This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, episode 7.03, “On the Wings of Keeradaks.”
The third episode of this final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars shows just how well this series is able to tell a compelling story with minimal dialogue. But what “On the Wings of Keeradaks” lacks in script pages, it makes up for in excitement, as we kick things off immediately following the surprising end of last week’s events. As Anakin and Rex attempt to “unplug” Echo from whatever mainframe the Techno Union had him tethered to, we’re treated to an evolution of the new, thinner battle droids we were introduced to last week. The way they pry the door open and stick their heads through immediately brings to mind memories of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park making their way into the kitchen. It’s simultaneously scary and familiar, and it makes for a really great opening to the episode.
We also get more great individual moments with each member of the Bad Batch right off the bat. Needing to escape their predicament using an out-of-reach ventilation shaft, the hulking Wrecker is quick to toss his fellow soldiers high up into the air, whether they were prepared for it or not. When he turns to do the same to Anakin, we get a nice character moment where the hero stops him, remarking, “It’s okay. I’ve got this,” before nimbly jumping up there on his own.
The thing they’re trying to escape is called a Decimator, which is a floating sphere that seems like it belongs at the same family reunion as the torture droids we met back in ‘77 in A New Hope. The moment our crew escapes their confines, the Decimator begins to spew purple lightning in every direction, frying everything organic in its path. It’s a dangerous new addition to the Separatist armada that really ups the stakes in the episode.
Freeing Echo was one thing, but successfully getting him off Skako Minor is something else entirely. This leads to our heroes having to navigate from one of the towering pillars to another along a narrow walkway. Once again, Wrecker’s general unease of heights comes into play as they slowly shuffle between the two points of solid ground. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and we’re treated to the best shot of the week: a wide frame of the crew bunching up in the center of the walkway as battle droids draw in on both sides in symmetrical hopelessness.
Luckily, they’re able to find themselves out of that sticky situation by calling upon a herd of Keeradacks, the same winged creatures that snagged Anakin during the last episode. But with this help comes a new revelation, as those new, strange, thin models of battle droids that chased our heroes last week suddenly unfurl their wings and take flight after our heroes. This was a genuine moment of surprise that shows how both sides continue to adapt and evolve through the Clone Wars themselves.
The final act of “On the Wings of Keeradaks” involves the Poletecs unwittingly finding themselves in the middle of the battle. At first they’re angry at Anakin and crew for breaking their promise and bringing the war to them, but after seeing how the Techno Union treated Echo, they realize that war is coming regardless of if they want it or not. What follows is an extended siege that sees a lot of casualties on both sides, which once again reminds us of how vast the losses in this ultimately meaningless conflict were.
The battle comes to an end as Anakin hops aboard the back of one of the Separatist spider droid tanks and, in a sequence that resembles something Legolas would do in The Lord of the Rings movies, single-handedly takes it down by slicing off its limbs and giving it one final Force push. Apart from just being a cool moment, it also does a great job of highlighting just how powerful of a Jedi Anakin is in these waning hours before his turn to the Dark Side.
“On the Wings of Keeradaks” closes on a moment of solace after the victory, with Echo thanking Rex and the crew for rescuing him. “Hopefully it’s going to be just like old times,” Rex tells him. “Yeah… just like old times,” Echo responds with a distant air of sorrow in his voice. I’m not entirely sure how to read this line. Grim foreshadowing? Sad resignation? Did he somehow learn of the Emperor’s plans while he was hooked up into the Techno Union mainframe? Does this give us any indication of what Echo’s fate might be in this final push towards Order 66? We’ll see if any of these questions are answered in the coming weeks.
One really strange fact about “On the Wings of Keeradaks” came during the credits, when I saw that it was directed by Walter Murch. HIs name might not ring a bell, but you’ve undoubtedly seen some of his work, as Murch is one of the most accomplished film and sound editors in cinema history. He’s won countless awards, including several Oscars, for his work on movies like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The English Patient, and Cold Mountain. Fittingly, two of the earliest projects he worked on were George Lucas’ THX 1138 and American Graffiti, bringing the whole thing full circle. Again, this episode eschewed a dialogue-heavy script in favor of a lot of non-verbal action and storytelling, and I think Murch did a really great job making an episode that felt different from its predecessors.
While I really enjoyed this opening three-episode arc of season 7, I can’t help but feel a growing sense of dread when I think about how we’re already a quarter through this final batch of Clone Wars episodes, and it feels like there’s still so much ground we need to cover. At this point in the season, I was hoping that more of the pieces would’ve been introduced, with their final placement on board becoming clearer and clearer. Instead, what we had was a really enjoyable hang with some pals both old and new, even though the world as we know it is on the cusp of changing forever.