Top 5 Episodes/Arcs of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

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     “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was at the end of the day a really good show. When it had arcs and stories that mattered it us some of the best that has come out of animated television here in the United States. These 5 episodes and arcs I will be listing are the ones that stood out the most and that I’d recommend. There are many more favorite episodes and arcs I have on this show, but the best deserve special recognition.

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5th Place

“Heroes on Both Sides” – Season 3, Episode 10

  Written by Daniel Arkin, this episode showed us that there were Separatists that wanted peace and showed how Dooku was using their idealistic dream of a government that respected them and their beliefs existance was as much a tool as the Republic. We see Padme go against the Republic to try and open up talks and even see Ahsoka make a friend and learn that the Separatists aren’t all Droids and Grievous and showing the Jedi aren’t all faceless soldiers willing to kill for their supposed greater good. It is really great and we see the chance for peace stifled by Palpatine and Dooku and how Ahsoka’s prejudice changes as she sees the people and no longer just the enemy faction. The main reasons it isn’t higher on the list is we still see mostly humans as the good face of the Separatists (Padme’s friend) and the fact that it contrives a romancish for Ahsoka.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-3-episode-10-heroes-on-both-sides-the-complexity-of-the-separatists/

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4th Place

“Children of the Force Arc” – Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Cad Bane is one of the best characters to come out of this series and this where he is introduced and we see him be one step ahead of the Jedi as he is kidnapping force sensitive children for Darth Sidious for payment and how he will sacrifice anyone to get the job done. He is brutal and it takes a lot to bring him down. Also once he is trapped by Anakin and Obi-Wan he quickly escapes when he lures Mace and Obi-Wan into a trap where he is holding the Jedi Holocron that has the information on the current force sensitive children in the Galaxy. This episode is good in that Palpatine and Bane outsmart the Jedi and still win even though the end plan is stopped.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-2-episodes-1-3-children-of-the-force-arc-the-sith-agenda-and-the-amazingness-of-cad-bane/

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3rd Place

“Trespass” – Season 1, Episode 15

“Trespass” is a great episode as it is one that the Jedi aren’t really the focus at all. Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan are there to offer guidance but it is really a story of sovereignty and respect for native populations as the Imperial Pantora must deal with their internal politics and come to respect the natives who are already on the moon and find a way to speak to them without being annihilated. The stakes are high and the Senator and the Minister are complicated…as are the native population of the Talz. I’d highly recommend this episode as it shows that the writers don’t need the heroes from “Star Wars” to tell a story that is one of the best to come out of “Star Wars.”

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-episode-15-trespass-sovereignty-and-imperialism/

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2nd Place

“The Clone Conspiracy Arc” – Season 6, Episodes 1-4

 This is the arc that explores Clone Identity (a major theme of the series) really well as we see Fives resisting his programming and seeking the truth, even as he is losing his mind and has been labeled an enemy of the state. This arc showed that the Clones don’t get a happy ending. They are programmed to turn on the Jedi, even if the Jedi have become friends and no one will stand by them because in the end they are property. The arc is really tragic and brings an arc that has been going on for 6 seasons (Fives’s arc) to a close as he finally finds peace in death as well as giving us the truth of the nature of Order 66.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/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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1st Place

“The Lawless” – Season 5, Episode 16

This episode made a bad decision (bringing Darth Maul back) go somewhere! In this we see that there are 3 Factions now in the Clone Wars. The Separatists, Shadow Collective and the Republic and in the process this war tears apart Mandalore and ends in the death of Duchess Satine is Maul murders her for Obi-Wan defeating him. From here things fall into chaos as Death Watch turns on Maul and Darth Sidious arrives, ending Savage Opress and making Maul his weapon again as Death Watch asks Obi-Wan for Republic help…spelling doom for Mandalore, one of the strongest Neutral worlds that will now be under future control by the Empire.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-5-episode-16-the-lawless-the-dynamic-of-power/

The episodes didn’t make the list because I had so many others that were in competition but I’d check out any Asajj Ventress episodes as well. Her arc is one of the strongest in the series, and she is one of my favorite characters. She is complicated and changes over the course of the series as she loses so much but endures. Also any Mandalore episode is good too, that planet and people were handled really well in this show.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episodes 8-9 – “The Disappeared Parts 1 and 2” – Force Users Outside of the Jedi and Sith

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    This was an episode that would have been better if it would have had done more than just given us a pacifistic species of force users and a sacrificial tribe of force users and had not included Jar Jar and Mace but instead someone like Obi-Wan who actually had a relationship with the overarching antagonist of this arc. Suffice to say this is the weakest arc of this season so far.

    The episodes were directed by Steward Lee and Bosco Ng and written by Jonathan Rinzler.

    The story involves the Peaceful world of Bardotta where the Masters there are disappearing. The Queen requests Jar Jar Binks due to their relationship and the Jedi Council sends Windu to investigate. From here the story unfolds as the Queen is captured and they must race to rescue her.

The Pros: Mace Windu – Mace Windu is shown to be walking the line between Light and Dark in how aggressive he is as a Jedi, but he is also one of the best as we see him take on multiple enemies. He also develops a respect for Jar Jar and has a lot of patience with him, which showed strong character, which given how blank most Jedi Masters are on this show it was nice to see personality and characterization.

Mother Talzin – She makes an appearance at the end is seeking to steal the force from life which strengthens her own and the Nightsister’s power. It is a cool concept and I liked seeing her again as she was well matched against Mace Windu and nearly succeeded in her plan. I still think her final exit could have been better though and done more to tie her to the Nightsisters again, though it’s cool to see her influence expand beyond her world.

The Cons: Bardotta – The peaceful denzines of this planet are again the pacifists ruled by prophecy. They didn’t feel very fleshed out so once again we got a species that exists as an idea and never get to see how exactly they are even connected to the force.

The Demon Cult – The Demon Cult also doesn’t have any personality. They are tools of Mother Talzin but we never get their motivation or why they want to bring about the Shadow. They were there just to be an antagonist.

Jar Jar Binks – His relationship to the Queen wasn’t believable and he was again the guy always getting into trouble. He wasn’t as bad but he wasn’t needed in this story and them trying to make it a fun adventure given the Dark powers that the story deals with just took away from the story and gave it a strange tone, this I attribute a lot to Jar Jar. Jar Jar doesn’t work in stories a whole, but especially serious ones.

   This was the weakest arc in Season 6 and struck me as a story that would have been in Season 1-3 when they were still figuring out how to tell more serious war stories. This was a big reason why in the end though I found the episode entertaining but it wasn’t one I’d watch again. Mother Talzin could have been used for so much more and a much better story. Where was Obi-Wan? Where was Talzin? Where was Dooku? These are characters related directly to her who would have given this story power and meaning.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episodes 21-22 – “Darth Maul’s Return Arc” – Why Did They Bring Maul Back?

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   Generally in fiction it is a bad idea to bring back someone who has already died. Shaak Ti in “Star Wars” died multiple times before she finally had her worst death in “The Force Unleashed” where she was killed by one of the biggest blandest Mary Stus to come out of this Universe. From this episode bringing back Darth Maul was the exact same problem, it took away from the development of Savage Opress and took off focus from the Clone Wars to retread ground we had already walked back in Episode 1, as well as giving a chance for Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council to act stupid. There were some things that worked about this arc though, and I’ll go into detail on what those things were.

    “Brothers” was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Katie Lucas who also wrote “Revenge.” “Revenge” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell.

    The story involves Opress finding Darth Maul his brother driven mad by his rage and being left behind. After he helps his brother find himself again he takes him to Mother Talzin who restores his legs and from here Opress and Maul set a trap for Obi-Wan by luring him to a village by slaughtering all the men, women and children in it. From here the story unfolds as Obi-Wan and Ventress work together as Ventress was brought to the world in her search for the Bounty on Opress.

The Pros: Savage Opress – This guy is unhinged and really powerful in the force. Everywhere he goes people get hurt and you get the idea that when he was pumped full of Darkside magic he lost all sense of self. He is still an agent of Talzin and the Darkside but beyond that there is very little that makes him human. It’s very cool to see this in his interactions with others too.

Ventress – Ventress arrives and saves Obi-Wan’s life when Maul is torturing him. They have a great dynamic and she is good at establishing that this isn’t entirely out of the goodness of her heart. Their banter is great and we see that she has continued to grow as a duelist.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan gets schooled, which he kind of deserved since he didn’t take a Jedi Task Force with him (which Yoda stupidly consented too) and he nearly dies because of that. He only just escapes because of Ventress hunting Opress. He is fun in this though and he takes his battering and bruising with a smile and mocks Darth Maul a lot.

Revenge on the Galaxy – In the end Maul and Opress plot revenge against the Jedi and the galaxy and it is a good moment too as it shows that they are beyond the personal and have the potential to be an actual threat the galaxy.

The Cons: Darth Maul – There was no reason to bring this guy back and when we first see him he is insane…and even after he finds balance again we don’t really get his motivation beyond revenge against Obi-Wan. This idea could have worked if we’d seen him have some greater purpose beyond killing Obi-Wan, but we don’t which means it was a retreated of the Episode 1 fight for all intents and purposes.

The Idiocy of Personal Vendettas – Yoda says Obi-Wan should finish it on it’s own and gives Obi-Wan full reign to be an idiot. They knew how powerful Darth Maul was, so sending one person who didn’t know his current abilities was a recipe for disaster and felt the whole “Hero has to do for reasons” syndrome that is overdone in fiction.

I’m against bringing back characters who are dead, there is no point and it is largely just for fan service. There has to be a really good reason to write something in that stupid and so far the writers have not justified it to me. Maul sells toys, that doesn’t mean he should come back. This was a major reason I could not enjoy the episode and have trouble recommending it, even though it was decent.

Final Score: 7 / 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 3, Episodes 12-14 – “Witches of Dathomir Arc” – Factions of the Dark Side

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    “The Witches of Dathomir Arc” is a really great arc in how it shows just how many people use the Dark Side and how by it’s nature it is easy to turn the different users on one another. The one issue I had was one of my issues with “The Force Unleashed” videogame that I will go into deeper into the review. Suffice to say, there are a lot great characters introduced in this arc and it’s exploration of the Dark Side is something that we have yet to see done in regards to the Light Side.

      “Nightsisters” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Katie Lucas. “Monster” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Katie Lucas and “Witches of the Mist”was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Katie Lucas.

    The story involves Dooku’s attempt to kill Ventress after Sidious orders him too and how she returns home to the Nightsisters who with Mother Talzin work towards Dooku’s fall. First with an attempt using 2 sisters Ventress being cloaked and second with choosing a Zabrak of the blood of Darth Maul so that he can be shaped into a weapon to destroy Dooku. From here things fall apart as the only one coming out on top with plans still unknown is Mother Talzin.

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The Pros: The Action – There are some great fights this episode, with the ones that stood out the most being the three-way fight between Opress, Dooku and Ventress and also the one on one fights between them too where their styles really came out…the 3 on 1 fight against Dooku was also really good too when the Nightsisters attempted to kill him, and of course Opress against Anakin and Obi-Wan where it was a callback to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan against Maul.

The Nightsisters – This organization is cool. They rule over the Zabrak’s and are a matriarchal society with Mother Talzin at their head who has her own mysterious agenda that is unknown. They are force users but stick to themselves and the only ones they really use are those who come to them or those they owe a debt too. This makes them not evil, but certainly not good as they deal primarily in dark side force magics.

Ventress – Ventress is a survivor and survivors multiple attempts on her life. From Anakin and Obi-Wan, to Dooku’s betrayal and to every fight she loses with Dooku and the only one she loses against Opress. She is left empty at the end of it all, showing that their is hope for her redemption given anger and hatred has not got her revenge and she’s only made more enemies. Her tragic story is revealed too as she was given away to protect the Witches from outsiders and she lost the bounty hunters to a Jedi attack and lost the Jedi Master who was raising her to another assault by pirates…she was alone until Dooku who was her knew father until her betrayal. Ventress is forever alone and it makes her tragic and compelling.

Count Dooku – Dooku is a true Sith Lord. From his willingness to kill Ventress for Sidious to prove his loyalty, to his using his very elegant form of fighting to beat enemies who outnumber him and try to take away his senses. He is the only character who manages to turn every loss into a win besides Mother Talzin showing why he is the leader of the Separatists and why he is a threat to Sidious.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan gets Mother Talzin to speak about Opress, which is something she didn’t have to do. He also shows how much he values life when the Zabraks attack and he only defends himself and never strikes to kill. Anakin is Anakin and on the edge always but Obi-Wan demonstrates the other side and how in many ways he is if Dooku hadn’t gone bad as he can deal with anyone no matter where they are in regards to the force.

Opress – Opress is a tool of Mother Talzin who loses his brother when he is pumped full of Dark Side magics to make him a weapon and was made to be a slave. Even being a slave he still manages to fight though as he turns against both Dooku and Ventress who had tried to use him and finds the only person who he might be able to trust in Talzin who reveals to him that Darth Maul is still alive and that he can still grow as a powerful force user and Sith. His story is one of anger and regret and his fighting style is heavy and brutal.

Mother Talzin – Mother Talzin’s agenda rules everything and it is still and unknown. She sees the future though as she talks of Opress’s destiny with his brother Darth Maul and we know that Ventress is still a Nightsister with a purpose too. What these purposes are remains to be seen and how the Jedi fall into it.

The Chaos of the Dark Side – The Dark Side by it’s nature of revenge doesn’t leave much room for forgiveness and diplomacy and we see that when the episode ends with Opress going his own way, Ventress still seeking revenge and Dooku still alive. There are now 3 Dark Side users who serve no agenda but their own and that is the nature of the Dark Side as each of them will grow more powerful in the fight against one another, but they may all die in the process.

The Cons: Retconning Maul’s Death – Maul is apparently in exile in the Outer Rim? This makes no sense, no one could survive that fall and it’s as stupid as having Shaak Ti continually being brought back to life only to be killed in “The Force Unleashed.” I get Maul is popular but just leave his blood and lead Savage Opress stand on his own as he is compelling enough with his relationship to Ventress, Talzin and Dooku.

  I really dislike the retcon of Darth Maul’s death as a character should stay dead if it’s in canon as each time they are brought back cheapens how they were defeated prior and usually it means lack of ideas on whoever is writing the retcon. Besides that retcon this is a really strong arc and I highly recommend it, especially for the characters of Talzin, Dooku, Opress and Ventress who are shown to be highly complex and who I am glad are still around to fight another day.

Final Score: 9 / 10

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