Sunday, October 21, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "The Soft War" Episode 5.04

Clone Wars you had me at ElectroGuillotine. Of course I think we finally found a Clone Wars episode that old Dr. Joe Guillotin would oppose.

This week on Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

"Struggles often begin and end with the truth."After a rebel attempt to rescue Onderon's true king, Ramsis Dendup, an unexpected ally steps forward to halt Dendup's execution and aid the rebel cause.


As the rebels campaign inside the walls of Iziz intensifies, they attempt to win the hearts and minds of the population though well coordinated attacks and holo-speeches to the populace. Saw and Steela disagree on strategy and Saw is captured in a solo attempt to break King Dendup out of his imprisonment. Meanwhile Ahsoka is ordered by the Jedi Council to take a less active role in the rebellion, so that the Jedi can accurately assess the rebels success or failure.  The rebels stage an assault on the public execution of Saw and King Dendup, with the help of General Tandin and Onderon's army they are able to escape the clutches of the Separatists but only once again with the intervention of Ahsoka is General Tandin able to escape and unite his army forces with the rebels.


This episode presents lots to digest.  Of the three episodes so far in the Onderon arc, this is clearly my favorite.  I was hoping we would get a richer development of General Kalani because the character model is so cool, but the fact that he wasn't really the focus of the episode is probably a good thing when you look at what we did get in the episode.

I think the easiest way to look at this week's story is to take some of the main characters individually.

With Saw we see him really struggling with subordinating himself to his sister's leadership. He is headstrong and always thinks he is right.  His ill advised attempt to rescue King Dendup results in his capture and almost his along with the King's execution.  We also see Saw's strength in his ability to resist torture and maintain his convictions.  His debate with General Tandin is a pivotal moment for Saw's character and for the episode as a whole.  For the entire arc Saw has been deriding the use of "words" to win their war.  With the defection of General Tandin, which Saw was the catalyst for we see Saw potentially recognizing the value of words over violence and a potential major step forward for his character.

With Steela we see the strains of leadership. To quote Shakespeare, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."  Steela not only has to make the decision to potentially sacrifice the life of her brother to focus the rebels' resources on rescuing King Dendup. She also has to deal with her own feelings for Lux.  In a quite scene between Lux and Steela, we have Steela push away Lux's romantic attraction.  Is this Steela attempting to isolate herself to keep her judgment from being influenced by her emotions? Is she trying to play Lux into turning his romantic attention back on Ahsoka, in the hopes that it will draw Ahsoka deeper into helping the rebels?

With Ahsoka we have her struggling with her duty and following orders versus her instinct to help.  Eventually she gives in to her desire to help and rescues General Tandin.  This comes after she almost intervenes to help the rebels as their initial assault on the execution fails and they are captured. The best part about the way Ahsoka's internal conflict was written in this episode is that the focus was not on her feelings towards Lux. She wanted to intervene to help the rebels and then she did intervene to save the life of General Tandin.  We also see the episode end with a potential rekindling of the Luxsoka romance as Lux appears to turn his flirtatious attention from Steela to Ahsoka.

As I noted in the introduction I really thought the ElectroGuillotine was very cool.  It is also worth noting that King Rash has a nasty habit of wasting fruit.  My biggest quibble with the episode when I first watched it was the rebels failing to assassinate King Rash given multiple opportunity's. Steela could have taken him out with her sniper rifle when the rebel's assault began, any of the rebels could have killed him after the smoke bombs went off, General Tandin could have killed him.  Of course I also thought the droids would kill him to shoot through his body and get to General Tandin before Ahsoka intervened. As a friend pointed out on Twitter, the cold blooded killing of King Rash would have been a morally questionable act for the rebels.  I can see this and it makes sense.  The problem is that realistically the only thing legitimizing the Separatist presence on Onderon is King Rash's approval of it. Removing King Rash makes the Separatist occupation illegitimate and makes clear to the people that the Separatists are their for their own reasons.

In the end it's a small criticism for an episode where we got some really interesting character development and a very tight story packed into 22-minutes.


The Soft War gets a 8.5.  Great story, lots of character development and sets the stage for an action packed final episode in the story arc.

Direct Link to Watch The Clone Wars: The Soft War on

Next Time on The Clone Wars: Tipping Points (5.05)

From TV Guide's blurb of the episode: "The rebels take control of Onderon as the king falls, but their victory comes with a sobering cost."

Predictions time, both King Rash and King Dendup die. General Tandin becomes King and Steela relinquishes her control of the rebels to Saw  who becomes the new commander of Onderon's army.  Steela and Lux get together and Ahsoka returns to the Jedi trying to deal with the happiness of victory and confusion over her relationship with Lux.


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