape to a remote moon. Kit Fisto is one of my favorite Jedi so I was thrilled that he took the lead in this episode. Like Dave Filoni’s love of Plo Koon, Kit Fisto has always been a personal favorite of mine. Obviously, we didn’t really know anything about Kit Fisto in the prequels, so I’m glad we got to know him in this episode. I think Phil LaMarr did a good job of bringing the character to life. Fisto easily slipped into the lead role and his calm demeanor made him a great foil for Grievous. Right off the bat, we learned that the war prevented Fisto from completing Vebb’s training. It was an interesting way to demonstrate that the war had disrupted the lives of the Jedi. Experienced Jedi Masters were forced to turn their attention to the war while the training of young Jedi padawans like Nahdar Vebb was rushed or cut short. In Fisto’s absence, Vebb had become impatient and aggressive. His first instinct was to cut the door open. He showed a lack of restraint when destroying the battle droids. He used the Force nonchalantly like when he turned the chair around or parted the fog. With his training cut short, Vebb learned how to fight a war instead of learning and practicing the teaching of the Jedi Order. They introduced some interesting ideas with Vebb, but I don’t think his characterization was entirely successful. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom Kenny’s performance, although it was certainly an improvement on his Nute Gunray performance. In addition, I think they overemphasized Vebb’s impatience. Although that storyline worked and made sense, I think a little more restraint would have made his loss more impactful. Although Gunray wasn’t there, Dooku contacted the Jedi and offered them an alternative prize. The Jedi began exploring the complex and soon discovered that they were inside the lair of General Grievous. There were some pretty interesting visuals inside of Grievous’ lair. Grievous had created a shrine to himself that depicted his transformation into a cyborg. In addition to the shrine of himself, Grievous had a display with the lightsabers and padawan braids of dozens of Jedi. That’s messed up. I also thought it was interesting that Grievous’ transformation into a cyborg was a gradual process. Watching the Jedi walk through Grievous’ home with Kevin Kiner’s great score in the background was unsettling. That’s actually one of the reasons why I love this episode. Director Atsushi Takeuchi created a creepy and claustrophobic environment in Grievous’ home. The cat and mouse game between Grievous and the Jedi was very well done. This might be Grievous at his most intimidating. This episode almost felt like a horror film with the Jedi trapped in Grievous’ house of horrors. The Jedi and clones ambushed Grievous when he arrived. A legless Grievous hanging from the ceiling using the bodies of dead clone troopers as weapons was another creepy visual that demonstrated how effective Grievous can be a villain when used properly. Injured, Grievous retreated to his command center and began to lock down his home. His reactivated bodyguards blew up the Republic ship, killing two clones in the process. He located the rest of the Republic task force through his security system and opened a trap door which resulted in another clone falling into a lava pit. Grievous then released a massive beast named Gor that killed the clone commander but was ultimately defeated. Gor definitely fits in with all of the Star Wars creatures we’ve seen over the years and he was important for another reason. Grievous actually cared about Gor. It could have very easily been silly or distracting, but I think it was handled well here. Grievous’ reaction to Gor’s death is a great example. It was effective and didn’t cross the line. With Grievous, you have someone who has surrendered their humanity yet he still cared about Gor and built monuments to his past. I think that is an intriguing juxtaposition and I’m glad they explored it here.

   

While Gor was distracting the Jedi, Grievous had his medical droid repair him. I’ve seen some people complain about A-4D, but I liked him. He provided some levity to one of the series’ darker episodes, but it wasn’t too much. Like with Gor, they found the right balance. Grievous’ discussion with A-4D was one of my favorite scenes in the episode because it helped us understand what drives Grievous as an individual. Grievous revealed that he chose to become a cyborg and that he views the changes as improvements. He doesn’t rely on the cybernetic implants to survive like Vader. Grievous made a conscious decision to “improve” himself by replacing his body with a mechanical one. The idea that Grievous slowly “improved” himself over time is very compelling. It’s a defining moment for his character. Dooku contacted Grievous and revealed that he led the Jedi there. I love the antagonistic relationship between Grievous and Dooku. I couldn’t help but laugh when Grievous just hung up on Dooku. You can tell that Grievous despises Dooku. Like most villains, Grievous craves power. He underwent the so-called improvements to become more powerful. Yet, he still has to take orders from Dooku and has to win a war with an army of useless battle droids. Dooku testing Grievous also worked because it felt like the writers directly addressing the problem of having Grievous run away in defeat so often. The aggressive and impatient Vebb wanted to stay and fight Grievous. Vebb got his wish when he was separated from Fisto. Grievous quickly killed the young Jedi. Since this episode was still fairly early in the run of the series, I wasn’t sure if they were actually going to kill a Jedi but I’m glad they did. They were building to that moment the entire episode and it was executed perfectly. I loved that Grievous used a blaster to kill Vebb. It goes back to the idea that, like with the “improvements”, Grievous will do whatever it takes to win. Grievous’ duel with Fisto remains one of the series best. It was beautifully directed and I love the moment where Fisto catches the lightsaber. Fisto escaped and reported back to the Jedi Council. “Lair of Grievous” is another great episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

   

What Worked

  • Great spotlight for Grievous
  • Grievous’ twisted home
  • Grievous vs. Kit Fisto
  • Creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere

What Didn’t Work

  • Nahdar Vebb’s characterization
External Links:
Added: October 18, 2017
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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