Last week, Ahsoka and the Martez sisters were captured by the Pyke Syndicate after Trace (stupidly) dumped their spice delivery. This week, the group attempts to escape before Marg Krim realizes they don’t have his spice and executes them.
History of Heartache
The episode opens with Ahsoka, Trace, and Raffa locked in a prison cell within the Pyke Syndicate stronghold. Trace laments their situation, which Raffa (rightfully) points out is because she decided to dump their shipment. Ahsoka stands up for Trace, countering that Raffa is the one who took the shady job in the first place…which okay, fine. But what Trace did was still colossally stupid.
Anyway, Raffa makes a derogatory remark about how Ahsoka is acting like a Jedi. This leads to her explaining the real reason/incident that caused the Martez sisters to dislike the Jedi along with why they’re on their own.
Way back in the Season 1 finale, Cad Bane sprung Ziro the Hutt from a prison on Coruscant. During their escape, Bane blasted an ascending transport, causing it to careen toward a crowded landing platform. The Jedi were able to steer the craft away from it, but the portal they pushed the vehicles toward was also the location of the Martez family’s home. Raffa and Trace’s parents managed to get their children out in time, but lost their own lives in the process.
If you think that’s rough/awkward, it gets so much worse.
After the incident, a Jedi went to visit Raffa and Trace. (Raffa doesn’t say for sure who it was, but it sounds like she’s describing Luminara Unduli). Instead of offering words of comfort or assistance, she told the two orphaned children that it was an accident born of a difficult choice, but not to worry because “the force would be with them.”
“Oof” doesn’t even cover it.
I know this is the recap portion of the review, but I’d like to discuss a couple of key points here.
First off, I’m sure there will be plenty of folks who find Unduli’s response not only callous, but completely out of character for a Jedi. That was my knee-jerk reaction, too. If you think about it, though, it’s pretty much how the Jedi roll when it comes to families and/or personal tragedy. They are constantly told to forgo all emotional attachments while also participating in a war where they’ve likely caused countless amounts of collateral damage. Also, think about all the padawan children who are told to completely cut ties with their families–especially Anakin, who was basically coerced into abandoning his mother to the bonds of slavery so he could join the Jedi Order.
The Jedi talk a big game about caring for all life in the universe, but that’s usually on a very large scale. On a micro-level, where the real meaningful growth and interactions happen, their sense of empathy is often shown to be lacking or even nonexistent.
Also, this conversation finally brought me around on Raffa. She still gets on my nerves a bit, but this was the first time I could really feel how fiercely protective she is of her sister.
Ahsoka’s guilt trip is interrupted by a pair of Pyke Syndicate guards, who take Raffa out of the cell for some enhanced interrogation. She is brought into a torture chamber manned by a hunched and horrific-looking smelter droid, which wastes no time shocking the hell out of her when she’s unable to give a satisfactory answer about where their spice shipment is.
Later, an unconscious Raffa is returned to her cell and exchanged for Trace, who angrily demands to know what they did to her sister. Ahsoka attempts to protect Trace, earning her a solid whack from one of the guard’s electrified batons. Trace is then led to the torture chamber, where she pretends to pass out. Her captors momentarily let down their guard, allowing her to steal one of their blasters and shoot her way out of the room.
Seriously? This badass chick is the same person who dumped an entire spice shipment in hyperspace?
Trace is eventually caught by one of the guards, but manages to open a nearby cell. The freed prisoners begin brawling with the other pursuing guards, allowing Trace to continue her escape.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka notices a flurry of commotion among the Pykes and quickly deduces that something’s up. After using the force to unlock the door, she wakes up Raffa, explaining their release as the result of a power surge that happened while she was unconscious.
The pair take off after Trace and run into her (literally). After a brief debate about where to go, Ahsoka correctly chooses a path that leads them outside. Once again, Trace reverts to her original badass/resourceful persona from the fifth episode, this time taking out a group of Pyke guards and providing cover for them to flee from the main stronghold to an adjacent loading dock.
Unfortunately, the mechanical bridge they must cross to get there begins retracting. Raffa is able to jump over the chasm to the other side, but Trace is forced to pull up due to the increasing gap and another group of Pykes firing on them. Luckily, these guards are polite enough to stop shooting when Trace attempts to jump again. She comes up short, but is stealthily aided by Ahsoka via the force.
Much to Raffa and Trace’s surprise, Ahsoka makes it across with plenty of room to spare. Raffa is about to express her skepticism about Ahsoka’s skills being purely athletic when the guards resume firing, forcing the trio to flee down a flight of stairs to a loading dock. After brutally taking out a guard on a moving platform, they sneak toward one of the stronghold’s outside exits.
After a bit of pointless bickering, Ahsoka breaks off and climbs into a control tower, where she kicks’ four guards asses like a boss and opens the gate.
Back on the ground, Raffa gets her ass kicked by one guard before she’s bailed out by Trace. Unfortunately, the commotion brings even more Pykes running and firing toward them. Ahsoka climbs back down and covertly assists the sisters with the force, allowing them all to escape into the city.
Out of the Frying Pan
After walking around for a bit, Trace spots her ship tied up on a nearby landing platform and excitedly runs to get a better look. Ahsoka takes this moment to suggest to Raffa that her sister might not be cut out for this type of life–and that Trace wouldn’t turn her sister down for help on a job even if she wanted to.
Raffa once again presses Ahsoka for why she’s helping them. The former Jedi padawan reiterates her belief in helping people if they need it no matter what–a sentiment that reminds Raffa of her mother.
Ironically, a beggar who Raffa recently brushed off is able to identify Ahsoka, Trace, and Raffa to a Pyke search party. The trio attempts to flee on a nearby speeder, but a Pyke guard shoots out one of its engines, throwing Raffa and Trace to the ground where they are immediately surrounded. Ahsoka manages to stay aboard the careening vehicle until it stops a few feet away, allowing her to dart into an alleyway.
While all this is happening, a trio of Mandalorian masked strangers watch with great interest. One of them, who appears to be familiar with the former Jedi padawan, expresses her concern that Ahsoka’s presence compromises whatever mission they have on Oba Diah. The Mandalorian who appears to be in charge agrees, but decides that they should keep tabs on her in case she can be “of use to them.”
From the episode’s ending credits, we know that two of the Mandalorians are Bo-Katan Kryze and Sabine Wren‘s mother, Ursa Wren…which means this is a definite lead in to the upcoming Siege of Mandalore episodes (loud excited squealing noises).
Into the Fire
Raffa and Trace are brought back to the Pyke stronghold’s loading dock, where an annoyed Marg Krim (via hologram) commands his consigliere and a squadron of Pykes to execute the Martez sisters. Unbeknownst to them, Ahsoka has broken back into the stronghold and gotten into position for a rescue. After taking out a lone inept guard, she hijacks a repulsorcraft and bulldozes through the execution squad before picking up Raffa and Trace.
Just when it looks like our heroes are going to escape for a second time, the back gates opens to reveal a heavily armed Pyke battalion. After gunning down the repulsorcraft and recapturing everyone, Krim’s consigliere gloats over the success of his plan to lure Ahsoka from hiding by putting the Martez sisters out in the open.
The group is led back to their cell, where Krim vows to torture them until he gets his shipment of spice. After he walks away, Raffa apologizes for taking the job and putting them in this situation. When Ahsoka attempts to comfort her by explaining that they “live and learn,” Trace points out that the “live” part of that equation might not continue for much longer.
While I don’t think anyone will ever consider this a classic episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was still a huge step up from last week’s dreadful installment.
Despite there being significantly more action, we also got a great deal more character development, particularly for Raffa. Instead of just seeming brash and selfish, there was some genuine pathos along with a small-yet-significant amount of growth.
So yeah…for the small but very vocal minority of people who defended last week’s episode as “character driven” (while dismissing the attention span of its detractors), that wasn’t it. Instead of 20 + minutes of trope-laden dialogue punctuated by one ridiculously out-of-character moment, we got some fantastic dialogue, believable/organic character development, and a bunch of beautifully animated action sequences, too.
Now don’t get me wrong–there was still plenty to criticize about this one, namely that we ended up right back in the same place we started. Also, the show can’t seem to decide whether the Pykes are badasses or inept canon fodder with blaster aim so poor it makes the stormtroopers look like sharpshooters.
I have a similar issue with Trace, who still seems to be shifting in and out of her resourceful and bewildered personas. In fact (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), I’m actually starting to like Raffa better than her. Yes, she can still be obnoxious at times, but think about what she experienced as a direct result of the a war whose participants shattered her family with barely a second thought. I initially wasn’t sure if the whole over protective sister thing was for real or a cover for her selfishness. Now I’m convinced that Raffa would die for her sister–and may have to before this story arc is over.
Speaking of story arcs, I like how they introduced the Mandalorian element to help bridge us into the next one–although I worry that they’ll be used as a deus ex machina to get Ahsoka and at least one of the Martez sisters out of trouble. But at least we’ll get a great action sequence if that ends up happening.
Whatever the case, though, I feel much better going into the final episode of ‘Ahsoka’s Walkabout’ than I did last week. I’m still more than ready for the ‘Siege of Mandalore’, but I finally feel invested enough to want to see how this current story plays out first.