This week was “Together Again.” If the Bad Batch arc felt like old school Clone Wars, this episode felt like dated Clone Wars. That is not a good thing.
We reached the end of the Ahsoka’s Walkabout arc, and it ended just as I feared. Last week, I went into detail why it would be a disservice to the story and to Trace and Rafa Martez if they found out late in episode four that Ahsoka was an ex-Jedi. That’s exactly what happened, and you know what? The story suffers for it.
Maybe it’s because I’ve watched a shit ton of Clone Wars. Maybe it’s because I have a podcast where we went through every episode with a fine tooth comb. I know how Clone Wars works. The story played out in a very Clone Wars way.
You may ask why is this a bad thing?
I had hope that the creators would have grown to not have these weak endings that wrap up entire emotional arcs in the last two minutes. Episode three should have been a cliffhanger revealing that Ahsoka was a Jedi to the Martez sisters. Then, this episode should have been 22 minutes of Trace and Rafa reeling from that information. They should be battling their own morals on this topic. It should be a big fucking deal that they swallow their pride and choose to help a Jedi, a group they blame for their parents’ deaths. They never got that chance! Because they found out about Ahsoka so late in the episode, it was brushed under the rug and everything is fine! They’re just cool that Ahsoka lied to them. Just like I predicted in my last review.
This is lazy. This is lazy writing. It drives me insane that Clone Wars does this. We know that Rebels and Resistance has deep, well written emotional arcs. But for some reason, they can’t pull this off Clone Wars even though it’s a lot of the same creators. I don’t understand why they can’t tell these character driven stories. Maybe it’s because Clone Wars has always been episodic and experimental by nature. That’s just how the show is.
But that’s also not an excuse anymore. This kind of storytelling worked in 2014 when the series was cancelled. A lot has happened in the last six years of animation. Shows like Steven Universe and She-Ra are telling deeply emotional stories and doing it well. Just look at how Rebels has changed Star Wars storytelling! Those Rebels narratives rippled into the movies like The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and parts of The Rise of Skywalker. Whether or not you like Resistance, it at least could write some compelling character arcs for Tam, Synara, and Kaz. Clone Wars can’t just be “okay” with sweeping emotional beats and character endings to the side. This is a complete regression for Star Wars animation.
Making the change of Rafa and Trace discovering Ahsoka is a Jedi in episode three fixes everything. Because then “Together Again” can play out the same when it comes to plot. The difference is the Martez sisters are facing off against their morals. When Rafa and Trace debate about rescuing Ahsoka, it’s coming to terms with how they feel about Jedi and how they feel about Ahsoka lying to them. It’s them choosing to help one person over judging Ahsoka by the people who raised her. Then that final line from Rafa about how Ahsoka is how the Jedi should be hits home so much harder. It would be so beautiful and well done. None of the plot would have to change. Instead, the character arcs of Trace and Rafa would be so much stronger and so fitting for the ending. Trace and Rafa are really great characters. They don’t deserve this kind of half ass end.
So much of the problem is the external forces effecting this arc. If this was in the middle of a full 22-episode season, then I probably wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. It’s clear that this was supposed to be some middle arc in a full season. Its story plays out that way. They probably would of have more time to work with these characters. Trace and Rafa would have some open ending where Ahsoka could come back later in the season. This arc would work so much better in a full season.
The other issue is the Siege of Mandalore. Yes, it’s so cool to see Bo-Katan and Ursa Wren. I love getting a glimpse of Maul and hearing about Crimson Dawn. But because there are only twelve episodes, they have to set up Siege of Mandalore to be the big finale. A bit of crossover between arcs is not a bad thing. There’s so little time this season, though, that the finale took away from this middle arc. Ahsoka’s Walkabout got its legs cut out from under it by Siege of Mandalore.
Ahsoka’s Walkabout is a good arc that had a strong Rebels-esque opening half. But the second half feels like dated Clone Wars. It doesn’t feel like 2020. It feels like 2014.
Here’s some random thoughts I had to round out the episode:
-I really enjoyed the side adventure of Trace and Rafa stealing spice from the Toong workers and Trandoshan manager. Hearing the main worker voiced by Star Wars Resistance’s Josh Brener was a treat. I also died laughing during the fight. Every time one of the Toong workers got punched, they would make a squeaky toy noise.
-While I know I was critical above, I do like Maul’s use in this story. I was surprised to see that Crimson Dawn from Solo was operational this early in the timeline. And the fact he’s using his own operation as a way to pressure the Pykes is just such a Maul thing to do.
I do like this arc, and I do like this episode. My frustration is that it’s good. But with a bit a tweaking, these could have been really phenomenal.
Now, I’m ready for the feelings and the pain of the Siege of Mandalore starting this week.
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