“A War on Two Fronts” begins with the question of whether Jedi should use fear as an asset and moves into the story of a fledgling rebellion on Onderon, starting a new arc unconnected to last week’s Darth Maul story.
The Council scene is brief but thematically important, and gives some
background for the Jedi that is missing for the rebels. Anakin thinks
that arming a rebel group as a new weapon against the Seperatists could
be “great.”, Yoda, for whom “war does not make one great,” is skeptical.
He’s outvoted, though, and the Council sends the brash Knight, along
with Ahsoka, to Onderon. Obi-Wan going along only serves to mollify Yoda
slightly. This question of Jedi possibly “funding terrorists,” or doing
bad things to win the war, is central to The Clone Wars. It’s
nice to see this theme reinforced here. Even though this is a multi-part
arc, the Jedi’s moral high ground is brought up again toward the end of
the episode, and worked as a nice, if brief, framing device.
One aspect of this episode that I thought was also notable, although
not especially sensational, is that Jedi cloaks are actually useful for
disguise, and Ahsoka dons one along with the boys.
The rebels are a small group of humans with some nicely detailed and textured armor and astoundingly cute Avatar-style
creatures. They are led by siblings Saw and Steela Gerrerra. Steela,
the new female character glimpsed in the trailers, has a great character
design, with fierce eyes and stylized hair. She’s introduced
affectionately punching her brother. Without backstory as to how and why
they joined the rebellion, though, the two are a bit hollow. I would
have liked to know more about their specific motivations.
It’s a beautiful episode, with lively backgrounds that often contain
an animal or a person not directly related to the main characters. I
like the textures – both the rebels’ and Rex’s armor is dirty – and the
complexity of Lux’s armor, which seems to incorporate strips of torn
cloth as well as neon lights.
“A War on Two Fronts” did a good job simulating daring camera moves.
In one of the few training scenes in a show about Jedi and warriors,
Ahsoka neatly explains how droid tank pilots operate in tandem. There’s a
nice cutaway to the same kind of tank coming into the city alongside a
reptilian mount. Some other cool uses of the camera include when three
probe droids hover close to the screen, and when the camera follows
Lux’s slowly thrown grenade.
The majority of the action takes place on Onderon, which I first experienced in Knights of the Old Republic II.
It’s also associate with Lux, who picks up his relationship with Ahsoka
where they left off: sharing significant stares. The last time she saw
him he was escaping through an airlock instead of staying with her,
although she doesn’t seem to find this noteworthy. Since she’s also
forgotten what planet his mother represented in the Senate, maybe she’s
just having a bad memory day.
Wars.com released a short behind-the-scenes video called “Clone Wars:
Downloads” this week, in which Ashley Eckstein talked about how Ahsoka
has developed, which was particularly relevant as she taught people to
fight while posturing around Lux. Eckstein pointed out that Ahsoka is
being sent on more missions by herself. This responsibility Anakin gives
her is a sign that he has grown to trust her over the last four
seasons, after she worked on solo missions and learned lessons. She’s
not a static character. I still believe that she walks a balance beam
between two powerful and too bland without ever meeting at a happy
medium in between, but it’s nice to see her doing more than following
Anakin into diners.
This is an episode filled with flawed people and combinations of
characters instead of focusing on established pairs. Neither Saw nor
Steela catch on to the Jedi’s teachings quickly. Lux isn’t a
particularly skilled teacher either. I’m wondering where Anakin and
Obi-Wan, both of whom have actual teaching experience, went, but they’re
probably focusing on groups instead of the leaders who learn better as
The rebels seem mad about everything, with Steela shooting a look of
anger and then understanding at Ahsoka as Lux becomes the only rebel to
pass the droideka test. She switches tacks rapidly again when Ahsoka
tries to reassure her. Maybe it’s rebel machismo, because Saw treats Lux
the same prickly way in the beginning of the episode. Ahsoka then
becomes the kid paired up with the awkward dude in gym class when Saw
offers to practice with her and Lux walks off with Steela. The first
conversation between Ahsoka and Steela remains focused on Lux, but their
second conversation does pass the Bechdel test, as they talk about the
I like that Ahsoka stresses perseverance over her innate Force
ability. The rebel leader insists that “I’m not feeling down. I just
know what I’m good at.” I would have liked to see Ahsoka’s response.
Steela’s dialogue makes for a fierce transition, a verbal cliffhanger,
but illuminates a only little more about her than we already saw: she
doesn’t like to lose, but isn’t distressed when she loses at something
that she doesn’t consider her specialty. Whether these ideas will
combine into a lesson by the end of the arc is yet to be seen.
Just as Ahsoka starts to sound like a Jedi Master as she teaches
Steela about shooting droids, she switches back to angry when Steela
gets good at it, and there’s a hint of a rivalry over Lux again. The
lesson here seems to be that attachment leads to lack of focus, and it’s
illustrated pretty well as Anakin chides Ahsoka.
The last third of the episode starts with a nice surprising moment
where functioning droids come from right behind the pieces the rebels
were using for target practice. Now Anakin and Obi-Wan show their
talents at last. They also tell the rebels to do the one thing they
hadn’t practiced for – retreat – and Steela justifiably doesn’t listen.
was a lot going on in “A War on Two Fronts,” but for an episode that
reunited Ahsoka and Lux romance wasn’t touched upon much. The Clone Wars
takes a rather odd look at adult relationships, from the sterility of
Ahsoka getting jealous of Lux teaching the rebel leader to throw, to her
sidelong “Maybe a good politician needs to get dirty now and then.” It
seems like innuendo is okay, but the show as a whole is awkward with
anything else, restricting relationships to glances. (Considering that
the only romance in the prequels is between Anakin and Padmé, maybe
that’s intentional.) With the brutal violence of the previous Maul
episode and the straightforward reference to terrorism at the start of
this one, there’s an odd coyness to the romance by comparison.
It’s also worth noting that Ahsoka and Lux look significantly younger
than Saw and Steela, although Lux and Steela are about the same height.
No one questions children being jealous of adults, or using children in
warfare or politics.
The small conflict between Anakin and Yoda hasn’t reached a
definitive conclusion yet, but we have upcoming episodes to sort that
out. For now, “A War on Two Fronts” introduces some notable new
characters and environs, then tiptoes around most of their interactions.
It was nice to see Lux and Saw resolve their conflict, a scene which
also served to bring the team together as a whole before their final
mission. All the puzzle pieces – rebellious Anakin, observant Obi-Wan,
quizzical Ahsoka, and Lux and the rebel leaders with their more nebulous
personalities – are in place, and the next few episodes will show
whether they all come together.