I think this episode of The Clone Wars was the most anticipated yet. Ever since we first learned that Boba Fett would make an appearance in the show, Fett enthusiasts and Original Trilogy die-hards alike have been eagerly awaiting the small-screen debut of Star Wars's most famous bounty hunter. It didn't hurt that Boba Fett himself (Daniel Logan) hyped the episode on Twitter for weeks leading up to the premiere. There was a lot to like in Death Trap, from a clone youth field trip to Fett's first vengeful strike against Mace Windu.
The focus of this episode was undoubtedly on the clone youth group. It was cool to see these youngsters walking around the ship; we often forget that the troopers we see on the front lines started off exactly like these guys. Ever since we learned that the Kaminoans grew these guys in vats, I've been looking forward to seeing them at an early point in their lives. We saw a brief glimpse of this in Attack of the Clones, but until now we haven't really watched them interact with each other or the world around them. I thought it was a nice touch to have these clone cadets staring up at the troopers on guard duty. You can tell that the cadets are anxious to become as capable and experienced as the big boys.
Since their debut in AOTC, I've been intrigued by the clones and interested in learning more about their backgrounds. The Clone Wars has given us more character exposition of these soldiers, and Death Trap gave us the first taste of what it's like to be a clone cadet growing up during the war. The scene where the youth group leader quizzed his trainees reminded me of a classic "hands-on" school field trip. And of course, there's always someone sneaking off to get into trouble. I will say that I think Boba Fett managed to sneak away too easily. I can't imagine doing that without at least one of my fellow students noticing my absence.
It was really interesting to see how the clone cadets responded to Boba's treachery. The discussion in the clone cadet pod, however brief, reminds us that all trained soldiers in the GAR start off as jumpy, emotionally-unstable kids. I liked the idea of them being startled by his betrayal because of how much alike they were. There was definitely a "brothers" theme in this episode, as with many others focused on the clones. It makes sense when you think about it. These clones have grown up together, and in some cases they've been in the same unit since they were Boba's age or younger.
There's definitely a sense of camaraderie here, and until he left with Aurra and Bossk, Boba was one of those cadets. They trusted him implicitly, with the unspoken understanding that he'd come out of a vat just like the rest of them. I predict that a lot of this arc will be about Boba finding his identity and what it means to be in his position. The clone cadets are growing up as a team, learning, eating, sleeping, and fighting as a cohesive unit, but Boba Fett is devoid of brotherly comfort. In a galaxy where so many of his identical twins have each other for family, Boba Fett is truly an orphan.
The target practice scene in the beginning of the episode was interesting, for several reasons. For one thing, it established Boba Fett as a darn good shot. It was clear from that moment that this kid was different from his peers, and if anyone had seen this episode without knowing Fett's whole story, that would have been their first clue that this young cadet was more than he seemed. This scene was also pretty cool for another reason: it gave us an idea of how hard it is for the average person -- or untrained cadet -- to hit a moving target in space. We often see the older clones hitting their targets on their first try (and often under much more pressure and with more things to worry about than these cadets). Heck, Anakin and Obi-Wan rarely miss. So it's interesting to see how hard it is for these youngsters to hit the practice disks.
When young Boba snuck off to Mace's quarters, we only knew that he was up to no good. What we didn't know was how he planned to deal with his revenge. And even when he planted the small device at the bottom of Mace's doorframe, we could only guess as to its intention. I figured that it was some kind of trick designed to kill Mace (a "death trap," if you will), but I wasn't prepared for what came next. I suspected that the laser might activate something based on motion-sensitivity -- perhaps it would lock the door to Mace's chambers as soon as he entered, trapping him while a mysterious gas ended his life.
As viewers, we knew that Mace was one step away from a fiery death. The scene where he almost got blown to bits was impressive, visually and audibly. It was tense and nerve-wracking to see him an inch away from his doom, even though we knew he had to survive. Until that poor clone stepped in to give Mace a message, I was trying to figure out how Mace would avoid Boba's revenge. The clone's death was likewise well-done. The explosion was fiery and the music (complete with a bell tolling) was grim. I also found it interesting that Mace didn't get a bad feeling about Boba when he bumped into the child in the hallway; if Boba was as angry as he looked just minutes earlier, Mace should have detected that ill will with the Force.
Let's not beat around the bush here: in addition to the clone cadets, this episode was really all about Boba Fett. In Death Trap, we learned a lot about the boy who would one day talk back to Darth Vader. As of this episode, young Boba is still fairly new to the whole "ruthless murderer" game. Even as a cold-blooded killer (or would-be killer), he still has reservations about killing innocent clones to accomplish his goal of revenge. Here we see the conflict between Boba as a child and Boba as a determined villain. I actually find it really refreshing to see the primary villain of a story arc having doubts about what he's doing. Even if that ended with the next episode, I'd still consider Death Trap an important part of the Clone Wars storyline, simply because it offered us a unique take on villainy.
The scene where Boba fought the clone trooper in the reactor room was also an important dose of character exposition. The whole scene was intense (especially because of the almost-angelic music in the background), but the best part was the close-up of the clone trooper's eyes as he frantically implored Boba to stand down. I was convinced that Boba would have killed the soldier had the man not tripped him. When he did shoot, thankfully the weapon was set to stun. Even so, Boba hesitated long enough to make me think that he was having second thoughts. And for the record, I think it's a little stupid that the clone gave Boba his blaster. Even if he thought that there was no imminent danger (which there obviously was), I'd be more cautious about handing loaded weapons to children.
At the end of the episode, when Boba met up with Aurra Sing, we saw another moment that revealed more about Boba Fett's character. As someone who is familiar with Fett's later life as an incredibly-skilled bounty hunter, the moment to which I'm referring struck me as surprising at first, but I later understood why it happened. When Boba asks Aurra what she's going to do with the clone cadets, she asks him what he thinks she'll do. Boba then responds, "Let them go?" There will be someone out there who now hates the TCW team for making Boba Fett at any age look na´ve. To them, I would point out that this kid is not even a teenager. His father may have been Jango Fett, but how much of the ruthless world of bounty hunting could any child internalize at that age? Boba himself is still very na´ve in many respects, and to me, that only enhances his character. It will be interesting to see him grow and get progressively more bitter and battle-hardened as the story arc continues.
In addition to the first appearance of Bossk, Death Trap also introduced us to Admiral Kilian. Scottish accent aside (I really want to hear him say, "Top o' the mornin' to ya!" at some point), Kilian was presented as a dynamic and powerful character. He wanted to make it clear to the clone cadets that the Separatists wouldn't give them a second chance in battle; the man has clearly seen his share of battle. He also recognized Boba Fett as a person to watch; he obviously saw something different about this young man. For all there is to like about him, I really don't understand why he didn't evacuate when the ship started deteriorating. He says, "It's not sentiment. An admiral must go down with his ship." But that's 100% sentiment. I feel like his refusal to leave was just a plot device to get him stranded on the planet below for the next episode in the arc. On the other hand, it could just be a way of portraying him as an obstinate military man.
The voice work in this episode was some of the best in the whole season. Daniel Logan did a great job giving voices -- and identities -- to the variety of clone cadets we met. He made them sound very distinct and did for them what Dee Bradley Baker did for older clones. I am regularly impressed with the talented people who comprise the TCW cast, and Logan was no exception. Furthermore, Jaime King was positively sinister as Aurra Sing. She did a great job playing the role of Fett's mentor. In just the few lines we heard from her, I was convinced of Aurra Sing's menacing presence. King's performance absolutely helped sell the character as an important series villain. I look forward to hearing more from her.
Death Trap, like many other episodes of The Clone Wars, had a number of great camera angles that enhanced the plot and characters. As Mace and Anakin leave the clones, we see the first real instance of menace in young Boba's eyes. That shot gave me chills, because in just a few seconds we saw years of post-Geonosis anguish and deep-seated resentment towards Master Windu. In just that one moment, the TCW team established three episodes' worth of trouble for the Jedi. Another great scene was Boba shooting up the reactor room. I liked how the camera spun around as Boba unloaded round after round into the ship's vital equipment. The third example of excellent camerawork came at the end of the episode, after Boba had abandoned the cadets. The shot of Slave I escaping to parts unknown as the clone cadets' pod floats listlessly was one of my favorite images of the whole episode. That shot was particularly good because of the creepy, innocent-sounding music.
Now for some miscellanea. I liked seeing Anakin wanting to show off to the cadets at the beginning of the episode. Mace may think that Anakin was being egotistical (to be fair, he was), but there's a grain of truth to the idea that these cadets view Anakin as a superhero. Indeed, after the Jedi leave, the cadets do start muttering about their "celebrity sighting." I also really enjoyed seeing Slave I in this episode; it was yet another way of connecting the Fett sub-universe to the TCW story. In the homage department, a clone being sucked out of the ship following the reactor room explosion uttered a Wilhelm scream, and Boba Fett's unit identifier was Cadet 327.
Plot-wise, this episode was sparse. Visually, it delivered, although not to the degree of other recent episodes like The Zillo Beast. The area in which Death Trap truly shined was in setting the stage for next week's double-episode finale. I really liked this episode because of what we learned about Boba Fett. First of all, he's still conflicted about letting innocents die as he pursues his mission. Second, he was well-trained by his father (and probably Aurra Sing) in shooting, both with a turbolaser and a blaster. Third, though he's still sorting out his reservations about collateral damage, he knows one thing for sure: Mace Windu must pay for the death of Jango Fett.
In the next two episodes, we'll see a lot more amazing scenes with Boba Fett. For now, though, we'll have to be content with Death Trap and the character development it provided. Perhaps because I've been anticipating Boba Fett's return to Star Wars, I came away from this episode thoroughly impressed, despite the lack of significant events. This episode gave us some dynamic characters, both brand new and relatively unknown. Daniel Logan did a superb job as Boba and the various clone cadets. If nothing else, Death Trap will be remembered as the first true character exposition of the young man destined to be the galaxy's most fearsome and enigmatic bounty hunter.