When I started the first of these three episodes, I had the bad feeling that this batch might be a bad one. As it turns out though, the trio was just a slow starter. The episodes just getting better as they went along. And the more I watch this series, the more I realise that the series’s original characters are far more compelling to me than the already established ones. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it, but hey, let’s actually get into the episodes before I really go off on one.
Season 2, Episode 09: Grievous Intrigue
I’ll be real with you, this is kind of a nothing episode. So to save myself some heartache down the road, I’m just going to skim over this one. The episode begins with the Zabrak Jedi Master and Council Member Eeth Koth getting captured by General Grievous.
Between the Commando droids and Grievous’s Magnaguards, the droid army could actually be a pretty effective fighting force. They just fill out their ranks with utter garbage. But between Grievous and his little personal guard, he is more than a match for the Jedi Master and captures him in an unfair fight.
From here, the episode shifts to focusing on the rescue effort of Master Koth by Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and the Tholothian Jedi Master and Council Member Adi Gallia. Y’know, I always thought Gallia was a human wearing a fleshy head dress, but as it turns out, she’s an alien. Fun fact for me I guess.
The plan is for Obi Wan to act as bait and draw Grievous’s attention while the other Jedi sneak aboard his ship to rescue Koth. Everything about this stinks of a trap to me, which is seemingly confirmed by the words of Grievous himself who battles Obi Wan in a duel that seems to be genuinely pressuring the Jedi. Where this all falls apart for me though, is that while Grievous seems to have perfectly predicted the Jedi scheme, he’s not actually formulated any counter strategy against it.
And this feels more like less than fantastic writing more than Grievous’s incompetence to me. He literally walks right into the lion’s den as Obi Wan wanted, but has nothing up his sleeve to use against the Jedi except to overpower them. Which has not been a wise strategy against Obi Wan in the past. If he’s displayed some overconfidence in his own abilities beyond his usual bluster, it would have made sense, but this one just seems like the writing team forget themselves half way through the process.
Thus the Jedi rescue Koth and escape, while Grievous himself also escapes in a dropship that gets damaged and crashed down to to the planet of Saleucami. The whole episode kind of feels like a non-event. The two introduced Jedi don’t seem essentially interesting as characters, sharing a lot of traits with other, more interesting, Jedi who have already been in the series.
It purely feels like an episode that exists to set up the following one, which really could have been a stand alone story in hindsight.
Season 2, Episode 10: The Deserter
This episode is much better. Grievous has crash landed on Saleucami and is slowly making his way to an escape pod with a working transmitter so he can call for rescue. Meanwhile, an unusually obsessed Obi Wan Kenobi is in pursuit of him, splitting his forces up in order to pick up a trail. This is the episode’s setup, but it’s not the real focus the story it’s telling.
During their search, Captain Rex is hit in the chest plate by a sniper bolt from two Commando Droids, while not dead, he’s in bad shape, and his fellow clones take him to a nearby farmstead. The female Twi’lek who lives there allows the clones to use their barn to treat Rex and allow him to recover. Rex, not happy about being out of action orders the clones to carry on without him, and that he’ll catch up to them in the morning.
During the night, the Twi’lek’s husband return, getting the jump on Rex and disarming him. If you’re paying attention to the title of the episode, it should come to no surprise that the husband is a Clone, and a deserter from the Republic army no less. A clone who identifies himself as Cut Lawquane. From here, we get the kind of thing I find I really enjoy about the series; when it gets a little more philosophical.
Cut is very outspoken how he is an individual, something he feels many clones fail to understand. I mean, if Cut realised there was more to life than fighting in a war he never had any choice about being a part of, then it must be within all clones to realise the same thing. Something that obviously disturbs Rex to think about. It’s something I talked about before in the very first part of this series, when I talked about the traitor in Hidden Enemy.
The clones are individuals, with the ability to decide their own paths, as shown by the customising of their armour and the names they give themselves outside of their numbers. It’s something Rex tries to brush off as the Jedi’s doing, but both I and he knows that’s not the case. It’s interesting to see how uncomfortable being around a brother whose broken his oath makes Rex, and Cut even points out that how much of that is Rex’s genuine feeling, and how much of it is just programming.
Rex argues that fighting in the war is his choice, because it’s the right thing to do as he sees it. Personally though, I feel like Cut’s issue here is more with the futility and waste of life that comes from fighting a war rather than being a clone making him less than human. Rex does eventually come around though and warms to Cut when he sees how fiercely he loves his family.
And that ferocity is put to the test when his two Twi’lek kids (one of which voiced by the prolific and instantly recognisable voice actor Kath Soucie) accidentally activate a bunch of damaged commando droids in an escape pod that crashed into their crop field. From here we get a very cool and stylishly shot action sequence of Cut and Rex defending the cabin from the almost zombie-like droids.
In the morning, a healed Rex leaves the cabin, having made the decision to not report the deserter to the Republic, and allow Cut to continue living his life in peace outside of the war. Which is an interesting choice considering both Cody and Obi Wan point out that he’s a good man earlier in the episode. It makes me wonder if Cody would have done the same thing?
Also, Obi Wan fails to capture Grievous, who manages to escape. And we see Obi Wan looking just about as despondent and defeated as I think we’ve seen him in the series. But that ends up being an afterthought to the good part about the series. And once again, I find that my favourite episodes of the Clone Wars are the ones that focus on the clones and their own individualism.
This would have been a great stand-alone episode, with the previous one feeling like it existed purely to set up this one.
Season 2, Episode 11: Lightsaber Lost
Ending with something completely different. This self contained Episode stars Ahsoka, who is fast becoming my favourite, non-clone character in the series. But that’s to be expected considering her creation for the purposes of this series means the writers have much more freedom to do things with her than they do the more established Jedi characters.
Anakin and Ahsoka are in the lower levels of Coruscant, about to raid a seedy bar and make an arrest. What this individual is guilty of is of little consequence, as we find out when the crowd flees the bar in fear, one member of the rabble snatching Ahsoka’s Lightsaber off her waist as they barge past her. I always wonder if wondering around the seedier parts of the galaxy while just loudly being a Jedi is a wise idea. I mean, it’s almost like you’re just asking for trouble. especially when you’ve got that laser sword just dangling from your belt asking to be snatched.
I guess that’s why many Jedi wear those nondescript brown robes a lot of the time, robes I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone wear during this entire series (except Jar Jar).
Embarrassed and fearful of the consequences of her blunder, Ashoka searches out help in the Jedi Temple without coming clean to Anakin about her mistake. It’s here she meets the Cosian Jedi Master Tera Sinube. Sinube is an ancient Jedi and a nice reminder that the Jedi are much more than just warriors and military leaders. The wisdom of the Jedi is a trait that often seems relegated entirely onto Yoda’s shoulders these days, it’s nice to see another Jedi displaying this iconic trait.
Although it does make me wonder if the role played by Sinube in this episode was meant for Yoda at any point in the writing process for this episode. Because, like Yoda, the old Jedi is cheeky, playful and in control of everything that happens as soon as he involves himself in the search.
From here, we get an episode that makes me realise all over again just how badly I want a gritty, detective noir series set in the Star War universe. It’s all darkly lit, with those iconic striped lighting effect cast over characters face as Ahsoka shakes down the petty criminals that have been selling her Lightsaber between themselves on the black market. In fact, this entire episode is inspired by another Akira Kurosawa movie; this Stray Dog, which is a rare example of the detective noir genre from Japan.
The investigation into the weapons ring leads the two Jedi to a murder scene, only for Ahsoka to discover an assassin and give chase amongst the cityscape of Coruscant. From a visual standpoint, this episode is fantastic, being super stylistic and obviously having some fun with its inspiration. It’s not just all style though, there is some substance to the episode too. From the very moment Ahsoka get’s frustrated with Master Sinube’s snail-like pace I realised where things were going.
This whole episode was a story of slow and steady winning the race. While Ashoka is young, impulsive and rushing around everywhere, Sinube is slow, deliberate and, as a result, has a much clearer view on what is happening around them. He even sums it up in the end; “The value of moving slowly is one can always clearly see the way ahead.” And that’s lesson Ahsoka learns in the end, while she charges after the assassin full steam ahead, the old master seems to be in the perfect place at the perfect time.
The perfect encapsulation of wisdom and intelligence that I feel has been lost from the original view of the Jedi as crazy old wizards.
It’s a fun episode that tells an entirely Ashoka focused episode, with her learning a lesson of patience and wisdom. One surrounded by some stylistic trapping that are very much in my wheelhouse.
What we’ve got here is one utterly missable and forgettable episode followed by two very interesting, and very different episodes that I feel are must-watches. Like I said in the first paragraph a couple thousand words ago; my favourite characters in this series have been the clones and Ahsoka Tano, and these two episodes focus heavily on them, highlighting the best things about them, the first one pointing out the philosophical implications of what being a member of a clone army must be like, with the second really making the most of the anthology format to make a highly stylistic episode that shows just how broad and ripe for different stories that Star Wars universe is.
Next time, we get into a collection of episodes I’ve been been anticipating since I started this series. The episodes that made Karen Travis quit the franchise and the one that totally changed the Mandalorians from her richly created version in the Legends canon:
- Season 2, Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot
- Season 2, Episode 13: Voyage of Temptation
- Season 2, Episode 14: Duchess of Mandalore