Star Wars Clone Wars

Something's fishy in Lucas Land! Season four of Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars kicks off Friday with the first two parts of a gorgeously animated three-episode story set underwater on the planet Mon Calamari. "It's a massive undertaking for us with some of the most ambitious battle sequences we've ever staged in this series," says supervising director Dave Filoni. The plot finds our heroes trying to protect a young prince whose father was assassinated and includes a new badass shark character named Riff Tamsen. "He's a brute force, big-time personality — our homage to Jaws!" Filoni says with a laugh.

Later in the season there's a light-hearted two-parter with R2-D2 and C-3PO (eagle-eyed fans will get a kick out of the salute to the Disney theme park attraction Star Tours!). A story arc set on the dark, ghost planet of Umbara will showcase some major clone-trooper action. Look for a new recurring character, Bo Katan, a mysterious and tenacious Mandalorian warrior voiced by sci-fi icon Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Old and new favorites returning include Kit Fisto, Cad Bane, Bossk, Boba Fett, Savage Opress, Asajj Ventress and the Nightsisters. "We're also introducing a new Patton-like Jedi, General Krell, who is sure to be a fan favorite — he has four arms meaning he can wield four light sabers!" says Filoni.

Fans are increasingly concerned about the future of fearless padawan Ahsoka Tano because she does not appear in the Star Wars films set after Clone Wars. Filoni assures us she won't die this season, but he's making no rosy promises beyond that. In fact, he has her destiny all mapped out, pending approval from the boss. "I've prepared a pretty big proposal for George Lucas on this very topic," Filoni says. "I've always known there were two possible outcomes for Ahsoka — she lives or she dies — and I've wavered back and forth along the way. Things have happened that have evolved the character in ways I never would have imagined five years ago. But if this pitch to George goes through, things will end very similarly to the way I first planned it."

The mortality rate on Clone Wars is startlingly high for a kiddie show but Filoni sees it as a huge dramatic asset. "When I was young my favorite character was the fighter pilot Roy Fokker on Robotech, and I couldn't believe it when he was killed because it was the first time I ever saw an animated character actually die," Filoni recalls. "It was shocking, yet the other characters reacting to Roy's death gave the series so much more depth. I enjoyed that show much more because of that loss. I thought, 'Gee, any of these characters could go at any time.' I'd like Clone Wars to have some of that because the fans all know what will happen to Anakin and Obi-Wan and Padme. But, with Ahsoka, it's a different story. You may tune in some day and get a big surprise."

Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs Fridays at 8/7c, Cartoon Network.