Another day, another three parter following three totally different sets of characters. These episodes focus on the assault and liberation of the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth. Having just started season two as I’m writing this post, I have some feelings about how season 1 ended up, but I’ll get to them at the end.
Before then let’s get into episodes 19, 20 & 21. But hey, if you wanted to catch up on what I’ve reviewed so far, then this link here will take you to the archive.
Season 1, Episode 19: Storm over Ryloth
Following the events of Supply Lines, the season three episode I already spoke about, we’re returning to events on Ryloth. The planet is still under brutal Separatist occupation, and the Republic have finally mounted an attack on liberating the planet. Beginning with Anakin’s mission to break the Separatist blockade.
And leading the enemy blockade? A shrewd and tactical Neimoidian who isn’t just a comically over the top cartoon villain. I never thought I’d see the day. He reminds me a lot of the Spider guy from Cat & Mouse; the very first episode I reviewed for the series.
The bulk of the story told in this episode follows Ahsoka’s first time leading a fighter squadron and subsequent devastating loss coming from a combination of their rival commander outmanoeuvring her, but also her own overconfidence that causes her to ignore direct orders from both Anakin and Admiral Yularen.
From here, Ahsoka suffers a major crisis of confidence. Essentially finding herself paralysed with indecision. At which point, Anakin acts like a good master for a change and tells her the realities of command as such that sometimes you end up losing. Although, I notice that once again, his teaching here is all in the context of being a military leader, and not the teachings of a Jedi.
The former is something Anakin excels at, the later not so much.
Anakin’s big plan to get Ahsoka out of her funk is to create a totally reckless, suicidal plan in which he sacrifices an entire cruiser and leaves his life entirely in his Padawan’s hands. Relying on her getting her nerve back in time to save him, it’s interesting to see his supreme self-confidence now extends to Ahsoka.
But even Rex questions the sanity of the plan, and he’s usually Anakin’s biggest hype man.
In the end, the injured Yularen wakes up and gives Ahsoka the final little push she needed to get her nerve back and finish the plan, breaking the blockade and opening things up for Masters Kenobi and Windu’s assault on the planet.
It’s nice to see Anakin putting so much faith into his Padawn, as questionable a choice as it was.
Season 1, Episode 20: Innocents of Ryloth
This following episode now focuses on Obi Wan Kenobi and his mission to destroy the anti-air batteries so that the bulk of Mace Windu’s ground force and land on the planet. The big problem being the tactical using Twi’lek civilians as “human” shields to defend their emplacements.
So, here we’ve got an Obi Wan focused episode. Does that mean we’re going to get any character moments or personal growth with the iconic Jedi? Nope. Instead we’re mostly going to be focusing on two particularly wilful clone troopers called Waxer and Boil.
I’ve said before that I like the episodes that focus on clones and further establishing their individuality and humanity, but I’m also hungry for Obi Wan to get some real focus in the series. He’s a main character in the franchise, but hardly seems to get any development or growth outside of The Phantom Menace.
It makes me wonder if Obi Wan can even carry an episode on his own. I mean yes he can, but that would involve adding some kind of personal stake that I feel would end up working against the writer’s vision of him as the perfect Jedi. At least, that’s the impression I get.
The main emotional weight, thus, falls of Waxer and Boil, who find a Twi’lek child hiding in the ruined settlements. And the subsequently get pinned into a building by the great beasts that the Separatist Tactical Droid sends out against Republic forces.
After which is turns into a pretty generic action focused episode. It’s a nice look at both the humanity of the clones, as well as the pain and loss of the people caught in the middle of this war. Which has been a relative background element before now. In the end, the guns are destroyed and Mace Windu begins his attack to Liberate Ryloth.
Season 1, Episode 21: Liberty on Ryloth
The early parts of this episode have a very stylistic visual style to them, making them feel much more like a grand war film. The interesting shots and camera moves continue throughout the action sequences in the episode. Which ends up being the most interesting aspect of this episode by the time it’s over.
Windu on his way to the Twi’lek capital to take down the Techno Union guy; Wat Tambor, who has been a persistent presence throughout these three episodes, berating the leaders before they even have the opportunity to fail. However, the greedy Skakoan is more interested in looting the planet for all it’s worth, and thus entrenches himself in the hard to reach capital city of Lessu.
It’s now we’re introduced to Cham Syndulla a Twi’lek freedom fighter and revolutionary. Someone whose discontent with his own planets government has now turned into guerrilla warfare against the Separatist occupation. Thus he’s not too keen to join forces with a Republic dog, even to save his planet. Because that’d mean the planet would just go back to being under the Republic’s thumb again.
The real weight of this one is Syndulla’s desire for his people to be free. And his fear that a Republic military occupation isn’t much better than a Separatist one. Even the perpetually stoic Mace Windu is moved by the obvious love and care for his people on display, thus makes moves to create lasting peace between Syndulla and the Twi’lek senator Orn Free Taa.
Together they’re able to liberate Ryloth just in time to prevent Dooku committing a major war crime and glassing the entire city.
These three episodes tell the story of the assault on a planet, from clearing its airspace, to landing troops, to liberating the capital. And unfortunately they become less interesting as they go. The best one was the first, which focused on the issues Ahsoka was having, and the following one gave us some good clone stuff, the third was pretty dull and just rounded off the story.
Which kind of sums up my feelings on the first season as a whole. Once the ball got rolling and I’d started to get used the framing devices the episodes started to use, many of the episodes started to feel kind of samey. I get that this episode is called The Clone Wars, but I feel like the series was too focused on the militarist aspects of the setting.
Star Wars is so much more than that, and it’s only after watching the first three episodes of season 2 that I realised how much this first season did lean on the war for most of its stories. Of what little I’ve seen of season 2, I’m already excited to see the new things it does with a team that were obviously given more freedom in their storytelling going forward.
Next time we jump into the the second season, missing the final episode of the first season for now due to this whole chronological ordering system I’ decided to do. Starting off with another three part storyline.
- Season 2, Episode 01: Holocron Heist
- Season 2, Episode 02: Cargo of Doom
- Season 2, Episode 03: Children of the Force