The following collection of episodes are some I’ve had on my mind almost since I started this series. Containing one of the more controversial changes of the Clone War’s new canon to the series, scrubbing away one of the most fleshed out and complex cultures in the franchise after the Jedi themselves: The Mandalorians.
Before I go I hog wild on this one, why not check out my review series of the Clone Wars so far.
Season 2, Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot
If you’re expecting me to rag on all of these episodes though, you’d be mistaken. As much as I do take exception to the series’s disregard for the old expanded universe’s Mandalorians, as explored by Karen Traviss in the nine Star Wars novels she wrote mostly focusing on the Clone’s discovering their Mandalorian roots, these episodes on their own are actually fascinating.
Mostly because we finally get an honest to god story focusing on Obi Wan Kenobi; giving him some genuine character development.
The story focuses on Obi Wan travelling to Mandalore, the leader of which is the primary representative of the Council of neutral planets; the worlds in the galaxy who refuse to get themselves involved in the war. Right away this Mandalore seems unfamiliar to me, city-like, peaceful, political. The roots of the old Mandalorian people as seen in the books and the many comics out there do still exist though. Which we’ll get to.
Obi Wan is meeting Duchess Satine Kryze over rumours that the Mandalorians are joining the Separatists. Rumours that have some truth seeing as a splinter group called Death Watch, a group of much more traditional Mandos, are terrorising the government in order to eventually overthrow them and return to their old ways.
Right away the most interesting thing about this episode is the obvious history between Obi Wan and Satine, the two bicker and jab at one another constantly, having moral and philosophical debates over her pacifism and the Jedi’s more militaristic bent their brand of “peacekeeping” these days.
It’s a debate we’ve heard pop up in several episodes now over the course of these two seasons and one I feel is going to become a bigger issue the closer we get to the end of the Clone Wars. Both Obi Wan and Satine visit the Mandalorian moon of Concordia to investigate a terrorist attack on the city.
There, the pair get into some hijinks with the Death Watch before the revelation that the Governor is the leader of the splinter group. Voiced by Jon Favreau, who I didn’t realise had his fingers in the Star Wars pie this early. And kind of fitting considering he eventually goes on to helm the re-retcon of the Mandos in the live action Mandalorian series.
I do take exception with his character of Pre Vizsla though. This guy is the leader of a Mandalorian mini-army, yet displays none of the traits of the people’s seen in either the old expanded universe beforehand, or the live action series that came after. He battles Obi Wan using the Darksaber, a weapon that is going to pop up again and again throughout the new Star Wars lore, but when the fight doesn’t seem to go his way, he backs off and orders his men to attack the Jedi.
So, Cowardly? Check. Honorless? Check. Under the Thumb of the Sith? Check. Although that last one probably sits in his favour for being a true Mandalorian than against him. The episode ends with Vizsla escaping.
Dave Filoni stated in an interview at this was always George Lucas’s original vision for the Mandalorians, the examples we’ve seen so far have only been outlaws and mercenaries from that culture. If that’s true then I feel like this is the first major misstep from The Clone Wars in how it interprets both new and old lore and re-represents it. The older vision was one much loved by the fandom and one that changing only proved to upset them with no real benefit.
Something I feel they eventually rectified with The Mandalorian, returning them to their religious warrior cult-like state for the live action series. There’s no saying that the civilised, political breed of Mandalorian was nothing more than a blip in their long history. But let’s be real, it all just feels like a retcon.
Season 2, Episode 13: Voyage of Temptation
This episode picks up right after the last one, with Obi Wan and Anakin escorting Duchess Satine to Coruscant to plead the case of her continued neutrality to the Republic. Because if the Mandalorians have been anything over the millennia, it’s subservient lovers of the Republic… Okay, I’ll stop now I swear.
When a group of very cool and pretty scary looking Assassin Probe Droids attempt to kill the neutral council representatives, Obi Wan concludes there must be a traitor in their midst. Which his discovered in a scene that feels very reminiscent of the blood scene from The Thing; using the hostility of one of the probe’s mini droids to figure out who programmed them.
This episode is the one where we get some real character development from Obi Wan, as the true depth of his relationship with Satine is revealed. In what has to be the most honest and real conversation I’ve heard this entire series between Obi Wan and Anakin, he reveals that he spend a year on Mandalore as a Padawan, constantly on the run with Satine and his master. During which time he fell in love with her.
Something he still feels, as through his arguments with her, we see his feelings clouding his usual impeccable judgement. He’s not able to keep his cool around her. Something Anakin seems to be thoroughly enjoying. Seeing a chink in his master’s usual, impeccable standing.
Obi Wan discovers Tal Merrik, a Prince from a planet in the Mandalorian system, is the traitor, who in turn takes Satine hostage while calling in an attack on the transport from Separatist forces. In the end we find ourselves in an interesting standoff. Tal has a trigger to a bomb aboard the ship, while goading both Obi Wan and Satine to kill him. Knowing neither of them would do it as it would be to contradict everything they stand for.
In the end, Anakin pops up out of nowhere and kills Tal, taking the moral dilemma out of Obi Wan and Satine’s hands. Him killing the guy in cold blood when he could have just disarmed him seemed incredibly excessive. But after he does it, we hear a few bars of Darth Vader’s theme. So yeah, it might have been over the top, but the series was doing a thing, I get that, so I’ll let it slide.
This is a super interesting episode in terms of Obi Wan’s character. He admits that he loved Satine and would have quit the Jedi Order had she asked him to. I often complained that Obi Wan was a little bit of a stagnant character in the series. This episode rectified that with great effect, giving him a character who can get under his skin, while also throwing him off his game.
I like Obi Wan a lot, it’s nice to see that he is human after all.
Season 2, Episode 14: Duchess of Mandalore
As transport finally makes its arrival on Coruscant, we have an episode that almost entirely focuses on the character of Satine Kryze who has been playing second fiddle to Obi Wan throughout the two prior episodes. As she pleads her case for the continued neutrality of Mandalore in the war, it seems like someone is conspiring against her to make the Death Watch seem like something that Mandalore cannot handle on their own.
Thus the necessity for Republic troops to occur the planet. If this were to happen, the Mandalorian people would rebel and support for the Death Watch would increase to the point that they would be able to overthrow the planet.
It’s almost like some puppet master, playing both sides of the war at the same time is doing everything in their power to get the Mandalorians to join the Separatists in this war. Between doctored footage of one of her representatives and continued assassination attempts upon her, Satine becomes increasingly paranoid, unable to trust anyone around her.
It certainly doesn’t help that Obi Wan shows up on multiple occasions and puts his foot in his mouth before she realises that he probably is the best ally she has on the planet.
The entire episode feels like it finds its inspiration in many of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, in which seemingly normal people find themselves on the wrong end of a government conspiracy. Like in these movies, Satine finds herself suspected of murder when a contact she meets with is assassinated by a Mandalorian sniper. On the run in the streets of Coruscant, she has nobody to turn to help her except Obi Wan.
Which he does, presenting the undoctored footage to the senate and preventing the Republic occupation of Mandalore. Although this issue isn’t done and closed, as Pre Vizsla argues that they can’t take back the planet, Dooku calms him by saying that he has a contingency plan. So I guess we’re not quite done with Mandalore quiet yet.
This was an interesting episode, one that paints the Republic in a less than shining light. In fact most of the interactions between Satine and Obi Wan are them arguing that the Jedi have become violent pawns of the Republic peace “force”. Emphasis on that last word. Backed up by the conversations between Satine and Palpatine in which the later is quietly sinister in his obvious attempts to undermine her.
Even at the end Obi Wan states to Padme that it’s becoming more and more difficult knowing who to trust within the Republic, a hint at Palpatine’s ever increasing control of the government and a reminder of what’s to come.
While I am a little annoyed with the representation of the Mandalorian people in this episode, which I feel like I’ve thoroughly explained at this point. Knowing that Disney seem to pull back on this move down the road makes less critical knowing there are changes to come.
Instead, if I focus on these three episodes on their own merit, I discover that they’re three very interesting and entertaining stories. The revelation of the relationship and history between Satine and Obi Wan is fantastic, seeing Obi Wan around someone who can easily push his buttons is great. Like Anakin, I found it highly amusing.
It’s also nice to know that Obi Wan is human, and not just some perfect Jedi machine. On top of that there was a ton of foreshadowing in here that painted the Republic as the eventual bad guys that they would become
In the end it was easy to get past the Mandalorian stuff because the episode itself ended up being so good.
Next Time, we get into the final episodes of season 2, give or take a few continuity stragglers.
- Season 2, Episode 20: Death Trap
- Season 2, Episode 21: R2 Come Home
- Season 2, Episode 22: Lethal Takedown
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