Reviewing The Clone Wars: ‘Death Trap’

It’s a trap! A ‘Death Trap’ to be precise – young Boba Fett makes his Star Wars: The Clone Wars debut in the start of a three episode arc with him seeking revenge, Inigo Montoya style. Obviously, he can’t bump Mace Windu off in the first act (or at all, knowing Mace’s role in Revenge of the Sith), but he can throw a monkey-lizard wrench into the Jedi’s plans.

The story: Boba Fett has infiltrated a squad of young clone cadets, going on a tour of the Jedi cruiser Endurance, which has Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker aboard. While most of the shorter-haired cadets are excited to meet real Jedi generals, “Lucky” sneers at their mention. Scottish-accented Admiral Kilian puts the cadets to the test with some quad gun target practice, and “Lucky” blasts his skeet on the first try, then gets 100% accuracy against a harder drill of three targets. Slipping away from his group, Boba reveals himself as he calls up Aurra Sing to let her know the mission is a go, as he heads towards Mace Windu’s quarters to set up a bomb. As Boba leaves, he bumps into Mace, who apparently is too busy to sense “angry vengeful kid who just left a bomb in my room”, and just sends him back to his scout troop tour group. Mace, it’s a trap! An urgent message for Mace keeps the Jedi from crossing the tripwired threshold, but one of Mace’s men triggers the bomb and is killed in the blast, despite Mace using the Force to try to pull him to safety.

Anakin and Mace get on the case, and after dismissing it as an attack on the navigation computers next to Mace’s room, realize that it was an assassination attempt, and start a thorough sweep of the ship. Aurra Sing orders Boba to blow up the engines in order to take out Mace, so the little scamp heads down to the engine room, and is forced to sneak attack the clonetrooper that finds him and calls for an escort. Boba resists killing him, but acknowledges to the confused clone that indeed: they are not brothers. Shooting up the engine room, Boba rejoins his group and learns from Admiral McDuck that they get to play in a drill to man the escape pods. Explosions rock the ship, and Anakin saves Admiral Glumgold from being vented into space, although trooper Wilhelm takes one for the team.

As pod carrying “Lucky”, his new friend Jax, and two bully cadets takes off, he secretly sabotages it, causing it to miss the rendezvous point. Meanwhile, the Jedi are unable to convince Admiral Highlander that really, it’s ok not to go down with the ship, but he’s an honorable cartoon Scotsman (in a galaxy far far away from Scotland). Boba’s pod is found by Aurra Sing and Bossk, in Slave I, and Aurra outs Boba to his fellow cadets as the assassin. Boba naively hopes that Aurra Sing will let his companions go, but has to deal with being branded as traitor by his fellow teenaged clones. As he leaves them behind in the pod, he apologizes. After Slave I takes off, the cadets vent on their betrayal and lowered life expectancy when Anakin and Mace find them in space, and direct their sergeant to rescue them, while the Jedi go off to search for where the Endurance and Admiral Ramius (wait, that’s a Scotsman playing a Lithuanian) crash landed.

So, what went right with this episode? Well, not Boba’s plan to avenge his father’s murder. But Boba really did shine in his debut. I was expecting a young ruthless bounty hunter, similar to his future mercenary self, but on a personal mission – but he’s not there yet. While he sought to kill Mace Windu, he wasn’t interested in a general body count, and in the end, he was genuinely concerned about his podmates and what Aurra Sing, his adoptive mom and personal coach to being bad-ass, would likely do to them. But apparently enough, they were spared a death frequently brought to witnesses – does Boba have mercy? One scene of tension with Boba aboard the Endurance was when he was confronted by two clones on his way to Mace’s quarters and tried to bluff his way past them, and one of the soldiers called him on it, claiming that the lad was lying… and then the tension defused when the soldier was just trying to get him to admit to being lost.

Another fine touch in the episode was when Admiral Kilian tried to soften the danger surrounding the potential loss of the ship by getting the cadets to pretend that going to the escape pods was part of a drill, and then admitting the gravity of the situation to one of his own men – but the cadets are sharp enough to know that they are in real trouble.

While Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker are minor characters in his episode, they do get a fun moment after Skywalker’s introduction to the wide-eyed cadets is cut short:

Anakin: When I show off, it is instructive – and inspiring.
Mace: For you, maybe.

While it could seem like the brotherly banter between Anakin and Obi-wan, there’s just enough of a hard edge in Mace’s tone to make it sound more than just a joke. And ever since the days of “Cut the chatter, Red Two”, we get more military speak for “Shut up”: “Stow the loose talk” – and remember, when opening the overhead conversation bins, watch for improperly secured sentences.

What went wrong with ‘Death Trap’? While I enjoyed the Haggis McMutton accent (5 bonus points if you know where that’s from), I’m still not completely sold on using different Earth accents as accents for Star Wars characters. But now that I think about it, if the Empire sounds British, they could have a couple of Scottish accents among the ranks as well. But this rang up there as more just like Scrooge McDuck. Apparently, sound does travel in space in Star Wars, as the escape pod cadets notice Slave I’s arrival by its sound – earth logic does not apply! And as I pointed out earlier, yet another case of nerfed Jedi – Mace Windu just doesn’t sense that this sulky cadet that bumped into him is hiding something nefarious, like wanting to kill him if he could or just planted a bomb to kill him. Trap! Finally, maybe we just haven’t seen enough human children on The Clone Wars, but seeing all those smiling clone cadet faces reminded me more of Andy from Toy Story or other Pixar film kids than any characters in this show – maybe it’s just that most male humans in The Clone Wars have harder lines (and snowplow beards).

The area of the EU related to Boba Fett during the Clone Wars was previously covered in a six-book series for younger kids that came out shortly after “Attack of the Clones” and does link Boba to Aurra Sing, although I’m not familiar enough with the series to know whether the continuity with existing material was willfully maintained, knowingly broken, or simply ignored.

Overall: The cruiser Endurance ends up being a ‘Death Trap’, but most of the crew, and the assassin, manage to escape. Not yet a cold hard killer, Boba Fett is characterized nicely – and perhaps if this is first chance to really bond with his clone siblings (I doubt that Jango or the Kaminoans let him play with the other clones), he may start to have issues killing guys who look just like his dad, or just like himself. We’ll see how that continues to play out in the rest of the three act story as Boba Fett and Aurra Sing try again. This episode is a fine introduction to a long awaited character, and manages to ensnare the viewer with a solid feel of Star Wars: action, humor, tension, and stuff blowing up.

Grade: A

2 thoughts on “Reviewing The Clone Wars: ‘Death Trap’

  1. Stooge

    Totally agreed — the tension in the ep, especially towards the end, was really well-done. And it’s funny that you didn’t care for the Scottish voice. It stood out, to be sure, but I also found it adorable. Admiral Highlander indeed!

    What’d you think of Daniel Logan’s voicework? I was mucho impressedo by his ability to differentiate between Boba and all the various clones. And yes, Mace (once again) gets the best line of dialogue. Go Mace!

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  2. jawajames

    i’m ambivalent on the Uncle Scrooge voice – it was fun to have but maybe was too earth-based for me.

    i though i recognized Logan continuing his Boba voice, and didn’t even realize that he played most of the other clone cadets until you mentioned it. (Clone Cadet Jax was played by Dee Bradley Baker, who voices the adult clones). So I guess it fit seamlessley enough that i didn’t notice it either positively or negatively.

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