Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episodes 1-4 – “The Clone Conspiracy Arc” – When the Only Freedom is in Death

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   This was a powerful arc that showed that there really isn’t any sort of happy ending for Clones. They were made to be weapons and whenever they assert their agency their creators or the Republic remind them that they are property and within that have been made to a do a very cruel task that breaks the minds of two Clones who find out. One of these Clones is one of my favorites who we have gotten to know since the beginning of the timeline, Fives. This is a tragic story but fits the theme of the last 2 seasons that the coming of Order 66 is inevitable as well as the Republic becoming the Empire.

      “The Unknown” was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Katie Lucas who also wrote the other 3 episodes in the arc. “Conspiracy” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell, “Fugitive” was directed by Danny Keller and “Orders” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy.

     The story involves Tup killing a Jedi when the chip in his head activates early. From here The Kaminoans and the Palpatine seek to cover up what happened by killing Tup and removing the chip or discounting Fives who has begun to figure it out, especially after he removes the chip from his own head. As a fugitive he seeks to reveal the truth to Rex and Anakin when all is working against him, including his own mind.

The Pros: The Conspiracy – The conspiracy to control the Clones is brilliant and it makes sense that Palpatine would have that fail safe so that when the time came, no Jedi would survive. It also makes sense that a fluke would mess things up and that Fives would seek the truth as he has always been a rebellious Clone.

The Kaminoans – These guys are all about the bottom line and we see them talking to Dooku on multiple occasions as they seek to fulfill the Clones original programming and keep the secret safe. They know the Jedi are going to die and don’t care…this goes for just how detached this species is that the Clones are just property and assets and the Jedi are nothing to them.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – In this we see that as one of the original folks who commissioned the Clones he is keeping a close eye on events. He knows what is at stake if the truth is revealed and that the fake war could end and that all the Sith are working for could be undone. To this end he goes to any end to prevent the truth from getting out.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – This guy frames Fives for trying to kill him after he’s been pumped up full of drugs by the Kaminoan Doctors and after he sends his own special Clone Force that wears Red to take out Fives. He is brilliant in this and anytime Fives makes progress at getting the truth out, Palpatine reveals something else (a Parasite made Tups and Fives violent) that discounts their stories. This is an episode where he wins.

Fives – Fives is my favorite Clone outside of Rex and in this we see his rebellious nature work to his advantage to seek the truth as he goes against the Republic and his creators to get the truth out there (The Kaminoans pump him up with drugs) so that Clones can be truly free and not slaves to programming. He was always the more sensitive of the Clones and it motivated him to risk his life against Krell and this time too against the Republic and Kamino. R.I.P. Fives, you were one of the best. In the end he does have freedom as the chip is gone and all it was suppressing (kill the Jedi) is released so his nightmares finally end.

  This was a tragic episode as Fives and Tups never find justice as Palpatine and Dooku win and the plan for Order 66 remains hidden and ready for activation at the end of the war. Fives is the one railing against the system in a very “Brazil” like fashion and like in “Brazil” there is nothing he can do against it. He is a cog in the machine and in the end it devours him and destroys his mind, and from that the only freedom he receives is in death.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 15 – “Senate Murders” – Toxic Nationalism

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     Watching “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” in order of events was the right thing to do. If I hadn’t done that I would have had nearly enough time with Farr or gotten to know the character how I did if not for it, because I had time to see his relationship to his people, the Republic and Padme, it makes his death actually mean something. This event is one of the powerful things to happen in the series thus far as well as learning more about the members of the Peace and War Faction.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

     The story revolves around the death of Farr from Rodia when and the Peace Faction are rallying against a Bill by the War Faction to increase Clone Trooper production. From here Padme seeks to find out who was the one responsible as the fight against the Bill rages on.

The Pros: The Politics – The Peace and War factions are really cool. On one side Farr, Mothma, Organa, Padme and Lolo work against the Bill while Deechee and the Kamino Senator Burtoni. Neither side is clear of dirt and we see that both are using whatever is at their disposal to win, though the War faction is more ruthless.

The Death of Senator Farr – Farr is a great character, he will do anything for his people…be it joining the Separatists or fighting against Bills that would lead money going to war rather then the Refugees and his world. He is a true patriot that way as well as imperfect and it is his imperfection that leads to his death.

Senator Burtino – Is cold and calculating and doesn’t respect the Peace Faction at all. She also thinks they aren’t dangerous enough to kill though Lola sets up to be framed for the murder until Padme forces Lola’s hand.

Senator Deechee – Lola kills him too and he is the one who respected Farr. He had Farr followed and knew about the meeting between Lolo and Farr but didn’t know who or the details. I liked this character as he truly believes that increase in troops is the only way to win the war.

Lolo – Lolo is a nationalist and believes that Farr doomed their people the moment he entered the war. She isn’t wrong but she is blinded to any other perspective. This is her undoing in the end as she tries to remain hidden rather than standing openly against Farr politically and using political power to stop him.

Padme – Padme is the idealist and continues fighting for the Bill until she loses everything when Lolo plays her hand and the Peace Faction is discredited in the process as we see that the other side of Populism is Nationalism and Nationalism can lead to great stupidity.

Palpatine – Palpatine does a great job manipulating everything and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had pushed Lolo’s ideology through his very subtle form of influence. He speaks great double speak as at the end he sympathizes with Padme but also thinks that maybe the increase of Clones maybe the only way to make peace at this time…he is brilliant and has planted the growing seed of doubt in Padme.

The Horrors of Nationalism – Nationalism at it’s extreme can mean the silencing of dissenting voices as country matters more than the perspectives within it. It is this Nationalism that leads to Farr’s death and a further economic cost on Rodia because of it.

  This episode is a great contrast with the populism from last episode. Lola was like Padme’s handmaiden except she saw only rage by Farr’s involving Rodia with the Separatists and Republic and her reasons to hate were the same desperation that the people are feeling because of the war. That is what makes the entire event a tragedy and asks the question, “How can there be peace with one’s enemies when there isn’t peace at home?”

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

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Rookies” – Making a Soldier

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     After how terrible the last few episodes were it’s great being back with our favorite clones! Our favorite Clones being the members of Domino Squad from “Clone Cadets” and his team along with Commander Cody and Captain Rex. This episode has cost, loss and people change! This is what is good good writing than contrived writing that we got during “The Malevolence Arc.” Events need to change characters since people aren’t static, this episode showed this really well.

      “Rookies” was directed by Justin Ridge and written by Steven Melching.

      The story involves a Separatist attack on a far flung outpost by Commando Droids. This outpost also happens to be where Commander Cody and Captain Rex were coming to expect and where Domino Squad is stationed as well. From here they must figure out how to recapture or destroy the station so that Republic forces will be warned about Grievous’s invasion force.

The Pros: Commando Droids – These guys actually feel like threats and manage to take out all the other Clones stationed at the base, leaving us only with named characters. They take a lot to take down too and are shown to have extreme intelligence, from wearing Clone Trooper armor and impersonating them to fulfill their mission.

Commander Cody and Captain Rex – These two are the teachers for the Clones and we see their creativity in action as well as how smart they are as they fake their death when their ships is destroyed and use the head of a Commando droid to infiltrate the base where they later lay the charges. They have respect for those who survive too and invite them to join the 501st legion.

Domino Squad – These guys became soldiers together and in this we see how laid back they are until things get serious. In this we see them slowly lose each other. From Cutup being eaten by an Eel after the Droid Commandos take the base to Hevy’s sacrifice at the end in order to warn the others. Fives and Echo live with the loss but are invited into the 501st legion as their inventive thinking is what made possible the victory that day.

Loss – Cutup and Hevy’s death actually mean something. They each died showing just how serious the Separatist and nature threats were and that there is no easy out in this war. You feel for their loss and see how it changes the survivors who have learned the cost of war. Hevy fighting to the end and setting off the detonator with his dying breathe was powerful too.

Okay: General Grievous – He was smart about the threat of the base but he should have just left it and attacked Kamino. He stalled and it cost him. I can at least understand why he was stalling and he was Chaotic Evil Stupid like the last time we saw the character. Still difficult to take him seriously though. He has no victories in this show and Ventress has shown herself to be a better commander.

This was a fantastic episode that even Grievous couldn’t ruin! We get to see the men of Domino Squad develop further, get some time with Cody and Rex and see the Separatists actually act like a threat and manage to kill some named Republic characters! So this episode was a win and one I’d recommend. Definitely a favorite.

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