Monday, February 1, 2010

TV REVIEW: THE CLONE WARS, THE MANDALORE PLOT



Last week's somewhat controversial (see below) episode of The Clone Wars was "The Mandalore Plot" in which Obi-Wan was dispatched to the neutral world of Mandalore to investigate recent attacks from Mandalorian-armored warriors on the Republic. If you are only familiar with the movies this may not mean much to you but in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Mandolorians are the people of Jango and Boba Fett, a proud race of warriors and bounty hunters who have fought against the Jedi numerous times over the history of the galaxy.






Obi-Wan meets with the leader of the Mandalorians, the Dutchess Satine, with whom he has apparently had some sort of history. These Clone Wars episodes often have very herky-jerky beginnings and almost always leave you feeling like you've missed an episode. Although, this is a proud tradition of en medias res that goes back to 1977's Star Wars, which made you feel as though you were coming in at the middle of a story that had already started. In any case, Obi-Wan and Satine have tons of chemistry and this gives us a glimpse at the very uptight Jedi's interior life and their relationship and choices serve as a nice dramatic counterpoint to Anakin and Padme.

The Mandalorian capital and its occupants are somewhat surprising in that the city is depicted as quite big, clean, and modern (whatever that means a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) and filled with strangely blonde and Nordic looking people, nothing like the rather swarthy Fetts that we have seen so far. There are some very subtle architectural and decorative allusions to the Mandalorian armor throughout. This is a big contrast from the way that the Mandos have been described in the EU until now, as a traditional, nomadic people who are ruled by a single Mandalore.



Shortly after a reference to a captured Mandolorian warrior's having "taken his life" we witness a Mando terrorist attack and another suicide. This season I am constantly amazed by what this "children's show" gets away with and it makes me excited to see what the live-action show will be like in a couple of years. If a kids show is going to be this dark...Anyway, Obi-Wan and Satine venture off to the moon Concordia, from where all of the problem Mandos seem to be coming. Concordia seems to more like the Mandalore that we were expecting, and itself seems to be a reference to the planet Concorde Dawn which plays a big role in Mandalorian history in the EU.

Over the course of the episode we find Separatist involvement, a Mando turncoat, some typically dry Obi-Wan humor, Jon Faveau, and a couple of good battles. Overall this was a good episode and a great return to form after the lackluster "Lightsaber Lost" episode from the previous week and it cannot be overstated how cool it is seeing Mandos in action. This is something that Star Wars fans have been wanting for a very long time. Also, it is great to have an episode that spotlights Obi-Wan, as he is a welcome departure from the youthful energies of Anakin and Ahsoka. That said, there is something discordant about the depiction of the these fancy-pants Mandalorians and the way that their culture is depicted as almost the opposite of what has been described thus far.



For the most part, this Star Wars Expanded Universe has done a pretty good job about maintaining consistency between the different media and merging all of these disparate elements into one epic story but with this new series there have been some bumps in the road. Karen Traviss, an author of several well-received Star Wars novels that focus on clones and Mandolorians, recently quit writing Star Wars largely because of the fact that The Clone Wars series and its spin off media are venturing into this territory and disregarding the hard work that she has done fleshing out this corner of the Star Wars universe. I really hope that the writers of The Clone Wars find some way to reconcile with the established continuity. If they do, the next couple of episodes from this story arc will be quite eventful.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer

2 comments:

Krypto-Knight said...

I left a comment on Facebook but wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this. I have not had the opportunity to watch too many episodes but I caught part of this one. I quickly recognized the Mandolorian Guards and was excited to seem them in action. Maybe one day I will get to catch up on the series. I enjoyed the movie, although a lot of other people did not.
Also, I do not like to read long blogs but as a Star Wars fan this one caught my attention and held it. Great job writing. I enjoyed it!

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