By Chris Seekell
Escape From Kadavo was the concluding episode to the Zygerrian Slaver arc. I had thought that the first episode was pretty bland and a downer after the high of the Umbaran arc, and the second episode was a solid one with a good balance of plot, action, and humor. I was hoping for this final episode to build on the momentum of the previous one and end this arc strong, but unfortunately, for me it was the Return of the Jedi to Slaves of the Republic's Empire Strikes Back. There were some good moments, and the intensifying action that built through the middle of the episode onward kept things enjoyable, but I felt the plot was very weak and the dialog was a little robotic in the wake of the previous episode.
Slaves of the Republic set up some interesting plot points, the strongest of which involved Anakin and the Zygerrian Queen, Miraj Scintel. Anakin was placed into a situation that forced memories of his slave past to resurface. This led to a dark, brooding attitude that was prevalent in the first two episodes. However in Escape From Kadavo, Anakin's feelings seemed to be ignored, and he effortlessly concocted and carried out a plan to free himself, rescue Ahsoka, and put himself in a position to help rescue Obi-Wan and the kidnapped people of Kiros. This episode could have showed Anakin struggling to move on from his past and be freed from fear and shame, but instead these issues were swept under the rug after they were set up to be prevalent players in the outcome of this story.
Additionally Miraj brought up a very good point in Slaves of the Republic by suggesting that Anakin and the Jedi were merely pawns of the establishment, giving a subliminal meaning to the episode title. However once again, this revelation had no effect on the characters or the story in Escape For Kadavo. In the end, it was the Queen, not Anakin, who was brought to the realization that she was a slave. This was a cookie-cutter end to the character's arc, that had absolutely no effect on the overall story of the Clone Wars and apparently no effect on Anakin.
Thirdly, the chemistry between Anakin and Scintel that was hinted at in Slaves of the Republic, became completely irrelevant in Escape From Kadavo. The Queen's motivation to stand up for Anakin in the face of Dooku was probably caused more by pride than love, and Anakin's decision to save Miraj from Dooku's wrath was motivated by personal gain, as all he appeared to want in the end was information on Obi-Wan's whereabouts. The Queen could have been an interesting foil to Anakin's character, playing into his attachment issues and possibly exposing a crack in his relationship with Padme. But ultimately, all of this possible character development was dismissed.
Moving from plotlines that were dropped, to ones that were added, I believe that this episode completely disbenefited from Dooku being thrust into the situation. With the Zygerrians and Queen Miraj, we had a new species and new villain for our heroes with an interesting culture that could have led to a creative and thought provoking conclusion. But when Dooku was added to the mix, he trumped everything and rendered most of the developments in the previous episodes irrelevant. I could have also done without the brief fight between Dooku and Anakin. At this point, Anakin's line "My powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count" in Revenge of the Sith has been made into a complete joke. I cannot believe that the Clone Wars writers allowed an interesting and fresh story to be nullified by the injection of yet another cliche confrontation between these two. Sure, we did begin this arc with Dooku, but he was merely a device to move the people of Kiros into the hands of the slavers with the Jedi in tail. The fact that he was both the beginning impetus and the ending impetus was very predictable.
The appearance of Sidious was the only benefit to the addition of Sith to this story. We are so deprived of his character, that the Dark Lord in any capacity will raise the level of any scene he is in. But in the end, his role in this story made absolutely no sense. We were led to believe that the Sith wanted to use the Zygerrian empire to provide a slave labor force for the construction of their own empire. But in the end, the Sith's micromanagement of the slavers resulted in their Queen dying and one of their facilities being demolished. It would have been interesting to see Dooku setting up a regime on Zygerria after the action ended, with hints on what role the slavers would play into the building of the empire, but instead we just saw a cliche ending scene that focused on the heroes.
Taking the overall plot and mistreatment of Anakin and Scintel out of the equation, the best character parts of this episode revolved around Rex and Ahsoka. Both of them were given great action sequences, and showed initiative. It was fun to see Rex fight without a weapon and then with the electro-staff, and his line "I'm no Jedi" reminded me of Eowyn's "I am no man" in Lord of the Rings. I think this scene was important in reaffirming Rex's fortitude, after his shaky performance with General Krell in the previous arc. Additionally, the only tension for me in this episode, was when Rex was shot at and then we didn't see him for a few more scenes. I really thought Rex could have been killed or at least injured, but was glad to see him stand up and hurl the electro-staff at the slaver in epic fashion.
After watching the previous two episodes, a lot of people were perplexed that there was no mention that Ahsoka was aware that the slaves were her own race. But this was finally dealt with in Escape From Kadavo. Ahsoka showed an expected amount of additional compassion and empathy for the Togrutas and even was personally congratulated by their leader at the end. I wish they had not have waited this late to bring up this element of the story, but better late than never. I was pleased with a couple other scenes that involved Ahsoka, the one where Anakin told her to wait for his signal and she muttered something to R2 and commandeered a Zygerrian ship was classic Star Wars, and the scene where she shuddered at Anakin's casual slaying of some Zygerrian guards when they entered the Kadavo facility did well to illustrate her innocent nature.
I think it's interesting that the episode where Obi-Wan finally got on top of his fate and kicked some butt actually took away some of my reverence for his character. He was broken, and failed to use his skills as a negotiator and powerful warrior to make the best of his enslavement, and would have probably perished if Anakin had not intervened at the last moment. I really expected more from Obi-Wan and wish he had helped tip the tides more in the heroes' favor. But instead we got yet another episode that depicted the great Jedi being defeated.
With a very unsatisfying plot, the saving grace for me with Escape From Kadavo was the fantastic barrage of action sequences that grew in intensity toward the end. The dogfight between Plo Koon, Wolf Pack, and the Zygerrians was a welcomed surprise. Even though I would have rather seen a less used Jedi like Saesee Tiin leading the rescue, it was awesome to see Commander Wolffe and his clones come in on jet packs and save the Togrutas. Clone pilot Warthog was also a cool addition to this fight. And I enjoyed the Episode IV reference with the gun towers. Which also reminds me to mention Ahsoka's "I sense a disturbance in the Force" line earlier in the episode. That's right! Darth Vader's famous line came from a 16 year old girl.
So in conclusion this was an okay episode for me. The action was great, the explosions were epic, Ahsoka and Rex both had some great moments, but the overall blandness surrounding Dooku, Anakin, Miraj, and Obi-Wan really disappointed me. I'm sticking to my opinion that this average arc should have been broadcast before and not after the Umbara arc, because it killed a lot of the momentum in my opinion. But I'm still stoked to see Death Watch, bounty hunters, and Maul in upcoming episodes, and feel that the show will only get better from this point forward.