Let's end an arc! The Clone Wars gets an actual "part 2" with The Disappeared, Part II. In six seasons, nothing has ever been designated a part 1 or a part 2 - but that's actually not the biggest surprise, as a dangling thread returns to potentially dangle some more. Read on!
The closest thing to Indiana Jones moves along nicely with a swell pastiche of George Lucas' pulpy interests. Not only do you get Jar Jar and Jedi, but you get a temple, some doom, evil magic, mystic artifacts, and what may be an ambiguous ending. Heck, we even get a superior Willie Scott with the much less shrill Queen Julia, plus the return of Mother Talzin. I know Jar Jar isn't for everybody, but it's hard to not call this a bit of a crowd-pleaser.
Working with the Frangawl Cult, Ms. Talzin is collecting the Force for her own use - which is about as corny as it gets. The alignment of planets, a magical tower with stacking magnifying glasses, and a goofy magic plan seem like something out of a lesser installment of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (and I say that as a fan of that show). When you get right down to it, this could have been written 30 years ago, and you could have put Skeletor in it. As this whole episode has to do with Talzin trying to out-Force the Sith and the Jedi, it's interesting to see just what she is being explained to us because, frankly, I had no idea what the deal was with her powers. The episode beats the drum of it being magic, but "magic" in Star Wars tends to usually just be some alternate manifestation of the Force, so it seems that whatever she's got isn't cutting it for her. If she had a mustache, she'd be twirling it as she stands around slowly explaining her plan to her victim - Dr. Evil or Goldfinger would be proud. (For the record, I know they don't have mustaches, either.)
Mace Windu is painted as a bit more impatient and scornful than one might expect from the Jedi, as we hear him gripe about negotiating for a ride out into the desert in a scene that feels like it could have been pulled right out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. While other characters do tend to look more agitated when compared to the laid-back Jar Jar Binks, here it seems that the goofball almost turns out to be the cooler head - sure, Mace Windu makes him wait around a bit while determining their course of action, but that's to be expected. Jar Jar's lady friend makes him a bit more, if you'll forgive the phrase, human and offers the audience a reason to actually root for the goober. Binks manages to impress by not only surviving an encounter with some giant stone homonculus, but realizes he can carry around their massive weapons for his own needs. (If you collected 1990s Kenner Star Wars, the gun-to-figure size ratio may look familiar.) It's a little ridiculous, but so is Jar Jar and Mace Windu going on a swashbuckling adventure to save his girlfriend. It's silly, but it works - and getting to see Jar Jar just blast the snot out of the cultists was a delight.
The happy ending makes sense, but given the trajectory for the show it rings a little false. We know where this is all going - everything is just about to hit the fan, and the series itself is almost over. Having the Jedi lose a few battles wouldn't be a bad choice, and it would have been quite gutsy given the show's imminent conclusion. Mother Talzin once again blasts off in a puff of smoke, but not until we see a nifty sword fight against "Master Winmace." Jar Jar's bizarre nicknames do grate a bit, but there's enough big action with no real filler here so I'm pretty pleased with this two-parter. Nicely done, cast and crew - you all deserve huge medals for making the cartoon Jar Jar Binks more fully realized than the cartoony Jar Jar Binks of the movies.
Takeaway from this week:
The green orb and fog were kind of a giveaway for Mother Talzin last time, weren't they?
Lots of desert, lots of familiar sound effects.
This is the first time in a while I can say I've seen an arc, and not felt much of a loss about the lack of toys. There's not much here I would want.
I assume Mother Talzin will be to The Clone Wars what Vlix was to me for Droids - it's the one bad guy toy I'll probably never get. Sigh.
Next time: Tune in for "The Lost One," which sets the stage for the end of the series as we know it! See you next mission.