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Star Wars: The Clone Wars fails to make its case for Ahsoka's post-Jedi predicament

Illustration for article titled iStar Wars: The Clone Wars/i fails to make its case for Ahsokas post-Jedi predicament
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Over on Twitter, I learned about a thing called “resets.” Resets are those annoying, wonky moments at the beginning of an episode, or the beginning of an act break after a commercial, where the characters re-iterate or re-state the plot, conflict, or goal as it is up until that point. If you binge a show created in the, well, pre-binge era, you’ll probably notice them a lot more, as the forgone commercials have characters reciting things that occurred literally 10-20 seconds ago. Needless to say, resets really aren’t necessary for streaming shows (recaps I understand, as a quick refresher before episodes can help when re-starting a binge session), but old habits are hard to break. In the case of “Together Again,” the reset at the beginning undermines the sentiment that ended “Dangerous Debt,” a moment that really exemplifies the vibe of this entire arc.

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Rafa ended “Dangerous Debt” with a mournful, perhaps-regretful resignation that she should have never took up such this dangerous mission of space smuggling. In the beginning of “Together Again,” she’s right back to angrily insulting Ahsoka’s interference and Trace’s naiveté. Rafa’s quick-to-anger attitude has been established, but it isn’t clear what the direction or development of Trace and/or Rafa is going. In short–I’m losing track of these Martez sisters. Not that I don’t quite understand their motivations, although a lot of it is really forced–it’s more I’m failing to grasp their purpose. Their attitudes and energies as a foil to Ahsoka are starting to loosen at the seams. Their dynamic, or static, characterizations don’t seem to be functioning towards anything. It worked in the second episode of this arc, as a broad, comic bit of clumsy, idiotic, out-of-their-element energy, but here, neither sister learns anything from or about each other, no one really changes, the semi-toxic nature of their relationship is still in tact, and perhaps worse, Ahsoka doesn’t seem to gain anything from the experience.

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Perhaps you could make an argument that Rafa and Ahsoka make some rather intense, bold sacrifices. Ahsoka plays mastermind betrayer, pretending to turn on the Martez sisters so they can escape. It’s a clever ruse, too, playing up the sisters vulnerable parents as potential bait, even though said parents are long dead, knowing full well Ahsoka has a pretty good chance of escaping, you know, as a Jedi. While out of the Pykes’ clutches, Rafa makes a surprising claim and save Ahsoka, shocking even Trace–even though she was too clueless to recognize Ahsoka’s original ruse (it’s hard to place how the show wants to view Trace’s cluelessness; it’s not quite funny, but it’s not at the... “developmental concerns” level in which you could argue Rafa’s role as genuine protector). So Ahsoka sneaks around and plants explosives in order to take the entire organization down, while Rafa and Trace brute-force a con on a random spice supplier to steal more spice as a bargaining chip. Ahsoka’s mission has the benefit of being a bit tense, as well as being part of her character: disrupting a drug-smuggling operation for the greater good. The Martez sisters’ mission is just goofy. It feels unnecessary, the lack of “real” security for such a valuable commodity is absurd (especially since it’s a Pyke shipment they’re robbing), and it’s not even portrayed in comical enough manner to allow the goofiness a comical intentionality. Basically, it’s just dumb.

Illustration for article titled iStar Wars: The Clone Wars/i fails to make its case for Ahsokas post-Jedi predicament
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In the midst of Ahsoka’s stealth mission, she sees the Pykes speaking with Darth Maul. A lot is going on here, which I’ll expand a bit below, but basically this Pyke/spice operation is bigger than what’s shown here. (This ostensibly is meant to tie to the appearance of the Mandarlorians, those shadowy figures that were following Ahsoka around–specifically Bo-Katan, the woman who removes her helmet at the end.) Ahsoka is caught, then the sisters are caught upon their return, and it’s at this point Ahsoka reveals she is is a Jedi. Rafa and Trace just... accept it. Which is mature of them, sure, but the fact that it doesn’t generate any conflict, not even internally, makes all of Ahsoka’s secrecy pointless. And even worse, Ahsoka doesn’t even get an opportunity to expound upon any of this. When asked why would anyone walk away from being a Jedi, she responds “It’s complicated” and says nothing else. That’s like the most important dramatic piece that’s needed from this entire arc! This was a cop-out.

“Dangerous Debt” ends with Ahsoka going with Bo-Katan and the rest of the Mandalorians to deal with Maul, who is indeed is a common enemy. The next episode is called “Old Friends, Not Forgotten,” which I’m assuming will continue Ahsoka’s story. Hopefully that will prove to be more fruitful and rewarding than the Martez sister saga. Not that they didn’t have their moments, but I can’t imagine them or this arc being remembered fondly. Apparently a lot of the assets were already created, so Star Wars: The Clone Wars probably felt obligated to use them. But even still, the show failed to pull much of anything out of them.

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Stray observations

  • Rafa frames her decision to rescue Ahsoka as not wanting to have the Jedi hold the moment against her. I get that this line is meant to mask her true feelings, but I don’t know, it comes off sloppy and nonsensical. I think it’s more due to the shaky line-reading–the subtext gets completely lost.
  • I thought Trace was a terrible pilot? That would have been such a specific, unique obstacle to have with during that final chase from the Pykes. But Trace actually does some great aerial moves. It’s like the show completely forgot about it.
  • To make an extremely long story short, Ahsoka once fought Bo-Katan and her boss, Pre Vizsla, who were members of a more militaristic sect of Mandalorians called the Death Watch. (Bo-Katan’s sister, Satine, was the leader of the more peaceful sect of the Mandalorians.) Ahsoka escaped, and in the interim, Maul arrived, joined up with Pre and the Death Watch, killed Satine, and took over Mandalore. Maul then forced an alliance with the Pykes and the Hutts to form The Shadow Collective, to control the underworld of illegal smuggling of all sorts of illicit things. Pre tried to betray Maul, but was killed by him. Bo-Katan probably reached out to Ahsoka to try and fight back against Maul’s rule, but Maul got his tail handed to him by Dooku and Sidious (another long story). So technically Maul should be gone, but according to Wookieepedia he came back and re-asserted his rule in some kind of comic? I don’t even know any more. I’ll be happy to hear from you all out there!
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Contributor, The A.V. Club, with a clear preference for all things cartoons; check out his main blog at http://www.totalmediabridge.com.

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