Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 6, episode 5, “An Old Friend” starts with some striking color and animation but immediately bogs itself down in prequel-era politics and low stakes. In this episode, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Christian Taylor, Padmé is dispatched to the planet Scipio and finds that the Banking Clan may be out of money. That would be the main threat of the episode – if not for the bounty hunter Embo, who saves the day with his sleek canine companion and a creative action scene where he snowboards on his trademark hat. The third threat is to Padmé’s marriage: her old friend Rush Clovis is back.
The fact that she’s married in secret means that he attempts significant stares (still The Clone Wars’ preferred method of indicating romance since the Onderon arc) but she completely ignores them. Anakin, however, does not. Anakin’s rage takes over him in this episode, and his possessiveness is in-character but annoying. “I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters” is more appropriate for a backwater farm boy than Anakin’s sarcastic “We can only hope” is for a Jedi Knight. I guess now we can see where Luke got it.
“An Old Friend” could have been worse. Embo held it all together – without him threatening the proceedings, Anakin would come off as even more deluded in his panic. This episode establishes which characters know which pieces of information very well: in one of my favorite lines, Clovis wonders why some “pilot” would care what happened between him and Padmé. The fact that he doesn’t refer to Anakin as a Jedi shows both scorn and ignorance of Anakin’s importance.
Padmé, who despite her central role in the films is one of the less frequently used characters in The Clone Wars, holds her own pretty well in “An Old Friend.” Although Anakin is the one that drives the trio to safety, Padmé pilots a speeder for the majority of the final action scene, and has a funny moment where she says “Did we lose him?” a second before she almost runs into Embo. That kind of self-deprecating comedy helps to humanize a woman who became queen at age 14. The second most useful person in the episode is Teckla Minnau, Padmé’s handmaiden. It was nice to see her think on the fly and actively serve Padmé, although Teckla disappears from the episode about halfway through and is seemingly forgotten even by Padmé.
The aesthetics of the episode are memorable, with wide, snowy mountain landscapes outside and heavy bronze gears inside the Muun buildings. The Muun architecture had a Guillermo del Toro feel, with lots of detailed oddments, interlocking teeth, and moving parts. Creative art and Embo and Padmé being good at things can’t quite make up for low stakes, an Anakin who threatens to leave his wife in a cell, and an excess of banking, though.