The Essential Clone Wars: “Voyage of Temptation”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Voyage of Temptation, Obi-Wan, SatineSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E13 – “Voyage of Temptation”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Anna Graves, Matt Lanter, Greg Proops, Phil LaMarr
WRITER:
Paul Dini
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’ Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
February 5, 2010
SYNOPSIS:
Buried feelings between Obi-Wan and Satine come to the surface as a traitor is revealed.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This is the episode where we learn about Obi-Wan and Satine’s history together. That they developed feeings for each other years ago, but Obi-Wan remained devoted Jedi Code. Obviously, this provides an interesting parallel between Obi-Wan and Anakin, who of course is secretly married to Padme. Obi-Wan made the choice that Anakin theoretically should have made.

Unfortunately, “Voyage of Temptation” falls into the same trap that Attack of the Clones did as far as Star Wars romances are concerned: It tells instead of shows. We don’t see that spark develop between Obi-Wan and Satine. Instead, we’re told about it via anecdotes. The best we get is a little banter between them.

“Voyage of Temptation” might actually have been better as a flashback episode, taking us back to a young Obi-Wan as he meets Satine for the first time. That way we could actually see some of these memories they recount, as opposed to having them exposited to us.

Still, Obi-Wan confessing that he’d have left the Jedi Order for Satine is a powerful moment. But imagine how powerful it could have been…

This episode was written by Paul Dini, who rose to prominence writing for Batman: The Animated Series, and is widely known as the creator of Harley Quinn. This would be his third and final episode of Clone Wars.

At one point, Anakin asks Obi Wan, “Were you and Satine ever…?” The obvious implication being that he’s asking if they slept together. Yeesh. In the last episode we had a suicide, and now a sexual reference? This arc was a little edgy for Cartoon Network. I won’t complain, though. I’m of the mindset we shouldn’t always shy away from that kind of thing when writing for kids. Granted, it should obviously be done tastefully, and with a certain amount of restraint. Clone Wars checks both those boxes with these instances.

Incidentally, Obi-Wan doesn’t actually say no…

Tal Merrick, the turncoat senator, is voiced by Greg Proops. That’s an interesting casting choice, as Proops is a comedian widely known for his performances in shows like Whose Line is it Anyway? Over a decade prior, Proops also voiced the podracing announcer in The Phantom Menace.

When he’s in that stand-off with Obi-Wan, Merrick asks who’ll strike first and become a cold-blooded killer. Anakin then strikes from behind, killing him instantly. I can’t decide if that’s a little too on-the-nose or not.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “The Mandalore Plot”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars The Mandalore Plot, Duchess SatineSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E12 – “The Mandalore Plot”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Anna Graves, Jon Favreau, Corey Burton, Greg Proops
WRITER:
Melinda Hsu
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 29, 2010
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan reunites with an old friend to solve a mystery on Mandalore.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Episodes like “The Mandalore Plot” expose a problem with the show: Obi-Wan’s costume. For whatever reason, characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka appear in the same singular outfit episode after episode. That’s not a drastic problem, as they’re Jedi and virtually always wear similar outfits. But for Obi-Wan it’s a problem, as they opted to put him in battle armor for his singular outfit. That works fine for battle sequences. But this episode starts with a diplomatic mission to Mandalore. As such, the armor is inappropriate. Obi-Wan really should have been in Jedi robes, akin to what he wears in all three prequel films.

Making the Mandalorians their own society of super commandos presents a problem: It devalues Boba Fett and Jango Fett, as we now virtually have a planet full of characters that all have similar costumes and gadgets. Considering what pivotal roles Boba and Jango have in the saga at large, I would have deemed that unacceptable, regardless of whether that’s how the Mandalorians were originally conceived.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, The Mandalore Plot, Pre Vizsla

What’s more, it’s a problem that Star Wars wasn’t able to even try and solve until more than a decade later, when we got to The Mandalorian. When we get to “The Tragedy” in season two, we’re able to see how Boba Fett’s fighting style is much more brutal than Din Djarin’s, and presumably the rest of the Mandalorians. I’d still prefer Boba and Jango had the whole helmet and jetpack M.O. to themselves. But that helped.

On the subject of The Mandalorian, the man who would become its showrunner, Jon Favreau, plays Pre Vizsla. I’m not enamored with that casting choice, though. Maybe it’s the stark contrast of his nasally American accent against the ones James Arnold Taylor and Anna Graves give to Obi-Wan and Satine. (I say that as a guy with a nasally American accent. It’s not an insult, I promise.)

The Clone Wars is a kids show, right? At least in theory? I say that because it’s not often you see a suicide on a kids show. We hear the sound of his body hitting the ground and everything. I ain’t mad at it. I’m just saying you don’t see it often. If ever…

Before strapping Obi-Wan into that Adam West Batman style death trap, the Death Watch soldiers thought enough to take Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. However they apparently didn’t think to check him for communication devices. Bad form, gentlemen.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Brain Invaders”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E8 – “Brain Invaders”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Ashley Eckstein, Meredith Salenger, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor
WRITER:
Andrew Kreisberg
DIRECTOR:
Steward Lee
PREMIERE DATE:
December 4, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
Republic forces fall under the influence of mind-controlling Geonosian worms.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

This episode was written by Andrew Kreisberg, one of the architects of the “Arrowverse” on the CW Network. Some pretty cool Green Arrow/Black Canary comics too.

“Brain Invaders” has a great horror-esque premise, with some great visuals to match. It’s tough not to cringe when you watch one of the brain worms crawl into someone’s ear. Ditto for when they burst from someone’s mouth.

About six minutes into the episode, Ahsoka invites some of the clones to eat with her and Bariss Offee. I can’t help but think that’s got to be some of the most stale, unstimulating conversation in history. You’ve got two Jedi, who are essentially space monks, talking to genetically engineered clones who’ve only been alive for…what? A year, if that? And that’s before you factor in that the clones are being controlled by Geonosian brain worms. The social masochist in me really wants to see that scene…

Moments after the dining invitation, Ahsoka has a pretty stupid line. The clones start shooting at she and Bariss, and she calls out, “Troopers! Stand down!” They’re shooting at you, you dumb kid! I think the command hierarchy has been, at best, suspended!

The interrogation scene between Anakin and Poggle the Lesser is some nice Vader foreshadowing. The most important aspect being that, with Ahsoka in mortal danger, Anakin had a good reason to bend the rules the way he did.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Legacy of Terror”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E7 – “Legacy of Terror”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Olivia d’Abo, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George
WRITER:
Eoghan Mahony
DIRECTOR:
Steward Lee
PREMIERE DATE:
November 20, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
On a rescue mission, Anakin and Obi-Wan face a hive of undead Geonosians. 

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode is about zombie space bugs. That’s pretty awesome. Also awesome? It’s not totally stupid. So I tip my hat to director Steward Lee, writer Eoghan Mahoney, and everybody else on the creative team for taking a concept that could easily have gone south and making it work.

I wonder how difficult it is to animate a sandstorm like the one we see in this episode. What’s more, to make it look as good as it does. I can’t imagine it’s easy…

These last few episodes, the show has done a superb job playing up the creep factor of these giant bugs. The idea of brain-invading worms are enough to really make your skin crawl. And that’s before factoring in the whole zombie thing.

Dee Bradley Baker, who also voices the clones, plays the Geonosian hive queen (shown above). That’s a hell of a range on display there. A legitimately creepy voice too.

This episode comes something of an abrupt end. All things considered though, there are worst mistakes to make. Better a quality episode that ends quickly than a mediocre episode that drags…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Weapons Factory”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E6 – “Weapons Factory”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Meredith Salenger, Olivia d’Abo, Dee Bradley Baker
WRITER:
Brian Larsen
DIRECTOR:
Giancarlo Volpe
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
Anakin’s trust in Ahsoka is tested in battle.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“Weapons Factory” isn’t much of an inspiring or intriguing name. “Assault on Point Rain” seems much more dramatic, and much more Star Wars.

Name notwithstanding, “Weapons Factory” gave me what I was looking for in “Landing at Point Rain.” More of a personal story told against the backdrop of a big battle on Geonosis. Anakin’s relationship with Ahsoka is put through a test, as the story places it next to Luminara Unduli’s relationship with her apprentice, Barriss Offee. More specifically, we see Anakin’s refusal of the prospect of letting Ahsoka die compared to Luminara’s more passive attitude about losing Barriss. The latter, of course, is the outlook Jedi are theoretically supposed to have.

The tactical droid that assists Poggle the Lesser is voiced by Tom Kane. Kane, of course, also voices both Yoda and the series narrator.  This droid sounds like a more monotone version of the narrator. It’s fun to listen to in that sense.

Luminara Unduli (shown above) made her debut as a background character during Attack of the Clones. She might be the best designed of the Jedi created for that movie. The black and green make for a nice contrast. But the headdress is what really makes her look. Without that headdress she wouldn’t have nearly as much going for her from a visual standpoint.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Landing at Point Rain”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E5 – “Landing at Point Rain”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Matt Lanter, Brian George, Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor
WRITER:
Brian Larsen
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
November 4, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
The Jedi lead an attack on the Separatist droid factory on Geonosis.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I initially wrinkled my nose at Anakin and Ahsoka gloating about their respective kill counts. But then it occurred to me: The Separatists use robots. So they weren’t actually “killing” anyone.

Our big bad guy at the droid factory is named Poggle the Lesser. We also saw him in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. But question: Does his name mean anything? I mean…lesser what? What does that word mean in this context? That one’s a head-scratcher for me.

Here’s an odd complaint to have about a war show: This episode felt really loud to me. Lots of explosions and spaceship sounds and pew pew pews. I guess that’s how you know I’m not a young fanboy anymore…

There’s a moment in this episode where a Clone Trooper gets blasted into the air and takes a hard landing on the ground. Another clone then shouts, “Man down!” That was funny to me. When you go down like that, “Man down!” is pretty much adding insult to injury, isn’t it?

This episode really didn’t do much for me. This, despite it being on various “Best of” lists as it relates to The Clone Wars. It’s a great example of how well the show can do the big Star Wars battle sequences. And it’s got a cute little moment between Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Ki-Adi Mundi at the end. But other than that…

My guess? Because it’s part of a multi-part story arc, “Landing at Point Rain” simply isn’t intended to stand on its own as much as a typical episode. I can only assume it’s meant to set the table for better things to come.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Rookies”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, image 1SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S1:E5 – “Rookies”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor, Matthew Wood, Tom Kane, Matt Lanter
WRITER:
Steven Melching
DIRECTOR:
Justin Ridge
PREMIERE DATE:
October 24, 2008
SYNOPSIS: 
A group of rookie clones unite prevent a Separatist droid invasion.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We start the episode off with what looks like a hologram version of a radio broadcast. That’s a cool little world-building (or in this case, universe-building) element to throw in.

Almost all the characters on The Clone Wars, especially this early in the show, always wear the same outfits. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s case, it can be distracting as he’s wearing battle armor. It looks out of place in scenes like the one on the bridge of the starship. In hindsight, I might have put him in something that looked a little less battle-ready.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, Image 2

When I looked at “Ambush,” I noted how I’m not a fan of the battle droids being overly goofy. These stealth droid commandos, on the other hand, are right up my alley. They give off just the vibe you’d expect an evil robot army to have. They’re cold, efficient, merciless, and scary.

It took me a minute to realize that Echo, one of the clones we see in this episode, is also one of the main characters in The Bad Batch. I can only assume we’ll be seeing more of him and his evolution as we move through The Clone Wars and into The Bad Batch. That’s always a cool thing to see.

And of course, we have Rex and Cody in this episode. We know they’ll both play notable roles as time goes on.

“Big gun doesn’t make a big man.” That’s a good line. The kind that should be repeated often in certain parts of America…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Ambush”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S1:E1 – “Ambush”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George, Corey Burton, Nika Futterman
WRITER:
Steven Melching
DIRECTOR:
Dave Bullock
PREMIERE DATE:
October 3, 2008
SYNOPSIS:
Yoda is lured into a trap by Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My research for this episode was my first exposure to how wonky the Clone Wars episode chronology can be. I invite you to check out Lucasfilm’s chronological episode order to see what I mean. But apparently, if one were to watch all the episodes in chronological order, “Ambush” would be the show’s fifth episode, rather than the first.

If nothing else, I guess it’s consistent with the Star Wars brand. This is, after all, the movie franchise that started with Episode IV.

Chronological issues notwithstanding, this was a good episode to start with. Everybody knows Yoda, so that was a nice hook for viewers who weren’t as familiar with Star Wars. It also establishes some of the main villains, who the good guy and bad guy troops are, the nature of the war itself, etc.

I’ve never like when the battle droids are overly jokey. That started in Revenge of the Sith, and continued here. It was the only thing in the episode that grated on me.

For whatever reason the Toydarians, King Katuunko in particular, don’t look as richly detailed as the other characters. First episode stumbles, maybe?

Obviously, the highlight of this episode is Yoda having the clones take their helmets off and then addressing them as individuals. The best line in his little speech? “Deceive you, eyes can. In the Force, very different each one of you are.” That’s a great Yoda line. 

On the subject of Yoda, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Tom Kane to voice that character. At this point, he’d already played the character for the Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts that aired between 2003 and 2005. But this was obviously of a much larger scale. The character was, and still is, so closely identified with Frank Oz. But to his credit, Kane managed to make the character his own. He’s not as vocally flamboyant with Yoda as Oz was. But I might argue Kane gives the character a little more grit, which isn’t uncalled for in a show like The Clone Wars.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.