<p><p><p><p>Anakin proves himself a ladies' man to the Queen of Zygerria, while Ahsoka passes herself off as his slave, sans metal bikini.</p></p></p></p>

By Christian Blauvelt
December 03, 2011 at 08:06 PM EST
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Free at last! Free at last! By the Force Almighty, they’re…not free at last. Actually, Star Wars: The Clone Wars left us dangling on a bit of a midseason cliffhanger with “Slaves of the Republic.” That’s right, my Padawan readers, this was our last trip to that Galaxy Far, Far Away until January, aside from Spike TV marathons of the movies and obsessive viewings of The Star Wars Holiday Special on YouTube. Rather than serving up any festive celebration of Life Day, though, “Slaves of the Republic” was one of the darkest, grimmest, most disturbing episodes the Clone Wars has ever given us, marked by some shocking scenes of mass murder and suicide.

As our episode opened, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Cody flew their commandeered slave ship back to Zygerria, in search of the missing Togruta colonists. The planet was crawling with fleshmongers looking to sell, buy, or trade slaves. Apparently the Zygerrians were following that all important entry in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, “War is good for business.”  And cousin, business was a boomin’. “Whatever is happening is attracting plenty of high-class…scum,” said Obi-Wan.

I know I’ve harped on this before, but it’s time that we expand our Galaxy Far, Far Away epithets beyond “scum.” There’s a whole galaxy of nerdy, fictional profanity out there that we can employ. How about the old Huttese standbys sleemo or poodoo? I lean a little more toward Corellian spacer lingo myself, so I’d love to hear “Sithspawn!” come out of Ahsoka’s little mouth. Or how about, my favorite: kark. As in “Kark on you, Jedi!” Kark can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective, possibly an adverb. Kriff  serves a similar function, as in “My wife’s gonna knock the kriff out of me, because I just got kriffed out of my YT-1300 playing sabacc with some Ryn on Ord Mantell. That was kriffed up.” Clone Wars writers, take note. End digression.

Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Cody would pose as slavers, wearing odd, Haradrim-style headdresses, coming to the Queen of Zygerria’s auction. Yes, that meant Ahsoka would be their slave. “The role of master comes easily to me,” said Anakin, clearly enjoying every minute of his Padawan’s faux subjugation. You could practically smell the glitterstim in the air as our quartet walked down the exotic Zygerrian capital’s perfumed, sun-baked streets—a place where Kowakian monkey lizards duel with makeshift swords in the streets. (Seriously, Kowakian monkey lizards can use swords?) One might ask why desert planets in Star Wars always seem to be backwater havens of, un, scum and villainy, like Tatooine, Geonosis, Kessel, Nal Hutta, and now Zygerria. Um, because of the spice, obviously! Hmmm…spice. That’s my Frank Herbert-approved answer for you.

NEXT: Behold…Slave Ahsoka.

Anakin announced to a random guard that he wanted to see the Queen, for he had big news for her. Presented before her almost immediately—apparently, Zygerria’s security is pretty lax—Anakin announced that the Queen’s former lover, Bruno Denturi, had been killed, by his own hand. Or rather the hand of “Lars,” Anakin’s assumed Scandinavian alter ego, which I suppose he adopted in honor of his stepfather and stepbrother. The lupine monarch is clearly a woman of appetites and she took an immediate interest in this Lars when he offered Ahsoka as a gift. The Queen wasn’t interested in the young Togruta so much—though she did note that “Bruno always knew how to pick a beautiful female”—but was a sucker for Lars’ flattery. In fact, Anakin even whispered something naughty in her ear that made her giggle and blush, which I’m hoping and praying Dave Filoni will reveal on the DVD release. Who knew Anakin was such a ladies’ man and all-around galactic bon vivant? And is this the kind of surreptitious dirty talk he uses on Padmé? He’s certainly come a long way since his “I hate sand” awkward phase, though I suppose it’s for the best that he flirts up the opposite sex now. I highly doubt if he can expect much action after suffering those full-body lava burns and being encased in a respirator suit.

Was the world ready for slave Ahsoka? We may never know. Clearly Dave Filoni & Co. didn’t feel comfortable putting her in that Galaxy Far Far Away’s go-to slave couture. You know what I’m talking about: a metal bikini. I mean, Ahsoka is still a teenager, so that was probably a good call on their part. Nor was she even as scantily clad as the green Twi’lek female slave who attempted to stab the Queen—though, I suppose Twi’lek females are kind of like the galaxy’s Vegas showgirls. Slave or not, that’s probably what they’re going to wear. This Twi’lek wasn’t having it, though. After she attempted to free herself by stabbing the Queen, she decided to jump off the building to her death than face a life of continued servitude. Brutal, though close viewers will note that this isn’t The Clone Wars’ first portrayal of suicide. That came back in Season 2, when a Mandalorian Death Watch terrorist jumped to his death after setting off a bomb meant for the Duchess Satine.

NEXT: I whip the Jedi back and forth, I whip the Jedi back and forth!

Obi-Wan and Cody had left Anakin to his own devices with the Queen while they went looking for the missing colonists from Kiros. Passing a monocle-wearing Hutt at the slave market, Obi-Wan spied Governor Roshti! Not to be confused with Röschti, my favorite Swiss hash-brown dish when hiking the Jungfrau. Obi-Wan and his clone companion immediately freed Roshti and commandeered a flying, dragon-like beast, which was either a Hungarian Horntail or a member of the same species as the reptilian steed Obi-Wan mounted on Utapau when tracking down General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith.

Before you could say, “Holy Sith, Obi-Wan!” they were caught and paraded before the Queen and Anakin at the Great Slave Auction. Anakin, or rather Lars, was to impress the Queen by giving the Jedi a public whipping. “It seems I have to rescue you again, old man,” Anakin said, foreshadowing his later “You’re powers are weak, old man!” to Obi-Wan on the Death Star. But before he could be the Vic Morrow to Obi-Wan’s Levar Burton, R2 launched them both their lightsabers from across the arena.

One of the most enjoyable things about the Clone Wars series has been seeing how characters we know and love learned some of the tactics they employ later on in the movies. Last season we learned how Vader got that ridiculous plan to encase Luke Skywalker in carbonite for his trip to the Emperor from his own experience of carbon-freezing himself so he could journey behind Separatist lines without being detected. Now we know R2 got the idea in Return of the Jedi to rescue Luke Skywalker from the gaping maw of the sarlacc by launching him his lightsaber because of his time on Zygerria! 

NEXT: Padmé should be jealous. Another Queen is trying to take her man.

Only this time, it didn’t quite work. Obi-Wan and Anakin were simply outnumbered. They were quickly subdued by those Zygerrian lightwhips. But rather than send Anakin for processing along with his comrades, the Queen kept him by her side. When he woke up, though, he immediately Force-choked her, a la Motti, Ozzel, Needa, and, gasp, Padmé. She sputtered that his friends would die if he killed her. It was no idle threat: Obi-Wan and Cody had already been shipped to another planet where a ruthless new slave master demonstrated his callous disregard for sentient life by dropping a group of the Togruta prisoners down a vertiginous cavern to their deaths. (I told you this episode was dark!) And Ahsoka was being kept in a cage suspended from the top of the Queen’s fortress.

My favorite moment? When Ahsoka’s wolfish Zygerrian captor taunted her, she used the Force to cause him to lose his footing and nearly fall off the edge of the building. He recovered, because Ahsoka’s not that cold. But, seriously, wouldn’t that have been the best punchline in the history of the show if she had just used the Force to throw him over the edge?

The Queen gave Anakin an ultimatum: stay with me as my bodyguard and your friends will go free. Everyone knows, though, she wants more from Anakin than just his awesome midichlorian count. And just like that, our episode came to an end, with Master Skywalker deciding whether or not he should stay with the Queen in order to buy his friends their freedom. Now we must endure the holidays never knowing whether our heroes will go free or remain in bondage forever. I’ll have a blue Christmas indeed.

What did you guys think of “Slaves of the Republic”? For those of you who’ve read the original comic on which it was based, do you think this adaptation holds up? Is the Queen the Mila Kunis to Padmé’s Natalie Portman?  Do you agree that The Clone Wars needs to expand its lexicon of fake profanity? Who knew Kowakian monkey lizards were such accomplished fencers? And can’t we just have one little old reference to Life Day, pretty please? See you in the new year, everybody!

Before the Dark Times, before the Empire, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker fight to restore peace and justice to a galaxy far, far away…
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