The Clone Wars chase “A Distant Echo” in a Thematically Wonky Episode whose Standout Moments Elevate Everything That is Merely Average

With the revelation that the long thought-dead clone, Echo, might not only be alive but also the source of the Separatists’ inside information on the Republic’s tactics, Rex and The Bad Batch team up with Anakin to learn the truth on a distant Separatist controlled world.

I do have to keep reminding reminding myself that, despite my maturity and my sophistication, The Clone Wars is a series built for an audience that is quite a bit younger than I am and, thusly, this show, despite the fact that it is great when it’s not giving us Jar Jar episodes, is not going to be the most mature or sophisticated show.

Is than an excuse? Well… yeah… it is. We’ve seen The Clone Wars deal with the horrors of war, death, PTSD, and evils within: I’m not sure why, thematically, they quite often drop the ball when it comes to character parallels, especially when they lay it out in all its naked glory in front of the viewers and the proceed to do next to nothing about it.

Padme tells Anakin (in what is probably the best scene between the two ever written, by the way) that Captain Rex has learned to let his feelings override his instincts from Anakin himself. This is going such a long way to show that the clones are not robots and that they have their own thoughts, fears, and character weaknesses. Sure, we’ve seen this before, but this season looks to be very clone-heavy and, given where the series is going as it marches towards that Order 66-shaped sunset, we should expect nothing less. It seems to me that the humanizing of the clones has been ramped up signifigantly, making the coming events that much more tragic in retrospect.

The problem is that the parallel between Anakin and Rex ends with Padme’s scene. Do we see a determined Rex? Absolutely. Do we see a Rex allowing his emotions to override his logic? Not so much. It would have been a much stronger episode, in my opinion, if Rex’ ambitions put Anakin and his fellow clones in The Bad Batch in genuine danger instead of the droid-blasting ride we got where everything works out pretty much until the end.

I think that, if anything, that is where I am most dissapointed with this episode. It loads its plot cannon, fires, and then only a puff of harmless smoke belches out. I expected more, I guess. I wanted more interpersonal conflict… I wanted Rex’s ambition to be costly and turn into a learning moment. Instead… just a round of mostly exciting and very well cheoreographed Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

So much of the plot didn’t ultimately matter. The parallel between Rex and Anikan didn’t matter, the tussle with the Bird-flying natives didn’t matter, and most of the battle didn’t matter.

Was it worthless? Heavens no! I was still entertained, but… it just didn’t matter. Most of the episode was action without meaning.

I will say, however, it did have some standout moments. As I said earlier, the scene between Anakin and Padme was heartfelt and honestly felt more real and gave the pair more romantic chemistry that I have ever witnessed them have. Subtle touches like Padme being noticeably pregnant was also a nice nod to the fact that both Anakin and the Jedi can’t see as much as they think they can even when it’s literally staring them in the face. Finally, the fact that Obi Wan Kenobi reveals that he knows that Anakin and Padme are romantically intertwined in more ways than one speaks absolute volumes about the character… the fact that he was basically protecting Anakin by keeping silent makes sense, given his own tragic romantic history with Satine of Mandalore, and gives the prequels a new layer that wasn’t there anymore.

I love that the prequels, previously reviled amongst the fan base until the sequel trilogy suddenly made them beloved, gets better in retrospect with the help of the development that television series gives to them with added development.

Finally, Echo… poor poor Echo. The reveal of what had been done to him was shocking, disturbing, and extremely pitiful. His pale skin, gaunt features, and the fact that he had basically been mutilated… his body hanging there from the cables, and his eye twitching. I actually went dead silent when this scene happened. It reminded me of what happened to Jedi Master Luminara in Star Wars: Rebels when her body was revealed in the holding cell. Just a shocking, sickening, tragic moment…

…which only makes me wonder more why they didn’t nail the landing with the theme they themselves established!

“A Distant Echo” was good when it should have been great, but I was still entertained and the standout moments elevated what was otherwise mundane and redundant.

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