Every time an episode of The Clone Wars lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on the fifth episode of season seven – Gone With A Trace. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.
“If there is no path before you, create your own.”
BETRAYAL! Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano was wrongly accused of treason by the Jedi Council and hunted by the Grand Army of the Republic. Believing his apprentice was innocent, Anakin Skywalker discovered the true villain was Ahsoka’s close friend Bariss Offee.
Unable to reconcile her relationship with the Jedi Order, Ahsoka decided to walk away from the only life she had ever known…
If this really is the final season of The Clone Wars then it’s truly going out on a high. After the excellent Bad Batch arc we follow it up with the return of Ahsoka Tano – hurt, bruised and alone, she heads away from the Jedi Temple, aiming for 1313 and time alone. Engine trouble on her Joben T-85 speeder bike (neat nods to both Droids and Rebels there as she flies the same bike as Kanan) sees her dramatically spiral down in more ways than one to the repair bay of Trace Martez, a tech looking to repair her battered Nebula freighter and head for the stars.
Star Wars has seen plenty of riffs on The Littlest Hobo on TV, in comic books and in novels, when our lead character comes to town to right wrongs and move on – The Mandalorian certainly dines out on that to great effect – and it’s on display here, but not only does the return of Ahsoka in this era make for a fascinating episode, but the new characters we meet make for a juicy platter indeed. The gangster Pintu Son-El (voiced by Resistance star Bobby Moynihan) and his two goons, the Binary Load Lifters who cause havoc (another neat nod, this time to A New Hope) and the Martez sisters Trace and Rafa. It’s a tough existence down in the depths of 1313, and while hope and sunlight are in short supply, these two resourceful siblings continue to fight for what’s theirs (even if it means halfinching the odd item here and there).
A big tip of the hat needs to go to the designers of the episode who loads the show with nods to other projects and give us a lush and dizzying look not only at 1313 but the depths that Coruscant descends to. There are moments of absolute vertigo inducing horror mixed with beauty in here, and it combines to make one of the most attractive episodes of the show so far in its 7 season and big screen movie history.
Add to that a subtle change in the vocal delivery of the characters – it’s cinematic, it feels ‘live action’ and that must be attributed to Dave Filoni and his team who are clearly striving to make sure that this long-awaited return wasn’t just done for nostalgia, not only because the fans demanded it but because these stories are necessary to the wider story, key to the era leading up to Order 66 and the near decimation of the Jedi Order. As much as anything happening in live action or on the big screen, this is main event Star Wars storytelling.
Ahsoka returns in Gone with a Trace, an episode that trades the fast paced, action packed energy of the Bad Batch arc for a slower, character driven beginning to a journey that promises insight into the life of the Star Wars everyman. We watch as Ahsoka takes the plunge deep into the underbelly of Coruscant, and it soon becomes apparent that life there is vastly different to that on the surface. Ahsoka has a lot to learn, and with the proximity to the events of Revenge of the Sith, very little time to do so.
The episode does an excellent job at contrasting the life Ahsoka has led as a Jedi with the lives of the Martez sisters, a compelling duo that act as Ahsoka’s guides to the grittier side of life in the galaxy. Throughout the episode Ahsoka is presented with the challenge of concealing and attempting to reform her identity as she struggles to distance herself from her Jedi past by constraining her use of the Force, a welcome character evolution that foreshadows the events of the Ahsoka novel and Star Wars Rebels.
The fifth episode of the eagerly anticipated seventh season of The Clone Wars was our first official look at Ahsoka Tano since leaving the Jedi Order. Hard to believe but “The Wrong Jedi” episode aired in 2013 and this episode satisfied that seven-year itch. Ahsoka has always been a strong-willed character that played a perfect counterbalance (and, at times, mirror) to her master, Anakin Skywalker, but to see her strike out on her own with a tinge of apprehension but never loss of confidence made the Togruta young woman feel more “human” than ever before.
In this episode we also meet two new characters who personify everything Star Wars – the Martez sisters. Trace Martez is struggling to do right in a world that chooses wrong deep in the heart of Coruscant’s underbelly while her sister, Raffa, appears to be at home in the mix of questionable characters and bad decisions. Of course, Ahsoka sees the good in Trace and we see the former Jedi make the first decisions that are truly hers and not driven by the Jedi or her masters.
Some have called this episode filler or more juvenile and it is understandable to see why that may be the perception. There are no galactic implications. It is a very personal view of Ahsoka’s next steps. There is humor and the music is playful at times. However, there are clear consequences for our heroine that will influence her in episodes to come and set her up for her long term arc. Even with the first four episodes of this season being among the best Clone Wars we’ve ever seen (The Bad Batch arc), this episode holds its own and makes the viewer eager to see more of Ahsoka’s growth in coming installments.
I must say, Ahsoka is not my favourite character of Star Wars, even of The Clone Wars as well. That’s why I wasn’t hyped about her story-arc, but its first episode, Gone with a Trace was a delightful surprise.
What was the main reason for this pleasure, you could ask? I wrote a massive article on our Hungarian fansite http://Ziro.hu about George Lucas’ unfinished and unpublished multiplatform project Underworld. We know it would have occurred in the lower regions of Coruscant. We even know that a game, 1313 would have been part of this multiplatform project and when I saw on the screen many previously unused places, concept arts, etc. from these project and references for 1313, I was super delighted!
The other pleasant surprise was actually not one but two: the Martez sisters. They are funny, quick thinking and cunning female characters – and more interesting characters for me than Ahsoka Tano herself. Through them, we even get to know how the ordinary people of the galaxy live their life. The Martez sisters are good additions to the canon and a clever change from the unfinished episodes of the seventh season we saw years ago.
Ahsoka’s back! We finally get to see what happened after she left the Jedi order back at the end of Season 5. I was really excited about this story arc, but I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by this episode. It’s a very enjoyable episode but coming off of the Bad Batch arc and its action-heavy stories, it’s hard to switch gears over into a smaller, quieter story.
Part of the problem with the way these episodes are being constructed versus how they are being delivered is that this episode will play much differently for us in 3 weeks when we can see the whole 4 part story. Giving us the episodes one at a time feels like we are watching the first 20 minutes of a movie and then pausing it for a week.
It’s great to see Ahsoka using her Jedi training in different ways. She’s not trying to hide, not yet, but she’s not trying to attract attention to herself either. I know why she doesn’t want everyone to know she’s a Jedi, but her reluctance to use the force and her abilities to help people seems weird. It’s not illegal for her to be Jedi, but in these lower levels of Coruscant, it might as well be.
The two new characters, Trace and Raffa, are a great pair. We get to see what daily life is like in the lower levels of Coruscant and for the regular person in the Star Wars galaxy. It’s not often that we get to see this perspective. Trace’s optimism is refreshing because so much of the Clone Wars is cynical and dour. Raffa is much like the others we have met in the series, an opportunist trying to make her way, although I feel like there is more to her that we will see in the coming episodes.
This is a good start and I can’t wait to see the rest of Ahsoka’s story.”
Thanks to Ben Turfrey, Ben Földi, Paul DePaola and Pete Fletzer for pitching in at the last minute.