After a three part arc to start season four, The Clone Wars gives us a standalone episode and then a quasi-two parter, all of which somewhat take away from the momentum started with the Mon Cala trilogy.
1. Ugh, Jar Jar (again)
It’s not exactly my dream scenario to have so many Jar Jar episodes in a row, but here we are. This time, the action takes place on Naboo, and involves Gungans, so it’s at least a bit more understandable. This is now the second time on The Clone Wars that Jar Jar has had to impersonate a more important/powerful figure in order to get the upper hand in a situation, after “Bombad Jedi.” Here, he has to impersonate Boss (Tea) Lyonie, which basically amounts to wearing a hat.
Look, I get why Jar Jar is part of this show – my six year old daughter thinks he’s funny, and he holds her attention. But why not try to do more with him? I’m not saying to make him a Sith, like that rumor would have you believe, but just make him less…I don’t know, obnoxious? He’s not quite ‘Greedo shooting first’ bad, but it shows how much Lucas had lost the plot by the mid-90s.
The trading of General Grievous for Anakin seems like a deal that neither side would want to make. They would both likely play chicken until one flinched, but here both parties seem way too willing to allow their greatest bargaining chip go. I understand, intellectually, why the Republic forces would make that deal. They don’t want war, they care about Anakin, etc.
But why would the Separatists? They say how important Grievous is but, I ask for the umpteenth time, why? He seems pretty replaceable to me, and it would seem that taking the most capable Jedi off the table would do far more for their cause than having Grievous, no?
3. A plot versus the plot
It’s sort of hard to articulate what the plot of the show is. Sure, it is broadly to fill in the gaps between Episode II and Episode III. But it is also about the rise of Ahsoka, and the beginning of the fall of Anakin. It’s also about the mechanics of war and the marginalization of the clones. It’s also an affirmation of Obi-Wan as one of the great Star Wars characters.
See what I mean?
But, that said, none of these episodes really touch on those. While it is fun to have these occasional detours/looks at different parts of the galaxy, stringing three of them together in a row was not a wise decision. By the middle of the second episode, I was waiting for something to happen. By the end of the third, I kept looking at my watch to see when it was going to be over. I hope, in the future, the show spaces these out a little better.
4. Better than Jar-Jar
The second and third episodes are Artoo and Threepio episodes, and they had some alright moments, but just feel slight in the grand scheme. In addition, Threepio is a character best served in small doses, and both of these episodes rely on him to do far too much. He and Artoo aren’t leading men, sadly.
5. Basically a TCM marathon
“Nomad Droids” is three mini-stories, each of which apes a famous story or story trope. The first third is Gulliver’s Travels, the second The Wizard of Oz, and the third some sort of underground fighting ring story. Bloodsport or Fight Club, for example.
These are fun little moments, I suppose but, again: after the strengths of season three, this all just seems so lightweight. Bring on the bigger stuff again!