This recap contains spoilers.  Don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens!

We begin Season 4 with the rumblings of civil war in Mon Calamari, an underwater world in which the Quarren and the Mon Cala begin to size each other up.  The king has just been assassinated and his young son, Prince Lee-Char doesn’t have much experience in either government or battle.  The Quarren are already consulting with the Separatists and deferring to Riff Tamson, a shark-headed humanoid who takes orders from Count Dooku (That name will always make me giggle).  The Mon Cala back Prince Lee-Char.  When the Republic sends in the Jedi to help maintain the peace, the Quarren leave to prepare for battle and the Jedi (including Kit Fisto) remain to fight alongside the Mon Cala.

Prince Lee-Char is young and naive.  Moments after he declares “I do not believe the Quarren will attack,” the Quarren arrive to take over the city.  He lacks confidence and often worries aloud how he will ever earn his people’s loyalty and trust. But don’t discount the young prince yet.  When Anakin repeatedly tries to remove Lee-Char from the danger of battle, the Mon Cala refuses.  The city is overtaken by the Quarren, due largely to their secret weapons, Hydroid Medusas – large jellyfish like creatures that electrocute multiple fighters at a time.  Seeing his fellow people taken as prisoners renews Prince Lee-Char’s resolve, and he calls out to rally them, risking his own safety.  Captain Ackbar counsels the prince, reminding him that sometimes the lesson to learn is how to live to fight another day.

Yoda calls in the Gungan for reinforcements, and mercifully, Jar-Jar doesn’t get much screen time.  Tamson is a killing machine, preferring hand to hand combat but resorting to a ship with rotary arms that churns up the silt and ship debris at the bottom of the water they battle in.  Visibility becomes non-existent, and as Anakin and Ackbar destroy the ship, Ahsoka convinces Lee-Char to flee, telling him not to make decisions based out of fear.  They swim away, the prince vowing to unite his people again.

The hour-long premiere was a smooth beginning to the Season 4 story arc.  Prince Lee-Char shows great promise as a leader, and certainly he has some wise counsel available to him.  Like many fans, I have a soft spot for Padawan Ahsoka.  She’s eager to learn and eager to fight.  Watching her in battle is like watching a balletic ninja perform gymnastics, and seeing her perform underwater is even more hypnotic.  As an adult, I recognize the internal moral struggle that eats at Nossor Ri, the leader of the Quarren.  Yes, he has made the choice to team up with Tamson and Count Dooku, but it’s obvious he didn’t foresee the level of death and destruction that will now haunt him.  He is a leader who hasn’t made the right choices and has entrusted the future of his people to someone else.  Hopefully he serves as an example of what Prince Lee-Char will not become.  As for younger viewers like my nephews, there’s a guy with a shark head!

Just in case the audience wasn’t already eager for next week’s episode, the sneak peak of Anakin starting to crack and Obi-Wan solemnly telling Ahsoka to keep an eye on him certainly got my heart racing.  Is this a hint of the impending downward spiral?  I’ll certainly be tuning in to find out!