I’ve said this before, but some of the more interesting stories told in the Clone Wars series are the ones that actually take a step away from the war itself and look at some other part of the galaxy. These episode delves back into our favourite hive of scum and villainy and take a pretty unique stab at telling with no real recognisable face at its forefront. I mean, not really but you’ll get where I’m going with this.
Season 4, Episode 15: Deception
During our introductory exposition dump, we learn that the entire series of events to follow are kicked off by the knowledge that there is some kind of plot by the Separatists. Plotting with the end goal of kidnapping Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Plotting that is further being masterminded by a criminal named Moralo Eval, a criminal whose incarceration in a Coruscant prison isn’t enough to halt whatever plans he’s already put into motion.
To get to the bottom of this plan, the Jedi decide to use some rather backhanded tactics by their own standards. Which is, as far as I can tell, the real underlying message of this episode. The increasing focus on how the Jedi continue to become more un-Jedi like as this war continues to wage on.
The Jedi’s plan all depends on Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. His first act in which is to get assassinated by a sniper, which all seemed a little excessively dramatic to me. Although that quickly turns out to be the point, as Obi-Wan takes the identity of the very sniper that shot him. Changing his face and his voice to become Raki Hardeen.
Then he gets himself arrested and goes about getting in good with Moralo Eval in order to learn more about the details of the kidnapping plot. Obviously, things start to go awry immediately when it’s revealed that Eval’s Cellmate is Cad Bane. Who takes an instant dislike to the disguised Obi-Wan, and makes it so Obi-Wan is forced to join in on their escape plan to try and stay close to Eval.
There are a ton of interesting little character moments littered throughout this episode. Including a little Boba Fett cameo who is almost unrecognisable with his hair cut so short. The major subplot for these first two episodes is Anakin and Ahsoka shaking down bars in order to find and arrest Hardeen (Obi-Wan). Anakin is livid, going around just force choking people to get closer to Obi-Wan’s “murderer” as quickly as possible.
It seems like a highly risky play from the Jedi Council to leave Anakin in the dark like this, because while his emotional outbursts are helpful in maintaining the illusion of his master being dead, there’s also no guarantee he’ll just snap and try to execute the disguised Obi-Wan there and then on the spot.
Another thing I found strange is that there are clones running the prison, made all the stranger by the fact that it seems like the clones are breaking the rules to allow prisoners to move freely around and meet one another. I wonder if that’s a writing oversight, there’s a joke in there about machines taking our jobs, but I’m above that.
Obi-Wan has lumped in with Eval and Bane at the exact right moment though, as they break out just after meeting him. Thus he throws himself in with Bane’s plan and makes himself invaluable to them. Almost suspiciously so, something Bane picks up right away, reminding us once against that he’s one of the shrewdest, most highly competent characters in the series.
On their way out, Obi-Wan makes a point to avoid killing anyone himself. But doesn’t do much about the ton of collateral damage caused by Bane as he guns people down left and right to lead their escape. Which makes me wonder if this is supposed to be a sign of the Jedi falling even further.
Despite Obi-Wan being one of the best of the Jedi, they’re sure letting a lot of injustice slide during their wartime role and seem increasingly comfortable with compromising their morals for the sake of a “greater good”.
Season 4, Episode 16: Friends and Enemies
Eval, Cad Bane and the disguised Obi-Wan Kenobi have stolen a ship and crash landed on Nal Hutta. Planning on changing ships to lose any tail they might have. Upon enterering a settlement and getting some new clothes and equipment, Bane goes around the planet being a total douche to everyone, which seems pretty short-sighted for a character like him. But maybe it was all a part of his plan, seeing as he ends up double-crossing Obi-Wan, leaving him on Nal Hutta with some of the upset locals.
It’s at this point that I started to realise that the writers seemed to be making the effort to tell a story with entirely original characters. While Hardeen is technically Obi-Wan, for all intensive purposes he’s not. I’ve personally been content to consume Star Wars stories that have no connection to the greater lore and are full of totally original characters for a while now.
But when it comes to their movies and tv shows, Star Wars have been a little more skittish to avoid leaving those hooks of connection to the other aspects of the lore. Despite Rogue One being a fantastic standalone story that didn’t have that many connections to the other movies, all anyone could talk about afterwards was that Darth Vader scene. Right now, this seems like the closet we’re going to get to a story arc focused on characters outside of recognisable faces.
Focusing on this collection of low lives and criminals is fun though, they’re constantly at one another’s throats and trying to double-cross one another. It’s very entertaining. Seeing Obi-Wan and Bane keep throwing each other under the bus is great, but also shows a begrudging respect forming, at least when it comes to Bane’s view of “Hardeen”.
Cutting back to Coruscant is where the real character drama comes in though. While Obi-Wan is trying to commune with the council to give himself more opportunity to get into from Eval, Palpatine intentionally starts leaking information to Anakin, who is torn up over the murder of his master and the subsequent escape of the killer. Palpatine is sowing the seeds of distrust between Anakin and the Jedi Council by allowing him to realise things are intentionally being withheld from him.
Following that, he tells Anakin exactly where Hardeen is. Which is actually the last thing the rest of the Jedi would want to happen. It makes me wonder what Palpatine’s actual endgame in all of this is. If this is a plot by Dooku to kidnap the Chancellor, then it’s obviously a plan by Palptaine to kidnap himself in reality. Is his plan to have Anakin inadvertently murder his own master in a rage and then fall into despair upon learning the truth?
Using Anakin’s disillusion with the Jedi and the tragedy of killing his best friend to drive him to the Dark side? It almost comes to that in the end, but after a chase and brief battle, Anakin is knocked unconscious by the combined attack from both Obi-Wan and Cad Bane. It’s only Ahsoka jumping in at the last minute that prevents Obi-Wan from having to blow his cover to stop Bane killing Anakin. Leaving Anakin with a feeling that there’s something familiar about this Hardeen character.
I enjoyed these two episodes. Getting away from the war is always a nice diversion and this prison break storyline is thrilling and packed with twists and turns all along the way. In addition to some great groundwork being laid that further establishes the fall of the Jedi order into some kind of political organisation rather than they were historically meant to be. Sowing some seeds of distrust between a number of our larger movers and shakers in the order.
Plus, we get to see a few scenes of Anakin being genuinely intimidating. It’s funny, I’m so used to this series’ interpretation of Anakin Skywalker, that I’ve almost forgotten how bad the original performances were from Hayden Christianson during his two movies. No disrespect to him, I know it wasn’t all his fault.
But the fact that Obi-Wan’s cover was genuinely close to being blown, coupled with Anakin’s genuine anger and grief made it feel like there was some real stakes to the story and had me really invested to see where things were going. And I wonder if there is a real point to this whole kidnapping plot or if it ends up falling flat by the time we’re all done.
Next time, I’ll be talking about the second two episodes dealing with Obi-Wan’s mission as Raki Hardeen in
- Season 4, Episode 17: The Box
- Season 4, Episode 18: Crisis on Naboo