The Clone Wars review: ‘Voyage of Temptation’

Obi's wants

Love… exciting and new… or in the case of Obi-Wan Kenobi, repressed and a little scary.  The latest Clone Wars may have been pitched as Titanic in space, but it plays out a bit more like an episode of The Love Boat.  Old flames reignite, different plotlines intersect, and romance is simply assumed.  All that, plus a Special Guest Appearance by R2-D2 – right after these messages.

Let’s start with Obi-Wan, our leading man, who is now charged with protecting the Duchess.  The two of them argue and bicker and scowl, so conventions dictate that they must secretly be in love.  Anakin, that scoundrel, immediately presumes that his Master was once “close to her.”  (Innuendo?  I’m not sure!)  On paper, this all makes perfect sense.  Anakin is all about the forbidden fruit, so he’d naturally notice Obi-Wan’s private heartache… right?  Maybe.  But as written for the screen, it all comes across as forced and bizarre.  Anakin picks up on clues that simply aren’t there, and the dialogue between Obi-Wan and the Duchess is laced with more spite than sexual tension.  Say what you will about Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen, but at least they looked all hot and bothered.  Obi-Wan and Satine appear to truly, genuinely hate each other’s guts.  If this is how Clone Wars characters flirt, then Yoda and Dooku should be going steady by now.

Meanwhile, below decks, Anakin investigates The Case of the Mysterious Open Box.  Yes, a giant crate was found opened, and there’s a mysterious metal killer on the loose, etcetera etcetera.  It’s stylishly done, but feels like déjà vu all over again.  Stalking robots, low lighting, Clone Troopers getting picked off one by one – these elements have become this show’s bread and butter.  Then again, maybe the problem is me.  The assassin probe (the presumed love child of an assassin droid and a probot, bow chicka bow wow) is modeled on a spider, and weird as this sounds, I’ve always loved arachnids.  Centipedes scare the living crap out of me, but I can play with spiders all day and night.  So a droid based on a spider seemed, I dunno, kinda cuddly.  (As I said… maybe it’s me.)

Does whatever a spider can.

At least the assassin probes have a purpose (kill the Duchess!), which is more than can be said for poor R2-D2.  I’m not sure what he was doing in this episode other than reminding the audience that he’s a major player in a certain franchise called “Star Wars.”  Which is fine when he’s useful, or resourceful, or at least played for laughs.  Here, R2 is told to scan for baddies, after which the baddies promptly appear and do bad baddie acts of badness.  Then R2 is told, once again, to continue to scan the area.  And once again, more evil droids pop out of the shadows.  Good to have you aboard, little buddy!

Hello, what have we here?

The episode does improve in its third act, where Captain Rex has his most badass combat move yet, and there’s a funny twist on the love story between Obi-Wan and the Duchess.  (I know her name is Satine, but calling her “the Duchess” makes her sound like a character out of a Marx Brothers movie.)  Still, the main villain is pretty dull – he even looks like a stock character – and I’m not sure what’s going on with the accents.  The Duchess and her entourage, representing the new guard, all have a quasi-British inflection, while the Madalorian traditionalists speak like they’re from Cincinnati.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Either way, I’m just going to come out and say it: Jon Favreau is completely miscast as renegade ringleader Pre Vizsla.  Great director, good actor, but he’s too nice a guy.  There’s not a menacing bone in his body, and it comes across in his voice.

And then we get to the ending, which I know some folks loved, but for my money (cable bill, whatev), it felt like a cheat.  The peacenik ideals of the Duchess are effectively challenged, but the conflict is resolved without her having to make a choice.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that the show is willing to tackle “grown-up” topics, but this question of wartime pacifism seems to come up in every other episode.  And honestly, there are only so many times it can be raised before the audience starts itching for an answer.  That’s where I am now.  It’s time to take a stand, Clone Wars.

Grade: grade-aurebesh-bminus

12 thoughts on “The Clone Wars review: ‘Voyage of Temptation’

  1. jawajames

    nice review – i agree that the climax was a cheat of sorts, but a good one for showing character. ultimately, obi-wan is willing to just let the villain talk, while anakin is all about action.

    i thought the assassin probes were pretty darn cool, especially when one of them dangled a clone as bait to draw Anakin in (who AGAIN apparently didn’t reach out in the force to see if the clone was alive or if there was a large droid in the shadows using it as a puppet).

    the bickering as sign of romantic tension –> Tarkin to Vader and Motti: “This bickering is pointless.” Vader & Motti: *heart-sigh*

    one thing that bothered me about this episode is that when the Mystery of the Open Box starts, two clones have gone missing, and Anakin seems pretty blase about it, like clones on supposedly secure ships go missing all the time (maybe they are off “bickering”) and doesn’t treat it like a potential attack – maybe he missed that Obi-wan and Satine were under attack by her enemies last episode.

  2. Amberlee

    I agree, the bickering just doesn’t work. And then there are those of us who were readers of the Watson books who went “WTF?!” when Obi-Wan announced he would have left the order for Ms. Duchess. He wouldn’t leave for Siri, but he’ll go for this gal? And a whole year he and Qui-Gon spent with her? When the only tension I noticed was her wanting to bite his head off?

    I too was preplexed by Anakin’s attitude with the missing clones. He is concerned when he is notified then not so concerned once he is in the hold? And R2? What was up with that? What’s his scanning range, a foot? And if so, why order him to scan at all?

    This episode just didn’t make a lot of sense to me on many levels.

  3. ImperialGirl

    “He wouldn’t leave for Siri, but he’ll go for this gal? ”

    I’m gonna take a wild guess that the writers for the Clone Wars care about as much for that continuity as they do for Traviss’s Mando stuff.

    Nothing to add except…Viszla? They named the villain after a Hungarian hunting dog?

  4. TitaniumWookie

    Great review!

    Having Obi-wan on a planet with Qui-gon for a year seems like it would be hard to fit into the continuity. Also, will someone please get Jude Watson to write a tv episode? she’s sooooo much more competent than the clowns that are currently handling it.

  5. jawajames

    @ImperialGirl: Actually, Pre Viszla gets his name from Tor Viszla, the founder of Death Watch and killer of Jaster Mareel, from “Jango Fett: Open Seasons”. Tor’s last name gets his name from the Hungarian hunting dog breed.

  6. Stooge

    “This bickering is pointless.” Vader & Motti: *heart-sigh*

    That’s the best SW Valentine I’ve seen yet! Total larf.

    As for the continuity issues, I think it’s clear that the show is going its own way, which doesn’t really bother me. For one, it gives fans a galaxy of new retcons to figure out… and for another, it’s almost certainly because of Mr. George Lucas. (I think I remember reading that 100% of the storylines for season 2 came straight from his noggin.) If he’s willing to contradict the EU, we can’t blame the show’s writers for going along with it.

    As for the gaps in logic within this episode, I wonder if anything was cut. It would almost make sense if some chunks were left on the cutting room floor.

  7. darthcbad

    Zahn said it best “We all just play in George Lucas’s driveway and occasionally he backs out his car” or something like that.

  8. Exalted Reborn

    Darthcbad what concerns me more is George Lucas is clearly entitled to his own take on something he created, but I would say its remiss of him to seemingly not consider the fans feelings in this.

    I’m gutted that the Imp Commando series may not be finished off, and definitely not by KT.

  9. darthcbad

    Yeah I have all the books too and was waitng on the next one plus the Fett novel. If you like KT gamer or not her Gears of War books are pretty good. So if KT’s mandos are no longer canon does that mean Jaina did not Kill her brother? LOL

  10. The Exalted

    Lol thats a good one. I’m sticking my head cleanly into the sand and pretending the Clone Wars isn’t happening instead.

    You could just describe this all away by seeing the moon concordia is where Kal and co are, and they call it Mandalore because they don’t want to acknowledge the peaceful aruetiise mando’s….

    Go on George, do it!

  11. Nobby

    I think I enjoyed this more than you, Stooge old boy. Then again, we have proven time and time again that I have no taste.
    As an aside, was I delusional in thinking the first ‘clone abduction’ was a lovely homage to ‘Alien’? Just substitute R2 for Jones the cat, the clone for poor old Harry Dean Stanton, and the droid for ol’ todger-head, and you got you a bone fide Scottacular.

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