Season One, Episode Fifteen — “Trespass”
By Jason Gibner. “For over a thousand generations The Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic…” – Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In an interview recorded after the show’s final season, Clone Wars Bombad General Dave Filoni pointed to this episode as where the tide began to turn for the series. The advances in animation seen in this episode are a dramatic improvement from where the series was just some fourteen episodes ago. This episode even tells a story of when it is and isn’t morally correct to fight — and even that‘s a vast improvement over the episode that just preceded it.
“Trespass” is a top-shelf episode with so much confidence in itself that our two Jedi heroes never once draw lightsabers to punch up the tension. With all the casual violence and wicked laser swordplay that seems to punctuate the Star Wars saga, it’s easy to forget the words of Jedi Master Mace Windu, who said, “We’re keepers of the peace, not soldiers.” Fittingly enough, here comes an episode where the Jedi use the methods of diplomacy and peace in a noble attempt to erase prejudice in the face of looming strife. That’s pretty gutsy for a kid’s show with the word “Wars” in its title.
WHAT WORKED: For being one the series’ “make love not war” episodes, it also is one of its most chilling and violent. Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive at ice planet Orto Plutonia, sent to investigate a Republic outpost that has been brutally attacked. Once they arrive the Jedi stumble across the disturbing image of Clone Trooper helmets and Battle Droid heads mounted on pikes. Turns out the planet is inhabited by the easily startled Talz, a race of snow creatures plagued by a particularly jerky Senator who believes the Talz are a primitive race and thus should be wiped out. (Yes, all of them.) It’s not long before we understand the foolish lengths he takes to enter war with the Talz.
While the battle features lots of action (especially for Captain Rex, who proves he can do almost anything with his twin mini-blasters), it’s the message of nonviolence that wins out in the end. It’s a message that smacks of that bearded Northern Californian in plaid who bankrolls this entire enterprise: George Lucas sneaks his peacenik philosophy into The Clone Wars for the second week in a row, a welcome voice that definitely helped the show’s core message continue to resonate, even to this day.
WHAT DIDN’T: It’s tough to find a weakness in an episode that sets a more thoughtful tone for so much of the greatness that series will offer. While Chairman Chi Cho is pretty fantastic in his pigheaded evilness, he’s also very one note. The guy shows up looking like a total jerk and with the first words out of his mouth he lives up to the audience’s instant feelings of hatred. In the end of this metaphor-heavy episode, he’s really more of a symbol of the more ancient, ignorant ways of generations past than he is a character, so we’ll give this otherwise stock character a pass.
Obi-Wan: “This is the planet’s tropical zone.” Anakin: “It’s not Tatooine, that’s for sure.”
“To die for one’s people is a great sacrifice; to live for one’s people, an even greater sacrifice. I choose to live for my people. What do you choose?” – Riyo Chuchi.
Obi-Wan: “Now that you have created peace between your people and the Talz, remember one crucial thing…” Riyo Chuchi: “Yes, Master Kenobi?” Obi-Wan: “Make it last, Senator. Make it last.”
Anakin: “We can’t send troopers. They’ll think we lied.” Chairman Chi Cho: “These creatures are little more than animals. You can’t lie to an animal.”
Anakin: “Well, say something…!” Obi-Wan: “Just shut up.”
BEST MOMENT: Once Chi Cho has been taken out of the picture, young senator Riyo Chuchi steps in to stop the battle with the Talz. With C-3PO as a translator, the two agree on a peaceful future for the planet. As they Jedi return to their ship, Obi Wan reminds her that while that was impressive and hopeful, the harder part is coming. For real change to happen, that peace must last. And The Clone Wars “keepin it real and tellin’ it like it is” train just keeps chuggin’ along.
EPISODE’S MVP: In a metaphysical way, one of which even Master Yoda would likely approve, I’d say that this episode’s MVP is the Clone Wars itself. With “Trespass”, we see the show not only take a Rancor-sized leap forward with its visuals and its scope, it forges ahead with the bold way it will tell its stories for the next five or so seasons. Much like how, in between Empire and Jedi, Luke got a smooth haircut and black all-business outfit, The Clone Wars got its act together pretty quickly.
– This episode leans heavily on the gorgeous work Ralph McQuarrie did for the Hoth planet with Empire Strikes Back. Mcquarrie did tons of vivid paintings depicting dramatic blue ice columns and rigid shifts in terrain that just couldn’t be reproduced with the film’s shoot location of Norway. Here, Filoni and his team were able to reproduce some of Ralph’s work for the planet’s surface and the snow gear the Clone Troopers wear. The early McQuarrie, Joe Johnston and John Mollo SnowTrooper designs also went on to greatly influence the barely-seen First Order Snow Trooper in The Force Awakens.
– Chi Cho makes a reference to an awful sounding “Convention of Civilized Systems”. This is the first mention of something resembling a bill of rights in the galaxy far far away, and is probably something Palpatine eliminated once he became emperor and brought peace and prosperity to the Galaxy. *ahem*
– Anakin’s “most impressive” reaction to Riyo’s peacekeeping eerily echoes his eventual dialogue as he battles his son on Bespin.
– C-3PO mentions the Talz leader Thi-Sen being the “Son of Suns.” This goes way back to early drafts of the original Star Wars, which mentioned a prophesied hero called the “Son of Suns.” Online chatter over years assumed this referred to Luke and then later Anakin, as they both grew up under Tatooine’s twin suns and Anakin had no birth father (that we know of). Some fans, myself included, could have sworn we heard people yelling “Son of Suns” during the new celebration ending sequence on Coruscant in the Return of the Jedi Special Edition. This was later debunked… but I still believe.
– Jedi Fortune Cookie: “Arrogance diminishes wisdom.”
9 out of 10
Next: “The Hidden Enemy”, soon.
Before: “Defenders of Peace”, here.