Looking forward at my watching list for this series, It seems like we’re just focusing down on series 1 for a good while. When I learned that this was an anthology series, and everything was going to be out of order, I’d kind of expected to be jumping around a whole lot more.
But here we at the beginning of a decent run of episodes from the first season, this time episodes 5 to 7. But if you’d like to read the other parts in this series, then just give this link a click and you can see the entire franchise page so far.
Season 1, Episode 05: Rookies
This episode is a direct followup to S3, E01: Clone Cadets, which I talked about in the last part. The newly graduated members of Domino Squad from that episode are out on their first assignment. Manning a tracking station on the edge of the Outer Rim. And true to form, they’re acting like a bunch of asshats the whole time.
They’re complaining about how slow and uneventful the assignment is, which is just screaming for something dire to happen moments later. Which it does. As a meteor shower peppers the area around the listening station, a number of Separatist drop pods fall amongst them. All filled with BX-Series Droid Commandos; a new type of droid making its debut in the series.
They’re a far more competent version of the B1 Battle Droids we’re used to, although whoever made them couldn’t quite iron out all of that bumbling incompetence. But they’re a damned sight more effective than their cheap and nasty brethren, able to take the base and kill all but four of the clones guarding it.
Leaving us with just Heavy, Echo and Fives. There’s also Cutup, but he doesn’t last very long after that.
In the meantime, Commander Cody and Captain Rex are making rounds of inspections at each of the listening posts bordering that border of Republic Space.
This episode, more than most, makes some pretty obvious references to the fact that both Cody and Rex are just the Clone parallels to the Jedi Generals they serve under. So much so that both Anakin and Obi Wan point it out in brief scene in the middle. What with Cody Outranking Rex and being the more straight laced of the two, and with Rex being much less orthodox and willing to break a few rules here and there.
Their visit to Rishi Station is either well timed or very poorly timed depending on how you look at it, as they stumble upon the Separatists trying to sabotage the station and use it as an avenue to slip into Republic space and launch an attack on Kamino.
Thus the the clones all retake the base and make a last ditch plan to alert the Republic before the Seps can slip through and start their attack on Kamino. With Heavy sacrificing himself in the process. Leaving Fives and Echo as the last remaining members of Domino squad, brought into Captain Rex’s unit for the valour.
Y’know, it kind of surprises me to hear him say welcome to the 501st. But that is Anakin’s Regiment, and so it makes perfect sense. I’m just used to associating the 501st with Darth Vader more than Anakin Skywalker.
This is another good, stand alone episode. And one more that focuses entirely on clones. So far, I continue to enjoy the more militarist storylines that focus around the clones as the main characters. Although this one is more of a pure action piece and there isn’t a while lot of moral ethics on the nature of cloning nor their forced servitude in the war against the droid army.
It’s still just season 1 though, for now we’re just having some fun. Which is what this episode was.
Season 1, Episode 06: Downfall of a Droid
The last time we saw General Grevious, I talked about how he seemed like a bit of a bumbling idiot. How I found it difficult to understand how he found his way into being the supreme commander of the entire droid army. The intro to this episode tells me that I’m off the mark apparently, that he has been beating the Republic time and after time, so much so that they’re in danger of losing the entire Outer Rim.
Although we’re yet to see that on screen, because this episode begins with Anakin perfectly predicting Grevious’s battle strategy and executing a perfect pincer ambush. Thus leading to Grevious running away with his tail between his legs, as he’s prone to do.
The real bulk of this episode though is the potential loss of R2-D2. Something Anakin is very torn up about, and Obi Wan seems a touch too callous about when him and Anakin talk about it. But it’s a nice reminder of Anakin’s biggest failing as a Jedi, and the very thing that will eventually lead him down the path to the dark side.
His connection to his attachments being a huge double edged sword for him, one that makes him an incredibly effective General and Jedi, but also the thing that will inevitably drag him down and end up causing a lot more pain to pretty much the entire Galaxy.
Anyway, Ashoka tries to push a new black and gold droid onto Anakin. One named R3-S6. One Anakin rejects, in a strangely blatant admission about his un-jedi-like connection to R2-D2. During their investigation of a junk trawler, R3 makes a series of blundering errors that serve to endanger the Jedi and further infuriate Anakin.
At this point, I became almost certain that R3 was a Separatist mole, because there is no way a droid could be incompetent. I mean, I know I talk about the Battle Droids being useless pretty often. But that’s mostly a directorial choice to add more comedy to what is essentially a kid’s show. The levels of incompetence R3 displays range somewhere between dangerous and suspicious.
In the end the Junk Trawler’s captain is revealed to be a Droid Smuggler and has R2-D2 in his ship, ready to sell to Grevious. And after almost dying again thanks to R3, Anakin goes on a pretty immature tirade about how R2 never would have messed up like this. It’s quite unbecoming behaviour from a Jedi Knight, again though, it makes sense within his character.
One final point on this episode; a lot of the animation and visuals here look underdone. Between the lip syncing, the character’s unnatural movement and same washed out lighting choices, this episode looks pretty poor in terms of production. But this issue doesn’t persist into the next episode. So I guess it was just a rushed production on this single episode.
Season 1, Episode 07: Duel of the Droids
A direct followup to the previous episode, as R2 manages to sent a location out into space. One that Anakin manages to pick up, and begins planning a rescue operation to save R2 from the very same listening post he was ordered to locate during the previous episode.
It occurs to me at this point that these two episodes act as something of a love letter to R2-D2 in the same was Ambush was a tribute to Yoda. The little droid was often one of the most competent figures in the room during all six of the movies before now, mixed with his cheeky little attitude and mischievous nature, all broadcast through a bunch of beeps and boops.
A small strike team consisting of Anakin, Ashoka, Rex and a few clones drop into the base, accompanied by R3, who I can only assume has come along at this point because they had no other choice. The group split up, as Ashoka and the clones set out to destroy the base, while Anakin goes off alone to rescue R2.
While Anakin deals with the Magnaguards no problem and saves his droid bestie, Ashoka and the clones are having a much tougher time of it. Thanks to R3, constant sabotage, they’re pinned down and eventually confronted with General Grevious. And for once, we get to see Grevious as this large intimidating monster that he is, making pretty short work of Ashoka and cornering her in a storage room.
In the end though, his hatred for the Jedi ends up blinding him to finishing off the clones and prioritising the hunt for the Padawan over stopping his listening post from being destroyed. When he realises he’s screwed, he bolts and we see what has to be the third time we’ve seen that exact shot of him jumping into his fighter and running.
The episode ends with an overly dramatic (intentionally so) confrontation between R2-D2 and R3-S6. It’s actually a cool little fight, one that makes the most of all the tool we’ve seen R2 use throughout all the movies before now and re-purposing them into a battle between what is essentially two bins.
I enjoyed Rookies as another Clone-centric episode. Allowing the most faceless of the characters from the movies to get further attention and development in this series. The two parter that followed was a very mixed bag. Downfall of a Droid was maybe the worst episode of the series so far, in part due to the low production values that plagued it, but also due to Anakin’s attitude throughout.
Duel of the Droids on the other hand was far better. Being a showcase of why we love R2-D2 so much as a character in the Star Wars franchise, but also giving General Grievous the opportunity to redeem himself somewhat as a cool and intimidating villain. None of them seem like vital viewing, but the final episode was probably the pick of the bunch.
Next time, I talk about three loosely connected episodes that all loosely revolve around the Leader of the Trade Federation; Nute Gunray:
Season 1, Episode 08: Bombad Jedi
Season 1, Episode 09: Cloak of Darkness
Season 1, Episode 10: Lair of Grievous