Is There Anything Jar-Jar Can't Ruin?

Illustration for article titled Is There Anything Jar-Jar Cant Ruin?

You know that there's something wrong with last night's Clone Wars episode when the thing I spent most time thinking about while watching it was that Jar-Jar sounded different than usual. Another misfire awaits.

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The most frustrating thing about "The Gungan General" was that you could, if you squinted a bit and filled in a lot of gaps for yourself, see what they were trying to do with the episode - A lighter, more broad version of the traditional Star Wars rogue-and-rescue formula played for laughs. Looking at it from that perspective, you can see why the bad guys (In this case, the pirates who'd managed to take Anakin, Obi Wan and Count Dooku prisoner) weren't so scary, and the forced buddy movie dynamic between the Jedi and Sith makes more sense. There's no excuse for the unfunny comedy with Jar-Jar Binks, mind you, but I find that I often default to a zero tolerance policy where he's concerned.

Illustration for article titled Is There Anything Jar-Jar Cant Ruin?
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The real problem with the episode was that it went too broad, and as a result, didn't hold together well; especially problematic was the way in which the over-the-top slapstick of the Jar-Jar thread (which included him defeating the bad guys by literally falling all over them) tied in with the moderately more-straight Anakin/Obi-Wan plot, leaving you with the idea that the Jedi would've been better served to collapse and say "meesa sorry" a lot instead of their various unsuccessful attempts to escape captivity. It's a shame, because their section of the show worked, for the most part; seeing the strained, yet respectful, interaction between Dooku and the Jedi, and their escape plans, was the highlight of the show, and the kind of thing that I'd like to see more of in the show, a step outside of the binary Good Guy/Bad Guy thinking that the series often falls into.

Illustration for article titled Is There Anything Jar-Jar Cant Ruin?

Instead, what we were given was a wasted opportunity - even moreso, given how good the first part of the story was, last week - and a reminder that, for all its potential, Clone Wars has yet to figure out what kind of a show it really wants to be just yet. In case they're reading this, here's a clue: Keep Jar-Jar out the way, and things'll be a lot better.

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DISCUSSION

jbq
Jack B. Quick

My biggest problem with this episode was that it just negated everything that happened last week. Nothing, except for the deaths of Senator Kharrus and Turk Falso and his cronies, and some wanton destruction at the hands of Jar-Jar, actually drove the plot forwards. And one could easily argue that those devices will have no effects whatsoever on the overarching storyline, thus not having any significance anyway. The jedi and Dooku escape - and are captured. They escape again - and are recaptured. They escape once again - and blimey, they're recaptured again. Meanwhile, Jar-Jar and clones move towards destination, meeting a bit of resistance. They lose the ransom, and they get it again. They kill some guys. Then they arrive at their destination, and proceed to immediately leave. Granted, Jar-Jar destroyed the powerlines allowing Anakin and Obi-Wan to escape their bonds, but it's not like a million other Deus Ex Machinas couldn't have been used instead of trying trying trying to make Jar-Jar useful. Pretty cheap, IMO.

And oh, by the way, the big Dooku capture that has been the point of these two episodes? Well, he escapes pointlessly, making the whole capture-scenario a dud, and again, not moving the plot forwards but regressing it to the state it was at the end of episode 10.

What saved the episode for me, however, were great characters. I kind of liked the forced dynamism between Obi-Wan/Anakin and Dooku. I'd have preferred a similar scenario with a more equal duo (instead of trio), say, Obi-Wan and Ventress instead, but I get the point; it takes two Jedi to balance out one Sith Lord.

Obi-Wan retained his perfect level of smug assholery (which I love, I wouldn't have him any other way - and I strongly hold that Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan was equally dicky in his day), though Anakin was a bit too much of the spoiled brat in this episode. I guess not having his spunky sidekick there reduces him to angry toad next to Obi-Wan, instead of smug teacher. Still tons better than the Ani of the films, though, so I'd say still an improvement.

I love the pirates, despite the fact that whoever designed them has played a bit too much Dungeons & Dragons (they look exactly like Pirate Gith from the old MM).

Hondo Ohnaka is such a perfect addition to the Star Wars rogues gallery, and I loved his comment about "I warned him! I didn't want to torture anyone! But now? Even in a galaxy at war, you hope to find some honour..:". I love how he holds honour in such regard despire being vicious killer pirate scum. I hope we see him again despite Obi-Wan's promise that Dooku would retaliate.

By the way, the Kowakian Monkey - anyone else notice the sound it made when it discovered the hapless would-be escapees? Scrat from Ice Age!!

And it was great to get a bit closer to Dooku, even though it was handled better last episode. When he finally showed his true self, Force-opening his cell door, grabbing his guard and silently dragging him into the cell, that was a bit creepy in a good way. Nice touch.