The Clone Wars often puts its heroes in peril, but rarely as serious as this trio of episodes did. Let’s dig in.
1. Jedi power set?
One frustrating aspect of The Clone Wars is the seeming lack of consistency in Jedi powers. There were a few moments in these episodes, especially for Obi-Wan, that it seemed like he was suddenly stripped of his connection to the Force. I don’t even mean when he has the collar on; at times he just seems 5x stronger/faster/more powerful than he does in other scenes.
I know that there is a lot of concentration involved with mastering the Force, but that doesn’t appear to be in play here, either. It seems like there are just moments when he can’t do the things he usually does. I’m not saying that this isn’t understandable, even necessary, from a narrative standpint, because if you have such incredible Force prowess, how can anyone expect to best you? But I wish it was just explained a little better.
2. “Slaves of the Republic”
The episode title ‘Slaves of the Republic’ refers to a line spoken by Queen Miraj about how the Jedi are essentially slaves already. This is, obviously, an exaggeration of things, but there is a hint of truth to this that visibly shakes Anakin. He has already been suspicious of the Jedi Council and their sometimes hidden intentions (just wait until next arc, buddy), and it is clear that while he knows Miraj is playing it up, there’s an element to truth here.
We will get to Anakin in a minute, but I want to talk about Obi-Wan for a second here. Obi-Wan is far from as opinionated as Anakin is, but we see parts of his personality that are obviously not 100% in line with the Jedi teachings. He essentially says to Satine that he would have left the order for her – but why must he? Isn’t there a part of him that must dream of being both a Jedi and a husband?
In these episodes, when he is enslaved, forced to be in physical pain while doing manual labor, isn’t he doing that, in part, because he is a slave to his vocation? Now, I’m not advocating for people to not join into agreements that require commitment, but Miraj’s comment really rings true when Obi-Wan is at his lowest. More on this later.
3. Anakin, former slave
I mentioned Anakin’s rejection of the phrase ‘slave’ earlier. Obviously, this is a term that everyone should reject, all the time, for all reasons, but for Anakin it is extra personal. Not only was he a slave, but his mother remained a slave after Anakin left to become a Jedi. His mother’s death is the moment that shapes Anakin for the rest of his life and, though she didn’t die a slave, her lack of freedom eventually led to her death, if you follow the logic that she could have left Tatooine with Anakin.
So, for Anakin, slavery isn’t just an issue that’s a moral wrong in the abstract; he has the scars, mental and physical, from his time as a slave to take real issue with what is being done to Ahsoka’s people.
4. The plan to break Obi-Wan
Again, Obi-Wan has it worst these episodes. Despite being a slave himself, he sees others tortured in front of him to ‘punish him.’ Rex is enslaved with him, and while Rex doesn’t have it much better, there is a sense that Obi-Wan’s status as a Jedi is making his situation worse for a few reasons. Because he’s a Jedi, he is made an example of, and because of that, others around him suffer more due to his being there. This is, essentially, the opposite of what a Jedi is supposed to do, which is bring compassion and peace wherever he goes.
On top of that, at the end of the third episode, we see rage and venom bubbling under the surface, but he can’t use it. This is a good thing in the long run, but just adds to his pain in the episode. All he wants is to seek justice, and he’s handcuffed at every turn.Continued below
Rex, who is able to exercise the justice that Obi-Wan can’t, shows yet again that he is one of the most interesting characters on this show. I am not sure how much the show will deal with the whole ‘Order 66’ thing, but I am very interested to see how Rex and Cody would deal with that.
5. Ahsoka as leader
When the Togrutans are kidnapped, we see that Ahsoka obviously has some extra skin in this game. But beyond even that, these episodes are among the strongest Ahsoka spotlights that we’ve seen so far. She has grown so much over the course of the series, but usually in ways that make her a better Jedi, or a more complete warrior (the addition of a second lightsaber, for instance). But here, she emerges as a leader, and not just someone who comes up with a plan, but someone who can inspire others, and rise up above the standard Padawan role.
Ahsoka, if viewing this series out of its context in the series, looks an awful lot like the future of the Jedi Order. We know that isn’t the case, and that is heartbreaking.