Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 2 – “ARC Troopers” – What Kamino Means to the Clones

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      I know Kamino won’t fall, it’s too important to the plot, but I’m glad Ventress and Grievous were able to do some lasting damage, their plan to take the planet wasn’t so bad either…they were just going up against the plot armor of Anakin and Obi-Wan, so I’ll give Grievous a pass this time. This was a really enjoyable episode as it was great seeing the Rookies in action, along with 99, Cadets and Commander Cody and Captain Rex. This is their episode more than any other character as this story is about their world under assault.

     “ARC Troopers” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Cameron Litvack.

    The story picks up with the destruction of the Republic Outpost on the Rishi Moon and Obi-Wan and Anakin going with Cody, Rex and the surviving Rookies to protect Kamino from an assault on two fronts by Ventress and General Grievous. From here the story unfolds as 99 and new cadets are pulled into the battle for their home and the survival of Clones.

The Pros: The Clones – This episode is all about the Clones and they all get exploration. Whether they are new soldiers like the Cadets or the Rookies or old ones like 99 and Cody and Rex. Each of them are given a chance to claim their identity and fight for their world.

Commander Cody and Captain Rex – Cody and Rex show how personal this is and ask if they can be there to defend their world. It’s a powerful moment and we see them rally the troops and give the go ahead for the Cadets to join the fight.

The Cadets – The Cadets are just trying to survive and escape at first but after Fives and Echo rally them through their fear they ambush the attacking droids in the final holdout and manage to save the day.

Fives and Echo – These two are made ARC troopers and their telling 99 about what happened to Heavy is sad as you can see how connected they all are. They are trying to protect 99 the most through the episode and mourn his loss the hardest as he was their friend.

99 – 99 fights to the bitter end and gets ammo to troops, protects the children and in the end dies trying to get more ammo for the men. His death is felt as we have gotten to know this character and see that he never let age or being a “defunct” Clone get him down.

The Droid Army – We see Aquatic Droids and giant Squid-like assault creatures this episode. It is a great attack and they really feel like a threat, and they do a lot of damage too, killing countless members of the 501st and forcing the survivors to make a last stand before the ARC reinforcements arrive.

Ventress – Ventress kills and kisses a powerful Clone Soldier to introduce herself (of course it was banned on television) but I’m glad Netflix kept it as it shows how little she cares about anything but the success of the mission and accumulation of power. She holds her own agains Anakin really well and almost beats him and leaves with the Clone DNA but is stopped by the 501st.

General Grievous – Grievous manages to be a pretty big threat and almost kills Obi-Wan. He is nothing compared to Ventress though and she shuts him down multiple times. He of course runs away at the end, but that seems to be what he does all the freakin time.

Okay: The Jedi – Obi-Wan, Anakin and Shaak Ti are just kind of there. They get no real exploration as characters since this episode is primarily focused on the Clones. They aren’t bad but I can’t say anything unique about them beyond Anakin being overconfident.

   This is an amazing episode, like most are that explore Clone Identity. In this we see how much being a soldier is in regards to that, so much so that they are willing to fight no matter what their age is and that the DNA and creation of more Clones to serve the Republic is paramount to their purpose and why they fight. It’s powerful and I found the death of 99 actually mattering.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episodes 5-6 – “Corruption on Mandalore Arc” – Mandalore’s Worst Enemy is Itself

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    The “Corruption on Mandalore Arc” was enjoyable. This is one of the cultures and societies on the show that has gotten a fair amount of exploration already but we continue to get more and see just how complicated being a neutral power is. This is an episode where idealism is taken to the fullest degree as the next episode takes corruption to it’s greatest degree and we see the fallout from both in the arc.

     “Corruption” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Cameron Litvack who were also the same writer and director duo who finished up the arc in “The Academy.”

     The story kicks off with smugglers delivering goods that end up poisoning a lot of children, which leads Padme and Satine seeking to find the culprits as the Council and Prime Minister choose to do nothing. The arc finishes up with Ahsoka’s arrival to train the next generation of cadets as they discover someone high up is working directly with the smugglers and hoarding food from the populace.

The Pros: The Cadets – The cadets are pretty cool and they don’t bring the episode down. We see them work directly with Ahsoka and are inspired by her words to take action to change their society. They are the ones who learn that the Prime Minister was behind everything and it is thanks to them and Ahsoka fighting the Prime Minister’s corrupt troops that they save Satine.

Padme and Satine – These two have a great dynamic and I believed the friendship. They are both subversions of the Princess trope (passive and needs rescuing) as we see them find the corrupt smugglers and solve the issue of the poisoned tea. They have a great dynamic and know how to hold their own in a fight.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka takes action and learns that Satine had brought her to Mandalore since she didn’t know who to trust. She inspires the Cadets to find the truth but never loses sight of looking out for them as she helps them learn how to be good soldiers and people and to trust only those who have earned it. She gets them out of the Prime Minister’s trap and is the one who rescues Satine.

Prime Minister Almec – This guy is a complete politician but you get his point of view. What I didn’t understand is why he didn’t frame Satine as he was getting food to the populace in the only way he knew how from the war. He was rising in power in the process too, but he had some level of nobility that was never fully explored since they had him make stupid decisions at the end.

The Cons: The Moogan – These smugglers were animated to look bad and untrustworthy which in turn didn’t allow for their perspective. That was annoying as they seemed only driven by greed.

This was a great arc and one I recommend. So far any visit to Mandalore has been golden and we’ve gotten the chance to see just how complex and flawed the society is, as well as how linked corruption and power are as Almec has some parallels to Palpatine except he has idealism, where Palpatine is all about the bottom line and how much power he gains in the end.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 1 – “Clone Cadets” – Clone Identity

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    “Clone Cadets” is a great episode! This is an episode where the characters we come to care about are the Clones and even some mercenaries too! In this the one Jedi (Shaak Ti) is the weakest character. The episode is full of tender moments and all the characters not only form identities beyond numbers but grow as characters.

    The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Cameron Litvack.

     The story is about Domino Squad on Kamino and their quest to pass so they aren’t forced into being forced into labor on Kamino. From here their story unfold as their personalities clash and they slowly develop identities beyond the numbers they were born with.

The Pros: Training – The training sequence is really cool. They fight simulations with battle droids as the enemies where they have to take the tower. It’s done really well as the only way to win is with full cooperation of the team.

Kamino – The Kamino don’t care about the Clones and say as much to Shaak Ti, for them it is all business which shows just how devalued the clones are by all those around them, even their creators.

The Mercenaries – The mercenaries have very distinct personalities. Bric is rough but his challenges help make Domino the best squad while El-Les’s advocating for them gives them the chance to pass in the first place. He sees potential in them and is open about it versus Shaak Ti who is very guarded but can relate to them better. Bric looks down on the clones and doesn’t truly see them as people.

Shaak Ti – Shaak Ti is the wise teacher who reminds the squad that she can relate to them as she is a Jedi and their is no room for her as part of the order to be a true individual, just like the clones. She also views all life as sacred as a counterpoint to the Kamino’s disregard for life. She is still a Nationalist though and sees the Separatists as evil which they are not, they are a lot more complicated than Palpatine propaganda.

Domino Squad – Domino Squad has a great arc! They embrace the names given them, from Echo who repeats everything to Cutup who is the joker but good at adapting, to Hevy who is reckless but also courageous and Fives. All of them pull through the adversity and through the support of 99 who was a clone who was designed “wrong” find support in each other and with 99 and win the day.

99 – 99 is abused by all those around him but eventually finds a friend in Hevy and Domino Squad who embrace him as a brother since he is a clone like them who was the only one who believed in them at one point. He receives Hevy’s medal as well as a promise that Hevy will return showing that he finally has family.

The Message – Don’t let others define you, define yourself and remember those who face adversity just like you. This is the core message and what the clones teach us about ourselves.

  This is another episode that demonstrates just how powerful I hope this show can be. I actually care about the clones, when in Episode II and III they were just numbers. They were as personified as droids and simply weapons. In this we see the weapons are aware and have struggles of their and are so much more than what the Republic has chosen to make them. I can’t wait to learn more about them and their struggles.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10