In ‘Children of the Force’ we learn an important lesson: Silly Sith Lord, kids are for Jedi! Once again, the Jedi, with their superpowers, show that they can barely best Cad Bane and the machinations of Darth Sidious.
The cookie, “The first step to correcting a mistake is patience,” doesn’t quite fit when the episode has the Jedi racing against their enemies to save Force-sensitive children. Recognizing that there’s a mistake… Maybe that’s step two.
The episode picks up where ‘Cargo of Doom’ ended, with Anakin and Ahsoka and their clones returning from defeating Cad Bane on his self-destructing Separatist ship. Well, not exactly where it ended, but a short rewind back, undoing Anakin’s smug lines to Admiral Yularen, and instead getting a hint from Rex that someone’s been bleeding green on their shuttle. Ahsoka tries to assist the wounded clone who plugged Bane, then realizes he’s an impostor who tosses her aside. Before Anakin can stop him, Cad Bane reveals his disguise and goes grand theft starfighter and takes off, with Admiral Yularen offering snotty comments instead of following Anakin’s order to lock down the batch of hyperspace rings. Bane steals one and is gone.
Back at the Jedi Temple, the Council reprimand Anakin and Ahsoka for losing Bane and the NOC list of the galaxy’s Force sensitive children that was contained in the stolen holocron. Hey, wasn’t Ahsoka already grounded with library guard duty? To figure out which children are first in line for danger, the Jedi go hand out in Yoda’s dimly lit meditation room and Force-google for locations. Obi-wan gets sent to Rodia, while Anakin and Ahsoka get sent to a Gungan city on Naboo. Meanwhile, putting back on his breathing tubes (clearly for show, since he seems to not have suffered their loss while masquerading as a clone), Cad Bane calls up Darth Sidious and is told to kidnap some Force kids. Bane scoffs a little at the job, but takes it.
Bane shows up on Rodia, pretending to be a Jedi babysnatcher to a Rodian mom, whose adorable tyke is happy levitating a ball. When mommy gets upset at her only child being taken, Bane whips out a little hypnosis probe and says that Jedi impostors are coming to take her son. [Editor’s note: Men in Black flashback much? – D] I wonder what the Jedi use to pacify parents when they draft younglings. Hopping past a four-legged GONK droid, Obi-wan arrives at the house, where brainwashed mom pulls a gun on him. Using the Force to grab the gun, he dashes up the building after the rocket-booted Bane, who hops in his fighter and pulls a Britney by flying off with the kid in his lap. Seriously, you’re going to kidnap a bunch of babies and fly around the galaxy, and you don’t think of bringing a car seat or at least something with more than one seat?
On Naboo, Typho sends Sky-guy and Snips off to the Gungan city by the waterfalls. Anakin lets Ahsoka take the lead on this, because she’s got a score to settle with Bane and Anakin’s got other plans. He must’ve not seen that memo about padawans and revenge. Bane shows up outside Lil’ Baby Gungan’s window and busts in. Lil’ Baby Gungan’s got a cute mobile of giant sea creatures over her crib and Bane pulls back the covers to reveal… a tooka doll! (Are tooka dolls the Tickle Me Elmo of the SW galaxy this year? Cuz kids from Naboo to Ryloth got ‘em!). Ahsoka goes for the arrest, and Bane slips out again, but Anakin’s ready to tackle ol’ Rocket-boots outside, and Ahsoka subdues him, retrieving her stolen bead thingy. By the way, Lil Baby Gungans look like Fraggles.
Back on the ship, Obi-wan and Mace try a “good Jedi, bad Jedi” routine but Cad Bane doesn’t break until Anakin, Obi and Mace do a triple-team Jedi mind trick. Jedi violating a prisoner’s mind during an interrogation. Anakin’s idea is starting off that piece of pavement the road to Hoth, it seems. Will there be ethical or political repercussions of interrogation techniques that could potentially turn a suspect into a piece of brullaki? Wanting to keep them out of his head, Bane agrees to take them to the holocron and missing kids.
Anakin semi-volunteers himself to deliver a progress report to Palpatine on this mission, which Anakin feels is more than just a Jedi matter but a Republic matter. Apparently, like breaking up with someone, these reports must be done in person and not via Twitter. Mace Windu and Obi-wan take Bane, who gives them coordinates: 1123 6536 5321 (actually 673117 cross 7RB71), and they jump out to Bane’s hideout in an Outer Rim asteroid belt. Anakin and Ahsoka show up at Palpatine’s office, and the Chancellor points to the no-kids allowed sign and takes Anakin into his office. Anakin reveals that he thinks that the real mastermind of this childnapping venture isn’t Count Dooku, but to Palpatine’s relief, is still unknown. Palpatine tells his protégé to have patience, and ships him back out. Sidious gets on the comm to his secret base on Mustafar, where the most adorable baby Rodian and Nautolan are about to get a giant starfish stuck to their faces, but Sidious decides instead to move them to Site B and abandon this base to the lava before the Jedi can find it. Sidious’ sinister plan: turn these Force-sensitive kids into Dark Side spies and agents. Mara Jade must already be in his dark side kindergarten at the other site. [Ed: She’s not born yet. Unless she is. With George at the wheel, you never know. -D]
Back on Bane’s station, the Jedi sense no kids aboard, then fall into a trap of Bane’s self defenses. Seriously, Mace could have levitated the holocron to him instead of getting baited by Bane into stepping off of turbolift pad. Turrets start firing, Bane escapes again, launching his escape pod directly at an asteroid and setting his base to auto-destruct. Obi-wan and Mace barely escape, with Mace pulling a full Indiana Jones and rolls through a slowly descending door from the trap-filled chamber then reaches back to grab his lightsaber (with the Force).
Anakin and Ahsoka go to Mustafar after piecing together clues found in Bane’s fighter’s fuel computer (since he wiped his OnStar) and some ash on his ship. As they arrive, they Force-sense the direction of the crying kids, but when they reach the darkened nursery, Ahsoka is shocked to find an empty crib. Anakin suggests sensing in the Force again, and the evil nanny droids attack, wielding tiny buzz saws while holding the babies hostage. [It’s a bris droid? -D] As the base starts to rip apart and fall into the liquid hot magma, Ahsoka manages to rescue the Nautolan infant, Zinn, and Anakin shows off some Prince of Persia moves to save the Rodian, Wee Dunn. Artoo opens a door so they can leave the lowest-contract-bidder nursery over lava pits, and they take off in Twilight, which also has no baby seats. [In a galaxy that sees guard rails as an unnecessary expense? Shocking! -D] Back at the Jedi Temple, the pair are thanked by the Council for the save, although with the base gone, there’s no clue as to who was behind the plot, and Ahsoka grimaces when learning that Bane has escaped again – this time from Mace Windu and Obi-wan Kenobi.
The episode was lots of action, hopping around the galaxy in the effort to save those adorable toddlers. Ironically, the cookie at the beginning receives its only reinforcement from Palpatine, telling Anakin to have patience. While Cad Bane is a formidable foe, the Jedi seem to suffer from their own failure to use the Force. Cad Bane could have been found out on the shuttle at the beginning, had Anakin or Ahsoka bothered to sense their comrades returning to the command ship. They could have used the Force to physically keep him from escaping. Mace Windu and Obi-wan also fell into Bane’s traps and let him escape, instead of planting suggestions in his head to disarm his base’s defenses. [Or they used up their force ration for the episode making him tell them stuff. -D] Ahsoka homes in on the infants then forgets to feel them out when she sees the cribs. Like in several past episodes, the Jedi just don’t seem to leave their Force ability to ‘on’ most of the time, even after it’s been shown that their own temple can be infiltrated. Is this due to their diminished capacity to access the Force because of the bigger Sith plot? Or arrogance and presumption on their own part?
And what’s with this big list of Force-sensitive kids anyway? The Rodian mother hints that Master Ropal (aka Bane’s torture victim from ‘Cargo of Doom’) said it wasn’t time to haul her kid off yet, which seems like Ropal visited her at least once. I thought the idea was to snag them as young as possible – and why bother to go out to a family multiple times? Seems inefficient. Maybe the Jedi want their infants to be potty-trained before they snatch them.
Action! Cute babies! Cad Bane’s sinister voice! Solid animation! I loved how Yoda’s eartips in this episode had an almost translucent quality, and how sometimes the camera wasn’t static but rotated or bobbled during some shots. Overall, ‘Children of the Force’ wraps up the stolen holocron storyline with a flurry of excitement.