The Clone Wars Season 2 Episode 3: Children of the Force
As we rejoin Anakin, Obi-Wan, and the remaining Republic troops, their "borrowed" shuttle is landing in the Republic cruiser. After the shuttle opens, "Denal" exits, limping and clutching an injured arm. Rex gets Anakin's attention back in the shuttle, as we see drops of alien blood -- i.e., not Jedi/clone human blood -- on the floor. Ahsoka approaches "Denal" and realizes that it's not really him. Suddenly -- predictably? -- the man in the armor kicks Ahsoka in the chest. As she falls to the ground, the individual races to a V-19 Torrent fighter and begins powering it up. At this point, Anakin is racing after the "mysterious" figure. He jumps on top of the now-rising V-19 and throws the clone helmet off -- surprise, it's Cad Bane. Unfortunately, Bane gets away, disengaging Anakin from the ship's hull and jumping to light speed ahead of the hyperspace ring lockdown Anakin orders.
This scene was an excellent way to open this episode. We get a quick resolution to the mystery of how Bane could die so easily and so soon in Season Two. We get to see Bane in brief "combat" with Ahsoka. And we see that Yularen really just needs to listen to Anakin and do what the Jedi says without questioning him. It's exciting, and I find myself wishing that Dave Filoni's team had more time to show Bane in action. His escape, for all its excitement, seemed rather quick.
Back on Coruscant, Anakin and Ahsoka report to the Jedi Council about Bane's wherabouts and actions. The Council -- which includes Obi-Wan, and I'll get to that in a second -- is worried about the list of Force-sensitive children contained within the Kyber crystal that Bane still controls. If Bane decided to do so, he could start picking off future members of the Jedi Order. What intrigues me most about this scene is the fact that Obi-Wan is suddenly a Council member. I mean, it's plausible, but I would have liked to have seen an episode addressing his "promotion."
Meanwhile, inside Bane's hidden base, the Duros bounty hunter tells Darth Sidious that he was successful. Sidious gives him new orders: bring four of these Force-sensitive babies to Mustafar for some "lab work." Bane half-heartedly questions Sidious, addressing the depths of morality that the shrouded figure is plumbing with his order. But in the end, it's all about money to Bane, as he says in this scene. Bane's monetary outlook on everything underscores his brutality. He is a much more fleshed-out "ruthless bounty hunter" type, and I don't know how much we even saw Boba or Jango Fett approach this level of ruthlessness.
Cut to the Jedi Temple, in a secluded room where Mace Windu, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin meditate on Bane's next move. In flashes of Force insight, they see Rodia, Glee Anselm (home of Kit Fisto), and a Gungan area of Naboo. I'm glad we get to see all these EU planets in animated form. It proves that Filoni is an EU enthusiast and wants to include more in official SW canon. It also gives us a closer, more detailed look at cultures that so far have only been described in printed form. My only problem with this scene is how cheap it feels. No longer can staunch defenders of the two-episode season premiere say, "The dark side is clouding the Jedi Masters' abilities. They can't see everything." I don't buy that after watching this scene. (Which, don't get me wrong, was exciting as a display of Jedi clairvoyance.) If Obi-Wan, Mace, Yoda, and Anakin can see all these things happening on other planets, how come they couldn't sense Bane leaving the Temple?
On Rodia, Bane shows up at a house to collect his first Force Baby. To fool the baby's mother, Bane arrives wearing a Jedi robe. He then hypotizes the mother into giving him her baby. I am impressed with Bane's cunning strategy of pretending to be a Jedi to gain access to the Rodian child. The fact that the robe is probably Master Ropal's proves to me that he's always thinking several steps ahead. I can absolutely see Bane regarding the dead Jedis' cloak and muttering, "You never know when I'll need to play dress-up." I also want to know more about the technology he used to "hypnotize" the Rodian parent. Bane's arsenal keeps getting more and more interesting.
Back in the episode, Obi-Wan arrives on Rodia, anxious to protect a Jedi Baby from Bane's clutches. (Side note: We see a Gonk droid when Obi-Wan lands on Rodia. ForceCast LIVE chat participants will understand why I find that awesome.) Arriving at the residence, Obi-Wan is greeted by the Rodian mother. She's hostile, due to Bane's hypnosis, but Obi-Wan breaks her out of the "Jedi are evil" trance just in time to see Bane rocketing away with the Rodian baby. In a very Batman-esque move, Obi-Wan launches a grappling hook and shoots upwards after Bane. However, he's too late -- Bane escapes in his ship. Failure notwithstanding, I really like the idea that Obi-Wan has all these wrist gadgets that he can launch at will. It shows that he is becoming more of a military man -- he's not just bonding with his troops, he's also adopting some of their gear. Though I wonder what his fellow Jedi Council members would think of him using hardware to do what the Force should enable him to do (he probably could have made that leap).
We then jump across the galaxy to Naboo, where Anakin and Ahsoka land in the Theed Royal Palace. Captain Typho tells the Jedi that the Gungan baby's family has been apprised of the situation. Ahsoka requests to go with a Gungan military officer to the scene of the potential kidnapping. "I've got a score to settle," she says. Woah, hold on a second.
How in the galaxy did Ahsoka get away with saying that? Anakin should have immediately corrected her behavior. It's quite unlike a Jedi to want revenge.
That evening, Bane arrives on Naboo and makes his way to the Jedi Baby's home. He reaches the cradle and pulls back the blanket over the "baby." Surprise! As Ackbar would say, "It's a trap!" A tooka doll played the part of the Gungan baby. Ahsoka leaps out from behind Bane. The bounty hunter whips away her weapon, but Anakin arrives to stop Bane's rocket-boot-assisted escape. Soon enough, Bane has been captured. At first I thought that Bane was captured way too easily, but then I realized that they needed him in custody to proceed with the plot. (Side note: Ahsoka retrieves her Padawan braid from Bane when the Duros hunter is in binders. Sure enough, she got her un-Jedi-like revenge.)
The next shot is one of my favorites in the whole epsiode: three Republic starfighters zoom towards a Republic Assault Ship. It's very remiscent of The Empire Strikes Back
, and a worthy throwback (throw-forward?) to military might.
Inside the Assault Ship, the interrogation of Cad Bane begins. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Mace want the location of two missing Jedi Babies that Bane has already stolen, but they aren't having any luck. Try as they might, they can't get him to talk -- Bane says he doesn't fear the Jedi. This calls for some Windu. The Jedi Master once again displays his BMF status as he casually suggests that Bane is more afraid of Sidious than the Jedi. Bane hesitates -- it's good to see him at a point of succeptibility -- but still doesn't give anything up. So the Jedi decide to probe Bane's mind together. In a move described by many on the Rebelscum forums with a colorful name, the three Jedi join Forces (see what I did there?) to break the bounty hunter. Bane says he is immune to Jedi mind tricks, but he eventually capitulates when the brain busting becomes too much for him.
Mace, Obi-Wan, and Anakin lead Bane to a Jedi shuttle. As they're preparing to leave, Mace is informed that Chancellor Palpatine wants to be apprised of the situation. Obi-Wan says that it's of no concern to Palpatine, but in a move reminscent of his eventual position as the Chancellor's Jedi spy, Anakin insists that the report be delivered. Mace and Obi-Wan board the shuttle with Bane, and Anakin heads off to Coruscant. It is interesting to see that Obi-Wan and Mace are starting to distance themselves from Palpatine's authority where Jedi affairs are concerned.
When Anakin and Ahsoka arrive at the Chancellor's office, Palpatine dismisses Ahsoka ("Excuse us child.") and takes Anakin inside. This brief scene is perhaps my favorite in the entire episode. I like the dialog between Palpatine and Anakin -- it is even more excellent foreshadowing for their Episode III relationship.
Later, on Mustafar, Sidious's holographic form details his plan, as nursery droids care for the two Jedi Babies. Sidious explains that he plans to augment the babies' Force abilities and turn them into an army of super-spies. Because Dave Filoni is an EU fan, I choose to believe that Palpatine's plot to use Jedi children as an army could be a nod to the post-ROTJ resurrected Emperor's idea of using cloned troopers to enforce his will.
Meanwhile, Bane has led Obi-Wan and Mace to his secret lair. Inside his control room, the Jedi see the stolen Holocron. Bane starts for it, but Mace says that he'll take it from here. Wrong move, Master Jedi. (Side note: Windu, you're better than that.) As Mace steps onto the control room floor, Bane's defense mechanisms activate. Blaster cannons appear from hidden crevices and target the Jedi. (Another side note: I like Obi-Wan's humor at this moment: "You certainly stepped in it this time.") As the Jedi defend themselves, Bane escapes through a revolving door (because no one expected that to happen) and gets the heck out of Dodge.
This is another great scene, mostly due to the excellent teamwork between Obi-Wan and Mace. Their combat partnership is refreshingly action-packed after many minutes of dialog. It's also a reminder of their teamwork on Geonosis in AOTC. Even though the fight scene wasn't very long, I got a real sense of how skilled both Jedi are.
Back on the Republic Assault Ship, Anakin and Ahsoka are poring over Bane's captured ship. They don't find much on first inspection, but Ahsoka notices a lot of volcanic ash on the fighter. R2-D2 tweedles that Bane forgot to purge his fuel computer; they have his fuel consumption logs. Using this information, pilot/mechanic/tech-wonder-boy Anakin is able to triangulate other worlds Bane has visited. Mustafar is among the planets. Anakin, Ahsoka, and R2 take the Twilight to investigate. I have to say, like the oft-used "Almost overlooked detail leads to discovery" plot device that takes Anakin and Ahsoka to Mustafar. It's also interesting to know now that Anakin has already been to Mustafar by the time he exterminates the Separatist Council in ROTS.
On Mustafar, the nursery droids are doing some work on the Jedi Babies. There is an excellent shot of a "mind cap" descending on a Jedi Baby's head. It really reminded me of Vader getting his helmet for the first time. And when I think about it, the circumstances of Vader and the Jedi Babies are actually very comparable. There is a lot of Episode III foreshadowing during the Mustafar scenes.
Soon, one of the nursery droids alerts holo-Sidious to the presence of landing Jedi. Sidious tells them to evacuate the children to his "secondary facility" and to set programming in place that will destroy the Mustafar outpost. When Anakin, Ahsoka, and Artoo arrive at the outpost itself, the lights are all off (because Jedi apparently can't see in the dark) and the main room is eerily quiet. Nothing screams "Jedi Babies," but soon they spot the two nursery droids, babies in hand. After a brief, very careful fight (because the nursery droids have mad skills), the two Jedi are able to retrieve the infants and escape on the Twilight as the entire outpost crumbles around them. The only thing I don't understand about the Jedi retrieval of the two babies is why they didn't Force-pull the babies to safety in the first place.
Back on Coruscant, Anakin delivers his report to the Council. While Bane escaped, and while they don't know where he went, the most important thing to the Council is that both the Jedi Babies and the Kyber crystal were recovered. But it wouldn't be Star Wars without Yoda fretting a bit. Just before the episode draws to a close, the wizened Jedi Master expresses his worries about the ever-darker galaxy and what it means for the Jedi.
I hope I don't get into the predictable habit of saying this every episode, but ... this episode is the best Season Two episode so far. It had Episode III foreshadowing, cool action sequences, Bane at a point of weakness, and much more. I have a feeling we'll be getting lots of clone-heavy episodes in the future, but for now, this Jedi-packed installment has whet my appetite for more lightsaber fights and more Jedi Mind Gang-Ups.