I'm not even sure where to start with this one. "Mercy Mission" is a fairy tale like romp starring Artoo and Threepio as a sort of Alice and Dinah (or Dorothy and Toto) who find themselves on a mission to help a planet plagued by earthquakes and end up down a metaphorical rabbit hole, trying to solve the Caterpillar like riddles that will save both races of people caught in the destruction of the quakes.
This episode was a bizarre and delightful fantasy.
It had all of the hallmarks of a classic storybook tale, with Threepio and Artoo as the children trapped in the world no one else knows about or believes in.
The imagery of the episode was decidedly fantastical and it took an entirely humorous bent on an episode. And to be honest, I find breather episodes like this refreshing. The Clone Wars hasn't much tapped its full potential for these entertaining and whimsical episodes and I'm glad their cutting loose. And there was plenty of great film references here. Aside from the obvious Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz comparisons, this episode had flourishes of Return of the Jedi with the banter between Threepio and the ewok-like creatures who seem to worship him.
One of my favorite moments is when they're given a riddle by the caterpillar like girl at the end of the labyrinth and are forced to solve it in order to get back to the surface and save the day. Did it seem as obvious to anyone else that the puzzle they were given was reminiscent of The Fifth Element?
Overall, this episode was a breather episode (that was produced for Season 3) that offered little in the way of continuing story lines but was a lot of fun for the kids. Both of my kids adored this episode. It was funny for them and they were just at rapt attention the entire time. It was fun watching with them.
Based on the preview for the upcoming episodes, it looks like we're getting more adventures of Artoo and Threepio. If nothing else, The Clone Wars crew is showing how it's done. That Droids show doesn't have anything on them. Could this be the three episode Droids arc? Who knows.
What I do know is that these whimsical episodes don't bother me. In fact, I will still go so far as to say that Bombad Jedi might be on my top 5 favorite episodes of the series.
Some might balk at episodes like this, but I would argue that they're a welcome distraction. They can't be expected to give us one-note war episodes week after week after week. The wide expanse of the Star Wars universe and the equally expansive nature of the form of an animated television show demands variation and artistic license. It's great to see them giving it to us.
And one note about the beautiful animation in this episode, particularly during the underground sequences, my 8 year old daughter was so convinced by the tree-like people, she honestly thought they were puppets and kept asking if they were real puppets. To my mind, that seems like high praise for the show.
We'll be back next week with the episode "Nomad Droids". You can watch a clip of it on StarWars.Com, but it looks like equal parts Gulliver's Travels, Willow, and Spies Like Us.
I can't wait.