At the halfway point and I’m taking a slight detour from analyzing my favorite story arcs from The Clone Wars today, and will instead hit on a few of my favorite standalone episodes of the series – as in single episodes that weren’t necessarily part of a longer arc that I felt really moved the story along.
BONUS COVERAGE – Standout Standalones!
Why Lair of Greivous is essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- Visually bonkers – even though this is a very early episode and some of the detail in the animation isn’t what it would become in later seasons, the design work on Lair of Greivous is so, so freaking good. With design and direction from Atsushi Takeuchi, this standalone has a very horror-asian feel and it works oh so well.
- Grievous – we get just enough of Grievous’ origin and backstory here, which is fine with me. His lair has statues built in his (former) likeness, so the audience gets a peek of what he looked like before his transformation into the cyborg he is in The Clone Wars and RoTS. We also get a taste of a more brutal side of General Grievous, which I also enjoyed, as both the film and the series made him into a little too much of a cartoonish villain in my opinion.
- Kit Fisto – we see the almost always jovial (mayyyyybe to a fault at times…) Kit Fisto take on a more serious role here early in TCW as he reunites with his former Padawan, Nahdar Vebb, who has just recently passed the trials and ascended to the role of Jedi Knight. He is caring yet firm with his former student, and it seems all of his lessons didn’t quite sink in…. which brings me to…
- Nahdar Vebb – the newly anointed Jedi Knight is quick to follow his emotions and wants to end Grievous – and potentially the war – right then and there. He is also seen downtalking to and about his Clone Troopers, and this also doesn’t sit well with Kit Fisto.
- The Jedi are already changing – we see via Nahdarr’s attitude that already, only a few months into the war, that the Jedi are growing impatient with their strategy and are questioning whether or not they should be more aggressive. This is a theme repeated throughout TCW, mainly via Anakin.
Why Lightsaber Lost is essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- Ahsoka’s growth – we get a glimpse of Ahsoka’s growth as Anakin’s Padawan as she has to handle the complicated situation of losing and attempting to retrieve her lost lightsaber, all without her Master finding out…..
- Coruscant’s underworld – we do see a little bit of the capital planet’s seedy underbelly during this episode, which I always enjoy. Nothing too major, but a nice change of pace for the series here and there.
- Master Tera Sinube – aiding Ahsoka in the investigation into her missing weapon is a venerable Cosian Jedi Master named Tera Sinube. He’s slow, methodical, old, and deliberate – which is just what Ahsoka needs (even though she doesn’t believe it). In the end we see this whole incident was key to Ahsoka’s maturation as the series forges forward. It’s also rad that Sinube’s lightsaber is concealed in his walking cane.
- Rad canon connections – the obvious canon connection here is how closely this mirrors Anakin losing his lightsaber during the Attack of the Clones chase, even the dialog is similar. We also meet a Terrelian Jango Jumper for the first time in the form of lightsaber thief (or at least the last one to hold it, if not the first actual thief) Cassie Cryar. She is voiced by uber-hottie (and huge Star Wars fan) Jamie King, who will pop up in a moment as the voice of another character… A Terrelain Jumper pops back up in Rebels as one of the Inquisitors – the Eighth Brother; Lastly, the cane/lightsaber trick would be pulled again by none other than Maul in the season two episode of Star Wars Rebels, Twilight of the Apprentice.
Why Assassin is essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- More Ahsoka character growth – in this season three episode, we see that as Ahsoka’s prowess as a Jedi Padawan grows, so does the recognition of the job she is doing from the Jedi High Council. We also witness Ahsoka having very vivid Force visions that she is having trouble deciphering – not unlike many burgeoning Jedi before her, including Anakin and Luke. We also see that Ahsoka’s impulsiveness can get in the way sometimes, too, as she is constantly jumping to conclusions without letting things work themselves out….
- Yoda & Ahsoka – I love the callback to the Anakin / Yoda scene from RoTS between Yoda and Ahsoka in this episode. The lighting, framing, and tone match very well. It’s the little things, you know?
- Padme Amidala – I love the way Padme is portrayed in The Clone Wars – not only a beautiful and savvy politician, but also a very capable warrior in her own right when the need arises, and not unwilling to put herself in harms way for the greater good. I don’t think we had enough time to see this with her character in the films, yet another reason why TCW is so essential for Star Wars fans wishing to get all they can out of the Prequel era. Plus, it’s this side of Padme’s persona that ends up saving the day in the end.
- Padme & Ahsoka – the ladies relationship is so awesome to me. Padme cares deeply for Ahsoka, mainly because of her connection to Anakin we are to assume, but it feels very genuine. Some of their exchanges during Assassin are very well written, which is very enjoyable.
- Aurra Sing – presumed dead earlier in the season, our favorite (or one of them) bounty hunter makes another appearance as the would-be assassin. She’s always great and I for one wished we had gotten a little more of her in this series, as she is one of the few characters that felt truly underused. Oh well, can’t win ’em all, right?
- Alderaan – any small glimpse we get of Alderaan is welcome, as we never got enough in the films. It was great to see just a little more of the planet and environment that Bail Organa calls home.
- Rad canon connections – Mon Mothma and Bail Organa are featured in this episode, and I don’t really need to inform anyone how cool it is anytime these two pop up. I actually enjoy the political side of the Prequels and TCW, so I welcome any addition to it; Ziro the Hutt pops back up, again, and of course he’s up to no good, but his story pretty much wraps up here. You can kinda take him or leave him – trust me, I GET IT – but it was worth mentioning; Aurra Sing is voiced by Jamie King, who also voiced Cassie Cryar from the previous episode I discussed, Assassin. I like her.
Why ARC Troopers is essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- Clones are real people – if there’s one thing TCW did exceptionally well was to showcase the Clones as not just replaceable bodies, but real people with feelings, attachments, and personalities. This was a theme that was built upon during the entire run of the series (and continues today via Rebels), and it’s front and center here in ARC Troopers. We especially get more insight into Echo and Fives, both of who will play a much larger part in the series a little later on. I will also say this – I think Revenge of the Sith did a pretty decent job in this department as well, given the time they had, as we saw that the Jedi had meaningful relationships with the Clones, namely Oddball and Cody who were both named. Just putting that out there.
- Dee Bradley Baker – this guy is one of the heroes of The Clone Wars. He voices every single Clone, and manages to give them each distinct personality traits. I can’t underscore enough how much he contributed to the enjoyability of The Clone Wars, and this episode really highlights that!
- Kamino – the environment of Kamino was one of my favorite from the Prequel trilogy, and it doesn’t disappoint here, either. Everything is very detailed and realistic, just as we have come to expect in the series.
- Battles on multiple fronts – not only do we get a great battle at the cloning facility, we also get an intense space battle led by Anakin Skywalker and an undersea battle led by Obi-Wan (during which he rides a freaking Aiwha out of the sea!!!) which were both well done.
- 99 – one of the early batch of clones produced at Kamino, 99 suffered from multiple genetic defects. He lived on Kamino and did maintenance and janitorial work at the cloning facility. I loved his story and inclusion in this episode and found it both touching and heartbreaking. Love live 99!
- Shaak Ti – stationed on Kamino for much of the war, we don’t get to see a ton of the Jedi Master in TCW, but I always enjoyed it when we did. Mellow and powerful – not to mention stunningly beautiful – she had an impact in every episode she was in, and ARC Troopers was no exception.
- Separatist technology – we get glimpses at new pieces of technology at the Separatists disposal in this episode and they never cease to impress. That’s another thing the creators and artists did very well throughout TCW – turn what could be very basic and dull tech into well thought out, impressive designs that continued to up the ante.
- Asajj Ventress – we got a lot of Ventress during the series, but I always wanted more! She is so badass and capable. Her dislike for Grievous is palpable (and kinda understandable) and her methods are kick ass. In ARC Troopers she uses the Force to draw a Clone right up to her face, runs him through with one of her lightsabers, and kisses him. Actions like those in addition to the constant flirting and sexual undertones between her and Anakin & Obi-Wan throughout the series – yeah, THAT’S Asajj Ventress! And the voice work that Nika Futterman provided for her was just perfect.
- Ventress versus Anakin + Obi-Wan versus Grievous = AWESOME! – two more amazing lightsaber duels are featured in this episode – one (like REALLY amazing one) between Asajj Ventress and Anakin Skywalker, and a second between Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous (again). The Obi / Grievous was is pretty much what we’ve seen and come to expect after they’ve had multiple duels, and not surprisingly the Anakin / Ventress duel is the real highlight. Both of their skills with a lightsaber have been taken up a few notches as we begin season three, and the duel on Kamino is undoubtedly one of the very best of the entire series.
- Rad canon connections – good old Admiral Wulff Yularen. Dude is in a ton of TCW episodes, as he is the admiral aboard Anakin’s Jedi cruiser, but I felt he was worth mentioning as he also had a position of power in the Galactic Empire, as security chief and Colonel of the ISB. He was aboard the Death Star when it blew (yes, he’s seen on screen in A New Hope) and he was just introduced into the Rebels timeline; during the Obi-Wan / Grievous duel Obi ends up in pretty much the exact same predicament he found himself in when he dueled Jango Fett on Kamino just before the start of the war. I’m hoping this was intentional.
Why The Lost One is essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- The elephant in the room (duh) – we finally get a glimpse into the last days of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas! What was he up to? How did he die? Who assigned him this mission? Although everything isn’t completely cleared up, we get a good idea of what happened – and so does the Jedi Council, much to their dismay….
- Amazing visuals – I know I type this about a lot of arcs and episodes, but the creativity of the design and animation teams responsible for TCW never cease to amaze me. And again, as I watch Rebels now, I am reminded how amazing this show looked. If anything, it’s under appreciated for this reason alone…. Both the moon and planet of Oba Diah are stunning, as is the design of the Pyke’s. Kudos, kudos.
- Speaking of the Pyke Syndicate – I’ve always dug the overall design and feel of the criminal organization known as the Pykes. Kinda like capable stoner’s in the Star Wars universe. Cool look, cool species, cool voices.
- Darth Sidious – the Dark Lord of the Sith is none-to-pleased with his apprentice, Count Dooku, over his failure to cover all this up. He responds by Force choking him via freaking hologram!!! Yeah, Sidious is baddass!
- Lord Tyranus – another of the huge reveal in The Lost One is the fact that Count Dooku is in fact Lord Tyranus, the man Jango Fett mentioned to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Kamino all those years prior. At the end of the episode the Jedi realize they’ve been played the entire time by the Dark Lords of the Sith, and they choose to bottle up this information. The end is near….
- Lightsaber fight – our heroes, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, engage in a EPIC lightsaber duel with Count Dooku on Oba Diah, one of the best in the entire series. The Clone Wars always did lightsaber dueling incredibly well in my opinion, and the duel near the end of The Lost One stands out as one of the series’ very best.
- Rad canon connections – obviously, the background of Sifo-Dyas and the reveal that the Sith placed the order for the Clone army are beyond huge to the mythology of Star Wars. I could go on and on about it, but you get the picture. Huge; the Pykes pop back up here, previously being seen in a previous TCW arc (one that I haven’t covered yet, patience, patience), so they are small but important parts to the ongoing storyline of the series; Lord Tyranus is revealed to the characters as Count Dooku, even though the audience has known this since like forever. But still, it is an overarching canon connection, hence the mention; Darth Sidious’ power is immense. Straight Force choking via this kind of distance had never been witnessed in Star Wars canon, and really establishes how powerful in the dark side of the Force Palpatine is.