Star Wars: The Clone Wars "The Sabotage" Review: CSI: Jedi Temple

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Feb 09, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S05E17: "The Sabotage"

This season of The Clone Wars has minimized the presence of our standard Jedi protagonists in favor of focusing on insurgents/freedom fighters, pirates, Jedi younglings, droids, and wannabe Sith crime lords. Jedi like Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka have appeared in these stories, but they haven’t been the ones driving the plots forward. It’s created a varied season in tone, execution, and, most obviously, reception. With the final episodes of the season upon us, the focus has shifted back to the Jedi for this last arc, and I’m excited about the possibilities of these four episodes if only because “The Sabotage” eschews narrative shortcuts in favor of setting the stage for what will likely be a very important installment in the overall narrative of the series (if the trailers are any indication).

I mention the narrative shortcuts in an effort to differentiate this episode and the Darth-Maul-on-Mandalore arc that wrapped up last week. Where that arc executed a lot of big sweeping actions in an effort to speed up the narrative, like Maul taking down the Black Suns and then too-effortlessly taking control of Mandalore, this episode favored slowing down and taking its time in setting up the arc by employing, of all things, a police procedural vibe.

Such an approach is clever one since it actually forces the narrative to move at a different pace from a regular episode. Witnesses need to be interviewed, clues and evidence need to be gathered and analyzed, conclusions need to be drawn, superiors need to be kept up to date, and red herrings need to be presented. The episode weaved in all of these things, and none of them felt like they didn’t belong within the show’s universe or, more importantly, the show itself.

It helps that the elements at play were distinctly Star Wars-y, including nano-bots, CSI droids, and growing concerns about public opinion of both the war and the Jedi. The latter, of course, is perhaps the most important to the show’s endgame, as it feeds directly into Revenge of the Sith and the implementation of Order 66, the trigger for the clones to kill all the Jedi. It’s easier for Palpatine to justify the eradication of the Jedi, previously seen as the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, when they can’t even manage to stop splintering Jedi from blowing up their own temple. And that's to say nothing of their inability to end a war. This is all provided that Palpatine’s behind the bomb explosion, of course. But even if he isn’t, he’s crafty enough to turn it his advantage.

The ability to do this kind of an episode, however, is part of the reason why I like Clone Wars. Its flexible format allows for all sorts of narrative experimentation and storytelling possibilities. Its experiments don’t always work, but the fact that it has the freedom to conduct them, and that its producers, writers, directors, and storyboard artists embrace that freedom, is something to keep in mind. If anything, it’s a risk for the show to switch gears from arc to arc each month instead of either doing a deeper serialized story or more episodic fare, and it’s a tough balancing act to transition from a high-octane action arc like the last one, and to start off this one in a much more deliberate way.

Notes & Quotes

– Embarrassingly, it took me until the very end of the episode to associate Russo’s goggles with Horatio Caine’s sunglasses. YEEEAAAH!

– I love the notion of the Jedi Council as impatient police chiefs feeling pressure from the politicians to solve the case.

– "I would’ve thought working for the Jedi paid better." Class is an often ignored aspect in Star Wars, despite repeated mentions of the slums of Coruscant, so I’ll take a little nod to it here.

– The episode titles of this arc are all nods to Alfred Hitchcock films, even this one, and it’s actually two movies. There’s the 1937 Sabotage and the 1942 Saboteur. The episode felt like a bit of mash-up of both films. The former focuses on a police investigation surrounding a spy attempting to terrorize England, while the latter is about a man falsely accused of setting fire to a military airplane factory and trying to clear his name. Next week, provided the show becomes more overt in its Hitchcockian influence beyond the episode titles, don’t be surprised if I ramble a bit about the director and his films in relation to the episode.

What'd you think of this week's episode?

  • Comments (17)
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  • BobbyK12 Feb 10, 2013

    Not that it's all that important, but in terms of the plot, did anyone else have a problem with when Anakin and Ashoka cornered Letta and "caught her in a lie" by saying something like "Nobody ever said Jaqar was dead..." Not that's just an overused ploy, but also... they kind of told her he was dead when they said "He WAS the bomb."

  • mcepin3 Feb 10, 2013

    Great episode. I liked,when they were walking and around them played that explosion. Oh and that scene at start with Anakin and those droids on his fighter:D

  • EsmeBuffay Feb 10, 2013

    HA, I didn't get the goggle thing until just now, now I have to re-watch the episode with that in mind lol.

  • WindUpRobot Feb 11, 2013


  • antdude Feb 10, 2013

    I liked it.

  • georgeislas1 Feb 10, 2013

    wannabe sith crime lords?? excuse me but maul episodes are by far the best episodes in the series, and maul came to increase the popularity that the "standard jedi protagonists" couldnt achieve. maul personality is ten times more interesting than the main protagonist and it took the story forward, maul isnt finished in this season and it is explained that his actions will cause a big consecuence in the series.

  • noelrk Staff Feb 11, 2013

    I'm not disputing the quality of their episodes, nor their place in the narrative. It was a summary of the various arcs this season. And, yes, they are wannabe Sith crime lords. That was Mual's plan. To be a Sith crime lord. Did not turn out so well for him.

  • nexpose Feb 10, 2013

    This one was good and we're getting back on track for sure.

  • kennybrinks Feb 10, 2013

    Yeah I dug it. Slower pace than last episodes of course but building to something HUGE.

  • barryfriedman1 Feb 09, 2013

    Little known fact: George Lucas is a fan of Law & Order and CSI.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 09, 2013

    I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either, and the reason isn't the format chosen, but the execution of character.

    On the criminal side of things, there wasn't enough focus on "why" and I think that's because there wasn't enough time for this episode to breathe - even an actual CSI episode would have done that.

    On the Jedi side of things, I never got a feeling that anything any Jedi did in this episode felt authentic to a wizard monk, there wasn't anything clever or understanding about the way it was thought out, and there certainly wasn't anything from the Force giving them a greater understanding of things. They simply used a linear type of thinking to follow clues from A to B to C -- and even there, they were upstaged by a CSI droid who stole the show.

    My other issue with this episode was the technology used, they called up nano-tech which is foreign to the Star Wars universe, so it was no more satisfying than a CSI episode where it's a moon laser used to commit a crime. On a much smaller level, the overprocessed voice for Russo-ISC took away from him, it didn't sound all that Star Warsy to me. And the little baby-CSI droids, I didn't even understand the point of that element, it felt like an idea that cut down from a bigger point.

    I did enjoy the Russo-ISC name though, for David Caruso, and the speech pattern and goggles-flipping was fun too. I can see missing it for a while though, they should have colored the droid's face to stand out from the goggles better.

  • noelrk Staff Feb 10, 2013

    The "why" question, I imagine, will be addressed over the course of the arc, so less of an issue here for me since this was about getting through the first stage of the investigation. Letta's in custody, after all, awaiting further questioning. There are some hints as to the "why" -- the hologram of clone trooper helmet with the no symbol over it seem like a hint in that direction, but feels a little obvious, and easily found, too. I suspect there's a larger game afoot here.

    The lack of Force use was bothersome, though I feel like it would've only served them very handily at the initial questioning of Letta and not too much elsewhere.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 10, 2013

    You are probably right that they'll address it later, but that's not how storytelling should work, the "why" is either part of the foundation or a significant mystery, here it's neither and it made the episode feel lacking. There almost was enough "why" with the protests, but they chalked it up to grieving families and undermined it entirely.

    Questioning through the Force could have had a lot of interesting and ethical avenues to explore too. They also walked through Letta's house asking if she was there, that seems like something the Force could have clued them into as well. And finding clues, sensing the truth of what the wounded were saying, where the missing guy was, that sort of thing, just seems like they weren't even trying. Oh, that reminds me, Ahsoka and Anakin are the ONLY Jedi who aren't in the temple at the time of the bombing???

  • WindUpRobot Feb 09, 2013

    I feel you on the droid upstaging and the lack of wizard monk action in their investigating. Even Sean Connery was a better investigating monk than Anakin and Ahsoka. YEAH. NAME OF THE ROSE REFERENCE. ALL THE INTERNET POINTS.

    But nanotech is actually in SW. Didn't they use nanotech to change Obi-Wan's face sometime last season? So, less explosive but still present.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 10, 2013

    Yes, they did use nanotech to change his face, I forgot, it was more passable there because it was more limited in its use.

  • WindUpRobot Feb 11, 2013

    Changing face more passable than little bombs? I think both are pretty far-fetched, but there was a precedent, at least.

  • tv_gonzo Feb 09, 2013

    That was a great episode. I really enjoyed it.