Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited – Part 49: The Spice of Life

These four episodes of the Clone War’s final season almost seemed like they could have been bundled up and repackaged as their own little movie. For the most part, this seemed like a story unfamiliar to the majority of how Clone Wars operated, as that focused mainly on being an anthology.

After six years of fans wondering what happened to Ahsoka shortly following the events of her departure from the Jedi Order, this story reveals how she started to make her first steps into a life beyond the cult.

Season 7, Episode 05: Gone with a Trace

Shortly following her departure from the Jedi Order, Ahsoka Tano is doing… I don’t even know what. She’s traded her old outfit for a set of bellbottom overalls and a speeder bike that doesn’t work. After seeing her last, I always assumed Ahsoka would have made a beeline to the spaceport and gotten off Coruscant, maybe returned to her racial homeworld of Shili to do some soul searching.

But nope, instead she’s just milling around Coruscant, practically still on the doorstep of the Jedi Temple. Relatively speaking at least. And from what I can tell, she’s utterly directionless. She’s headed somewhere at the beginning before her bike explodes from under her, but she never makes any mention of what she was doing before she crashed into Trace Martez’s life.

Speaking of which, this episode introduces the Martez sisters: Trace; the the naively idealistic mechanic and pilot and her older sister Rafa; the more street smart and fast-talking con-woman. Through this episode we get to meet these two new characters and get to know them a little, all while establishing Ahsoka’s strong sense of duty and doing the right thing is in no way diminished despite no longer being a part of the Jedi Order.

The episode itself is some general fun and hijinks, although it is far slower paced than a more typical episode of the Clone Wars. A low concept, character driven story that starts to set up the conflicts that will happen between the three characters in the coming episode. Which I welcomed entirly.

Season 7, Episode 06: Deal no Deal

This second episode really gets the big conflict of the arc underway. Having already established Rafa as something of a swindler whose drive to earn credits and desire provide for her sister end up getting blurred together at times, she ropes Trace and her new bestie Ahsoka into a transport job, using Trace’s ship she managed to scrap together over the past few years to do so.

Ahsoka is instantly suspicious of Rafa from the start, unable to keep her lofty Jedi ideals and morals from criticising Rafa’s methods and attitude. After a shaky first flight in which Ahsoka and Anakin make a passing connection in the force it becomes very clear that this is no simple logistics job. In fact, Rafa has turned the crew into Spice runners. Transporting a shipment from Kessel to the Pyke Syndicate on Oba Diah.

Realising what’s happening, Ahsoka and Rafa get into a moral debate about the financial reward of what they’re doing vs. the moral cost of delivering a dangerous drug to a criminal syndicate. To which Trace does the worst possible thing in dumping the entire shipment out into hyperspace, totally losing it.

I like Trace, but her naivety seems a little a little too childlike at times. Especially compared to her sister Rafa, although Rafa is pretty naive when it comes to actually dealing with big time criminals. So it’s up to Ahsoka to try and bail them out of the mess. Something that doesn’t quite work out as the group find themselves captured by the angry Pykes anyway.

Season 7, Episode 07: Dangerous Debt

Now in prison, the bickering between the trio continues. That is until Rafa reveals the sister’s history and why they both have a negative view on Jedi. They reveal that during season one, when Cad Bane broke Ziro the Hutt out of prison, one of the ships that crashed during his escape destoryed the Martez home, killing the sister’s parents.

While the Jedi did save many lives by diverting the ship, they did nothing to help the sisters and the other victims of the prison break other than give them a sympathetic smile. Throughout the series, we’ve bene presented with increasing evidence of the shortcomings of the Jedi as the exist in this era. While see see them operate more intimately than most as the audience, the normal people of galaxy could easily perceive them as these emotionless figures who make life and death choices on a whim and then simply walk away without dealing with the consequences.

I almost feel like this is a subtle dig on religion for some reason. Like how the Jedi they encountered after their parents died gave them the Star Wars equivalent of “thoughts and prayers”, although maybe I’m putting something onto the event that was never supposed to be there.

Back in the present, the Pykes aren’t just killing the women because they really need to know where that spice is. Which gives our heroes some time to make several escape attempts. And they almost make it too, if not for a bit of rotten luck. And end up recaptured before they can get as far as their ship.

The other part of this episode worth noting is that during their escape, Ahsoka draws the attention of some hooded figures. Figures I recognised as Bo-Katan and her band of Mandalorian mercenaries.

Season 7, Episode 08: Together Again

They really do pack a lot of stuff into these episodes, I had to check they are were still at about 20 minutes a piece and no longer, because they’re dense.

After making amends to some small degree, Ahsoka plans to give herself to the Pykes, tricking them into using her as leverage to allow Trace and Rafa to escape under the guise of going to get the spice. The problem, is that while we know Ahsoka is more than capable than escaping on her own, the sisters still haven’t figured out her advantage of being a Jedi.

Rafa’s newfound respect for Ahsoka at her act of sacrifice emerges as a pigheaded refusal to be in her debt. And through some fast talking she manages to steal some more Spice from the Pykes to give back to the Pykes in return for Ahsoka’s freedom. It’s a nice idea, just too bad that it comes too late. While escaping, Ahsoka’s drive to be a do-gooder leads her to planting explosives all over the Pyle facility and getting herself recaptured.

But not before learning that the Pykes are working for Maul, which explains why they are all so antsy and desperate to get that spice back. It’s when the discover that Ahsoka is a Jedi that they see their route out of Maul’s wrath at losing the Spice. It’s hard to tell if the return of the Martez sisters is a good thing or not when they do barge back in.

Using the explosions set up by Ahsoka earlier the trio manage to escape on Trace’s ship and after a brief dogfight manage to return to Coruscant. It’s at the end of this episode where things start to feel a little more like the Clone Wars of old. Bo-Katan shows up and demands Ahsoka’s help in taking Mandalore back from Maul.

As I said at the top, this entire story arc feels like it could be its own movie. It’s much more character driven story, developing the sisters and their relationship to one another and to Ahsoka. Mostly developing Rafa from a risk taking petty criminal into a more responsible older sister for Trace. The problem really is with how these epsiodes end.

The sisters obviously has a shaky history with Jedi, given the role they played in the death of their parents and they subsequent abandonment to fend for themselves. And yet, after discovering Ahsoka’s status as a Jedi from the Pykes, not from Ahsoka herself, any backlash that may come from that reveal gets swept under the rug.

Like the Clone Wars of older seasons, once the danger is past the episode feels like its falling over itself to rush into the ending credits. Given this is the last time we see either of the sisters, they’re all too happy to let Ahsoka leave with Bo-Katan.

It felt like this reveal should have been a much bigger deal in the dynamic between the characters, maybe one that would come out at the end of the third episode and then be the rift that needs to be bridged for them to come together again and make their final escape.

After a really strong start to these four episodes, I feel like they kind of dropped the ball for the ending. They set up conflict between the characters that they never end up addressing, despite there was a perfectly place for it within the structure of the story they already told.

It’s kind of a bummer honestly. I really came to like the Martez sisters by the time the story arc was over, but they don’t really get a fair shake of resolution by the end in my eyes. Maybe Disney has plans for the characters again in the future, maybe in comics or novels or something, but it kind of feels like Rafa ends up jumping onto the Ahsoka fan wagon far too quickly at the end, despite the continued antagonism between the two throughout the arc.

Especially how she just found out Ahsoka had been lying to them about being a Jedi moments before the episode ends.

Plus Trace kind of ends up taking a back seat to her older sister despite being the stronger of the two in the first episode. With Rafa becoming slightly more moral and realising what is important to her by the time the arc is over being the main bit of character development throughout.

I enjoyed these episodes overall don’t get me wrong. Seeing a story focusing entirely on the “normal” people of the Star Wars universe, another story in the world of “scum and villainy” separate from the Jedi and war is always an aspect of the world I love to see. Plus, getting to focus on Ahsoka is always welcome in my books.

I just feel like they really rushed that ending when they really didn’t need to.

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