From a geographical A to B standpoint, not much happens in the latest episode of The Clone Wars, entitled “Dangerous Debt.” We pick up where the last adventure left off with Ahsoka Tano and the Martez sisters, Trace and Raffa, locked behind the bars of a Pyke Crime Syndicate facility, and we end with the three still imprisoned by the gangsters. With one round of torture behind them, as well as a solid jailbreak effort, they stare down the barrel of their future’s end. The Pykes want their spice, and the mystery of its whereabouts is the only thing keeping them alive. Since they dumped that particular cargo, stalling and stewing in dread is their only option.
That’s not to say the seventh episode of the seventh season is not packed with important information. Showrunner Dave Filoni and his crew continue to explore Tano’s flight from the Jedi and the emotional horror she’s experiencing as she opens her eyes to the world beyond their temple and the fabricated wars in which they lead the charge. For the first time in her life, Tano is starting to understand how lightsaber duels and blaster battles tend to result in grotesque collateral damage.
When she first met the Martez sisters, Tano kept mum regarding her connection to the Jedi, including her Force abilities, because she was maintaining a low profile. The longer she partnered with these low-level criminals, the more she experienced their disdain for the warrior monks galivanting across the galaxy, dolling out justice where they saw fit. Tano never questioned, “What gave them the right?”
Only after the Jedi failed to see her point of view and accused her of bombing the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, did she reconsider their will on the universe. When Tano and the Martez sisters temporarily manage to escape the clutches of the Pykes, Trace finally explains to their new tagalong friend why they hold such a grudge against those cloaked punks. Years ago, during Ziro the Hutt’s prison breakout (see the season one finale, “Hostage Crisis”), the malicious bounty hunter Cad Bane caused a speeder crash while trying to flee his Jedi pursuers. The speeder exploded into the Martez apartment, killing Raffa and Trace’s parents, causing them not only unimaginable psychic pain but placing them on their path of delinquency that brought them face-to-face with the Pykes.
Immediately following their parents’ death, a green-faced Jedi wearing dark brown robes (probably Jedi Master Luminara Unduli) knelt next to the children and offered some comfort, “I had to make a choice, but not to worry, the Force will be with you.” Pretty hollow words from the supposed keeper of the peace. Off the Jedi went leaving the kids without a mom, a dad, or a home.
The information destroys Ahsoka Tano. She has only seconds to take in their story before the Pykes are led to their location by a disgruntled begger, but in those moments, we see the hellish realization of her role in their tragedy. Imagine back to every Jedi foot chase witnessed throughout the Star Wars saga (The Clone Wars and Rebels included). Consider the various stray laser blasts and explosions erupting through thousands of cities across hundreds of planets. We may only focus on the “heroes” of the conflict, but every weapon discharge lands on someone’s doorstep. Every explosion ends someone’s life, or at least their livelihood. War equals destruction — the end.
You can’t claim peace if you ignore the world around you.
To reiterate the blindness displayed in the selfish pursuit of one’s own safety, while Tano and the Martez sisters skedaddle, they take on a tremendous amount of blaster fire. They’re scurrying through the streets, tumbling over random citizens, jumping from random speeder to random speeder. The Pykes land a shot on one of the speeders, and the driver spins out of control as Tano, and the Martezes return to their shackles.
They’re in trouble, no doubt, but what about the speeder driver? What about the unseen injuries caused by the chase, and the multiple fires caused by the violent exchange? How does the destruction of the speeder impact the life of the driver? Does he have insurance? How will he get to work? Tano, Trace, and Raffa slink back to their prison bars and worry about their fates, but do any of them reckon with the lives lost, ruined, or upset by their actions?
The questions dig straight into the heart of the Jedi’s failing. Consumed by their war, they cannot see the evil they’re committing, let alone the evil that pulls their strings. The Dark Side rules over everything, and Darth Vader karmically looms on the horizon. They deserve the nightmare brewing inside Anakin Skywalker, but the good citizens of the galaxy sure as hell don’t.
The impending comeuppance of the Jedi is referenced quickly in another fashion this week. As Tano, Trace, and Raffa run back and forth through the city as the Pykes make chase, the young fallen Jedi is spotted by a cloaked Mandalorian named Ursa Wren, the mother of Rebels co-star Sabine Wren. She alerts her boss, Bo-Katan Kryze, to Tano’s presence, and the Mandalorians agree to keep tabs on the little Force-wielding reprobate.
Bo-Katan says that Tano could be of use to them as they share a common enemy. That enemy is Darth Maul, who currently rules over their homeworld Mandalore alongside a batch of crooked radicals called the Death Watch. These are the guys who happily go toe-to-toe with both Light Side and Dark Side fools, using the Darksaber as their weapon of choice. (P.S. we also know that the Darksaber eventually falls into the hands of Mof Gideon in The Mandalorian.)
Another mighty skirmish awaits in the final episodes of The Clone Wars. If I was to place a bet, Bo-Katan and Ursa Wren will be the rescue required of Ahsoka Tano and the Martez sisters, and the cause to liberate Mandalore will gain a few more soldiers, putting Maul on his final quest to meet his end at the blade of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Rebels episode “Twilight of the Apprentice,” after a tiny pitstop in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The Clone Wars has never been better than it has been in this final season. These episodes have exposed the true heroes of Star Wars: the clones who die by the orders of the Jedi, and Ahsoka Tano, the padawan who knew when to quit their poisoned organization. Filoni is leaning hard into the gloom and doom that palls over every plot beat. The series knows when to have fun and offer a chipper chuckle, but these respites never distract from the cold reality that defines the show. The Clone Wars are a joke, and the characters who don’t recognize the dark comedy of it all will soon meet their revolting ignorance in the grill of Darth Vader.