set on Mandalore, Star Wars: The Clone Wars got back on track with a brooding, mysterious installment last night. “Assassin” is the first ep this season to dive deeply into Star Wars’ underlying mythology, and, most impressively, it didn’t have to be a Skywalker-centric episode to have some Joseph Campbell-worthy heft.No disturbance in the Force here! After a couple of mildly disappointing episodes
Like Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, though, Ahsoka found herself having unsettling Force-fueled visions. And just like the future Darth Vader, visions of Padmé’s death, no less! I guess it just shows how much Anakin and his obsession have rubbed off on his Padawan. In her dreams, Ahsoka saw the bounty hunter Aurra Sing—presumed dead after she lent her assistance to Boba Fett during his unsuccessful attempt to kill Mace Windu—assassinate Padmé, while the Senator was giving a speech.
Don’t know Aurra Sing? She’s one of the handful of characters—like Aayla Secura, or, well, half the Jedi Council for that matter—to appear in one shot of one of the prequels and somehow then become a major character in her own right. Appearing briefly as a spectator at the Boonta Eve Podrace in The Phantom Menace, Aurra captivated fans’ imaginations with her striking look: a shaved head with flowing ponytail, albino-white skin, a sniper rifle strapped to her back, and an antenna stuck in her cerebral cortex. Not enough to justify her multiple appearances in Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics and now the Clone Wars series, you say? Hey, Boba Fett does little more in the original trilogy than lurk around menacingly and get eaten by the Sarlacc, and look at the cult of personality that earned him!
But I digress. Aurra was the next in a now relatively lengthy line of bounty hunters hired to whack the Senator from Naboo, and we all know a death mark is not an easy thing to live with. Honestly, Padmé has had more bounties placed on her than a spice smuggler who’s ditched his cargo. But it wasn’t Nute Gunray seeking her head served up on a duranium platter. It was Ziro the Hutt, Jabba’s erstwhile relative and Star Wars’s answer to Divine in Pink Flamingos—or at least Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Hell hath no fury like a Hutt scorned, and Ziro wanted some payback against Mrs. Skywalker for landing him in the Republic pokey. I’m totally digging the prison ink he’s picked up so far while serving time.
Accompanied by Ahsoka, Padmé traveled to Alderaan (!) to attend a conference set up by Bail Organa. After 33 years (not counting that brief glimpse when Organa takes baby Leia home at the end of Revenge of the Sith), we finally got to see some of the planet blasted to space dust by Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope. Okay, maybe not that much. But we did get to hear a few bars of “Leia’s Theme” as Padmé’s starship flew over the planet that her daughter would one day call home. To reinforce the Padmé-Leia connection even further, the Naboo Senator was there for a conference on the refugee crisis precipitated by the war. As those of us who’ve read the myriad post-Return of the Jedi novels about our heroes’ later lives know, there’s nothing Leia loved to involve herself in more than some do-gooding regarding displaced peoples.
But back to Ahsoka. Miss Tano has come across as one mighty confident little Togrutan, so it was refreshing to see her open up to Padmé, let her bravado down for a moment, and express her uncertainty about her powers and her connection to the Force. She is just a 14-year-old girl, after all. I appreciated Padmé’s talk with Ahsoka about how she too had major responsibilities when she was 14—um, she ruled a planet as a Queen—and still felt insecure, as well. You think of a show like this as being geared primarily to boys, and yet what strong female characters it’s given us! Characters who can resolve disputes with either a blaster and lightsaber or discussion and compromise, even though they are human enough to be full of insecurity and doubt.
Anyway, Ahsoka foiled Aurra Sing’s Manchurian Candidate-like attempt at shooting Padmé during her speech, but the bounty hunter fled. In an attempt to draw her out, she arranged for Padmé to give another speech. Only this time, she’d send out a hooded droid to speak for, replete with red, pouting lips. Like a moth to flame, Aurra revealed her hand again, trying to finish the hit job she started. Only this time, Ahsoka was ready.
So it shouldn’t be difficult for you to tell that I loved “Assassin” like mynocks love power cables. Did you? Are you hoping that Clone Wars takes another trip to Alderaan in the near future? And, like me, do you intend, now that Outlaw has been cancelled, to start a petition for Jimmy Smits to voice Bail Organa himself?