"Senate Spy", the fourth episode of the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, is very much a thrilling homage to what may have been one of Alfred Hitchcock's finest films, Notorious. The original film starred Cary Grant as an American spy who was in charge of getting Ingrid Bergman, the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer, to get close enough to Nazi-in-hiding Claude Rains for intelligence-gathering purposes. But Cary Grant and Claude Rains are both in love with Ingrid Bergman (I am, too, but really, who isn't in love with her?) and Rains takes precedence because he's the one being spied on. Cary Grant smolders in his jealousy as Rains slowly realizes he's gotten involved with a spy and that's something that needs to be taken care of.
This episode of Clone Wars follows that pattern pretty well, but adapted it for the time and place incredibly well. There's a senator who is working with the Separatists, they need someone to spy on him and he and Padme have a past. Little do they realize that they've assigned Padme's husband to watch out for her.
The episode plays out much the same way as the film (some of the who's and how's are different) but Padme is poisoned, Anakin needs to come in and carry her out while the love interest (Clovis, the Claude Rains character) is left to deal with the bad guys.
It's all straight thriller and I thought it was incredibly well executed for a 22 minute animated television show. They condensed the feel of the movie into the episode in ways that a lot of people won't notice or care. I've said over and over again in these reviews that the team behind this show care a lot about Star Wars and it shows, but this episode illustrates a reverence and passion for cinema that extends beyond the Star Wars saga.
For example, one of Hitchcock's most infamous shots (not just in Notorious, but through his entire career) was that of the camera sweeping down the stairway in on Ingrid Bergman. True, they weren't able to get a shot with that amount of significance in it into this show, but there was a motif of sweeping staircases. Even Padme's costume in the beginning of the episode seems modeled after Ingrid Bergman's in the beginning of the film, bare midriff and all.
Sure, there wasn't a lot of fights and battles. Sure, no one ignited a lightsaber and nary a Clone was to be seen, but this may have been one of the most solid additions into the Clone Wars cartoon I've seen on a storytelling level.
Maybe the kids won't like this particular episode as much as the adults do, but it might give us adults occasion to tell our kids about a certain overweight filmmaker and some movies he made. Maybe we'll show them Notorious. Or North by Northwest. Or Rear Window. Maybe those films will still be a little over their heads, but maybe they'll start to get it.
In any case, at the end of the day, we'll all be better for it.
To catch up on Season 1, you can preorder The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One at Amazon by clicking the link.
For other Clone Wars news and reviews of previous episodes, click this link.