Season 3 seems to be the part of the series where the writers began to get more creative with the continuity of their series, as they started to tell belated sequels and prequels to episodes from earlier in the show. The episodes I’m covering here both connecting to episodes from the first season. One showing the return of Fives and Echo, while the other coming back to the blue skinned race of Pantorans, who are unfortunately not the Chiss.
Season 3, Episode 02: ARC Troopers
ARC Troopers is a direct sequel episode to Clone Cadets, although one of the first episodes I spoke about in this series due to me covering it chronologically. The season 1 episode Rookies taking place between them, which was actually the first appearance of these characters.
Following on from General Grievous’s plan to assault Kamino in that episode, Him and Ventress begin an assault on the planet, using it as a smokescreen for Ventress to steal the primary template of Jango Fett from the central cloning facility. Which, I assume, would corrupt and lessen the quality of future clone production throughout the war.
This is the first time we’ve seen Grievous and Ventress interact with one another, and it’s a dynamic I enjoy. I’ve always liked Ventress as a character, even since the Legends days. But having both her and Grevious fill the same role of the semi-competent leader, subservient to Dooku seemed a little redundant.
Their dismissiveness of one another during their scene together is fun, but more importantly; Grievous’s presence allows Ventress to embody the character archertype that fits her much better. Like in the episode Cloak of Darkness, Ventress is a much better at being the sultry assassin than any kind of military commander.
Something she shows to great effect when she executes a clone while kissing him. A scene that found its way in and out of the series several times due to it being deemed a bit much by Cartoon Network.
Outside of this, we mostly focus on the last two remaining members of Domino Squad; Echo and Fives. Who team up with Cody, Rex and the defective clone 99 to hold off the newly introduced Aqua Battle Droids and stop them from getting to the interior of the cloning facility.
99 was a great presence during his last appearance, adding one more wrinkle to the complex problem that is the clone existence. While episodes like Hidden Enemy and The Deserter have dealt with the idea of individual clones rebelling against the idea of them being forced to fight in a war with no choice in the matter, 99 is the opposite. A clone born to fight, yet unable to do so.
And so when their world is attacked, 99 finally finds himself in a position where he can help and do the thing he was literally born to do. Eager to do anything and everything he can, he inevitably overextends what his misdeveloped body can manage, and sadly takes a few blaster bolts to the back.
It’s something that once again raises the question of the nature of the clones. Should we feel sad because of his heroic sacrifice, or because of the waste of life that 99 didn’t need to push himself as much as he did to prove anything. It’s probably both.
In the end, The separatist assault fails and they retreat empty handed. Ending with both Echo and Fives getting congratulated for their efforts and promoted to becoming ARC Troopers.
This episode has gone on long enough, but I feel compelled to talk about how the new continuity has changed the concept of ARC Troopers from what they were in the old continuity. Advanced Recon Commandos, in the original cannon, were created with less behavioural programming and given extra physical attributes that made them even stronger and faster than their template.
The original prototypes from this programme were considered failures by the Kaminoians for being too wilful and individualistic, although they were adopted by a Mandalorian mercenary and trained by him for use in the war. Thus they became even more individual and closer to their template’s heritage. So much so that many of them and later ARC Troopers would abandon the Republic when it became an Empire.
All fleshed out through Karen Traviss’s book series focusing on them.
In the new continuity, ARC just seems to be a rank that any clone can reach when they show distinction in the field, which is kind of less interesting. Although it paints the clones more as individuals from the get go rather than having to be bred that way.
That being said, a line in the previous episode comes to mind where the Kaminoians mentioned that Fett’s DNA was becoming unstable, thus the newer generations of clones would display more individualism than their older brethren. Which establishes that any clone has the potential to become their own person rather than just the ones with less “programming” from the beginning.
Season 3, Episode 04: Sphere of Influence
This episode comes as a followup to the first season episode Trespass. Again focusing on the Pantoran Senator Riyo Chuchi and Baron Papanoida; the character portrayed by George Lucas in Revenge of the Sith.
After a very hefty beginning narration, we’re thrown into a situation where Pantora is being blockaded by the Trade Federation and blackmailed into joining the Separatists in the war. Further complications coming when Baron Papanoida’s two daughters are kidnapped by a couple of Bounty Hunters working for the Neimoidian.
For some reason, the Jedi apparently can’t get involved with investigating the kidnappings. For what reason: I have no idea, it seems like the exact kind of job the Jedi exist for. But it feels more like a writing convenience than any kind of statement on the Jedi becoming too political within the Republic structure.
However, it seems like Padawan Ahsoka Tano is close personal friends with all of the Senators on Coruscant, and volunteers to help her friend Riyo look into the kidnappings. Meanwhile, Papanoida and his son (voiced by Seth Green, whose South African accent is as admirable as it is funny) look into it themselves when the police prove to be incompetent. They literally miss a blood stain on the crime scene.
One pair going to the Pantoran blockade to find one daughter, while the other make their way to Tatooine, following the tracks of a bounty hunter called Greedo, whose’s blood it was at the scene of the kidnapping. And apparently he speaks basic these days unlike every other time we see him him in the franchise.
For some reason, I’d forgotten than being a politician in the Star Wars universe goes hand in hand with being a gunslinging badass. Because Blue George Lucas just rocks into a cantina on Tatooine and almost singlehandedly takes down Greedo, manipulates Jabba the Hutt into siding with him and then goes and shoots up another Cantina to rescue his daughter.
Also Ahsoka and Riyo rescue the other daughter too.
The entire episode felt like the series’s ode to the franchise’s creator itself. Taking the character he made a small cameo as in Revenge of the Sith and turning him into a swashbuckling detective badass.
I enjoyed the first episode for a number of reasons; seeing Ventress and Grievous interacting, and giving the former more opportunity to do what she does best in terms of character. It also focuses more on the clones and their experience. I like how we’re getting pieces of the life experience of the clones through the eyes of Fives and Echo, as well as seeing where it can go “wrong” with the likes of 99.
The second episode feels kind of throwaway. It slots Greedo into the animated series for the first time, but feels more like a cameo right now than anything meaningful. If anything it just feels like an episode there to pay tribute to George Lucas by showing the character in the franchise with his likeness being amazing.
Next Time, we jump around a little, getting to that last outstanding episode from the first season. While also putting Ziro the Hutt back into the mix after his initial arrest during the movie.
- Season 3, Episode 08: Evil Plans
- Season 1, Episode 22: Hostage Crisis
- Season 3, Episode 09: Hunt for Ziro