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012: SoraRabbit Watches: Star Wars The Clone Wars Season One

Posted By SoraRabbit77 1272 days ago on Entertainment - The release of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is upon us. I'm very excited, and I wanted to do something Star Wars related for my blog. However, Star Wars is talked to death and people much more knowledgeable than I have tackled it. I'm not confident that I can add anything new and unique to the commentary. (Aside from going on and on about my favorite theory where Jar Jar is a secret Sith Lord who orchestrated the rise of the Empire. Think about it. It makes a scary amount of sense.)

Because we must never forget. (Credit: Disney)

Still, I want to do something. With the release of Disney+ I found myself with a couple of options. The Mandalorian is still being aired, so I'm not ready for that one just yet. (I will tackle it soon, though, rest assured.) But now I can finally sit down and get through the entirety of The Clone Wars. This was something I started on Netflix but never finished. This seemed like it would make a good addition to my SoraRabbit Watches series of posts, so I went ahead with that one. Here we go!

Master and Padawan. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

As with many things, I was late to the party on The Clone Wars. I mainly got into it because my brothers and friends were talking about it and I started playing Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes with them. That game pulls heavily from all canonical Star Wars media, including The Clone Wars animated series. I was curious about some of the characters because of that game. I gathered from the game that some of the clones have individualized personalities and names. They seemed to go into detail on some of the Jedi introduced in the prequel trilogy, and there was an interesting character named Ahsoka that seemed to be a Padawan. I was curious. Since it's officially considered canon I felt like it was worth checking out. (Nothing against non-canon tie-ins, but I have so much to watch and play and read that I usually stick with canon when possible. Maybe I'm missing out on good stuff, but I have to draw the line somewhere.) Unfortunately (as has been established many times) I'm very easily distracted, so I only got through the initial movie and a handful of episodes before wandering off. And then Netflix pulled the series in anticipation of Disney+. So I was out of luck for a bit. The night Disney+ came out, I was logged on and binge-watching The Clone Wars. (After the first episode of The Mandalorian, of course.) This will be my summary/review of Season One. I'm going to go episode by episode, but briefly, not in detail. This will still be a long post, though, since I have to give some explanation of the plot and characters. So, basically, settle in for a long ride. As always, spoilers will be everywhere, so use caution if you have yet to partake.

"Oh dear." (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

As a short aside, I'd like to remind you that this blog is about pop culture positivity... so there will be no hatin' around here. I actually like the prequels. (I admit their weaknesses, especially when compared to the other films, but I can see their positives as well.) Attack of the Clones is one of my favorite Star Wars movies. (Awkward dialog and all.) I lovelovelove the new trilogy. (Yes, even Last Jedi. Hush.) You all are entitled to your opinions, so if someone tells me they don't like the new movies, that's fine. We just have less to talk about, is all. (You cannot argue me out of my opinion, so don't try.) Now if someone says they don't like the new movies because of gender or race reasons, well then I consider the conversation over. So, with that said, I'm not going to argue quality or compare and contrast. I'm going to appreciate things for what they are. (Except for Jar Jar. The only way I will EVER accept Jar Jar is if he is secretly an evil Sith lord.) (Which he most certainly is.)Star Wars: The Clone Wars was preceded by a short Cartoon Network series in 2003 (Clone Wars, but without a “the” in front of it) which used a distinctly anime style. (This older series is not considered canon anymore.) Five years later a new series started, not following the continuity set up by the original. The intention was to bridge the gap between the second and third movies. It was created by LucasFilm Animation and originally aired on Cartoon Network starting in 2008. This cartoon uses computer animation and (aside from the movie) mostly did not feature the actors from the films. (Exceptions are Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Ahmed Best as Jar Jar, the evil Sith Lord.)This series started with a movie that introduced Ahsoka, Asajj Ventress, and the world of The Clone Wars. This was followed by 22 episodes in the first season. One thing to note ahead of time in this review is the episode order. The Clone Wars has an odd episode sequence, where some events that happen before may not be shown until later in the season or future seasons. Online there is an official sequential episode list which some prefer, but for this viewing I watched them in release order. Because that's the way I roll. (I did refer to the episode list, so I may reference when things are out of order in this way.) The Clone Wars series was an offshoot of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. At the end of that movie our old friend Yoda states, in his usual grammatically-awkward fashion, that begun the Clone Wars has. And so indeed begun they did. And beginning they still are. (Okay, I'll stop now.) The Separatists (which will one day blossom into the Empire we all know and fear) are rushing around trying to garner support against the Galactic Republic. (And generally being all under-handed and nasty about it.) The movie sets up this status quo fairly well and Season One follows a bit of a formula. Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous are on the side of the Separatists. The Galactic Republic consists of the Jedi and the clone troopers. Both are attempting to get other planets on their sides in the escalating conflicts.

Asajj is kinda spooky. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

I decided to lump the movie into this post too rather than do a separate one. (Since it's pretty much the pilot for the series. It was originally the first three episodes, stitched together.) The movie introduces the Jedi Padawan Ahsoka, who gets paired with an unwilling Anakin Skywalker. Basically the Jedi hope that having Ani train someone will keep him from tumbling over into the Dark Side. Young Skywalker is becoming a bit of a whiny and cocky emo kid. Well, more than he already was, that is. (Remember this takes place after his rage-filled attack on the Sand People village in Attack of the Clones.) In the movie, the Sith Lord Count Dooku has hatched a scheme of kidnapping Jabba the Hutt's gross baby in the hopes of getting the Hutts on their side. (I wonder if Jabba is considered attractive to other Hutts? The fact that he has a baby brings up soooo many questions, none of which are pleasant.) (While I was ranting about this aloud, Cocoa pointed out to me that the Hutts probably reproduce asexually, which would make a lot of sense since they look like slugs. Also I have yet to see a female Hutt.) (I'm vividly picturing Jabba with a blond wig, in case anyone is wondering.) Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin, and Ahsoka rush off to save the disgusting little slug creature in the hopes it will halt Dooku's plans and ally the Hutts with the Republic. Many adventures ensue and it's revealed Jabba's uncle Ziro the Hutt was behind the kidnapping. Ultimately the dastardly Dooku's plans are foiled. Hooray! The proper Episode 1 began with Yoda and a team of clones defend the Toydarians from the Separatists. (The Toydarians are the race of alien Watto belonged to. He was the guy who owned Anakin and his mom in Phantom Menace.) (Chronologically there are later episodes that come before this one, but I haven't watched those yet.) We learn that the Jedi value the clones as individuals. Yoda has a touching moment where he reminds the clones that although the all look alike, they each have their own strengths and personality. Then he fucks up some tanks and stops a Regicide. Yoda's pretty awesome.

Get 'em Yoda. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

From there the season continues with one shot episodes and short 2 to 3 episode story arcs. The first 3 part arc deals with General Grievous and his massive battleship The Malevolence. His ship is knocking the good guys out of the sky and generally causing problems. Many clones are lost and Master Plo Koon almost dies. Anakin ignores everyone's advice repeatedly, gets an entire squadron shot down, but disables the Ion Cannon. Over the course of the three episodes, the Malevolence is destroyed, Grievous escapes, and Anakin has learned nothing. (Sure, he's a little bummed that he lost his men, but it didn't seem to affect him much.) Episode 5 is my favorite of the season. This episode introduces a group of clone rookies. I may do a single post on this one some day, we'll see. If someone were to ask me for a solid episode to serve as an introduction into the series, I would point them to this one. Rookie clones end up having to defend (and eventually destroy) a critical outpost to stop the Separatists from destroying Kamino, the clone manufacturing and training facility. In the process some of them die, including Hevy, who sacrifices himself nobly. I didn't see that coming the first time I watched it.

Why can everyone speak droid besides me? (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

The next two episodes were fun. R2-D2 was lost, and Anakin didn't wipe his memory. (This is a big no-no in a time of war.) He had to disobey orders to get him back. Grievous's base was a baby Death Star. They called it a Battle Sphere, but they weren't fooling anyone. Grievous kills a smuggler to avoid paying a bill. (Dick move, but actually pretty shrewd.) And Ahsoka saves Rex's life. This one featured an evil palette-swapped Gold R2 and a droid fight.

Zap zap. There should be more Droid fights. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Two notes on this story: First, it's pretty obvious Goldy is evil and I was frustrated by how long they dragged out the reveal. Anakin was just a dick to him the whole time, so I don't blame the droid for being a little shit. Second, R2 knew how to remove restraining bolts back then... so in A New Hope, it probably wasn't that big a deal that Luke removed his and let him run away from home. Hmm... Episode 8 was a Jar Jar episode. Sigh. Padme and C-3PO are on a crucial diplomatic mission, so of course they brought Jar Jar. The overgrown slapstick act almost kills C-3PO, does some Jar Jarring, pretends to be a Jedi, and attempts to save Padme. Padme, it should be noted, does not need to be saved. She saves herself. (Quite often, actually.) There are Rodians on this episode-- Greedo's people. I like their design.

Let's talk politicses. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

They take Nute Gunray prisoner, which leads into Episode 9 where Asajj gets him back. (She was ordered to rescue him or kill him. Whichever is more convenient.) She beheads a poor clone. We get to meet another Jedi, Luminara Unduli. Ahsoka has a lightsaber fight with Asajj. She actually does fairly well.

I need a lightsaber. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Asajj gets Gunray in the end. I liked this one. The Republic can't always win, and Asajj was shown to be an actual threat. (She needed a win after failing repeatedly.) Episode 10 continues off this. Kit Fisto and his former Padawan Nahdar Vebb (who's a Mon Calamari, which is the species Admiral Ackbar is) try to track Gunray's ship. It was actually a trap by Dooku and they end up in Grievous's lair. In this one we get to see that Grievous is also a threat. He holds off two Jedi and four clones even with his legs cut off. The clones and Nahdarr end up dead, and Fisto escapes after a kick-ass lightsaber battle. We need more Kit Fisto.

Kit Fisto. Still the best name ever for a Jedi. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Next we get another two-parter in Episodes 11 and 12. Honestly I was annoyed by these episodes. The story started in progress, making me feel like I missed an entire episode. (Seriously, don't start an episode with the words "Anakin Skywalker is missing!") And at the end of it all, they were right back to where they started, with nothing resolved and no progress made. I'll skip over this, just saying that there was a plan to capture Count Dooku, Anakin and Obi-Wan were also captured, and there were space pirates. They worked together, Dooku escaped, and not much else happened. There was also some Jar Jar in this story arc, which just makes it all worse. Episodes 13 and 14 involved Jedi Master Aayla Secura and a planet of peaceful monkeys. They crash landed (there's a lot of crash landings in this show) and have to convince the monkeys to heal Anakin and help them fight off the Separatists. Lots of action, solid story, George Takei, no Jar Jar. Much better after that Dooku space pirate fiasco.

I wonder if they buy these by the dozen? (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Episode 15 involved a frozen planet and some native aliens that lived on there. Lots of talk about pride. It was okay. Episode 16 was interesting... the heroes were betrayed by a clone nicknamed Slick. The Separatists promised him freedom. This brings up a lot of questions about the clone's inbred loyalty. (More on that later in the post.) Hopefully they get back to this in later episodes. Episode 17 was a Jar Jar episode, but he was actually kind of helpful and less chaotic. This was a two-parter involving the evil Dr Vindi and a manufactured virus bioweapon.

Ahsoka is a little badass. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Episodes 19, 20, and 21 were a three-parter about the occupation of the Twilek Planet Ryloth. Twileks are pretty popular in Star Wars lore. Some notable Twileks are Aayla Secura and Jabba's pink dancer. (And apparently Bib Fortuna? Weird.) Anyway, these are pretty good episodes. We get to see Wat Tambor, who's the leader of the Techno Union. He supplies the Separatists with their never ending droid armies.

Ol' Wood Beard meets with Fury. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

A lot happens in these three. Ahsoka commands a squad for the first time and it's a complete disaster. But Anakin helps her to get her confidence back. A couple of clones (Waxer and Boil) save a child. Many clones get eaten by a monster. And then Mace Windu and Obi-Wan have to work with some resistance fighters to retake the capital city and capture Wat. Pretty big win for the Republic all around. A couple of notes about these episodes: Mace is suitably impressive, showing his mastery of the force and his strategic mind. We also get to meet Cham Syndulla. Turns out he's the father of Hera Syndulla, who is one of the main characters in Star Wars Rebels.

“Some call me the gangster of love…” (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

The final episode of the season involves a team of bounty hunters, including new characters Cad Bane and Aurra Sing, taking the Galactic Senate hostage in order to spring Ziro the Hutt from jail. I really like the balance here... the movie ended with Ziro being arrested and the first season ends with him freed. Cad Bane is basically a space cowboy. The bounty hunters are interesting, and surprisingly good at what they do. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. Also of note in this episode was Bail Organa, who later becomes Leia's adoptive father.

Strike a pose! (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Many of the heroes of the series are Jedi, which anyone reading this should be fairly familiar with. We get to see more of some of the Jedi from the movies. The model for Obi-Wan Kenobi is a little strange. His beard looks like it's carved out of wood. But weird design choices aside, he's a commanding presence in the show. The other Jedi appearing this season are Plo Koon, Luminara, Kit Fisto, Aayla Secura, Yoda, and Mace Windu. Mace is used sparingly but when he does appear, he's suitably badass. The same with Yoda, of course. My favorite characters in the cartoon, however, are Ahsoka and the clones. Ahsoka is young, naive, brash, and outspoken. She's got a big heart and is courageous, but the show is not afraid to let her fail. She's still learning how to be a Jedi. She is a Tegruda... we saw another of that race, Master Shaak Ti, in AotC. Shaak Ti was mentioned in this season, but has not been shown yet. Apparently she's the one who trains the new clones. We meet a lot of different clones in Season One. Not all of them make it through the season. (Poor Hevy.) I know that Fives and Echo come back in later seasons. Commander Cody and Captain Rex are used often enough to be considered main characters. Each clone has a nickname. It can be kind of hard to tell the difference between the clones since they all have the same face and voice. There is usually something distinctive about them, though. Cody has a visor and gold highlights on his armor. Rex has blue highlights and a shaved head. We also meet Waxer, Boil, Slick, Droidbait, Cutup, O'Niner, Wolffe, Sinker, Boost, and many, many more.

Some friendly faces. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

On the other side are the villains. The central villain is the evil Sith Lord Count Dooku. (Who I insist on calling Prince Dookie.) He comes across as cultured and menacing. The 3D model though, is a little odd. They gave him a super long face.

Hey, why the long face, buddy? (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Despite looking like a caricature, Dooku is actually pretty cold and ruthless. At one point Dooku ordered Grievous to destroy a hospital, which (if successful) would have killed 60,000 wounded clones. Just in case you were wondering what kind of guy Dooku is. Looming in the darkness is Darth Sidious, who is secretly Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. (He who will become Emperor.) He's playing both sides and sometimes feeds the Separatists intel about what the Republic is doing. Ultimately his plan is for the Republic to fall and the Jedi to be exterminated.

Not nice, General. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

General Grievous spends much of the season yelling at droids and running away. Asajj is a hard one to figure out. She snarls and acts wild, but is also submissive to Dooku, her Master. I don't know much about the Sith and Apprentice dynamic, but it makes sense it would be like that. (I just know Sith lords have a tendency to kill their Masters, so watch out Dooku.) I'm hoping we learn more about what makes Asajj tick in later seasons. (Thanks to the mobile game, I do know she's from a group called the Nightsisters. We will meet more of them at a later date.) There are other minor villains in this season. Ziro the Hutt is just goofy. I'm not sure why he can speak English. My theory is that all Hutts have the capacity to learn, but Jabba insists on only speaking Huttese to remain true to his heritage. (Or he's stubborn. Whatever.) Nute Gunray reappears from the movies-- he was one of those sniveling bug-eyed guys with the weird hats. Doctor Vindi is snarly and over the top super villain. Wat Tambor has potential, but he's kind of super villainish too. General Lok Durd only appeared in one episode, but he was played by the ever-delightful George Takei, so he was a stand-out to me. I should also mention the droids. Much of the Separatist's dirty work is done by the droid army. The B1 Battle Droids are silly and wacky. (And really, really dumb.) There are other droids, including B2s, Droidekas, and Magnaguards, but I won't get into them much. They're mainly there to be the opposing army.

One of these guys is Fives. I forget which. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

So that's Season One of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I very much enjoyed it. Especially Ahsoka and the recurring Clone characters. I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the seasons. (Especially Season Two, since I have it on good authority that there are more Bounty Hunters in Season Two. Bounty Hunters are great.) Going into it, just know that it's somewhat angled for younger viewers, and so some of the episodes have Very Special Lessons(TM) and there is some silliness to be found. (Particularly when Representative Jar Jar Binks shows up. Good lord. So much Jar Jar.)

Jar Jar, moments before trying to kill everyone in a ship crash. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

I honestly can't figure out what Jar Jar's purpose is. He seems to be an instrument of chaos. He can't go five minutes without almost killing someone. So if he's not doing this crap on purpose (which is a big "if" in my mind) what, exactly, is he there for? I'm assuming they were aiming for comic relief and maybe appealing to children. But in the context of the story, why would someone as intelligent and politically savvy as Padme Amidala take Jar Jar Binks on sensitive diplomatic missions? Season One was pretty Jar Jar heavy. (He appeared in five episodes. Which is five episodes too many, if you ask me.)

Life hack? (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

I mentioned the Very Special Lessons(TM) earlier. Every episode begins with a little blurb stating the lesson. So what did we learn this season? Everyone has value. Never underestimate anyone. Make decisions with humility. Follow advice. Sometimes it's okay to break the rules if it's for a good reason. Trust in your friends. Sometimes our most important allies are not the most powerful. Extreme circumstances shouldn't make you forget who you are. Sometimes you have to weigh the good of the group against the individuals. Arrogance blinds you. War can make you lose your principals. Compromise is a virtue. It's important to follow orders... except when you shouldn't? (I don't know, that one's a little hazy.) But it's not all learning or silliness. There is also plenty of darkness. This cartoon does depict death, although not in a gruesome fashion. Clones straight up die in this, and they've gone to a lot of trouble to show that the clones are all individuals with feelings and thoughts. So that's kind of brutal, but it fits with the theme of war. The clones consider each other brothers; but if one falls, there isn't time to mourn. You move on and you get the job done.

Dark times ahead. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

The twisted part, though, is that they don't have a choice. Sure, the clone troopers are treated as allies and individuals... as I mentioned, the Jedi do not consider them disposable like the Separatists treat their droids. The Jedi go to great lengths to protect them. But still, the clones are bred to be soldiers. Their genetic structure was modified to ensure loyalty. They have inhibitor chips implanted in their heads to make sure they follow commands. It's a pretty sad life that was made for them. Those who have seen the films have an extra layer of darkness to deal with. For one thing, we all know what happens to Anakin. (He falls over to the dark side and becomes the galactic badass Darth Vader.) You can see a bit of Anakin's struggle with darkness in the cartoon, but really not too much. (Maybe later seasons will delve into it more?) His major flaw in this is his impulsiveness. Also any time Padme is involved, his anger and impatience get the better of him. (She's totally his weakness. Guess that's why Jedi are supposed to be monks and avoid attachment.) Anakin's heart is his weak point, and it's through his heart that the dark side is able to take hold of him.

Poor, poor Hevy. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Also, in Revenge of the Sith, Order 66 is given and all the Clones turn on their allies, killing whatever Jedi is in reach. In the film we see Commander Cody attempt to kill Obi-Wan. This is just plain sad, because as you see in the series, the two of them have a friendship built on mutual respect. (From what I understand, Cody becomes a Stormtrooper later on. Not sure if that's canon, but I'll see.) Also Ahsoka is not in RotS, so clearly something happens to her in the course of the series. (I know what happens, but that will be a spoiler for another day.) These things don't taint the series... I feel they add a layer of foreboding to everything. No matter how triumphant some battles are, or how light and silly things may get, you know there are dark times ahead. Ultimately all these struggles end with the Empire firmly in place, the Jedi all but extinct, and the Galactic Republic in shambles. The excessive Jar Jarring and the goofiness of the battle droids are at odds with the darker tones. Seriously, why do the battle droids have personalities? Why would someone program them to be goofy idiots? What possible purpose would it serve to have an army full of easily-killed comic relief?

Roger roger. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Still, there's enough good character arcs and action to be able to consider this a solid entry to the legendary Star Wars mythos. The art style took me a bit of getting used to, but once I was accustomed to it, I appreciated it for its fresh and unique style. Honestly, I can't imagine The Clone Wars in any other style. The series had a nice blend of familiar and new characters and served to deepen the lore and fill in the time gap between Star Wars Episodes II and III. I strongly recommend this series for fans of Star Wars, especially those open-minded enough to find value in the prequel trilogy. And those willing to develop a begrudging tolerance to the Dark Lord Binks.

How you feel when I say I might do more Clone Wars posts. (Credit: LucasFilm Animation, Disney)

Let me know what you thought of this and if I should continue season by season on this series. Season Seven will be hitting Disney+ in early 2020, so that's pretty exciting. I believe that season will end the series and bring us up to the events in Revenge of the Sith. After getting through all seven seasons, I may tackle Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance. We'll see. (I'll be watching all of it regardless, so I may as well blog about it!) I'll be back soon, so until then, may the Treasure be with you!

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