Star Wars: The Clone Wars Star Wars: The Clone Wars

May the force be with us — Obi-Wan Kenobi is turning villain! Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars will kick off a four-episode arc tonight that finds the iconic Jedi knight going undercover as a bounty hunter. His mission: To infiltrate the deadly, high-security Republic prison. TV Guide Magazine spoke with supervising director Dave Filoni about this twist and how it will threaten Obi-Wan's legendary alliance with Anakin Skywalker.

TV Guide Magazine: Obi-Wan in the slammer? Give us the deets!

Filoni: This is a great espionage story that has Obi-Wan planting himself in this group of bad guys in the Republic prison to find out what the Separatists are up to. He knows a major plot is about to go down involving the kidnapping of Emperor Palpatine but he doesn't know where and when. To get the information he needs, he pretends to be the bounty hunter villain Rako Hardeen, the marksman from Concord Dawn. The really hardcore Star Wars fans will notice that his disguise uses the helmet Ralph McQuarrie originally designed for Boba Fett. It's totally cool. This arc is unlike anything we've done before — very, very noir — and it will take us toward the ever-spiraling conclusion of the season.

TV Guide Magazine: The mission sounds foolhardy, even for Obi-Wan,

Filoni: Embedding himself in this group is a pretty awful risk. And, to make matters worse, he does not know that Cad Bane is in this prison. As we know, there's bad history between those two characters. The mission is so risky it'll cause conflict between Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker, the kind that will test their relationship. How well do they really know one another? How much do they truly trust each other?

TV Guide Magazine: On a scale of 1 to 10 — 10 being Oz — just how bad is this prison?

Filoni: [Laughs] Well, it's not that bad! Our show doesn't get that intense. We have some boundaries and I would never take the kids into that kind of Oz. There's no Dorothy there! But, trust me, this prison is bad. Real bad.

TV Guide Magazine: Who else is behind bars?

Filoni: We're bringing together some of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy for this one. Embo is back. So is Boskk. And Boba Fett, who has been in prison since Season 2. We have a new villain bounty hunter Moralo Eval, who is of the same alien species as Osi Sobeck in our episode "The Citadel." And a few more new ones we haven't met yet. And they're may just be a jail break! The arc itself is much bigger. We're going to several new planets. Eventually there's a rendezvous with Count Dooku and there's a gauntlet, a tournament for bounty hunters, where they have to prove who's the biggest badass. We have them fighting to survive with and against each other. And then there's Obi-Wan in the midst of it all, trying to remain disguised. There are a lot of mysteries within mysteries.

TV Guide Magazine: Word is, the animation reaches new heights for you guys.

Filoni: We take you inside the Republic prison facility in vivid detail. You see everything — the barracks, the mess hall, places we've never been — and we also go into a vast underworld marketplace and all its busy streets that's just killer. We've never had such depth and dimension in this series. So, yeah, it hits a whole new level for us. The fans will be freeze-framing like crazy!

TV Guide Magazine: Is it frustrating that the mainstream doesn't realize the level of quality you're achieving with Clone Wars?

Filoni: Always! And that may not ever change. We are always going to battle the perception that animation is only a comedic medium, or something that can only be of high quality if it's on the big screen. That's why we try to make a lot of noise. If you've only seen the Clone Wars movie you'd never know what the show's about, or the incredible quality of animation we've been able to achieve as technology advances. We're really hitting our stride as a team of artists. This series isn't kid-centric like the movie was. When we do get people to watch, they're usually shocked because it's so much fuller than a cartoon. And we owe that achievement to the audience that's supported Star Wars for decades. The fans subject us to a level of scrutiny you won't find in any other entertainment phenomenon. It's intense but fantastic and it keeps us on our toes.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs Fridays at 8/7c on Cartoon Network.

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