So, today, with another new episode of the Clone Wars coming out in about 8 hours, I’m finally getting around to reviewing “The Gathering”, which was a pretty good episode. Focusing around a group of younglings, who travel to Ilum to build their lightsabers, this episode breaks down what it truly means to be a Jedi.
All the younglings, at the start of the episode, have very un-Jedi like traits. It focuses around six younglings; Katooni, who is a Tholothian, Petro, the only human, Byph, who is an Ithorian, a Nautolan, Zatt, Ganodi, the Rodian and, finally, Gungi, the Wookie Jedi.
First of all, it’s awesome that the Clone Wars is show casing other species of the Star Wars universe. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of Zabrak and Weequay action in the series, but we haven’t necessarily seen a whole lot else. The show is based so much around the clone troopers, Anakin, and Obi-Wan that it’s hard to remember that such a variety of species are present in the Star Wars universe. Especially among the Jedi, and I just found the fact that we’re seeing a variety of species pretty interesting.
Each of the young Jedi that travels to Ilum has something to learn from their experiences in building their own lightsabers. It’s something of a coming of age for the seven of them. As all of us Star Wars fans know, there Ilum, an ice world similar to Hoth, houses caves which contain the crystals used to power lightsabers. And, in those caves is a Jedi temple, and, at that temple, the younglings and Ahsoka find Yoda, who tells them exactly what they must do.
And it’s no easy task. They have to get into the cave, get their crystals, and get out before the entrance freezes over, which will lock them in for one cycle, or, on Ilum, 19 days. Which is a long time in a freezing ice cave with little to no food. So there’s this really great sense of urgency throughout the episode, which is portrayed both by the occasional shots of the cave door freezing over and through the actions of the six younglings.
Now, as I stated above, these six all have qualities that are very un-Jedi like. Petro is selfish and arrogant (Reminds you of a certain member of the Skywalker family, no?). Gungi is impatient. Byph is constantly scared. Zatt relies more on technology than his sense. Katooni doesn’t believe in herself. And Ganodi breaks under pressure.
And, therefore, finding each of their crystals involves overcoming their weaknesses. I found the whole thing with the crystals to be akin to Harry Potter, as it is extremely similar to how the wand chooses the wizard. But it’s cool how it forces them to overcome their weaknesses. Petro, who rushes off after saying the others will only slow him down, finds what appears to be a crystal, and gets out first.
But, as soon as he gets out, the crystal melts, and it turns out it was just ice. Frantic, he rushes back inside. Gungi, meanwhile, spots his crystal on the other side of a freezing body of water. He has to wait for it to freeze over, and he adopts the traditional Jedi meditation pose, after we briefly see his impatience in action.
Katooni spots her crystal on the top of an icy cliff, and doesn’t believe that she can ascend it. In the end though, she overcomes her weakness, and ascends it, grabbing her crystal. And then she runs down a tunnel, which takes her right back to the main tunnel. The only issue is, well, there’s a wall of ice between her and the tunnel.
Zatt, meanwhile attempts to use his datapad to find his crystal. But, in a fit of rage, he smashes it against the wall, and realizes that he has to rely on his feelings more than anything else if he wishes to succeed, thereby overcoming his flaw.
Ganodi’s challenge, meanwhile, takes her into a cave filled with crystals, one where she cannot find the one that is hers. And she breaks down. But that break down doesn’t last long, and she soon overcomes it and finds her crystal.
And then there’s Byph, the Ithorian. His flaw is that he is overcome by fear, and it doesn’t help that his crystal seems to be in the jaws of a great beast. In the end though, he overcomes his fear and plucks it out of the “beast”‘s mouth, to discover that all it was was an ice formation that looked like a monster.
Now, back to Petro. As he rushes back in, he runs past Katooni, who asks for his help, saying that together, they can break the ice and get out. Nut, because of his selfishness, he runs right past her, saying that he needs to find his own crystal. The other younglings have all already made it out, and the door is quickly freezing. In the end, though, Petro comes back, and, in a moment of pure selflessness, assists Katooni in her escape.
As Katooni escapes, Petro finds his crystal in the pile of ice that the two of them just destroyed. He grabs it, but not in time to get out. And the episode ends, just like that. It seems a little brutal, to be honest.
My biggest issue with this episode is that, while that feeling of suspense was really awesome, on a whole, the episode felt a bit rushed. I feel that it would have been done better over two episodes, and then we could have seen more of what was going on outside the caves, perhaps Yoda and Ahsoka talking, or even the younglings discussing their crystals and challenges, as well as voicing their concerns for those still inside.
Regardless, this was a cute episode that told a great coming of age story, and truly showcased what it means to be a Jedi. Plus, there was a wookie Jedi in it, and “The Gathering” definitely gets some major points for that,