By George Bate
The final season of The Clone Wars continued this week with the third installment of Ahsoka’s arc with the Martez sisters, a fun, yet inconsequential episode of the show. This episode picks up where the last episode left off, with Ahsoka and the Martez sisters being captured by the Pyke Syndicate for botching a delivery of spice and trying to escape from the clutches of the Pykes before it’s too late.
This episode emphasizes a more overarching issue with The Clone Wars overall at times pertaining to length of episode arcs. For instance, the Bad Batch arc that kicked this season off was entertaining and full of great character moments and plot points, but probably could have been reduced from 4 episodes to 3 episodes. Not only would this make the storytelling more concise, but it would also remove unnecessary moments or scenes that add very little to the characters and narrative. The current arc that “Dangerous Debt” is situated in suffers from a similar issue in that this is a 4 episode arc that could probably be reduced to 3 episodes still containing complex themes, interesting characters, and unique plot lines. And, while “Gone with a Trace” and “Deal No Deal” both serve solid purposes in reintroducing us to Ahsoka and setting the stage for the entire arc respectively, “Dangerous Debt” suffers from circular storytelling that finds the characters ending up in the exact place they started. This doesn’t mean the episode isn’t fun to watch, beautifully animated, expertly voice acted, and includes some great moments (all of which are true). However, the journey the characters go on this story does not progress their individual or collective arcs in a substantial way that makes the fact that they begin and end up in a Pyke prison reasonable. Some may compare this to the Canto Bight arc in The Last Jedi, in which Finn and Rose’s mission to disable hyperspace tracking fails. I would argue that Finn and Rose evolve as characters during this time, while the journey itself is entertaining and ties in nicely with the overarching themes of the film about failure. “Dangerous Debt,” conversely, doesn’t offer the same journey that justifies the ends.
That being said, this episode is still a really enjoyable 25 minutes of Star Wars content. Removing the aforementioned issues with this episode’s narrative importance, following Ahsoka and the Martez sisters’ adventures running spice is interesting to see. From a broader perspective, these episodes have added a lot to Ahsoka’s character beyond her time in the Jedi Order. We’re seeing that her values of helpfulness and kindness are not solely due to the fact that she was raised and trained by Jedi, but, rather, that Ahsoka is an intrinsically good person whose values stand independent of her teachers and influences. This is best exemplified by the fact that Ahsoka is present on this mission to begin with. Ahsoka became attached to Trace and believed that her new friend would be in danger if she blindly followed her sister on a spice run. Now, Ahsoka is paying the consequences of such attachment (something the Jedi would probably have disapproved of), but that doesn’t stop her unrelenting dedication to doing the right thing.
The continued dynamic between Ahsoka and Rafa was a highlight of this episode, especially given the reveal that the Martez’ parents were killed as a result of the Jedi’s actions. It’s nice to see The Clone Wars play around further with the idea of accountability as this war not only has obvious galaxy wide, political implications, but also impacts individuals and families. The MCU has explored accountability with the aftermath of the destruction of Sovokia in Captain America: Civil War, as has the DCEU with the aftermath of the destruction of Metropolis in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To see similar themes explored in The Clone Wars, in which the actions of our heroes, while well intentioned and for the greater good, carry heavy consequences. This reveal provided even more reason behind Ahsoka’s continued concealment of her identity as a former Jedi, setting the stage for the likely confession in next week’s episode. And, to top it all off, Rafa implied that it was none other than Luminara Unduli who tried to console the sisters after the death of their parents. This was really intelligent writing as Luminara has a hardened, almost emotionally distant reputation in The Clone Wars, which obviously did not help in consoling two young girls who just lost their parents to the very war Luminara and her kind are fighting.
Ultimately, however, the real appeal of this episode came in the few brief moments that teased the upcoming siege of Mandalore. Not only did we get a reintroduction to Bo-Katan Kryze, but an unexpected appearance from Ursa Wren, Sabine’s mother who appeared in Star Wars Rebels. It’s obvious that the final episode arc is the most eagerly anticipated part of this final season among Star Wars fans and to see some of the seeds planted to weave Ahsoka into that plot is really exciting. And, especially after the events of Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian season one, any and all Star Wars set in, around, or about Mandalore are going to be eagerly anticipated by many. In that sense, the fact that this episode included hints at what is to come regarding Mandalore and how Ahsoka will become involved in the conflict is definitely a highlight.
In all, while “Dangerous Debt” had some entertaining and thoughtful sequences, it emphasized the extent to which this arc should probably be condensed into three episodes. It did provide some intriguing insight into the Martez sisters’ resentment of the Jedi and the accountability the Jedi must have for their actions, in addition to teasing the Mandalore arc that will conclude this season. This arc overall has been hit and miss so far, with last week’s episode being far superior over the first episode. I expect next week’s conclusion to this arc will tie things together nicely and set the stage for what’s to come in Ahsoka’s future.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney+