The Clone Wars review: ‘Mercy Mission’

Oh, Clone Wars, Clone Wars, Clone Wars.  What am I going to do with you?  Last week you dazzled us with one of the best episodes yet, and then this week we get… ‘Mercy Mission.’  But you know what would have been a real mission of mercy?  Not letting this episode air!  Hey-o!  Try the veal, tip your waitress, you’ve been a great crowd.

Let’s start with what worked in this episode.  Okay, now that that’s over with, let’s move on to what went wrong.  Did we really need a tribute to the ol’ Droids show?  At least that’s how I saw it.  (I’m not a Droids expert, but I seem to recall it having a similarly weird, goofy vibe.)  Or was it an Ewoks riff, with all the oddball creatures and natural mysticism?  Maybe ‘Mercy Mission’ was just an elaborate homage to Lucasfilm cartoons of yore, and maybe there were some die-hard old-school fans who really enjoyed it.  But I didn’t.

The main problem was that the episode simply wasn’t funny.  And usually, I love C-3PO – honestly, LOVE.  For me, he’s the soul of the saga, the whiny, bitchy soul.  But here, his lines (and those of the clones) seem to be directly lifted from classic Star Wars dialogue, which is sorta clever but also sorta completely unclever.  It’s the difference between Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back.  All those hammy Jedi throwback lines (“delusions of grandeur,” “I love you”/”I know,” basically all of Yoda’s dialogue) were certainly cute, but they worked much better the first time around in Empire.  And the Aleena, short little guys with primitive technology who worshipped C-3PO, also seemed uncomfortably familiar.  ‘Mercy Mission’ needed some more original thoughts.

And where it was original, it was also just… odd.  For example, the climax finds C-3PO and R2-D2 doing something only they can do: close a manhole cover.  Huh?  And what the hell was going on with the subterranean Ents and that long-tongued alien gal?  I’m usually a fan of weird for weirdness’ sake, but these creatures (who spoke perfect English, unlike the more cosmopolitan Aleen) tested my patience.  If they had a point, I missed it.  And the whole “answer my riddle and you’ll go free” gimmick reminded me of cheesy 1970’s Doctor Who.  And you, Mr. C-3PO, are no Tom Baker.

Even the animation, which is usually pretty impressive, seemed to take the week off.  Commander Wolffe gets some close-ups which look like they were cobbled together from leftover video game scenes.  Yes, there were a few pretty shots scattered here and there, but mostly it was drab and dark and boring.  Plus, Orphne reminded me a lot of the Martians from Mars Needs Moms – an underrated movie, by the way, and I can say that because I’m one of the fifty Americans who actually saw it.

Listen, I’m trying to think of nice things to say about this episode, truly I am.  But ‘Mercy Mission’ was too dull to be fun and too weird to be coherent.  And the execution was as clunky as its baffling fortune cookie, which I believe was translated from Klingon and then transcribed by Yoda.  In a word: oy.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Okay, here’s something positive: it’s funny how the Aleena have to jog to keep up with the clones.
  • For those keeping score, this marks the fifth straight episode with Padme, while Obi-Wan has yet to make an appearance this season.
  • Is it me, or is it weird seeing 3PO point with his index finger?
  • Curious how maintaining the planetary peace meant complete and total separation.  I guess we’re a long way from the symbiosis theme of The Phantom Menace.
  • Is that Elbee, the bulky droid from the Knights of the Old Republic comic book, seen schlepping stuff around?  (I miss you, Episode Guides!)
  • That fortune cookie read, “Understanding is honoring the truth beneath the surface.”  I mean, I get it, but still: baffling.

Grade: D

11 thoughts on “The Clone Wars review: ‘Mercy Mission’

  1. Greg

    I think I may have liked this episode a lot more than others did. My only real memory of seeing the original Star Wars movie in a theatre is watching the droids wander through a bizarre, alien landscape, and that’s they’re doing again for most of this episode. LFL could do a “Star Wars travelogue” series with nothing but Threepio and Artoo wandering though strange worlds and I’d absolutely love it.

  2. Paula

    I’m with you, Stooge. This episode was mind-numbing to me. I actually had to rewind several times as my mind kept wandering.

    And I’ll take the roast beef, instead of the veal.

  3. jawajames

    One nitpick issue about the riddle is that the wordplay works in English, which of course makes even less sense for these subterranean creatures to be speaking.

    While part of the point of this episode is that Threepio and Artoo become the unlikely heroes because Wolffe isn’t interested in actually listening to the Aleena, Wolffe comes off like a jerk. While he’s in charge of the mission because he was the closest, you’d think they’d have some clones trained as contact specialists to help foster good communication.

    I did like having the droids and clones have to navigate in buildings designed for beings half their height.

    I’m not sure I like seeing the Aleena reduced to a primitive style culture here – we know that Aleena can be podracer pilots and senators from the movies.

    I like Droids-type adventures, but i felt that this one took too long to get going. i probably wouldn’t have been as harsh as you, Stooge, but this episode was a bit of a clunker.

  4. Stooge

    Greg, you obviously have more patience than I do. Or maybe I’ve just come to expect better from the show?

    And maybe I was a bit harsh… but like Paula said, it was a numbing experience. And it didn’t help that Wolffe was a jerk.

    James, your point about reducing the Aleena to a bunch of primitives is a good one, though maybe they were like the Wookiees… competent as individuals, but kinda old-school as a group. Then again, Ratts Tyerell’s family (in the TPM cut scenes), indicates a completely different sort of Aleena culture. Maybe they were from the other side of the planet?

  5. Grendelspyce

    For the most part I didn’t mind this episode and enjoyed it’s weird vibe. It was gratifying seeing the clones acting like, well, dicks, because it’s a nice foreshadowing of their turn in ROTS. The biggest mistake was using the Aleena, since we know they are a Republic faring species. Hell, the computer that Wolffe is sent to reactivate has Aurabesh text on the screens! They didn’t need a protocol droid; why couldn’t one of the clones produce an iPad or something and communicate directly with them?!?! If this had been a new species in need of help it would have made more sense. But that is the biggest problem with this show, the producers don’t know how or don’t care to address huge plot holes.

  6. Stooge Post author

    Usually, the continuity issues don’t bug me if I was involved with the story. But here I wasn’t, and my mind started to wander…

    At least the king had a funny crown. So many wonderfully insane crowns in this show.

  7. Greg

    Either I have more patience, Stooge, or I’m just one of those “die-hard old-school fans” you mentioned in your review! Put the droids in anything, and I’ll pretty much enjoy it. (Yes, even the factory sequence in AOTC.)

  8. TitaniumWookie

    nice catch, I thought that might be Elbee too. I’m also glad that someone on this blog is willing to say something negative about an episode. I sometimes feel like the only star wars fan who isn’t willing to blindly worship everything lukas puts out.

    I get the feeling that the Aleema were reduced to primatives because they needed some primitive culture but only had aleema models around. Seems like there is a lot of retconning bc of technical limitations :(

  9. Bardan Jussik

    You aren’t the only one wookie, I just don’t generally post on Clone Wars threads as I never have ANYTHING positive to say about the series. They constantly trample over little and sometimes larger pieces of canon and just good common star wars sense to!

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