Animation Round-up: Darth Maul and the Death Watch on Clone Wars, Sinestro on Green Lantern, Discord on MLP, and a Delightful Paradox on Ben 10

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Jan 19, 2013

Fresh slices of animated goodness for you this weekend in the round-up. On Ben 10: Omniverse, there was some temporal consciousness switching, while on Green Lantern: The Animated Series there were just your normal body- and mind-controlling aliens. On Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Darth Maul joined forces with the Death Watch to restart his plans for a criminal empire, and on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy attempted to rehabiliate the chaotic Season 2 villain Discord.

And for those who are chomping at the bit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is back next week, but the new episode is going to air on the night of Jan. 25. That’s a Friday, so be sure to check your local listings.

Ben 10: Omniverse S02E08: "Ben Again"

I’m a sucker for time travel narratives, no matter how silly and convoluted and verb-tense-confusing they can get. So “Ben Again” was right up my alley, and it also played a bit more with Omniverse’s past and present lives of Ben.

Since this season is my first time with Ben 10, I was thoroughly tickled and pleased with David McCallum’s voicing of Professor Paradox. While he felt oddly out of place among the rest of the cast, perhaps just due to sheer recognizability, it also fit considering that Paradox, as a time traveller, doesn’t really belong anywhere. But the episode was less about him and more about the temporal consciousness switch between 11-year-old Ben and 16-year-old Ben.

And it was entirely delightful. While the search for clues was sort of draggy, I loved the dissonance of 11-year-old Ben in 16-year-old Ben’s body, not only due to the vocal switch but also because of the animation of the character. 16-year-old Ben, while no stranger to cocky smiles and brow furrows, isn’t prone to child-like grimacing and arm-waving, and so it gave the character an added dimension, and really enhanced the humor of the episode (and the arrival of adult Ben, with a beard no less, was pretty awesome, too). Gwen’s reappearances were probably a treat for some, and I liked her more here than I did in “Many Happy Returns.”

But what say you, Ben 10 fans, about the interstitial place in space-time that Eon was holding Paradox? There were ruins of a Mr. Smoothy’s there. The ruins, perhaps, from Alien X’s copying of the universe...?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S05E14: "Eminence"

“Eminence” was very much a place-setting episode, and as such it wasn’t necessarily the most exciting of half-hours. On the upside, there’s the potential for lots of backstabbing and double- and triple-crossing in this arc, which should give the entire thing a pleasant air of unpredictability.

After barely escaping from Florrum at the start of the season, Maul and Savage were picked up by Pre Vizsla and his Death Watch Mandalorians. Maul and Vizsla are a good pair to join forces and to butt heads in their endeavors. While Maul clearly had no interest in reclaiming Mandalore beyond its potential strategic value, Mandalore represented a prime opportunity for him to re-start his plans for a criminal organization, and so they wasted little time in basically taking over the Black Suns and Hutt space.

All of this did happen really quickly, and it was a chain of events that might’ve felt more at home as an arc unto itself, but that would’ve meant Maul’s story would’ve been the prime focus of Season 5 instead of the various other arcs we’ve gotten so far this season, and thus narrative trade-offs. But I’m optimistic that there’ll be plenty of excitement as we get deeper into the arc, and I’ll be fine with any reason for Vizslar and Maul to growl at each other, or Bo-Katan to be snarky and awesome.

If you do want to your spoil yourself, this storyline was adapted into a kids’ book called Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy (that title has more colons in it than an academic conference paper’s title) that was released this month. Just don’t give anything away in the comments!

Green Lantern: The Animated Series S01E17: "Prisoner of Sinestro"

The first half of Green Lantern's season tended toward recognizable sci-fi and space-opera stories with the show’s characters grafted into them. As a result, the episodes could alternately feel overly predictable due to the well-trodden plots, or they offered nice spins on those plots thanks to the presence of the show’s characters. With “Prisoner of Sinestro,” we returned to that format with a mind- and body-controlling alien aboard the ship. Oh, and Sinestro finally showed up.

Neuraxis (looking very much like a Kraang, yes?) was freed from captivity by Sinestro, who intended to bring him to Oa, as the little alien creature is one of the most wanted criminals in the galaxy. Despite being heralded as one of the best in the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro fell to Nuraxis’s mind control abilities (shouldn’t he have known about that and prepared for it somehow?) and Neuraxis began psychically brain-jumping from crew member to crew member in an effort to escape.

The entire plot, including the little test to build constructs to identify who Neuraxis was controlling, was very reminiscent of The Thing, with nice spins on that body-snatcher premise, including the Neuraxis-controlled Razer chatting up Aya, causing to Aya “analyze” the situation.

It also provided the necessary space for Sinestro (with great voice work from Ron Perlman) to establish his more drastic approaches to maintaining law and order in the galaxy, including his killing of Neuraxis. “I didn’t kill him, Jordan. I simply didn’t save him... in time,” he told Hal, and it was chilling. I like that the show didn’t start with Sinestro as an already disgraced member of the Corp. It’ll be fun to watch that evolution play out.

DC Nation Short: Part two of “Batman of Shanghai” focused on Bane going after the Scroll of Destiny. It was the weakest of the three installments because Bane’s design felt wildly out of place in the 1930s setting. It was very much in line with his comic book book representation, and it just didn’t gel. But I did like seeing him climb that tower like he was King Kong.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S03E10: "Keep Calm and Flutter On"

This season has already seen the return of Trixie, so it seems natural that another old foe of the ponies would resurface in some way, and this time it was Discord, from the Season 2 opener.

While it’s possible to accuse the show of running out ideas by returning to previously defeated enemies—and in the case of Discord, the reason for his return seemed incredibly arbitrary compared to Trixie’s—it’s to the show’s credit that neither episode felt tired or altogether pointless, though having a moral at the end of both installments did alleviate that last concern to a degree.

In any case, the interplay between Fluttershy and Discord provided just the right amount of humor and character beats to make the episode work. John de Lancie was in full super-impish Q-mode here, letting false sincerity and malignant—but still The Hub-friendly—whimsy drip from his line delivery. It’s one of those voice performances that should receive Emmy attention but likely won’t. Fluttershy’s infinite patience (and the return of The Stare) kept the episode from becoming too hectic (Fluttershy’s such an excellent straight man), and it helped sell the episode’s lesson about trusting people to do the right thing.

And I just realized that this whole setup means that Fluttershy is the old bishop and Discord is Jean Valjean from Les Misérables! Rainbow Dash would make an excellent Javert! Oh, now I need a video mash-up of this immediately.

What'd you think of this week's episodes?

  • Comments (29)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • gimmall Jan 22, 2013

    This may have been asked/answered before but...why isn't Tron: Uprising part of this article?

  • noelrk Staff Jan 22, 2013

    You're the second (maybe third?) to ask that, but it boils down to lack of access to Disney XD, and I was already a decent chunk of episodes behind when I started the round-up.

    Also: Given the realignment back to just Saturday mornings for the round-up, you'd end up waiting a week to hear anything about it since Disney XD, at least according to @JT_Kirk, shifted the show to the late-night hours.

  • andreido9 Jan 21, 2013

    Why is no one talking about Young Justice?!

  • noelrk Staff Jan 21, 2013

    Because it has its own review post...? I'd link you to it, but then the system will eat my comment.

  • andreido9 Jan 21, 2013

    Yeah, I did find it.

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    FYI Noel, David as Paradox used to be a real treat in the Ben 10 shows. He was great: voice and writing. He also seemed to be aware that they were a cartoon, as in one scene he prepped for a commercial and hinted that when they'd be back they'd be standing "over there"

    His appearance here was... OK. My favorite bit was when he was introduced and he gave his monologue about his backstory.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 21, 2013

    So was it an issue of the performance or the writing? Sounds like it was mostly a writing issue for you, not really connected to McCallum's acting...?

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    I think the writing suffered in this episode... he just didn't seem as interesting (to me) as normal. David just didn't seem to have any cool lines this time around so it's hard to really judge it here. It might as well have been a generic extra, with the Paradox name.

    Past appearances had him quite interesting AND with David delivering a solid performance. Once or twice with him taking Ben on a tour of time while giving a solid inspiring monologue.

    Here, the only interesting bits were the (obvious) hint about the glove and a couple of verbal jabs with Eon.

  • dragon22a Jan 21, 2013

    Good to see Paradox back again but I still wish the animation was as it was in the previous series. The new design for Paradox just looked off. It was nice to see a little more of the mature Ben, even if it was in his 11 year old body. I take it this is a different Eon from the one we saw before, the one that was actually an alternate version of Ben.

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    Yeh, I wasn't a huge fan of Paradox's new get-up. But I guess if he's actively in a time war he might need more than just his lab coat and goggles.

    Since, if we're talking a time war... then he has to be facing others with the ability to manipulate time and thus he's not as "over-powered" as he normally is.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 21, 2013

    Ugh, I forgot about that DC Nation short. I didn't enjoy it at all, Bane not only felt out of place in behavior (the spinning ball of doom junk was almost as bad as the King Kong bit), he also looked awful and behaved ridiculously. Waste of ink, that one was.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 21, 2013

    Clone Wars: I'll be honest, it's the silly backstabbing and triple-crossing that I feel brought "Eminence" down a few notches. Darth Maul doesn't act smart or clever or manipulative, he just strides in and makes demands, barely survives a firefight, cuts off a head or two and declares himself the winner. He's written like a 6 year old petulant child lording his slight strength improvement over his baby brother. I do agree though that Viszla is a good pairing since Viszla has been marching around getting nothing accomplished for a while now, he's like a neo-nazi tramping around out in the woods building up a rag tag militia behaving as if he believed he's on the cusp of defeating the whole world.

    Another notable problem is just that it's been so long since we were supposed to have gotten this arc that I had totally forgotten about Maul and Savage's serious beat-downs from the last time we saw them, Savage's arm especially threw me for a loop.

    Oh, and after all the hype, after all the hope, all the promise, to have Black Sun be so boring was disappointing. They looked vaguely like Xizor, and they surely adopted his style of dress (in Star Wars movies, every planet is the same environment everywhere; in Clone Wars, every species' outfit is the same on everyone), but they didn't behave like him, they weren't smart or clever, there was not a valuable payoff.

    But there was plenty of fighting and killing and posturing and gadgets and no annoying pompous Jedi, so it wasn't unwatchable.

    This was ok I guess, some action, some Sith stuff, and any time you have Embo it's a party, but it's really difficult to treat it like a worthy Clone Wars episode compared to something like Rookies.

  • mcepin3 Jan 21, 2013

    Annoying pompous jedi?!?!....ok,I have to defend Jedi and Sith now. If there were no Jedi or Sith in Star Wars and their Force as well as lightsabers, you would have your everyday space story with guns,rocket lunchers,etc. While I don't mind,when they show in CW clones,droids,senators,bounty hunters,pirates,etc., I sure as hell,wouldn't watch it,if there were no Jedi,Sith,Force and lightsabers. It just wouldn't be Star Wars for me. And that is what has made SW so big...Jedi,SIth, Force and lightsabers.
    Personally I am sick of how special and unique clones are,how robots have feelings,bla,bla...Jedi and Sith are dumbed down,because they need to be. They are like demi-gods and it is just silly,when a clone or some robot or anyone else,that is "normal", can stand their own against them. Uggh,when they are 1 on 1 against Jedi or Sith and they can hold their own, is the worst.

    Clones are just slaves of Republic, robots/droids are slaves to any race...I swear,I will lose it,if/when I see battle droid holding their own against a Jedi. Yeah,I know,just because they are slaves,it doesn't make them unable to fight,but it is just crazy,when someone "normal" can stand against Jedi or Sith, on their own and they even win that fight.

    I know clones are trained to fight and all that,but still...1 clone against Jedi or Sith should and must loose against them!

  • JT_Kirk Jan 21, 2013

    You misunderstand, I'm not complaining about all the Jedi, I'm complaining about the way the Jedi are portrayed on The Clone Wars. Obi-Wan is central to this, he's not wizardly here, he's written and voice-acted like a chiding, pompous, superior jerk most of the time - and this seems to trickle down to the way all the Jedi are written.

    "Everyday space story", care to point out another space story on kids TV right now... or any TV right now, come to think of it? Green Lantern doesn't count.

    Star Wars didn't used to be all Jedi all the time until the prequels came along and fetishized them, in the original trilogy people weren't terribly impressed with Jedi or the Force, it was just one more component to a complicated universe.

    And as for the droids and their feelings, the droids were written intentionally to be a slave race, Luke shows his humanity where nobody else does in SW when he treats the new droids as people instead of slave things.

  • mcepin3 Jan 22, 2013

    I like Obi-Wan. I think it is normal,that he isn't completely the same as in original trilogy. Why? Becasue of time and what has happened from,let just start from episode I all the way to episode IV. Here he is younger, maybe naive on some level, among many,many Jedi and friends. In episode IV he is pretty much alone till Luke comes to him or better yet R2-D2,since he came first. In CW Obi-Wan has THE ONE,who will bring balance to Force, as padawan. Well not as padawan really,but he still looks out for him. Then I think, since Anakin is the one, who is little smug and think's he is the best,etc. Obi-Wan competes with him on some levels. If people wouldn't just spit on,rip apart,trash Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, episode II,there is talk between Yoda and Obi-Wan, that these young Jedi's and not just them, seem to think, they know all(don''t know exact lines,but something about being cocky,etc.). So it is portrayed here in CW. And isn't Obi-Wan the most similar to voice acting to the one in prequel trilogy? I think it is.

    On kids tv right now?? I have no clue,because apart from CW, only other cartoons,animes I watch are Naruto Shippuuden, TMNT and that's pretty much it.

    It wasn't all about Jedi, but those lightsabers and Force separated them from the rest. And also,stuff they could do in movies,aren't the stuff they could do today(meaning cgi mostly yes).

    I have no problem with original trilogy, but since these CW are meant for kids, like you said for Jedi, same thing is for droids and clones and battle droids,etc. They are exaggerated and personally I am sick and sometimes roll me eyes,when they start all their talk about feelings, how no one gets left behind, they will be remembered,how they are no slaves,etc.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 21, 2013

    I did some digging about Xizor, as I was expecting a bit of a cameo from him, but apparently he wasn't high enough in the Black Suns until after Palpatine took over (though I was unaware that the Falleen were controlling the Black Sun even then...seemed like an organization that wasn't *that* species-centric...ah well).

  • JT_Kirk Jan 21, 2013

    The Black Sun was far more ethnically diverse in the Shadows of the Empire book and comics, as I remember it, that's one area Clone Wars doesn't have their stuff together. And I was big on SOTE so I was really hoping for Xizor to make a cameo or more, although I suppose more would have been hokey anyway.

  • TKnHappyNess Jan 21, 2013

    Notice how Celestia didn't saw how she'd be using Discord's powers for good. So that's 2 villains who have become good, if Luna can still access her Nightmare Moon form

  • noelrk Staff Jan 21, 2013

    Based on her behavior after the Crystal Empire stuff, and that knowing look she shared with Luna, I imagine that Celestia is up to something that requires Discord's abilities in some way.

  • mcepin3 Jan 20, 2013

    "So the only thing you could tell me, is that, I will find Jabba at Jabba's palace" lol
    Great episode of SW:TCW and THANK YOU CW for getting or giving Maul "normal legs". When he had Grievous-like legs, I just couldn't take Maul seriously. Great set-up for future episodes and it moved along quite nicely. I agree this could have been as arc getting Black Sun and Hutts,but I liked it better this way. After fiasco with droids arc(for me it was),this is what CW needed and I wanted/expected from show I like so much.
    Was that Mustafar planet,where Black Sun is?
    And yeah,please no spoilers here.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 20, 2013

    According to the Wookieepedia, it was indeed Mustafar.

  • linkthehero82 Jan 19, 2013

    I wondered what happened to Professor Paradox following "Ben 10,000 Returns". Apparently he's been fighting a temporal war. I liked the episode but still have questions, I thought they defeated Eon for good in Ben 10K 2. And is this episode a two parter, Will it continue with Ben 10K and the chrono sapiens he mentioned?

  • noelrk Staff Jan 20, 2013

    It's *possibly* a two-parter. The episode description for next week's episode mentions an alternate version of Ben, so it is possible.

    "Ben Again" was a last-minute-ish schedule swap as "Tummy Trouble" was originally slated to air yesterday, but instead "Tummy Trouble" will kick of Arc #3.

  • linkthehero82 Jan 20, 2013

    No, next week's episode is "Store 23". Ben and the Galvin plumbers search for the mysterious 23rd Mr. Smoothie store and inadvertently travel to a parallel reality and encounter Ben 23, a preppy version of Ben who is a bit of a douche.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 20, 2013

    Well, then, you've answered your own question.

  • linkthehero82 Jan 19, 2013

    Also the temporal war reminds me of Star Trek Enterprise and the temporal cold war storyline.

  • kanniballl Jan 20, 2013

    I got more of a Doctor Who vibe. Man wearing strange clothes, talking in a Scottish accent, talking of a time war... Very Chris Eccleston.

  • linkthehero82 Jan 20, 2013

    I didn't even think of Doctor who.