This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, episode 7.02, “A Distant Echo.”
After the season 7 premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars spent a bulk of its oxygen introducing us to the peculiar squad, “A Distant Echo” wastes no time in showing us exactly what they’re up against in this story arc. Well, almost wastes no time, as we’re treated to a scene with Anakin and Padmé right at the top of the episode that doubles as this week’s highlight.
I love how this scene was framed. Anakin imploring Rex that, “First we have that thing to do,” doesn’t immediately clue us in to what he has on his mind. Going even further, the way he sneaks off into an empty room is shot in a foreboding manner, with ominous music lingering over the scene. It’s almost as if a traitor were slinking off into the shadows in order to relay a message to the Emperor himself. But of course, these fears are quickly assuaged as we hear the beautiful notes of “Across the Stars,” the theme to Anakin and Padmé’s love and honestly one of the absolute best things about Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
In last week’s recap, I mentioned how the entirety of The Clone Wars had a cloud of tragedy permeating over it, with the audience fully aware of how things would take a turn in Revenge of the Sith. That feeling is only more powerful here, as Padmé is donning the same outfit she would later wear on Mustafar during the encounter that would lead to the end of her story, as well as the beginning of Luke and Leia’s. As an audience, it’s pretty clear that Padmé is already pregnant during this conversation. The way she subconsciously keeps her hand near her stomach draws our eyes in, but at this point in the story, Anakin still doesn’t know. This makes it almost certain that the events of this opening arc of season 7 are occurring just prior to the start of Revenge of the Sith.
This brief conversation further solidifies how The Clone Wars as a series has done a dramatically better job of fleshing out the relationship between Anakin and Padmé than the movies ever did, especially when it comes to their struggle to keep it a secret. They’re star-crossed lovers in every definition of the term.
Apart from this, the moment also highlights just how similar Anakin and Rex have become. When Anakin expresses his worry that the clone’s personal feelings regarding Echo possibly being alive are driving the mission, Padmé delivers the canny response, “I wonder where he learned that?” Anakin following his heart before his brain is a core staple of his character, and one of the things he shares in common with the likes of Rex, as well as his former padawan Ahsoka.
The powerful scene comes to a fitting close with Obi-Wan knocking on the door, abruptly bringing the long-distance conversation to a close. Anakin pulls himself together and walks outside, trying to play it cool and succeeding about as well as a pubescent teenager. Obi-Wan doesn’t belabor the point, only giving a snide remark in, “I hope you at least told Padmé I said hello.” Although this moment is definitely played for a laugh, it also makes us question just how much Obi-Wan knows about the hidden tryst, for how long he’s known about it, and how many other members of the Jedi Council know. I’m curious to see if this is a one-off moment or if it will be revisited later on in the season.
With this scene out of the way, the remainder of “A Distant Echo” deals with Anakin, Rex, and the Bad Batch traveling to the moon Skako Minor in search of the Wat Tambor and the Techno Union’s source of Echo’s transmission. That was a lot of weird proper nouns in a single sentence, which only reaffirms that this is a Star Wars recap.
One of the joys of The Clone Wars series — and Star Wars as a whole — is using it as a bit of an intergalactic travel log, and “A Distant Echo” doesn’t disappoint. Skako Minor is coated with a thick layer of yellow, mustardy clouds that give everything an air of mystery and danger. The natives, a lanky race that resembles stretched out onion stalks called Poletecs, quickly add to the sense of danger as they snatch Anakin away using the flying reptiles that they seem to worship.
Anakin’s brief hijacking allows for the individual members of the Bad Batch to once again flex their unique personalities and powers. The way each of them distinctly solves problems makes it feel like they’re pulled out of a video game, and I mean that in a good way. Wrecker heaves his weight against a boulder, toppling it down a hill onto his enemies. Crosshair remains impeccably calm as he lines up his harpoon for an impossibly difficult shot at the flying creature. Tech is quick to provide information and background on any new obstacle that stands in the way. And of course, their leader Hunter remains the key ingredient that keeps this strange brew from overflowing. I really dig the team’s dynamic, and how it occasionally grinds abrasively with Rex and the other clones.
The final act of the episode unfolds with Anakin rescued and a promise to the Poletecs that the crew just wants to find their pal and be on their way. The mission leads them through a dust storm crackling with snaps of lightning until they reach the giant pillars where the signal seems to be coming from. Wrecker’s fear of heights comes through to provide a nice juxtaposition with his generally violent demeanor, as he puts on his brave-kid face and stutters out, “I’m not scared of nothing! It’s just… when I’m up real high… I got a problem with gravity.”
The elevator ride up to the source of the transmission provides another great archetypal Star Wars moment of expectation vs. reality as the best laid plans of the heroes are quickly tossed asunder. “Remember, this is a stealth mission. No blasting, no blowing things up. No one knows that we’re here,” are the last words spoken before the doors open to reveal a slew of battle droids, including a new thinner model that chases Anakin into a narrow corridor and provides fodder for an interesting skirmish where he has to defend himself with limited room to maneuver.
“A Distant Echo” ends with Rex finding Echo, who’s been imprisoned in a test tube and plugged into learning machines like one of the humans in The Matrix. After a brief moment of doubt on whether Echo is actually alive or dead, he snaps back to reality and has a heartfelt reunion with Rex. But for how long remains the question that lingers over this arc. Thanks to Rebels, we know Rex has his chip removed and eventually goes on the run with Ahsoka Tano, but where Echo fits in with that whole story remains a mystery that will presumably be answered in the coming weeks, as we continue our march towards the tragedy of Order 66.