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What is it ? : The planet of Mandalore is suffering from restrictions in trade caused by its neutrality in the Clone Wars, both sides are avoiding trade, and the people are having to use the black market for supplies.
Duchess Satine calls on her old friend Padme Amidala to visit the planet, see it's woes and influence the Republic to help out with the shortages (which is nice, help us with our shortages, and we'll not help you with your war).
As they're touring a hospital they become aware of many hundred of people being taken ill across the planet, thinking it is perhaps a Death Watch plot to cause problems during Padmes visit, the Duchess and Padme investigate along with the Duchesses personal bodyguards. They investigate a school, and discover the poison is in the bottled tea that the children are drinking, and discover that it's being smuggled in from the docks. From there they discover that port officials are being bribed to allow the smugglers access, and they follow the cargo to a warehouse which they seize and burn to the ground.
Satine is worried about the corruption on her world, and asks Padme to arrange for a Jedi to come and investigate, which Padme says she'll ask Yoda about.
High Points : The episode is pretty good, and a nice change of pace for the series telling a story we've not really seen before. However, it's also full of flaws, and the first part of the story really drags, as it sets up the plot, and the first poisoning and the investigation beginning don't occur until halfway through the episode.
On the whole the episode is a little preachy, but still enjoyable. We get to see some more of Mandalore, it's pretty cities and it's ravaged surface. I really see why the Mandalorian people would become expert architects and civic planners, with the rest of the planet a grey dusty desert, they'd want to make their cities bright and interesting.
Low Points : Okay, many of these complaints are probably only niggles, but here we go.
The plot revolves around Poison Tea, the tea has been smuggled in, and to double the quantity of tea they're selling they cut it with a chemical Slabim. Slabim is not normally poisonous except when cut to heavily with the Tea, something the smugglers and their lackeys are aware of but do never-the-less.
Which seems a little odd, can't they just make watery tea? I know they don't expect to use the wrong quantities and poison people, but even after they're aware of a planet wide poisoning epidemic, they don't stop and reconsider their actions, they just press on ahead.
Also, you only see one transport bringing in tea, tea that's already packaged in the same bottles they sell it in, but somehow they cut it with Slabim and have twice as many bottles as well.
And also, the poison epidemic is worldwide, but the transport that brings in the tea doesn't look bigger than a 3 1/2 ton panel van, which surely can't carry enough bottled tea for an entire planet.
During the beginning of the investigation into the source of the poisoning, Duchess Satine states "This is a mandalorian matter" just after Padme Amidala has finished handing out orders on how to conduct the search. A little ironic I thought.
During the investigation they visit a school to find the source of the poisoning, the Superintendent of the School is very helpful explaining the food has been tested and is clear of contamination. They then ask about the water, he explains that it's filtered and pure. They then note the students are drinking bottled tea, and he explains that they're allowed to bring in drinks of their own, and then he takes a sample of the drinking bottles from a student, and tests it, helping them isolate and identify the poison.
And then turns out to be taking bribes to allow the poison tea into the school.
Why is he so helpful if he knows he's taking bribes to allow the drinks into the school? Why is he being bribed if the students bring their own drinks from home. What the heck is going on, and where did that plot line come from.
In the opening speech of the episode the narrator states "Supplies are hard to come by, except on the black market. As a result, the Duchess faces a world consumed by greed." Errr, they're short on supplies, but the world is consumed by greed. Yes all those people using the black market to fill their bellies. All that corruption as the people ignore the politicians so they can feed and clothe their children. I think Duchess Satine needs to get down out of her ivory castle and see the effects of her policies on her people. Perhaps she needs to decide whether their moral superiority or the lives of the people are more important.
So what do you really think ? : For all my moans, this episode was pretty good and I generally enjoyed it. It's got a lowish mark for the annoyances above, which saddens me since it was so nearly much better.
Final Words : At the end of the episode, Satine asks Padme to arrange a Jedi to help investigate the corruption. Personally I like to believe that she was trying to arrange a reason for Obi-Wan to visit so she could see him and spend some time rekindling their romance, but that's probably just me.
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