The Clone Wars review: ‘Heroes on Both Sides’

I was all set to love Ahsoka’s new outfit.  I’ve certainly done my fair share of complaining about her old rags, bemoaning that they were flimsy, impractical, and (worst of all) unflattering.  And her new get-up, all leather and cut-outs, is actually kinda cool.  But then… but then.  But then she had to go talk about it.

This season has been a mixed bag, but almost every episode has had at least one great scene in it.  (The bit with Jar Jar juggling?  Brilliant.)  ‘Heroes on Both Sides’ was the opposite – it had a whole slew of great scenes, with only a few lousy ones.  But wow, one particular lousy one sure was lousy.  It is, of course, the scene where Ahsoka has a private moment with Separatist teen sensation Lux.  To give you a sense of what went wrong, allow me to quote part of it verbatim:

Ahsoka:  “I’m the first Jedi you’ve ever met.  Aren’t I?”
Lux:  “Well, um… yes.”
Ahsoka:  [strikes a pose] “Look at me.  I’m not so bad, am I?”
[He looks her over, complete with fashion tilt]
Lux:  “No.  Not bad at all.”
Ahsoka:  “Uh.  Well, it seems boys are the same whether they’re Republic or Separatist.”
Me:  WTF?

Listen, I’m not the wardrobe police.  And even though most Jedi go around dressed like hobos, Ahsoka is free to wear whatever she wants.  (Though maybe, I dunno, if she’s going deep undercover in Seppy territory, maybe she should at least attempt to hide her duo-lightsabers?  Did she hate wearing her poncho because it made her look like a character from Life in Hell?)  She’s also far from the first Jedi female to show a little skin.  But here’s the thing.  She can’t invite comments about her appearance and then be offended by the most innocuous of remarks.  Lux dresses like a Romanov and is about as menacing as a kitten – why is she making him feel bad about a little bit of awkward flirting?

‘Heroes on Both Sides’ does have its upsides, though.  Along with Ahsoka’s maturing wardrobe, this was perhaps the most adult episode yet.  The plotting was certainly more complex than usual, with unexplained scenes at the beginning paying off in a big way at the end.  And though I’m not sure it holds up to much scrutiny, the way everything comes together in the climax is brilliantly done.  There’s also a cool bit of symmetry in how Padme and Ahsoka were sneaking behind enemy lines at the same time that Grievous was infiltrating Coruscant.

Grievous, by the by, is actually very funny in this episode.  His pep talk to the covert droids is a real hoot – and it was a fantastic introduction to the real stars of the show, the truly deadly demolition droids.  The amount of battle droid variations is getting a bit silly at this point, but it’s hard to complain when the results are this cool.  The demolition droids are the most murderous-yet-selfless Transformers I’ve ever seen… though in the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I never saw Revenge of the Fallen.

Still, most of the first two acts takes place on the Separatist capital of Raxus, which was a mixed bag.  I enjoyed the look of the place, with ominous music being played over sunny skies, and I loved the low-tech feel of the Seppy congress.  But Padme’s friend/mentor was a bit of a bore, even though she sounded like Judi Dench.  And Lux was, somehow, even less interesting than his mommy – although, at the risk of repeating myself, I still think Ahsoka should have cut him a little slack.

The message of the episode was also a bit heavy-handed (yes, corporate greed is evil and causes wars and makes babies cry), but the final moment was a beaut.  In true “Knowing is half the battle” fashion, Ahsoka delivers the straight-faced message that “the politics of this war are not as black and white as I once thought.”  A cliché, to be sure, but the visuals are more subtle: the Senate’s emergency lights bathe the scene in red, giving us another color to consider.

Grade:

4 thoughts on “The Clone Wars review: ‘Heroes on Both Sides’

  1. Paula

    yes, corporate greed is evil and causes wars and makes babies cry

    Okay. That line actually made me snort. Embarrassing!

    I don’t know if I read the Ahsoka-Lux scene the same way as you did. I just saw it as typical teenage banter. “Let me bait you and then insult you for rising to the bait.”

    However, I also wondered about the lightsabers. A bit of an oversight for someone who’s undercover.

  2. Clark

    The Jedi are about as skillful as NBA player when it comes to concealed-carry. Nine-year-olds on backwater desert planets who have never seen a Jedi can make them. “Yo, Five-Oh comin’. I seen yer lazer sword.”

  3. jawajames

    good review! as you mention, there’s a lot of good scenes here, but it just didn’t come together as a great episode – like the two halves (Raxus and Coruscant) seem like they go well together, but then don’t quite line up.

    Seeing the Separatist congress helps show that there is an actual face to the worlds that legitimately want to be not in the Republic. But we still haven’t seen how these Separatists are connected to the Sep war machine – other than Geonosians, we’ve only really seen the droid armies of the Seps, and for all we know, they are all bankrolled by the secret business cabal behind the Seps (as sliced up in ROTS on Mustafar). it would be interesting to explore Sep politics, though probably it would be best explored offscreen in some other media.

    but yeah – Ahsoka showing off two sabers while supposedly in disguise across enemy lines. this is why other jedi where big bulky robes all the time to conceal that stuff. maybe she’s just going for the Grievous look – emulating the Sep’s top commander with “trophies”.

  4. Stooge

    @Paula — I hear what you’re saying, but I still think they were flirting. Their last scene together screamed a potential future romance.

    @Clark — that is simply hilarious!

    @James — I’ve come to realize that a handful of good scenes automatically ranks an episode as “good” on my scale. Maybe it’s a diminished returns thing, since we’ve only had one flat-out, wall-to-wall *great* ep this season.

    As for Ahsoka’s trophies… gadz, do you think she was just using them to intimidate Lux? I mean, most boys his age are already terrified of girls. He was lambasted by one carrying two lightsabers… if those two do end up together, I imagine Ahsoka will have to make the first move.

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