“A Distant Echo” continues Rex’s hunt for his lost comrade in another solid episode with some neat character touches.
This recap of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 2, “A Distant Echo”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“A Distant Echo”, the second part of a four-episode story arc that Disney+ finds in fully remastered form, continues directly on from last week’s action-packed premiere. There’s slightly less action in this outing though a lot more character, as well as a small reminder of exactly what makes The Clone Wars so essential to Star Wars canon. But we’ll get to that.
First, to recap: Last week Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and an elite group of mutated clones known as “The Bad Batch” went about a secret assignment to determine how the Separatists were figuring out the Republic’s military strategies. A clue suggested that Rex’s presumed-dead clone trooper buddy Echo was still alive, and the opening catchphrase of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 2, “The search for truth begins with belief”, makes the intentions of “A Distant Echo” quite clear: Rex believes Echo is alive and wants Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and the Bad Batch to help him rescue his comrade.
Before that, though, we have some pre-mission character-building rife with fun details. Rex, for instance, is complicit in Anakin’s forbidden relationship with Senator Padmé Amidala (Catherine Taber); he stands guard while Anakin sneakily holo-calls her about the mission, forced to field awkward questions from Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), who later reveals that he too knows about the tryst. During the conversation, Padmé cradles her stomach, implying she knows that she’s pregnant with Luke and Leia, even if she hasn’t told Anakin yet. These kinds of small, subtle details are integral in giving the wider canon texture, and it’s something that The Clone Wars has always excelled at. “A Distant Echo” is a great example of it.
With Anakin in tow, Rex and the Bad Batch head for Skako Minor, the site of Echo’s apparent demise, where they get into something of a disagreement with the giant-lizard-worshipping natives, the Poletec. Luckily, thanks largely to Anakin and Rex’s influence, the clones are non-lethal in their engagements with the Poletec, and Tech (Bradley Baker once again does a great job voicing all the clones) is able to translate their language. As it turns out they’re pretty reasonable – they want to be left out of the war, but once they learn that their involvement is the fault of Wat Tambor (Matthew Wood, with another elastic vocal performance that also gives voice to the Separatist battle droids and various Poletecan villagers) they offer scouts to guide the clones to the Separatist-held city of Purkoll.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 2 spares a scene mid-mission to flesh out Rex’s state of mind, and also shade his relationship with Anakin. Feeling increasingly guilty about having apparently abandoned Echo, and increasingly sure of his continued survival, Rex comes to blows with Crosshair over the matter. Anakin advises Rex to prepare for the fact that Echo, despite what Rex heard, might still be dead, but Rex isn’t having that. It’s a small character moment, but an important one that further humanizes the clones and fleshes out their relationship with the Jedi – it’s this sort of detailing that makes something like Order 66 feel momentous, even if it’s only in retrospect since the prequel films handled it all so unforgivably poorly.
Some fun action sees the team infiltrate a Separatist tower in “A Distant Echo”, though I’d say that Wrecker’s nutcase rampaging is a bit overplayed. There’s a funny sight gag earlier on of him doing one-armed reps with a gonk droid while holding what looks like a chicken leg in his spare hand, and that kind of thing works to get across the point that he’s a knucklehead a bit better than having him disobey direct orders and jeopardize the whole mission because he can’t be stealthy for a moment. It’s a really minor nitpick but the Bad Batch supposedly has a 100% mission success rate, which is hard to believe.
Nevertheless, despite some taunting from Wat Tambor, Rex is able to find Echo – alive, but not exactly well. He has been outfitted with cybernetic legs and kept in a stasis chamber, his mind wired up by the Separatists. It’s a cruel fate with a distinct techno-horror vibe reminiscent of the second season arc on Geonosis which went full body-horror almost without warning. The show has never been afraid to get dark, and despite Rex’s insistence that Echo is going home, Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 2 hardly suggests a happy ending for the ill-fated clone.
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