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27 October 2009 @ 10:55 pm
The Clone Wars: "Senate Spy": Commentary and Analysis (Padmé-centric)  
Anakin/Padmé fans have been vocal about this episode. For a change, here are some observations from a non-shipper's perspective.

1. Similarities to TPM

I had to watch the beginning of "Senate Spy" twice to understand what feels so eerie about it. In the movies, Padmé's Coruscant apartment is beige/blue. In this episode, it's red and looks eerily similar to Palpatine's apartment in The Phantom Menace. What are you trying to say, TCW?

Other than the colors of Padmé's apartment, other things in this episode reminded me of certain scenes in TPM. The way they show the sun setting over Coruscant in the beginning. Padmé standing watching the sunset with a sad face. Her hairstyle in the first scene. The Naboo box in the Senate. An angry Padmé stubbornly falling prey to reverse psychology. The Jedi Council chamber. And let's not forget Lott Dod (see point 4).

2. The Jedi and Padmé.

When Yoda tells Anakin "Trust you she does, Skywalker. That is why convince her, you must", he is implying that she doesn't trust the rest of the Jedi. And this is consistent with the movies. I think Padmé was never really a fan of the Jedi Order. Remember her apparent distrust and hostility toward Qui-Gon and her completely ignoring Obi-Wan in TPM? Her rudely snubbing Yoda and the "Jedi vs. human" conversation with Anakin in Attack of the Clones? Anakin and Obi-Wan are the only Jedi towards whom she acts friendly in the movies.

So why does the Jedi Council want her to be their spy, out of thousands of Senators they can ask? Because of her past with Clovis, but (imo) also because out of thousands of Senators, she and Bail Organa are the only ones who have any Jedi friends.

Even so, to expect that she'll agree to spy on a colleague for them just because they ask her to, without even telling her why they are investigating Clovis, when officially, the Jedi are under the authority of the Senate, not the other way around – that's not very smart, is it? At least, when they ask Anakin to spy on the Chancellor in Revenge of the Sith, they have a right to do it because Anakin is a member of their Order. But Padmé isn't a Jedi. She is under no obligation to help them, so why do they expect she will? (And when she finally does, like she says, she "did it for the Republic" because Clovis was a potential Separatist. Not because the Jedi Council requested she do it.)

Anyway, I don't think the Jedi came up with that idea on their own. It sounds like something Palpatine may have suggested to them. Who else would have told them the details about Padmé's past relationship with Clovis? If they were that good at researching Senators' private lives, they wouldn't have needed Padmé to spy for them. I'm almost sure Palpatine manipulated the situation here. What better way to bring Anakin closer to the dark side than to make him watch his wife with another man and putting her life at risk, all to exacerbate his fear of losing her (to death or to a rival)?

And it works. Anakin's facial expressions in the second half of the episode reminded me of his face after he turns to the dark side in ROTS. And the way he says "Get away from her... if you want to live" is pure Vader. It's surprising that he finds enough self-control to leave Padmé in Clovis's arms to bring the disc to the ship.

3. Padmé's characterization

From the TFN review of The Clone Wars: "Senate Spy":
The interesting thing about Padmé's spy work is that she is using an ends-justify-means argument. Even though Clovis is a jerk, she still played him and used him for "the mission." It is not the openness and transparency that one would expect from a Senator. But then again, everyone in the Republic is finding himself pressed into new areas of service for their government. (source)

But Padmé believing in an end-justifies-means philosophy is nothing new. She had already shown that to her, some ideals are more important than others, and she's prepared to sacrifice them for the entity she cares about (the Republic in this episode; Naboo in TPM). Here, she decided to go against her professional ethics and personal loyalty (refusing to spy on a colleague/friend) to stop a potential threat to the Republic. Similarly, in TPM, when she thought it was in the best interest of her planet, she acted against (a) her respect for the democratic process, and (b) her belief in nonviolence.

So let's recap what happens in Senate Spy. Out of a strong sense of loyalty, Padmé refuses to "spy on a colleague" until she finds out that he might be conspiring with the Separatists. Then she uses the fact that he still has feelings for her to try to gain information from him about the enemy. (It's fun watching her when she is with Clovis - she acts so meek and coyly seductive.)

When she calls Clovis a traitor, she is justifying the methods she used against him (and being kind of hypocritical, but we aren't talking about the same type of traitor). She doesn't sound sorry for what she did (tricking and betraying him personally). She doesn't see it that way, because he's a traitor (politically), even if he didn't betray her personally and he really cares about her.

From how shocked and hurt she seems by Clovis's "betrayal", I think she still cares about him a little, too. But hurt quickly turns to anger, and when she shouts "I did it for the Republic! ... You're a TRAITOR!", she sounds almost hateful.

Conclusion: this woman is not an angel. She is a ruthless loyalist of the Republic. Interpret it however you like, but her dedication - to the extent of self-sacrifice - to the Republic is a major part of her character and has been that way at least since AOTC (in TPM, she only cared about her planet... Interesting implications there, but that's a post for another day).

4. Lott Dod and the poison

Why does she accept that glass from Lott Dod? The guy was/is Senator for the Trade Federation, i.e. one of her enemies. I see two possible reasons:

a) Refusing would make Clovis suspect her motivations, and that would interfere with her mission. She doesn't trust Dod; she knows the drink may be poisoned and she accepts the risk. She is prepared to sacrifice her life to succeed in her mission (even if Anakin wouldn't approve). Proof: she looks at Clovis before taking the drink.

b) Maybe she is that naive. Maybe she means it when she tells Dod "I believe in second chances". That would mean she forgives what the Trade Federation did to her planet. Padmé does seem like the kind of person who would be willing to forgive the past and who believes that people can change. Maybe that's how she "knows" there is still good in Vader in ROTS: she doesn't know, she is just optimistic/naive enough to see goodness even where there isn't any sign of it (and in Vader's case, she is right, though unlike Luke, she isn't able to bring out that goodness).

5. Padmé's ex

I'll be the first to admit I ship Padmé/Clovis... a little bit. I'm excited because it's a new aspect of Padmé's past to explore. And I'm curious about their relationship in the "old times": how they got together, their travels, everything that happened before she broke up with him. How did they get along when they were on different sides of political ideology? He is very right-wing, a stereotypical banker, talking about investments and profits all the time. She is a left-winger, a champion of the oppressed and the poor (remember her talking about "trade concessions"?). It's no wonder they broke up...

But I wasn't surprised like some people that Padmé had a boyfriend before Anakin. Yes, she was "married to her career", like young people in politics often are, but that doesn't have to mean she never dated. She just didn't let it get serious enough to interfere with her work. In reality, even the most ambitious and dedicated young politicians are rarely single. In this galaxy, single young women in politics are very rare. There's something about being in politics at that age that brings together people of similar interests, and this happens in all political parties. Padmé having a romantic relationship was realistic.

6. Anakin/Padmé interaction

I have conflicted feelings about the Anakin/Padme moments in this episode. Their conversation at the beginning is cheesy, and their interaction in the whole episode reminded me of all the reasons why I don't like this pairing, but I can see how it could have been worse.

Interestingly enough, when Anakin calls her apartment "home", she doesn't look happy, just shocked.

I'm not sure what to say about Padmé getting mad when Anakin has to leave. On one hand, at least she's angry instead of sad or pouting or (God forbid) crying. It's interesting how she hides her anger and subtly strikes back at him. When he says he can sense that she's angry, she hisses coldly, "Don't think you can read my mind". But I don't get exactly why she is angry. Is she angry that he has been neglecting his duty by being with her when he was supposed to be reporting to the Jedi Council? Is she angry at the Jedi for not letting Anakin have a moment of freedom? Or is she just disappointed that he has to leave before they can have sex? (I think she's above that.)

Their fight in the Senate is the funniest part of the episode. It's funny because Anakin has no idea that he's doing the opposite of what he means to, which is to make her refuse the spying mission. I love her reactions - steely defiance mixed with condescension ("You're not going to let me?"). Angry Padmé is always fun to watch, and Padmé angry with Anakin is the best. She glares at him with the same kind of expression she gives Nute Gunray, and she throws his words about duty and wartime back in his face coldly, without a hint of a smile. And she means it, as she later proves by her actions. This is a progression from the season 1 episode "Hostage Crisis", in which Padmé says her work is important but "not more important" than the way she feels about Anakin. Here she clearly shows what's more important, and it isn't him.

I liked Padmé's characterization there. She doesn't put up with Anakin's jealousy and possessiveness or think it's romantic. She almost laughs in his face when he says he isn't going to "let her" accept the mission and when she brushes off his jealousy about Clovis by reminding him it was before they got together. She stands her ground until he backs off.

But I don't think she changes her mind about the mission because Anakin has made her mad with his "I'm not going to LET you" speech and she needs to show him that he doesn't control her. She isn't that petty, and she takes her work too seriously to make decisions based on that kind of irrational reason. If it's a factor, it's a minor one. From her facial expressions, it looks like she changes her mind the moment she finds out Clovis might be a Separatist.

One more thing. I don't think Anakin's antics when he is flying the ship are cute or funny. They're childish and dangerous, and they show his refusal to respect Padmé's decision to accept the mission which includes getting 'close' to Clovis. Did you see how Padmé looks at him when he breaks the seat on the ship? Vandalizing her ship -! He hasn't been able to stop her from accepting the mission, so he's sabotaging it. No wonder she isn't amused.

7. The ending

I felt sorry for Clovis at the end. The part where he watches the ship fly away and then walks forward to face (almost certain) death with dignity – that's poignant. Sure, he got himself into it. But he has finally realized that there is something more important than money. He really loves Padmé, so much that he is willing to risk his life to save her, even after she tricked him and called him a traitor.

The ending itself could have been more original. Poison is a clichéd plot device, but an antidote? That's like something directly out of Harry Potter. Couldn't they have come up with something less overused and more in the spirit of Star Wars? Nevertheless, Senate Spy is without a doubt one of my favorite Clone Wars episodes.

My other post about "Senate Spy"

betareject on October 28th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
reposted with further thoughts...
Oh gawd yes another Clovis/Padmé fan!!!!! *squees in delight* I've already started writign a fic from Clovis's perspective :cackles:

I just think there is os much to him than meets the eye. I also have this theory (imho) that perhaps Palpatine was responsible for the demise of these two relationship...I'd love to explore it further but we'll see how my work schedule goes lol

Also I loved your points about Padmé's strength of character, how we finally get to see the TPM!Padmé I've missed for so long. It was nice seeing her as something else other than the perfect little angel. Here she was strong, clever and quick thinking. She doesn't take Anakin's emo!shit and hands it right back at him.

It's wonderful to see powerful, clever and manipulative Padmé back in action. It really solidifies the idea of her dictonomy.

I agree with the idea that Padmé only changed her mind because she wanted to clear Clovis's name. I really don't think Anakin was that important to her to be honest, certainly not enough to override her concerns for the Naboo or the Republic. But I digress.

Anakin did behave like a bloody child and deserves a kick in the a-- or worse, although in his defense I don't think there is anyone in any sort of romantic relationship who would be tickled pink at the idea of their significant other seducing their ex. Even if it was for the sake of a mission.

Yes he handled it badly and it certainly showed immaturity and disrespect on his part, but can you really blame him for being on edge? =/

Though I think the ending with Clovis was entirely uncalled for but it shows his transition to the up and coming Lord Vader...

On another note in spite of Clovis being portrayed as the stereotypical player!villain I really do see his potential as a character. The fact he risked his life and position with his allies to save her in spite of her using and betraying him really shows his strength of character. I do hope that others will see it to and perhaps write him.

Edited at 2009-10-28 12:10 pm (UTC)
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C.chameleon_irony on October 28th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
Re: reposted with further thoughts...
Well, we don't know if Clovis would have followed them onto the ship even if he'd been given the chance. I suspect he might've been too proud to (basically) run away from Lott Dod without getting the profits he wanted. He ran after Anakin shouting "give me back my disc", not "let me come with you". (And I was totally with Anakin on not giving back the disc. Padmé had almost died to get it!)
betareject on October 28th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: reposted with further thoughts...
I never said that Clovis would have taken Anakin up on the offer, only that it should have been provided. Nor was I trying to say that Anakin should have returned the disc (he'd be a fool to do so).

Rather technically the proper and polite thing (considering he did just risk his ass to save Padmé in spite of everything) would have been to provide that Clovis that opportunity. Whether he chose to take it or not would be his decision to make.

Edited at 2009-10-28 11:01 pm (UTC)
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C.: cw padme sunsetchameleon_irony on October 30th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
I think even after he betrayal, Clovis still would have wanted to try to make it work with Padmé.

I think you have a very good point there.
pronker: CWanipronker on October 28th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
Enjoyed this meta, in particular the 'wasn't amused' cap, as it reiterated the episode's depiction of married life with days of the repercussions of disagreements. Anyone who believes that 'never go to bed angry' is anything more than a platitude needs to look at any non-marital quarrel and see just how often that happens.

A point to the episode's display of Padme's dating history to stand against the point of Anakin's: she had one, and he presumably didn't have any, growing up in-Temple in this CWverse. Not that there aren't boatloads of fics with Temple goings-on ...
C.chameleon_irony on October 28th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
Makes me think about the "fighting like a married couple" saying...

Not that there aren't boatloads of fics with Temple goings-on ...

Never mind fics - there are EU novels about that, but I don't know if there was anything about Anakin. Probably not, because he was "destined" for Padmé.

ansketil_rose on October 28th, 2009 09:02 am (UTC)
*cackles* Excellent meta here.

Other than the coloring of Padmé's apartment (it's so red) and the decorations

One could put this down to the fact that both are the residency of the Senator of Naboo and red is "cultural" (after all there is all that Naboo red in TPM) as is the decor. OR one could put it down to influence P/P - how's that coming btw?

I find the things you point out about the Jedi very interesting. I suppose Bail Organa is the only senator on show who really trusts the council even at this early stage of the war - which really slots into place the readiness of the senate to distrust the jedi (who in one book are referred to as the "chacellor's enforcers" or some such... lol. ^_^ I definately had the same thought about Palpatine suggesting it to the Jedi (since they are such chums for now).

I think option 'a' is right - the Lot Dot poison thing was a courageous gamble on Padme's part (and we've seen that from her time and again).

To be realistic, even the most ambitious and dedicated young politicians are very rarely single.

I can TOTALLY hear TPM Palpatine saying this line! wtf?

I was ultimately unhappy with Clovus, though. They made him a caricature - and I think his character deserved a bit more depth - and yes, a better ending (by better I don't necessarily mean happier). I'd certainly be interested to see what ppl do with Clovus/Padme though...

My favourite remains Children of the Force. For... all the obvious reasons. ^_~
betareject on October 28th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
*sorry for the interruption*
I didn't mind Clovis so much I think simply because he has such potential. Its like how they made Slick out to be a caricature of the typical traitor out for the money when there is so much more to him than that.

To be realistic, even the most ambitious and dedicated young politicians are very rarely single.

I can TOTALLY hear TPM Palpatine saying this line! wtf?

OMG I can see it now too damn you both! =P
ansketil_rose on October 30th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Re: *sorry for the interruption*
Hahaha! LOL. It spreads! It spreads! ^_^
C.: cw padme sunsetchameleon_irony on October 28th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Welcome back. How was your vacation?

how's that coming btw?

Very well! It's going to be much longer than planned because I've decided to add a lot of scenes set in The Clone Wars.

I can TOTALLY hear TPM Palpatine saying this line! wtf?

I think there's something you need to know: I was speaking from personal experience there. And these speech patterns are not unique to Palpatine, believe it or not. There's a certain way people talk in politics and it takes time to get rid of the speech habits once you've left the milieu.

I'm going to write something about Clovis surviving his confrontation with Dod and the battle droids thanks to Padmé a mysterious intervention and-- not a happy ending by any means, but at least a more satisfying one.

Edited at 2009-10-28 12:37 pm (UTC)
betareject on October 28th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Are you big into politics? (reference to personal experience) Its interesting that you should mention how politicians have a certain mannerism of speech. I never considered this before but that is so true...Its very smooth and vague...
C.chameleon_irony on October 28th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
I was, let's say, deeply involved in several provincial parties and one federal party. It's been a year since I quit politics completely.

Its very smooth and vague...

Exactly. I try not to write like that because I don't want to bore people.
ansketil_rose on October 30th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
Mmm... interesting that I picked that out though - I've made a study of political speech patterns (Palpatine's speech patterns) without even knowing it so I can spot them in your writing...

... O_o How random.
C.chameleon_irony on October 30th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
It's because you're obsessed.
ansketil_rose on October 30th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
But you wouldn't want me any other way, surely? ;)
ansketil_rose on October 30th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
Thank you. It was... restive

It's going to be much longer than planned

Always a good thing in a fic.

I was speaking from personal experience there

How very interesting. You'd be ideally suited to writing this sort of story then? :) *stores information*

Your Clovus ending is intriguing! Now I have *channels the Emperor* visions of Darth Vader executing an older Senator Clovus for treason (of the rebel variety, real or imagined) under the Empire...
C.chameleon_irony on October 30th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
You'd be ideally suited to writing this sort of story then?

It's like they say: write what you know...
michiru42: Maa-chan and Kashimichiru42 on October 20th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
I have nothing to add to this, really, just wanted to say, nice analysis. I loved how Senate Spy gave us new sides of Padmé, and showed us the worst of Anakin; it was like a warning of what he's going to become.
C.: cw spychameleon_irony on October 30th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked the analysis.

and showed us the worst of Anakin

The ironic thing is that in this script that's supposed to take place between "Senate Spy" and "Landing at Point Rain", Anakin is scolded by Obi-Wan for leaving Clovis on Cato Neimoidia instead of arresting him and bringing him back to Coruscant to face trial for treason. It can be read both ways: he left Clovis behind knowing he'd be killed, or he did it to give him a chance to escape (for helping him save Padmé?).
RPowellrpowell on April 18th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
It is not the openness and transparency that one would expect from a Senator.

Considering that a senator is a politician, why would you expect one to be consistently open and transparent. Not even Lucas portrayed politicians in this manner.