My Star Wars (Life) Reviews – The Clone Wars Season 1: Disc 1

Rather than write about The Clone Wars episodes individually or by story-arc, I have decided to review it by disc as they are in the Blu-Ray Box Set releases.

In this post the episodes I will be talking about are Ambush, the Malevolence Story-Arc, Rookies, Downfall of a Droid and Duel of the Droids.

Ambush, the pilot episode of the Clone Wars series (if you don’t include the film released in 2008) is a great stand-alone story that focus’ on Yoda as he attempts the thwart a trap set by Assaj Ventress at the command of Count Dooku to have the Toydarian King side with the Separatists over the Republic.

The main focus of the episode is Yoda and three Clone Troopers who have survived the space attack and landed on the moon where the meeting with King Katunka is to take place. The Toydarian Monarch agrees to hold negotiations with the Separatistsif Yoda fails to meet him.

Yoda and his troops manage to thwart Ventress’ Droid battalions and, in true Yoda fashion imparts his wisdom to his Troops, which sets up the way the Clone Troopers are handled throughout the series as having very distinct personalities which makes each one a completely different character. I mean, by the end of the series would you really confuse Rex with Echo or Fives? Of course, Yoda saves the day and meets with the King, foiling the Separatists attempt at having the Toydarians side with them.

As a pilot the episode works incredibly well. It sets the tone of the series and gives us an introduction to a fan-favourite character in a different medium. We get to see different sides of Yoda through the episode, which speaks to fans of different generations. The serious, intense Jedi Council member we have in the prequels as well as the mischievous little imp-like character we get in Empire Strikes Back is also present.

The Malevolence arc is the first long story arc we get, which details the Republics attempts to find and destroy a Separatist super-weapon, which in the first part we find out is a high powered EMP canon that disables enemy ships and allows the Separatists to destroy their enemies with ease.

In part one, Rising Malevolence, Jedi Master Plo Koon and his Clone Troopers are ambushed and whilst attempting to escape in an Escape Pod they are hit by the EMP. Cue the unsanctioned rescue mission by Anakin and Ahsoka who manage to save Master Plo and the surviving Troopers from his Escape Pod and narrowly evade their own destruction by General Grievous and the Malevolence.

Part two, Shadow of Malevolence shows Anakin leading a squadron of Y-Wing fighters in an attack on the Malevolence to try to stop Grievous from attacking a Clone medical facility. He leads his squadron, including Ahsoka and Plo Koon through a nebula where they have to evade space manta-rays before attacking the Separatist super-weapon. They manage to disarm the ship and when Obi-Wan shows up with a fleet of Republic Cruisers they disable the Malevolence’s hyperdrive.

This episode really shows off what the animators can do, the Nebula is a beautiful sequence and works well as a break from the tension created by Grievous’ devious plot to attack the medical station.

We really get to understand Anakin’s character in this episode, especially his fear of loss. During the battle against the Malevolence, Anakin takes every loss personally and to heart. He cares for all of the soldiers under his command, something we see more and more through the series.

In part three, Destroy Malevolence, Count Dooku has laid a trap for Padme who is captured by Grievous on board the Malevolence, which is being perused by Anakin, Obi-Wan and their Clone Troopers. When Anakin finds out his wife is on board the Malevolence he, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Rex and some Clones make their way on board to try to destroy the ship and rescue Padme.

The episode gives us our first look at Anakin and Padme’s secret relationship in the series. It’s so obvious I want to scream at Obi-Wan and Ahsoka to open their eyes but it’s a cartoon and they won’t hear me. It’s great to see Padme and Ahsoka holding their own against the obstacles thrown at them. Padme, even though captured by Grievous is never actually held prisoner and spends her time on The Malevolence trying to find a way out. Obi-Wan has his first encounter with Grievous and manages to escape back to his and Anakin’s ship whilst R2 meets up with C-3PO and, as usual gets the protocol droid out of trouble.

Our heroes, of course complete their mission and send The Malevolence crashing into a nearby moon. Grievous of course escapes and so do all our heroes.

It’s nice to see some Anakin and Padme interactions that isn’t full of angst like in the films and their banter on the Malevolence’s bridge give us a glimpse into what their life would be like if he wasn’t a Jedi.

The fifth episode, Rookies, focuses on a group of Clone Troopers who are manning a Republic Listening Post. The Troopers, Hevy, Cutup, Echo, Fives and Droidbait along with their Sergeant, O’Niner are yearning for some sort of adventure, as opposed to having not much to do on the Outpost.

A surprise meteor shower is actually an infiltration party consisting of Separtist Commando Droids who infiltrate the base, and dispatch some of the Clones, including the Sergeant. The survivors make it outside only for Cutup to be eaten by the local wildlife. Above the moon a Separtist fleet appears out of hyperspace, their target, Kamino.

At this point, Commander Cody and Captain Rex arrive to perform an inspection of the Outpost.

All the Clones team-up and take back the Outpost and more Droids are sent to take it back. The Outpost rigged with Thermal Detonators and fuel bombs and as the Droids make it inside the Clones escape but Hevy stays behind when the detonator fails and has to be operated manually. Fives, Echo, Rex and Cody escape.

When the Outpost explodes, the Republic fleet arrives, making the Separatists run away. Echo and Fives become members of Anakin’s 501st battalion.

This is the first non-Jedicentric episode and it works really well. It gives us another chance after Ambush to get to know some Clones well. Fives and Echo become key players in the series as it goes on and the team are seen during their training in Season 3.

And now we get to the Droid two-parter. I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of this arc.

In part one, Downfall of a Droid, Anakin and R2 are in Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter. It gets destroyed. Anakin is rescued but R2 is believed to be gone with the ship. Anakin receives a new service Astromech that Ahsoka affectionately nicknames ‘Goldie’.

Goldie just keeps messing things up for Anakin, who believes R2 to still be alive, he receives a communication from R2 and after confessing that R2’s memory has never been wiped, thus knowing a lot of Republic Army strategies Obi-Wan grants him clearance to locate the lost droid.

Anakin and Ahsoka’s search takes them to a Trandoshan salvage dealer and after destroying some security droids are kicked off his ship, which is the same ship that R2 is on.

The dealer contacts General Grievous who sets up an exchange.

In part 2, Duel of the Droids, Anakin, Ahsoka, Rex and a handful of Clone Troopers locate R2 on a Separtist Listening Outpost and make their way to rescue him.

Once in the listening post, Anakin races off to save R2 whilst Ahsoka, Rex and the Troopers sabotage the Listening Outpost but they are stopped by General Grievous, who easily dispatched a pair of the Troopers but Ahsoka distracts him and the Droid General decides to fight her instead.

The Grievous/Ahsoka fight is actually quite nail-biting. When this first aired, all we knew was that Ahsoka wasn’t in Revenge of the Sith so anything could happen to her. Their fight well staged and atmospheric, taking place in a dark room full of obstacles, it’s almost reminiscent of the Raptors in the kitchen and Ellie in the maintenance shed scenes from Jurassic Park. It’s also at this point we learn that the useless astromech Goldie is in-fact a Separatist spy.

Anakin finds R2 and as they escape they get split up and a fight ensues between R2 and Goldie. R2 wins, by cutting a wire that Goldie had connected to R2 which made the spy droid fall off the Listening Outpost and R2 uses his rockets to get into Anakin’s new Starfighter.

These are not my favourite episodes in the series but they have great moments so I’m not inclined to write them off as filler, just personal preference gets in the way when a story-arc boils down to two Astro-Droids fighting with built-in tools.

A solid first set of episode for Season One of Clone Wars.

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