Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clone Wars Review: 'The Disappeared' Arc


The Disappeared Parts I & II were definitely the surprise inclusion of the sixth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Who would have expected a Jar Jar Binks and Mace Windu team up as two of the episodes to send off the series.  I know I didn't.  As soon as we heard that these episodes were coming, the joke that we were going to be seeing "The Continuing Adventures of Jar Jar Binks and Mace Windu" began.  And yet, it worked out so...perfectly!

These episodes were very much a The Clone Wars take on the buddy cop genre, which has often been the case when Jar Jar is involved.  It has been argued, going back to season one, that Jar Jar works best when he has a "straight man", whether it's C-3PO, Bail Organa, or Mace Windu, with him. This is something he did not really have in The Phantom Menace.  The pairing of Mace and Jar Jar was phenomenal, as Mace played the role of the audience, with his shock that Jar Jar is the only one the Bardottans would listen to!  Who can honestly say they saw that coming!  In addition, Mace's facial reactions when Jar Jar called him his "pal-o" and his "humble servant" were simply priceless!

The relationship between Jar Jar and Queen Julia was another surprise.  Looking at the Gungan and the Bardottan anatomy, there is a certain resemblance which leads me to speculate that these two species are related in some form, perhaps they are both descendants of the same species (like dogs and wolves).  This could explain some of the more physical attraction between the two (they spent the night "Meditating", if you catch my drift).  If I were feeling really nitpick-y, I would wonder when Jar Jar met Julia and spent several years with her because it seemed to me in Episode I he had never left Naboo and between Episodes I and II he was off working with Padme so when could he have met her?  But that's beside the point.

The Bardottans hatred for the Jedi seemed to be the same thing that was brought up by fans following the season two episode Children of the Force, where the idea that the Jedi took their recruits as infants was first brought up.  It is interesting to see that people in the galaxy have the same response that some fans did to this idea.  It also furthers the ideas established in episode like Defenders of Peace and Sabotage that not everyone in the galaxy likes the Jedi and what they have become. 

The idea that there are other Force users in the galaxy other than the Jedi and Sith is a concept I have always found fascinating.  We know that the Jedi embrace the light side and the Sith embrace the dark side, so what do these other users do with the Force.  The idea that the Bardottans are tapping directly into the living Force for purposes of peace and serenity, sounds to me like what the Jedi Order likely started out as, before they took on the mantle of Peace Keepers.  Their use of the Force began to change until they wound up where they are, fighting the clone wars.  Further evidence of how the Jedi are losing their way is found in these episodes when Yoda refers to both the Jedi and the Sith as warriors.

Mother Talzin's claim that she is not a natural Force user, is an intriguing one as it begs the question of just what is Nightsister Magic?  Is it related to the Force, or is it something different?  I still believe that it is a manifestation of the dark side, that is called up through rituals and witchcraft, rather than meditation or anger.  To me, the term "natural Force user" is referring to the fact that accessing the Force through Nightsister magic is not natural, meaning no one should access the Force this way.  Talzin clearly needs the Force, she is fading and it is implied that the living Force gathered in the orb will sustain her.

Sticking with Talzin, it was great to see her again!  She has been one of the series' major mysteries going back to season three.  Her influence on the series and the war has been huge and yet we have no idea what her end game is.  None of the characters she has helped have really wound up where they want to be.  Ventress has gone off to become a bounty hunter, Savage Opress is dead, and Darth Maul has been captured by Sidious, not to mention the fact that the Nightsisters have been all but wiped out!  On top of that her power is clearly fading.  When she disappeared at the end of Part II it seemed painful and less smooth than we'd previously seen it. 

It could be that here plans have all just failed, but she seems to smart for that.  She clearly had a plan when she took Ventress under her wing in Season 3, and in hindsight it seems this plan was all leading up to the return of Maul.  But Why?  And now that Maul is captured, has she failed?  I have a hard time believing that.  I still think she has a clear endgame in sight and either this was all part of an elaborate plan from her or she is adapting to unforeseen circumstances.  The Episode Guide on for Part II seems to confirm this as it leaves us with the cryptic line "Her story is not over yet."  We have since learned that she will be returning in the upcoming Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic series which is based on unproduced episodes for the series?  I, for one, certainly hope it is.

For as dark as some of the concepts were (stealing the living Force for a living being), the comedy in these episodes was spectacular as well.  Jar Jar was used for some quality humour (eg, not fart/poop jokes).  Two moments stood out to me in particular.  First, when Jar Jar and "Masteren Mace" first entered the Bardottan council and the guard behind Jar Jar hit the drum.  The poor gungan nearly jumped out of his skin and it was hilarious!  The other moment was Jar Jar's frustration with Mace taking the time to sense where the Queen was rather than just go running in.  The exchange where Mace says, "I see people, market, streets," to which Jar Jar replies, "Yep Meesa see that from here too,"  had me in stitches.

While this arc may not have had the major implications for the saga that the Order 66 and Yoda arcs had, it was a fun ride.  It was also a nice finale for Jar Jar and Mace, two characters we might not be seeing again for long while (or ever in the case of Jar Jar).  The arc had humor, romance, action, heart and little exploration of the Force, everything a great Star Wars story needs!

Rating: 9/10

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

You can follow Dominic on Twitter: @DominicJ25  


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