Now this is how you do comic relief!
“Mercy Mission” proved to be an unexpected palate-cleanser after last week’s disappointing “Shadow Warrior.” For one, it gave us more of the most neglected duo in the Galaxy: R2-D2 and C-3PO. This is the most we’ve seen of that Galaxy Far, Far Away’s Laurel and Hardy since last year’s odd “Evil Plans,” which involved R2 getting a droid’s version of a day of beauty. And I have no idea why we haven’t seen them more. By the time of the Battle of Yavin we know that droids have really become pariahs in the Galaxy, after, you know, years of war against goose-stepping, “Roger! Roger!” shouting clankers. But why have Artoo and Threepio become the odd men out for the Lucasfilm animation team too? Use them more often! They’re funny! And they don’t have to try as hard to be funny as, let’s say, a certain alien race that rhymes with Dunkin’.
Just the title “Mercy Mission” should recall the very first time we ever saw Artoo and Threepio. Damn, the very first time we saw anything of Star Wars, period, when Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer cornered Princess Leia’s Tantive IV above Tatooine while it was on what the Dark Lord called a “mercy mission.” No Organa was to be found this time, but the droids were on hand, and so were the clone troopers, pleasing fans of those battle-hardened warriors who inherited not only Jango Fett’s razor-edged cheekbones and mad combat skills but also his New Zealand accent. I remember one earnest commenter last season venting: “How come we haven’t had more of the clone troopers. I watch Clone Wars for the clones!”
“Mercy Mission” didn’t show the clones battling wildly incompetent droids; rather, it focused on their role in a non-combat relief mission: to help out the peppy, diminutive inhabitants of Aleen, who’d just suffered a terrible groundquake. Think of this as the Galactic Republic’s FEMA. Apparently, this was a quake of apocalyptic proportions, as only “thousands” of survivors were left on this world, which oddly enough seemed to please Padme and Yoda. Either the Aleena are very few in number to begin with, these groundquakes were much more localized than Tom Kane made out in his voiceover, or Padme and the little green man have become wildly desensitized. I liked seeing the Grand Army of the Republic in FEMA mode, though. It allowed us to cut through all the laser and lightsaber battles and see the logistical side of the war effort—something that one of the best Clone Wars-era novels, Jedi Trial, also attempts.
NEXT: Toward a definition of non-annoying Star Wars aliens.