Title: "Bounty Hunters"
Writer / Director: Carl Ellsworth / Stewart Lee
Tagline: "Courage makes heroes, but trust builds friendship."
Story: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tanno are dispatched to Felucia to investigate a loss of contact with a Republic medical station in orbit there. A run-in with some Separatist vulture droids leaves the trio of Jedi stranded on the planet's surface. Searching for a way back home, they come across a settlement of terrified farmers. Apparently the wily pirate Hondo Ohnaka is up to his old tricks, demanding a portion of the crop in exchange for not blasting the crap out of everyone. So the farmers bring in a quartet of bounty hunters to protect them, leading to a tentative alliance between Jedi and hired guns.
The Return Of Hondo: When we last saw Hondo, he'd somehow managed to capture Count Dooku AND two Jedi, Anakin and Obi-Wan. True, the Force-users made good on an escape, but the act in itself makes Hondo an adversary to be cautious with. While he's got no Force abilities, he makes up for it with a sharp, devious mind and considerable close combat skills. And he's also got a tenacious little Kowakian monkey lizard (the cackling little beastie from Jabba's palace) following him around. Imagine if Han Solo had never met Leia, had a pet monkey lizard and was a Weequay... he'd be Hondo Ohnaka.
Cool Tech: I'm not sure if we've seen it before, but the ship the three Jedi arrive in is a nifty piece of "Star Wars" tech. Gyroscopic "wings" rotating around a central, cylindrical cockpit make it very reminiscent of a B-Wing fighter, only with a more slick design. And when the Jedi are forced to eject in the Felucian atmosphere, instead of parachutes the fall to the ground in bouncing, spherical cocoons which look and sound like oversized beach balls. Nifty.
New Faces: The four bounty hunters are characters we've not seen before, but after this episode I definitely hope we'll see them again. The undisputed standout of the bunch is Embo (voiced by "Clone Wars" supervising director Dave Filoni!). He's very reminiscent of a samurai with his circular, blast-shielded hat and considerable array of close combat skills. The battle sequences throughout "Bounty Hunters" are some of the season's strongest, and Embo's moments stand out the most.
Tribute To The Master: It is no secret that "Star Wars" creator George Lucas drew much of his inspiration for "A New Hope" from Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress." "Bounty Hunters" opens with "In Memory of Akira Kurosawa" on the screen. The legendary filmmaker passed away in 1998, but his 100th birthday just passed a couple weeks ago. What's more, "Bounty Hunters" is a direct riff off one of Kurosawa's most well-known films, "Seven Samurai." Season two has been a strong one for "Clone Wars," and "Bounty Hunters" stands out among its best episodes.