The Clone Wars season 4 episode 15 review: Deception

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is on exceptionally strong form with its latest episode, Deception. Here's Cameron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.15 Deception

Ah, Clone Wars. Every now and then you come around with an episode that whacks the rest of the season out of the way and places itself firmly amongst the very best stories that Star Wars has to offer.

Deception, is such an episode.

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Moralo Eval, a criminal mastermind has been captured and imprisoned by Republic forces, but the Jedi discover he is behind a Separatist plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. And so a daring plan is hatched…

Actually, ‘daring’ is selling it rather short. Awesomely audacious would be a better description. Obi-Wan Kenobi fakes his death (though Yoda and Mace Windu are in on it) leaving Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano to pick up the pieces and hunt down their buddy’s ‘killer’, Rako Haardeen.

(As a sidenote, just how cruel are the Jedi? First they drag little Ani away from his mother and now they’re letting him think his mentor and BF is dead. The bastards!)

Anyway, this is where the plan takes its first turn. Obi-Wan undergoes some gruesome reconstructive surgery to transform the bearded Jedi into the bald, tatooed murderer Rako. The makers of the animated spin-off go to some lengths to demonstrate that the plan is not easy. It’s another deepy unsettlng scene from The Clone Wars but the unpleasantness continues.

Ben, as he rather amusingly refers to himself at one point, gets himself imprisoned as Rako – yes, it’s not unlike John Woo’s 1997 film, Face/Off (except the other guy isn’t roaming free). Quickly, the disguised Jedi makes contact with his target Moralo Eval where another twist is revealed – his cell mate is bounty hunter, Cad Bane. Doesn’t take long before the Jedi realise that Bane’s capture wasn’t “without purpose”.

The scenes in the prison, a futuristic Panopticon (and full points for that rather mature reference), are incredibly gritty and certainly adult in tone. Despite the fan-pleasing collection of aliens from both the Original and Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, the violence is not fantastical. Obi Wan is reduced to hand-to-hand combat, as revealing his Jedi powers would out him, sticking forks into inmates hands.

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Writer and Dark Skies co-creator, Brent Friedman, has woven an incredibly adult tale (complete with lurid lines such as, “Wow, I want to check his midi-chlorian count!”), plotting thoughtfully throughout; portraying the ‘bad guys’ as intelligent with an agenda of their own.

But that’s not enough here, however. Anakin’s leanings towards the Dark Side are also broached and it’s hard not to feel sorry for Tatooine’s finest. Skywalker’s anger at the murder of Kenobi awakes the Sith inside and the slightest touch of The Imperial March during the funeral scene’s score is tantalising.

At the heart of it, Deception is a rollicking Star Wars prison drama/action/thriller, the likes of which we’ve never seen previously. This is an episode which grips and holds without contestation and sets up, one hopes, a story arc of equal measure.

Read our review of the last episode, here.