FILMEDGE REVIEWS THE CLONE WARS EPISODE 2.22 'LETHAL TRACKDOWN'
— AIRDATE 4.30.10
The beleaguered Jedi Knights have struggled against space pirates, zombie bugs, mind-controlling brain worms, giant monsters and more, all while dealing with the ever-present threat of attack by the evil Separatist forces — but despite all they’ve been through, their greatest threat is still before them. For future generations of Skywalker, the name of Boba Fett will live in infamy — but now, he is still but a boy bent on revenge, driven by a desire to make the Jedi pay for the death of his father. Things get personal in the heated ONE-HOUR season finale of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS airing at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, April 30th on Cartoon Network. Part Two of the finale resolves Boba Fett's quest for revenge as he and the bounty hunters finally confront the Jedi and Mace Windu.
Revenge is a confession of pain.
Lethal trackdown! The young Boba Fett has taken the law into his own hands and made two attempts on the life of Mace Windu, the Jedi Master who killed his father. Boba's mentor, bounty hunter Aurra Sing, has taken three Republic officers hostage in an effort to force Windu to face Boba on their terms, a tactic that does not sit well with the young vigilante...
SYNOPSIS: Concluding the hostage crisis action where R2 Come Home left off, Boba Fett's plot to exact his revenge on Mace Windu concludes in an action-packed confrontation.
Recovering from their injuries on Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker questions why Mace won't bring Boba Fett to justice for downing the Endurance on Vanqor and the deaths of many crew members. Windu insists this too would be an act of vengeance no better than what Boba seeks. A hologram message from Aurra Sing holding her three hostages changes the situation gravely: she dares Windu to track her location and orders Boba to execute Clone Commander Ponds as a promise she'll kill all three if Mace refuses. Fett balks at committing outright murders, so she kills Ponds herself at the end of the transmission. Mace is now compelled to act but Master Plo Koon insists Windu is not well enough for the pursuit, so he takes Ahsoka Tano with him to seek clues to Aurra's location.
As the Slave I rockets away from Vanqor, Ponds' lifeless body tumbles out of the airlock into space. In the ship, Boba regards the two remaining hostages with sad regret, this situation growing far out of hand for his simple, petulant need to avenge his father's death. Aurra barges into the compartment and berates Boba for disobeying her orders, shoving him roughly against the bulkhead. Discontent permeates the cockpit as Castas rebels against how their mission has evolved from a simple bounty job to kill Jedi into the destruction of a Republic cruiser and hostage-taking. Aurra brands him a coward in the face of adversity and increased profit despite increasing risk, and Bossk affirms his allegiance to the job given how much he's invested in it already.
The Slave I arrives on Florrum at the remote base of the Weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka, revealed to be not just one of Aurra's former crew but her past lover. She introduces Hondo to Boba Fett, and the pirate expresses sincere condolences on the death of Jango who he considered an honorable man. Hondo chides Castas that he's not the first accomplice of Aurra's to quit under her ruthless leadership, and invites them in for a drink to talk business "like civilized people." As Hondo attempts to reminisce about their past, Aurra eavesdrops on Castas' hologram chat with a fellow bounty hunter on Coruscant, seeking transport off of Florrum. As payment, Castas offers information on Aurra's hostage plan, but she blasts him dead before he can share the info. Boba watches in horrified disgust, realizing his deal with Sing grows worse every moment.
On Coruscant, Plo Koon takes Ahsoka down to the sub-level underworld, the shadowy depths of the city-planet where they are most likely to find compatriots of Aurra Sing and the bounty hunters and learn where she's hiding out. Entering their fifth dive bar on the search, Plo Koon warns Ahsoka to demonstrate more subtlety in their quest, her brashness a potentially dangerous trait she's learned from her mentor, Anakin. While Plo Koon attempts to question the bartender, Ahsoka heeds the Master's advice and calms herself, listening carefully to the many drunken and rowdy conversations around her. Finally she overhears a voice speaking of a recent murder on Florrum at the hands of Aurra Sing. Moving closer to hear more, the bounty hunter Castas contacted and his Weequay companion grab Ahsoka. The crowd clears as Plo Koon ignites his lightsaber in the dank saloon, insisting the two thugs release Ahsoka. The standoff ends without incident as Ahsoka and Plo Koon retreat peacefully. He admonishes her again for her lack of subtlety, but at least she gained the info they sought to find Aurra Sing and the hostages on Florrum.
Though Hondo welcomes Aurra to spring her trap, he refuses to help or hinder her plan against the Jedi — this is not his fight and it's a risk he refuses to take even on her behalf. Bossk, guarding the hostages at the Slave I landing site, Aurra awaits the Jedi's arrival in Hondo's cantina. Hondo greets the arriving Jedi with an overabundance of hospitality, prompting Plo Koon to assume he's walking the Jedi into a trap. Surprisingly, Hondo admits as much, confessing what little he knows of Sing's ploy to impress upon the Jedi that he is not siding with Aurra in this conflict. Plo Koon orders Ahsoka to wait outside and be patient, then calmly enters the cantina alone.
He sits at a table across from Aurra and she assures the Jedi Master he's made a costly mistake. Boba Fett quickly holds a blaster to Plo Koon's head, enraged that he came to negotiate in Windu's place, his plot for revenge foiled yet again! Plo Koon calmly suggests the bounty hunters surrender and no harm will befall them. Tension builds as Aurra contacts Bossk, preparing him to execute the hostages on her next order. While Aurra declares she will kill the Jedi and the hostages to get what Boba wants, Plo Koon deflates her claims by insisting this plan only serves her needs, not Boba's at all. Suddenly Ahsoka springs out of the shadows, lightsaber ignited, slicing off her implanted com antenna and holding the glowing blade at Aurra's throat. Boba holds the blaster closer to Plo Koon's head as Ahsoka warns him off. At the Slave I site, Bossk attempts to contact Aurra but gets no answer. He warns Killian and the other hostage they will die unless Aurra contacts Bossk very soon.
The cantina standoff continues as Boba insists Ahsoka free Aurra, but Sing assures the boy that the padawan will never kill her because she's not like Boba. Ahsoka agrees that she's not a murderer indeed, and Boba denies the charge, insisting he only wants justice. Plo Koon proclaims "we ARE justice" and gives the bounty hunters one final chance to surrender peacefully. Boba, on the verge of panic, refuses to let the Jedi kill Aurra. She insists they won't as she secretly enables two mini-rocket darts in her boot under the table, winking slyly at Boba. He warns her off, taking a shot at Ahsoka who deflects the blaster bolt with her lightsaber, releasing Aurra as she dives out of harm. Aurra kicks the table aside and fires her boot projectiles which narrowly miss the Jedi Master. Aurra unholsters her blasters and opens fire on Ahsoka who repels the firestorm of bolts with her saber. In a flash, Plo Koon force-hurls the table between Ahsoka and Aurra, who blasts it to pieces in harmless shots. Plo Koon's lightsaber ignites in a blinding flash as it swoops down, slicing Aurra's pistols in half and disarming her. The Jedi orders Aurra to surrender but Boba tosses a small detonator onto the floor between them. Sing and the Jedi dive away just before the charge explodes. Aurra runs out of the cantina, urging Boba to hurry after her. Boba attempts to run but Plo Koon force-pulls him back into custody. The boy pleads for Aurra not to leave him behind, but now outnumbered and unarmed, runs off to safety instead.
Plo Koon pleads with Boba to reveal where Bossk holds the hostages, but all the boy can do is mourn that Aurra left him alone and unprotected once again. Outside, Aurra kicks one of the pirates off a speeder bike and roars away from the camp into the hills. Ahsoka jumps on a bike in pursuit as another pirate raises his rifle, aiming at the padawan. Hondo pulls the rifle down, silently insisting that his men will not take sides in this fight either — this is now Aurra's hand to play out, for profit or failure. Plo Koon asks if Hondo can talk Boba into revealing the hostages' location, and Hondo implores the boy to comply. Boba refuses, demanding to know why he should help anyone when he has no one to help him. Hondo insists it is the honorable thing to do . . . and more importantly, what Jango would want his son to do.
As Ahsoka chases Aurra through the stony canyons, Plo Koon contacts Ahsoka to turn around and meet him at the hostages' coordinates which Boba has now provided. Just as Bossk is about the execute Killian and the hostage officer, Ahsoka's bike roars onto the scene, guns blasting away. Bossk hits the deck to avoid being shot while Ahsoka leaps off her bike and frees the captives with a whip of her saber. Aurra Sing jumps her bike onto Ahsoka's which explodes, causing enough distraction to allow Aurra to sprint aboard the Slave I and take off. Ahsoka force-leaps up onto the ascending ship, slicing off one of its steering vanes. Aurra struggles to maintain control, firing her blaster through he clear canopy at Ahsoka who dives off the ship to safety below with the others. The Slave I careens wildly to the side and over a distant bluff before a fiery explosion fills the sunset sky, leaving Aurra Sing's ultimate fate unknown.
Landing on Coruscant, Plo Koon and Ahsoka return Boba Fett and Bossk to custody at the Jedi Temple. Young Fett admits he's done terrible things under Sing's influence, but blames it all on Mace Windu for killing his father. Boba swears he will never forgive Windu, but the Jedi stoically insists the boy will have to forgive him eventually. Windu wears a troubled expression as the two bounty hunters are led away.
REVIEW: Season Two reaches its dynamic and exciting conclusion in the second half of THE CLONE WARS' one-hour finale as the Jedi's Lethal Trackdown of Aurra Sing and her Republic hostages results in the dramatic confrontation between Boba Fett and Mace Windu.
The character and thematic contrasts having been established in Death Trap and R2 Come Home, the finale now kicks into high gear with an abundance of tense standoffs and laser-blasting action. Boba quickly learns that Aurra Sing's one and only concern is her own bounty profit in killing Jedi, and that she's using the boy's desire for vengeance simply to get to Windu or any Jedi who crosses her path in this hostage crisis. As her allegiances shift moment to moment, proven by her murder of the informant Castas, Fett's hopes fade that Aurra Sing will serve as any semblance of a surrogate parent or mentor in place of his father.
As implied the episode's psychological subtext, it's likely Boba isn't seeking revenge as much as he seeks a replacement guardian to care for him in Jango's sudden, painful absence. Interestingly, his troubled path as a youth now parallels Anakin's in this regard, having never emotionally recovered from the death of his mother at the hands of Tusken Raiders. Though unknown to Boba, STAR WARS clearly demonstrates that revenge is an empty gesture of darkness and self-destruction, as indeed Anakin's murder of the Sandpeople on Tatooine offered him no inner peace or closure at all but only hastened him along his path toward the Dark Side. For better or worse, Boba cannot find success in making anyone pay for his father's death, not even the Jedi Knight Mace Windu who killed him during the battle on Geonosis. Perhaps it is this inability to fulfill his quest for vengeance that preserves the spark of goodness still existing within him.
At the very top of the episode, Boba apologizes to Killian and the two hostages, insisting he never meant for anyone but Windu to be endangered. Killian urges Fett not to comply with Aurra's hostage plan, insisting that he can still spot a good soldier and Boba remains one despite his betrayal on the Endurance. Yet Boba refuses anyone to define him, either as a Republic soldier or a clone — and in a sad way, he's correct in his defiance. Faced with an entire fleet of clone look-alikes, Boba's only distinguishing definition of his own identity came from his father Jango, who had Boba created without the genetic manipulation of generic clone troopers to be his unique, individualized 'son'. When Jango was killed at Boba's tender, impressionable age, so died the one person who defined Boba in such valuable terms. It's not at all surprising that Boba then rebels against every genetic-mirror image he sees in the Republic clone ranks, yet his grief and youth disarm him from truly defining himself without a guiding mentor.
Windu killing Jango instantly eliminated the Jedi from ever providing such a parental template, unlike Anakin's path of training. Being a loner, Boba sought out fellow loners who defiantly make their own way in the galaxy, and bounty hunters fit that mold. Yet his mistake was trusting Aurra Sing to provide such guidance, since her utterly amoral, self-serving work and lifestyle leave no space to care at all for Boba beyond his usefulness as bait to entrap the Jedi. As demonstrated at the end of the fight on Florrum, once Boba fails in entrapping the Jedi as profitable targets, Aurra immediately abandons him to his own fate with Plo Koon. Now Boba is lost between both worlds and must forge his own painful, difficult path to maturity on his own terms, eventually becoming the quite dehumanized, ruthless bounty hunter seen in the STAR WARS films.
Over most of its first two seasons, THE CLONE WARS has largely dramatized the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists, between Jedi and Sith, good and evil. This is the basis of STAR WARS mythology of course, but it's also a simple storytelling dynamic. With this finale trilogy of episodes and the introduction of Boba Fett, the series demonstrates its maturation by illustrating the story arcs and life in the galaxy as filled with moral shades of gray, leaving behind the simplicity of a universe defined by black and white absolutes. This political and moral complexity springs from the same shift in EPISODE II, but the animated series allows much more screen time to explore these complications through our favorite characters. This escalation of stakes in both storytelling and production value bode well for Season Three of THE CLONE WARS and beyond as the series grows up to explore and expand 'real STAR WARS' issues in a new and exciting format.
Technically this is also one of the series' most visually advanced and stunning episodes yet! The action scenes and character animation show wide ranges of dynamic motion in numerous lightsaber and gunfights, to very detailed subtle expressions of emotion showing frustration, impatience and regret — extremely difficult feelings to read in fleeting seconds of animation without words to underscore them. Boba's inner turmoil bubbles to the surface through his face and posture with great success, while Aurra Sing flickers from sultry temptation to murderous cruelty in an instant. In contrast, Mace Windu's facial and physical stoicism speaks volumes about the Jedi philosophy, which Anakin appropriately finds confusing given his own backstory.
The show's technical directors really pulled out all the stops for this finale closer as well! From creating the murky depths of Coruscant's underworld to filling its sleazy bar with flashing disco light patterns, and down to the tiny floating dust motes in the air as Plo Koon faces off with Aurra Sing, the environmental details included are astounding. THE CLONE WARS ends Season Two on its highest note in terms of story and production value, as the show creators and animators gain exponential growth in the quality of tools and techniques at their disposal. FILMEDGE ranks Lethal Trackdown as true highlight of this second season and a highly promising bellweather of even greater achievements and entertainment to come in Season Three. The semi-cliffhanger of Boba Fett disappearing into custody leaves the dramatic possibilities wide open for his return and development as a character adding further complications to the Jedi's task of saving the galaxy from the destructive forces of darkness quickly growing beyond their control.
RETURN TO OUR SEASON TWO FINALE REVIEW OF EPISODE 2.21 'R2 COME HOME'