Pages

Translate

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Top 10 'Clone Wars' Episode Arcs

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a beloved show that both improved upon the lesser qualities of the Prequel Trilogy and expanded upon the whole Star Wars universe. In 2013, the series was canceled in favor of Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD (as part of Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm). 13 episodes dubbed "The Lost Missions" were released on Netflix a year later, and a handful of unfinished story reels were later made available on StarWars.com.
On March 7, The Clone Wars is scheduled to leave Netflix after exactly three years on the streaming service. We're taking a look at the 10 best episode arcs (groups of multiple episodes with shared storylines) that every Clone Wars fan – and every Star Wars fan in general, really – should try to rewatch in the next week.

10. Onderon rebels
Season: 5
Episodes: "A War on Two Fronts," "Front Runners," "The Soft War," "Tipping Points"

For most of its duration, The Clone Wars is about a full-on war between two factions of roughly equal strength. When Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Rex travel to Onderon to teach a group of freedom fighters how to effectively win back control of their planet from the Separatists, we get something closer to the Rebels-vs-Empire conflict seen in Star Wars Rebels and the entire Original Trilogy.
In many ways, the Onderon rebels are the first seeds of the resistance movement that would span the decades following the Clone Wars. The guerrilla warfare tactics that they employ are more similar to those seen in Rebels and Rogue One than in other episodes of the series. These tough men and women are seemingly outmatched and outgunned, but with courage and hope – as well as some serious Jedi help – they succeed in restoring peace to their home. Sounds familiar, right?
This arc also marks the debut of Saw Gerrera, and although he doesn't appear in any future episodes, and it's his sister Steela who ends up leading the rebels (and dies in combat in "Tipping Points"), Saw would become the first and only original Clone Wars character to appear on the big screen, with a major role played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One.

9. Obi-Wan and Satine
Season: 2
Episodes: "The Mandalore Plot," "Voyage of Temptation," "Duchess of Mandalore"

In this episode arc, The Clone Wars introduces both the new, peaceful Mandalore – led by Duchess Satine Kryze, Obi-Wan's former lover – and the violent, Fett-like Mandalorians that we all know and love, in the form of the Death Watch warriors.
"Voyage of Temptation," the best of the three episodes, takes inspiration from two classic movies as Obi-Wan and Anakin escort Satine to Coruscant aboard her starship, the Coronet. The luxurious upper levels are reminiscent of Titanic, while the dark cargo hold calls Alien to mind, with terrifying, spider-like assassin droids that cause all kinds of trouble. 
Giving Obi-Wan a love interest is a good idea simply because it shows that Anakin isn't the only Jedi who struggles with the whole "no attachments" rule. And Satine is by no means just a love interest, frequently arguing with Obi-Wan and proving that, like Padmé, she's a determined politician who stays true to her principles and can also handle herself in dangerous situations.

8. Boba's revenge
Season: 2
Episodes: "Death Trap," "R2 Come Home," "Lethal Trackdown"

The Clone Wars brings back Boba Fett for a story that needed to be told: his assassination attempt on Mace Windu, who killed Jango and left Boba orphaned back in Attack of the Clones. But this isn't the cool, confident Boba that we first met in The Empire Strikes Back; in this arc, he's barely a teenager and under the poor influence of the merciless Aurra Sing and classic bounty hunter Bossk.
"Death Trap" has Boba posing as a clone cadet (he is technically a clone himself, after all) aboard a Jedi cruiser and sabotaging the vessel (and eventually crashing it) in an attempt to kill Mace. "R2 Come Home" proves how loyal and underrated R2-D2 really is; the astromech holds his own in a dogfight with the bounty hunters and gets help from the Jedi Temple when Anakin and Mace are trapped under debris. 
With Anakin and Mace still recovering from their injuries, "Lethal Trackdown" sees the unusual pairing of Ahsoka and Plo Koon (who's known Ahsoka since he first brought her to the Jedi Temple as an infant) as they go after Boba, Aurra, and Bossk. After a tense, Western-style confrontation in a saloon, Boba and Bossk are arrested while Aurra is presumed dead after crashing Boba's iconic Slave I starfighter.

The premise of this storyline is a great one for the Season 2 finale. When Boba decides to help Plo rescue the hostages they had taken captive, we get to see a softer, more sympathetic side to him. Boba even gets a few words with Mace before heading off to jail, bringing some closure to his old grudge while also making it clear that the young Fett still has some anger issues.
7. Obi-Wan undercover
Season: 4
Episodes: "Deception," "Friends and Enemies," "The Box," "Crisis on Naboo"

This arc sees Obi-Wan faking his death and disguising himself as assassin Rako Hardeen in order to infiltrate Count Dooku's plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. Tensions are high as Obi-Wan struggles to maintain his identity among the various dangerous and deceitful criminals hired by Dooku, including fan-favorite bounty hunter Cad Bane.
"The Box" is an undeniably fun (if not slightly ridiculous) episode that takes a colorful group of bounty hunters and puts them in a huge, cube-shaped simulator in Dooku's palace designed to thin out the herd and determine which of them are skilled enough to be participate in the mission. Filled with countless deadly traps, the Box makes for some great entertainment, even if it's impractical.
"Crisis on Naboo" is a fairly standard wrap-up to the arc, with Obi-Wan and the Jedi successfully thwarting the plot...until Dooku ambushes the Chancellor towards the end of the episode, revealing that he knew about Kenobi's true identity all along. The twist injects sudden action into the last few minutes as Anakin furiously duels Dooku while Palpatine looks on, visibly delighted by the thought of his future apprentice killing his current one.

Perhaps the main purpose of this arc is to sew the seeds of Anakin's distrust of the Jedi Council that we see in Revenge of the Sith. They intentionally don't tell Anakin that Obi-Wan's death is a ruse, and he's not too happy when he finds out. One can infer that Palpatine (as Dooku's secret master, of course) arranged the whole thing because he knew that Anakin's frustration and anger would bring him closer to the Dark Side.
6. Yoda's final journey
Season: 6
Episodes: "Voices," "Destiny," "Sacrifice"

The final episodes of "The Lost Missions" (and the last completed episodes of the series) heavily foreshadow Revenge of the Sith, with Yoda on a spiritual journey to discover the secret of retaining his consciousness as a Force ghost after death. Like the Mortis arc, it includes intriguing Force visions, details on the origins of the Force, and Liam Neeson returning to voice Qui-Gon Jinn's ghost.
In "Voices," Qui-Gon's disembodied voice guides Yoda to Dagobah for the first time, where he encounters a harrowing vision of Order 66 and the rise of the Sith. "Destiny" takes him to the foundation of the Force – and life itself – in the galaxy, where he meets the enigmatic Force priestesses and faces his (literal) inner demons.
In "Sacrifice," Yoda makes his final stop on Moraband, the ancient Sith homeworld, to learn more about the longtime enemy of the Jedi Order. Darth Bane (voiced by Mark Hamill himself) officially enters the Star Wars canon as an apparition in the Sith temple. The climax of the episode is Yoda's exciting duel with Darth Sidious himself in a Force illusion.
Although this arc isn't the series finale that the show deserved (more on that later), it still ends on a pretty satisfying note. Yoda returns to the Jedi Temple and accepts that even though the Order might face unspeakable horror in the near future, there's still hope for the Light Side to prevail in the long run. 

5. Mortis
Season: 3
Episodes: "Overlords," "Altar of Mortis," "Ghosts of Mortis"

One of the most surreal Clone Wars arcs explores the nature of the Force itself when Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan are unwillingly transported to the ancient realm of Mortis, inhabited by three incredibly powerful beings: the angelic Daughter on the Light Side of the Force, the sinister Son on the Dark Side, and the wise, neutral Father.
Simply put, nothing on Mortis is as it seems. In "Overlords" alone, Obi-Wan sees the ghost of his old master, Qui-Gon; Anakin briefly reunites with his late mother, Shmi Skywalker, which turns out to be a trick from the Son; and Ahsoka is approached by her future self, who warns of the darkness inside her master. 
What becomes clear in this arc is that Anakin is the Chosen One, and that's precisely why they the Jedi have been brought to this world. In an effort to force Anakin to join him, the Son captures and corrupts Ahsoka in "Altar of Mortis." She duels the reluctant Jedi while the Son and Daughter clash, bringing "sibling rivalry" to a whole new level. The Son attempts to kill the Father but accidentally strikes down his sister, who uses her last energy to save Ahsoka.
Yes, the inhabitants of Mortis carry on the Star Wars tradition of extremely dysfunctional families. "Ghosts of Mortis" sees Anakin struggle with his own destiny and briefly join the Son after witnessing a horrific vision of the events of Revenge of the Sith and the coldhearted Sith Lord that he's doomed to become. The Father ultimately clears Anakin's mind of these memories and then kills himself, which drains the Son's power and restores balance to the realm. 
Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka wake up in their ship with no record of their time in Mortis. Although "dreamlike" is perhaps the best word to describe Mortis, we can be sure that it does exist. It makes for one of the most unique and memorable Clone Wars arcs, and its status as a legendary realm and conduit of the Force means that it could – and really should – return in a Star Wars story in the future, no matter the time period.

4. Ventress and the Nightsisters
Season: 3
Episodes: "Nightsisters," "Monster," "Witches of the Mist"

After two and a half seasons as a playful recurring villain, Asajj Ventress transforms into a sympathetic antihero in this episode arc. Under orders from Lord Sidious, Count Dooku betrays Ventress at the beginning of "Nightsisters" and believes her to be dead. Wounded and with nowhere else to go, she heads to her place of birth: the Nightsisters village on Dathomir.
We're introduced to this clan of women that double as fierce warriors and mystical witches, along with their leader, the enigmatic Mother Talzin. They agree to help Ventress and through a series of flashbacks, we learn of her incredibly tragic past. She wants vengeance on Dooku, and they're going to help her.

When an assassination attempt fails, Talzin hatches a new plan: they're going to hand Dooku a new, powerful servant who will gain his trust and then help Ventress destroy him. In "Monster," Ventress selects Savage Opress after a deadly contest to determine the best warrior from the Nighbrothers clan. Molded into a hulking menace by Nightsister magic, Opress joins Dooku and proves his strength.
"Witches of the Mist" sees this plot come together. With Anakin and Obi-Wan hot on Savage's trail, Ventress is forced to strike Dooku sooner than expected. She and Savage face the Sith Lord together, but Savage is too weak and ends up turning against both of them. Dooku survives, Ventress escapes, and a wounded Savage returns to Talzin, who points him in the direction of his long-lost brother: Darth Maul. 
This arc succeeds in cementing Ventress as both a relatable woman who's just trying to find peace and a family in a cruel galaxy, and a cunning, ruthless warrior who can hold her own against the most powerful Jedi and Sith of the Star Wars universe. Savage debuts as a growling, cool-looking substitute for Maul (with a similar double-sided lightsaber), but would mainly serve to facilitate his older brother's return in future episodes.

3. War on Umbara
Season: 4
Episodes: "Darkness on Umbara," "The General," "Plan of Dissent," "Carnage of Krell"

The most warlike episode arc of The Clone Wars focuses on a battalion of troops on a long, miserable trudge through dangerous, perpetually murky enemy terrain. It puts the spotlight on the clones – specifically, Captain Rex and the rest of the 501st Legion – when Anakin is called back to Coruscant and Jedi general Pong Krell is placed in command.
Krell is a reckless strategist with no regard for the clones' lives, forcing them to push on against the technologically superior Umbarans. For Rex and his troops, this arc teaches them a valuable lesson about the line between a good soldier and a blind follower; as the Captain says himself, "We’re not droids. We’re not programmed. You have to learn to make your own decisions."
When it becomes clear that the general is actively trying to kill the clones and sabotage their war efforts, Rex leads a mutiny in "Carnage of Krell," ultimately capturing Krell and executing him after a bloody struggle. They had witnessed that even the Jedi were vulnerable to the corruption of the Clone Wars.
Aside from the musings about the nature of war itself, the alien terrain of Umbara makes for harsh, realistic battles between the clones and the Separatists. The native Umbarans have a host of sleek, advanced technology that the concept artists clearly had a field day with. Whether you're interested in seeing the clones' perspective of the Clone Wars or just want to watch cool stuff blow up, this arc is a must-see.

2. Ahsoka the fugitive
Season: 5
Episodes: "Sabotage," "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much," "To Catch a Jedi," "The Wrong Jedi"

By the end of Season 5, Ahsoka Tano had established herself as one of the show's most popular characters and a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe overall. The season's final episodes (each named after a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie) present her with her greatest challenge yet, with an emotional conclusion that forever changes her destiny and the course of the series moving forward.
In "Sabotage," a terrorist attack in the Jedi Temple brings Anakin and Ahsoka back to Coruscant, where they eventually find and arrest the perpetrator. Case closed, right? Wrong. In "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much," Ahsoka is framed for the murder of the bomber while visiting her in jail, making it look as though she was connected to the incident.

Rather than let the tedious judicial system sort it out, Ahsoka chooses to go on the run in the Coruscant underworld and solve the mystery herself. She uses her impressive skills to avoid the authorities and even forms an unlikely pairing with Ventress, who's had similar experiences of abandonment and betrayal in her past.
Ultimately, Ahsoka's close friend Barriss Offee confesses to the bombing (thanks to some serious persuasion from Anakin) after Ahsoka's already been expelled from the Jedi Order and facing a grand Republic trial. The Jedi Council apologizes to her and invites her back into the Order, but having seen just how little faith they have in her, Ahsoka refuses. 

The ending scene of "The Wrong Jedi," with Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Temple forever while an upset and confused Anakin looks on, makes for the series' most heartbreaking moment and a truly memorable season finale. It wasn't the last time we'd see Ahsoka, but nothing would ever be the same again.
This arc also serves to disillusion both Anakin and the audience of the supposedly righteous, noble Jedi Council. Not only did they turn their backs on our beloved padawan, but Barriss' justification for her attack on the Temple – that the war had essentially corrupted the Jedi into "an army fighting for the Dark Side" – is completely true (especially considering that the Republic is secretly led by a Sith Lord).

1. Maul on Mandalore
Season: 5
Episodes: "Eminence," "Shades of Reason," "The Lawless"

What happens when Darth Maul and his ferocious brother team up with the Death Watch? The short answer: lots and lots of violence. This arc brings together the newly-restored, vengeance-seeking Sith Lord and the awesome Mandalorian warriors in extraordinary fashion, with an ending that's satisfying on every level.
"Eminence" begins with Pre Vizsla and his troops happening upon the wounded, near-frozen bodies of Maul and Savage in an escape pod. Alliances are soon formed and they spend the rest of the episode forming Maul's proposed Shadow Collective of crime organizations by means of murder and threats. It's a fun episode for anyone who just wants to watch Maul, Savage, and the Death Watch kick ass together.

Of course, both Vizsla and Maul have plans to betray each other. In "Shades of Reason," they succeed in usurping Duchess Satine and taking over Mandalore with help from the crime lords. Maul challenges Vizsla to a traditional duel to decide the commander of the Death Watch; after a terrific fight, Maul decapitates Vizsla, assumes command of his troops, and takes the throne as ruler of Mandalore.
"The Lawless" is simply the best episode of the whole series. It's emotional, visually stunning, and just awesome in every way, despite featuring zero clones or battle droids. It kicks off with Obi-Wan coming to Mandalore to rescue Satine, only to fall right into Maul's hands. Maul stabs her through the heart in front of Kenobi, finally achieving the vengeance he's been after for so long.
Obi-Wan is rescued by Bo-Katan, Vizsla's former right hand woman and a deadly warrior who earns a fan-favorite status in this arc. (She's also revealed to be Satine's sister later in this episode.) In the most beautiful shot of the series, Obi-Wan witnesses the chaotic civil war between the Death Watch loyalists and Maul's super commandos, before he escapes Mandalore at Bo-Katan's behest. 
But the real highlight of the episode comes when Darth Sidious himself makes his in-person debut (he had previously only appeared as a hologram) to deal with the growing threat of Maul and Savage. Whipping out two red lightsabers, Sidious duels the brothers with surprising agility and strength, toying with them and killing Savage without breaking a sweat. He easily defeats Maul and tortures him with Force lightning, vowing to keep him alive for other purposes.
"The Lawless" in particular is the greatest indication of how amazing "The Siege of Mandalore" (the planned series finale that was scrapped when the show got cancelled) would have been. It would have had many of the best elements of "The Lawless" – Maul, Bo-Katan, war on Mandalore, etc. – plus Ahsoka, Rex, and the clone army on a mission to restore peace to the planet and bring Maul to justice.

Not only would the episode (or more likely, multi-episode arc) have seen Ahsoka reuniting with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Rex, but it would have actually paralleled the events of Revenge of the Sith, with the infamous Order 66 playing a key role in the climax. Out of all the promising Clone Wars stories that never made it to our screens, "The Siege of Mandalore" most deserves to be released in some format in the future.
Official "Siege of Mandalore" sketches
The best apart about these arcs is that, to quote Han Solo, "It's true. All of it." The Clone Wars was the only part of the franchise besides the six core movies that remained canon in 2014 after Disney bought Lucasfilm. Every single episode of the series really happened in the Star Wars universe, meaning that any of these characters could be seen again on the big screen.

Which episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is your favorite? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

No comments:

Post a Comment