The series returns us to Naboo, where we see some familiar faces return, as well as meet some new inhabitants of the homeland of Palpatine, Jar-Jar, and Padme.
Fear is a disease; hope is its only cure
1. Jar Jar’d out
I know he’s only been a part of a few episodes this season, but good grief is Jar Jar’s bullshit getting old. At least this episode gave him a purpose of some sort – by having him identify the bug that came in on the droid by its geographic reason, his presence was warranted. But, of course, he also destroyed said droid because his tongue got caught in the gears of a droid’s disembodied dome.
This series was created while George Lucas was still firmly in charge of all Star Wars content, and Jar Jar is the clearest indication of that. Since Lucas has been out of the picture, Jar Jar’s only appearance is a heartbreaking one in Aftermath: Empire’s End, but here, you see Lucas trying to justify his existence by having him play a semi-pivotal role in the show. Especially because we rarely see him in the films that bookend this series, it could also be used as an opportunity to revitalize and contextualize him, but so far, it has just been the same stupid jokes, over and over again.
2. Genre, baby!
This episode felt the most like one of the old Republic serials that Lucas loved so much, and the inclusion of a mad scientist – replete with Tesla coils! – just adds to that tone. Dr. Vindi is about as classic a mustache-twirling, scenery chewing, broad villain as you can get, but because the show has never shied away from the campier influences, it totally works.
Throw in a virus that would wipe out most of a space system with one little detonation was also not the most subtle antagonism the show has thrown in the Jedi’s path. But, again, it works here. The stakes felt high, the action was fun, and the episode flew by.
3. Maybe the Jedi were on to something…
While this is far from the first time that we’ve seen Anakin risk his ass for someone else, here, he almost does numerous stupid things while barely hiding his absolute love for Padme. Obi-Wan notices this, and tries to get him to cool his heels, but there’s no real talking to Anakin. This situation isn’t helped by Padme specifically requesting them for reasons that may have been legitimate, but likely were just her desire to see her boo.
I know that the total disconnection from emotion is a bad look, but Anakin succeeds in this episode despite of his emotional attachments, not because of them. He’s the chosen one, he’s a damn great Jedi. If he were just your run of the mill Jedi, his love for Padme would’ve had him axed a long time ago.
4. Wow! Ahsoka doing something
I’ve been told by folks who I trust implicitly that Ahsoka is a great character, and one that is essential to the show, but so far, she’s just been sort of annoying. But here, she takes charge, shows some real tactical skill, and is only slightly annoying while doing it. I want her to be something other than Anakin’s nagger or the audience proxy and this episode was the first real glimpse of that, after a few false starts over the season thus far.
5. A useful Gungan?
There’s a comment I’ve heard recently that ‘the only slur you can say in polite company is redneck,’ and the Star Wars equivalent of that is ‘the only race in the Star Wars universe that is universally hated are Gungans.’ But Peppi Bow winds up playing a number of very important roles in the episode – she discovers how the virus i working, she ultimately stops Dr. Vindi, and she hows that not all Gungans are terrible. Remember, folks, Jar Jar was banished because he was clumsy – not all Gungans are. (hashtag #notallgungans)