They say you can tell the measure of a hero by the measure of his enemies.If that is truly the case, then Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano haven’t been faring too well. Or, until this week’s episode of Cartoon Network's Star Wars: Clone Wars, they’ve been exceedingly lucky. Yes, Count Dooku has proven he can handle himself pretty well. He can also be exceedingly ruthless. The thing is he’s mainly a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, preferring to not get his hands dirty. By this point in the series, we've also seen plenty of Dooku's master, Darth Sidious, who prefers to spend the bulk of his time as the seemingly benign Palpatine. Let’s see…Asajj Ventress has anger management issues and Yoda, quite frankly, punked not only her but her battalion of droids. The only time she beat Tano was with the help of a turncoat Republic guard working undercover. Yes, in a duel Grievous is one nasty killing machine, but when leading his own troops he comes off more like Snidely Whiplash than Genghis Khan. As for the rest of the Separatists? Too much like Colonel Klink, too greedy for their own good, or, as George Takei said when talking about his, too fat. Don’t even get started on the battle droids. Quite frankly, if the measure of the Separatists is the leaders we had seen so far, the Republic should have mopped them up ages ago. Until this week's episode. The last episode of this season introduces one last villain, named Cad Bane, and he’s truly worth the wait. Now the serious truth is the difference between a good horse opera and a space opera used to be the setting. In the classic cowboy film you have some John Wayne-type ride into town, missing only the white hat. From there, he runs into his share of bad guys, takes them out, and rides off into the sunset… sometimes with the girl in hand, sometimes with just his horse. That formula changed in the 60s when the incredible Clint Eastwood donned his poncho and cheroot as the Man With No Name. The high point of those films was the last one, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. According to sources inside Lucasfilm, Bane is based on Eastwood’s “partner” in GBU, the one played by Lee Van Cleef. As you will see in this episode, he will make Anakin look like truly foolish when all is said and over. In fact, it’s a good thing this super-mercenary is on Coruscent for other business, or I get the feeling Bane and his little cadre would have turned Skywalker into space jerky. “This episode gave us the chance to do something totally different, to go in a new direction with the series,” says supervising director Dave Filoni. “We’ve seen the good guys and the bad guys, from the top of the food chain to the cannon fodder on the front lines. Now we get to look at some of the opportunists, at the mercenaries operating without a side. It’s a whole new dynamic we haven’t seen yet, and at the same time it’s very Star Wars.” “[George Lucas] had a clear idea for this bad guy who plays by his own set of rules, whose moral code is dictated by his fee. He had sketches and concepts dating back to the original films. If Boba Fett was sort of the Man With No Name of the Star Wars galaxy, then Cad Bane is his counterpoint – his Lee Van Cleef. So that’s how we built the character, with that in mind. It’s a cool parallel to our world, and a cool balance in theirs.” To be straight, about the only thing that’s kind of irksome about Bane is his voice. As interpreted by the incredible Corey Burton, Bane has a cross between a Southwestern cowboy and an Eastern European heavy. It’s a bit disconcerting. Still, this merc’s no nonsense attitude more than makes up for it. "The crew loves Cad Bane, and I really think the fans will, too,” says episode director Giancarlo Volpe. “He brings a serious bad-ass sensibility to Star Wars. He’s a lethal and ruthless bounty hunter, and you see that right away in the episode – so long as Broadcast Standards & Practices lets us get away with it. Unlike Boba Fett, Cad doesn’t take prisoners.” You will see what this means when this episode, entitled “Hostage Crisis” airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Let’s hope we see a lot more of him starting next season. Next column: Yep. It’s the end of the first season of SWCW. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of this column. Expect interviews with Matt Lanter and Ashley Eckstein in the very near future.
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