WIN for me on both episodes. I found the pacing, voice acting and dialogue in both, but especially Blue Shadow Virus, to be among the best so far. The mad scientist and plague bit has been done to death in cartoons but it provided an excuse for a real sense of urgency and consequence to the success or failure of the main characters, and also a reason to journey to another mysterious planet in search of a magical item. Until now there hadn't been enough of this sort of "questing" storyline in this series which is integral to the mythological journey of the hero that is so central to Star Wars or an RPG game (think back to high school english class).
Neither Jar-Jar or Ahsoka were annoying at all for me this time around. JarJar seemed quite subdued and was it just me or did his face look different somehow than previous episodes? He almost looked cool with that suit on. Almost. Likewise I found myself caring more about Ahsoka being sick than Padme. Was that wrong?
With Padme and Jar-Jar getting shocked in Blue Shadow Virus, that makes four characters now who have been tortured with electricity in this series - methinks the writers have a particular fetish - or else the animators enjoy taking out their revenge on the characters that consume every day of their work week. They're not allowed to kill these characters - but a little zap never left a permanent mark right?
Here's an updated list showing my personal ratings of all the episodes so far, ranked from my most favourite to least favourite:
The Good (best episodes)
1) Rising Malevolence (10/10) - a masterpiece
2) Shadow of Malevolence (9/10) - spectacular fighter sequences – felt like ANH
3) Rookies (9/10) - terrific story and music
4) Trespass (9/10) – Muftak’s species, snow clones and colonialism themes = win
5) Duel of the Droids (8/10) – wicked R2 battle and ending
6) Jedi Crash (8/10) – epic opening sky battle and good ethical discussions
7) Blue Shadow Virus (8/10) – excellent pacing, voice acting and animation but -1 for JarJar
8) Downfall of a Droid (7/10) - space battle and assassin droids were good
9) Mystery of a Thousand Moons (7/10) – more of #7 with an interesting quest subplot
10) Defenders of Peace (7/10) – more good lightsabre battles and ethical discussions
11) Ambush (7/10) – Watto’s species and Yoda cave talk were neat - but had a childish feeling
The Bad ('meh' episodes)
12) Destroy Malevolence (6/10) - kind of weak ending to Malevolence, didn't care for Padme
13) Lair of Grievous - (6/10) – final fight with Kit Fisto was cool, rest lacked soul
14) The Hidden Enemy (6/10) – boring listening to clones talk to each other, plain graphics
The Ugly (poor episodes)
15) Movie (5/10) - barf! - but with a few good battle scenes
16) Cloak of Darkness (4/10) – Luminara and traitor were sorta neat, but highly contrived story
17) Bombad Jedi (3/10) – JarJar is the star…. ‘nuff said.
18) Dooku Captured (2/10) – So boring, worse than watching paint dry….
19) The Gungan General (1/10) – Stupid, annoying, pointless and full of plot holes. Plus JarJar.