The story of Star Wars at its core is a story about the fallibility of people to the trappings of power. The story of Anakin Skywalker is perhaps its most integral, strongest, and weakest. The storytelling of Anakin’s journey is muddled, but the overall arc is a famed one.His arc is of a man who made his appearance as a half-human monster but recovered his humanity in light of his love for his son. It’s a classic story of redemption, whether or not it entirely works for you is another matter. But it’s undeniable that Anakin’s tale is a hallmark of American storytelling.
The action in this episode is fantastic. The animation is better than ever before. But those two things are to be expected in a Clone Wars episode at this point. Where this episode shone, and frankly needed more time than it was given, was in a confrontation between Anakin and the infamous Admiral Trench.
Trench, who has reappeared in several Clone Wars episodes in spite of his assumed death in his original appearance (the episode “Cat and Mouse”), is a great tactical villain primarily on account of his efficacy in battle. He presents a genuine threat in a war whose overall outcome is known and etched into the mind of the show’s audience.
This episode’s best moment is that of Anakin storming Trench’s holdout on the Separatist dreadnaught, confronting him and demanding that he give up the secret code to the bomb about to destroy chunks of Anaxes. Trench, fearful of Dooku’s likely fatal wrath, refuses. He bets, the great tactician, on the idea of Jedi morality saving him from harm. As Anakin says quietly and without a hint of sorrow, he has no weaknesses of Jedi morality. Trench would die and the information would be his.
With the idea that torture never works, the character note here is something the Clone Wars has done a terrific job at constructing. A descent into murderous paranoia is not something that happens rapidly if that is not built into the character in the first place. The series, bit by bit, has laid the groundwork for that murderous paranoia by steeping it in the construction of pragmatism. Once the explanations and excuses become commonplace and known, the descent is much easier. The rationality for evil becomes simple. How tragic.