Sunday, April 4, 2010



Bounty hunters have been a part of Star Wars since A New Hope was released in 1977, with Greedo attempting to bring in Han Solo at the Mos Eisley Cantina. In 1980, The Empire Strikes Back introduced us to Boba Fett and his compatriots who were hired to track down the Millennium Falcon. Bounty hunters are part of the big Western influence on Star Wars but for people my age, when we think of bounty hunters chances are you think of Star Wars before anything else.

This season of The Clone Wars was billed as "Rise of the Bounty Hunters" but apart from the Cad Bane episodes at the beginning of the season, we haven't really that much bounty hunter action. "The Bounty Hunters" is a bit of a surprise, as there is not any bounty hunting going on in the episodes, and these bounty hunters are the most sympathetic we have seen in the the Star Wars galaxy.

Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka are investigating a clone medical facility that has disappeared over Felucia while they are attacked by vulture droids launched from a very dispenser pod. They crash land on the planet and encounter a group of farmers who have hired some bounty hunters to defend their settlement from a group of pirates who are lead by the Weequay Captain Hondo Ohnaka. The Jedi reluctantly join the bounty hunters to fight off the pirates and defend the villagers.The whole episode is a Star Wars version of The Seven Samurai, which was directed by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurasawa, to whom the episode is dedicated. Kurasawa's movies have been a huge influence on the whole Star Wars series. It's safe to say that Star Wars is 1/4 American Western,, 1/4 Kurasawa Samurai movie, 1/4 Flash Gordon, and a mix of World War II movies and other miscellaneous stuff for the rest. There are whole sequences and plot lines taken directly from Kurasawa's movies (The Hidden Fortress was a huge source of inspiration for both A New Hope and The Phantom Menace). What with director's influence on Star Wars, I've always wanted to see The Seven Samurai given the Star Wars treatment, and with its relative freedom to explore different narratives and tones, The Clone Wars provides a perfect venue.

The episode feels strangely like last season's "Jedi Crash" and "Defenders of the Peace" story arc, which found Anakin, Ahsoka and Aayla Secura defending a village against a Separatist attack, although narratively much tighter without the thematic complication of the pacifist villagers. The villager's in "The Bounty Hunters" are not pacifists, just kind of beat down and victimized. The episode also brings back Hondo Ohnaka and his band of pirates from last season's episode "Dooku Captured," who has apparently still managed to elude Count Dooku's revenge. Hondo has a lot of old-school pirate swagger but is not really effective as a villain, particularly with his rapid and lame retreat at the end of the episode.

The bounty hunters felt a little off as well, and not at all what we have been lead to expect from the hardened, cutthroat Star Wars bounty hunters we have been shown up until now. That being said, some of the character design on these mercenaries is pretty cool. They are lead by a female Zabrak named Sugi. There is also cool new character named Embo, who wears an armored shield on his head like a hat. These bounty hunters have a pretty cool battle against the pirates at the end of the episode, and the action is quite good.

The setting is the planet Felucia, which appeared briefly in Revenge of the Sith and was featured prominently in The Force Unleashed. The Felucians seen in this episode, are nothing like the wild and strange creatures seen in that game. I suppose the story called for cuter less ferocious aliens. Personally, I would love to see some TFU characters or references in the series. Although, the big jungle rancors were a nice nod.

Overall, "The Bounty Hunters" is a decent episode with an interesting pedigree. Unfortunately, as we get towards the end of the season, the "decent" episodes are starting to outnumber the good and great ones. Lets hope the new month delivers the promised slam bam conclusion to season two of The Clone Wars.

Patrick Garone
Creative Director

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