Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clone Wars Review: The 'Clovis' Arc

By: Ciaran Duggan

Wow! I am surprised and speechless after my latest watch of the Clone Wars Bonus Content. The arc which has left me in this way is the ‘Clovis Arc’. I am left speechless because of the major themes touched on in this arc that have seriously altered my perception of the Star Wars Saga. That is as great a compliment as I can ever give to the Clone Wars team. My initial thoughts of the arc (prior to viewing) were fairly ambivalent. I was looking forward to seeing new Clone Wars, however this particular arc did not strike me to be as interesting as the Order 66 and Yoda arcs. My perception completely altered after viewing this arc and I actually preferred this arc to the (much anticipated and fantastic) Order 66 arc. 
To begin with, a brief synopsis of the arc is required. Padme Amidala travels to the planet Scipio, home to the Banking Clan in an attempt to fund a financial mercy mission. On her arrival, she is reunited with her former friend, Rush Clovis, who calls upon Padme to help him uncover the corruption hidden in the Banking Clan vaults. Bounty hunter, Embo, hunts the senators down in order to collect the hidden data, however Padme and Clovis manage to escape Scipio (with the help of Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker) and fly back to Coruscant. Back on Corusant, Clovis manages to strikes a deal with Count Dooku which puts him at the head of the Banking Clan. However, his deal with the Separatists backfires and instead Clovis brings war to the banking world of Scipio. 
The synopsis delineates the plot of the arc, but it does not deeply discuss the high number of diverse themes which are explored in this arc; of which I will focus on the primary three themes. The arc considers the relationship of Anakin and Padme and utilizes Clovis as the major spanner in the works of their marriage. The orchestration of the evolution of Palpatine to ascertaining control of the banks is also delineated in this arc, as the methods used by Palpatine to accumulate this new power were fundamentally made vivid. Finally, the significance of the Banking Clan are examined in depth; their role in the war clearly defined in this arc. The action, animation and music in this arc were further elements which contributed to the arc’s outstanding results and will later be considered.

The Banking Clan have been a faction in the Star Wars Universe that are persistently alluded to, yet at the same time are one of the most ambiguous groups in the Star Wars Universe. This arc, however, puts right a number of these ambiguities for the audience. The Banking Clan’s homeworld of Scipio is vividly portrayed in this arc and subsequently we learn more about the Banking Clan’s role in the war. They are a neutral party which loans out money to both the Republic and Separatists and are therefore impartial to both sides; similar sentiments are echoed with the Trade Federation. The role of the Banking Clan in this war is therefore delineated effectively in the arc and it makes the overarching theme and plot of this Clovis arc all the more clearer and therefore fundamentally explains the motivations behind the conspiratorial plot of the Darth Sidious and Tyranus in this arc.

The conspiratorial plot of the Sith is a major element which adds to the significance of this arc in the overarching Clone Wars storyline through explaining the facilitation of transforming the former democratic Republic into an oligarchical Galactic Empire. To me, the role of the Sith in this arc resonated closely with their role in Episode One; particularly illustrated through Count Dooku’s dealings with Rush Clovis and Darth Sidious communicating via hologram with Embo and Nix Card. Darth Sidious certainly played the deceptive and malevolent villain well in this arc and this was achieved notably through the return of the voice of Ian Abercrombie as Darth Sidious; a most welcome return. Sidious played a prominent role in this arc as Sidious (and Palpatine); with the Sith Lord manipulating events to his advantage once again and by the end of this arc, Sidious emerges as the master of the banks, along with pretty much everything else in the galaxy. It was also refreshing to view Dooku outside of hologram form, as he was actively involved in transferring control from the Muuns to his master and subsequently Dooku’s own malevolent stature was delineated effectively in this arc, namely through forcing Padme to shoot one of the Separatist senators. The direct involvement of the Sith certainly elevated the stakes of this arc and is a prominent reason for why I so enjoyed this arc. 
In addition, the audience’s perception of Anakin and Padme’s relationship fundamentally shifted in this arc, as major problems in their marriage emerge through the increasingly problematic interactions between Padme and her old friend, Rush Clovis. Rush Clovis and Padme are reunited in the episode – An Old Friend – and it was very interesting to view the evolution of their attitudes towards one another from their last encounter in the season two episode – Senate Spy. Padme shows clear aversion towards Clovis and threatens to shoot him when he sneaks into her room. The transformation of this relationship during the arc is most intriguing and it is clear that the chemistry from their past relationship was still alive between the two characters, fundamentally illustrated with their talk in Padme’s room on Clovis’ past relations with the Muuns of Scipio. This would be a most heartening love story were it not for the fact that Padme was still wife to Anakin Skywalker. 

The relationship between Anakin and Padme takes a rocky turn in this arc with Anakin clearly envious of the interaction between Padme and Clovis and ultimately suspicious of Clovis’ intentions during Padme and Clovis’ collaboration on providing evidence for the Banking Clan’s corruption. The animosity between Anakin and Clovis is no doubt clear from their inaugural moments on screen when they first communicate with each other in Clovis’ apartment with Clovis refusing to give the data “to some pilot” and Anakin forcing Clovis to give the data to him. The hostility between the two characters reaches its apogee in the mid-point of this arc when Anakin and Clovis physically fight each other after Anakin saw Clovis attempt to kiss Padme.  The fight was awesome and certainly Anakin’s turn to the dark side was evident through his force choking of Clovis in Padme’s apartment and in front of Padme. His turn can be understood clearer from the delineation of the rocky relationship between Padme and Anakin in this arc. 

Furthermore, it becomes ever clearer to the audience that Obi Wan is aware of the relationship between Padme and Anakin (whether Yoda does is more ambiguous); as illustrated through Obi Wan’s talk with Anakin in his room as Obi Wan states he can relate through the relationship Obi Wan had with Satine (who is still alive as these events take prior to the Maul arc of late season five) and in my opinion this conveys that Obi Wan is trying to support Anakin through his knowledge that Anakin is married to Padme or certainly more than just friends. Therefore these themes espouses the notion that this arc is grandiose for substantially adding new and vital information to the Star Wars Saga. 
The action elements were also an awesome element of this arc and whilst they were few and far between, they certainly were great action set pieces. The animation elevated the impressive stature of this arc also, fundamentally conveyed in the fantastic animation of the Embo chase scene and the Scipio battle in the final. 
Overall, I believe that this arc should rank as a fascinating and intriguing arc and certainly the best heavily politicized arc that has been aired by the Clone Wars. Season three episodes – Corruption (episode five), The Academy (episode six) and Pursuit of Peace (episode eleven) – just cannot match the brilliant writing and action of this arc, which was needed to make the political side of the arc much more interesting. The involvement of key players, such as the Sith Lords, Anakin and Padme were all essential elements which augmented the interest of this arc to me because the stakes had been raised much higher. I am therefore going to rate this arc: 9/10

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization 


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