This week: Padme doing stuff on her own! A Bail Organa two-fer! The chronological start of the series! Wait, what?
1. War in the senate
While it obviously doesn’t make for amazing TV, I’ve been wanting some more Senate stuff on the show. The politics of Star Wars are not exactly well represented in the films. When they are evoked, they are evoked poorly or boringly, with a good chunk of The Phantom Menace dedicated to trade deals and embargoes and whogivesashit. But in the latter prequel installments, politics become far more interesting, with Palpatin’s rise to power, Padme’s disillusion at the way Coruscant is operating, and the Jedi being entangled in all of it. This is stuff that could spawn a half hour or so.
The first of these three episodes, “Senate Murders,” is exactly what it proposes to be in its title: the tale of two murders of senators, though of different political stripes. The episode is formatted like a classic detective story, and reveals another lay of Lucas’s love of 30’s/40’s cinema, which trickles down to the rest of his crew at various times. Tan Divo is a pretty hilariously stereotypical investigator, but it works in this pastiche. As always, the killer is someone you wouldn’t suspect, and it is up to our plucky heroes to find who the real killer is.
But the nicest part about this episode is that we get to see Padme doing stuff that isn’t just reacting to Anakin. We see her have agency and take action, even when it makes other characters unhappy. Padme finally gets a little bit of the spotlight by herself, and it is a welcome move. Sure, she’s as irresponsible and weird about taking orders as Anakin is, but at least she is trying to make positive change here. Sometimes the characters on this show prioritize not rocking the boat over all else; it’s nice to see someone actively saying no to that, and trying to solve a murder/help an old friend.
2. Anakin showing signs of dick…but then, not
One of the few issues I’ve taken with this series thus far is that I don’t recognize this Anakin as the same Anakin from the prequels. While yes, they both show signs of petulance and impatience, The Clone Wars version is far more palatable than the film versions. That’s all well and good for right now, but I was hoping that this series would help me understand how that Anakin came to be, and we haven’t seen much of that at all.
When I watched “Cat and Mouse,” it was the first time that Anakin really went over the line, to me, with his disregard for orders. Usually, he goes halfway, yessing his superiors, but doing what he wants anyway, and usually saving the day. Here, he basically pulls the “I can’t hear you” move from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and then does what he wants. Again, he succeeds because he’s Anakin, but still.
But then, one episode (or so thought…) later, in “Bounty Hunters,” Anakin is all honorable and shit again. There is an explanation for this (sort of), but I feel like we need(ed) to see more of Anakin struggling towards the Dark Side, or his fall seems awfully abrupt, no?
3. Wait, first episode?
My friend and podcast co-host Alice W. Castle pointed out to me that, according to the official chronology of The Clone Wars, that “Cat and Mouse” is the first episode to take place. There is a little bit of logic here, as we see Yularen and Anakin just getting to know each other, but other than that, this is a weird choice for me. You would think that the ‘official’ order would begin with some bombast, something really cool, or something memorable. Aside from a new type of cloaking device and some cool Anakin maneuvers, this is a pretty standard episode of The Clone Wars.
Also weird that, despite being out of order, we got two Bail Organa episodes back to back. Here is another character I hoped The Clone Wars would build up and, so far, we get little from him. His five minutes in Rogue One remain the most developed I’ve seen the character thus far. Here, we get a little of his sense of responsibility to Padme, which makes his adopting her daughter a little more poignant. We also see that he is a good and honest man, which makes him a perfect step-parent for Leia.Continued below
OK, so this is a combination of me being dumb, and me not paying attention to names. As I was checking the spelling on Yularen’s name on Wookiepedia, I was made aware that he’s a much bigger character in the Star Wars universe than I had realized. Did you know he’s in A New Hope? He also pops up in a number of novels, and transitions between the Republic and the Empire, eventually dying on the Death Star.
Not that the show should spell this stuff out, but it’s a commentary on how sprawling Star Wars is at this point that I wouldn’t have known that. Granted, he is nameless in A New Hope and only got named retroactively, but I’ve read Tarkin, and I should’ve spotted that name. I’m the worst!