'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Review: "On The Wings Of Keeradaks" Is A Letdown In A Number Of Ways

The latest episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars kicks off with a lot of action. With the long-lost clone trooper Echo (Dee Bradley Baker) back in their grasp, the clones (also voiced by Baker) and their Jedi General Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) escape the Separatist outpost. They're forced to call in the flying beasts and head back to the village of the Skako Minor indigenous Poletecs (where David Acord and the sound design emit auditory other-worldliness), who are reasonably frustrated that the clones attracted the war to them. Regardless, they form a quick alliance with clones and Jedi and lash back on the Separatist attack.Compared to the first two episodes in the arc, "On the Wings of Keeradaks" is a letdown. The personal conflicts that compelled the previous episodes have taken a backseat. As it was probably quickly resolved by the discovery of Echo, Rex's anxiety about losing a brother does not carry as much weight as it did in the previous two chapters. Anakin Skywalker's arc is placed on hold for now. And the suggestions of fresher conflicts are undercooked. The Republic-indigenous people's relations here lack the weighty introspection back in a season one two-part arc starting with "Jedi Crash," and perhaps the quickly-knitted Poletec relations could have been done in a way that doesn't rehash the previous arc. The cost on the Poletecs' lives are barely addressed. It also seems disingenuous that Anakin and the clones don't indicate reparations as the Poletecs easily forge a long-term alliance with the Jedi.If you want action and movement, you got it. There are some bits of humor, such as the running gag of the burly Wrecker flinging his brothers. Again, the Bad Batch, despite their diverse design and the occasional pop of their personalities, have been woefully under-fleshed out as beings in their own existence, and this episode does the least justice for them. Echo's coping with his predicament should rake in the most intrigue. The war's theft of a soldier's humanity is highlighted to motivate the Poletecs to grasp the cruelty of "neutral" occupiers and fight back. But Echo has hardly a voice that takes precedence. He offers a helpful tip and the courtesy of his brain implants and is glad to return to his kin, but there's barely any exploration or suggestion of his own wounded psyche until the end. Clone Wars episodes have varying commitments to its opening epigraphs, and this quote-opener —"Survival is one step on the path to living"— that would illuminate Echo's suffering and healing isn't fully realized.This renders the final shot less earned than it should have been. The hint of bittersweet in Kevin Kiner's music composition when Echo repeats, "Just like old times," is tonally suspect. It seems Echo wants to believe he can go back to the good old days. On the other hand, the lack of developments can lead one to believe that Echo returning to the Republic military will be his balm—far from it. I don't believe Echo re-integrating into the Republic military, his birth-institution that has oppressed him in ways only Rex and a few clones are aware of in varying degrees, would be his salvation. For those who know of the unfinished reels released in a previous Star Wars Celebration, there's one more episode in the arc. Time will tell whether the final product of the arc's last chapter could restore the steam.