The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot
We’re off to Mandalore! We will learn over the course of nearly every piece of Star Wars content that even mentions it in passing that Bad Stuff happened, or is happening, in or around this place because everyone there is insane.
It’s had a pretty rough history, but no sweat: right now, that’s all behind them! They’re led by a staunch pacifist who also leads the larger group of Neutral Systems in the galaxy, and they are committed to staying out of the war. They’re also totally sure that all the violent crazy people that used to wreak havoc on Mandalore have since died out in exile on one of the planet’s moons. So basically, as I understand it, they sent all of their villains to Space Australia, and for reasons unexplained they just assume all of them have died out. OK then. Well, I’ve had to accept more ridiculous premises from Star Wars before, so whatever. Anyways, of course, as we’ll soon discover, the Good Guys were wrong, the Bad Guys are indeed still around and now they’re brewing up some new badness.
We Meet Again at Last: Old Flame Edition
Our pompous ginger Jedi friend Obi-Wan Kenobi gets called to Mandalore, to a palace that looks like a…New Age church?, because someone’s been spreading rumors that Mandalore’s leader is planning to go decidedly un-neutral and join up with the Separatist Forces of Eeeevil.
It turns out the leader in question, a Duchess named Satine Kryze, is both a Feisty Blonde and a woman Obi-Wan was/is in love with. She’s also pretty into him, too, marking neither the first nor the last person in the Star Wars canon to be either obsessed with, in love with, or otherwise preoccupied with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
We will learn later in this arc, when Anakin helpfully asks Obi-Wan for some backstory on our behalf, that he and Qui-Gon once spent an extended amount of time in camp with her in the pre-Episode 1 timeframe, protecting her from bounty hunters – and yes, of COURSE it was bounty hunters, because we all know the rule in this universe at this point in galactic history is that If It’s Not the Sith, It Is Literally Almost Always Bounty Hunters. Did I mention that not only is Satine a political ruler with a royal title, but one who also happens to wear utterly ridiculous headpieces and outfits as part of the gig? Can a sect of primarily celibate space monks have a “type”? If so, apparently this is it.
Anyways, as he walks in, Prime MinisterAalmec (shown above) tells him that all these rumors about the Duchess are so much nonsense. Obi-Wan courteously ties us back to the central saga storyline by pointing out that, well, a guy in Mandalorian armor named Jango Fett did recently try to murder him a few times, and the Prime Minister is basically like “Pssssht. That dude was just some punk bounty hunter. He probably was just Mandalorian cosplaying. No murderers here! Don’t be silly.”
It’s then that the Duchess makes her extremely formal entrance.
A Duchess and a Guy Like Me
Later in this arc, the revelation of the ooh-la-la history between Obi-Wan and Satine will lead to a couple of delightfully awkward Obi-Wan/Anakin exchanges, which by themselves make this series of episodes worth the price of admission, especially if you like feeling secondhand embarrassment for the purportedly bold and brave and attachment-free Heroes of the Universe as they discuss how one of them has a crush on somebody. (Author’s Note: I sure as hell do.)
Anyways, Satine will immediately go on the defensive about why Obi-Wan’s here, and insist that someone’s been telling lies about her – she’s a hardcore pacifist, which is something she will only mention approximately 4,000 times again after this, and she’s insulted that people could believe she’s got a hidden agenda of violence and also Mandalore is peaceful now. PEACEFUL I SAY.
But first, Obi-Wan, possibly because he’s in love with her, but also at least in part because his default reflex when dealing with literally anyone who seems even remotely hostile towards him is to hit on them, is like oh HEY Duchess…
She gets all huffy (which, really, that could be my entire recap of any episode with Satine in it. She gets huffy, the end.)
Obi-Wan is sort of apologetic about the reason he’s here, but throws back: “Well I dunno how PEACEFUL Mandalore is, though — this one guy in Mando armor totally attacked a Republic ship recently, and I have the receipts to prove it, baby. SO THERE.” He busts out the hologram of the Mysterious Mando Badass:
She backtracks a bit after this and suggests that they take a totally platonic walk to discuss things further, something that makes him briefly look like he’s going to need a minute to collect himself because A) OH MY GOD GOING ON A WALK WITH A GIRL and also B) doesn’t he almost sort of LOOK like he’s like “oh God, the writers are up to something here, aren’t they? Something tragic is about to be added to my backstory again, isn’t it? Damn it.”
I should mention that these two have been talking for all of 30 seconds and there’s already a lot of subtext going on. She is irritated at the situation, but still seems secretly happy that they sent him because she loooooves him, and of course as you’ve seen there’s a lot of body language happening and “handsome” this and “beautiful” that and Meaningful Looks being exchanged, and really, my first thought when watching this episode was “…boy is Anakin gonna have a field day with this one.”
This is also where we get introduced to their snarky “my worldview versus yours” repartee, which you better get used to now, as it’s basically the only way they are allowed to hit on each other, so they do it pretty much constantly for the next three episodes. The two head out to go on their Walk of Being Just Friends, and that image above is him taking her hand to guide her out, and just…
A) It is so goofy – I mean LOOK AT THEIR CLOTHES, for one thing;
B) It is so overwrought and dramatic;
C) It is really lovely and that picture looks like it could be an illustration from a kid’s fairy tale book and I kind of want to marry it. At its best moments, TCW really nailed the whole “living painting” aspect of Star Wars.
The best part of this scene’s conclusion may be Prime Minister Almec’s reaction as they walk past him out the door. YOU GUYS. The Jedi are MOST transparent people in the entire fucking universe when it comes to matters of the heart. Like, they get Special Feelings for someone and it’s like they might as well just start mailing out Save the Dates to the entire Galaxy because EVERYONE. KNOWS.
Recurring Theme: The Death Watch is Not A Shitty Band
As Obi-Wan and Satine take their 100% Platonic Constitutional, he compliments her on her progress towards building a better weirdass crazy planet that is made up of 90% glass maze for some reason:
She’s like “oh but make no mistake: Mandalore is still the #1 Galactic Problem Child Planet. We’ve got some issues.” She expands on how she’s pretty sure the Death Watch (a Mandalorian terrorist cabal, and not, in fact, a shitty band,) is who Obi-Wan is looking for. They want to bring Mandalore back to its violent roots. However, she also says that thus far they’re a small splinter group, primarily based on the moon Concordia, and they mostly just spray paint “SATINE SUCKS” or whatever all over the place.
10:00AM Appt: Conf Call with Associate Sith
Meanwhile, on Concordia, a guy in Mando armor is holo-Skyping with Count Dooku, and oh what a very huge surprise that Sidious is behind all of this. The Mandalorian asks Dooku why he doesn’t seem super nervous about the fact that there’s a Jedi running around sticking his nose into their business. Their plan was to overthrow the Duchess so that the Death Watch could take over Mandalore, and Dooku assures him that this is all going as designed: all they need is for the Republic to send in forces to defend Mandalore from the Forces of Evil, and poof: everyone on Mandalore will rebel and join the Death Watch and Satine will be pacifist toast.
You Sold Out, Man
Satine and Obi-Wan have now moved away from talking about domestic terrorism and are onto other, more romantic topics: namely, jabbing each other about which one of them is more Blind to the Obvious In Their Foolish Ways (spoiler alert: both of them are, in multiple ways.)
Satine gets things started by telling Obi-Wan that he sucks at his job, and just…LOL. I love this woman so much. She gives absolutely no fucks and he is so into it. So she’s like “blahblahblah peacekeepers aren’t supposed to be badassing their way across the universe and fucking shit up all the time and jumping out of windows, they should be here servicing me instead.” (She maybe doesn’t say this last part.) Obi-Wan is like oh YES, Duchess: and then we’ll go to Fantasyland and ride the teacups and make the Separatists some friendship bracelets and we’ll all sing bloody Kumbaya:
A central part of these two and their relationship is that when she met him, back in those halcyon days of bounty hunters and living on the run and Jedi Trainee Hair, the universe was less complicated overall, and the Jedi were way more into that whole chill, mostly nonviolent monk thing. It probably didn’t hurt that at the time, Obi-Wan was still running around the Galaxy as the apprentice of Head Jedi Hippie Qui-Gon Jinn, which may have had a mellowing effect on him. “Laid back” is not exactly a phrase we’d use to describe his current vibe, though, but maybe that’s because since then the universe has turned upside-down and he also had to put in something like a decade being Anakin’s unprepared single dad. (Of course, “laid back” doesn’t really describe Little Miss World Peace here, either.)
Nowadays, though, we’ve got a universe in chaos thanks to the Phantom Menace, which means Obi-Wan’s doing a lot less meditating and a lot more killing people than she’s particularly OK with. And she calls him out on this A LOT. She’s a little bit of a lecture-y spitfire, so just picture all the high-horse sanctimoniousness of Obi-Wan with all the back-talking crankiness of Anakin, in Padme’s clothes. She throws out there that he’s a sellout:
The thing I find interesting about these two in their arcs is that it gave the writers another opportunity to use to show how very much every single person in this universe was getting snowed (directly or indirectly) by Sidious, to the extent that no matter what course of action you opted for, you were still helping him. Satine is ultimately helping him by refusing to fight, and Obi-Wan is unknowingly fighting in the bad guy’s army against the bad guy’s other army, and they both are adamant that they’ve got the right idea on how to deal with things.
Recurring Theme: We Interrupt This Emotional Conversation To Bring You An Explosion
Moments later a huge explosion happens just a short distance away. Obi-Wan’s not exactly making himself hard to read on this situation:
In the wake of the explosion, he Death Watch’s symbol appears:
Obi-Wan points out that this goes far beyond just some punk kids setting off firecrackers:
I’m In Charge of Security Here M’Lady
Obi-Wan is all “OK PEOPLE EVERYONE SHUT UP JEDI BUSINESS YOU’RE COMING WITH ME, FAIR MAIDEN”:
As soon as he says this, a man flees from the scene and Obi-Wan chases after him, chasing him up to a balcony and ordering him to stop and speak to him. The guy instead chooses to dive off the balcony to his death instead.
Obi-Wan runs back down the stairs and Satine, down below, rushes to the man’s side as he dies, speaking in the dialect of Space Australia, aka Concordia. Obi-Wan hilariously says “…I didn’t kill him!” and Satine snits back that she knows this, and besides, if he had, she wouldn’t be talking to him anymore Because She is a Pacifist. She is! Did you know? AGAIN: PEACEFUL I SAY.
Obi-Wan says that in order to figure out what’s going on, he needs to go to Concordia to find out more about the bomber, and Satine sassily tells him that she’ll have to go with him and introduce him to the Governor there to smooth things over. As she walks away, Obi-Wan makes that face he makes at people who annoy him with their hotheadedness and/or impulsiveness, whom he is still 10000% game to hook up with (see also: Ventress, Anakin, Quinlan Vos, etc.)
It Does My Heart Good to See You Alive
Satine and Obi-Wan travel to Concordia and are greeted by Concordia’s Governor, Pre Vizsla, a guy who oozes disingenuousness like, from word #1. He tells Satine he’s gravely concerned for her, and invites the two of them to stick around and see if they can’t get to the bottom of all this.
Recurring Theme: Just Go Make Out Already For God’s Sake
Obi-Wan, apparently still on a high from his turn as a detective in Attack of the Clones, decides to go off on his own to investigate and tells Satine to keep Vizsla occupied during dinner, which sounds much more suggestive on paper than it plays on screen.
He’s off to check out the mining facilities they have in spades here in Space Australia, and see if they’re still operational. He hands a little earpiece thing so they can stay in touch while he’s gone in case SHE gets in trouble (ha ha ha.) They have some goofy back-and-forth about how oh-he’s-so-aggressive and oh-she’s-so-pacifist-and-is-against-this and oh my God, you guys, I love these two but JESUS. And we’re not even through the first freaking episode of this arc yet.
He takes off and Satine goes to chat with Vizsla.
My Dinner with Pre Vizsla
While Obi-Wan goes off to check things out, Satine and Vizsla have a drink. I would like to note that there is a surprising amount of booze consumption in TCW, and about 80% of it involves Satine. She explains away Obi-Wan’s absence by saying he’s delayed by an emergency need to meditate. LOL.
Vizsla then pretty much lays it all out for her in Standard Star Wars Hidden Villain Fashion by slyly noting that surely he knows who must be behind all of this:
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan’s Brush With Death
Obi-Wan, meanwhile, has ended up in a dark warehouse-style room at a mining facility, and within like 14 seconds a badass in Mandalorian armor tries to kill him. He ends up, after a scuffle, lightsaberless and hanging upside down on a conveyor belt.
You Know How They Are
Back at Vizsla’s Castle Frankenstein, he’s starting to wonder what the fuck is taking Obi-Wan so long. What the hell is that guy doing in there, and do we even want to know?
She hilariously says that the Jedi are just really into going all-out in everything they do, so he must be really into meditating this evening.
My reactions to this are twofold:
1. This somehow almost seems sexual
2. LOL to the idea that Obi-Wan is going to do anything, even meditating, to excess. (Unless we’re talking about stuff like jumping out of moving vehicles, hitting on people, or dramatically disrobing.)
Obi-Wan starts talking to her in her earpiece, to let her know that he’s about to be killed and she needs to come help him. She gets a little flustered while trying to carry on a conversation with Vizsla and Obi-Wan simultaneously, and ultimately gets out of the room by telling Vizsla that she’s not feeling well and needs some fresh air. She hops on a speeder bike and starts following Obi-Wan to the location on his tracking device.
Recurring Theme: Thanks For Rescuing Me, Loser
Things are looking bad for Obi-Wan, and LOL: this is not a trope unique to Star Wars, but I love how these bad guys could have just shot him to death by now and been done with it, but no — they’re going to send him through a slow conveyor to be crushed to death instead.
Satine arrives, and asks him where he’s at, and Obi-Wan goes into his default mode of being ANNOYED with people who are coming to save him:
She throws some of the Mando Badasses off her trail so she can sneak in and rescue her ingrate of a boyfriend:
Is there a reason why the heroes in this series (OK, let’s be real, 80% of the time it’s Obi-Wan) are so often absolute assholes whenever anyone saves their lives? YEAH, THANKS FOR THE HELP. GOOD JOB, LOSER. You know, she could have just not shown up, Obi-Wan. Also maybe wait until she’s done saving you to start berating her?
Recurring Theme: Bicker About Something Because We Can’t Do Anything Else
Satine saves him in time, and he deals with the couple of bad guys who try to stop them, kicking their asses and leaving them in a heap on the floor. This happens mainly so that they can get back to sniping at each other about how Obi-Wan totally threw down and showed someone what’s what, and Satine is – brace yourself – against it! Pacifism!
OK, what the fuck, Satine? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THIS MAN (other than the obvious)? I mean, for fuck’s sake. WOULD YOU PREFER TO BE DEAD? (I wouldn’t be surprised, exactly: both of them kiiiiind of have a mild death wish, probably because their lives are full of regrets and the universe is a terrible place.)
He of course gives the sass right back:
And just…LOL. Oh for God’s sake:
Then she remarks that after all that he still hasn’t thanked her for saving his life, to which he replies that she “hasn’t changed much” and JUST WHATEVER, OBI-WAN. Both of you are so ridiculous. Also Satine, I’m pretty sure he’s still mad at Anakin for going to Geonosis to save him at the beginning of the war, so I wouldn’t hold your breath on that thank you.
We conclude this total soap opera moment. Now, as they leave the building, or try to, they encounter a whole slew of Death Watch members and then we’re led into the confrontation of the episode, and BOY it is worth it.
Recurring Theme: Snark In The Face Of Death
First, some Death Watchers start throwing down, and Obi-Wan makes sure to squeeze in a chance to make a snotty comment as the battle gets underway:
Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh Kenobi. You cutup. For you see, she is a Pacifist! Hence this joke! She cannot fight! She must simply stand there! Har! JUST GO GET THE BAD GUYS FFS.
Recurring Theme: I’m Not Who You Think I Am
It wouldn’t be Star Wars without someone revealing a hidden identity or motive. This time, it’s Pre Vizsla, who it turns out is actually a leading member of Death Watch, and who proceeds to challenge Obi-Wan to a duel while sassily throwing his cape over his shoulder because that is the law in the universe at this time. I presume Obi-Wan was kinda bummed that he left his own robe at home because we all know how much he loves, and excels at, the Dramatic Jedi Pre-Battle Disrobe.
I wish I could do justice to the beautiful gift from Star Wars heaven that is the dialogue occurring in this scene, but I can’t, so I will simply say that it includes Vizsla calling Satine’s pacifism and alliance with the Jedi (or, at least one of them,) a tarnish on all Mandaloriankind and then handing Obi-Wan his lightsaber to “defend her if you will” as though we have all suddenly been transported to the weirdest Ren Faire ever.
Ladies and Gentlemen, One of the Best Things Ever
Vizsla also, importantly, busts out this weapon:
This thing: OK. Let’s pause for a moment. Clearly it looks totally great and insane, in that it is a spookily glowing BLACK LIGHTSABER that has like, an actual sword-style blade. Its contributions to the canon based on looks alone are hereby fully acknowledged.
The best part, though, is its gloriously ornate story, which naturally Pre Vizsla takes the time to impart to Obi-Wan in this prelude to their confrontation: his ancestral Mandalorian warrior clan stole it from the Jedi temple the last time the Jedi blew it and the Republic imploded, and it’s been hanging out here all these years awaiting its destiny (which, spoiler alert, will also at one point involve Undead Partially-Robotic Darth Maul, Savage Oppress and the Emperor throwing down in one of the most wonderfully over the top battles in all of Star Wars history, for STARTERS.)
To all this I say: well played, Star Wars. Bravo. If I could throw a rose on the stage right now I would, because this is like the MOST Star Warsian storyline for anything ever. If the darksaber ever turns out to be someone’s long-lost sibling or figures out how to fly the Millennium Falcon, it’ll conquer the universe.
Recurring Theme: Our Great Escape
Anyways, this duel ends pretty swiftly because Kenobi? Is like, a complete badass in this one – pulling insane defensive moves, and jumping like a zillion feet in the air and force-pushing the crap out of Vizsla, who sort of just gives up like 2 minutes later and sends his henchmen after him instead with rocket-propelled explosives, forcing Obi-Wan to grab Satine and get the hell outta there.
They escape and drop to the floor as a ball of fire misses them, and Vizsla and his guys decide they’ll catch up with, and kill them later. (Good luck with that, Vizsla: Obi-Wan is one of those characters in Star Wars who falls into the “Can’t Really Be Killed” category.)
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gigantic Nerd Who Knows He Has It Going On
Satine and Obi-Wan wrap this segment up with an exchange wherein Obi-Wan claims his rescue as the “more daring” versus Satine’s last-minute stay of his execution earlier. It kind of kills me that he clearly THINKS he’s totally dashing in these arcs. I mean, it’s Kenobi, so he is, but he is also a spectacularly huge dork, so it kills me.
All Aboard the HMS Sexual Frustration
Part I of this arc concludes with Obi-Wan, Satine, Some Dude Named Senator Merrick and a few others standing outside the Coronet, a wonderfully ridiculous ship we’ll be covering in the next installment, preparing to head off to Coruscant. Obi-Wan states his belief that the Separatists must be backing the Death Watch, and Satine makes a pissy face and icily disagrees, throwing in “I thought YOU of all people would understand that I’m a pacifist and I don’t want the war to reach us here even if it means I get to look at your handsomeness more as result,” which may not be an exact quote.
Obi-Wan stands there sheepishly as she leaves to board the ship, and then lo and behold, here’s Anakin Skywalker, reporting for Bro Duty.
Obi-Wan tells him he’s glad to see him, which should tell you exactly how much emotional anguish Obi-Wan is experiencing that dealing with ANAKIN is a welcome reprieve for him:
Anakin’s like “oh no dude! What’s wrong who’s messing with you I’LL KILL THEM I’LL KILL EVERYONE” (OK, not really):
Obi-Wan is like “man, Pacifist Ladies are bumming me out“, as the two of them board the Coronet, headed for the next installment of this arc. See you next time!