As a wise man once said: and now for something completely different. Just two weeks after I complained that the show had gotten repetitive, I hungrily eat my words. As the Senate Spy Episode Guide proudly proclaims, “Not a single blaster is fired in this episode, nor is a lightsaber ignited, nor does anything explode.” Star Wars without ‘spolsions? Isn’t that like Christmas without eggnog? Or, um, Hannukah without fried potato skins?
Whatever it is, it doesn’t start out well. Anakin returns to Padme’s apartment, and he’s all “Honey, I’m home from the war, and I got sushi,” and she’s like “You brought home dinner? ‘Cause I cooked!” Then he’s all, “Since when do you cook?” And she goes, “Well, now you’ll never know.” And then they make out. Or maybe they don’t. I was too afraid to look, terrified that this bizarre flirting might veer into Team America territory. I generally enjoy the animation on The Clone Wars, but when Anakin and Padme start getting mushy, I get icked out. Yes, icked out. I went there.
Meanwhile, the Jedi Council are trying to determine if Senator Rush Clovis (new character alert!) is a traitor to the Republic, so they ask Padme to go undercover for them if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, they’re Jedi, so they don’t know what I mean. But Anakin does, and he objects to the plan, which naturally insults Padme and convinces her to do it. Ah, young love. By the by, Ani and Padi have this little lover’s spat on a floating pod in the middle of the Senate where, if memory serves, the acoustics are quite good. What secret marriage?
At this point, with espionage the clear focus, everyone starts speaking in code. The innuendo was so thick that it seemed like everyone was using airquotes… which, come to think of it, would’ve totally improved this Jedi Council scene:
PADME: Clovis and I haven’t “spoken” in a long time.
YODA: A surprise that is, given “your past.”
ANAKIN: What does that mean, Senator?
PADME: At one time, Clovis and I were “close.” It was my choice to return things to a strictly “professional” level. Clovis didn’t take it well.
MACE: Do you think you’ll be able to “rekindle” your “friendship” with him?
(Note: dialogue is verbatim, only quotation marks have been added.)
Long story short, Padme “rekindles” her “friendship” with Rush, who immediately invites her to Cato Neimoidia, a plot point so confusing (didn’t the Neimoidians try to kill her last season?) that Dave Filoni felt the need to explain it in his episode commentary. Anakin tags along as their pilot, proving once again that Naboo helmets are THE GREATEST DISGUISE EVER. Of course, Senator Clovis is interested in more than just Padme’s politics, and faster than you can say Temples of Syrinx, Rush is putting the moves on her. But Anakin starts flying wild every time Rush gets a bit too close, which made for some genuinely hilarious moments.
Then, in a twist worthy of Hitchcock, Senate Spy takes a screeching left turn and turns into, of all things, Notorious. And I’ll be honest – your enjoyment of this twist probably depends on whether you’ve seen the movie. Me? I saw Notorious when I was fifteen (the perfect age to develop an emo crush on a long-dead beauty like Ingrid Bergman), and I’ve loved it ever since. So I was absolutely floored by this unlikely homage, which the Clone Wars crew did very well. Not only are several scenes directly lifted from the film, but Senate Spy even captures Hitchcock’s sense of moral ambiguity. For all his sleaze and treachery, Rush genuinely loves Padme, and his devotion makes him seem downright noble. Anakin, on the other hand, is only trying to protect his wife, but he comes off as a real cad.
And who knows? Maybe this episode will inspire some kids to see Notorious, which could then act as a gateway drug to other Hitchcock movies, film noirs, and Cary Grant impressions. Then again, my nephews, ages seven and five, would have been bored stiff by the Anakin/Padme/Clovis love triangle. But screw it – I’m writing this review, not them. And though Senate Spy had a rough start, it ended up being a very welcome surprise.