Did you know that last Saturday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day? If you didn’t, you do now. In the spirit of that most important international holiday, I thought I would talk about one of my favorite pirates in Star Wars, Hondo Ohnaka.
Introduced in the first season of The Clone Wars, Hondo won over a lot of fans fairly quickly. I’d be lying if I said I was enamored with the arc in which he first appears (Jar Jar’s heavy presence does not help), but he still manages to be an amusing character. What’s fun about Hondo is that he’s motivated pretty much entirely by money, but not in a blandly one-note way like, say, Cad Bane is. Hondo is one of The Clone Wars‘ most consistently funny characters, which makes up a good deal of his charm. Beyond that, however, is his constantly shifting loyalties. Driven by money, but also an intense desire for self-preservation, Hondo has been both an enemy and ally to the heroes of the show, sometimes switching roles in the middle of a story arc. Hondo has a few appearances outside of The Clone Wars, but they’re non-canon at this point and none of them are all that significant, really (he did get his own short story in an issue of Insider, but that’s the only one of any great note). That said, he is due for an appearance in the upcoming season of Star Wars Rebels, so we haven’t seen the last of him. Now, those who know a bit about The Clone Wars know that the chronology of the episodes is all out of whack when compared to their airing order. That said, Hondo, for the most part, lucks out. He only has one episode out-of-order, and it winds up being fairly obvious when it happens. I’ll do the episodes in the best viewing order, not the order they were released.
Dooku Captured and The Gungan General
Hondo’s first appearances came in this season 1 arc, and while the episodes aren’t bad, they aren’t spectacular, either. In them, Hondo manages to find a stranded Count Dooku, taking him hostage and ransoming him to the Republic. The second features him capturing Obi-Wan and Anakin as well, forcing them to team up with the Count. That’s for the most part well and good, but the second episode, if you couldn’t guess from the title, features a lot of Jar Jar Binks, and if you are one of the many people who find him immensely annoying you will be immensely annoyed. Amazingly, The Gungan General actually found a way to make Jar Jar worse than usual: Ahmed Best, Jar Jar’s voice actor for the prequels and most of his appearances in The Clone Wars, was replaced in this episode by another actor. Somehow, not-Ahmed sounds just different enough to really make you annoyed. Anyway, while these episodes aren’t anything to write home about, Hondo is fun to watch in both. He quips, has some fun lines, and develops a nice banter with Anakin and Obi-Wan that will be explored a bit more down the line.
Hondo’s second appearance in the series is in a more solid episode, though he plays a much more actively antagonistic role. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka wind up stranded on Felucia, where they are forced to team up with several bounty hunters to defend a group of farmers from Hondo’s gang. The episode is a deliberate homage to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, the three Jedi and four bounty hunters taking the place of the titular group from the film. Hondo has some more fun moments, and several of the bounty hunters go on to make more appearances throughout the series. It’s a fun standalone episode, and if you aren’t interested in seeing all of Hondo’s appearances it’s probably a decent one to start with.
The last episode of a three-part arc, Lethal Trackdown features Hondo in his smallest role yet. That said, it also has some very good character moments with him, and we learn a bit more about his past. Apparently, he was friends with Jango Fett, and had a previous romance with Aurra Sing (see above). That’s Boba Fett staring at the two of them, so if you’re a fan of the character (even petulant tween Boba) that may be a draw to watch the whole arc. Otherwise, Lethal Trackdown stands well enough on its own to be watched by itself.
Hondo takes seasons 3 and 4 off, but comes back with a vengeance in Season 5, appearing in five episodes total and three different story arcs. Now, this is where the chronology gets a little dicey. Hondo’s first appearance is in the first episode of the season, featuring Darth Maul. However, that episode actually takes place much later into the season, moved up in the airing order so that the fifth season could open with more of a marquee episode. Chronologically speaking, Hondo first appears here, delivering much-needed arms to the Onderon Rebels on behalf of Anakin and the Republic. It’s a brief, fun appearance that suggests that Hondo is ready to take on a larger, more recurring role in the series (which obviously didn’t really happen, what with the fifth season being the last complete one, but whatever. It’s still indicative of his popularity, if nothing else). That said, Tipping Points is the last episode of a four episode arc, and while you could in all likelihood just watch this episode and get away with it, there is a moment that will have much more of an emotional impact if you actually watch the entire arc. It might be worth skipping for that reason, unless you want to commit.
A Test of Strength, Bound for Rescue, and A Necessary Bond
Hondo’s next chronological appearance is in the “Young Jedi” arc, which stars Ahsoka and, unsurprisingly, a group of Jedi younglings. It actually works much better than at least I expected it to, and that may be due to Hondo’s antagonistic presence. He actually has a bit of a character arc in these episodes, first appearing as a villain (top image), then joining up with the younglings to fight the Separatists when they come to destroy his base.
Remember when Hondo captured Dooku? The Count sure did.
Hondo actually seems to develop an affinity for the young Jedi, and by the arc’s end he’s perhaps more ingratiated with the Jedi than ever (odd, I know). If you want to watch these episodes for Hondo (and I recommend you do), you really ought to watch the first episode in the arc, The Gathering, as well. Hondo isn’t in it, but you’ll get a better feel for the new younglings, and that’s probably a decent idea.
Revival is, in my opinion, the best episode on this list. Featuring Darth Maul and Savage Opress, the episode features some excellent fight scenes and some lines from Hondo on par with them. It doesn’t have the level of character growth seen in the last few episodes, but it is a lot of fun and done extremely well. This is one definitely worth checking out.
– Season 5 had a poster teasing some of the potential deaths for the season. Less than half the people on the poster actually died, but Hondo’s presence did have me very anxious.
– There aren’t too many Hondo collectibles on the market, but he did get an action figure which I do believe I own.
– The hype is soooooo real for Hondo’s upcoming Rebels appearance. I might honestly be more excited for him than the return of Rex, Gregor, and Wolffe, and that’s saying something.