Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd. & TMThe third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was subtitled “Secrets Revealed,” which has led me to wonder, what secrets in the Star Wars galaxy are left to reveal? I mean, even as the prequels attempted to keep Chancellor Palpatine’s Sith lord identity a secret, any fan could tell you that he’d someday become the Emperor and turn Luke Skywalker into his own human lightning rod. Last night’s new episode, “Supply Lines,” certainly did not have any secrets to reveal, although it did have some complex, back-room politics, a heroic last stand, and the return of a certain infamous Gungan.
You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Lucasfilm for having some major guts. In the scant 11 years since he burst onto the screen like a fuchsia lightning bolt, Jar Jar Binks has become one of the most reviled characters ever to enter the pop culture pantheon. Considered annoying comic relief at best, a Rastafarian caricature at worst, Jar Jar has found few fans. And yet, amazingly, Lucasfilm has maintained faith in the appeal of the character, and “Supply Lines” was the seventh episode of The Clone Wars in which he’s appeared. However, this was only the second episode with Mr. Binks himself, Ahmed Best, voicing the part! It’s like 1999 all over again!
Actually, Jar Jar seems a bit more subdued on the series than he did in The Phantom Menace. Maybe it’s just that Gungan comic relief is more tolerable in 22-minute doses than on the big screen. In “Supply Lines,” he was paired up with Senator Bail Organa from Alderaan, and the two traveled to Toydaria to negotiate a treaty that will allow Republic supply ships passage to besieged Ryloth. That’s right, Toydaria. You know, home of Gonzo-snouted flying creatures like Watto, Anakin’s old master during his slave days. (It really is 1999!)
Also, back from Episode I was Senator Lott Dod (relative of Trent or Chris?) of the Trade Federation, who also journeyed to Toydaria to argue against the Republic ships being allowed safe passage. He appeared in a season 2 episode, “Senate Spy,” as well, and both appearances have left me scratching my head. Didn’t the Trade Federation, that greedy, planet-invading megacorporation, secede entirely from the Republic so they could lend their military to the Separatists? Apparently not. They’re still presenting themselves as a legal entity, pleading their case for not resupplying Ryloth as if at a deposition, using words as weapons rather than battle droids.
I wish the episode had delved a little bit more deeply into Bail Organa, though. He’s Princess Leia’s adopted daddy, after all. He’ll be a founding member of the Rebel Alliance. He’ll die in spectacular fashion when the Death Star destroys his home planet of Alderaan. He was played by Jimmy Smits in the movies! What’s not to love?
Instead, “Supply Lines” focused on Jar Jar’s effort to divert the Trade Federation senator’s attention away from the Republic transports that the Toydarian king did allow to resupply there. Announcing with a touch of Warholian irony, “Mesa proposing a conceptual work of art to honor the ambassador of Trade Federation,” Binks indeed went all Marina Abramovic on the crowd, taking up everyone’s dinner plates and juggling them — conveniently distracting Lott Dod. Okay, so maybe for Jar Jar that’s what “conceptual art” means. But it worked! And the Republic was able to get its supply ships to Ryloth.
Ryloth, of course, is the spice-rich homeworld of the Twi’leks, the head-tail sporting aliens often known to be found in the employ of Hutts as majordomos (see: Bib Fortuna) or rancor-fodder dancing girls. Master Ima-Gun Di led the Republic campaign to hold Ryloth against the Separatist droid army. When Ben Kenobi said, “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi knights were guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy,” it’s easy to imagine a warrior-poet like Di as Exhibit A. Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the droid army, Master Di was gunned down, but before taking his last breath, saw the first Republic supply transport land and exclaimed, “The Twi’leks will live to fight another day.” This is why the Clone Wars were the perfect Jedi trap. Good guys like Master Di were sent to needless deaths by their Sith lord puppetmaster to rid the galaxy of the Jedi and keep them too busy to pin down Darth Sidious’s real objective — transforming the Republic into an Empire from within.
What is thy bidding? Did you like “Supply Lines”? Was Jar Jar at all tolerable for you? Or are you still awaiting that day when he see him offed in spectacular fashion?