Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – Best of the Prequels But Still an Idea Not Fully Realized

Revenge of the Sith

  “Revenge of the Sith” is the best of the Prequels and this isn’t just because episode I and II are so terrible. “Revenge of the Sith” at least has a focus and mission, which can’t be said for “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” which were muddled messes each in different ways. “Revenge of the Sith” is also the only film you need to see to understand “The Original Trilogy,” The Clone Wars and Anakin’s fall are the focus of this story and George Lucas actually does an okay job…though the ending is bad, the middle is really strong and for a moment Lucas seems to understand that you show events, don’t tell events. I’ll get into more of what I mean further down.

     The film was directed and written by George Lucas and produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves the end of the Clone Wars as General Grievous does a last ditch effort with Dooku (Christopher Lee) to capture Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Things soon go wrong for them when Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) arrive though all is not as it appears to be as after the battle Anakin finds himself being isolated around him and being offered a path to save the woman he loves through his friend and mentor Palpatine.

The Pros: The Action – The action in this is actually really good. Whether it is the battle to save Chancellor Palpatine or the attack on Grievous’s base we see that George Lucas does know how to shoot an action sequence when he is up for it, even the weaker battles like that between Dooku and Anakin.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan shows why he was made Jedi Master in this as we see him walk the line between supporting his apprentice and trying to look out for the well being of the galaxy. Ewan McGregor does a wonderful job and I felt for him at the end as the pain in his eyes at leaving his friend who had turned to the dark side felt real and had much more love in the acting than any scene between Anakin and Padme.

Yoda – Yoda has some great Jedi Master moments too as he forces Anakin to give up his attachments or to face losing them (which is the Jedi Way, much like Buddhism) and we see how the deaths around the galaxy touch him. Thankfully he doesn’t fight with a lightsaber that much (he like Sidious should be beyond using swords whether they are lazer swords or not) and him losing was after a tough fight. He was stupid in that he went alone. Palpatine could not have taken on Obi-Wan and Yoda together. I do like that he figured out how to train to immortality too via communion with Qui-Gon, that was a nice touch.

Anakin’s Choice – This is a great scene, the music is beautiful and we see Anakin thinking of Padme and dealing with the fact that Palpatine has been right about the Jedi so far, but how they are also his friends and he knows whatever choice he makes there is no going back. There is no dialogue and the scene is all the more powerful for it.

Anakin’s Fall – Anakin’s fall is a pro as we establish he’s already a bit of a sociopath (hello the Tuscan Raider massacre) and he has major anger and ego problems tied to the fact that I don’t think he loves Padme, not really. She represents his mother as she is safety and freedom which are two things he’s never had his entire life. She is a closeness and familiarity and he chooses that for understandable reasons as he would do anything not to lose her and he is a sociopath, so killing the Jedi though it would be hard. Anakin is already an established fascist so killing those going against the order (Palpatine) he supports is a tough call but in the end one he would make.

Order 66 – This was really well done. From Anakin’s march on the Jedi Temple and slaughtering the Younglings (Jedi Children and going to call them that from now on), which by the way is his second time doing this so he’s been a messed up murdering soldier for sometime. We see the Jedi fall on each of their operations as Palpatine had manipulated the war so well that there were so few to stand against him.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – This guy is wonderfully evil and brilliant in a world where no one asks questions (no one does, not Anakin, the Jedi Order or even the Senate). So given this fact of course he rises to power and in the end helps the Sith reign supreme. The only scenes to watch in the Prequels prior are the Palpatine ones as he never stops being an interesting character and you get an idea of just how powerful of a Sith he is. He is one of the greatest if not thee greatest Sith for a reason and this film is his victory.

The Cons: Padme and the “love” story – The love story didn’t work unless they are both super co-dependent. Hayden and Padme’s acting doesn’t work either and the love story only works as an idea to bring about the fall. It’s more believable in both of the “Clone Wars” shows but for this film the crappy dialogue and sadly horrible acting more so coming from Natalie Portman is what brings it down. Her no longer having a will to live after Anakin turns on her doesn’t help matters either. She just feels more like a plot device meant to be fridged to finished Anakin’s fall.

Tone – There are still moments where slapstick is in with intense war scenes and it took me out of it in those moments. Lucas reeled it in at least and it doesn’t get as bad as past films.

General Grievous – What a joke. This is supposed to be our big bad? He is just bad as he is in the 3D Clone Wars. I never felt threatened by this guy and didn’t understand why anyone would make him a general.

Non-Characters – Dooku’s death felt meaningless and I feel bad for Christopher Lee because of it. Mace Windu also felt invisible. There characters never felt like characters, just ideas and plot devices for Anakin’s fall…like Padme and Anakin’s love in this film which wasn’t real but had to be there due to plot.

Excess – This really comes out in the final fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin…the fight lasts 20 minutes and there is no reason for any one on one fight to go on that long. It took me out of the moment and emotion behind the characters and made only pointless action. The only symbolism we had was the fact that Mustafar looked like hell. The tell not show dialogue didn’t help matters either in these scenes.

The Dialogue – The dialogue is still bad, especially at the end. At least there are moments where Lucas remembers to show and not tell us so that’s a win! Sadly his dialogue he has Vader makes the ending worse.

No!!!!!! – This scene. Vader should not say “Padme” it sounds weird and all it would have taken was a simple “No.” There was no reason to ham it up at all. It made no sense and I don’t understand why it was there. We already know Anakin is broken we don’t need it turned up to 11 to see that.

    I actually listed quite a few pros this time around as this isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t an especially good one. There are moments where Lucas actually knows how to write! Sadly rather than just showing the story he continues to tell us it, especially at the end. After I finish rewatching all the films I’ll do a write-up on the Prequels as a whole and a comparison with the Original Trilogy. Much of this film was made better for me because I got to see a lot of the show in both “Clone Wars” tv shows and that made the story here stronger as characters actually mattered, Jedi weren’t just faceless blank slates who used the force, they were people and monks who had ideals they were fighting for. I would probably have not enjoyed this film as much as I did without that context because it does make scenes stronger.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10

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Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003): A Truly Epic Tale of the Clone Wars and the Fall

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   Tartakovsky’s “Clone Wars” is one of the greatest things to come out of the “Star Wars” Universe and shows us just how great the Prequels might have been with vision, direction and the consequences of War fully explored and realized. This is a series where even the minor characters are given moments to shine and we see just how powerful the Separatists truly are as well as Sidious’s endgame and watch him put all the pieces in motion for Anakin and the Republic’s fall.

      The series was written and directed by Genddy Tartakovsky and produced by Sam Register and George Lucas.

      The story involves Anakin’s fall as the planets continue to fall to General Grievous and the Separatist forces as the Jedi fight against them, making their forces thin. Elsewhere Dooku and Sidious plot while the war continues leading to a large scale attack on Coruscant.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is beautiful and reminds me of “Samurai Jack.” Genndy Tartakovsky did a great job and it is beautiful watch as he uses his strength in this animation style to capture the wonder of these worlds and Universe.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is beautiful and feels very “Star Wars.” It captures the epicness of battle or the individual fears and struggles as the characters wrestle with the Dark Side in opponents or themselves. James L. Venable and Paul Dinleter did a great job.

The Writing – Tartakovsky and his writing team did a great job on this script. The main focus is on Anakin and how different worlds fair against the threat of Dooku and the Separatists and we see an overall narrative leading to the Climax of the battle of the Episode III with Grievous’s invasion of Coruscant and the capture of Palpatine. It’s powerful and there is so much showing rather than telling, clearly George Lucas did not write this script.

The Universe – The “Star Wars” universe is rich and we get to see so many worlds in this. From the homeworlds of the Mon Calamari to the Capital Coruscant…and many Separatist worlds. Each one is distinct and rich.

The Organizations – The Separistists and the Republic both get development, as do the Jedi as we get to see their philosophy.

The Separatists – The Separatists don’t have the complexity they recieve in “The Clone Wars,” but they feel like a threat the entire time. Their generals manage to defeat and kill many Jedi and their superweapons are pretty well designed and are usually only taken out by Jedi Masters.

Asajj Ventress – Ventress wants to be a Sith and bests all the contestants in Dooku’s competition. She is just evil in this and isn’t as complex as she is in the “The Clone Wars” but she achieves a similar purpose in driving Anakin to the edge as his obsession to try and kill her and defeating pushes him closer to the Dark Side. She is an awesome threat and Grey DeLisle (Azula) does a wonderful job.

Count Dooku – Dooku defeats all his Generals and apprentices and even Grievous who we have seen kill multiple Jedi at once can’t hold his own. Dooku is fully in control of the War and working with Sidious is making the Jedi spread thin so that their attack on Coruscant will most likely succeed and the Jedi will fall. Corey Burton does a great job voice acting.

General Grievous – This is the General Grievous I expected in Episode III and “The Clone Wars” and only found disapointment. This Grievous is scary and is a warrior with honor who can take on multiple Jedi at once and kill them. He’s a Jedi killing machine and nothing can stand against him, you get why he’s a general and Dooku’s apprentice and he’s always one step ahead. John DiMaggio does a great job adding threat to his voice too and he is the scariest enemy in this series…it’s a shame that this is the only place you will find a Grievous worthy of his name.

The Republic – The Republic is interesting though we don’t get much development of side characters who aren’t Jedi (similar problem “The Clone Wars” had though they were better at developing senators) we still get a glimpse of an Empire about to fall as they are cut off from the war until it arrives on their doorstep and the populations of the Republic are far too dependent on the Jedi to protect them. In this we get to see Padme in action as she helps rescue a few times and goes on mission with Yoda.

The Jedi – The Jedi are interesting in this but I’m going to focus on the ones who I felt got special exploration and were more compelling because of it.

Master Luminara and Barriss Offee – These two give us the philosophy of the Jedi as Barriss is making her lightsaber when Dooku attacks the Temple with some cloaked droids leading them nearly dying even though they manage to take out a lot of the droids. It is only when Padme and Yoda arrive that they are rescued showing just how threatening even the non-organics of the Separatists can be.

Yoda and Windu – These two are powerhouses and they earn their stripes as Master in this. It is very superpowered in some ways but given the mystique surrounding these characters it was great to finally see how powerful their connection to the force was in action. Yoda is extremely entertaining too as he has a great sense of humor to balance out Windu’s seriousness. He feels like the wise sage in this.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – In this we see how great Anakin and Obi-Wan’s friendship is as Obi-Wan goes against part of the Council to promote Anakin becoming a Knight. It shows that he knows Anakin is prideful and an outsider but truly values him as a friend and companion. We see Obi-Wan’s patience too as he fights an enemy who refuses to die (Durge) and is the calm to Anakin’s passion in their adventures when Anakin is Knighted. Obi-Wan is also always the diplomat as he learned countless languages from his time with Qui-Gon.

Anakin Skywalker – This series really shows Anakin’s fall as we see his obsession with winning and defeating his enemies lead to him chasing Ventress to a world where his troops are all killed by her and he is nearly killed as well driving him into a rage where he leaves to her die as he is consumed by his darkness. He later has a vision quest on a world where he seeking the warriors of their people and sees that he will someday become Darth Vader. This doesn’t stop him from saving the twisted warriors and bringing an end to the experiments showing that even in his rage, Anakin and Vader have some semblance of honor to what they do.

    This was a show that took it’s characters and worlds seriously. We see countless people die to the different forces and see just how much of a threat the Separatists truly are. It was a shame that “The Clone Wars” and “Episode III” turned Grievous into a joke (though I appreciate how much development it gave Ventress), the story is self contained and doesn’t feel like it is 2 hours long as it the action, animation and character development keep the story going to the point that you want to see more. In a way the biggest downfall is that we don’t get enough of Tartakovsky’s vision…we get a wonderful glimpse and story within the world he made but there is more that could have been told.

Final Score: 10 / 10. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Star Wars or his past works.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 6-9 – “The Path of a Young Jedi Arc” – Enemy of my Enemy

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   “The Path of the Young Jedi Arc” has some really good moments and is a solid arc overall, though it isn’t the strongest in the series. It does at least take the time to explore all of it’s characters and continues to treat Grievous as a valid threat, which is rare enough that I have to recognize it when it happens.

    “The Gathering” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Christian Taylor who wrote the other three episodes in the arc. “A Test of Strength” was directed by Bosco Ng, “Bound for Rescue” by Brian Kalin O’Connell and “A Necessary Bond” which was directed by Danny Keller.

    The story involves Jedi Younglings going to the Ice Caverns with Ahsoka to get their Kyber Crystal so that they can construct their lightsaber. After the younglings face their fears they are attacked by Hondo who kidnaps Ahsoka and from there they must rescue her as the Separatists arrive to get revenge on Hondo for kidnapping Dooku in the past.

The Pros: “The Gathering” – “The Gathering” is great, we see each individual Jedi face their fears. From Ganodi’s finding hope, Zatt learning patience, Byph learning courage, Petro learning compassion and Katooni with trust. It is a great arc and we see them demonstrate these skills later against the pirates.

Grievous and the Separatists – Grievous destroys Obi-Wan and Rex’s ship preventing them from saving the younglings and turns Hondo’s base into a Separatist stronghold. All he does in win in this episode and it is awesome. This is the Grievous we should have had from Day 1. Also Dooku shutting down Hondo is great.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is the guardian and protects the younglings and guides them in their process of learning the force. She is firm and compassionate and never backs away from being a Jedi either as she is willing to work with Hondo who was holding her hostage and planning to sell her for money.

Hondo – Hondo is fantastic in this! In this you see he is a bit insane as he is willing to hold kids hostage even if he won’t kill them, but after he is beaten he acts as a mentor to Katooni and helps her build her lightsaber. He also helps the Jedi escape when he uses Slave I against Grievous.

The Cons: Huyang – Voiced by David Tennant, this droid felt underused and that he was just there for the guest voice and an attempt to have a C-3PO episode. What a wasted character…

 This was a solid and enjoyable arc that did some good things with Hondo, Ahsoka and Grievous and even managed to explore younglings and not mess it up! Only issue was Huyang, which is a shame as David Tennant is one of my favorite actors.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 19 – “Massacre” – Lost Ventress and Grievous Finally Acts Like a Threat

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     This was a great Grievous, Talzin, Dooku and Ventress episode as we see them go through extreme trials and out of it become more than they were before. This was a pretty dark episode as well as we see the slaughter of the Witches (reason the episode is titled “Massacre”) and once more have Ventress on the run. It was pulled off really well.

    “Massacre” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Katie Lucas.

   The story is that of Dooku’s revenge as he attacks Dathomir when he learns that Ventress is there and has become a member of the Nightsisters. As he orders Grievous to attack Mother Talzin attacks him with magic and a battle of wills commences between the two sides.

The Pros: The Undead Army – Mother Talzin summons an undead army that fights the droids and does a lot of damage until tanks and Grievous enter the battlefield and they go to kill the oldest of the Nightsisters who summoned the army in the first place.

General Grievous – He is actually a threat in this episode! We see him kill multiple Nightsisters, shake of zombies and put up a good fight against Ventress. Why couldn’t we have seen this more? He always gets his but kicked by Jedi Masters and he lost to Gungans one of the last times we saw him in action. This is the Grievous we needed from the beginning.

Count Dooku – Dooku does a good job at getting revenge, though he does not succeed in getting Ventress. We see how powerful he is at resisting pain though as a doll of his body is used by Talzin to destroy him and how even with all of that he still has enough willpower to live and to tell Grievous how to find Talzin. The guy deserves being the leader of the Separatists for sure.

Mother Talzin – Talzin shows that she is up there with Palpatine for truly powerful force wielders as she loses most of her clan but survives, turning into the green mist. What she has in mind for others remains to be seen but she helps Ventress heal and find a life beyond the world of the Nightsisters and what was lost.

Ventress – Ventress is the focus of this episode as we see her have community again to lose it as Dooku once more tries to take everything from her. In the end she survives with her life and not much else. It’s a heartbreaking scene as we see just how human Ventress is and how much losing her Sisters meant to her. This was her story.

   This was a great episode that had fantastic action, good character development, stakes and Ventress change in the process. The episode that follows up on this arc is really good too as we get to explore Ventress and her new relationships after she has lost it all.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 4 – “Shadow Warrior” – Grievous Continues to Suck as an Antagonist

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   Gungans as the primary protagonists, and Grievous as the antagonist…I’m surprised this episode wasn’t worse than it was. It was still terrible as Grievous further embarrasses himself as an antagonist on this show, but the Gungans weren’t as bad they could have been.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Daniel Arkin.

   The story involves the prevention of a Separatist invasion as the Gungan Boss is being controlled by his Minister Rish Loo who is working with the Separatists. Things go awry when the Boss is injured and Jar Jar must pretend to be him when he meets with Grievous. Things come to ahead when Dooku lures Anakin into a trap and the Gungans capture Grievous.

The Pros: General Tarparls – Grievous kills him and he sacrifices himself to capture him, which is a pretty cool way to go as this General was decent in Episode I and wasn’t annoying.

Minister Rish Loo – This guy could have been a great antagonist if his plan had been successful, which I hoped it would have. Civil War on Naboo would have been a great arc. I’m putting him as a pro because he does make his escape and he was winning for a while it is only due to Dooku that he dies.

Anakin – Anakin goes after Rish Loo and is captured by Dooku where his ends justify the means guilt grows as he is traded for Grievous, which keeps the Clone War going.

Padme – Padme is really driven on ending the war and even after Anakin is captured she is fighting against her feelings to rescue him as she knows with Grievous captured they could end the war. She is the one facing the dilemma and goes forward only after pressure from Jar Jar showing just how driven she is to end the war.

The Cons: General Grievous – Loses to a bunch of Gungans. Guy is an embarrassment and is a big reason this episode was only okay. You expect more from the General of the Separatists.

Jar Jar – Still annoying and him acting “Comedic” to get out of situations grows old really fast, especially when something as big as war is going on.

  I didn’t like this episode. The only good parts where Anakin and Padme’s dilemma and seeing Count Dooku beat Anakin. Making Grievous lose to Gungans didn’t help this series when people keep describing Grievous as the big bad of the Separatists.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 10 – “Heroes on Both Sides” – The Complexity of the Separatists

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    “Heroes on Both Sides” lives up to it’s name and shows just how complex politics can get as as we see Padme and Ahsoka go behind enemy lines to see one of Padme’s old friends who serves as a representative in the Separatist Parliament. It’s a powerful episode that shows the factions that profit from keeping war going and how the long game Dooku and Palpatine are playing will more often than not, end in success.

    The episode was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Daniel Arkin.

    The story involves Padme seeking a peace with the Separatists under the table as the Banking Clan and others are calling for a Bill that would deregulate them and allow them to charge more interest in order for the Republic to fund the war. This leads to Ahsoka and Padme going to the Separatist Capitol to meet with Padme’s friend Mina, who is a Senator in the Separatist congress. From here  things unfold as factions work against their quest for peace.

The Pros: Mina and Padme – Both are idealists with blind spots as neither of them realize their leaders are Sith using the war to their own advantage and ends. Both are good people though that seek peace and don’t care about the seperation or conquest of the Republic. It’s great seeing htem together, especially as Mina is older and mother contrasted with Padme’s youthful idealism.

The Separatist Congress – The Separatist congress is just as diverse as the Republic and we see that even they are tiring of the war and just want it to end, but fear the Republic because they believe the Republic started the war. They propose a peace accord though until Grievous mounts a secret attack on the Republic which leads to the Banking Clan bill passing.

The Republic – We see the politics among the Republic too with money wielding influence but also with counters with Organa and Mothma as members of the more liberal faction with Padme working for peace. Sadly it all comes crumbling down though as Padme reveals those she was helping and her plan to Palpatine who with Dooku sets in motion the destruction of the chance for peace.

Grievous’s attack – Grievous is a threat for once! He sends suicide droids down that blow up the generator on Coruscant shutting everything down. It strikes fear and makes the Banking Bill pass as well as keeping the war going. For once Grievous gets a win.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka visits the Separatists and after talking to Mina’s son realizes the misunderstanding their is surrounding the Jedi among the Separatists and in the Republic towards the Separatists. Even after the attack she doesn’t regret her action as she sees the shades of grey in the war that Anakin does not as Anakin is all about order.

  I really enjoyed this episode. We see consequences to actions, Grievous gets a win and see how powerful Palpatine and Dooku are at keeping the war going and manipulating their factions and we see how fascist Anakin is compared to Ahsoka who is far more like the liberal Padme.

Final Score: 10 / 10

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