The Mandalore Plot: Holy Mando Commando, Obi-Wan!

1 02 2010

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Friday’s episode, The Mandalore Plot, is the first of a three-part story arc. It marks The Clone Wars debut of the Mandalorians and promises to be a crowd-pleasing addition to Season 2. Here’s the breakdown:

Obi-Wan heads to the neutral planet of Mandalore in an effort to clear up rumors that the Duchess Satine is secretly building an army of Death Watch Mandalorian commandos.

The Monkey: Mandalorians. Period. What once was an obscure reference to a background bounty hunter in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi has become a beast all its own. In fact, I would argue that the fan frenzy around Mandalorians (and all things Fett) rivals even the Jedi!

It is definitely a treat to see this mysterious group brought to life in The Clone Wars. Seeing jet-packs in use and hearing Jango Fett’s signature pew pew blaster noises were nice touches. Aside from the Mandalorian commandos themselves (who are actually on the moon of Concordia), the planet Mandalore was a set-design masterpiece. Just when I think The Clone Wars team has exhausted world-building ideas and designs, they surprise me. And in this episode, they blew me away. From the chandeliers to the shrubs, the new spacecraft designs to Satine’s wardrobe, the design of this episode was the best we’ve seen in both Clone Wars seasons so far.

Audiences were also introduced to a special new weapon…an ancient, black-bladed, machete-style lightsaber; however…

The Weasel: …the introduction of such a unique weapon raised some questions in my continuity-conscious mind. The wielder of the weapon (identity to remain anonymous for those who don’t like spoilers) explains that it was stolen from the Jedi of the Old Republic (just how many “Old” Republics are there?); but the ancient lightsabers we’ve seen in Tales of the Jedi were powerpack-operated contraptions (protosabers)…hmmm. I’m not opposed to introducing new things, and all in all, I think the new lightsaber was badass. But I’m beginning to see why authors like Karen Traviss have been wary about the effect The Clone Wars will have on previously established continuity, especially in regards to the Mandalorians. In fact, Karen Traviss has stepped aside from writing any more Star Wars books, due to some conflict with her extensive Mandalorian-centered story-lines and the disruption caused by future Clone Wars episodes (read more about the controversy here).

Back to the episode: this was definitely a set-up episode; nothing really happened. The “secret” baddie was obvious from the start, and besides confirming what the audience already knew (there is, in fact, a plot on Mandalore) the episode didn’t progress any further. I’m hoping (and pretty confident) that subsequent episodes will be more fleshed out. And hopefully will answer some questions: what’s Jango Fett’s connection? Will we see Boba? Fans are already salivating.

Great introduction to a promising story arc. And best design work, hands-down, of any Clone Wars episode to date. Can’t wait for part 2 and 3!

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Are you concerned with how The Clone Wars will affect continuity? Share your thoughts about The Mandalore Plot in the comments!

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