Another arc of The Clone Wars comes to an end with Crisis at the Heart. Let's pretend that there are real stakes in the Skywalker marriage - will Clovis split Padme from Anakin? No, of course not. But will it play out in an interesting way? Sort of - the real action is in Palpatine's head. Read on!
The set-up for this episode informs us that the chosen one, the greatest Jedi of all time, the boy who would be Sith, is spending the next 22 minutes in an effort to save the banks. For a show with the words "Clone" and "Wars" in the title this becomes almost utterly laughable, but you do get to watch the story fill a much-needed void in the mythology surrounding the prequels. Maybe you didn't think you needed to know how the Emperor got control of the banks, but that's basically what we're getting here. This whole arc was just to give Palpatine a teeny tiny bit more power - which he continues to amass, slowly, in plain view. In a way this is actually way more interesting on a macro level than the whole vote to get emergency powers in Revenge of the Sith, as it shows that there's no real need for evil magick or deception or deceit - all you have to do is convince the galaxy that you're just a little bit less corrupt than the other guy, and you get to run the show. Unfortunately, it's less about that than it is the tumultuous affair between one Ms. Amidala and one Mr. Skywalker... and to a lesser extent, one Mr. Clovis.
Numerous players come to pass, including a nifty new representative from the Separatists that may as well be wearing a red shirt. He helps Clovis ascend to the head of the banks for about ten minutes, during which time Count Dooku dumps on him and basically says that his faction refuses to pay back interest on the loans - which, for a kid's show, is sort of a strange threat. We're used to kidnappings, death threats, the utter destruction of something the hero cares about - but bank interest? Were I watching this as a child I'm sure I'd have to ask my parents what any of it means. In that respect it's quite the achievement to see what probably started as a kid's show morph into another source of Star Wars lore for adults... but let's face it, the adults checked out of this show before the first episode even aired. I'm sure the kids get the gist this is bad, but it's still interesting to see that two warring factions will basically smile and pretend to like one another for long enough to get their bank loans in place. If anything this serves as meat for a term paper stew, I'm sure that future generations of Star Wars junkies can write all sorts of interesting things now because there's so much to draw from Star Wars.
The relationship problems don't get resolved so much as ignored, and Clovis gets to die a quasi-heroic death during a fight where he lets himself fall from a ledge. Considering the many powers of the Jedi, I understand that some things must be done simply for the purpose of narrative - but Anakin Skywalker is a supernatural warrior. We've seen that his ilk can do amazing feats - lifting his teeny tiny wife and a skinny banker shouldn't be too much trouble for him without the Force, but it's not like anyone seemed too interested in resolving this particular thread in a more meaningful way. Why not let Clovis just run the banks poorly for a week or so? How about letting him see his own head gets put into a neck by making a deal with a bounty hunter or the Hutts? It's a weak end for a weak character.
The little nods to the future of the saga are a nice touch, because the audience knows full well that Palpatine runs the show - and this whole skirmish was just a distraction to let him get a tiny bit more power. In that sense it's a very effective episode, but the events and the show itself is really just a distraction. Sure we get a few cool droid battles, and yeah we get to meet a couple of new characters, but the only thing this episode left me with is an increasing respect for Palpatine as a character. It's fun to see that everything is going his way before having to use the nuclear option that is Order 66, because if nothing else it reminds the audience that the big game is going on in the background, and this entire season was little more than a decoy for fans while the big action was going on near the House of Mouse the whole time.
Takeaway from this week:
The brainy fellow is a Siniteen named Bec Lawise - and he previously appeared in Season 3.
I have to hand it to the writers that making money the bad guy is an interesting choice, but unfortunately it nor its representation in the form of the Muun make for interesting toys.
That was an awful lot of firepower just to show up to make sure the new bank CEO is installed properly.
Next time: Tune in for "The Disappeared, Part I," which I think is the first time that we've seen a "Part I" in the name of an episode. See you next mission!