Tonight’s episode was the third part of Obi-wan’s undercover mission to disrupt a plot to kill or kidnap the Supreme Chancellor.
Obi-wan is dealing with Cad Bane’s distrust for him and continues to get double-crossed, tortured, and beat up. He’s also put into situations where he’s expected to act like a cold-hearted bounty hunter and you can tell that it’s just not in him. Can Bane tell, too?
Like the phantom menace that he is, Palpatine is playing both sides and unleashes Anakin on the bounty hunters (and Obi-wan’s alleged killer) to both protect him and avenge Obi-wan’s death.
It’s a masterful plan that will further stretch Anakin’s trust in the Jedi Council and their trust in him. Watching Palpatine manipulate Anakin through the war is one of the things I think The Clone Wars does the best. Being an episode smack dab in the middle of a giant story arc, the first two thirds of this episodes suffer slightly from all the posturing they must do to set the scene for the third act of this episode, and for the arc itself. I feel it’s coming to a satisfying payoff, though. (I hope.)
The third act was an action-packed culmination of the story thus far. And I absolutely adored the way the nighttime skyline of Nal Hutta looked butted up against the horizon during the battle between the ships. It had a very beautiful aesthetic to it.
I love how this arc seems to be a beautifully blended mix between a western (no arc with Cad Bane will escape reminiscing about westerns) and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed… (Or, to a lesser extent, Infernal Affairs.) That whole theme hearkens back to that line in the opening crawl of Revenge of the Sith that Dave Filoni is so fond of quoting: “There are heroes on both sides, evil is everywhere.” You have Palpatine undercover for the enemy in the Republic, Obi-wan undercover for Republic with the enemy, and Darth Sidious working hard to blur the lines between good and evil all the way around.
I wonder, too, how Ahsoka is going to react in the long run to Anakin’s behaviour. He’s disobeyed the council once again to get revenge. He’s sided with the Chancellor when he should have trusted his masters. He’s used the force to choke and interogate simple barkeeps in front of her. He’s clearly let his anger, fear, and agression come out to play. Will she call him on it? Or will she take it in stride as something that’s okay for a Jedi to do to get the job done in the name of the war effort and protecting the Chancellor?
It’s interesting to try to think of Ahsoka’s view of the galaxy. Raised in the shelter of the Jedi Temple, she’s apprenticed out as a Padawan learner at the beginning of the Clone Wars. War and idealistic compromise are all she knows. It’s all many of the apprentices know. Is this all part of Palpatine’s Grand Plan? Does he want to so poison the well of the Jedi that even Padawan learners who may survive the purge are so disillusioned with the world and cynical to their place in it that they won’t retaliate?
That is what I love about this show, though. It raises questions like this about the Star Wars mythology and that sort of thing excites me to no end. Even if the episode isn’t the best the series has had to offer thus far as a stand-alone, as part of a larger arc and as part of the Star Wars mythology as a whole, it’s incredibly effective.
On a more somber note: It was reported today that Ian Abercrombie passed away. He was the voice of Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious on The Clone Wars at the age of 86. Dave Filoni, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Baker, and all the other principals behind The Clone Wars posted of their broken hearts. It’s certainly a shame. Tonight’s episode highlighted some of the great work he’s done over the years and he will be missed by fans of the show as well.