The set up for "Supply Lines" is quite simple. In the first third of the show, we learn that Jedi Master Di is besieged on Ryloth and in order to fend off the attack and feed the civilians so they can continue their resistance. Unfortunately for the Republic, the staging grounds for their blockade runners for resupply are too far away, so they suggest to Bail Organa that if he can convince the King of Toydaria to allow them to stage the resupply there, the people of Ryloth will have a shot at survival. The problem is that Toydaria is a neutral planet and the Trade Federation has representatives on planet that will consider it an act of war if they aid the Republic.
To make matters worse, Bail Organa's diplomatic wingman is Jar Jar Binks, and with him around, anything is liable to happen.
The story is split between Jedi Master Di and his clone troops on Ryloth and Organa and Jar Jar working on Toydaria.
This episode had its bright points for me, to be sure. The action sequences on Ryloth looked as good as the battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones, and it had a lot of great moments in there that added to it. One of my favorite moments was when Master Di, who seemed very much like Kambei from Seven Samurai actually knelt down on the ground and laid out his very elegant plan in the dirt. The animation and lighting in these sequences was second to none.
The sections of the episode that were on Toydaria were done well and added comedy and suspense to the episode in a way I was a little surprised to see. The King of Toydaria rules that because of their neutrality, they can't help the Republic. However, he tells Bail Organa on the sly that he can supply the ships he has on him, as long as the Trade Federation doesn't see.
Unfortunately, they all have a diplomatic dinner in a circular room with windows for walls overlooking the staging area. Organa leaves Jar Jar to distract them while he organizes the ship supplies.
It's a very clever episode, but the scenes in the dining room didn't work as well for me as anything else. It wasn't Jar Jar, it was really the lighting, to be honest. It was very dark and seemed pretty disconnected from the rest of the episode.
Jar Jar is used incredibly well in this episode. He's grown significantly as a character and I actually really, really like him on this show. In fact, I watched Bombad Jedi over again this evening before this episode, and was impressed by how great it was. In fact, I have to say I liked Bombad Jedi more than this episode, at least from a comedy standpoint. As far as animation goes, this new episode is light years ahead of Bombad Jedi. But Jar Jar works as a character because everyone around him seems to be walking on pins and needles, waiting for him to screw something up.
The thing that might have struck me the most about this episode, though, was that this was essentially a defeat for the Republic. Jedi Master Di and his troops lose. They all sacrifice themselves in order to buy the Twi-lek's time to escape and the Separatists march over their corpses. This is actually pretty exciting. At Celebration V, Filoni mentioned that his favorite part of the classic trilogy was that the Republic was always on the run from the enemy. Every battle was a defeat, and if it wasn't a defeat, it was a hard earned win with plenty of sacrifice. He also said we'd be seeing more of that in Season 3 and I think this episode marks the beginning of that.
I also want to put in a complaint to whatever the guilty party was for the audio on this episode. After hearing the way an episode should sound at The Presidio, my guess is that it wasn't Lucas Animation's fault. Comcast or Cartoon Network should be ashamed of themselves. Did anyone else feel like they were watching the episode through an echo chamber? The audio presentation was horrible, and it wasn't user error. It was just the show, my TV was fine, the commercials were fine, the shows before and after were fine. I might redownload this episode on iTunes because the presentation on television was so bad.
Overall, this was a pretty good episode. I'm excited for next week. Greedo, Jabba, and Baron Papanoida? Sign me up.