The Clone Wars review: ‘Bounty Hunters’

Both Stooge and James have skipped out on us are on vacation, so this week our Clone Wars review is a guest post from The Broox. Enjoy! -D

‘Bounty Hunters’ takes the tried and true approach of opening the episode with our heroes bickering like an old married couple before quickly throwing them into danger.

Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka drop out of hyperspace above Felucia in order to investigate the disappearance of a medical station. Thanks to the omnipresent, propaganda style voice over the audience is aware that the dastardly Separatists have destroyed the station before our heroes’ arrival. Furthermore, the Separatists left some Vulture Droids behind to dispatch anyone who would come to investigate.

The vulture droids get the drop on our intrepid trio, but Anakin saves the day by fleeing to the planet and intentionally ramming their T-6 Shuttle into a mountain. Apparently vulture droids are smart enough to both walk and fly combat maneuvers – but if their quarry plows into a cliffside they don’t bother to look for ejection seats.  (A bug that needs to be fixed in the next software upgrade?)  The Separatists don’t seem to have a ground presence, as our heroes never hear, see or worry about them for the rest of the episode.

Even though they are unharmed, Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka are lost on Felucia with no way off the planet and no way to call for help. Obi-Wan and Anakin have yet to break stride and are still bickering, now arguing over which direction the force is telling them to head. Ahsoka, in a rare moment of clarity, has a better idea than the “adults” and suggests they head towards a fire visible in the distance. This suggestion seemingly wins the bickering contest as the three are far more civil with each other for the rest of the episode.

Upon entering the village that turns out to be the source of the smoke trail they followed Anakin remarks “I hope they have a ship we can . . . borrow . . .” This is one of the few time in recent memory (outside of the ever heavy-handed Traviss) anyone has bothered to comment on the property damage, vehicle commandeering, and general chaos and destruction that seem to follow Jedi of this era. Furthermore, the line does it in such a way that it still feels like something Anakin would say, an unforced and poignant commentary. This is the highlight of the episode. Anakin’s hopes are realized when an investigation of the village turns up one ship but strangely no villagers.

The crash landing must have caused some memory loss because our heroes don’t bother to use the force to “feel” if the villagers are around but hiding, instead they just start looking in hiding places. Anakin and Ahsoka break into a house (for the good of the Republic) and find a couple of villagers holed up under the floorboards. Before the two of them can interrogate ask the obviously terrified villagers what they are hiding from a group of four bounty hunters rush into the house.

Obi-Wan (of course) shows up and everyone begrudgingly holsters their weapons. (Jedi included.) Turns out the villagers hired the bounty hunters to protect them from a group of pirates who have been taking a part of the village’s harvest as “insurance payments”. Taking without asking or compensating, can you believe these pirates? A Jedi would never do that. Upon hearing this Obi-Wan becomes a huge jerk and wants nothing to do with the villager’s plight. Instead he feels it is more important to get off planet ASAP so they can sift through the wreckage of the medical station. (Maybe?) It is never explained why Kenobi suddenly has a stick up his butt either.  Snips talks him out of commandeering the bounty hunter’s ship and into helping the villagers.

From here on out it is pure Starhoppers of Abuda-3 Seven Samurai. The Jedi and the bounty hunters put away their differences to protect the villagers from the pirates, who turn out to be Hondo Ohnaka’s crew. Via a montage the village is fortified and the locals are trained to defend themselves. During the battle the Jedi and the bounty hunters are forced to rely on each other. The battle is a strange combination of cartoony action (think Ewoks defeating the Empire) and rather brutal violence (one of the bounty hunters has a thing for snapping necks) to the extreme of an execution style kill. In the end they come out victorious, but one of the bounty hunters loses his life defending the village. The episode concludes with the bounty hunters offering the Jedi a lift.

Interestingly, while the rest of the EU tends to portray bounty hunters as moral-less thugs only looking for a payday, this episode makes them out to be quite honorable. At one point they even turn down an offer from Hondo for twice what the villagers were paying them, all they would have had to do was leave. Instead, the Jedi come across as the uncaring party, not concerned about the well being of the villagers, particularly Kenobi.

The character designs of the bounty hunters is also a standout of the episode. Each of the four aliens has a specific skill set and their appearance reflects it. They have a believable working arrangement and they seem to get along better than our Jedi trio.

The episode also does a great job drawing subtle parallels between the pirates and the Jedi. Both take what they “need”. To the person getting the shaft it makes no difference whether they got screwed over to fulfill someones worldly desires of if it was for the “betterment of the Republic”. They lose either way. The Jedi don’t seem to come to this realization, and only help the villagers because Ahsoka wants to be nice. It is up to the viewer to draw the parallels between the two parties and doing so is probably beyond most of the “intended audience”.

While the plot of the episode is familiar, it is nice to see Jedi as something other than perfect champions.

Grade: C++

4 Replies to “The Clone Wars review: ‘Bounty Hunters’”

  1. Hey Broox, welcome to Club Jade. Great review! I really like that you critically focused on meanings within the story rather than just a simple summary.

    I was really disappointed that the end of the story saw the pirates leave in a giant space ship that could have easily taken out the jedi, bounty hunters and farming village. It made the whole plot of the episode a bit hollow.

    And what’s up with anakin skywalker, the best pilot in the jedi order, being defeated by six vulture droids? Sure the device housing them was cool. It would have made more sense to have about 20 of them, anakin to take out a few and ultimately be defeated. It would humanize his character and add tension and depth to the scene.

  2. Whoa, this was posted on Tuesday? AND it’s well-written? Criminey. Way to make me feel like a slacker, Broox!

    Anyway, for all the reasons you mentioned, I thought this episode was fantastic — maybe the best stand-alone of the season. It was exciting, gorgeous to look at, morally complex, and even the bickering dialogue made me laugh. And yeah, the new characters all rocked, especially the little dude.

    Plus, this episode juuuuuuuuust missed the 100th b-day of Kurosawa, which happened last month. Very cool tribute from Messers Lucas and Filoni!

  3. Thanks for all the complements. I really enjoyed watching the show with more of a critical eye and less of a fandom eye.

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