Last week, we wrapped up the ‘Bad Batch’ arc with Echo making his triumphant return to the Grand Army of the Republic and a thrilling battle on Anaxes. This week, we start a new story arc featuring Ahsoka’s adventures in the underworld of Coruscant after leaving the Jedi Order.
The episode opens with Ahsoka riding a T-85 speeder bike over the industrial sector of Coruscant. The bike conveniently malfunctions over an opening to the the planet’s lower levels, sending Ahsoka on a terrifying drop into Coruscant’s underworld before she’s able to crash land onto a Level 1313 platform.
If that level sounds familiar, it’s because 1313 was originally supposed to be the setting for an undeveloped live-action series entitled Star Wars: Underworld. As you can probably guess, this area of Coruscant is known for being a hub of criminal activity.
Fortunately for Ahsoka, her bike just so happened to crash onto a platform owned by someone who is both decent/kind AND an ace mechanic: Trace Martez.
Trace offers to fix Ahsoka’s bike (for a price), but Ahsoka says she only needs the tools to do it herself. Trace happily offers her tools and shop space for an affordable rate while also revealing a star freighter she’s repurposing to one day live and work from off planet.
Ahsoka is initially skeptical of someone offering to help for small compensation, but is quickly put at ease by Trace’s matter-of-fact explanation that helping someone should be what anyone should do if they can.
Nuts and Bolts
After working on her bike for a while, Ahsoka discovers that it will need a part that Trace does not have in her shop’s inventory. The former Jedi padawan becomes frustrated at the prospect that she might be stuck in 1313 for some time…and that she might have made a mistake leaving the Jedi Order.
Seeing how miserable Ahsoka is, Trace offers to fix her bike for free. She also asks Ahsoka where she’s from, eliciting a partially true response that she’s from the upper levels of Coruscant.
Trace tells Ahsoka that’s she’s probably better off in the lower levels, especially with the Jedi up above “starting wars” and “policing everything.” As you might imagine, Ahsoka takes a slight bit of offense to this. Despite leaving the Order, she was still part of them–and they definitely did not start any wars. In fact, they were trying to stop them.
Trace responds that it doesn’t matter who started the Galactic Civil War. The Jedi had completely forgotten about the people in the lower levels of Coruscant, leaving them to eek out meager existences and fight on their own to survive the dangers surrounding them.
Before Ahsoka’s guilt can completely overtake her, the pair are interrupted by a loan shark named Pintu and two of his enforcers. Pintu claims that Trace’s sister, Rafa, was supposed to pay them that day. Since she didn’t, he was coming to her to collect.
Trace instructs Ahsoka not to intervene and attempts to talk Pintu down. This leads to her getting a thorough ass kicking (despite putting up a decent fight at first). Following a substantial number of blows to the head, Trace finally relents and asks Ahsoka for help, which results in Pintu and his thugs getting their asses (and nuts) kicked much harder.
After the thugs leave, an impressed Trace asks where Ahsoka learned to fight. She credits her skills to her brother (i.e. Anakin) before the pair head off to warn Rafa that she has people coming after her.
Ahsoka and Trace find Rafa at her laundromat attempting to steal customers’ items from the washers. Despite having an obviously lower level of ethics/empathy than her little sister, Rafa is still horrified and concerned by the bruises on Trace’s face. She also explains that she’ll be able to pay Pintu back thanks to an incoming client with a not-exactly-legal-yet-high-paying job.
After a tense introduction with Ahsoka, the aforementioned client walks in and asks if they can rebuild/repurpose a trio of droids into load lifters. Rafa happily agrees before enlisting Trace and Ahsoka to complete the job.
As the two work, Ahsoka realizes that the robots are actually repurposed demolition droids, which have a tendency to glitch out into MURDER AND DESTROY mode. Right on cue, the droid Ahsoka is working on attacks her (despite the fact she made a point of putting a restraining bolt on it).
Before the droid can do any major damage, however, Ahsoka shuts it down with a remote. Unfortunately, the droid that Trace was working on did not have its restraining bolt installed yet (and is somehow able to turn on by itself).
The unrestrained droid goes nuts and begins running around like Phoebe from that episode of Friends where she and Rachel go jogging in the park. Ahsoka and Trace give chase, but are unable to keep up with the rampaging droid on foot.
Ahsoka hurries back to Rafa’s laundromat and retrieves the droid’s tracking device. Trace arrives a few seconds later with a speeder, allowing the pair to quickly catch up with the droid. Trace uses the speeder’s forklift to catch the robot, but it immediately forces them to let it go when it begins climbing a nearby building.
Trace leaps onto the droid and manages to push its face-mounted off switch just as the murderous machine is about to climb over a ledge and kill a small child. Unfortunately, this causes the deactivated robot to slide back down the ledge with Trace hanging on for dear life.
Incredibly, Ahsoka is able to catch the falling droid over a ledge a few levels below with the speeder’s forklift. She quickly attaches the speeder’s crane to a nearby pipe and turns it on, pulling both the droid and speeder from the edge. It appears to work at first, but the strain on the cable soon causes the droid, the speeder, and Trace to fall back again.
Seeing no other options, Ahsoka finally decides its time to use the force, pulling everything back up with only one small child observing that it was her and not the crane doing the heavy lifting.
Despite the obvious danger they pose, Rafa refuses to dismantle the demolition droids, insisting that she won’t go back on deal–and that if not fulfilling her order would cause her and her sister even more problems.
Later, Ahsoka and Trace have a meal together while waiting for Rafa to finish the deal, which she deftly negotiates to double the original rate due to the demolition droids’ difficulty. Trace is not happy that her sister still went through with it, but Rafa tells her that she used the credits to pay off Pintu and gives her enough to buy new tools, which makes life better–and possible–for both of them.
After Rafa leaves (and gives Ahsoka the stink eye), Trace and Ahsoka head off to finish repairing her bike.
As has been the case in every previous episode, ‘Gone With a Trace’ looks absolutely gorgeous. It’s also great getting to see Clone Wars-era Ahsoka again, especially as she grapples internally with her decision to leave the Jedi Order.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot else to like about this week’s installment of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
While I’m sure it will lead to more things in the coming weeks, this one felt more like a bottle episode than the start of a new story arc. Stand alone episodes are fine–and can even be great–but can be extremely frustrating when you’re operating within a 12-episode final season with plenty of open plot threads and unanswered questions.
Both the antagonistic challenges Trace and Ahsoka faced felt far more silly than threatening. Considering everything we’ve seen Ahsoka go through before (and later in Rebels), watching her whip some nameless thugs and chase down a goofy rampaging droid is a fairly large letdown.
That being said, I did really like the character of Trace, especially how her friendly dichotomy with Ahsoka allows us to see the former padawan’s new life from a completely different point of view. Let’s hope next week gives this pair an adventure that’s substantially more exciting.