Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season One

Season One of Star Wars: Clone Wars comprises of twenty-two episodes that are broken down into twelve story arcs, chronicling the early days of the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists. While Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka act as the leads in the series, the stories have a wide scope and feature cameo appearances from plenty of supporting Jedi – often developing the characters beyond cool designs. The series also focuses on the relationship between the Jedi and the Clone troopers, which is particularly tragic considering the audience knows the inevitable betrayal of “Order 66” is waiting in the wings. Even though this is a Disney cartoon, the series isn’t afraid to get dark at times with violence and tragedy often depicted on-screen. I really enjoyed the news-reel introductions for each episode – it is reminiscent of the old World War Two news-reels and helps provide a sense of scale to the conflict, positioning the episodes as short skirmishes in a larger battle.

We have reviewed and rated each story-arc in the season, and will provide an overall score for the Season One boxset.

1×01 – “Ambush”

The first episode of the series pits Master Yoda up against Asajj Ventress in an exciting race against time to win the loyalty of the Toydarians. Effectively a micro version of the larger conflict, I really enjoyed the small-scale nature of this episode as Yoda took a small three-man team of clones against the might of the Separatist army. Short and standalone, this episode works brilliantly as an introduction to the series and showcases Yoda’s awesomeness and wisdom as a Master Jedi.

Score – ★★★★

1×02 – “Rising Malevolence”
1×03 – “Shadow of Malevolence”
1×04 – “Destroy Malevolence”

This three-part adventure focuses on General Grievous’ devastating warship, the Malevolence, which uses an ion cannon to disrupt the power of enemy ships. There is an epic sense to this tale which features a broad mix of supporting characters such as Plo Koon, Padme Amidala and C3PO and encompasses deep space dogfights and traditional ground troop action inside the Malevolence. There are some great sequences in this trilogy, such as Plo Koon battling droids in the vacuum of space and Anakin and Obi-Wan attempting to rescue Padme in the ship’s transit tunnels, jumping from train to train. Arguably more action-packed than The Clone Wars movie, this ‘Malevolence’ trilogy is a wonderful example of the series’ long-form storytelling across multiple episodes.

Score – ★★★★

1×05 – “Rookies”

A curious single-episode adventure, “Rookies” moves the focus away from the Jedi to instead give the clone troopers a starring role. Without the omnipotent Jedi, there is a real sense of danger and vulnerability as our cast of heroes attempt to protect a base from deadly Commando Droids. I really enjoyed how each clone was given a distinctive personality despite coming from identical genetic stock with little touches such as different hair styles and attitudes to showcase the small deviations between each clone. Dee Bradley Baker does a brilliant job at giving each trooper a unique voice, yet maintaining that same shared tone. This was one of my favourite episodes of the series, depicting the Clone Wars from the ground roots.

Score – ★★★★★

1×06 – Downfall of a Droid
1×07 – Duel of the Droids

This two-part episode focuses on everybody’s favourite astromech droid, R2D2, and examines the attachment that Anakin has for the robot – another sign that he is straying from the Jedi’s teachings. The episode stands out for the inclusion of R3-S6 or “Goldie” who is an evil counterpart to R2D2, and the climactic scene between the two droids as they fight it out. R2 is easily one of the most likeable and relatable characters in the Star Wars universe, despite his inability to speak, and it was great fun to see him take on a central role. The second episode also features a brilliant battle between Ahsoka and General Grievous, which is arguably more tense and thrilling than his fight with Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

Score – ★★★★

1×08 – “Bombad Jedi”
1×09 – “Cloak of Darkness”
1×10 – “Lair of Grievous”

This rough trilogy of episodes follows a loosely connected narrative fuelled by the capture of Separatist leader Nute Gunray and General Grievous’ attempts to regain favour after some high-profile failures. “Bombad Jedi” attempts to redeem Jar Jar Binks’ character, showcasing his odd mix of clumsiness and ironic luck. The character remains divisive amongst fans, but I do appreciate The Clone Wars team addressing him, rather than ignoring his existence. Both “Cloak of Darkness” and “Lair of Grievous” are unusual in that they feature the villains succeeding over the heroes. We are treated to cameos from Luminara Unduli and Kit Fisto, two more lesser-known Jedi from the films who are fleshed out and developed into real characters rather than just interesting-looking aliens. While disjointed, this is a great set of episodes that tell a varied adventure which ranges from humour to tragedy.

Score – ★★★★

1×11 – “Dooku Captured”
1×12 – “The Gungan General”

This two-parter was a bit hit-and-miss for me. The first episode involved a lot of stupid mistakes from both Dooku and the Jedi, and I couldn’t imagine Dooku being captured by some ragtag scavenger pirates. Not to mention that Anakin and Obi-Wan were also captured off-screen between the two episodes! That said, I really enjoyed the situation of Dooku, Anakin and Obi-Wan forced to work together to escape their captors. Yet again, we see attempts to redeem Jar Jar – making his clumsiness into a unorthodox military strategy – in some ways, this was reminiscent of his role in The Phantom Menace during the Battle of Naboo, so it fits in with the character’s established history.

Score – ★★★ ½

1×13 – “Jedi Crash”
1×14 – “Defenders of Peace”

With Anakin incapacitated early on, this two-part adventure gives Ahsoka and Aayla Secura the opportunity to stand out. Secura is one of my favourite supporting characters from the prequel era, merging the brilliant Twi’lek design with Jedi coolness. She gives off an aura of confidence that inspires Ahsoka, and demonstrates impressive wisdom and capability. I also liked the depiction of conscientious objectors to the Clone Wars and the moral argument behind their inaction, although they did come across as stupid for refusing to fight back in the face of annihilation. Well-paced and filled with dramatic moments, this was a solid two-parter that stood out from the others for all the right reasons.

Score – ★★★★ ½

1×15 – “Trepass”

A short single-episode adventure, “Trepass” demonstrates how even the Republic can be perceived as the bad guys when they attempt to set up a base on the snow-covered planet of Orto Plutonia. Dignitaries from the local Pantara system attempt to take ownership of the remote planet, upsetting the native inhabitants and resulting in violence. There’s a sense of inevitability to the violence in this episode as the Jedi are powerless to intervene in the peace talks, forced to step back and allow events to play out. It showcases the limitations of the Jedi, as well as the small-minded nature of some politicians – all within twenty minutes of animation. Surprisingly mature storytelling for a Disney cartoon, and an interesting parallel to the treatment of Native Americans by Settlers.

Score – ★★★★

1×16 – “The Hidden Enemy”

Breaking away from the chronological order of the episodes, “The Hidden Enemy” acts as a prequel to the events of The Clone Wars movie, taking place as Obi-Wan and Anakin fight the Separatist forces on Christophsis. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of returning to Christophsis in this episode as it felt like a step backwards – quite literally! That said, there are some really good sequences in here with Obi-Wan and Anakin clashing with Asajj Ventress, and Cody & Rex taking a prominent role as they search for a traitor in the ranks. I understand that this episode attempts to add more context to those opening scenes in The Clone Wars movie, but with all the action that has taken place since, I’d be happy for them to move forward and avoid these jarring ‘flashback episodes’.

Score – ★★★

1×17 – “Blue Shadow Virus”
1×18 – “Mystery of the Thousand Moons”

In some ways, this adventure felt like a sequel to The Phantom Menace with the action focused on Naboo and the return of supporting characters such as Captain Typho and the Gungans. While the mad professor responsible for the Blue Shadow Virus felt more like a Dr. Frankenstein homage than a legitimate Star Wars creature, I still enjoyed the dramatic tension of the story as Ahsoka, Amidala and Jar-Jar depended on Anakin and Obi-Wan to find the cure before they succumbed to the disease. I have no idea how Obi-Wan didn’t spot Anakin’s clear devotion to Padme – it seemed so obvious in this episode that it made him look somewhat incompetent to not notice, or even comment on it. That said, this was a fun adventure with two tonally different episodes that complimented each other perfectly.

Score – ★★★★ ½

1×19 – “Storm over Ryloth”
1×20 – “Innocents of Ryloth”
1×21 – “Liberty on Ryloth”

This trilogy of episodes centred on Ryloth connected together almost seamlessly to showcase different perspectives of the same conflict, with episodes dedicated to showcasing both aerial and ground combat. I preferred the sequences set on the ground, particularly Obi-Wan’s attempts to free innocent slaves from captivity, although it was equally cool to see Mace Windu in a leading role in “Liberty on Ryloth”. These episodes felt important, not just because they represent a climactic victory for the Republic, but because they also tie into later spin-offs such as the novel “Lords of the Sith” and the sister series “Rebels”, thanks to the character of Cham Syndulla.

Score – ★★★★

1×22 – “Hostage Crisis”

This standalone episode acts as a teaser for the second season, introducing the cast of bounty hunters who will be causing havoc during the Clone Wars. It also picks up on plot threads from The Clone Wars movie, with Ziro the Hutt making a reappearance. The unpredictable nature of the bounty hunters is a breath of fresh air, with Cad Bane and Aurra Sing standing out as particular highlights. There were also some interesting scenes between Anakin and Padme, offering a glimpse into their relationship that feels more authentic than any of their scenes in Attack of the Clones. Exciting and tonally different from the rest of Season One, “Hostage Crisis” is an odd choice for the season finale, especially considering the climactic nature of the ‘Ryloth’ trilogy before it, but it definitely succeeds in building anticipation for the next season.

Score – ★★★★

Overall, Season One works as a solid introduction to the Clone Wars conflict with enough variation in its stories to ensure the audience is engaged. I particularly liked the rotating guest cast of Jedi and recognisable characters, and the Clones were developed a lot more than I expected. Ultimately, I preferred the ground troop stories over the space combat ones which reflects the elements of Star Wars I enjoy. There’s something that still sends shivers down my spine about a lightsaber being fired up and the hum as it cuts through the air. It’s clear from this first batch of episodes that the creative team working on them have a deep affection for the Star Wars universe, and there is such a rich attention to detail here – even to the point where they seem to cherish Jar Jar Binks and are dedicated to redeeming him. While this first season lacks any over-arching theme like later seasons will, it is still a strong debut for one of the most beloved Star Wars spin-offs ever made. A perfect fit between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, there really is no excuse for missing out on these adventures.

Season One Score – ★★★★

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season One is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon, or it can be watched on-demand from Disney+.

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