Plot spoilers ahead!

Our outlaw trio heads to Serenno, where Dooku is planning a mysterious tournament.  Obi-Wan (as Hardeen) and Bane both decide to enter, knowing only that Dooku promises a great reward if they win.  Bane kills one of the other contestants for his hat, which doesn’t look much different than the hat he was already wearing.  That Bane – he’s always got to have the latest accessory.

In a very brief scene, Yoda meets Anakin to apologize for lying about Obi-Wan’s death, but also says Anakin is often unpredictable and dangerous to friends and enemies alike.  Anakin wants to help Obi-Wan, but Yoda says they must trust in him.  As much as I enjoy Yoda, this is a pretty half-hearted attempt at an apology.  “Sorry we lied to you and faked the death of your friend and role model, but we were pretty sure you’d ruin our plans.”

Back to the action!  Eval explains that he has gathered together the best bounty hunters of the galaxy to compete for a spot in an upcoming job.  There are eleven bounty hunters in total: Hardeen, Bane, Kiera Swan, the Exterminator, Sixtat, Embo, Jakoli, Onca, Twazzi, Sinrich, and Mantu.

Everyone will enter “The Box,” a cube shaped building designed by Eval to simulate situations that may occur on the job, but they will not all make it out alive.  The top five survivors will win a prize as well as earn a role in the Separatist plot.  The rest will be eliminated.  They will have no weapons.  The only rule is… there are no rules!  The point is to escape as quickly as possible.

Each room is a grid with moveable blocks.  In the first challenge, a deadly poison called dioxis is released into the room.  The floor drops away and the contestants are all stranded on individual block towers.  These towers quickly rise to the ceiling, however, causing the contestants to jump off or be crushed.  Hardeen believes the way out is down.  He jumps to the floor, where there is a tunnel leading out.  Although the other contestants have taken an “every many for himself” approach, Hardeen guides his fellow bounty hunters to safety.  After climbing out of the tunnel, Hardeen offers Bane a hand up, but Bane refuses it.

The walls of the second room erupt into a series of blocks that spring out of the sides, each with a laser beam resembling a light saber on the end.  These are clearly supposed to simulate fighting Jedis.  Hardeen sees that the way out of the room is by jumping on each blade and climbing them to a hole in the ceiling.  Again, he leads the way for the others.  Bane follows him more readily this time, as do the other contestants.  Onca is trapped by the beams and dies.

The third challenge is to pass through a ray shield.  The switch to turn off the ray shield is on the other side of it.  In the middle of the room is a syringe filled with a highly electrolytic liquid that will let one hunter pass through the shield to reach the switch.  The trick is that the liquid is toxic to all but one of the contestants.  The dais that the syringe is on starts to rise, and the contestants begin to jump on it.  Jakoli doesn’t and is fried in a laser beam that suddenly lights up the floor.

Exterminator is a Parwan whose blood will accept the serum.  Mantu is fried as the remaining contestants jostle for room on top of the dais.  The Parwan makes it through and shuts off the ray shield.  Dooku is impressed with Hardeen’s problem-solving and threatens to put Hardeen in charge of the mission instead of Eval.  Eval has one more test in mind for the hunters.  We are now down to 6 – Hardeen, Bane, Kiera Swan, Sixtat, Exterminator, and Embo.

The contestants move into the final challenge room.  The floor ignites into flames.  A sniper rifle is revealed and a target begins to move along the walls.  Eval announces it’s time to test their sniper skills.  Sixtat takes his turn, hitting the target twice but missing on the third shot.  The floor tile beneath him disappears, and he falls into the fire.  The more mistakes that are made, the smaller the platform they stand on will get.

Another rifle appears and Hardeen takes it.  He hits the target and Eval separates him from the others.  Eval tells him he must hit the target five more times to save everyone, but after four hits, Hardeen’s gun runs out of charges.  Eval drops the floor from under him, but Bane catches Hardeen by the hand, telling Eval, “If you’re gonna kill him, do it like a man.”  This is a big moment.  Not so long ago, Bane tried to frame Hardeen to keep him off his ship, and now he’s saving Hardeen’s life.

Dooku orders Eval to fight Hardeen face to face.  Eval uses the booby traps within the building to attack Hardeen, but he brushes them off fairly easily.  Hardeen breaks the control panel on Eval’s arm to even the playing field.  Dooku orders Hardeen to finish Eval, but he doesn’t.

Dooku reveals the plan – to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine at the festival on Naboo in exchange for the release of all Separatist prisoners.  If the request is denied, they will execute Palpatine.  Bane is chosen as the new leader, to the surprise and dismay of Eval.  Looks like Dooku has a new favorite!

This was a really engaging episode.  Each room the bounty hunters faced was like a new puzzle, although Obi-Wan/Hardeen did figure each one out pretty quickly.  From the beginning, I was worried that Hardeen was showing too much concern for the other players – they’re supposed to be ruthless, after all – though I suppose there’s no rule that bounty hunters can’t look out for one another.  My only issue with the show was what happened to the rest of the players.  We see several characters die, but Twazzi and Sinrich just disappear.  Did anyone else catch what befell these two?  Please let me know if you did!

Next week wraps up this story arc.  It’s been an excellent plot, but I’ll be happy to see Obi-Wan’s face again.  I sure hope Anakin doesn’t hold a grudge!

If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Friends And Enemies ‘ recap.