You need to stand before you can walk; you need to walk before you can run. Season One of The Clone Wars was very much the show finding its legs to stand. Developing character models and animation techniques, actors were getting used to characters, and writers striking a difficult balance of appealing to both kids and adults, all while being guided by the stories that George Lucas wanted to tell.
Season Two was where the show really began to pick up some steam; there are very few bad episodes in Season Two. Generally speaking, I think Season Two was consistently good, but there are a lot of episodes that I like fairly equally, it was hard picking a top and bottom three.
The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”
Landing at Point Rain (2.05):
Now this is what I am talking about, when I think of the Clone Wars I think of the battle on the front lines. Point Rain was a lot of fun, we have three different Jedi Generals, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Anakin, and Obi-Wan lead a three pronged insertion onto Geonosis to attack and destroy the droid factory. My favorite part of the episode was the touch of humor at the end with Ki-Adi one upping both Ahsoka and Anakin. 65! Suck it Separatists!
Lethal Trackdown (2.22):
Season Two really ended on a fun note. I like the conflicted young Boba Fett. I thought it was hilarious that Hondo has had enough interactions with the Jedi for one season, and is basically telling Aurra Sing to have fun with that.
The Deserter (2.10):
Bar none, The Deserter is one of my favorite episodes of TCW and one of my favorite Star Wars stories. I am fascinated by the idea of a clone army. The moral issues that cloning raises for the Jedi and the rest of the Republic, and for the issues it raises within the clones themselves. How do the clones view themselves? How do they form their own individual identities and personalities? How do they view themselves and how do they view the Republic that they serve? In Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando novels she introduced Mandalorian training Sergeants that not only instilled the martial training that was necessary, but they also gave their clones access to Mandalorian culture and offered a sense of belonging and a moral code that goes beyond orders and flash learning. How do clones who are not so fortunate adjust to life? Do the clones worry about their future and what will happen after the war ends?
In this episode we meet Cut Laquane, his Twi’lek wife Suu and Cut’s two adopted kids. Cut presents Captain Rex with a different perspective on the war and life as a clone. I have a feeling the experience of meeting and debating with Cut will have a strong influence on how Rex’s views may change during the remainder of the series. We know we are getting some more Rex focused stories in Season Four, and I have to believe that Rex will have an important choice or sacrifice to make by the times the series ends.
The Mandalore Plot (2.12):
Too many episodes I liked to pick just three, but this may be my most controversial pick. You will hardly find a bigger fan of the Mandalorian culture or Boba Fett then me. I was predisposed to have a fanboy freak out with this episode, however looking back with some perspective makes this one of my favorites from Season Two.
The issue of Mandalorian continuity probably caused the biggest conniption fit in fandom when the rumors first started spreading about Karen Traviss’ leaving the Star Wars franchise, resulting in the cancellation of two books (Boba Fett Stand-alone and Imperial Commando II). When this show aired people freaked, pacifist Mandalorians, George Lucas had lost his mind. Ok, everyone step back from the ledge.
This episode introduced Duchess Satine Kryze ruler of Mandalore and Pre Vizsla, Governor of Concordia and Commander of Death Watch. Vizsla, voiced by Jon Favreau, was a very cool new character and villain. The black, samurai sword like lightsaber is so wizard (That one’s for you Ani). Satine is a character that grows on you. The concept of Obi-Wan having an intimate relationship is an idea that had been explored in the EU, but this was the first time it had been explored on screen. This relationship is explored in the other Mandalorian episodes but it first appears here. Satine is an interesting parallel to Padme, both were rulers of a world, both are strong female characters prone to taking action, and both fell in love with a Jedi in spite of knowing the rules that forbade it. It is clear that Obi-Wan loved and probably still loves Satine, but unlike Anakin, he is the master of his emotions and is not ruled by them. Perhaps if Anakin was less self centered and more open and honest with his Master, guidance and even acceptance may have been found. For the “chosen one” I think the Jedi might have bent the rules, after all they do it for the Cerean reproductive issue. It’s not the attachment to Padme that is Anakin’s problem, it’s the fear of loss that stems from the loss of his mother and was transferred onto Padme, Anakin would keep a psychologist busy for decades.
This episode dealt with very mature issues, not only do we have the terrorism of Death Watch, but we also have a suicide. Pretty tough stuff for some of the younger kids in the audience to deal with, but very powerful story telling.
The capture of Obi-Wan is a nice call back to Episode II, and the rescue by Satine has a very Anakin-Padme on Geonosis feel to it.
The only thing I didn’t really like about this episode was the uniformity of the Death Watch Mandalorian armor, but that is the legacy of reading so much EU with the rainbow of beskar’gam that we get there.
It seems pretty obvious that the Mandalorian Civil War that is eluded too and the fragile façade of pacifism that has been erected is only a temporary thing for Mandalore. That is why Satine is so vehement in her quest for peace and neutrality, because she knows how fragile this peace is.
I firmly believe that before TCW series ends we see a return to Mandalore for the fall of Satine’s government, but I don’t think we see a successful Death Watch rise in its place, but a third faction restoring the Mandalorians closer to the EU version of the culture and planet.
Honorable mentions: Holocron Heist (2.01) was fun; Bane is a good villain and who is cooler then Jocasta Nu? As an EU fan I loved the Bariss Offee (2.06-2.08) episodes, the Medstar Duology is a very underrated set of books. Lightsaber Lost (2.11) had its moments; I really dug Tera Sinube and his cane/lightsaber. Cat and Mouse (2.16) was a very cool one off story, feels like Hunt for Red October. Bounty Hunters (2.17) featured some cool new bounty hunter characters particularly Sugi and Embo. Let us not forget about the Zillo Beast, I feel like playing Rampage all of the sudden.
The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”
Senate Murders (2.15):
Lt. Tan Divo really isn’t my cup of tea and Senator Lolo doesn’t make my favorite character list either. Frankly, the only memorable thing for me from this episode is the cool looking Senate Guards who got the full cape and plume treatment for the first time. I love the Senate Guards both in the Prequels and in this series as precursors to the Imperial Royal Guards.
Senate Spy (2.04):
Padme has a special friend who is not Anakin. Well there goes the image of a virginally pure Padme.
So Anakin basically condemns Senator Clovis to death by the hands of his Neimodian friends. That is a pretty un-Jedi thing to do. Clovis should have been brought back to Coruscant to stand trial for treason. I wonder if Padme ever thinks about the fact that Anakin basically killed her ex even though that ex saved her life.
Children of the Force (2.03):
On the whole I actually like Children of the Force, it is certainly interesting to see Anakin going to Mustafar before Episode III and interesting to see that it is a go to hideout location for Palpatine, after all, he sends the Separatist Council there in Episode III.
What I didn’t like was the ending of the Episode. It would have opened up much more interesting story telling potential down the road if Palpatine’s surgical procedure went to completion on the kids and they were rescued, or if they were not successfully rescued at all and they could be brought back in the Expanded Universe later as Dark Side operatives.
What did you think of TCW Season Two? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Come back next week for our retrospective on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Three.