Watching the first two of these episodes, following by a third from the second season helped me realise the jump in quality the series had taken suddenly in the third season. Pivoting from what was a relatively simplistic and almost childlike approach to the stories and adding a little more complexity and maturity to it.
I’ve never gone out of my way to criticise the series for being a show with a young audience demographic, but the realisation that it could go a little darker helped the series turn a corner and make me enjoy it even more than I had been before.
Season 3, Episode 10: Heroes on Both Sides
Watching this episode, it occurs to me that I’ve never been all that clear on how the characters in the series perceive the reasons behind the Clone War. I, as the omnipotent audience member, know the whole thing has been orchestrated by Palpatine as a way to take over the Republic. But what do the Senators think is going on?
Luckily, this episode answers that question before I could go on a big rant about it. Up until now, we’ve only seen the black and white side of the war; the obviously evil military leaders of the Separatists doing heinous things to innocent on both sides. But this episode introduces us to the normal people on the other side of the curtain; the civilians of the planets that make up The Confederacy of Independent Systems.
Through the eyes of Padme and a newly redesigned Ahsoka Tano, who both visit one of Padme’s old friends on Raxus; a member world of the Separatists.
I like both Anakin and Ahsoka’s redesign in this episode. Anakin looks a little stockier, but also drops his clone armour in order to look much more like his appearance in Revenge of the Sith. Ahsoka has also been aged up slightly, looking more mature now and wearing a more modest outfit.
Smuggling themselves to Raxus, Padme and Ahsoka meet Mina Bonteri (Padme’s mentor) and her son Lux. The whole point of which is to show that this war isn’t as black and white as it’s been presented so far. You better bet your ass the leadership of the Seps are evil and corrupt, but they stand over a collection of people who genuinely do believe the Republic has fallen, and wish to succeed from it.
Then again, the very top of the Republic isn’t much better. Palpatine himself being evil incarnate. Really, this episode does a good job of painting the Republic in a less than shining light, showing how they’re most ruled by corporations and money. With companies like the Banking Clan, the Techno Union and the Trade Federation obviously having their fingers in both sides of the war and being allowed to continue getting away with it.
If anything, the governmental part of the Confederacy of Independent Systems we see actually has a stronger moral standing than the Republic Senate. It’s just too bad they’re being lead by Count Dooku. While on Raxus, Ahsoka and Lux Bonteri have a little bit of innocent flirtation, which leads Ahsoka to realise this war isn’t clean cut as she first assumed, filled with hundreds of planets of evil people. Which in hindsight is a pretty silly thing to assume.
It’s an obvious Romeo and Juliet angle the writers are going for, although whether it’ll end up going anywhere or not remains to be seen.
Both Padme and Mina float the idea of brokering peace and putting an end to the war, something that seems popular on both sides. Well, except for those individuals who are profiteering from the war. The peace bill seems doomed to failure from the beginning though, as Dooku smuggles some pretty terrifying droids onto Coruscant to perform a suicide bombing on the power grid, while also doing something similar on his own side (killing Mira in the process), causing fresh anger from both sides of the war.
A very interesting episode for me. one that throws some grey into the normally very black and white war.
Season 3, Episode 11: Pursuit of Peace
The senate is in outrage. The attack sweeping away any hope of brokering peace between the two sides of the War. Although Padme and her little collection of co-conspirators still attempt to prevent a bill being put through, one that would pour more money into the war effort. Money the Republic doesn’t have.
It’s at this point her and Bail Organa confront the Banking Clan’s representative over this loan and he openly admits to lending money to both sides in the war. I’m no expert, but isn’t that kinda illegal? If it isn’t then it should be. Profiteering from both combatants in a war seems grossly unethical to me. Plus, the interest he plans on putting onto the loan is just as criminal.
Bail and Padme spend most of the episode trying to convince the senators to vote against the loan while a couple of aquatic bounty hunters go around strong-arming and threatening them to do the opposite. Which leads to Padme deciding to walk around Coruscant alone at night, even after one of her co-conspirators has already been attacked, which is an incredibly stupid move if you ask me.
I get that Padme is headstrong and don’t need nobody to protect her, but when bounty hunters are constantly trying to assassinate you I think there’s a point where you need to take a step back and get over that pride. It’s going to get you killed. She survives the attack, as does Bail when he is attacked. The problem being that he was due to give a big speech to the senate to try and convince them all against the loan.
And so Padme is forced to give the speech in his place.
I’ll be honest. I’ve become so incredibly jaded when it comes to politics in real life. So much so that the very idea of a just and moral politician refuses to settle in my stomach. I can’t physically accept it right now. Thus most of Padme’s attitude seems incredibly naive and idealistic to be, even if this is a literal fantasy world.
That being said, Padme’s speech, one that comes after her talking to one of her attendants about her family and how the war is affecting the poorer people in the Republic, is still powerful and moving. It’s easy to forget that this grand opera of good vs evil takes place in a pretty well-realised world, and while we never see them, the normal people aren’t being forgotten by the characters who are supposed to be fighting for them.
I liked this episode too, it was effective enough to break through my walls of being utterly unable to have anything positive to feel about politicians and government. If only a moving speech could break through to the stuffy, wealthy ruling class in real life.
Season 2, Episode 15: Senate Murders
Like with the previous trio of episodes I reviewed, the prior two episodes to this one make full use of the anthology format. Creating two episodes that act as prequels to an existing episode from a previous season. And remember how I mentioned the series becoming a little more mature and complex at the beginning of this post. Well, it was watching this episode right after the previous two that made me realise it.
The story in this episode is supposed to follow on from Padme’s speech in the previous one, and yet it feels utterly disjointed and separate from that story in tone, stakes and the quality of storytelling.
We meet the senator from Kamino, who seems like a pretty rotten person. She seems to imply that the Kaminoians have a vested interest in continuing the war as they’re the ones supplying the troops for the Republic. Shortly before the Rodian Senator Onaconda Farr is murdered. Poisoned by the looks of it.
The rest of the episode turns into Padme and Bail taking the murder investigation into their own hands, despite the fact that the police keep telling them to stop interfering with their investigation. I get that the detective seems pretty disinterested and incompetent, but the fact that everyone seems to want to take these things into their own hands seems real dumb to me, especially when politicians should know better than most that them sticking their noses in could compromise a future trial.
The quality of the writing in this episode takes a noticeable dip from the previous two. It feels much more basic in its approach to events, especially compared to how nuanced the drives and character moments of the previous two episodes felt to me.
As a minor aside, I want to bring something up that’s been bothering me for a little while now. Why is it that all of the good guy’s blasters shoot blue bolts now, while the bad guys continue to shoot red ones? I kind of let it pass when the Clone’s weapons were doing it, because it matched up with the movies, but blaster bolts have been red in every other case they’re red. It just seems like some unnecessary act to colour code our good guys from our bad guys.
Which annoys me all the more as I just got over talking about the episodes in the series that did a good job of greying the morals of the whole war and blurring the lines between good guy and bad guy.
In the end, the murder is solved and despite all the trouble Padme, Bail and Mon Mothma go through the spending is approved and the extra clones are ordered for the war effort. Which seems really anticlimactic after what Padme and Bail went through in the previous episode to try and avoid it from happening. But that’s just the problem with the anthology format, when this episode was written, that extra layer of stakes didn’t exist yet.
What we have here are two strong episodes dealing with the moral grey area of the war and there are examples of good and evil on both sides of the conflict. Followed by what felt like baby’s first murder investigation, which ended up losing all of the momentum gained through Padme’s actions in the first two episodes. Which is a bummer.
It just felt like an episode being written while giving its audience much less credit than they probably deserved.
Then again, I still enjoyed them overall and the bad one wasn’t bad enough to ruin my enjoyment of the two good episodes. It’s funny, I think this might be the first collection of episodes I’ve seen in which not a single lightsaber was ignited, and I didn’t mind it in the slightest.
Next time, we get to a storyline I’ve been anticipating and looking forward to since I started watching the series:
- Season 3, Episode 12: Nightsisters
- Season 3, Episode 13: Monsters
- Season 3, Episode 14: Witches of the Mist