Yeah I was bummed on all the no-name Clones getting offed too... It's like red shirts in Star Trek. If you see these guys from the bridge or some random 212th's or 501st's around... Welp, guess who ain't getting beamed back.
The lava island thing only makes sense from the perspective that a higher point makes the characters more visible to the enemy overall (bearing in mind they're buzzing around on their STAPS patrolling... being lower maybe was an advantage then).
The beast things reminded me of the dogs from the one Star Trek movie The Undiscovered Country (I think?)... The Klingon dogs.
And Tarkin was badass... He's exactly as I always imagined him. A) he wants to win. B) He's loyal... He's a military man, true to his cause. 3) He just disagrees with the Jedi order and their ways at war, and his getting Anakin to agree was surprising and I dug it. It showed a nice basis for their clear friendship they had in A New Hope... He's still the only guy to have Vader's ear as an equal of sorts.
I thought this was a truly fitting way to introduce Tarkin and make him a character of more substance than other random guys thrown into the series. Still my absolute favorite SW character ever.
And I totally agree on the Crab Droids that mysteriously turn up all around the base... My gf even said, "where the hell did those come from?", at that scene. That was a gaff on the show's part bigtime. I don't recall seeing what's up above the island thing... They were underground a lot, so maybe cliffs over the area allowed them to drop down, but still, it was goofy and obvious to a lot of folks that those Droids shouldn't have all just been coming from nowhere along the island.
I really thought this was a good 3-parter this season. This and the Kamino storylines are easily my favorites, and reminded me of the Point Rain episodes last season.