Episode 5.06 “The Gathering”
Episode 5.07 “A Test of Strength”
Episode 5.08 “Bound for Rescue”
The last three episodes of The Clone Wars, “The Gathering”, “A Test of Strength”, and “Bound for Rescue” prove at least one thing: the Star Wars franchise can produce story lines that are geared more towards a younger demographic without diminishing from everything that makes it dramatic and awesome. (*Note: if you still disagree by this point watch the season four episodes “Gungan Attack” or “Shadow Warrior” in which the Gungans are forever redeemed from their first lame impression in The Phantom Menace. Or just Return of the Jedi because some of us actually liked the Ewoks.) But I digress.
In “The Gathering” Ahsoka travels with a group of younglings to meet Yoda on Ilum, a planet that contains the mystical crystals that power a Jedi’s lightsaber. The younglings must enter the crystal cave of Ilum and trust in the Force to find and harvest their crystal. The Force will guide each Jedi to the crystal that is meant for him or her. But they must leave the cave before daylight ends or the door will freeze over for “one full rotation” which on Ilum is nineteen days.
I really liked this episode. It had a lot of heart. It’s a simple and fun story of self-discovery and gets at the very core of why we still like Star Wars after all these years. My only issue is it doesn’t seem consistent with the first time we’re shown Ilum, in the original Clone Wars Cartoon in 2004. This I can forgive, considering when they made that cartoon they were working within a shorter format and probably never thought they get the chance to return to Ilum. I just really like consistency in story and universe. And here’s a little Easter Egg for you; in the intro to this episode we get a glimpse into the past when Jedi Master Plo Koon first found Ahsoka.
In “A Test of Strength” the younglings are headed back to Coruscant with Ahsoka and they meet architect and lightsaber designer Huyang (played by Doctor Who alum David Tennant), a droid who for many years has been on the ship and has taught many Jedi how to build their lightsaber. In his memory banks he contains a record of every lightsaber every built and the Jedi who fashioned it, (SO COOL!). He promises that before the younglings leave the ships they’ll have everything they need and know exactly how, to build they own lightsaber.
But the pirate Hondo has other plans. He knows that the ship only contains younglings returning from Ilum with their crystals and that “the price for just one crystal will make a man rich”.
Hondo and his crew attack the ship. None of the younglings have their lightsabers ready yet, so it’s up to Ahsoka to protect them. She and the younglings come up with a plan and easily defeat the pirates. But the episode has one little twist before in the final act that left me with an audible gasp, (is there any other kind of gasp?).
And without giving much away, in “Bound for Rescue”, the younglings are in need of just that, rescue. Their ship has been damaged in the fight with Hondo. They send a transmission to the Republic Fleet and it’s received by Obi-Wan Kenobi. But before Obi-Wan can dispatch the rescue squad, the fleet comes under a Separatist attack led by General Grievous.
The younglings have problems of their own however. Their ship is venting coolant and they need to land, otherwise the engines will explode. The nearest planet they can land on is Florrum, Hondo’s planet. Giving the younglings a chance to take care of some unfinished business.
These episodes are really fun. The battle between Obi-Wan and Grievous is great. Watching their rivalry throughout the seasons is a very interesting side story all its own. And I like each of the younglings. They’re great new characters. I just wish I didn’t know what fate befell them. The youngling Wookiee named Gungi is such a fascinating character and I’d love to see him grow up, I’d bet he’d be a bad-ass, Mace Windu, like Jedi.
The next, and possibly final, episode in this story arc is “A Necessary Bond”‘ and this episode answers what exactly happened to Hondo’s base, which was seen destroyed in “Revival,” the season opener, (you might remember inn “Revival,” Hondo describes his base being overrun by General Grievous.) Originally, “Revival” was planned to air later in the season, in proper chronological order, but it was moved to the start in order to better showcase the Darth Maul storyline (which was a smart move).