The second season of Clone Wars continued Friday night in good form with the new episode "Cat and Mouse" which pits Anakin and Obi-Wan against a cunning new enemy, Admiral Trench. One of the great things about the series is that there is a kind of anthology vibe to the show as it jumps around in character focus, style and even time.
"Cat and Mouse" feels a lot like a tense submarine thriller, along the lines of The Hunt for Red October or Crimson Tide, with Anakin, Admiral Yularen, and their clones in the dark and claustrophobic confines of a small stealth ship attempting to outmaneuver their better-armed opponent. While it doesn't have the awe factor of some of the better episodes this season, "Cat and Mouse" is a strong piece of Star Wars storytelling.
Continuity is a difficult thing to nail down in The Clone Wars, as episodes are not necessarily aired in their chronological order, although there is apparently some sort of timeline present. "Cat and Mouse" seems to represent the earliest events in the series and take place prior to the events in The Clone Wars theatrical movie with served as a pilot to the series and introduced us to Ahsoka and the Battle for Christophsis. Last season's episode "Traitor" was set immediately before the movie, and "Cat and Mouse" is set even before "Traitor."
This episode introduces us to a great new villain, Separatist Admiral Trench, a member of an arachnid species that I believe has not been seen in Star Wars before and who sounds like a cross between Darth Vader and John Rys-Davies. Like any villain who is worth his salt, Trench is smart and competent and the episode is built around his search for Anakin and the stealth ship. Since Anakin is also (tactically) smart and competent, it makes for an interesting story to see these two worthy adversaries take each other on. Trench is also built up nicely by the normally cool Yularen's fearful reaction to him based on a previous encounter. Sadly, it is almost entirely certain that Trench is killed off at the end of the episode. But since the series does jump around a lot in time, perhaps we can see an episode based around his first encounter with Yularen.
Speaking of Yularen, it was nice to see him off the bridge for once and that he was given something to do other than standing around and being uptight. Pairing him up with Anakin for a mission was a nice touch.
Overall, "Cat and Mouse" as a solid-if not spectacular-entry to The Clone Wars as season two races toward its conclusion next month. You can check the episode out online at starwars.com.