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TFN Review: Senate Spy

Posted By Eric on October 17, 2009

The Clone Wars Season 2 Episode 4: Senate Spy

This episode begins with Anakin arriving at Padme's apartment on Coruscant, fresh from a battle. He greets Padm? and the two share a tender moment. I'm not a big fan of the romance scenes, but these are not nearly as bad as those in AOTC. The humor outweighs the cheesiness and makes it work. Anakin's attachment -- he called her apartment "home" -- is also evident.

At the Jedi Temple, the Council is talking about a potential link between the InterGalactic Banking Clan and the Separatists. Senator Rush Clovis, a member of the Banking delegation, might expose this connection, but so far the Jedi have no way of gaining access to Clovis -- his colleague Padm? Amidala has refused to spy on him. I find it interesting that the Jedi couldn't find another Senator with close enough ties to Clovis. One would think that they would have many friends in the Senate due to their good deeds in star systems across the galaxy; why does Padm? have to be the only person who can do it? In real-world terms, it's obviously a fairly clever way of putting Padm? in danger, but in the GFFA, it doesn't really add up.

Something else that confuses me about the political climate at this time is the entire premise of the problem. I always thought that the InterGalactic Banking Clan had declared its allegiance to the Confederacy of Independent Systems back on Geonosis. Why would it still be operating within the realm of Republic legality if it was considered a traitorous company? I looked on Wookieepedia, the bastion of ?verified" Star Wars lore, and it says that the Clan "still partly supported the Galactic Republic in order to continue profit." Was the Republic so corrupt that it accepted a partnership with what was essentially the enemy? Apparently so.

Now then, back to The Clone Wars. Mace and Yoda will not accept Padm?'s refusal, and they send Obi-Wan to get Anakin to convince her. Anakin has been ignoring Council communiqu?s, but he eventually decides to return to the Jedi Temple. He tells a disappointed Padm? that "Duty comes first, especially in times of war." I said earlier that Anakin's attachment issues are apparent in this episode. Well, it's also apparent how Padm?'s sadness about Anakin's Jedi committment contributes to his heartache. She wants him to stay with her, and this makes him feel guilty. I also find it interesting that Anakin says "duty comes first" -- he isn't like that in Episode III. I hope we see more of this particular change as The Clone Wars continues.

When Anakin arrives at the Temple, the Council explains to him that they need Padm?'s assistance. They say that attempting to tail Clovis with a Jedi would arouse suspicion. Anakin seems to want to disagree, and this unease is only worsened by the revelation that Clovis and Padm? were close friends when they first started at the Senate. I like the eyebrown-raise that Obi-Wan gives Anakin when he almost gives up his secret in the meeting (he reacts with surprise at the mention of Clovis and Padm?'s close friendship). I also like that Anakin is getting really jealous about Padm?'s previous romances. It's also interesting that he tries to make excuses for it -- he's just digging himself a deeper hole, but it does fit with his character.

In the next scene, Anakin catches up with Padme in the Galactic Senate building and ventures out into the colossal chamber on the Naboo platform. When Anakin asks Padm? to do the Council's bidding for them, she refuses again, saying that she won't betray a colleague and old friend. At this, Anakin becomes angry, his jealousy shining as bright as Tattooine's twin suns. He mentions Clovis's suspected Separatist ties at one point, and Padm? is surprised to learn of this -- Yoda hadn't told her about that when he asked for her help.

In a sudden reversal, Padm? agrees to spy on Clovis, but Anakin decides that it isn't right. He doesn't want to let the Council use her and put her in unneccesary danger. Padm? is, as usual, irritated by Anakin's insinuation that she can't take care of herself. She objects to his objection, saying, humorously enough, "Duty comes first, especially in times of war." The Clone Wars team does a great job of showing Padm? as a headstrong and able Senator. It is a good connection to the movies, and more specifically her "aggressive negotiations" line on Geonosis in AOTC. When Padm? uses Anakin's "Duty first" line against him, it reinforces this connection: she's smart, capable, and determined.

Back in the Council chamber, Padm? explains to the assembled Jedi how she plans on spying on Clovis. Obi-Wan suggests that Padm? get as close as possible to Clovis, and she says that she can try to make him think that she is rekindling an old relationship. The mere mention of this past relationship irks Anakin greatly. When Obi-Wan tells Padm? to get close to the rogue Senator, I was almost certain that he was trying to draw Anakin out. As the meeting breaks up, Anakin says that he will do whatever it takes to protect Padm?. This last line before the first commercial is pure Episode III Anakin/Vader: a blind need to save the one he loves.

In the second act of the episode, we finally meet Senator Clovis. As benefits a character in his position in this episode, Clovis is the protoypical pretentious jerk. He is too sure of himself, and to me it feels like he regards Padm? as a prize to be won. This is evident in their late-night dinner -- Clovis is trying to court Padm?, who doesn't seem to enjoy her position, but who realizes that it is for the good of the Republic.

The next day, Senators Amidala and Clovis board a Naboo starship en route to Cato Nemodia. Padm? has agreed to go with Clovis for a business rendez-vous he has there. (Because really, Nemodians? That's not suspicious.) Anakin, who is along for the ride as a bodyguard, is dressed as a Naboo pilot so as to not arouse suspicion. ("Oh, that Jedi? We're just giving him a ride.") Anakin steps into the passenger chamber of the starship and subtlely braks a flight harness in between two other seats, forcing Padm? and Clovis to sit apart, separated by the broken contraption. After takeoff, Anakin watches the passenger chamber on a video monitor, and he twists the ship a lot to prevent Clovis from getting closer to Padm?.

Anakin's sabotage antics are quite funny; they are a nice balance to the romance that begins to creep back into the episode as Clovis's ship takes off. It is also a nice break from the dark and emotional Anakin that we've seen for most of the episode. His behavior is an excellent throwback to the cleverness that we saw in Episode II (Remember when he jumped out of the airspeeder thousands of feet above the ground?).

When the starship arrives on Cato Nemoidia, Senator Lott Dod is surprised that Clovis would bring Senator Amidala along for the ride. Nevertheless, there are appearances to maintain, and he treats her cordially. When Senator Dod agrees with Padme's "I believe in second chances" statement, I knew instantly that he was referring to a second chance at capturing Padm?.

As Padm? allows herself to be escorted to her sleeping quarters, Dod and Clovis have a meeting. Geonosian Archduke Pogger the Lesser also emerges from the shadows, intent on completing some sort of business deal that would raise profits for the Separatist forces. If you hadn't already guessed from the first mention of Clovis that he was most definitely in league with the Separatists, it is revealed at this point that he is indeed a traitor to the Republic.

As the Separatists begin talking, we cut back to Padm?, who -- surprise, surprise -- is curious about Dod's residence, and begins wandering around. She walks into the Clovis/Poggle/Dod meeting, and the three co-conspirators immediately hush up. Clovis takes her back to her room, but he does so with such affection that Senator Dod realizes he now has a bargaining chip for their negotiations. It strikes me as odd that the Nemoidians wouldn't try to keep Padm? corralled away in her room; even though they can't exactly lock her away, letting her roam free is an unusually careless mistake on the Nemodians' part. On a side note, Archduke Poggle's "vocals" are right on with his Episode II voice. Yet more excellent movie-matching work by the TCW team.

Senator Dod approaches Clovis and Padm? outside the residence's library, proposing a toast to their new friendship and giving Padm? a glass of what I can only assume is blue milk. Before he hands it to her, he slides his finger -- which is coated with a very green, very-obviously-poisonous substance -- across the rim of the glass. Even though Padm? can't arouse suspicion by checking Senator Dod's cup for a trap, she still should have thought twice about taking a glass from him. I know that Padm? is only taking her risk for the mission, but why would she even think about trusting a Nemoidian after Naboo and Geonosis? It seems like she is bound to taking the same careless risks as her husband. But then again, that would fit with her behavior in previous films.

After dinner at the Senator's residence that evening, Padm? says she feels faint, but musters up strength to take a tour of Dod's palace. At one point, she asks Clovis to get her some water. Her colleague runs off to get it, and sure enough, Padm? immediately adopts a more healthy and urgent attitude. She heads straight for the holoprojector that she saw Clovis and Dod using earlier that day. However, the device requires a password, and Padm? uses up several chances trying to guess the phrase. In yet another moment of predictability, she guesses her own name, which works. (Side note: Someone's obssessed.) Padm? signals to R2-D2 that she has found the evidence she needs. She then grabs the hologram disc that was inserted in the projector. I'd like to point out that TCW actually fooled me at the beginning of this scene. I thought that Padm? was actually succumbing to the poison. I like that she was resourceful in getting the evidence she needed.

Clovis then returns with some water, and Padm? has to think about how to hide the disc as he asks for her hand to take the cup. Realizing that she has no choice, she puts on a damsel-in-distress act (which plays right into Clovis's ego) and throws her arms around her fellow Senator just as Anakin walks in. She drops the disc to the floor and Anakin Force-grabs it. Of course, it was important that Anakin come into the room at just the wrong moment. The Clone Wars team really likes torturing him. But at least they got Padm? out of the kiss by throwing the poisoning back in.

Just as they are about to kiss, Padm? faints from the poison. Clovis rushes her back to her room, and confronts Senator Dod in the hallway outside. He says he knows that Dod has poisoned Padm?, but Dod distracts him by saying that Padm? was a Republic spy. Clovis finds the holoprojector's disc slot empty, and reluctantly realizes that he's been played. He confronts Padm?, who says that he is a traitor. The interesting thing about Padm?'s spy work is that she is using an ends-justify-means argument. Even though Clovis is a jerk, she still played him and used him for "the mission." It is not the openness and transparency that one would expect from a Senator. But then again, everyone in the Republic is finding himself pressed into new areas of service for their government.

Just then, Anakin arrives, telling Clovis to get away from Padm?. Clovis says that they can't take her to Coruscant as Anakin suggests, but does add that Dod must have made an antidote for the poison. As the duo bring an ailing Padm? back to her ship, Senator Dod intercepts them. Clovis pulls out a blaster and orders Dod to give him the antidote. Dod gives it to Anakin, who rushes Padm? to her ship. Clovis asks for the hologram disc, but Anakin says that he will be holding onto it. He leaves Clovis to his fate at the hands of Dod, who has arrived on the landing platform with a group of battle droids. Anakin administers the antidote to Padm?, and the Naboo starship leaves the planet safely. I'm still curious, though: if Dod had battle droids on the planet, why didn't he bring them when he tried to intercept Padm?'s rescue party?

Overall, Senate Spy was a good episode, but it was definitely not one of the best. The plot was alright, and it did explore the political intricacies of the conflict. But I watch The Clone Wars more for action than for politics. As the StarWars.com Episode Guide noted, there were no blaster shots, lightsaber ignitions, or explosions in the entire episode. (Which explains both why Anakin didn?t confront Dod with a lightsaber and why Dod?s droids didn?t fire on Clovis at the end of the episode -- Dave Filoni?s team wanted to keep the episode completely clean of serious combat.) I prefer more action-oriented plotlines, and even though I can understand where this episode fit in with the overall story, that doesn?t mean I have to rank it as one of the best episodes.

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