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.
- 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.