Including Anakin in an episode focused on Padmé is as natural as including Anakin in an episode with Obi-Wan – they often go together, and the relationship between Anakin and Padmé is just as important to “Revenge of the Sith” as the nature of the Force or Order 66. However, it seems a pity that an arc that could have been about Padmé wielding power in her arena of choice – the senate – leaves her so powerless. “The Rise of Clovis” is directed by Danny Keller and written by Christian Taylor. Seeing Anakin fight without using the Force brings something new to a pretty stock story. However, Padmé, whose career is based around keeping entire planets from fighting, doesn’t show any negotiation skills here.
Clovis treats himself like a tragic figure while playing into Dooku’s hands. One of the better scenes in “The Rise of Clovis” shows Anakin’s room, filled with toy models and posters of the Boonta Eve podrace. The activities he chooses to de-stress – and the fact that a Jedi has a hobby that emphasizes the acquisition of possessions – feel true to his character. Other details in the animation really sell the characters too – Clovis shakes when Dooku suggests the banks might fall, Anakin’s expression twists just before he attacks, Clovis shifts his cheeks around when he drinks.
Like the episode before it, “The Rise of Clovis” presents an Anakin who feels more petty than tragic: “As your husband, I demand that you tell the chancellor that you are stepping down” brings him into the realm of power-hungry dictator somewhat early. He treats Padmé the way the Empire will treat the entire Galactic Senate. In a small scale, though, the tale of an unbalanced marriage comments on real-world arguments and divorce more than it does on the Star Wars story, and it’s uncomfortable to see Anakin try to order around someone many years older and in a more respected career than him – especially when he tells Padmé she has no stake in the argument over her own affections.
The scene of an almost-breakup between Padmé and Anakin seems meant to make viewers think Padmé might actually end up with Clovis, and at least features Padmé putting her foot down and letting Anakin know that his behavior crossed a line. However, the viewers know that their marriage will survive until an even worse conflict in Revenge of the Sith, which leaves it feeling out of place. “The Rise of Clovis” was very much a middle piece of the story and left the final episode with a lot of drama to wrap up, but I have trouble rooting for the players here – Clovis risks everything to get the Separatists to pay their interest, Padmé is on the defensive, and Anakin practically seems like a worse husband here than in the parts of Revenge of the Sith where he wasn’t actually strangling his wife.