Now I’ve got the unfortunate business of talking about that movie aside, we can start this series proper. Clone Wars Revisited, an erroneous name considering I only really saw bits and pieces of the series as it was originally airing. In this series I’m going to watch the 2008 series in chronological order, as helpfully listed on starwars.com for the release of Disney+.
Talking though the stories, the elements of the old expanded universe that persist and those are are reworked for the new, post Disney, continuity. Looking at the series not just as a piece of entertainment, but how it adds to or alters the greater Star Wars continuity.
This first part will only focus on two episodes. I may dig into more in the future or fewer depending on the content of the episodes. This time though, I’m talking about Cat and Mouse; Episode 16 from Season 2 and Hidden Enemy; also Episode 16, this time from the first season.
S2, E16 – Cat and Mouse
This is the earliest episode in the series’ continuity. Taking place before the opening to the Clone Wars Movie, Anakin and Obi Wan are trying to get supplies to the crystalline planet of Christophsis in the Outer Rim, where the opening scenes of the movie take place.
Right away, having watching this episode right after finishing the movie, the tone is much slower and much moodier. While not devoid of any fun, you can tell the tone is more serious here than the distilled smarm that ran throughout the movie. With good reason, because this was a great episode for me to start off with, being a perfect example of just how diverse and experimental this show can be.
To sneak the much needed supplies behind enemy lines, Anakin is presented with a new prototype stealth ship, able to become invisible to both sensors and the naked eye. And being the hot headed Jedi that he is, he decides to use the ships capabilities to take down the blockade on Christophsis rather than simply delivering the supplies.
Thus the entire tone and style of the episode changes to that of a war time submarine movie. The interior of the stealth ship being shaped and lit like you’d see in movies like The Hunt for Red October, coupled with the enemy commander being an approximation to a battleship dealing with an unseen enemy in the water below them.
The episode ends rather quickly, with Anakin being able to predict the actions of this “brilliant strategist” almost right away with minimal information and use his own tactics against him. But, this is a 20 minute episode, so I can’t begrudge it not drawing it out unnecessarily.
In terms of character introductions, while he was in the movie, this episode really puts a focus on Admiral Wullf Yularen, who serves as a non clone member of the Galactic Army and as the narrator who sets the stage of every episode of the series to come. Yularen first appeared as a nameless Imperial Officer seen in several background shot of Episode IV: A New Hope. Having no lines and ultimately dying on the first Death Star as it explodes.
Though, it was through the Legends card game he was given a name, and then subsequently adopted by this very series and fleshed out into a much bigger character. His presence will continue to be a factor within this series, in Rebels and several of the new canon novels. But I’ll get into those as we come to them.
One final note is, while totally unnecessary, there is a little B-plot within the episode in which a new clone trooper, nicknamed Spark joins the crew of the stealth ship. It’s a nice touch that reminds us not only that this isn’t purely a war between commanders, but one in which the “enlisted” men have a stake in it too.
And as a final aside, the animation for this episode was so much better than that of movie. One more thing to put against that thing.
S1, E16 – Hidden Enemy
Following the continuity, this episode takes place after the Republic have shattered the Separatist blockade around Christophsis. It also details the events leading up to the opening scenes from the movie. And yet the three stories have little top do with one another despite taking place so closely together.
This kind of thing is to be expected though, remember this is an anthology series and these stories take place over a dozen or so episodes apart from one another. So while they fit into a timeline doing it this way, the stories being told are entirely new. Unless stated otherwise.
As Cat and Mouse dealt with one archetypal style of wartime story, Hidden Enemy deals with another. As the title would suggest, this tells a story dealing with a traitor in your midst. Made all the more pressing by the fact that the spy is a member of an army who all have the same face.
Here’s the thing though. While the movies seemed to be making a conscious effort to take away the clone’s individuality, this series goes out of its way to do the opposite. While these are clones who all look the same, they have no problem telling one another apart. Despite genetically being the same person, they’re all different people in practice.
Something that translates to the screen perfectly. Because this episode focuses almost entirely on the clones as the main characters of this episode, Anakin and Obi Wan are off somewhere falling for a trap. The main brunt of this episode deals with Cody and Rex having to discover which member of their army has been leaking information.
Shortly before learning the spy is a sergeant named Slick, there is this really interesting interrogation scene between Rex, Cody and Slick’s unit. One clone serves as a red herring, as it turns out he’s collecting droid fingers as trophies. Outside of this being a very real glimpse into things that happen in real war (for a kid’s show that’s wild), we also get to see his unit berating him, calling him “deficient”.
It’s a reminder that, while people in every respect of the word, these clones are still separate.
It makes me thing of all the stories written by Karen Traviss. For those of you who don’t know, Traviss was an author of Star Wars novels during the old expanded universe, putting out 10 books in five years between 2004 and 2009. Her main interest was in writing books about the clones and creating the bulk of the Mandalorian language and culture that we’ve seen recreated in the Mandalorian live action series.
Many of her books expanded on themes of individuality and a sense of self, focusing on a collection of characters who were all technically the same person. This stories all starting out life as a tie-in to the 2005 Republic Commando video game. Traviss would eventually split with the publisher over creative differences caused by changes made to the Mandalorian culture in later seasons of this very show.
The individuality of the clones from those novels ties in heavily to Slick’s motivation for betrayal when he’s eventually caught. He wants freedom, he realises how the clones are born to fight and are no better than slaves, no different than the droids they’re fighting. He’s right, and this is one of things that makes me understand why this series as as loved as it is.
Other than a look between them, the other clones have little recourse but to throw him into prison. They probably know he has a point, but they’re fighting a war. Deep down, who knows what any of them think about the issue, whether they believe what they’re fighting in genuinely, or it’s just their programming, and Slick really was “deficient.”
This was a cool episode, dealing with some real complexity when it came to the clones and their natures and their role. The stuff with Anakin and Obi Wan leading up the events of the movie really just felt like an afterthought.
I had a lot to say on just two episodes, but next time I’ll be talking about
- Season 3, Episode 1: Clone Cadets
- Season 3, Episode 3: Supply Lines
- Season 1, Episode 1: Ambush
If you feel like keeping up with what I’m watching. I have a feeling I’m going to have to try and put a couple of these out a week or else I’ll be doing this series for ever.