With a title like ‘Legacy of Terror’, you could expect almost anything that could inspire a fright, and yet while there’s the horror of the walking dead in an underground labyrinth and Ceti eel-inspired mind control, the Jedi protagonists act without fear, defusing the tension in this episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
After the successful re-invasion and missions of ‘Weapons Factory’, Luminara Unduli sets off to track down Poggle the Lesser, who has escaped across the Geonosian sands, and bring him to justice. What exactly is Poggle going to be charged with anyway, refusing Republic occupation? General Luminara heads off on her own, leaving General Obi-wan Kenobi behind to wonder why with four top Jedi leading this invasion, it’s not clear who can give orders to whom (except that everyone can order Anakin Skywalker around). Luminara picks up the trail and calls in with the destination, a temple previously attacked. It’s interesting to hear the Jedi use military euphemisms for having “cleared the area” in the re-invasion, meaning left it in ruins and without inhabitants. A sandstorm leaves Luminara and her clone out in the wilds, with Obi-wan, Ki-adi-Mundi and Anakin unable to assist. Meanwhile, in the one bit of droid humor, poor OM-5 proves that sandstorms are just as dangerous to droids as they are to organics. (And you’d think that battle droids built on Geonosis would be made to withstand Geonosian weather). Luminara arrives at the temple and sees some spooky kooky Geonosian tikis, but no sign of Poggle and calls it in, when she gets interrupted – Enemies of the Jedi take note: The best time to capture a Jedi is when they are on the phone, since they refuse to use hands-free devices.
The storm clears and Obi-wan and Anakin land at the temple with a gunship full of troops. Inside, Obi-wan goes into CSI scientist mode and finds some clues, like Luminara’s lightsaber, and points out a big sculpture of a mythical Geonosian queen, and marches the troops into the catacombs, with some obligatory awesome animation of using clone helmet lamps to show off light effects in the tunnels. Luminara wakes up and finds that she is being dragged in the tunnels by the shambling dead, and while cuffed, starts a Muay Thai routine out of Ong Bak – and gets captured once again when she’s on the comm, telling Obi-wan not to follow her. Here’s something they don’t usually cover in cardio kickboxing: How to free your leg when it gets stuck in an animated corpse.
Obi-wan, Anakin, and their men get ambushed by the undead bugs, and after losing a few clones, they drop the ceiling on the attackers, beat a retreat and discuss that the Geonosians seem oblivious to blaster fire and lightsabers (Though we clearly see the sliced up Geonosians not rejoin the fray – no disembodied limbs crawling along, etc.). Lacking full bars, they send two clones back to the surface to call for reinforcements, but as soon as they get a few tunnels back, they’re toast. Unwilling to let Anakin venture alone to make the call, Obi-wan orders them all deeper into the tunnels, where they find the Temple of Doom.
Spying on a captive Luminara in front of the massive queen, disgorging egg sacs, Obi-wan makes a plan to find out why they want Luminara alive, before attempting a rescue. And he mentions the ‘Z’ word: OMG, zombies! Despite Anakin’s instincts, Obi-wan and Anakin are allowed to wade through the throng in safety – or as detective Obi-wan puts it: “I make observations while you think with your lightsaber.” Saber innuendo without Padme? [The slash is strong with this one. -Dunc.] Obi-wan greets the queen and announces the need to remove her from power (what happened to negotiating?) and Luminara reminds her peers that she told them not to come after her. Obi-wan responds with “I’m pulling an Anakin”. The queen, unlike all other Geonosians, apparently can shrilly rasp in Basic, and with her headdress, looks like an immortal voodoo priestess. Obi-wan prompts the queen into spilling her plot, which involved mind-control worms to add people, including the Jedi, to her hive mind, and proceeds to have Poggle prepare a worm for Luminara.
Despite Anakin’s and Luminara’s concern, Obi-wan lets his scientific curiosity allow them to get as far as placing the Ceti tapeworm on her head (“Whaddya think, Anakin, the nose or the ear?”) before calling in the troops and springing into action, force grabbing the worm, while Anakin frees Luminara and arrests Poggle. The clones shoot out the ceiling supports, and the Republic forces run for the surface, though Anakin, again not using his observation, smacks Professor Kenobi’s worm sample onto the group and squishes it – “Egon, your mucus.” Again, with blaster fire not the useful against the Geonosian zombies, would it make sense to have the Jedi be the ones to guard their flanks as they escape? Nah, let Cody and the clones bring up the rear. They reach a vertical shaft leading back up to the temple, and climb half-way up, when the air pressure of the collapsing underground chambers blasts them up the remainder of the chimney. Seriously? Standing outside the ruined temple, Grissom Kenobi wishes he’d just gotten that key piece of bug evidence, while Anakin hopes that at least its dangerous secret is now buried. We’ll see more worms in two weeks!
They had a lot of potential with zombies in the dark to make it a rather frightening episode, but with the Jedi and clones never feeling afraid, the tension level never got too high. Perhaps they are saving the terror for the next episode, when a worm gets loose with the Padawans. The opening cookie was “Sometimes, accepting help is harder than offering it”. Certainly Luminara isn’t used to having other Jedi help her, although with Obi-wan nearly allowing her to have a mind control worm stuck up her nose, sometimes the help is definitely harder to accept. Having so many Jedi in the episode shows that there really is no clear hierarchy in battle among these generals – they advise each other, and rescue each other, but when it comes to calling the shots, they all seem to do their own thing, and rely on informal seniority. And combined with ‘Weapons Factory’, we get back-to-back episodes where the female Jedi need a rescue by the male Jedi in the end, though we do get to see Luminara take down a squad of squishy undead bugs with her hands tied. Considering how the team at The Clone Wars has been pushing the limit with more mature stories and plots, it seems like this episode had opportunity but could have been more.