A TV Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The final season of The Clone Wars reintroduces a character from all the way back in Season Two: Clovis, who frankly I’m sure we all assumed had died in spectacular fashion at the end of Senate Spy. Or a grisly fashion, whatever. Senator Padmé Amidala arrives on Scipio to help fund a mercy mission. She meets Rush Clovis and is naturally disgusted considering he helped fund a giant droid foundry on Geonosis. But Clovis beseeches Padmé to help him undercover a nefarious plot within the Banking Clan. Padmé being Padmé naturally agrees to do so. Anakin is understandably furious. Trusting a guy whose accomplice had poisoned you and made a factory for the enemy doesn’t strike as the most logical thing to do. But as much as this story is about Emperor Palpatine gaining control of the banking system, it’s also about the sheer reality that Anakin and Padmé’s relationship shouldn’t really work. Even though it does wrap up too neatly at the end, I earnestly believe that the exposure of the cracks in this extremely volatile, unhealthy relationship provide extraordinary insight into the saga as a whole. It may be the most honest moment the pair has ever gotten in the series.
Before I get to the plot and the characters, I have to note how phenomenally stunning the production design of Scipio is. The creators used an obvious reference point with connecting Scipio and Switzerland with the financial ties and banks and all. The exterior of Scipio is gorgeous, with Swiss Alps towering mountains forming massive façades of breathtaking beauty. The interiors of the Banking Clan’s planet are wonderfully intricate, patterned after the famed Swiss clockwork tradition. It adds a phenomenal sense of environment to an engrossing story. And to add to the production design commentary, the show has gotten really good at explosion animations – that shot with Embo looking down upon his terror with the quiet expression that is his trademark.
The plot set-up is fairly simple, especially once Padmé’s plot with Clovis begins. She is naturally hesitant to trust him but he promises her unprecedented access to the Baking Clan’s vaults. Tekkla provides the necessary distraction, but she is killed in the line of duty by Embo and is presumably then blown to smithereens by the bounty hunter. Anakin arrives on the scene after Padmé is arrested for espionage. She refuses to back down and he is naturally upset after seeing Clovis again. Padmé tries to convince him of Clovis’s turnaround but they’re besieged by Embo. Not to be outdone by a speeder, he grabs his hat and begins to snowboard (snowhat?) down the mountain.
The chase sequence is a work of wonders. Perhaps it was added in to give a mostly talkative episode some action oomph, but regardless of why it was added, it worked really well. The animation was superb and the action shots under the director’s camera were done really, really well. They escape but Darth Sidious congratulates Embo on a job well done. How does the Sith Lord figure into this and what hand could he have in a story primarily concerned with relationships and the reality that the Banking Clan is basically broke?
An Old Friend is a solid story-arc opener, bringing back an old player in the series for maximum emotional effect. Political story lines in the show have always been solid, even though their actual episode execution is quite hit and miss. But the characters are solid and the writers seem content to take Padmé and Anakin’s relationship in an actually complicated direction. The following installment will raise the stakes, even though the shadows of Revenge of the Sith unfortunately casts its shadow over the entire proceedings. Rest in peace, Tekkla.
Title: An Old Friend
Writer: Christian Taylor
Director: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Chronologically Episode #113
Image Courtesy: Star Wars OS