Tonight at 8:00pm ET on Cartoon Network, The Clone Wars gets wet. The season four premiere takes fans underwater on the planet Mon Calamari, home of future Rebel leader Admiral Ackbar, the career military-squid who we all know hates traps. It’s classic Star Wars–characters on the run, impossible odds, breathtakingly alien vistas. But animating three episodes set almost entirely underwater presented some challenges, according to supervising director Dave Filoni. “The hardest things to animate are fire, foliage, and water,” Filoni says. “Industrial Light & Magic long ago mastered fire, and in our season three finale in April we showed we could create a lush jungle environment. So all we had left to tackle was water.” Check out this video from tonight’s premiere episode, “Water War,” which features new shark-toothed villain Riff Tamson and his deadly weapons: hydroid medusae, half machine, half….monster.

Pretty immersive visuals, huh? “Water War” is indicative of the more cinematic direction the creators of The Clone Wars hope to take. In fact, tonight’s premiere is directed by Duwayne Dunham, who served as the film editor on Return of the Jedi and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Palme d’Or-winning Wild at Heart. “In one of the premiere battles, there are thousands of characters at war,” Filoni says. “That gives you a sense of the scale we’re trying to deal with now when we say we’re doing a battle. In Revenge of the Sith we pan over the edge of the Jedi cruiser and reveal the massive space battle over Coruscant. That’s the kind of thing we’re aiming for in terms of combat in Season Four.”

Ready to take the plunge? Be sure to stop back later for my full recap of the premiere.

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