Retro Review: The Clone Wars S1 E1-11

star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-20090327075032925

Seeing as the trailer for Rogue One recently released, I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit and break from reviewing games in favor of going back through the seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. While we wait for both Rogue One and for Episode VIII, I see no reason not to enjoy the other developments of the now entirely canon-based Star Wars universe. That having been said, I will be reviewing a couple of episodes at a time, offering pros and cons and an overall grade for each of the episodes.

Episode One- Ambush

Starting off any series, even an animated one, on the right note is crucial in television. Thankfully, Master Yoda is here to ensure that is the case for The Clone Wars. Although the show is known for jumping all about the timeline of the Clone Wars in general, I think this was a welcome stepping off point. Following a tale of Yoda and a few clones pinned down by a droid army ambush, it established the tone of the animated adventures.

Grade: A

Episode Two- Rising Malevolence

The Clone Wars plays to its strengths by visiting other recognizable yet not-so-well known characters of the Star Wars universe. In this instance Master Plo Kloon takes the role Master Yoda took in the first episode. It also features an interesting new Separatist super-weapon, a ship of sorts- not quite on the level of Destiny’s Dreadnought or Star Wars’ Death Star, Starkiller Base, or Galaxy Gun, but something like that. Needless to say, this episode begins an interesting three episode story arc.

Grade: A

Episode Three- Shadow of Malevolence

The second episode of the three episode arc featuring the Separatist warship Malevolence continues with an interesting story integrating yet more classic Star Wars action into the mix. Anakin Skywalker and friends pursue their plans of leading a bombing run on the ship, but suffice it to say things don’t exactly go as planned. The episode also does a great job of fully integrating Skywalker and co into the mix, as well as some modified Y-Wing bombers and General Grievous.

Grade: A-

Episode Four- Destroy Malevolence

In this particular episode we see the first of many times Padme and C-3PO will inevitably be captured and used as hostages to negotiate with the Jedi. Naturally this provides ample opportunity for General Grievous to escape a la Episode III, as will also become commonplace and old at times. The one thing to be said about it however is that it naturally puts the finishing touches on the three episode story arc revolving around the Malevolence.

Grade: B+

Episode Five- Rookies

Enter Officers Cody and Rex. They may not entirely be commanders at this particular time, as they are quite assuredly leading together. However, they are no less formidable or interesting than their Episode II and III big screen counterparts or their Extended Universe compatriots. As the title would suggest, their biggest goal is to train their rookie troops to fight off a droid invasion of their base. It has its dark moments, as far as the animated series is concerned anyway, however as always things end on a relatively upbeat note.

Grade: A

Episode Six- Downfall of a Droid

And thus begins a two episode story arc revolving around R2-D2 being captured and held by the Separatists. As would be the Republic’s luck, R2-D2 is holding onto some sensitive information that could mean bad news if the Separatists got their hands on it after probing through the droid’s memory banks. It’s not quite the plans for the Death Star we’re talking about here, however I’d imagine Jedi military tactics and battle plans in the enemy hands would be a catastrophe indeed.

Grade: A-

Episode Seven- Duel of the Droids

This particular episode finishes up the whole “R2-D2 gets captured” story arc and also manages to somehow make the little astromech droid that much more lovable and enjoyable to watch onscreen, even in animated form. As the title would suggest, the episode has to do with an ironic showdown of sorts between droids at General Grievous’ listening post when Skywalker and Ahsoka go in to rescue their metal friend.

Grade: A

Episode Eight- Bombad Jedi

If you hoped you wouldn’t have to constantly be reminded of The Phantom Menace, keep wishing. Not only does Jar Jar Binks feature prominently in this episode, but Padme and Viceroy Nute Gunray make their appearances as well. It’s essentially a similar theme to The Phantom Menace, centering on saving Padme and subsequently Threepio from the Viceroy, with Binks being the unlikely “hero.” Somehow, it could’ve been worse.

Grade: B-

Episode Nine- Cloak of Darkness

Here we see many familiar faces in Star Wars mythos, all set in an interesting and exciting chapter of season one. Count Dooku, Asaj Ventress, Ahsoka Tano, Master Luminara, and more make appearances. The premise seems simple enough: escort Gunray to trial and successfully place the captured Trade Federation leader under arrest for good. However, whenever Ventress is thrown into the mix, you cannot assume things will go so easily and they of course do not.

Grade: A

Episode Ten- Lair of Grievous

Being that it is an origin story of sorts for the Clone Wars itself, The Clone Wars seeks to feature General Grievous heavily and puts that to good use in this episode. Pursuing Count Dooku, Jedi Master Kit Fisto and his troops chase the Count into the middle of what turns out to be Grievous’ hideout. Needless to say, true to the warlord’s infamous reputation, few survive the ensuing battle. It’s as tense as the show has gotten thus far.

Grade: A

Episode Eleven- Dooku Captured

As we come to the halfway point of season one and the end point for this series of short reviews, I want to remind you that so far everything has been pretty solidly laid at the foundation. Things won’t begin to get too old until you start seeing the same characters getting put in pretty similar situations. As of now, even for an animated series, it is fresh and enjoyable which is always a good thing. The title of this episode should tell you just about all you need to know, however what you may not realize is Count Dooku has in fact been “captured” by pirates, although Skywalker and Kenobi seek to capture the Count themselves as well.

Grade: B+

Trivia:

If you glance a bit into the future, specifically Episode 21- Liberty on Ryloth, you’ll have a chance to see Separatist leader Wat Tambor loading the Ark of the Covenant onto one of his ships at around the thirteen minute mark. Consider this Lucas’ ongoing cosmic joke of sorts. Your welcome.

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