Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Episode 212

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Fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe are probably quite familiar with the Mandalorians, nomadic warriors that were thorns in the Jedi’s side thousands of years before the outbreak of the Clone Wars. Thanks largely to the cult popularity of Boba Fett, Mandalorian armor is nearly as iconic as that of Darth Vader, and over the years fans have been clamoring for more information about these mysterious, deadly warriors.

While the Mandalorians have made numerous appearances in Star Wars video games, novels and comic books over the years, science fiction author Karen Traviss—known for her work on the Republic Commando and Legacy of the Force series—is credited as the chief architect of their culture, which closely resembles that of ancient Celts. Fans of her work were likely anticipating the day when we could finally see the Mandalorians in action, and they finally got their shot when “The Mandalore Plot,” the latest episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, aired on January 29.

And then disappointment might have set in.

You see, Dave Filoni and his team have essentially tossed Traviss’ intricate warrior culture out the window and reimagined Clone Wars-era Mandalorians as pacifists. Sure, there are still some dangerous Mandalorians out there—namely a group of terrorist insurgents called Death Watch—but this culture bears little resemblance to the one Traviss developed. This likely explains her decision last summer to quit writing Star Wars fiction, citing continuity issues. While this is hardly the first time Star Wars has contradicted itself (with so many stories by so many authors out there, it’s bound to happen), there will no doubt be some backlash against this new take on the Mandaloreans.

Continuity snags aside, “the Mandalore Plot” is superb. We follow Obi-Wan Kenobi as he meets with Duchess Satine (Anna Graves), Mandalore’s ruler and head of the Council of Neutral Systems. There are rumors of Mandalore’s alignment with the Separatists swirling around the galaxy, and Satine assures Obi-Wan that Mandalore has rejected the violent ways of the past. the last remnant of the planet’s warrior culture has been exiled to Concordia, the planet’s moon.

As it turns out, Death Watch have allied themselves with Count Dooku, and plan on overthrowing the government (so the rumors are true, from a certain point of view). After Death Watch bombs a memorial shrine on Mandalore, Obi-Wan and Satine head to Concordia to investigate, soon learning that the splinter group is a far greater threat than they anticipated.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the relationship between Obi-Wan and Satine. We know that relationships are forbidden for the Jedi—and if Anakin’s fate is any indication, rightly so—but it’s pretty clear that Obi-Wan has some sort of history with the duchess, romantic or otherwise. They know how to push each other’s buttons, especially in high-stress, near-death situations, and they’re fun to watch. Hopefully, The Clone Wars builds on this relationship in future episodes.

But the real stars of “The Mandalore Plot” are the Mandalorians themselves. They’re not quite what hardcore fans might have been expecting, but watching a group of them face off against Obi-Wan, jetpacks firing, is pure Star Wars magic. Things get even better when Death Watch’s leader, Concordian Governor Pre Vizsla (Iron Man director Jon Favreau) brandishes a black-bladed lightsaber and challenges Obi-Wan to a duel. Vizsla is no Jedi, but he can certainly hold his own in a fight. Also, the dude has a black lightsaber that was stolen from the Jedi Temple during the fall of the Old Republic. How cool is that?

If fans can get past this episode’s apparent disregard for Expanded Universe lore, “The Mandalore Plot” is an entertaining ride that gives us a rare glimpse of Obi-Wan’s personal past.

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