Do we detect a foul stench? This Friday on Star Wars: The Clone Wars (read our recaps here!), Tarkin — future Imperial Grand Moff, Death Star commander, and the only man other than the Emperor himself capable of “holding Vader’s leash” — will make his highly anticipated debut. Portrayed by Hammer Films veteran Peter Cushing in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, Tarkin became the template for all of the saga’s stuffy, Queen’s English-speaking Imperial officers, sort of the cold, militarist yang to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s warm, grandfatherly yin. At the time of The Clone Wars, 20 years before A New Hope, Tarkin (voiced by Stephen Stanton) is just a captain in the Republic navy. And in Friday’s episode, “The Citadel,” the first of a three-part arc, he meets his future colleague and rival, Anakin Skywalker.
“I think there’s a bit of an ego trip happening,” Matt Lanter, Anakin’s vocal performer, tells EW. “Anakin and Tarkin are testing each other out a little bit. On a bigger scale, though, we keep giving fans more tie-ins on the Clone Wars to the original trilogy.” Supervising director Dave Filoni, to whom in the fall I suggested — nay, demanded! — that Tarkin make an appearance, agrees. “There are a lot of references [to the original trilogy] packed into these episodes,” he says. Such as how Anakin and Obi-Wan have themselves encased in carbonite in order to sneak past Separatist lines and free a captive Jedi general. “This whole arc allowed us some fun opportunities to pay homage to the Star Wars that we all fell in love with when we, the older fans, were kids,” says Filoni. Take a look at an exclusive clip from Lucasfilm of “The Citadel,” in which Anakin and Tarkin have one of their first verbal sparring matches. Excited yet?