Star Wars: The Clone Wars recap: The Return of the King

Anakin & Co.'s watery adventures on Mon Calamari come to an end. And this time, it's Ackbar who springs a trap.
Ep. 02 | Aired Sep 23, 2011

JAWS In the Star Wars galaxy, you're still more likely to be hit by Force Lightning than bitten by a shark. Though after meeting Riff Tamson (right), Anakin may disagree.

Lucasfilm

Can squid cry?

Sorry to get all maudlin on you, but that was the first thing I thought of when I saw that veritable Mon Calamari Trail of Tears, as Riff Tamson and the Separatists led their prisoners single-file to an underwater detainment camp. The Mon Calamari looked so sad, their bulbous heads lowered in shame over their defeat. If only their constant exposure to water didn’t rule out the need for tear ducts! But maybe it’s for the best. Maybe their inability to cry allows them to sublimate their grief all the more readily into violence. And, boy, is violence ever what we got on last night’s episode!

“Prisoners” began with Karkarodon baddie Tamson leading Anakin, Padmé, Ackbar, and Jar Jar to his torture chamber. So much the better that it was an underwater torture chamber—that means you can menace your foes with electric eels! Kit Fisto, doing his best John Rhys-Davies impression, quickly declared the obvious: “Ah, eels. Very dangerous.”  (Surely, fans of the Lucasverse recall Sallah’s “Ah, asps. Very dangerous” in Raiders of the Lost Ark.) Much of the Clone Wars series has been devoted to inverting classic moments from the Star Wars movies. In this case, I was sure Tamson was going to say to Anakin before he zapped him with a few thousand volts, “And now my Jedi, we will discuss the location of your hidden rebel prince.” At least we now know that Vader can take what he dishes out.

Oh, poor, easily duped Quarren. Did you really think Count Dooku cared about your marginalization in Mon Calamari’s politics? Didn’t you realize that, um, he’s fighting a galaxy-spanning war and the least thing that should worry him is whether you have your tentacles in a knot? And that if he actually does seem to care, he must have an ulterior motive? Of course, Dooku showed his true colors and revealed that Tamson would be in charge on Mon Calamari along with his Karkaradon allies. (Karkaradon is a Latin-scholar-friendly reference to the Carcharadon genus of sharks, of which Great Whites belong.)

See, all along the Separatists just wanted to use the inhabitants of Mon Calamari as slaves. Apparently both native sentient species are of hardy stock, and their unique coral-based ship designs are state-of-the-art. Diehards like myself know that when the Empire finally takes over, the Mon Calamari and Quarren are among the first races to be enslaved—for their engineering skill and shipbuilding prowess. That’s why Ackbar & Co.were so eager to join the Rebellion. Actually, Ackbar’s military record caught the eye of one Grand Moff Tarkin, so he became the Death Star commander’s personal slave. Unfortunately for Mon Calamari, the war didn’t end when old Palpy got sent down a reactor shaft and the Ewoks had a drunken orgy. As documented in the brilliantly weird Dark Empire comic series, six years after the Battle of Endor Mon Calamari would become a theater of galactic war again. A resurrected Emperor Palpatine (remember that whole business about his master Darth Plagueis finding a way to cheat death? Palpatine figured that out too.) sent his latest Death Star-caliber superweapons, the World Devastators, to literally gobble up the planet into raw materials for his military war machine. The weapons were stopped in time, but even that wasn’t the end of Mon Calamari’s misfortune. A hundred years later, the Star Wars: Legacy comic series showed us that the Empire (still around and this time led by the Sith Lord Darth Krayt) would unleash a plague that finally did wipe out all life on the planet. My point here is that at the time of the Clone Wars, these poor squid-headed sentients have no idea what they are really in for in the decades to come. That makes the events of this epic, under-the-sea Clone Wars arc all the more poignant, no?

NEXT: “Torture you? That’s a good idea. I like that.”

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