This Star Wars: The Clone Wars review contains spoilers.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 4
Some Star Wars: The Clone Wars stories reflect on the clones as conscripted soldiers from birth. Usually, this comes in the form of world-building, like a clone-only bar. Sometimes parallels are drawn between the clones and Anakin, who went from slave to Jedi with no freedom in between.
“Unfinished Business” does not opt for even subtle critique of the clones’ situation, instead telling a high-energy war story. And that’s okay! I’ll forgive The Clone Wars for dropped emotional through-lines. Seven seasons in, those through-lines are clearly not what the show is about. The core characters in this arc still work.
As the Republic launches a two-pronged assault against a Separatist assembly plant, clone trooper Echo’s loyalty is called into question after being hooked up to an enemy computer for months. The moments where the direction and writing suggest Echo might be a deeply planted enemy agent are tense but not deep. A few lingering shots from the camera on Echo’s face invites the audience’s suspicion. And the Bad Batch also suspect him. Again, the script isn’t interested in linking the Bad Batch’s dislike of regular clones to their wariness of Echo.
This scrutiny does not extend very far, however. Some drama is dissipated by the fact that Echo is immediately allowed to jack into a Republic military computer upon his return home. This is one of a couple of hiccups in logic in this episode that threw me out of the scene. Later in the episode, Mace Windu needs to diffuse a bomb by pushing buttons with the Force to key in the deactivation code. Aside from the fact that this is a surprisingly boring use of the galaxy’s magical energy, the numbered keys are labeled with letters.
As an action-heavy episode, though, “Unfinished Business” fulfills the promise of the Clone Wars in a fun and straightforward way. This is a classic adventure story, told a little more seriously than other parts of the show. It lands somewhere in the middle when it comes to the wildly swinging tone of The Clone Wars overall. Republic bomber starships dive toward the assembly plant in beautiful and deadly trajectories. Clones compete to see who can take out the most droids, and the sniper’s clever technology is a highlight. The villain laughs (not as much of a supervillain cackle as it could have been) and moves exactly like the spider his alien species is modeled after.
The Bad Batch themselves continue to be the silliest part of these episodes. I’m thoroughly tired of Wrecker’s childish enthusiasm for blowing things up, although he certainly seems to have been embraced in the wider fandom.
Instead of Echo’s potential betrayal becoming a larger plot point, the ticking clock is an actual ticking bomb, which gives the latter half of the episode a sense of urgency strangely disconnected from the emotional arc of the characters. Again, this is par for the course for The Clone Wars, so I’m of two minds on whether to just give it a pass.
Echo and Rex continue to be the heart of the episode. Rex’s tender gestures when Echo is wounded provided lots of pathos. Free from the Separatist machine, Echo now looks ashen, his head studded with metal access ports. It’s very cool, and I almost wish he had kept some of his more obvious cyborg parts. It’s pretty hard to hide the missing forearm, so that stays too. I love a little bit of body horror in my Star Wars.
At first, Dee Bradley Baker differentiates Echo’s voice from that of the other clones by making him sound flat and mechanical, but the effect quickly goes away. I wish it had stayed. As always, it’s impressive that Baker can make what is essentially the same voice sound like so many different characters. (Even if, as my Blaster Canon co-host Saf points out, his New Zealander accent isn’t convincing.)
Most of the episode follows the clones in classic military science fiction scenarios. A hallway fight, in particular, made me feel like I was playing a video game. And that’s a compliment to the show, which finally nailed it’s tone in this arc, or at least, did so most of the time. The Jedi also appear as commanding generals. I’m risking being repetitive by saying the thrill of seeing them on screen never gets old. The promise of “Jedi in their prime,” once essentially a myth in the history of the Star Wars galaxy and now available in full in both The Clone Wars and the upcoming High Republic line, remains so cool. As a bonus, Anakin Skywalker shows off the season’s improved facial animation with a nod to Revenge of the Sith.
Mace Windu doesn’t get nearly long enough of an action sequence to show off his lightsaber skills, but his personality is fully on display. And Mace offering the option of surrender to the droids is a great moment, showing how the Jedi Master can be both charming and intimidating. It makes me wonder, as a clone does later in the episode, whether we should actually feel a little bit sorry for the clankers.
Overall, I’m glad the Bad Batch arc is over. The Ahsoka arc coming up next well will be the first truly new The Clone Wars material in years, and will probably feel completely different because of it. Placing the Bad Batch arc first means fans who have already seen the unfinished story reels won’t know what’s coming next, and that’s exciting. If you’ve never watched The Clone Wars before, the Bad Batch arc was a good summary of what the show is like. Now, on to something truly new.