This story arc is much better than it probably deserves to be. It focuses on many of the things fans have never liked about The Clone Wars, and the Prequel Era in general, such as politics, romance, and jealousy. However, these three episodes, which I’ll dub the Clovic arc, are so well-written and paced that they manage to actually enhance the characters of both Anakin and Padmé and deliver some real thrills as well.
The plot is actually pretty simple, and starts when Rash Clovis, who has appeared a couple times in the past as a pompous politician with an eye for Padmé, requests help to expose the Baking Clan, who he is employed by, for corruption. You get the idea; pretty boring stuff when put on paper, but it’s the execution that makes it so much better than that.
The most important thing these episodes accomplishes is the development of Anakin and Padmé’s relationship, and I think we can all agree that their romance in the Prequels is one of its most crippling flaws. However, The Clone Wars has gone to great lengths to enhance their relationship and they succeed here in a way they haven’t been able to in the past.
I not only believed in their romance, a huge feat in and of itself, but I also related to what they were going through. Seeing the two of them struggle to stay in love despite the secrecy of their marriage was hard to watch, but gave their dynamic in Revenge of the Sith so much more weight as it became clear these were two people quickly falling out of love.
The pressure of their individual responsibilities is crippling their relationship, and neither of them seem to be able to do anything about it. So when Clovis comes back into the picture and teams up with Padmé to try and bring an end this supposed embezzlement scandal, tensions run high and conflict becomes inevitable.
Anakin despises Clovis for refusing to leave Padmé alone, and Clovis hates Anakin for stopping him from wooing Padmé. There’s definitely some aspects of a typical, cliched romantic triangle going on here, but it doesn’t feel forced or unnecessary. Quite the contrary, in fact. Instead, it’s a vital part of the plot that actually benefits all the characters for the better.
As I mentioned above, it gives a realness to Anakin and Padmé’s marriage that was sorely lacking from the films. They obviously love each other, but can’t get over the falsehoods that make up the foundation of their relationship and it’s tearing them apart. I really have to applaud the writers for creating this dynamic between them so relatable, as it gives the episodes an extra layer of depth that does wonders for the story.
There’s even a beautifully poignant scene where Anakin confides in Obi-Wan for advice and we get to see a closer look at the brotherhood between the two Jedi. It’s a short moment, but one of my favorites from the season, and even the series as a whole simply because of the way it further emphasizes their friendship, and makes the events of Revenge of the Sith all the more heartbreaking.
Even Clovis is given a depth that I didn’t expect to see, as we’re given a glimpse into his past that explains and perhaps even warrants the man’s behavior. Adopted as an orphan at age 12, he grew up alongside powerful politicians that created in Clovis a crushing desire to bring pride to his new family. He’s well-meaning, but certainly misguided, and it’s a development I was very happy to see.
One of my absolute favorite moments from these episodes is the eventual brawl that transpires between Anakin and Clovis when Anakin walks in on Clovis attempting to kiss Padmé. It’s a relentless, brutal fight that was surprising and exciting. Seeing Anakin just snap like that was a great prelude to his eventual corruption in Revenge of the Sith, and his actions were suitably creepy.
The performances in these episodes were also spectacular, with Matt Lanter and Catherine Taber both delivering poignant, emotional performances as Anakin and Padmé respectively. These two share a chemistry that was obviously lacking from the films, and I can only wish we had the chance to see more of them, as they are truly the best interpretations of these characters available.
The plot for these episodes moves at a quick pace, and keeps us on our toes as we’re dragged through conspiracies, sabotage, and an assassination attempt that is both exciting and refreshing. Seeing the fan-favorite Embo return is also a major plus, especially considering we get to see him really branch out and show off all his many skills, including riding his weaponized hat as a sled down a snowy mountainside.
The action might not be in high abundance, but it is well choreographed and exhilarating. The aforementioned mountainside chase is a real highlight, and is easily one of the most enjoyable sequences from the arc. There’s also a handful of quick, but violent, firefights that lead up to the climax that were also a blast to watch, and even demonstrated just how brutal the Clone Wars could be.
However, the story does get bogged down in some of its own plot from time to time. Even though I’ve enjoyed seeing the political side of Star Wars more than other people, I still got a little bored when the dialogue began to consist almost entirely of political gibberish. It’s not as overwhelming as it has been in the past, but still felt a little heavy-handed.
I’m also a little confused as to where these episodes fall in The Clone Wars timeline, as they were originally planned to air somewhere in the middle of Season 5 but were cut at the last minute. I have to assume they took place before the final two arcs of the last season, as Ian Abercombie is the voice of Palpatine again, but we don’t really have any way to know for sure. Not a crippling flaw, but still an irritating one.
The final climax, however, is a pure adrenaline rush, especially considering it’s introduced by an awesome aerial fight between the Republic and the Separatists that was quite the spectacle. Seeing all of Clovis’ plans unravel before his eyes was more tragic than I thought it ever could be, especially since I actually found myself hoping he’d get a second chance.
Having him sacrifice himself in the end in order to save Padmé was an expected, but still clever turn of events that ended the arc in somber, yes satisfactory way . Voice actor veteran Robin Atkin Downes should really be applauded for humanizing a character we should all despise into someone who is actually quite relatable.
Overall though, these were some truly fascinating, even exciting episodes that are much better than they have any right to be. Thanks to some great writing and dialogue, it develops the relationship between Anakin and Padmé in a way we’ve never seen before, and even manages to create a sympathetic character out of Rash Clovis.
It’s not quite as impactful or powerful as the previous arc, but still does enough things right that makes it stands out as one of the better episode arcs of the past two seasons, and sets up the events in Revenge of the Sith in a brilliantly poignant way.