‘Hunt for Ziro’, last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, brought together a lot of great elements that Star Wars does well: adventure, romance, dance numbers, and the occasional surprise, and wrapped it up in a Hutt-sized package for the viewers. The Clone Wars introduction of EU favorite Quinlan Vos was almost a side note to the whole story. Hopefully he’ll get another time to really shine, as this episode was more an ensemble act with Cad Bane, Sy Snootles, Obi-wan Kenobi and the Hutts.
The story: This episode takes place after the first season’s finale episode, ‘Hostage Crisis’ where Ziro the Hutt is freed from a Coruscant prison after Cad Bane take the Senate hostage. It turned out that the Five Hutts knew Ziro had a holodiary listing their dirty deeds and decided that bringing him home and locking him up on Nal Hutta was a good idea. Ziro is glad to be sprung and promises to not remember their criminal secrets if they take care of him. I guess they just can’t have him whacked with that little black book out there somewhere.
Quinlan Vos, whom Cody says has a “reputation”, and Obi-wan clarifies as being just “crazy” makes his grand entrance and flies off with Obi-wan to Nal Hutta to track down the errant slug – and manages to call the straight-laced Obi-wan “man” amidst the cool dust effects. Sy Snootles debuts with musical number that is strongly reminiscent of Willie Scott’s “Anything Goes” in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (while the Huttese lyrics themselves reminded me of the Mac Tonight ad campaign from McDonalds so many years ago). She uses her feminine wiles on Ziro’s Gamorreans guards to see Ziro. (If the Hutts can afford Cad Bane, you’d think they could afford prison guards that were slightly smarter than hammers.) Sy and Ziro were in love? Now that’s true par’Mach!
The Jedi show up and Obi diplomatically tries to cover for Quinlan’s outright accusation that the Hutts sprung Ziro. While Obi-wan yada yada yada’s, Quinlan uses his psychic object reading ability off of a discarded drinking glass to verify that Ziro is in the hizzy. They slip down to the detention level, but Ziro’s escaped.
The Hutts later find the empty cell, and Cad Bane realizes that the Jedi didn’t spring ol’ Zilcho. Out in the swamps, the Jedi jump around, on the trail of Ziro’s swamp speeder and Obi-wan deftly defeats a swamp creature that looked like a mini version of the colo claw monster from Naboo. But Cad Bane, with Todo 360, speed past them. Why hop from dry spot to dry spot when you can drive a fast airboat?
Ziro and Sy beg spaceship keys from the Hutt’s momma, with the Jedi hot video game-level pursuit. Vos gets Ziro’s mother to confess that the lovebirds are off to Teth.
In a rocky canyon on Teth, Ziro brings his true love to his father’s tomb, and opens it up – what a perfect hiding place for the diary. Now they can sell the Hutt syndicate’s nasty secrets and retire to some tropical parade—wait, no – Sy’s pulling a gun and shooting Ziro. Yup, a fairly recurring character is killed. Ziro is zeroed. Turns out that breaking her heart way back when wasn’t a good idea.
Cad Bane and the Jedi show up and realize that they’re all too late for Ziro. So instead, they have an awesome fight. Bane immediately goes on the retreat, but is able to hold his own in a battle with Obi-wan Kenobi and Quinlan Vos. As they leap from one stone column to the next, Bane brings all his tricks, including having Todo steal a dropped saber, and then later, stealing a saber from Obi-wan for a few moments. With Vos leaping in for some mid-air punches, I was in awe at this fight’s originality, and in the end, Bane escapes after switching to his flamethrower. Kyle Katarn and the Fetts aren’t the only walking arsenals out there.
Sy shows up at Jabba’s palace and gets paid for bringing in the holodiary and fulfilling Jabba’s revenge on Ziro… And muses that no one would suspect her of doing a bounty hunter’s job.
What rocked this episode? In this season of “Secrets Revealed”, we got a real surprise here – Hutt romance, followed by betrayal. Even the fortune cookie, “Love comes in all shapes and sizes” helped set us up for this twist – Hoth hath no fury like a Wookiee scorned. We got Hutt intrigue, we got a rather amazing fight between Cad Bane and two Jedi, we got a trio of dancing showgirls wearing headdresses to make them look like Hutts. Ok, not really sure about that last one, but their multi-armed DJ was pretty cool as a gag. But the top humor in this episode was probably Sy tricking her way through the guards in the Hutt prison. Just not very bright, those guys.
And we got Quinlan Vos. Not quite the same Quinlan that we’ve seen in the comics, walking the line with the dark side, but he is a good foil for the by-the-book Obi-wan, playing the role of the not-at-all-proper Jedi in this buddy cop episode. And in the fight scene, we can see their different styles as well as their teamwork as they continue to harangue Cad Bane across the rocky pillars of Teth. Serious animated wire fu here.
Obi-wan shows his value here too as he talks his way into Mama the Hutt’s good graces enough to have her tell them where to find her twice-fugitive son, even when she booms “you wanna kill my little boy too?”
This episode also had some great visuals – I really liked the dust elements of both Vos’ aerial entry and in the den of the Hutts, and look of the Hutts themselves, especially the mammoth mother of Ziro, Mama the Hutt, (seriously, that’s her name!) complete with her live-on vermin – are they pets? Are they eating skin parasites? They’re icky and cute at the same time (and they are called Sha’rellian toops). The final shot of Jabba and Sy Snootles in his palace really captured a feel of Jabba’s Palace from Return of the Jedi concept art for me.
Where ‘Hunt for Ziro’ zeroed: Like many of the better episodes, there are good character elements and a great balance between action, humor, dialogue, etc., but sometimes the plot driver just doesn’t quite make sense. What’s Ziro’s motivation for immediately seeking out the holodiary? Wouldn’t it make a better bargaining chip to tell the Five Hutts that if he dies, the diary goes public? That’s what they fear. While when he realizes Sy’s betrayal, he moans about how their plan to run off together with someplace that is full of sunsets and kittens – but how long would would they have before the Hutts exacted their revenge for him selling out their dirty laundry? I guess he’s not thinking clearly because he’s in wuv, and she could be manipulating him to get the diary out, but perhaps an extra line of explanation of why they are getting the diary right now would make it better.
One thing that Star Wars generally has done well is conveying that the galaxy far far away is not like our own – that it can be rather alien. This episode tried in a few places to relate to our own viewpoint in a few places that felt a little out of place. First, Quinlan Vos’ attempt to be less proper by referring to Obi-wan as “man” (as in “your opinion, man”) – while this conveys Vos’ informal style, what’s next? Dude? Later we have this disco-lit Hutt council room and lounge, and the DJ holding the headphone to one ear while scratching a beat, cool looking, but does it really fit?
And does this make Sy Snootles’ previous backstory (Tales from Jabba’s Palace and other sources) a bit obsolete? I’m sure that this story and her role in TJP can be continuity spackled together – She worked for Jabba, then got a full musical career in the outside world later, and came back with the Evar Orbus band with an in for working for Jabba.
Overall: Ziro died of a broken heart – not his own, perhaps, but it goes to show that in Star Wars, the least likely can be the most dangerous. We also dive a little more into the slimy underbelly of the Hutt syndicate and their cabaret acts, and get a real gem of an action sequence between the galaxy’s top bounty hunter and two Jedi. Overall, I was very pleased with this episode – it had a good mix of action and humor, and some great settings, and set the audience up for a twist. A very enjoyable episode, and I mean it from the bottom of my fluid sac.