“A wise leader knows when to follow.”
“Cat and Mouse” is a thoroughly entertaining, even visceral installment of the Clone Wars series. There really isn’t a whole lot of thematic work here and while the characters are certainly vividly portrayed, there’s not a lot of development in this area, either. Mostly, this is an action-adventure vehicle and, in that sense, it’s a success, — even if it’s rather straightforward and obvious, it’s still quite enjoyable to watch. Chalk this one up as pure entertainment, even if it doesn’t offer much by way depth.
During an attempt to break a blockade of the planet Christophsis, Anakin and the Republic are stymied by a legendary tactician by the name of Admiral Trench. You have to give the episode credit for making Trench an intelligent and confident leader. But, really, he isn’t much more than your typical mustache-twirling villain. He certainly fits the mold well, and is a lot of fun to watch on screen, but at some point, it’d be nice to see an antagonist who has a bit more depth than being simply a “cool” evil guy (or gal).
At any rate, Anakin’s attack is repelled and Obi-Wan has strategy to, at the very least, deliver much needed relief supplies to the planet below (inexplicably manned by Senator Organa — why? doesn’t really matter). Kenobi’s plan? Use a prototype stealth ship to run the blockade. However, with Anakin in command, it’s easy to see that the mission will not go according to plan.
Put simply: Anakin turns a relief mission into a deadly game of “cart and mouse” after he decides to engage Trench in a head-to-head confrontation.
It has to be said that Anakin’s character is thoroughly fascinating here. His efforts are a wonderful blend of recklessness, arrogance, brilliance and daring. After watching him in action in this episode, it’s easy to see why his impatience and aggressiveness could lead him, eventually, down the path of darkness. And what’s important, is that the audience is meant to sympathize with and support Anakin’s actions. He saves the day (after a daring maneuver or two). But regardless of the results — which neither Obi-Wan, Organa or Admiral Yularen can deny — Anakin’s methods are very much in question.
This is, in fact, the episode’s most important element. Anakin uses the ends to justify the means. In this case, his methods aren’t exactly objectionable. And yet, he still disobeys orders and acts recklessly. He’s likable and charismatic in this episode. But his strident independence is, obviously, one of the factors in his eventual downfall.
Aside from that, what this episode does best is its action. Anakin’s daring methods — questionable though they may be — are absolutely entertaining to watch. He pilots his stealth ship with ease. He outwits the enemy. And he saves the day.
The episode works primarily because Anakin is such a compelling character and because the events of the episode are well-paced and executed. Trench, simplistic though he may be, is plenty fun to watch. And the whole concept of the stealth ship evokes a classic “submarine” aesthetic. There are even minor touches, like a rookie clone on his first mission, to flesh out the rest of the story.
Overall Grade: B
All told, “Cat and Mouse” is a classic episode. Anakin’s actions are bold and reckless. But he still saves the day. The episode does a great job of executing its story. The only real criticisms are a relative lack of depth to the characters and the story. Still, it’s plenty fun to watch and fans of the Clone Wars series will find much to like about this installment.