{Pop Culturally Insensitive will now be co-hosting (De)Constructing the Ion Canon, an ongoing blog surveying the entire official Star Wars canon according to its timeline. Check back every week for the next installment.}

Get caught up with the mission statementEpisode IEpisode IIthe Clone Wars movie, and the first season of the show.

After that stellar finale to an inconsistent Season 1, Hostage Crisis, it seems no surprise that the following season would be subtitled “Rise of the Bounty Hunters”. Indeed, we were due some resolution after, if you’ll recall, newly introduced badass Cad Bane, with the help of equally badass Aura Sing, sprung Ziro the Hutt from Coruscant while Anakin Die Harded his Die Hardiest to save everyone.

Or, you know, that’s what a normal show would do. The Clone Wars, on the other hand, decided to craft an entire season that takes place prior to the events in Hostage Crisis. In fact, the 16th episode of this season takes place even before the movie, or any episodes of season one, even the 16th episode of season one, which technically also took place before the movie that came out before the series. In fact, Hostage Crisis doesn’t even happen until halfway through Season 3, while the latter half of season two should occur in the middle of…you know what? ****it. Just **** it! I would rather down a quart of Wild Turkey and try and piece together the ****ing Zelda timeline than deal with this s**t. This is why we’re doing it by season, rather than suss out it’s chronology episode by episode. Because that leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to me just abandoning this s**t and just binging old Wrestlemanias. So let’s just not, shall we?

Well, chronology aside, this was one hell of a season. I mean, I had my trepidations going in after the first season that this would be another frivolity with some flickers of fun, a trifle I muscle through for the sake of completist compulsion until I get back to the movies, but woo buddy was I glad to be wrong. I was enthralled from the first few minutes, and kept right on in clean through to the end, so let’s dive right in, huh?

My boy Cad Bane is back right off the bat, this time tasked with procuring a Holocron from the Jedi Archives (holocrons are a palm-sized box of data including Jedi legends and strategy, as well as that thing you could collect all of to win a game of Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds without ever having to fight anybody) in this three-parter; Holocron HeistCargo of Doom and Children of the Force.

So, technically, we start out with a space battle, much sleeker and more cinematic than anything from Season 1. It’s clear the team has not only gotten a better grip on this style of animation, but have a larger budget than they did last season to really make something that’s great to look at as well as watch. When Ahsoka’s ego gets in the way during a battle, she’s brought before the Jedi council, chastised, and removed from the battlefield, to serve under the watchful eye of my favorite Jedi (besides Yarael Poof, of course) Jocasta Nu in the Archives. There, she’s assigned to guard the vault that contains the Holocrons. Good, we all up to speed? Great, now back to Bane.

Our first shot of him is this gorgeous crescent of light revealing a peek of his face, his silhouette at the window, as he receives instructions from Darth Sidious. After making his demands (a stealth ship, a cloaking device and triple his usual fee), summoning Cato Parasitti, a Clawdite (the same species as Zam Wessel from Attack of the Clones, remember her?) and reprogramming his sassy Seth Green voiced robot, Bane is ready. They break in and Ashoka, distracted with Parasitti first disguised as a Jedi Master and then Jocasta, has her hands too full to contend with Bane as well, and he makes off with the Holocron. The captured Parasitti give the now assembled Jedi a name, Bolla Ropal, and soon the intent of Bane’s employer is made clear: the Holocron contained the names of all the force sensitive children in the galaxy, and Bolla Ripal is the keeper of said knowledge.

As we see in Cargo of Doom, a holocron can only be opened by a Jedi. After capturing and torturing Bolla to no avail, Bane kills him and allows Anakin and Ahsoka to board his ship with the intent to trap one and force them to open the holocron. A lengthy bout ensues (the details of which it would be silly to recount), but long story short there’s some terrific zero gravity fighting, some fleeing and pursuing, and Cad finally captures Ahsoka, sealing her in an airlock, stealing her padawan braid and holding her hostage unless Anakin opens the holocron. Anakin allows his personal attachment to this girl to cloud his judgement as a Jedi, and thus sets in motion the intended death of innocent children. You know, for the first time, but certainly not the last.

Cad Bane escapes by opening the airlock, forcing Anakin to rescue Ahsoka instead of fight, and after discovering his own ship has been overtaken by clones, is confronted by two troopers, who he kills and steals the armor of in order to blend in and make his escape. When they return from the mission, Anakin assumes Bane died on the trip, but is troubled that he can still sense him with the force (I’ve noticed the rules of what can and can’t be sensed by the Force aren’t terribly consistent in this series), while assuring Ahsoka that everything from the holocron opening to Bane’s escape is his fault, not hers.

Children of the Force opens with Anakin discovering Bane’s blood in one of their ships, while Ahsoka attempts to interrogate the trooper who allegedly killed Bane to no avail. Attempting to warn Ahsoka that the silent trooper my be a ruse, Anakin is too late as the disguised Cad delivers a knee to Ahsoka’s stomach and escapes, solidifying his title as most badass character with the name Bane. Anakin warns the council of Bane’s escape, and they fear for the safety of the force sensitive children listed in the Holocron. They’re right to do so, it seems, as Sidious demands Bane kidnap some force sensitive children and bring them to the planet Mustafar.

The council dispatches Anakin to Naboo and Obi-Wan to Rodia to try and rescue children they felt were in danger through the force, but unfortunately one is too late. Obi-Wa arrives only to find the child’s hypnotized mother holding him at gunpoint, Cad in the doorway, having posed as a Jedi, fleeing with the child. Meanwhile, Anakin places Ahsoka on duty to guard a Gungan child, and Bane, hoping to find the child, stumbles upon Ahsoka in it’s room instead. They fight, and Bane is eventually subdued, with Ahsoka reclaiming her braid upon his capture. While Sidious instructs robots on Mustafar to perform nefarious surgery on the babies (with the Drago mentality of “If they die, they die”), Bane offers to lead Mace Windu and Obi-Wan to the holocron, only to drive the into a trap and escape once more, while the Jedi manage to procure the Holocron and escape before the ship explodes.

Through Cad Bane’s ship’s fueling log, Anakin determines Bane broth the children to Mustafar, and he and Ahsoka make their way there. Sidious senses their presence and demands the droid destroy the facility, meaning this show has gone from “Let’s rescue a Hutt baby” to “Let’s toss some babies into some ****ing lava”. Thankfully, the Jedi rescue the children (who, mind you, were being used as human shields by the droids, ’cause this show goes hard) and escape the facility, reporting to Yoda that the issue is resolved, and Yoda in return urges caution moving forward.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’d watch a whole show of Padme. She’s been one of the best improvements from the franchise this series has done, and this first of a five part story, Senate Spy, is made so much better with her as the focal point. Anakin returns from abroad and visit’s Padme’s apartment, bringing her gifts and dismissing a reluctant to leave C-3PO because they gone fuuuuuuuuu…..ight, apparently. Before they can even have a moment alone, Anakin is summoned by the Jedi council and told he needs to persuade Padme to spy on Senator Clovis, who’s suspected of being a Separatist spy, which she refuses to do, because the two have a history (but she says he’s just a friend. Yeah, she say he just a fwiend). I men, until Anakin says she shouldn’t, because then she gets all “You are not the boss of me, I’m gonna do it” because this is what couples do. So Padme agrees to spy on Clovis, who it turns out is working for the Separatists. He invites her to join him on Cato Neimoidia, and she agrees, bringing Anakin as her bodyguard, since he’s definitely emotionally stable enough to handle it. After a lot of banter and jealousy, Padme discovers and steals plans for a droid building facility on Geonosis that Clovis would have been funding, and manages to distract Clovis with romantic interest while getting the information to Anakin (as he glares at them from the doorway in jealous rage, Padme wraps Clovis in her arms tight, Anakin to his back, and drops the disk behind him for Anakin to catch with the force), but she’s poisoned by a drink the Neimoidians drugged. Anakin comes to her aid, and Clovis, realizing his love for Padme is more important than any business deal, and holds Lott Dod at gun point until he surrenders the antidote. The three flee to the ship, but Anakin leaves Clovis behind to presumably die all because he had the audacity to mack on Anakin’s secret wife (perhaps in a reference to the plagues visited on pursuers of Abram’s wife who he claimed was his sister in Genesis. At the very least, it makes just as little sense). Anakin cures Padme himself, and their love is rekindled. And thank goodness, because its tough to even imagine what tragedy would befall Padme had she actually fallen for Clovis, who would be willing to sacrifice his life for her safety, instead of staying with the guy who will in about three years time force choke her and cause her to die during pregnancy.

The follow-up, Landing at Point Rain, forgoes much of the forced plotting that weighed down season 1 and just goes **** it, it’s a war show, here’s a battle, and it’s honestly much the better for it. The troops fight the Geonosians, and the only real semblance of a plot thread is Anakin and Ahsoka having a game to see who can kill the most droids, ending with Ki-Adi-Mundi, the presumably uptight, stoic Jedi, admitting he not only kept count, but beat both other Jedi. It’s a great little episode that helps carry the story along with some fun action sequences.

Weapons Factory is where the Western influences start to shine through the strongest, and not just because of the “blowing up the bridge” sequence a la The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and later Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger (and many others, but figured I’d take the opportunity to plug two of my favorite westerns). Ahsoka is paired up with the Padawan of Luminara Unduli, Barriss. Yeah, there’s the typical TV show “jealousy” thing running as a thread through the episode, but mostly it’s another action-heavy episode involving the destruction of a supertank.

Legacy of Terror is all about the ambience. A plot description it would be as minimal as its potential is vast, and it lives up to it. Beneath a temple in Geonosis lies a queen creature that looks like the most badass video game boss that never was, who utilizes worm craters that can reanimate dead beings and control them through a hive mind. Yes, Luminara gets captured and then rescued by Obi-Wan and Anakin. Yes, Obi-Wan wants to study the seemingly last remaining of the worm creatures, but Anakin stomps it and tells Obi-Wan to “study the bottom of my boot”. Yeah, there are some great highlights of this terrifically chilling episode, but somehow the next episode is even darker, more intense and I honestly can’t wait to get to it, so let’s just get right to it.

The conclusion of this five-parter is Brain Invaders, which is much better than the title suggests, I assure you. Ashoka and Barrios are charged with transporting medical supplies while the Jedi Masters focus on transporting Poggle the Lesser. Unbeknownst to anyone, though, an egg had escaped the collapsed temple (oh, yeah, last episode they collapsed the temple with the queen still inside, so she’s probably dead), and hatches, with the worm inside crawling into the ear of one of the clone troopers resting by the temple. He and his brethren are given orders to travel with Ahsoka and Barriss, so an infected Clone Trooper, who can spread the infection, boards a spaceship with the two jedi and several other clones, and if you’re thinking “If I’m lucky, this episode could be the perfect blend of Alien-like fear and isolation and The Thing paranoia”, then face it tiger, you hit the jackpot.

Turns out the infected trooper has a backpack full of whom eggs, and when the ship jumps into hyperspace, Ahsoka and Barrios decide to grab some food while Scythe, the infected trooper, tosses some of the eggs into the barracks, infecting more troopers. Some storm the cockpit, killing the pilots and overtaking the ship, others storm the mess hall and attempt to subdue the Padawans, but are themselves subdued, and when two more troopers drive, the Jedi are initially hostile. They interrogate the two troopers, Trap and Havoc, who they realize are thus far not possessed. After failing to make contact with the bridge, Trap, Ahsoka and Barriss decide to decide to head there, leaving Havoc behind to guard the unconscious troopers.

Obi-Wan and Anakin are troubled to find out the medical supplies have yet to arrive, but Ki-Adi Mundi advises them to focus on interrogating Poggle. Back on the ship, the infected have set the autopilot and security shields, trapping the uninfected. Barriss attempts to take down the shields when a newly attempted Trap attempts to stop her. This leads to a sequence of him spitting a the worm from his mouth and being stabbed through the chest with a lightsaber in the single most badass non-Cad Bane moment of the series thus far. The two decide to split up, and while Ahsoka manages to get a message out to Kit Fisto, Barrios manages to get infected by a worm. Anakin, furious for the safety of his Padazan, attempts to use a jedi mind trick to get Poggle to talk. Poggle snickers about how mind tricks won’t work on him, and Anakin assure Poggle he won’t need any. He then proceeds to mercilessly beat and force choke Poggle, while the theme to The Wire plays (at least in my head it did). Swiftly, Anakin contacts Ahsoka to tell her that cold temperature will kill the worms, and she ruptures the coolant system before having to square off with a possessed Barrios who, in a moment of clarity, begs for death. Ashoka, however, refuses, killing only the worm emitted from Barriss’ mouth. Finally docking, Kit Fisto finds the girls frozen within the ship, and gets them medical attention.

The kick off of this two-parter, Grievous Intrigue, offers not a lot of intrigue, but a hell of a lot of action, and that’s fine by me. There’s some fighting between Obi-Wan and Grievous, some talk of eliminating all of the Jedi, some Grievous climbing on all fours backward like a spider, it’s a rousing good time that ends with Grievous escaped to the planet Saleucami on the Outer Rim, and that sets up the most Harlan Ellison this show has ever gotten.

The Deserter finds us on the planet Saleucami, where Commander Rex has been shot. Needing a safe place to receive medical attention, one of the clone troopers tending to him realizes they’re on a farm and therefor there must be a farmhouse. They find it, and the woman presiding over the farm is initially hostile, but agrees to let Rex recover in the barn, while her children are eager to see him and even tell him he look like their dad, which ignites the nerd imagination to wonder “Can clones have children? What is one did just try and start a life?” turns out the writers have wondered that too, as Rex is confronted by the farm’s patriarch, a clone going by the name Cut Lawquane. Rex is initially disgusted that Cut would abandon his brothers and his purpose, but Cut insists that even clones have free will, and that his family is with him on that farm, not on some battlefield; that they are his purpose.

Grievous, meanwhile, has located an escape pod and called for an airlift. Obi-Wan catches up to the general and attempts to engage him in battle, but Grievous uses a grappling hook to latch onto a Separatist ship and escape, making the entire endeavor of landing on the planet pointless, frustrating the Jedi immensely. Meanwhile, Cut Lawquane’s children accidentally activate a dormant platoon of droids who quickly attack the farm. Setting their differences aside, Cut and Rex fight side by side to defend the farm, Cut even saving Rex’s life. The next morning, upon his departure, Rex assures the family that while it’s his duty to report the deserter, he’ll likely “not remember” the events on this planet. Cut reminds him this could be a life for him as well, no more killing, a family, etc. But Rex assures him his family is elsewhere, out on the battlefield.

We return to the Blade Runner underbelly of Coruscant for this fleeting but fun one off, Lightsaber Lost. When Anakin and Ahsoka raid a bar looking for an arms dealer, Ahsoka gets her lightsaber pickpocketed, a fact she hides from her master when he exits the bar with their target. Ahsoka explains everything to Jocasta who, to her credit, doesn’t narc, but rather brings her attention to Tera Sinube, an old reptilian Jedi who is an expert on Coruscant’s criminal underground. After ascertaining the identity of Ahsoka’s thief through a database, they set out in search of the lightsaber which, after a series of interrogations appears to be in possession of a Nack Movers. Arriving at his girlfriend’s apartment, they find Nack’s dead body, and a frightened Ione Marcy, apparently Nack’s girlfriend, asking if the men who killed Nack were gone. Tera stays to comfort the girl, while Ahsoka searches the apartment, and soon finds her lightsaber in the hand of a bounty hunter named Cassie, who flees upon the realization that Ahsoka is a Jedi. Ashoka swiftly informs Tera of this development, and takes off after her.

There’s some stellar moments in this episode, from Tera’s calm revealing of his knowledge of Ione’s deception (Ione and Cassie are in some Thelma & Louise style partnership), or Ahsoka sliding down a video screen of Emperor Palpatine’s face reminiscent of those screens of Wallace Breen in Half-Life 2.  Cassie gives chase, the two Jedi chase after, and after a showdown onboard a train (the jedi find them at a train station because Tera planted a tracking device on Ione, because in one episode Tera has demonstrate more tactical skill than Obi-Wan has in two seasons), the two are arrested and Ahsoka’s lightsaber recovered. Tera urges Ahsoka to share what she has learned, and we’re treated to a very sweet sequence of Ahsoka explaining to the younglings under Yoda’s tutelage that you should take care engirding your lightsaber.

So, bet you didn’t know Mandalore, birthplace of Jango Fett, was a peaceful planet, did you? Run by pacifist leader Duchess Satine, the planet’s warriors allegedly all died out on Concordia, the planet’s moon, but a fringe terrorist group known as the Death Watch has been committing acts of violence both on and off world, and when one attacks a Republic cruiser, it sets in motion the events of The Mandalore Plot, Voyage of Temptation and Duchess of Mandalore.

The events of the three episodes get a bit repetitive, with three different handsome human characters ending up being traitors (as though it wasn’t already predictable back when it happened in Cloak of Darkness), so I’ll attempt to streamline this as best I can.

Obi-Wan arrives on Mandalore and confront Satine to see if she’s behind the Mandalorian attack, she explains the Death Watch. The romantic tension is so palpable between Satine and Obi-Wan that you can tell long before he reveals it that the two had a history (he was charged with protecting the duchess when he was still Qui-Gon’s padawan). The Death Watch, dissatisfied with Satine’s pacifist ways, are working with the Separatists in order to rally the people of Mandalore to overthrow her. After a terrorist bomber commits suicide to evade capture (yeah, this show goes ****ing hard), Obi-Wan and Satine travel to Concordia and meet Governor Pre Vizla, who is a handsome human, so long story short he’s a traitor. The only truly notable thing from this encounter is that Vizla brandishes a Darksaber saying “This lightsaber was stolen from your Jedi Temple by my ancestors during the fall of the Old Republic. Since then many Jedi have died upon its blade.” which is a canonical first for both the Old Republic and darksabers. Obi-Wan, believing that Separatists are behind the Death Watch, still cannot persuade Satine to set aside her neutral attitudes.

Aboard a ship called Coronet, Anakin and Obi-Wan stress to the troops that the safety of the Duchess is of paramount importance, and the team is promptly split up to deal with assassin probes. There’s a whole convoluted affair with Anakin battling stealthy probes in the cargo hold while Obi-Wan pulls a Hercule Poirot during the duchess’ dinner to determine who of her guests was the traitor (surprise, surprise, it was the handsome human), the highlight of the episode being when the duchess, who’d been kidnapped by the traitor, breaks free, and both she and Obi-Wan hold the man at “gunpoint”. He explains that he’s rigged the entire ship to blow, and that one of them has to kill him. Yet, if Satine does, she’ll be betraying her pacifist ideals, and if Obi-Wan does, he’ll lose Satine’s respect. Of course, before either of them has to burden themselves with idealistic compromise, Anakin shows up and within seconds has stabbed the an through the stomach because he knows how to get s**t done.

The final episode of the trilogy…kinda does the same thing the last two have done, with betrayal, Death Watch assassination attempts, etc. The main difference is the subplot involving a heavily doctored recording being used to try and get legislation passed in the Senate, but once the falsification is exposed, the government quickly recoils and rejects the motion, and that in and of itself is apparently the stuff of science fiction.

Hell yes, it’s another Padme episode in Senate Murders. We get to once more see her Rodian uncle along with his aid Lolo, attending the Senate to introduce a bill to cut military spending, because this show is House of Cards for kids. Of course, two senators who stand to directly benefit from the production of these troops oppose this bill because they “believe in the war effort”. These senators names, and really have your deciphering caps on to figure out if there’s any allusions here, are Senator Deechi (who’s full name is Mee Deechi, and is a reference to the House of Medici, and the fact that I think Deechi sounds like Dick Cheney is just a sign I need to put on my tin foil hat) and Senator Halle Burtoni (I’m just gonna put my tin foil hat away). After Burtoni greets Onaconda (Padme’s uncle), he dies, so obviously the spotlight is on her in terms of suspicion. I could walk you through the back and forth and detours of the episode or how ill fitting Tom Kenny’s voice is for the Peter Lorre looking detective, especially for the dark tone of the episode, but I’ll just up and address the fun-enough twist of Lolo doing it, not because it was her, but why. That it had nothing to do with the current bill, but rather the outrage at how he let her planet fall apart with war on its soil. She’s promptly arrested, but the bill fails anyway. Because its important to teach kids that wartime politics is a broken system of weak idealists, bigots and profiteers that will continue to churn out money and bodybags, both unevenly distributed between the upper and lower class with an ever shrinking middle.

Cat and Mouse…I don’t even really see a point in discussing. Beyond it being the first story in the Clone Wars timeline, this episode is utterly unremarkable and has virtually no effect on anything going forward. It deals with Christophsis again, where Anakin has to contend with a Separatist stealth ship which you know he’ll defeat because we’ve seen the battle of Christophsis and it’s not a factor. Do we really want to do a synopsis?

The Separatists have a ship called Invincible. It’s not.

Cool, moving on.

Oh, Bounty Hunters is fun. It is so, so much fun, in no small part due to the same recognition factor that occurs with Hostage Crisis. When Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan land on the planet Felucia in search of a lost medical station, they instead stumble upon fa family of farmers, and before they know it, are set upon by bounty hunters. Four of them. This is when the farmers explain they hired the bounty hunters to help protect them from pirates who constantly demand “tributes” from the farmers. The three Jedi agree to, for once, work with the four bounty hunters to protect the farmers, making the total number 7, and what a magnificent seven they are.

You guys, it’s the plot to Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece (and that’s saying something). You know what? I’m not even gonna get into the plot of this one. Either you know it or you don’t, and if you don’t, go out and rent Seven Samurai as soon as possible. It’s one of the greatest films ever made (yes, even surpassing the Holy Trilogy, as heretical as that sounds). You won’t regret it.

The penultimate storyline of the season continues the trend of cinematic homage, in this case the seminal kaiju film and Hollywood classic that inspired it. The Zillo Beast pays great tribute to a certain movie about a reptilian destroyer of Tokyo. Anakin, Mace Windu and a hologram of Palpatine wonder about the negative consequences of their new Electro-Proton Bomb, intended to effect only droids and not their troops. The troops, however, are so vastly outnumbered, they have no option but to use it, and damned if it isn’t a hell of a sequence to watch (observe the first half of this video, and note the projectile is so A-bomb looking you expect Slim Whitman to be riding on it). Sure enough, the droids are wiped out, disabled by an EMP blast which also takes out Palpatine’s hologram and Anakin’s arm (one of the only acknowledgments of Anakin’s robot hand this whole show thus far, so much so I’d forgotten about it). Yet, the group has little time to celebrate, as the ground beneath them begins to shake, and a sink hole traps several troopers. While Anakin works to negotiate a trade deal with the leader of the planet, Mace goes below to investigate and rescue, when one of the survivors warns him of something dangerous.

That something, it turns out, is a giant creature known as the Zillo Beast, who is virtually indestructible. His scales, it turns out, cannot even be penetrated by lightsabers. It’s the lightsaber revelation that immediately fascinates Palpatine, and he demands they capture the creature so that its scales could be studied and used for new clone trooper armor, and the fact that Palpatine really wants lightsaber-proof clone trooper armor doesn’t phase any of the Jedi in the slightest (so, really, they kind of deserved to die at this point). The natives of the planet want the creature dead, as its the last of its breed, and they had believed it to be extinct (and should like to keep it that way), but Anakin devises a plan to stun it that it might appear dead, thereby appeasing the natives and securing the trade agreement, and allowing the Republic to take the creature for study (and armor development, for easier eventual Order 66 stuff). The plan works, even with the foolhardy interference of the native leader, and Palpatine tells them to bring the creature to Coruscant, because in a galaxy far, far away, nobody’s seen how that worked out in King Kong.

And speaking of King Kong, if The Zillo Beast is GodzillaThe Zillo Beast Strikes Back is so, so King Kong, and it’s glorious. Back on Coruscant, Mace Windu worries that the danger the creature poses outweighs any potential benefit from study, and Obi-Wan concurs, but advises Windu that might seek help from someone more prominent in Palpatine’s esteem. Palpatine, meanwhile, has a solution for the problem of scale removal causing the beast great pain: simply kill it. The researcher he’s assigned to it objects, suggesting the beast is sentient, but Palpatine assures her that another researcher can be assigned to the study should her conscience prevent her from doing what’s necessary.

Obi-Wan and Padme implore Anakin to speak to Palpatine about the error of killing the creature, and he agrees, but when the secret couple meets with Palpatine and one of his advisors, Anakin stays neutral in the heated debate, much to Palpatine’s pleasure and Padme’s disdain. Naturally, since this is a King Kong homage, you know the beast breaks free, and climbs to the top of the senate building (except this time holding a ship with Palpatine, Anakin, Padme and R2 instead of Fay Wray). Eventually, the group escape its clutches, and the Republic proceeds to poison-bomb the s**t out of the creature until it dies, slowly and agonizingly, for all to see, because that’s something a kids show does now. Anakin laments the tragedy that’s just unfolded (sadly not saying beauty killed the savage beast, but there’s only so much homage I can ask for), while Palpatine instructs his scientist on a new undertaking: clone the creature.

Lastly, the season fully earns its “Rise of the Bounty Hunters” subtitle in this, the Boba Fett trilogy. Death Trap starts us off with a group of young clones touring a Republic ship, and one familiar looking young boy named Lucky appearing to be the most promising of the new “recruits”. The first act plays out like Ender’s Game, and if the whole episode had just been showing us how the Republic army functions through the eyes of kids blessedly bereft of even an ounce of Amblin, I would have been ok. We get to see sarcastic troopers, looking to rile up the young ones (“Admit it, you’re lost”, “What do you shoot at?” “Malfunctioning droids”), we see that Anakin proudly showboats in front of the kids in order to boost his ego. In the end, this episode is about more than just kids, though. Or rather, it’s about one kid in particular, as Lucky is actually Boba Fett, the “son” of Jango Fett, and he’s aboard the ship to exact revenge on Mace Windu for beheading his “father”. After a bomb planted by Boba fails to kill Windu (a trooper sets it off instead), the entire ship is on the look out, and Aura Sing (who has apparently become Boba’s mentor) instructs him he must attack the ship’s core, killing everyone. He’s reticent, but concedes, and when a trooper finds him in the console room, assuming him lost, Boba gets ahold of the trooper’s blaster and beats him over the head with it, then firing the blaster on him when he’s down (admittedly on stun, but the scene is still so grim they didn’t run it in Australia). The children, Boba included, are all confined to one escape pod as everyone aboard the ship flee, and that pod is intercepted by the Slave One, and Aura convinces Boba to let the pod full of kids drift off and die in the cold emptiness of space because they’re living witnesses, and he with regret concurs, muttering an apology as he shuts the door and abandons the to the cold embrace of oblivion.

Yeah, Obi-Wana and Anakin rescue them moments later, but it would have been so much cooler if the didn’t.

R2 Come Home is the weakest of the three, as a fair amount of it involves R2-D2 pulling Home Alone style traps on the pursuing bounty hunters after Anakin and Mace are trapped beneath rock. The one highlight is what causes them to be trapped, that Boba Fett plants a bomb inside his father’s helmet that explodes upon being lifted. Mace knows better, but Anakin unwittingly causes the explosion, and the two are stuck waiting for R2 to get help, which he does, so nothing of actual consequence happens, nothing is established or resolved, no character development occurs. It’s just filler, but its far more engaging filler than the kind we encountered in Season 1, so I’ll cut it slack.

The finale, Lethal Crackdown, cranks up the Western influence to 11, even without an appearance from resident gunslinger Cad Bane. Anakin and Mace Windu are in recovery at the Jedi temple when they receive a transmission from Aura Sing revealing the men they thought had died with the ship, including Admiral Kilian and Ponds, are alive and in the possession of the bounty hunters. Well, they were alive, since Aura tries to make Boba execute Ponds for the Jedi (and the viewer at home) to see, before she shoves him out of the way and does it herself. Ashoka and Plo Koon take it upon themselves to go after the survivors, but Ahsoka’s hot temper prevents them from being able to gather much intel.

Meanwhile, a rift has arisen between the bounty hunters, and after they arrive on the planet Florrum and Aura seeks out her lover, Hondo (the pirate we’ve seen in, well, every episode a pirate has been mentioned), one of the bounty hunters calls a friend to vent about how he’s been treated. However, Aura overhears and kills him on the spot. Back at one of Coruscant’s underground bars, Plo advises Ahsoka to simply listen and focus, and she overhears someone say their friend got killed from being overheard talking on Florum (I couldn’t think of a better way to word that), and after a brief skirmish in the bar when Ahsoka gets caught eavesdropping, the two head to the planet to try and rescue their comrades.

When they arrive on Florum, they’re greeted by Hondo who walks them to the cantina to meet Aura, but freely admits to them its a trap (doing so so they know he isn’t behind the trap). Sure enough, the cantina is empty but for Aura and a single table, and she attempts to extort Koon for a ransom, claiming she has a comlink to Bossk, who will execute the hostages should he not apply. Simultaneously, Ahsoka destroys Aura’s comlink and puts her lightsaber to Aura’s throat, and Boba Fett puts a blaster to the back of Plo Koon’s head. It’s a tense mexican stand off, very Ford/Leone in nature, concluding in a flipped table and Aura escaping with Ahsoka giving chase.

Plo tries to extract the location of the hostages from Boba, who finally relents when Hondo tells him Jango would want him to do the honorable thing, even though…I mean, judging from all we’d seen of him and his chosen profession, I don’t know how true that actually is. Anyway, Plo gets the intel to Ahsoka, who manages to rescue the hostages seconds before their execution. Aura manages to take off in the Slave One and, in one of the most badass sequences in the show, Ahsoka jumps onto the moving ship and just starts hacking away in furious anger at the windshield of the ship, eventually destablizing it and dismounting before it crashes in a fiery wreckage. Later, on Coruscant, the captured Boba Fett apologizes to the assembled Jedi, including Mace Windu, for the damage he’s down, but vows that he will never forgive Windu for the death of his father.

And if all that isn’t enough to convince you this season is worth watch, let’s just note that Boba Fett’s “theme” in the three episodes, which plays whenever there’s a moment of significance for the character, is the first three notes of the four note harmonica refrain from Once Upon A Time in the West.

So, overall, is Season Two worth watching? An emphatic yes. With a single exception, there isn’t a boring or commonplace episode in the bunch. The show is really finding its footing here, and hints that the next season will be even more assured and engaging as such. It’s bookended by some really gripping action, and is packed with varied stories, exciting set pieces and some clever homages. Even if you weren’t sold on Season 1, definitely give this season a glance. If for no other reason than a significant lack of Jar Jar (who I still stand by, damn it).

Come back next week, where we’ll talk about Season 3 of The Clone Wars.

12 thoughts on “(De)Constructing the Ion Canon: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2

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