After an unplanned break last week, I’m back with a look at “Cloak of Darkness,” perhaps the best episode of The Clone Wars yet.
“Ignore your instincts at your peril.”
1. What’s up, Luminara Unduli?
This marks the second new Jedi introduced into the series that I’ve really dug. She checks two boxes as soon as she walks on screen: she’s female and she’s not human. For a gigantic universe, we get a lot of male, human Jedi, so I’m glad for some diversity. She also does a better job than some of the other Jedi on this show of trying to show restraint and not just jump into conflict. I really enjoyed her interactions with Ahsoka, and hope the show really digs into her story at some point.
Her presence also did something really important: it made Ventress seem incredibly powerful and scary. Her plan worked, she looked scary as fuck doing it, she successfully defended herself against two Jedi, and she did it all without ‘really’ breaking a sweat. Sure, one was a Padawan, but it still is damn impressive. I’m going to address this a little more in point #3, but this feels like a significant milestone in the series thus far: the first uncontested, unqualified win for the separatists.
This episode also gives Ahsoka stuff to do that isn’t just be obnoxious, and we begin to see her ‘style’ of Jedi emerge, even though she’s still clearly learning. It was through her struggle that this episode reached its high points. You see her calculating the right thing to do while trying to still be a ‘good’ Jedi. She’s clearly manipulated by Argyus, and we all see that coming, but her motivations are pure. She is as close as the show has to an audience proxy, and so the show tests our mettle by testing hers. The audience is shouting at her to stay put, but if she did, Luminara would likely have died. The show is presenting tough choices and refusing to give easy answers. It is refreshing, isn’t it?
2. Boarding ships
One of the things I’ve loved about this show thus far is the design of the ships, and the boarding ships are such an elegant and thoughtful design that I instantly knew their function. “Oh, they’re going to pierce the hull of the ship and open up. Cool.” That’s a masterful bit of design, and really adds to the world of the show.
3. Palpatine knows what’s up
When Count Dooku is talking to Palpatine about his plan, Palpatine is pretty reluctant to trust Dooku’s minions to do anything. He cites their constant failures, and Dooku stands up for them. The scene is supposed to put the onus on Ventress to get her job done, but what it really does is illustrate a point I’ve made a few times thus far in my reviews: the Jedi always win. Even if they lose slightly, they come back and win just a few minutes later.
Palpatine should be upset at Dooku, all we’ve seen is non-stop flunkiness from the separatists. Of course, this doubt is presented just before their biggest victor thus far, which somewhat telegraphs it, but the point remains: Palpatine knows that something has to change.
Remember when I mentioned a paragraph ago that the show telegraphed a reveal? Ditto for this one. For a show with so many new characters introduced, it really should do a better job not making it so plain who is a villain. Argyus was practically winking through his war helmet the entire time. Even Ventress killing him seemed pretty obvious before it happened.
5. That good, good lightsaber action
I love how this show doubles down on the lightsaber being not just a weapon but a tool. In this one episode we saw saber-wielders do more non-combat stuff than in all eight films put together. Cutting through ceilings/floors, using them to control their fall down a shaft – it’s all incredibly dope and fun. I’ve always wanted the Jedi/lightsaber relationship to be handled more like a soldier and his gun, where there is an intense bond between the weapon and its user, but for the most part, the Jedi just seemed fine treating it like a tool, instead of their tool.Continued below
I didn’t just make a dick joke. You did.