There was something about this episode that felt very Season 2, and I don't mean that in a bad way. The flavor reminded me of Lightsaber Lost and Lethal Trackdown, and fit the Rise Of The Bounty Hunters description of the second season more than this season's Battle Lines. This was the type of episode that Season 3 lacked. Only Hunt For Ziro comes close in my book. All sci-fi and fantasy franchises have solid heroes and villains, and possibly a few confused characters in between, but what causes Star Wars to rise above them in my opinion is the depth given to the universe by third party factions like assassins, mercenaries, and bounty hunters. Like many other Star Wars fans, I have always found these hoards of scum and villainy to be both entertaining and fascinating, and I'm really glad that the Clone Wars is shining the spotlight on them once again.
The aura of Deception felt very timeless to me. The seedy underbelly of Coruscant carries a mid twentieth century vibe with futuristic technology similar to Gotham City in the Batman franchise. The opening scenes of this episode with the three Jedi walking along the streets and then pursuing their assailant reminded me especially of parts of Lightsaber Lost. The remainder of the story that took place in the prison also could have been told in any time period.
The plot of the episode focuses on Obi-Wan faking his death and then assuming the identity of his pretended killer to infiltrate a ring of hardened criminals to expose a plot against the Chancellor. I find it a little odd that the Jedi Council would chose Obi-Wan for this mission and leave Anakin out of the loop, considering how sensitive Anakin has been known to be. And like a clap of thunder following a strike of lightning, dark scenes involving Anakin to heavy overtures of the Imperial March ensued. Perhaps this doubly serves to test the limits of Anakin's attachment issues, or from at least the audience's perspective, illustrate once again that Anakin can be unstable. Perhaps it was merely Ahsoka's existence at this point that kept Anakin from completely losing his cool.
Unfortunately with only 22 minutes of screen time, Ahsoka's emotional reaction to Obi-Wan's "death" was all but ignored with the exception of a well done shot of her eyes watering when telling Anakin the bad news. Quickly, it seemed like Ahsoka's worry for Anakin began to overshadow the effect of her friend's death. This definitely suggests that Ahsoka responds to death in the way a Jedi should, moving on and dealing with the situation pragmatically, which leads me to believe that her character may not necessarily be heading down a dark path.
This brings me to Obi-Wan, who was without question the star of this episode. Lately Obi-Wan has been dumped on by the writers, getting beaten up and emotionally worn down in episode after episode, but finally he has reclaimed his spot as one of the preeminent Jedi during the Clone Wars. This is definitely my favorite Obi-Wan episode, and James Arnold Taylor did a great job voicing lines with typical Obi-Wan wit and sarcasm in Hardeen's tone. I found seeing a shaved and bald Kenobi a bit jarring and fascinating at the same time. The animation of his hair getting pulled off by the droid was well done, as well as the effect of his facial structure changing.
I've always liked spy shows and movies, and loved the notion of a hero going deep undercover and vicariously showing the audience the underworld and its denizens, even be it initially in lock down. Kenobi's dialog and body language as Hardeen was done very cleverly. I also believed that he went by the code name "Ben" in this episode, which was a great nod to A New Hope. Obi-Wan's treatment of the Karkarodon prisoner was classic, and his subtle warning to Boba fit Kenobi's character well. The sequence in which Obi-Wan hesitated shooting one of the crematorium officers was also a great one.
In addition to Obi-Wan, this is episode benefited greatly from the appearance of fan favorite bounty hunters Boba Fett, Cad Bane, and Bossk as well as the new character Morallo Eval. It was great to see Boba again and I really hope that his character is expanded upon in future episodes. I'm still dying to see how a slightly immature young man turns into the galaxy's most ruthless bounty hunter. Bossk appeared a little more intimidating in this episode than in previous ones, benefiting from some of the viciousness added to the Trandoshan species in the Season 3 finale.
It was a bit strange to see Bane stripped of his hat, breathing tubes, and other epic accessories. But I still really enjoyed seeing his personality thrown into the mix. He certainly continues to be the most interesting and fearsome bounty hunter in the Clone Wars, and raises the stakes of any plot he is involved in. We are led to believe from previews that he will be featured more in further episodes of this arc, and I can't wait to see how his presence will play into the story.
Eval was certainly an interesting addition to this episode, voiced by our friend Stephen Stanton, he appeared to be the ring master type, always plotting and thrusting others into his plans like pawns. But in this situation he was a bit too eager to gain accomplices, and allowed Hardeen to tag along despite Bane's warnings. I'm guessing this quickness to trust others may be Eval's downfall.
One thing that pleased me about this episode, was how it seemed to fit into a larger story, but didn't seem boring or repetitive at the same time. It left me satisfied with what I had seen, as well as excited about the next chapter. So far this arc is really to my liking, and I hold a lot of confidence that it will continue to grow into an even more interesting story. I feel like the show is really on a roll now with these past two episodes, with no sign of slowing down, and I'm enjoying the ride!