Season One, Episode Thirteen — “Jedi Crash”
By Jason Gibner. As far as opening salvos go, you can do far worse than an explosive and spectacular atmospheric starship battle. From the onset, we can tell “Jedi Crash” is going to be a vast improvement from whatever that was that happened last week. (Something to do with Gungans? I forget.)
This bonkers opening is jam-packed with awesome little moments, from the Clone Wars debut of fan favorite Jedi, Aayla Secura, flying Super Battle Droids, Anakin using the Force to hold back an explosion, and a Republic Gunship crashing into a Separatist ship — only to have Ahsoka and all the troopers leap out guns blazing. It’s a solid ten minutes of non-stop Jedi action, complete with tons of awesome little flourishes, not least of which the visual of Anakin blazing through a hallway of droids, Oldboy style. Yes, you read that right.
Once that’s all wrapped up, our heroes crash onto a grassy planet of primitive lemur aliens and things slow waaaaaaay down. These furry fellows begin to tell our Jedi heroes that their way of life is not what it should be, that violence, even of the altruistic sort, ultimately solves nothing. It’s a bit of a buzzkill, especially after we’ve only just enjoyed that fiery, jaw-dropping opening sequence, but before long, even the Jedi come to realize — these guys do have a point.
WHAT WORKED: This is a particularly clever episode in that it tricks you into feeling like a jerk. For every fist-pumping shot of overconfident, heroic Jedi slicing through bumbling battle droids, you have a wise old space lemur pretty much singing Edwin Starr’s “War! what is it good for…” to you. For a hot second, the Jedi seem to get the message, but then their duty kicks in and it’s back to business as usual. It’s a healthy dose of grim foreshadowing, and one the audience needs to be reminded of from time to time — the Jedi are no longer in control of their destinies. Like how Luke told the Emperor that his overconfidence was his weakness, that same thing crippled the Jedi decades earlier.
WHAT DIDN’T: As humbling and philosophical as the space lemur moments are, the abrupt change in tone (from action spectacle to quiet philosophy) can be jarring. There’s also a time-wasting subplot about giant space vulture dogs that keep trying to kill Anakin that makes it easy to check out during this five minute stretch of zilch.
Admiral Yularen: “Are all Jedi so reckless?” Aayla Secura: “Just the good ones.”
“I’ve certainly perfected the art of demolishing ships and almost getting my master killed.” – Aayla.
Ahsoka: “It seems to me that the people we’re looking for live near giant trees.” Aayla: “Very perceptive, Padawan.”
“I am sure that you are aware that the Jedi did not initiate the Clone Wars. Our only intention is to end it and restore peace to our galaxy.” – Aayla.
“What difference does it make who started the war and who only wants to end it? No side is free of fault. It takes two to fight.” – Tee Watt Kaa
Aayla: “Isn’t liberty worth fighting for?” Tee Watt Kaa: “But is it worth killing for?”
BEST MOMENT: Upon finally arriving at the space lemur village, Aayla tries to tell the locals that they are Jedi, thus they have come in peace. Little Tee Watt Kaa ain’t having it. Looking at her lightsaber hooked on her belt, he knows that, for as much as the Jedi believe they are still “keepers of the peace, not soldiers”, those days are gone. This is the new era of the Jedi, where they have been so influenced by that phantom menace that they still believe they are acting selflessly and are acting in the nature of the Force. (Instead of, *gulp* the alternative.) Aayla’s face looks shocked and confused on the surface, but there’s a glimmer of awareness that Tee might be telling the truth.
EPISODE’S MVP: Aayla Secura. Created by the powerhouse comics drawing and writing team of Jan Duursma and John Ostrander, Aayla Secura first made her debut back in the post-Phantom Menace Dark Horse comic book series. The character was played by Amy Allen in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. She shines here in her Clone Wars debut as a strong (yet oddly mystical) Jedi who makes for a good intermediary Master for the still brash Ahsoka Tano. Aayla was a female Jedi in the days when you couldn’t find their action figures at stores, and she remains an awesome character.
– Hey Aayla, see Commander Bly, your best friend Clone Trooper? He’s going to shoot you in a couple years. Yeah, buzzkill.
– As busted-up Anakin is being treated aboard the Consular-class frigate, his ventilator has the same sound of a certain breathing apparatus he will end up wearing later in life.
– Word is George Lucas decided that all Twi’Leks, like Aayla, should speak with a French accent. This is still going on in Rebels — remember, when Hera got angry, she definitely slipped into her odd Pepé Le Pew French accent.
– The design of the space lemur planet Maridun is based on Ralph McQuarrie concepts for a grassland planet named Sicemon, featured in an early draft of Return of the Jedi and was in the hugely influential 1995 book, The Illustrated Star Wars Universe.
– The ‘Jedi fortune cookie’ message that opens the show was changed shorty before the show aired. In the current version it reads, “Greed and fear of loss are the roots that lead to the tree of evil.” The original version was: “For one to not become attached is the greatest gift.” Why the change? Add it to that list of questions we have for Lucas. (Put it right under, “Do Tusken Raiders take their masks off to eat?“)
– Aayla never mentions her master by name, but she’s talking about Quinlan Vos. Vos was another creation from Duursema and Ostrander and was all over the Dark Horse Star Wars Republic comic series. He seemingly left the Jedi order on an undercover mission, but he later shows up in the series.
– Space Lemurs (or Lurmen villagers) are based on unused design concepts that were originally made for Revenge of the Sith. Their moving around by rolling is based on the way the Amanin creatures got around in the Dark Horse Star Wars comic book story arc, “To the Last Man” (Star Wars Empire #16).
8 out of 10
Next: “Defenders of Peace”, soon.
Before: “The Gungan General”, here.