“If you ignore the past, you jeopardize the future.”
“The Mandalore Plot” is yet another in a long line of The Clone Wars episodes that is filled with action and adventure and is a lot of fun to watch. Visually, the episode is exceptional. And the interactions of the characters are very entertaining. But there’s something about the halting pacing of the episode and, perhaps, some questionable logic to its featured “plot” which hinders the overall production. Still, it’s a classic episode for its introduction of Mandalore — an iconic planet and heritage in the Star Wars mythos.
As the episode begins, the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine, presides as the leader of the Council of Neutral Systems (not aligned with either the Republic or the Separatists). She has led Mandalore into an era of pacifism — a direction which doesn’t agree with a sizable population of her planet. After hearing a rumor that Mandalore is building a secret army for the Separatists, Obi-Wan Kenobi is dispatched to investigate.
From a visual standpoint, I really enjoyed the “cubic” Mandalore design — distinctly alien enough without being impractical. There’s also something of a history between Kenobi and the Duchess and their banter adds a to the fun of the episode. The Duchess is a nicely conceived and executed character and in fact, the comments from her about Kenobi’s role as a “peacekeeper” are both insightful and important for the episode’s plot. Both Satine and Kenobi have good points (namely that being called a “peacekeeper” while conducting a war is a contradiction, but that reality often forces people into unexpected and unwanted actions). It’s an enjoyable development for both the characters and the episode.
But of course, Kenobi’s mission isn’t about fun. And very soon he (and the audience) are introduced to the turbulent political currents of Mandalore politics. It seems that a group of Mandalore warriors, calling themselves “Death Watch,” are opposed to the pacifist government and are causing a disturbance on Mandalore. It is they that are allied with, and receiving support from, Count Dooku.
Here’s where the logic gets a bit fuzzy. The “Death Watch” hopes to cause enough of a disturbance to provoke the Jedi into sending a peacekeeping force to the planet. They then plan to use that Jedi “occupation” as a trigger to spark a public revolt against the pacifist Duchess and her government. But what makes them think that a general populace would actually follow a terrorist organization — responsible for violent acts against that populace — and calling itself “Death Watch”? I know this is just a cartoon, but let’s face it, as plans go, it’s a pretty silly one.
Fortunately, this doesn’t take up much time within the episode itself. Instead, the real emphasis is on the *actions* of those involved in Death Watch. There is a terrorist bombing in a public park. The perpetrator, not wanting to be interrogated by Kenobi, literally throws himself off of a building. It’s a grim series of events — terrorism promptly followed by suicide — which underscores just how desperate the situation on Mandalore is. Just as important is the manner with which the episode portrays these events. Once again, The Clone Wars treats these moments with a sobriety that is both necessary and a bit shocking for a cartoon.
Then it’s off to a moon of Mandalore to, finally, confront the Mandalorian Warriors (aka Death Watch). Given the amount of fiction written about the Mandalorians, this was always going to be a highly anticipated moment. And it doesn’t disappoint. They are disciplined, ruthless and cunning. Kenobi is captured (then rescued by Satine). And there’s a confrontation between Kenobi and (the unfortunately named) Pre Viszla, who owns a black lightsaber — a relic from the Old Republic. The ancient animosity between the Mandalorians and the Jedi is a nice touch, adding important depth to the battle between Viszla and Kenobi, and the upcoming conflict with Death Watch.
The action itself is intense, if relatively brief. Kenobi’s battle with Viszla and his troops is entertaining. And though Kenobi and Satine escape, it’s clear that there is much more to this storyline.
Overall Grade: B
“The Mandalore Plot” is classic Clone Wars. Action, character and theme are tossed together and presented with wonderful visuals. It’s another successful installment.