Not a single lightsaber is drawn nor blaster fired in Season 2’s “Senate Spy”, which is an interesting and refreshing change of pace for The Clone Wars. We instead focus on characters, relationships, and politics. It’s all very silly, and I can’t help but feel bad for Padmé after watching.
It starts with an adorably happy scene between Anakin and Padmé. Anakin just returned from a long time away at war, and they’re settling in for a romantic evening. Between offering each other dinner, showing affection, and discussions of Anakin calling the place “home”, the two lovebirds are treating their relationship with care and love. Of course, an opening scene like this means you know there’s trouble coming.
Trouble’s name is Rush Clovis, a senator from the Banking Clan who the Jedi suspect is working with the Separatists. However he isn’t much worse than any of the other characters in this episode, at least from the perspective of how Padmé is treated…
A Means to an End
Clovis is Padmé’s ex. The Jedi want Padmé to spy on him. But they don’t just want it, they demand it. When she refused, they tell Anakin to convince her (interrupting their romantic night in the process). It’s a little unpleasant and gross watching the room full of male Jedi discuss how they’re going to manipulate a woman’s personal relationships for their own gain. At best making her very uncomfortable, and at worst putting her in a dangerous situation. Obi-wan, Mace Windu, and Yoda don’t seem to care about Padmé’s well-being or respect her independent choices at all. They don’t even pretend to.
At least Anakin respects her right?….Right?
A Person to Control
Anakin, unfortunately, is Anakin. He has all the relationship experience of a high schooler, and regresses to precisely that state when he learns about Padmé’s old boyfriend. He does the opposite of what the Jedi tell him. Not telling her “you should be allowed to make your own choices”, but instead “I’m not going to let you do it”. Yikes.
So naturally she decides to do it.
This is where things get hilarious, as Anakin has to accompany Padmé and Clovis to Cato Neimoidia with them flirting all the while. Anakin makes them sit apart, swerves the ship when they’re getting too close, and spends the episode desperately waiting for the call that will allow him to take her away from him. Literal teen sitcom shenanigans, it’s a fun time.
And while Anakin keeps saying he wants to protect her, it’s clear that his actions are driven by jealousy, not the respect and care Padmé deserves.
A Damsel in Distress
It should come as no surprise that the bad guys (here, the Neimoidian Lott Dod) continue to put Padmé’s life in danger, putting her in a position to be rescued once again. She is poisoned in order to be used as a bargaining chip between Dod and Clovis as they work on an agreement regarding a droid factory on Geonosis.
Padmé, being smarter than anyone gives her credit for, discovers the plans for the droid factory and steals them, all while tricking Clovis and about ready to collapse from deadly poison. She delivers the information to Anakin, and while fainting in Clovis’ arms she says “duty comes first no matter how you feel.” I like this line because it’s both a lie to Clovis about her feelings for him and a truth about her entire experience in this episode. It also parallels earlier uses of “duty comes first” between her and Anakin, a sentiment that has clearly put a damper on their relationship and desire for a happy life together.
An Old Flame
And then there’s Rush Clovis. He clearly has the hots for Padmé, and she gives him every reason to believe she wants to get back together, flirting with him nonstop throughout the episode. He happily takes the bait, constantly making moves on her. Some of these moves are a little creepy and uncomfortable, but again, you can’t really blame him for completely falling for her trap.
Clovis clearly cares about her, and has some level of respect for her decisions. He doesn’t blame her for sneaking out of her room, even offering her a tour. She asks for water, and he’s willing to leave her alone to retrieve it. And in the end, even after learning she was only there to spy and steal, he puts her life first. Clovis threatens Lott Dod to obtain her antidote, and keeps him at gunpoint to allow Anakin to take her to safety.
But Clovis only does all this because he’s attracted to Padmé. And the fact that he falls so easily for her playing dumb doesn’t given the best impression of how he views her. He’ll wait on her, protect her, and show kindness, but it’s unclear whether he sees her as much more than eye candy.
There’s a lot of lying and sneaky behavior going on in this episode, which makes it fun for the audience to decide what’s really going on. For example, how much is Padmé purposefully messing with Anakin? Is she having fun tricking Clovis, or just a really good actress? I wasn’t even sure half the time if she was actually poisoned or just pretending. These sorts of episodes offer a different experience to Clone Wars, but still equally entertaining. However, I wish there was a bit more resolution for Padmé and acknowledgment of all she’s been through and what she accomplished. Somehow the only person who apologizes at the end is Padmé. She deserved a better ending than that. Especially for an episode that, ridiculously, centered around a single female character surrounded by men telling her what to do.