“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Retrospect – There Were Amazing Stories But Star Wars Prequel Problems Haunted This Series

Star Wars The Clone Wars

  “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is a show that is a favorite. It had a lot of problems that could have killed the series for me, but when it had strong episodes and arcs…it gave us some of the best stories on television. Politics and war are complicated as are issues of identity and when this show was at it’s best it did that. It was far superior to Episodes I-III because it took it’s subjects serious and gave us complexity that made even Anakin a compelling character who was worth investing it.

      The series was created by George Lucas with the main developer, head writer and director being Dave Filoni (from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”)

        The story is about the Clone Wars, where we learn of love lost, Clones and their identities, adventures with Droids, Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side and the plots and manipulations of Count Dooku and Palpatine and the story of those caught in the middle who weren’t on the Separatists or the Republic side and how they are faced with choices as the Clone War is forced upon them.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is fantastic! Lucasfilm animation really did a fantastic job on giving life and diversity to the characters and worlds that made up this series. Each alien race was unique and even the Clones were shown to be distinct in their personalities and identities as shown through the animation.

The World – The world of “Star Wars” gets so much exploration in this! From droids, to Clones, to Neutral Worlds, to Republic and Separatist worlds and also Senate Politics, Bounty Hunters and so much more. I’m glad it went for 6 Seasons and in many ways wish it had gone longer.

The Cost of War – The cost of war is huge in this and we see that the Separatist Parliament is as much a pawn as the Galactic Republic’s Senate. So many die, from countless Jedi, to Clones we come to know…the neutral worlds that are pulled in and destroyed in the war. There is also a loss of innocence too as the war drives Anakin to greater extremes and the Jedi Council is shown to be both incompetent and rather corrupt.

Politics of War and Sovereignty – Sovereignty is a major issue of this series that is explored in detail in the stories of Mandalore and countless other Neutral Worlds that are pulled into the conflict and are torn apart from within by it or consumed by it when the Separatists usually attack, and even the worlds that are saved lose their sovereignty to the Empire later.

Nationalism – We see Nationalism exploited by Palpatine to control the populace but also see it used by Viszla, Padme and Satine to try and get their agendas on what they want for their people passed as well. We also see Toxic nationalism too in the assassination of a Senator when an aid was angry that he had joined the Republic.

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Clone Identity and the Clones – I really like the Clones. Fives who is the rebellious Clone who is nervous at first but risks all to find out the truth that they are slaves to a chip set to go off when the time is right and with the murder of the Jedi…we see him lose his Brothers and end up as the last one of the Clone Cadets still standing. We also see Rex face a Clone who has left the force and respect his choice and the fact he is fighting for his family. There are others too but Rex and Fives best represent development over multiple episodes throughout the series as a whole.

Clovis – This is a great minor character who is Padme’s ex and a Separatist spy who in the end tries to re-write that wrong by saving the Banks but ends up a pawn once more and loses everything because he had the willingness to hope in the good of others and in his trying to do the right thing, ends up dead.

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Asajj Ventress – Ventress goes from Dooku’s apprentice, to seeking revenge to finding her own path as Bounty Hunter who is neither good nor bad. She protects Ahsoka when the Council turns on her when she is framed and we see that she is no longer Sith as she trusted Dooku but he turned against her the moment Sidious asked. At this point she knows revenge isn’t possible as every plan fell to Dooku and she opened up another enemy in the war by corrupting Savage Opress and turning him into a monster, something that it seems to imply she regrets as her quest for revenge lead to the loss of all her people, the Nightsisters.

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Cad Bane – I really like Cad Bane. He is the best original character to come out of this series as he is a dark shade of grey. He will kidnap children and kill anyone for enough money but he also respects those who save him and are efficient in their mission, which leads to a mutual respect of Obi-Wan when Obi-Wan is undercover. He has also broken out of prison multiple times and is truly the best Bounty Hunter in the Galaxy as he can hold his own against any Jedi and only lose from being outnumbered. He had a great character design and was part of some of the best stories in the series where we see him turn losses into wins.

Savage Opress – Savage is voiced by Tom Clancy and is wonderful as a boy who loses his innocence in Ventress’s quest for revenge. He is a protector of his brother but in the end kills him after he is pumped full of Dark Side magic. He later carries on this protector role towards Darth Maul even though he is unstable from all the magic coursing through him and has gone kind of crazy. In the end Sidious kills him when he and Maul briefly form a 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars, The Shadow Collective. I really liked this character.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – Dooku is fantastic in this series and I really respect him as a character after this. He is one of the core manipulators of the Jedi and we even see him try for Sith Master a few times until his weapon of Opress turns against him. It is really his loss of an apprentice that dooms him to Anakin in Episode III. If he hadn’t turned against Ventress he would probably still be alive as she won him many battles, as Grievous was not the best of antagonists or generals.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – Sidious is evil and loves it and Palpatine is really good at using people’s honesty against them. He turns Padme’s idealism into a weapon, Anakin’s affection into jealousy and makes possible through his planning with Dooku, the invasion of countless worlds by the Republic. In this way he never loses and this series lays the ground work for Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Ian Ian Abercrombie and Tim Curry did a wonderful job.

Mandalore and Death Watch – Iszla was voiced by Jon Favreau and played a Mandalorian extreme Nationalist who wanted to bring back the Warrior Mandalore. He faces off against the pacificist Duchess Satine and even wins at one point when he aligns with Maul’s Shadow Collective, but loses when Maul turns against him. Satine also fails in creating a Neutral and peaceful Mandalore as she is killed by Maul as Maul recognized Obi-Wan’s love for her. He later uses the corrupt Prime Minister as his pawn until Bo-Katan and the remainder of Death Watch start a Civil War to retake their world and ask for Republic help.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is someone who chose duty or love and in many ways has some regret as he knows he isn’t the prefect Jedi and in it fears failing Anakin. He loses Satine his ex-lover and friend to another’s hatred and revenge and we see him unable to deal with Anakin’s dark side actions either as Anakin kills many times for the final end and doesn’t even allow the chance of a peaceful solution. This dilemma is part of what makes him compelling.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is shown to be very flawed in this. From jealous, to attempts to be controlling, but also someone who will risk everything for another…whether it be one of the Clones, a civilian or a Jedi. In this we see Palpatine feed his ego and how the Council’s own misconduct drive him towards hating and distrusting them as he feels more and more isolated as the lie he is living with Padme as their marriage cannot be open weighs on him.

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Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka is Anakin’s apprentice and is stubborn and egotistical, much like Anakin but also more of a Jedi than Anakin as she never kills and no matter how difficult things get she stays true to herself. Her jumping into things gets her into trouble many times though as does her attachment as she nearly gets the Republic involved in conflicts they shouldn’t be in because of her emotional investment. She is also a grey Jedi too as she leaves the Jedi Order after they turn on her when she is framed and goes her own way, which ends up saving her from Order 66. She was one of my favorite characters in the show.

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The Cons: Jar Jar Binks – He’s just as annoying as he is in Episode I and II and nothing can save him. It doesn’t matter how many times you make him a hero, it is an embarrassment to any serious conflict going on as he takes away from the drama with his stupid jokes and ways.

General Grievous – This guy is an embarrassment to the Separatists for most of the series and spends the majority of it running away and even getting captured and beat by the Gungans of all people. He is better in the last few episodes he is in but all he is really good at is running away. When Episode III roles around he isn’t much better. We only know he is a threat from what the narrator tells us, not from his actions during an episode.

Bringing Back Darth Maul – Darth Maul should have stayed dead as all he did Opress could have done under his own power and for Maul even when he learned about his brother. All his being brought back does is look like a cheap move for profit given how iconic the character is. He is handled well in “Lawless” and the “Shadow Collective Arc” but that doesn’t change the fact that bringing him back was a mistake.

Boba Fett – Fett is a punk kid who loses everything he gets into. He doesn’t get revenge on Mace and I never believed that the older Bounty Hunters had any reason to follow him until his last episode he appeared in. This character like Maul worked better as a mystery.

Blank Pacifist Species – Too many to name but they are the faceless victims of the Separatist and are there just to show that Dooku and his generals are bad. Beyond that they serve no purpose.

Blank Slate Jedi Masters – Plo Koon, Mace Windu and a few others are just as blank as they are in Episodes I-III and have no flaws. They are fortune cookie philosophers and in the end the conflicts they are put in are only compelling because they might die. This was a missed opportunity of the series to show them as flawed individuals not Perfect Avatars of Peace.

This is a series well worth checking out. I wouldn’t watch the Jar Jar episodes or Boba Fett episodes again personally and some of the Droid episodes are pretty weak but anything with Cad Bane, Clone Identity or politics and war are some of the best writing on television, especially for a kids show. This is a show that shows death, corruption and destruction and isn’t afraid to shy away from the evil that people are capable of…nor is it afraid of showing courage and strength of character as so many of our heroes go their own way and make their own path in the Galaxy far far away and so long ago…

Final Score: 8.5 / 10. One of my favorite shows and worth checking out. It isn’t as good as “Star Wars Rebels” Season 1 but it is still good quality overall.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 10-13 – “The D Squad Arc” – Exploring Droid Sentience Could Have Been Better

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    This was an arc that tried to be both comedic and dramatic. It mostly failed on the comedic and had a few moments of awesome for the dramatic and profound…shortly after to waste them on comedy. It was still an enjoyable adventure to say the least, but you really don’t need to watch this arc.

    “Secret Weapons” was directed by Danny Keller and written by Brent Friedman who wrote the rest of the arc. “A Sunny Day in the Void” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy, “Missing in Action” was directed by Steward Lee and “Point of No Return” was directed by Bosco Ng.

    The story is that of D Squad who serve under General Gascon. Their mission is to retreive Separatist plans for a surprise attack on the Republic. After recovering the plans they must escape the Void and finally stop the ship that plans to destroy an important conference taking place in the Republic.

The Pros: R2 – R2 is the droid with the most personality and the most memorable of the lot. He is the true leader of the group and helps them fulfill their mission on multiple occasions.

“Secret Weapons” – The infiltration of the Separatist Cruiser is pretty cool. We get to see each of the droid use their upgrade in a way that gets them closer to the data chip with R2 using his boosters to grab it. It was a lot of fun even though Gascon and WAC can get really annoying.

8 / 10

“Missing in Action” – This story is that of Gregor, a clone who lost his memory but recovers it when Gascon and the droids remind him of who he is. He is amazing and we see him defend them and get his freedom from the man exploiting his amnesia. I wish we’d had more time with this character, he has a moment of awesome though and takes on a whole squad of Droids.

9.5 / 10

Gregor – Gregor has a great arc and his discovery that he is a warrior and standing up for who he wants to be is fantastic! His Clone Commando gear is also really cool when he finally gets it back.

Abafar – This desolate planet is great in how it taps into our characters and we see how they clash and come together and also how wide the Separatist net stretches as they are mining resources from this world for their trap and turning a Republic Cruiser into a bomb.

Exploration of Sentience – WAC and Gascon discuss nature versus nurture in regards to genetics and nature versus programming and we see how similar they are. We never get Droid sentience officially recognized though it is a good start.

The Cons: Gascon – This guy was really annoying and definitely had Little Man Syndrome going on. He was arrogant and disregarded everyone until he needed them. We see him go insane on Abafar but that is about as interesting as he gets with his only good moment being how he helps Gregor find himself.

WAC – WAC is annoying, he is a Jar Jar like character who was made to be a comedic character and also was supposed to be profound. He failed on both counts and was a lot like Gascon. Really arrogant and stubborn and not much else.

Disposable Droids – From the Droid General to the rest of the astromechs, they are pointless and serve no purpose beyond plot convenience

Dr. Gubacher –  This guy had a small part but it was annoying as the Mad Scientist trope is over exaggerated. I didn’t believe that the Republic would use him or Gascon as assets.

  This was a fun arc but had a lot going against it, even though 2 of the episodes were at least solid, the rest was pretty forgettable and could be pretty boring. There were a lot of good ideas here but the Droids could not carry the episode and R2 is good but C-3PO and their dynamic is part of what makes him so much fun.

Final Score: 6 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 9-10 – “The Hunt for Grievous Arc” – Grievous Just Isn’t a Good Enemy and Great Clone Development

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    Every time the writers give Grievous a chance to be a great threat, they ruin it if there is any more than a single episode. In this we see him capture a Jedi Master and proceed to nearly be captured following this, as well as not know how to command or use his men well. Why do they keep using this guy as an enemy? He brings down almost every episode he’s in from his failure to be a lasting threat that can be taken seriously? “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is the only time I can think where he truly felt like the threat he is implied to be in this show and Episode III. Suffice to say, was not impressed with his plan this episode and the fallout from it in the following episode.

    “Grievous Intrigue” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Bob Edlund, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “The Deserter” was directed by Robert Dalva and written by Carl Ellsworth, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

     The story involves Grievous’s capture of Jedi Master Koth and him being used as bate to lure Anakin and Obi-Wan into a trap to be destroyed. Unsurprisingly the trap fails and Grievous must make his escape down to the planet to call for help from the Separatist fleet. During this time Captain Rex is injured and must deal with his loyalties as the man and his family who care for him is a Clone deserter from the Republic army.

The Pros: Clone Identity and “The Deserter” – Clone Identity is explored in this as the deserter watched all his brothers get killed and panicked and ran away but fell in love and has a family who he loves and protects. Rex’s family are his Clone Brothers and we see him respect Cut for not being a coward, though still looking down on his desertion. They have a great talk and explore how Clones are programmed to fight for the Republic and conditioned too but that they are still individuals with fears and dreams and that can lead to many possibilities beyond simply being a soldier in a war that looks like it is never going to end. I really like Rex and Cut as characters and they had a great dynamic together. “The Deserter” would get 9 / 10, due to this.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan has a personal beef with Grievous and we see him hold his own and even nearly kill Grievous at one point. At this point it is personal and we see that blind Obi-Wan to some of the traps Grievous sets and to the life of his men who are far more likely to be killed by Grievous than him.

Okay: The Other Jedi – Anakin, Koth and Adi are just kind of there. They moments of wit but none of it really stands out as the focus is mostly on Obi-Wan and his vendetta against Grievous. I guess they almost die a few times but we don’t learn anything about them. Adi and Koth could have been traded out for any other Jedi Master we’ve met once or twice and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The Cons: Grievous and his Army – Grievous sucks, he sets up this master plan and in the end his ship just gets destroyed and he runs away when he has multiple vessels and could have won the battle above. He put himself needlessly at risk leaving his ship and not jumping to another cruiser and he kills so many of his own men he’s a plus to the Jedi in battle. I didn’t get his personal vendetta against the Jedi either. What had they done to him prior to him becoming a general in the Clone Wars? That is never answered so it just feels contrived. Worst antagonist on this show…

Final Score: 7 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episodes 2-4 – The Malevolence Arc – Grievous is a Terrible Antagonist

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     I’m not reviewing the three episodes that make up this arc individually because it is a terrible arc and doesn’t deserve the time investment that would entail. One can only ran about how terrible Grievous is a villain so many times before it’s too much. He is the weakest part of this episode for so many reasons and doesn’t deserve the title General. This is a shame as he was pretty awesome in the 2D “Clone Wars,” sadly the Grievous we get here is like the one in Episode III, a coward who can’t even win against opponents who have less troops and resources.

     The episodes in question are “Rise of Malevolence,” Shadow of Malevolence” and “Destroy Malevolence.”

     The story involves the plot to destroy the new Separatist Supership called Malevolence as Dooku puts Grievous in charge of testing it. When Plo Koon and his men stumble on the ship and lose their fleet they are rescued by Anakin and Ahsoka who had been found by Master Plo Koon when she was child and together they must find a way to destroy the ship before it returns to Separist space.

The Pros: The Funny Moment – After the ship is destroyed Dooku calls Grievous to check in on the weapon and Grievous just turns it off. It’s actually a hilarious and a great middle finger to Dooku who probably felt like a fool for trusting Grievous in the first place.

The Battles – The battle to destroy Malevolence is wonderful, even though the dialogue is pretty terrible. You can pretty much predict every Trooper death before it happens.

Okay: The Jedi Knights and Masters – Anakin, Obi-Wan and Plo Koon aren’t bad but they are kind of interchangeable. I can’t think of anything memorable that was done that wasn’t predictable. Anakin and Ahsoka were going to find Plo Koon, that was never a question, all we saw was that Anakin trusts Palpatine when Palpatine calls in asking Anakin to retreat given that the council is displeased with his doing his own thing.

Count Dooku – The guy never let up on Grievous but we never saw him propose any solutions either. He was mostly there just as a threat and not active.

The Cons: Ahsoka – Says Artooy a whole bunch, gives nothing to the battle and only saves Plo Koon based on her belief that she’ll find him. She is a plot device this episode and feels like she was the “cute” anime trope played to the fullest and not an actual character. She was super annoying, though Grievous was worse.

General Grievous – Stupid cough, punching his own men who act like jokes and assuming he’ll win no matter what rather than concentrating on protecting the ship. The guy fell for simple traps and only survived the battle because he went into a fighter to join it. He was great in the fighter but he was embarrassment prior and I could not take him seriously as a villain. Really hope he gets better, right now he’s worse than Episode III and he was terrible in that. Also, he targets Clone Hospitals…and loses. This guy is an embarrassment to the Separatists, why did they make him a general?

   Don’t watch this arc. It doesn’t give you any new information, the characters don’t feel like complete characters, the villains are wasted and nothing of any significance matters. These episodes are only 20 minutes long but they felt so much longer. There is nothing good to be gained from them.

Final Score: 1 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Ambush” – “Life” is Conditional and Yoda is Powerful

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    The pilot of “The Clone Wars” is great at showing just how much of a powerhouse Yoda is, as as well as showing his respect for life but not sentience. This episode also completes to Toydarian arc from last episode as the King’s meeting with the Jedi representative takes place in this episode.

    The episode was directed by Dave Bullock and written by Steven Melching.

     The episode is about King Katuunko and the Separatists and Republic vying for his support. In this Ventress arrives and sends droid forces after Yoda to show the Separatists as the superior force. In this Yoda and the three Clones must outwit their enemies and get to the meeting point before the fall of night.

The Pros: Ventress, Dooku and the Separatists – The Separatists are shown to be a big threat in this and it is only Yoda appearing at the last second that saves King Katuunko’s life when he chooses to join the Republic. The one thing I’d say against it is the making bigger waves wasn’t smart. When you go out go all out.

Yoda and the Clones – Yoda counsels the Clones and uses the droids lack of cognitive skills against them. In the end the Clones save Yoda from the reinforcements that had sent. They have some great moments where Yoda helps the Clones learn about themselves and shows where he comes from and that the force binds all life together and even Clones can get in touch with it and have value.

The Cons: Expendable Droids – Droids clearly think and value their life yet they are massacred by Yoda. He never seeks to disarm droids he always goes for destruction showing some level of hypocrisy as the droids are sentient even if they aren’t organic life. This is true to lore though. In “Empire Strikes Back” Yoda was pretty abusive to R2.

This was a decent episode that could have been better. I would have liked to see Dooku and Ventress do more than just send wave after wave of troops and see Yoda show some awareness in regards to droids. Droids are his blindspot and it doesn’t matter how smart and sentient they are.

Final Score: 7 / 10