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Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 5 Episode 7: A Test of Strength

What is it ? : The younglings are heading home accompanied by Ahsoka, and are introduced to Professor Huyang, a droid who has been helping younglings assemble their first lightsabers for over a thousand years. But before they can complete their lightsabers, they are intercepted by Hondo Ohnaka's pirate gang, who want the Kyber Crystals which the younglings have gathered which are apparently very valuable.
The pirates disable the ship, and Ahsoka orders two of the younglings to secure the bridge, and the rest to go to the cargo hold, both areas which can be sealed off, as Ahsoka plans to boost power to the engines so they can break free of the pirate ship, causing the air to rush out dragging the pirates with it.
With pirates roaming the corridors, the younglings take to the ventilation ducts, and the two heading to the bridge secure it with R2-D2's help. However the group heading to the cargo hold are forced from the ducts by smoke grenades, and are nearly captured, only escaping by using a malfunctioning lightsaber one of them was working on, and causing it to explode. They then use some training remotes to distract some pirates, but are nearly captured by Hondo, only to be rescued by Ahsoka.
Ahsoka with her lightsabers battles Hondo with an electrostaff, but the fight is interrupted as the ship breaks free of the pirate vessel and the pirates are sucked out of the Jedi Training ship.
Ahsoka begins to seal their ship, but is hit by a pirate being sucked out, and she is left behind as the Jedi Vessel jumps to hyperspace.
Ahsoka awakens having been captured by Hondo, who wants to make his profit by selling Ahsoka.

High Points : This episode is great, I really enjoyed it.

I have to comment on Professor Huyang, the thousand year old training droid, who is voiced by the always amazing (and local boy) David Tennant. It's difficult to state exactly what it is I like about the character, perhaps it's his snarkiness, perhaps the fact he's a droid who is in a position of authority so doesn't act subservient. Whatever it is, I liked him a lot.

I also was impressed by the fact that Hondo uses Grapples not Tractor Beams, although it was probably done for story reasons, so the Jedi Training Ship could break free at the end of the episode, I loved the idea that Hondo wouldn't have access to the best technology and would just make do with whatever he could, it really added to the realism of the worn universe that Star Wars is supposed to portray.

Hondo is back, and as always he's great, but this is him at his most menacing. We've always seen him as a bit of a fast talking buffoon before, but here we can see him skilled at combat, willing to kill children for a profit, the rogue he really is.

I was very impressed with using the training remotes to distract the pirates, sending a swarm of them firing their stinging shots made for a great distraction, and it makes a huge amount of sense that the Jedi Training ship would have a bunch of them aboard. (In fact the only appearance of training remotes which doesn't make sense is their original one, why did Han Solo have a Jedi training remote aboard him ship?).

And that ending, I have to complement it, after spending the episode setting up Hondo as a menace to the heroes, it's actually believable that Ahsoka is in danger when he captures her. And the fact that the victory is turned into her capture just by an accident is brilliant. For possibly the first time, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one.
Given that Star Wars was always a homage to the saturday serials such as Flash Gordon and King of the Rocket Men, which always had cliff hangers as endings, it's really great to actually see one in Star Wars, a true "how will they get out of that" ending.

Low Points : Although this was a great episode, it's not totally perfect.

For example, when the youngling Petro sets his malfunctioning light saber to explode as a Pirate grabs it from him, he gets told off by the other Younglings. "You could have killed him!" one exclaims. Errr, you're on a mission to assemble your first lightsaber, what do you think those things are for? Jedi routinely kill and cut limbs off enemies all the time, but exploding light sabers, are a step too far? Have they not heard of the Clone Wars? At this point more than ever, Jedi are killers, and their younglings should be getting prepared for their future career as soldiers and killers.

As the younglings get forced out of the ventilation ducts by the smoke grenades, they get caught by some Pirates waiting outside the ducts. However as they clamber out, it's clearly visible that there's no smoke in the ducts, the animators forgot to add it.

I'm a little foggy on why Kyber Crystals are so valuable? In the hands of a Jedi, they can be made into a Lightsaber, and the Empire develops a way of enhancing lasers into superlasers (like the Death Stars one) later, but why will one make a man rich as Hondo suggests? Who really wants them? And if they're so valuable, why aren't the pirates extremely happy to have captured Ahsoka and her two lightsabers with the crystals within?

So what do you really think ? : I enjoyed this one, but have a question/comment!

Where's Yoda, he was on Ilum with the younglings, and we never really see him flying himself around (maybe he has a tiny Jedi Starfighter), so him not getting a lift back aboard the Jedi Training ship means that he must be doing something else!
Well in my review of the last episode I asked if the Crystal caves were modifying themselves for the younglings, or whether Yoda was there before the younglings so he could set up the caves. Now if he's remained behind, then perhaps he is setting up the caves in preparation for the next group of younglings turning up in a few weeks?
Not a solid theory, but it suits what I was asking last time, and what we see happening in the set up for this episode. Just my random thoughts.

Final Words : Well I'm definitely looking forwards to the next episode, this has been the highlight of this season so far.

Score : 9/10

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