“Nomad Droids” opened with a classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”
In a sense you could reword that to ask, “What’s the sillier episode? ‘MercyMission,’ with its talking trees and mystic frogs, or the episode that followed ‘Mercy Mission?’” In the case of “Nomad Droids,” the follow-up to “Mercy Mission” and conclusion of R2-D2 and C-3PO’s bizarre, yet ever kid-friendly, journey, you’d have to say the latter. I mean, it seemed like even narrator Tom Kane put an extra bit of tongue-in-cheek facetiousness when he belted that Artoo and Threepio had been “caught up in an adventure beyond their imagining.”
After they journeyed into the center of Aleen and solved that planet’s seismological crisis, the droids returned to their usual duties aboard a Jedi cruiser—although why their respective masters let them go in the first place, and why any droids in the Grand Army of the Republic couldn’t have just as easily fulfilled their respective functions on Aleen, remains unexplained. So it was nice to see Threepio in particular fulfill his primary programming when talking to Padmé—they were discussing plans for a senatorial banquet. Sure he’s a great interpreter (6 million forms of communication is nothing to sneeze at) but etiquette and protocol are also deeply a part of his circuitry.
Still, Threepio couldn’t plan party favors and seating arrangements for long, because a Separatist fleet cornered Jedi Master Adi Gallia’s cruiser, on which they were aboard. Much like they would once again 20 years later aboard Princess Leia’s Tantive IV, the dynamic duo found themselves dodging blaster bolts as their ship was boarded. And also like they would 20 years later they had to deal with a heavy-breathing cyborg. This time it was General Grievous, not Vader, who stood in their path. Luckily, Adi Gallia was there to fight the reconstructed Kaleesh warrior, buying time for Artoo and Threepio to make their way off the ship, not in an escape pod, mind you, but in a Y-Wing fighter. Yup, the sturdy two-person fighter with Star Trek-style nacelles that participated in the battle over Yavin to destroy the Death Star got its start in the Clone Wars, as we first saw way back in season one when Anakin and Ahsoka led a squadron against General Grievous’ then flagship, the Malevolence.
It seems like Artoo committed some Grand Theft Y-wing here, but I suppose, given how quickly the Jedi cruiser was destroyed, that they would be commended for saving whatever of the Republic’s hardware they could. Not that it was easy, with Artoo darting his fighter between crimson and azure laser flashes as the cruisers fired Horatio Hornblower broadsides at each other. One particularly pesky droid starfighter perched itself on Artoo’s tail and scored some blaster burn. That meant that our duo were forced down onto a nearby planet to facilitate repairs. Little did they know then what a strange odyssey through movie clichés they were about to embark upon.
Droid Odyssey, Leg 1: Lilliput
I actually like the idea of devoting a couple episodes to the exploits of Artoo and Threepio. Like the opening of A New Hope—and it’s inspiration, Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress—it allows us to explore an alien environment from the perspective of its lowliest inhabitants, a super quick way to grasp all the power relations at work and make the epic feel intimate. In The Hidden Fortress, those lowliest life forms were two bandits. In Star Wars, they’re droids—and, eventually, Jar Jar. Sure, the Kurosawa comparison only goes so far. It would be closer if, in A New Hope, C-3PO tried to rape Princess Leia, but for all it’s scum and villainy that Galaxy Far, Far Away is a remarkably family-friendly realm.
NEXT: Artoo and Threepio become the Republic’s Two-Droid Arsenal for Democracy.