In the past few episodes, The Clone Wars has been kicking it up a notch, and the season finale, ‘Hostage Crisis’, is a definitely an extra serving of BAM! Imagine the Clone Wars if all the villains were competent, and this is what you get. Cad Bane and his crew of criminals live up to the hype – they’re lethal, they get the job done, and they are intimidating. The only hitch in their plan to raid the Senate building and take some senators hostage as a way to free Ziro the Hutt: Padmé’s celebrating Sneak-Your-Husband-Into-Work Day.
The story starts off with the bounty hunter Bane, voiced with evil deliciousness by Corey Burton, and some of his crew driving up to the Senate building in the middle of the day. Before the Senatorial Guard can give Bane a parking ticket for hovering in a red zone, sniper Aurra Sing has picked off most of the boys in blue, and Bane snaps the neck of the last one. With droid commandos donning the Senate armor to secure the area, Sing arrives with Robonino, an Ewok-sized fishy dude. Bane leads the way to the Senate’s power core, wiping out the guard barracks with a thermal detonator (and Sing coldly shooting the sole survivor as they pass by). One of Bane’s IG assassin droids guns down the various droids working in the power core, and Robonino gets to work on slicing the power controls.
Meanwhile, Anakin is up in Padmé’s office, trying to convince her that she should sneak off with him to Kokomo for two weeks, since he’s on break. But she’s got that work thing, and Anakin doesn’t get it. He tries to impress her on how much he thinks of their love by giving her his lightsaber. At least hand it to her properly, dude – it would really suck if she impaled herself turning it on because dorkboy handed it to her backwards! Their little interlude is interrupted by Bail Organa and Threepio’s approach. As Skywalker dives under the desk, Padmé palms the lightsaber and follows Organa to an impromptu discussion, ironically to counter a privacy invasion bill.
The meeting of a gaggle of senators in some large dimly-lit atrium gets crashed by Bane and his accomplices, who surround the senators. As Gran senator Philo tries to walk out, dismissing the hostage takers, Banes blasts him in the back, indicating just how serious the situation is.
In Palpatine’s office, Orn Free Taa waddles in and gets Palpatine on the holocomm with Bane, who announces his demands: a pardon and release for Ziro the Hutt. Robonino the fishdude cuts the power to the Senate building, plunging it into lockdown mode, trapping Palpatine in his office, and Bane coolly declares “I make the rules now.” Anakin pokes his head out of Amidala’s office and decides to look around.
Bane begins stripping all the senators of their communication devices, and Padmé tries to use conversation to avoid being searched, since she’s carrying Anakin’s saber. Anakin sneaks up on the room, but Padmé’s glance to the upper level is enough of a tell to Bane, who immediately turns on fires on Skywalker, forcing him to flee.
A Weequay, Shahan Alama, and an IG are dispatched to catch the Jedi. And here’s the one weak point of the story, Bane’s crew previously have shown a high degree of competence, but the room searching skills of these two are somewhat lacking – instead of just poking your head in the door with a light, try walking around in the dark rooms. After a little hide-and-sneak with the minions, Anakin hacks his Jed-iPhone into a comm center and calls Palpatine to let him know that he’s on the case. Never mind calling for back up. He does manage to take out the IG droid in a hands-on brawl, but the other minion, Alama, has enough brains to notice the lack of lightsaber marks on the droid. He gets better backup in Aurra Sing, and they track down the Jedi outside the power control center door and draw his attention, allowing Robonino to taser Skywalker in the back. Never underestimate the power of teamwork!
With 3D, the other IG-droid, driving, Orn Free Taa is forced to take the pardon to the floating Republic Jail, where the clones have Ziro ready to travel. Whining about being released in bright daylight, Ziro slithers (yes, we actually see a Hutt move!) onto the flatbed trailer that the IG droid has brought, and they head back to the Senate. Inside the atrium, a cuffed unconscious Anakin is thrown in with the Senators, where Padmé tries to care for him, but not seem to care too much (although his head is seen resting on Senator Chuchi’s lap later on?). Bane and Fishfry set up an explosive-linked laser grid around the hostages, to keep them in place while the villains make their escape. As Bane begins his retreat, the clones sent by Orn Free Taa finally arrive, securing the chancellor’s office (by busting in through the window – foreshadowing the flimsy defenses that allow Mace Windu’s later exit), and surround Bane on the landing platform. But Bane holds the higher hand – he can blow the East lobby at any time, and Palpatine, via holo, lets him pass.
As they make their escape, Ziro whines again about the injustices of being in prison, and Bane, looking bad-ass as he stands on the back of a moving speeder, tries to cheer him up by setting off the bombs. As the explosives begin counting down, Anakin wakes up, takes his lightsaber from Padmé, and cuts a big hole through the meter-thick floor, dropping all the senators to safety as the bombs rip a hole in the mushroom dome above them. Driving off across Coruscant, Bane, in that awesomely evil voice, reminds Ziro about getting paid for the job.
What a way to finish the season! This solid episode delivered. Despite not having one major action scene (only a few short action scenes), the show balanced tension with the action to stay on edge. Two minor quibbles: Bail Organa’s voice just didn’t quite sound right to me – while we’re used to having difference voice actors than the film actors, Bail wasn’t as convincing to me as the more regularly used characters. Also, with the level of animated detail on Cad Bane and his crew, the animation felt a little skimped on for Padmé, and the Bettybot looked more like it fell out of Futurama than The Clone Wars. But this introduction to Cad Bane puts him up there with Shaft and Chigurh.
All in all, I give it: