Season One, Episode Twenty-Two — “Hostage Crisis”
By Jason Gibner. For most of this first season, The Clone Wars did a fairly top-shelf job with expanding on an era in Star Wars history what was only hinted at the films. In just these first 22 episodes, we saw new and exotic planets only mentioned before, learned Anakin actually taught a young Padawan he called Snips (who, we can now admit, is now one of the most beloved characters in the whole saga), and greatly got to know these Clone Troopers as heroic, free-thinking individuals.
One thing the series didn’t do as strongly — at least, early on — is expand upon the weekly threat our Jedi heroes faced. Up until this episode, the big bad guys waltzed out of a revolving door flanked with either slapsticky battle droids, the mustache-twirling General Grievous, old man Count Dooku, or some quivering Niemoidian goofball. (The saga’s king baddie — and the phantom menace himself, kindly Chancellor Palpatine — doesn’t count yet… From a certain point of view.)
The drought of fresh and fun new bad guys happily ends here, as we’re introduced to the toothpick chewing, crazy wide hat wearing Duros bounty hunter, Cad Bane. This injection of bounty hunters into the Clone Wars saga gives the show a much-needed freshness from the constant Jedi-versus-droids action, opening up a whole new world of even more dynamic storytelling possibilities. It’s the dawn of a new confident era for The Clone Wars. The show would now begin taking the risks that would later define it, finding even more of a voice while gaining much of its noted maturity with its ever-growing cast of characters.
WHAT WORKED: What starts a normal day on Coruscant with Anakin and Padme discussing their forbidden love eventually turns into all heck breaking loose, as Lee Van Cleef-as-an-alien Cad Bane shows up with his hit squad of alien and droid bounty hunters. Soon, they manage the hold a group of Palpatine-defying senators hostage and Anakin is left recreating Die Hard as he sneaks around the Senate building taking out the bounty hunters one by one. Oh and he doesn’t have his lightsaber. Why?
Padme and her Jedi smooch secretly in her chambers when Bail Organa walks in and nearly catches them in the act, so Padme does what every secret wife does and hides the laser sword in her sleeve. Anakin, much like John McClane, has no weapon and must rely on only his slick wits and instincts to survive. This works like how the brilliant Under Siege 2 worked; the one man against a gang idea is an A+ concept for building tension and bursts of action. We get to see the always awesome Aurra Sing hunting and shooting a giant rifle at The Chosen One and he does some borderline Neo moves in order to dodge them. And it is glorious.
WHAT DIDN’T: The whole point of the hostage situation is to get a character out of jail that literally nobody — be they in the Star Wars galaxy or our actual galaxy — ever wanted to see again, the gross Ziro the Hutt. For those who haven’t met Ziro yet, he is the purple, flamboyant uncle of Jabba whose voice closely resembles Truman Capote with marbles in his mouth. Now, I definitely like a lot of weird and goofy in my Star Wars but I just can’t handle this obviously tongue-in-cheek character. Ziro was one of the weirdest and worst moments in the 2009 Clone Wars feature film and his reappearance here casts a disappointing shadow over what was previously a near-perfect episode.
“Why do YOU have a Jedi lightsaber?” – Bail Organa, to Padme.
Cad Bane: “Well, Hutt. It doesn’t look like prison had too adverse an effect on you.” Ziro the Hutt: “Oh, you can’t imagine the unspeakable things I’ve suffered! The horror!”
“When I finished constructing my lightsaber, Obi-Wan said to me, ‘Anakin, this weapon is your life.’ This weapon is my life.” – Anakin, to Padme.
“I got business with the Senate. How ’bout you fellas step aside.” – Cad Bane.
“Morning, Senators. You should all consider yourselves to be in my power. As long as everybody behaves, this will be quick and painless. Do nothing, and it will all be over soon.” – Cad Bane.
BEST MOMENT: When Bane and his wrecking crew show up at the Senate building, they’re met by the bad dudes in blue — the Senate Guards. With the help of Aurra Sing and her ace sniper skills, Bane is able to take them all out with ease and glide right into the building. The episode slyly hints at the idea that maybe Palpatine wanted him in there to remove these pesky senators who dare speak against him, but regardless it shows that he is not one to be underestimated.
EPISODE’S MVP: Cad Bane. In case the giant hat, the tubes coming out of his face, or his digital three-packs-a-day-voice didn’t make it totally obvious, Bane is one insanely cool character. Throwing Cad Bane into the mix ensured audiences that The Clone Wars had more outstanding storyarcs to come.
– Jedi fortune cookie: “A secret shared is a trust formed.”
– I wonder where Anakin thought he’d take Padme for their little getaway that no one would recognize them. Poor kids probably never even got a honeymoon after their secret wedding. And what would they do on their incognito vay-cay? I would hope floating space fruit was involved.
– According to a March 2009 article from USA Today, “Hostage Crisis” scored 3.3 million viewers which, since the show’s premiere, had been the series’ highest ratings to date. Makes sense as leading up to this episode, Cartoon Network was hyping up Cad Bane’s appearance at a near-Gabbo level.
– Cad Bane was originally designed to be featuring a space cigarette-type thing in his mouth, but that was eventually changed to a much more kid-friendly toothpick.
– The look of Cad Bane is based on a sketch made for A New Hope, of a bounty hunter background character who would have been seen hanging out in the Mos Eisley cantina.
– An unproduced arc for Clone Wars was to show Cad Bane training young Boba Fett how to be a bounty hunter.
– And that’s it for our Season One coverage of The Clone Wars! Make sure to check out my review series for the third season of Star Wars Rebels, starting Monday, September 26!
9 out of 10
Season One Score: 7.5 out of 10
Before: “Storm Over Ryloth”, “Innocents of Ryloth”, “Liberty on Ryloth,” here.