Another Friday, another new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how wonderful it is to be able to say that again.
Last week, Captain Rex and the Bad Batch squadron found evidence that the Separatists were gaining advanced battle intel from ARC Trooper Echo, who was previously thought to have perished on a rescue mission to the Citadel.
This week, Anakin joins Rex and the Bad Batch to see how–or even if–Echo is still alive.
The episode opens with Sergeant Hunter and Anakin Skywalker agreeing to a mission to Skako Minor, but remaining skeptical of Captain Rex’s belief that Echo is still alive. Hunter believes it may in fact be a trap. As far as Anakin is concerned, the primary object is to retrieve the source of the signal broadcasting Republic battle plans to the Separatists–whatever that may be.
Before heading off on that adventure, however, Anakin has another job for Rex: Guarding the barracks while he makes a holo-call to his secret wife, Padmé.
As the two lovers discuss how much they miss each other–and Padmé reminds Anakin why what they’re doing is important enough to sacrifice their time together–Obi-Wan approaches.
Rex makes a lame excuse about Anakin checking his gear out for him that Obi-Wan sees right though. Before things can get any more awkward, Anakin emerges from the barracks. It’s enough to save Rex, but not enough to keep Obi-Wan from remarking that that he hopes Anakin told Padmé hello for him.
Anakin, Rex, and the Bad Batch make their way to Skako Minor in the Havoc Marauder. Upon entering the planet’s atmosphere, they are hit with severe turbulence. They manage to land, but are almost immediately descended upon by a giant flying reptile being ridden by an alien.
Tech explains that the alien is from a primitive species native to Skako Minor called The Poletec. They not only worship the flying creatures (which are called keeradaks), but also use them as flying mounts…which feels more than a bit contradictory, but let’s just go with it.
Against Rex’s warnings, the team rushes out to confront the creature and its rider. Anakin urges everyone to stay calm and try to communicate with each other. He’s rewarded for his level-headedness by one of the keeradaks grabbing him and taking off.
Tech gives Crosshair a thermal reading, which he uses to shoot a grappling line onto the keeradak that grabbed Anakin and ride after it like a total badass. Unfortunately, his skill as a marksman doesn’t quite hold up in unstable/high altitude scenarios. After shooting at the creature’s Poletec rider and missing, the keeradak brings Crosshair to a ledge overlooking a village where he’s forced (?) to drop.
Luckily, the rest of the team is able to locate Crosshair’s position. They arrive and quickly disarm the Poletecs, freeing Anakin. Tech is also able to translate the Poletec’s language, which sounds a lot like the backwards talking from Twin Peaks when he speaks it. This helps diffuse things from an armed conflict into a negotiation.
Understandably, the Poletecs do not want the Galactic Civil War on their planet, which is why they took Anakin. Rex and Anakin explain that they are there because of the presence of Wat Tambor, a known Separatist sympathizer/collaborator–and because he may be holding one of their people (Echo) hostage.
The Poletec chieftain offers a pair of scouts to help the squadron travel to Tambor’s base of operations in the nearby city of Purkoll. He also declares that his people will not involve themselves in the conflict any more than that.
Admiral Trench calls Tambor to warn him of the impending attack, which he vows to be ready for.
Meanwhile, the Poletec scouts are able to get the squadron to a high vantage point overlooking Purkoll. From here, the group encounters a couple of problems:
- Wrecker is scared of heights (which is hilarious)
- Tech can no longer get a lock on Echo’s signal.
Tech suggests that it may be due to latency issues caused by Skako Minor’s disruptive atmosphere. Hunter, on the other hand, reiterates his belief that Echo’s voice is being used lure them into a trap.
When Rex pushes back on Hunter’s assessment, Crosshair suggests that Rex is letting his feelings get the best of him after leaving his comrade to die on the Citadel. Not satisfied with simply being an a-----e devoid of empathy, Crosshair kicks it up a notch by also suggesting that he would have done the same, especially since Echo was just another “reg.”
This predictably results in Rex kicking Crosshair’s ass. Wrecker manages to pull Rex off his teammate and toss him aside, but that does little to dissuade the captain from throwing hands at either of them. Thankfully, Anakin is able to diffuse the situation before Rex can be turned into a blue and white smear on the mountainside.
After telling the Bad Batch to scout for an entrance to Tambor’s stronghold, the jedi takes a moment to tell Rex that he should prepare himself for the very real possibility that Echo isn’t there. Rex acknowledges the possibility, but remains convinced that his brother is still alive and in need of their help.
After Tech is able to reacquire Echo’s signal, the squadron finds an entrance to Tambor’s stronghold. It also happens to be a lift for a high altitude base, which once again gives us a great moment of Wrecker being nervous/scared.
Just as Anakin is reminding them that this is a stealth mission, the group encounters a large battalion of D-wing air support droids. The Bad Batch immediately goes to work demolishing them with Rex and Anakin resigning themselves to a brute force infiltration.
After encountering and defeating more D-wing droids, the group finally reaches the room where Echo’s signal is coming from. Despite a final giant wave of droids (and some meaningless taunts from Tambor), the group is able to hold things down while Tech and Rex break into the room…and just as Rex thought, they find Echo.
The ARC trooper’s body is stitched together with cybernetics and hooked up to a central computer, but he’s still alive.
After Tech and Rex get him out of the cyro chamber, the captured clone immediately begins speaking as if it were mere moments before he was gunned down on the Citadel. Upon seeing Rex, the soldier thanks his Captain for coming back for him. Rex responds by assuring Echo that he’s going to be okay–and that they are finally going home.
First off, can we talk about how incredible this season looks? I know the six year wait for new episodes wasn’t fun, but what was already a beautiful looking series is absolutely gorgeous now. I mean, just look at that opening shot.
From the beautiful landscapes to the detailed facial expressions to the mind-blowing action sequences, you’ll be hard pressed to find another animated show that has ever looked this good.
As far as the story goes, this one hits all the right notes, as well. For starters, it’s always good to see characters like Rex question the world around them. In this case, his obsession over finding Echo is an extension of his refusal to give up on yet another of his brothers that had been chewed up and spit out by an all consuming war. The mission is as much about Rex reclaiming his humanity as it is about reclaiming his friend.
It was also a nice touch seeing Obi-Wan call Anakin out on his relationship. Not that I agree with the jedi’s ridiculous (and laughably inconsistent) rules about attachments, but if anyone should have known that Anakin was secretly married, it’s best friend.
And then you have Rex’s reunion with Echo. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional at all, but the scene was so haunting and well done that it definitely got to me.
About the only thing I didn’t like about this episode was a small collection of minor issues:
- Crosshair missing multiple shots
- The keerak/Poletec chieftan flying Crosshair right next to the Poletec village.
- Anakin struggling against two battle droids.
- Wat Tambor gloating that they predicted all the squadron’s moves despite his defense force getting its ass handed to it.
- Wat Tambor basically admitting they had Echo during his villain monologue.
Like I said, nothing too serious, but enough to leave a very small blemish on an otherwise exceptional episode.
Even if the plot were flat, the fight sequences alone are spectacular enough that this would have been an entertaining 22 minutes of television. When you add in the highly compelling and well crafted storyline, however, you get what’s turning out to be one of the best story arcs in the acclaimed series’ history…
…and an excruciating wait until next Friday.