The Essential Clone Wars: “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”

***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:
S5:E18 – “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Stephen Stanton, Dee Bradley Baker, Meredith Salenger
WRITER:
Charles Murray
DIRECTOR:
 Danny Keller
PREMIERE DATE:
February 16, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Ahsoka is accused of murdering a military prisoner.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“The Jedi Who Knew Too Much” is essentially part two of a four-parter that began with “Sabotage.” But this episode is where things really kick into high gear, and the end begins for Ahsoka. I can only assume they had this “framed for murder” story, or something akin to it, in mind when the series began. As Ahsoka obviously doesn’t appear in Revenge of the Sith, common sense would dictate you not create this character without knowing how to ultimately get rid of her.

I can appreciate that there’s a public backlash against the Jedi as the war becomes less popular. There’s obviously precedent for that in the real world, most recently with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it does beg the question: Is it just the Jedi who are seeing a backlash? If so, why? Why not the chancellor? Why not the Senate? They’re every bit as involved in the war.

Admiral Tarkin (or Grand Moff Tarkin, as we knew him in A New Hope) appears in this episode, voiced by Stephen Stanton. I had mistakenly thought Stanton provided the voice for Tarkin in Rogue One. He didn’t. But he certainly could have. His Tarkin voice is spot on.

Anakin and the clones chase Ashoka outside a building that’s apparently called the “Repubic Center for Military Operations.” Its exterior includes big statues of clone troopers, and what appears to be a big memorial for troops lost during the Clone Wars.

All I could think of as I saw this building was that the Republic must have a lot of money to burn if they can create a facility that elaborate and ordained in the midst of a war. Either that, or Palpatine really wanted to push the clone trooper imagery and propaganda as he built up his Galactic Empire.

The entire prolonged chase sequence involving Ahsoka, Anakin, and the clones is really effective. Very suspenseful, and you believe that either side can ultimately win out.  Kevin Kiner’s score works perfectly too. It all feels like the culmination of five seasons. Like this is what we’ve been building to.

At first glance, Ahsoka’s motivation for running is a little bit questionable. Common sense and logic dictate that only a guilty person would flee that way. However, it does speak to her youth, inexperience, and even a certain impetuousness that might come with being Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice. So it works.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Sabotage”

***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:
S5:E17 – “Sabotage”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker, Kari Wahlgren, Tom Kane
WRITER:
Charles Murray
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
February 9, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Anakin and Ahsoka investigate a bombing at the Jedi Temple.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode, while nice in terms of being ominous and mysterious, doesn’t work for me for one major reason: If it’s suspected that a Jedi was involved in the temple bombing, there’s no way the Jedi themselves would be allowed to investigate it. The Senate, assuming they aren’t all complete morons, wouldn’t allow it. A third, truly unbiased party would be brought in determine whether or not the Jedi were involved. Often times, that’s what big companies will do when incidents occur, and it’s not clear who the blame lays with.

I understand that it’s a TV show, and Anakin and Ahsoka are the heroes. But how about this: Instead of involving a CSI droid, or whatever Russo-ISC is supposed to be, create a detective character for the Star Wars universe. Something in the vein of a classic private eye. Then, make Anakin and Ahsoka his liaisons with the Jedi Order. That way they can still be in the episode, but you don’t necessarily have that huge conflict of interest present.

Although let’s be honest, from an in-universe perspective, having Anakin involved in the investigation at all is a pretty dumb decision. The Jedi Council knows that Anakin can be rash and emotional, for no other reason than Obi-Wan, Anakin’s old master, is part of the group. Actually, if you had to involve a Jedi in this whole scenario, Obi-Wan wouldn’t be a bad choice. He’s level-headed, and has proven himself trustworthy enough that he was invited to the council. Hell, he conducted the investigation into Padme’s assassination in Attack of the Clones. So he’s even got a history of detective work under his belt!

Clearly, we were lacking some Jedi wisdom in this episode.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “The Gathering”

***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:
S5:E6 – “The Gathering”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Olivia Hack, Jeff Fischer, Greg Cipes, Georgina Cordova, Dee Bradley Baker
WRITER:
Christian Taylor
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
November 3, 2012
SYNOPSIS:
A group of Younglings travel to Ilum for a Jedi rite of passage.

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

I was immediately disappointed when I realized the dialogue for Gungi, the young wookiee, consisted of recycled Chewbacca noises. I understand it was probably cheaper than hiring an actor to come in to grunt and growl. But at the same time, they had both Dee Bradley Baker and Tom Kane in the cast for this episode. You’re tellin’ me neither of them could fire off a decent wookiee noise? I don’t buy it.

On the subject of voice actors, I was pleasantly surprised to see Greg Cipes on the credits as the voice of Zatt. Cipes also provided the voice of Michelangelo in Nickelodeon’s 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. When you know its him, and listen intently, you can hear Mikey in Zatt’s voice.

From a writing standpoint, I can appreciate the whole “Gathering” ritual. But part of me does wish it wasn’t centered around lightsabers. The Jedi are more than just superheroes with laser swords, and there’s so much emphasis on lightsabers already. It might have been nice for them to think a little bit outside the box here.

Question: As he’s the head teacher for the Younglings, not to mention the grand master of the Jedi Order, does Yoda have to be present at all these Gathering events? If so, that seems like the kind of thing he should have pawned off on somebody else. Especially during a time of war.

This episode takes on a much different tone when you consider that most, if not all these kids were likely murdered during the events of Revenge of the Sith. Possibly by Darth Vader himself. Kind of a downer, huh?

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Monsters”

***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.”

Savage Oppress, Star Wars the Clone Wars, MonsterSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S3:E13 – “Monster”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Nika Futterman, Clancy Brown, Corey Burton, Barbara Goodson, Dee Bradley Baker
WRITER:
Katie Lucas
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 14, 2011
SYNOPSIS:
Count Dooku gains a new ally in Savage Opress…or does he? 

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode sees the debut of a new character named Savage Opress (pronounced Sə-vazh “O’press”). He becomes Count Dooku’s new apprentice, but is secretly in league with Asajj Ventress.

I hate Savage Opress. And not in a “villain you love to hate” sort of way. I find the character cringeworthy. That’s in no small part because of his name. Savage Opress is one of the worst and most lazily concocted villain names I’ve ever heard. The Star Wars prequel era has more than a few lazily named villains. There’s Darth Tyranus, there’s General Grievous, and one can also make a case for Darth Maul. But Savage Opress? It’s like they weren’t even trying. They just shoved two evil-sounding words together and called it a name. Pure and simple laziness.

I’m also not thrilled with the idea of giving Maul a brother. Given where this storyline with Savage winds up going, it’s obvious they introduced him with the intention of bringing Maul back. So why not cut out the middle man and find a different way to bring Maul back? Maybe have Mother Talzin reveal to Asajj Ventress that Maul is alive, and have her be the one to hunt him down…

The one upside to Savage Opress? He’s voiced by Clancy Brown. Brown is a renowned voice actor, having performed as Mr. Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants and Lex Luthor in the DC Animated Universe, among numerous other roles. He also played Burg in the Mandalorian episode, “The Prisoner.”

The Jedi Master who Savage Opress kills late in the episode is named Halsey. For the record, this episode came out a few years before Halsey released her first album. Just puttin’ that out there. 

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “ARC Troopers”

***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.”

99, Star Wars The Clone Wars, ARC TroopersSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S3:E2 – “ARC Troopers”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Matthew Wood, Nika Futterman
WRITER:
Cameron Litvack
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
September 17, 2010
SYNOPSIS:
The Separatists attack the cloning facility on Kamino.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The most interesting part of this episode by about a mile is 99, the elderly clone (shown above). Apparently he was in a previous episode, “Clone Cadets,” which I haven’t seen. So I’m meeting him here for the first time. Apparently he suffered from genetic defects during his cloning process, and thus ages faster than other clones. His character arc goes about where you’d think it would go. But his end still makes for a great moment in the series.

So all the genetic data for the clones is kept in a single room, which is conveniently called the DNA room? Well that’s convenient, now isn’t it? Obi-Wan actually calls it the “DNA chamber” at one point, which at least sounds more dignified…

The four-legged robots climbing up and attacking the city made for a great visual. This episode really capitalizes on the potential of the planet Kamino, and the cloning facility designed for Attack of the Clones.

Clone Cadets, Star Wars the Clone Wars, ARC Troopers

On the subject of Attack of the Clones, the clone cadets we see in this episode are voiced by Daniel Logan, who played a young Boba Fett in that movie. That’s a cool casting choice, as obviously they could have easily found another young actor to play the role.

At the end of the episode, Echo and Fives are both made ARC Troopers. Of course, “ARC Troopers” is also our title. So it’d be nice if the episode reminded us what the heck an ARC Trooper actually is. I guess that’s what Wookiepedia is for.

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: “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.