In this ongoing series, Ian Blackout revisits Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, in a (roughly) chronological order of events and grouped (roughly) into story-arcs.
An Old Friend (2014)
Season 6, Episode 5. Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell.
“To love is to trust. To Trust is to believe.”
Padmé Amidala leads relief efforts for refugees and those otherwise displaced by the ongoing war. Neutral planets play a vital role in these negotiations, and Padmé’s efforts take her to the planet Scipio, headquarters of the Intergalactic Banking Clan. But questions arise over the broader funding of the war effort, as well as the stability of the clan’s resources. To uncover secrets, the senator for Naboo will need all the help she can get…
Ah, that’s what an action series set during a galactic conflict needs – subplots about surprise financial audits! Although to his credit, writer Christian Taylor manages to deftly skip around everybody somehow accepting the Banking Clan’s supposed independence (much as they do the Nemoidian Trade Federation), when Obi-Wan Kenobi witnessed both groups’ leaders sitting around a conference table with Count Dooku in Episode II.
On the plus side, bounty hunter Embo is back. His early appearance hints at some third-act carnage, and that’s borne out by a chase down a snow-covered mountain, the closest The Clone Wars has yet come to an all-out James Bond homage.
But before we get to the fun, ‘An Old Friend’ also sees the return of Rush Clovis, the jealousy-baiting, traitor to the Republic who ended up poisoning Padmé in ‘Senate Spy’. While she survived that incident, she certainly hasn’t forgotten about it. And neither has Anakin, showing up in the final reel to raise the tension even more when he sees Padmé and Rush in cahoots to uncover secrets in the vault.
This isn’t as laboured as many of the series’ more political strands, but ‘An Old Friend’ still feels like story-admin. But who can resist Embo snowboarding by leaping onto his hat..?
The Rise Of Clovis (2014)
Season 6, Episode 6. Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Danny Keller.
“Jealousy is the path to chaos.”
With Padmé’s narrow escape from Scipio, the Banking Clan is thrown into panic-mode as she travels to Coruscant to present startling new information. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine assigns Padmé and Rush Clovis to lead a deeper investigation into the war finances, much to Anakin’s chagrin…
Despite travelling across the galaxy, this is very much a tonal continuation of ‘An Old Friend’, cut from the fabric of Attack Of The Clones. The parallel story threads show Anakin’s swelling jealousy and the behind-the-scenes machinations of Darth Sidious, effectively controlling both sides in the war by ensuring that they spend money they don’t have.
The problem is that The Clone Wars has spent enough time in the latter camp to have proved that it’s just not as exciting as Clonetroopers and Jedi hacking through hordes of battle droids. By the time we get to a coded conversation between Anakin and Obi-Wan on which feelings are ‘allowed’, it’s all a bit of a daytime soap opera.
There’s no reveal of Clovis’ political indecision this time as that’s already been established. Instead, the episode shows him wavering throughout, spinning plates to satisfy previous obligations at both ends of the battlefield.
That said, the future Vader finally snaps in ‘The Rise Of Clovis’, administering a good old-fashioned beatdown to the right person for largely the wrong reasons. It’s a great, if unsubtle, reminder of Anakin’s character and the flawed nature of his relationship with Padmé, particularly this close to Revenge Of The Sith…
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Crisis At The Heart (2014)
Season 6, Episode 7. Written by Christian Taylor, directed by Steward Lee.
“Deceit is the weapon of greed.”
After a carefully orchestrated series of events, Rush Clovis is elected leader of the Intergalactic Banking Clan, under the guidance of the Muun government. Republic forces descend on Scipio to oversee the smooth transfer of responsibilities. But uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and Clovis soon discovers the real price of his promotion…
And so this late-stage political trilogy comes to a head, with Count Dooku making demands on Clovis to promote the interests of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, as opposed to the Republic, safe in the knowledge that the shock of this move will see ultimate financial power handed to the Supreme Chancellor, aka Darth Sidious. All of this has been apparent from the beginning and is explained in fairly small words, but given the target demographic of an animated TV series, this is perhaps no bad thing.
The Republic presence on Scipio leads to a CIS invasion of course, and the resulting battle threads throughout the episode (and naturally this involves Padmé needing to be rescued by Anakin. Again). But the magnificent visuals of the conflict remind the audience that the boots-on-the-ground war is still ongoing, at least.
We end with a senate scene and a theatrical flourish from Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, reminiscent of his feigned humility in Episode II. There’s the feeling that this has been a story relevant to the arc of the war, yet one which still feels like hard work. Oddly fitting for the series as a whole.
Join us next time as a series of high-profile disappearances leads to the unlikeliest of team-ups…