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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Gungan General (The Clone Wars - S01E12) - Television

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: The Gungan General

Season: One

Episode: 12

Chronological Episode: 17

Original Air Date: January 9, 2009

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Fail with honor rather than succeed by fraud.

Dooku held for ransom! After escaping capture by Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the villainous Count Dooku fell into the clutches of pirates led by the brigand Hondo Ohnaka. Eager to get custody of Dooku, the Republic agreed to pay Hondo a hefty sum in exchange for the Sith Lord. But Anakin and Obi-Wan had not counted on the treacherous cunning of Ohnaka and his band....

Remember how I mentioned in the previous review that the transition from “Dooku Captured” to “The Gungan General” was awkward? Well, let me explain...

At the end of “Dooku Captured”, one of Hondo’s men tries to drug Obi-Wan and Anakin but they realize this and switch drinks with two of the nearby pirates who quickly pass out once the switch occurs. Yet, this episode begins with Obi-Wan and Anakin waking up in a prison cell with Dooku after being drugged by Hondo and his crew. Apparently, Hondo tried to drug them a second time off screen and was successful. It absolutely feels like we missed something important in between the two episodes and a breakdown in continuity like this is an extremely rare occurrence for The Clone Wars. It may seem like a small detail, but it resulted in a jarring transition between the two episodes. In addition, the introduction of Jar Jar signaled a shift in tone that felt out of sync with the ongoing storyline. The main storyline with Dooku, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Hondo felt disconnected in style and tone from the antics of Jar Jar and his rescue attempt. It almost felt like two separate episodes that have been combined together. However, the dynamic created by forcing Anakin and Obi-Wan to work with Dooku was compelling enough that it helped offset the distracting antics of Jar Jar Binks.

   

Hondo continued the make a good impression in this episode. He was shrewd enough to realize that if he tried to get a ransom for Dooku from the separatists, they would just send an army of droids to wipe him out. Plus, Hondo’s theatricality and Jim Cummings' performance offered up some genuinely funny humor that didn't feel out of place (in contrast to whatever Jar Jar was doing in this episode). Hondo recounting his mother’s advice that, “If one hostage is good, two are better. And three? That’s just good business.”, is quintessential Hondo. I mentioned it in the previous review, but I think it’s worth reiterating. Hondo immediately felt like he belonged in the Star Wars universe, as if he was always there getting drunk and conning people just offscreen. Few new additions to the saga felt as fully formed as Hondo was in his introduction, and much of that success is thanks to Jim Cummings’ committed performance. Despite Hondo's status as a competent foe for both Jedi and Sith, he didn't count on his lieutenant Turk betraying him and making a play for the ransom himself. Although Turk’s subplot wasn't very interesting and his character was never really developed, it makes sense that Hondo’s plan would be undone by his crew’s greed and lack of loyalty to anything besides money. The Chancellor tasked Senator Kharrus and Jar Jar with delivering the ransom to Hondo, but their ship was shot down by Turk during his attempt to steal the ransom for himself. Senator Kharrus died when the ship was shot down, but it was actually Jar Jar’s fault. Kharrus died because he had to get out of his restraint and strap in Jar Jar who was engaged in his typical, slapstick antics. Kharrus’ death adds a darker layer to Jar Jar’s “comedy.” Speaking of Jar Jar, he was not portrayed by Ahmed Best but by an actor named B.J. Hughes in this episode. The switch is strange because Best already returned to voice Jar Jar in “Bombad Jedi.” If Jar Jar works at all, it's because of Best’s enthusiasm and commitment to the absurdity of the character. Hughes failed to capture that over the top enthusiasm and his take on the character never worked. In particular, Jar Jar's eulogy at Kharrus’ makeshift funeral was painful to listen to. Jar Jar also needs another character to play off of and the three clones we've never met before weren't up to the task. This episode proved that if Jar Jar is going to work at all, you need Ahmed Best. Jar Jar fits in better in the animated universe of The Clone Wars, but there’s no hope of his character working if Best isn't providing the voice.

   

The most interesting and entertaining part of the episode was the unlikely alliance between Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Count Dooku. Overall, I think Dooku was a very underutilized character in the prequel trilogy. Specifically, I think there was a missed opportunity to depict the fall of one of the leaders of the Jedi Order that could perhaps foreshadow and encourage Anakin’s eventual fall to the dark side. In addition, I don't think the films did enough to explore the emotional fallout of Yoda’s apprentice and Qui-Gon’s master leaving the Jedi Order and falling to the dark side. We should have seen how Dooku’s fall impacted Yoda on a personal level, influenced Qui-Gon’s own philosophy and maverick status, and Obi-Wan’s view of the Jedi Order. There is power in the idea of Dooku being right that the Jedi Order and Republic were broken and had been corrupted. The late Sir Christopher Lee, one of the most talented and prolific actors in film history, wasn't given very much to do with the role unfortunately. However, there was a lot of untapped potential with the character and Star Wars: The Clone Wars was the perfect place to take advantage of that potential. Corey Burton took over the role for The Clone Wars series and didn't just offer up a Lee impression but a unique take on the character. Burton was excellent throughout the series, and this episode provided him with some good material. Dooku, Anakin, and Obi-Wan were shackled together and their various escape attempts allowed a very entertaining dynamic to develop. Their relationship was a mix of insults, threats, and competition. The Dialogue, such as Dooku’s line “I would kill you both right now if I didn't have to drag your bodies.”, wasn't only entertaining but also character driven as well. I think there was more to explore and develop, particularly between Dooku and Obi-Wan, but overall I think they depicted a compelling and entertaining dynamic between these three characters. Dooku’s ultimate escape remains a season one highlight and showed how powerful and ruthless he can be. I also really liked the Jedi’s escape and Obi-Wan’s final conversation with Hondo. The final conversation highlighted Obi-Wan’s differences (and similarities) with Dooku and set up Obi-Wan’s relationship with Hondo for the rest of the series.

   

What Worked

  • Dooku, Anakin, and Obi-Wan’s forced alliance Hondo Ohnaka continued to impress Dooku’s escape

What Didn’t Work

  • Jar Jar and Hughes’ performance
  • Awkward transition between episodes and jarring shifts in tone
External Links:
Added: November 1, 2017
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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