Hello I'm Going To Watch All of Star Wars

Hi there! I, Tomtrek (The), am planning to watch as much Star Wars video content as a have access to, in chronological order, and then review each film and episode on here. In a thread. Like Wacky does. But it's me. With Star Wars. All (most) of Star Wars. I'm mixing stuff that's now canon, and stuff that's now technically non-canon. This is because it's interesting to me to see if it all can actually fit together, and it's also because if I didn't watch the non-canon stuff I wouldn't get to watch the Holiday Special and that's fankly unacceptable. The only things I haven't really includes are the Droid and Ewoks cartoons, because they're not easy to get hold of in their original forms.

So here's the list of what I'll be watching, and in what order:

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Clone Wars - Chapters 1-21*
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 1-6 in Chronological Order using this guide
Star Wars: Clone Wars - Chapters 22-25*
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Rebels - Seasons 1-2
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure**
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor**
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

*part-way through Chapter 21 of Clone Wars there's a montage sequence that skips from the very beginning of the war to the very end. All six seasons of The Clone Wars fit in this gap, so I'll basically be stopping the chapter part-way through and resuming it after I've watch "The Bad Batch" episodes.
** The generally agreed placement for the Ewok films is between Empire and Jedi, although that does cause a few continuity issues, which I'll talk about when I get there!

So without further ado:
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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict....
(I am watching the 2011 release of the film - the only real difference is that the puppet Yoda has been replaced with CGI)

OK, a lot has been said about this film in the 17 years (17 YEARS????) since it's release, most of which has been negative. Some of that is fair criticism, and some of that is a bit overblown. If I'm going to go through literally most of Star Wars, it's only fair everything gets a fair chance.

A common description of the original Star Wars trilogy is that it was George Lucas' way of paying tribute to the sci-fi serials of his youth: Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, etc. While is is absolutely true of Star Wars, it's not a description that really fits either Empire or Jedi. In fact, the Star Wars film that next best fits the description of "serial tribute" is The Phantom Menace.

One of the things I've seen said about TPM is that it doesn't "look" like a Star Wars film. That is, it doesn't use the 'used future' aesthetic that was so revolutionary in 1977. Instead, the designs of the film are very much looking back to the 1930's, from art deco to the sleek lines of Flash Gordon's rocketship. Personally, I love this. I mean, look at Padmé's gun here:

It's not a real world weapon that's been tweaked to look sci-fi, it's a full on old school ray gun. Not that there was anything wrong with the "used future" stuff, but adding this new style gave us something the original trilogy never did: context.

In the original trilogy, there were generally only two styles of design on display: the used and natural looking ships and equipment of the Rebels, and the cold and sterile designs of the Empire. Now, with this third style in the mix we get a sense of how things were at their peak, which is important is it means that now we can see how things change and evolve throughout the films. Basically, if this film had just looked like "Star Wars", it would have been boring, because we've already seen Star Wars.

But it's not just the design that calls back to the serials of the 30's, the pacing of the film does too. In the first act especially, you could easily edit the film into 15 minute chunks, with a cliffhanger at the end of each one, just like the serials used to do (this is, as I'll get to, something you could also do with Star Wars). This was Lucas' only real chance to do this more lighthearted style of film, before he had to go into the drama of Anakin's turn to the dark side.

But beneath this throwback, there's a lot more going on. Take the Jedi. The way this film presents the Jedi is really interesting, especially if you go in with the mindset that because this is "Episode I" this is the first time an audience would have heard of a Jedi.

The Jedi, mostly being represented by Qui-Gon and Obi Wan, are initially shown as an unstoppable force: they cut their way through droids like they don't matter, and burning their way through walls to get to what they want and whenever the Neimoidians mention the Jedi it's with absolute terror. Before we're really given any characterisation to the Jedi themselves, we're shown that they're basically unstoppable space wizards.

But when we do get to spend more time with the Jedi, there's a distinct lack of emotion behind everything they do. Qui Gon especially is basically emotionless to everything going on around him - there's a bit when they're going through the planet core in the Bongo when they narrowly escape a giant sea creature because an even gianter sea creature ate it an ripped it apart. Jar Jar is freaking out, but both Jedi basically are blasé to the entire situation. Now, true, it's very possible that part of this is simply the fact that the actors couldn't see any of this happening, and so didn't really react to it, and that's a fair point. But the end result is that the two main Jedi in the film - "guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy" - don't ever really seem to care about the things that happen around them. Then when you get to the Jedi council, it's full of emotionless, uncaring Jedi - this time sitting around in their tower (that might as well made of ivory) telling a 9 year old boy off for missing his mother. When you look at the Jedi just from their introduction in this film, they don't come off as swashbuckling heroes, but stuffy old priests stilling in their high tower, not really doing anything about anything. But that isn't a complaint, in fact I think it was a deliberate choice by Lucas. Don't forget that Qui Gon, who, again, is a "guardian of peace and justice in the galaxy" just straight up tells Shmi "WELL SORRY YOU'RE A SLAVE, NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THAT! BYE!!". The Jedi are kind of assholes (on a group level, not an individual level), and this is a really important bit of characterisation that continues throughout the prequels.

But I think the thing I like the most about this film is that, in the grand scheme of all Star Wars, this is really the story about how Palpatine manipulated everyone into getting himself made Chancellor. And I think that part of it is great, mostly because of Ian McDiarmid. If you watch him in his scenes, he's giving a really masterful performance of someone who is, deep down, loving every second of watching his plan come together. When he's talking into Padmé's ear about "oh look I guess ~we'll just have to call a vote of no confidence~", he's so evilly manipulative, but in a way you only notice if you're aware he's doing it. This is why I love the ending of the film so much, there's a huge celebration and everyone's happy and cheering that they've managed to put the most evil person in the galaxy into the most powerful position, and the only person who knows it is Palatine. Even John Williams rubs it in your face, with the Parade music being a cheery, upbeat version of Sidious/The Emperor's theme.

But with all this great stuff going on in the film... why isn't it very good?

Well, simply, the biggest problem The Phantom Menace has is that it's trying to be two different films at the same time. It's trying to be 1930's throwback action & adventure good times fun at the same time it's trying to be a political drama about the manipulation of bureaucracy, and this clash of mood is what makes the film really hard to watch sometimes.

Take the first act - there's a lot of people talking about The Senate and Treaties and Trade Negotiations, but the audience isn't really given a reason to care about any of it. This is mainly because, as far as the audience knows, there aren't really any stakes to everything that's happening, because we don't really identify with any of the characters.

Having an "audience identification character" isn't something a film needs to have, and it's perfectly fine for something to be an ensemble film (which is what TPM is), but when there's crazy alien space politics being talked about by people we don't know, an audience needs something, anything, to latch on to. But it's not really the Jedi, they're too emotionally detached from everything around them, it's not Queen Amidala, as we barely even see her during act 1, so really the only option is: Jar-Jar. Jar-Jar Binks is our protagonist.

But, look, OK, fine, right, let's get it out of the way: People hate Jar-Jar. In the time since the film's release I've learnt to accept Jar-Jar Binks into my heart, but he's not a good protagonist. He's about one-step too alien, just slightly removed from something an audience can really identify with (which isn't to say you can't identify with him at all, of course you can, it's just not a strong enough connection to hang a film on).

Things get better in act 2 as two more relatable characters appear: Padmé and Anakin. The problem with Padmé is that she really doesn't do anything during the entirety of the Tatooine sequence (as a side-note, I'd like to say that Natalie Portman's performance as Padmé is really good, especially her naivety at just how bad things are outside of her planet of Rich People. It's subtle, but it's there.).

That leaves Anakin. And the problem with Anakin is that he's played by Jake Lloyd. I'm not exactly treading new ground when I say that Jake Lloyd isn't really very good in this film, but he really does come across as someone who's constantly trying to remember his next line, or his next action. It's not really his fault, he was 9 years old for crying out loud, but it doesn't exactly help us to care about the character.

So going into the third act, the film is really hoping that you care about both Jar-Jar and Anakin... and most people don't. But the action in the third act is really fucking good I don't care what anyone says and Duel of the Fates is great and I really like the look of the N-1 Starfighter OKAY???

I really, really believe there's a lot of interesting stuff in The Phantom Menace. It's just not presented at all well, and the audience isn't really given a reason to care about any of it. It's only when going back to the film can you actually try and see any of this stuff.

Nute Gunray's cool, though.


I want to smell dark matter
I'll be watching this thread with great interest.

I distinctly remember watching TPM in the cinema for the first time in 1999. I remember getting to the part where the door closes and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon start cutting through with their lightsabers and Rune Haako says "they're still coming through!" and thinking clearly in my head "THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME." And that's a feeling The Force Awakens never gave me (although to be fair I was 34 by the time that came out and unable to feel joy anymore.) Obviously the movie had problems after that and even watching it the first time I groaned at the virgin birth bit but I'll always appreciate the movie and Lucas for giving me that feeling. And I truly believe Lucas did the prequels for the fans because he thought it was what they wanted, not as a cash grab (as fun as it is to type "Lucash.")

I also enjoy the Flash Gordon feeling and everything about the look and design of Naboo and Padme's cool gun and Nute Gunray's walking chair and the beautiful spaceships and Sio Bibble's beard. It's on Tatooine that it gets a bit boring and yeah Jake Lloyd doesn't help. I do think he was pretty good in the scene where he says bye to his mum and when a Jedi asks him "how do you feel" on Coruscant and he says "cold, sir." But otherwise pretty bad!

Jar Jar's been discussed so much that I can't really hate him or take him seriously. He does step on shit too many times though.

I liked the Podrace a lot the first time I saw it but on more recent watches it is a bit soulless and long. Even Jabba falls asleep.

I agree that the action in the third act is pretty great. I like how much Padme gets to do in it and Duel of the Fates still holds up perfectly (seriously fuck the frame by frame youtube analysis trying to ifind faults in that.)

It's a flawed film but I never find it horrible or insulting, really. The lame parts kind of make me smile at their lameness, unlike the lame parts in the next one which are just horribly lame. It's a film I can always rewatch easily enough, unlike say The Hobbit films which I don't think I'll ever rewatch.

And it made me fall for this gal and you can't take that away from me:

Yeah, Jake Lloyd does the crying scenes very well, in fact I think the scene where he leaves Shmi is just really well done all round. Shmi Skywalker is a bit of a flat character, basically being a kind mum character, but when I rewatched the film tonight I was surprised at how much I liked Pernilla August's performance, especially in the scene where Qui-Gon tells Anakin that he's free. There's a really great look of both happiness and worry on her face, and she plays it beautifully.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

There is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand solar systems have declared their intentions to leave the Republic.

This separatist movement, under the leadership of the mysterious Count Dooku, has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Knights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.

Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, is returning to the Galactic Senate to vote on the critical issue of creating an ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC to assist the overwhelmed Jedi....

Attack of the Clones had a lot to live up to. Not because it had to follow The Phantom Menace (that's not a hard act to follow), but because as the middle part of a trilogy it is partially in the shadow of The Empire Strikes Back. Empire is very tonally different than Star Wars, and so Lucas did the same thing here. Gone is the feel of a 1930's Flash Gordon action adventure - now the plot is split into two: One romance, one noir detective story.

The first thing to note about Attack of the Clones is the massive time jump between the end of the previous film and the start of this one: 10 years. In some ways, it's almost too big of a jump because a lot of character development has happened off screen. For starters, Obi-Wan is a lot more livelier than he was in The Phantom Menace, showing a dry wit that was only hinted at before. But the biggest change is Anakin, who has changed from the energetic, kind and caring young boy into an arrogant and headstrong young man. This makes them both more interesting characters to watch than they were in the last film, which is lucky as they both have the responsibility of carrying the plot. This film does a lot better than Phantom Menace did at the audience identifying character... mostly...

Since the film is essentially split into two plots, I'll deal with them both separately staring with the one that's by far the strongest of the two: Obi-Wan Kenobi hunts out some clues and starts a war. I'll say this now: I really like basically everything Obi-Wan does in this film. Mostly due to Ewan McGregor being amazing, and putting a lot of life into the character. Again I should note the ten year jump makes him almost a different character than we saw in the last film; Obi-Wan is free to be the witty and fun - but also a bit of a stick-in the mud - character he should be. While the detective story is pretty straightforward - clue leads to side character leads to clue leads to a somehow bigger mystery - it all looks great. While the 1930's feeling may be gone in the tone, it's still very present in the design with characters like Jango looking more like an expensive classic car than a Bounty Hunter (again, I like this, it's another way to separate him visually from what we will see of Boba later). Kamino too is a really nice and atmospheric location, with the unreal sets and the constant rain giving the Kaminoans a really uneasy feel - you're never sure if they're actually good or not. All of these elements come together in the fight with Jango, which I like a lot. It has a great kinetic feel (helped a lot by the rain) that's unlike any other fight we see in the Star Wars films. The thing that really makes this plot is that, as we eventually find out, all of Obi-Wan's investigations were set up by Sidious to start the Clone War. Jango deliberately uses a dart that only comes from one place, to lure the Jedi there just when the Clone army is ready, which also just happens to be when the Separatists have finished their Droid army. All of that is intentional, and is another example of the plot of the films just being parts of his plan to take over the Galaxy.

But then we come to the other plot. The romance plot. Which is not as successful. Okay, let's talk about Anakin a bit. As well as being a headstrong teenager, Anakin Skywalker is a creep. Like, it struck me watching it again just how creepy he is, especially in the first act with Padmé. He's also amazingly awkward, with no sense of boundaries (seriously, the bit where he touches her back) and comes across as a horrifically awkward teenager. Which, on paper, I have absolutely no problems with. He is an awkward teenager. If you look at the character of Anakin we saw in the last film, and have him live and be taught by the emotionless and dogmatic Jedi, I would totally expect the end result to be an emotionally unstable awkward person, who would obviously say really dumb things around the girl he likes because A) he's spend all of his life either being a slave with his mother, or living with a bunch of celibate Space Monks, and B) he is literally 19 years old, everyone is awkward around the people they like at that age. Having the great and amazing Anakin Skywalker be actually something of a creeper is an idea I kinda of like, and is a nice subversion of people's expectations. If they had managed to make it work.

The problem is that if you're going to have an emotionally unstable Anakin in a romance plot, you need to give a good reason why Padmé would ever fall in love with him. The idea that Padmé is, in her own way, as messed up as Anakin and that being in politics from a very early age has messed up her ability to form proper relationships is something that could work. The idea that Padmé is attracted to lost causes is something that was hinted at in a deleted scene (she tells Anakin about how she helped recuse a species from a planet whose sun was dying, who all died anyway because they couldn't adapt to their new home), and if they had played that up more then it would have felt a lot more natural. Instead of a sweeping romance, it's a flawed relationship between two emotionally broken people. Considering that we know that this relationship has to end really badly, this isn't a terrible idea. As it is now we just have Anakin acting really creepy, Padmé telling him no... then consoling him after he admits to murdering a whole bunch of people... then telling this self-confessed murderer that she loves him. Just looking at these actions, Padmé comes across as being pretty messed up, I just wish the film did a bit more to show that this was actually what was happening.

When the film moves back to Tatooine, and the focus is less on their romance but more on Anakin finding his mother, things improve. The death of Shmi is a really good scene, and a really good motivator for Anakin's first step into the Dark Side. Seriously, Shmi get's a pretty shit deal - first she's a slave, then her son goes off to live with crazy Space Monks, and then after she's finally free and married Sand People take her prisoner for a month. A month. That's fucked up.

The trouble with both of these plots is that it means that the actual villain of the film, Count Dooku, doesn't appear until well over the half way point. He's spoken about a lot, but since the audience has no idea who he is it doesn't really mean anything. In a perfect world, Dooku would have been in The Phantom Menace, if only as a cameo. Imagine if, say, instead of Ki-Adi-Mundi, it was Dooku on the council. It would then mean a lot more when he's talked about having left the Jedi order and started the separatists. As it is, he's not there for most of the film. But he's great when he's there, I really like Christopher Lee as Dooku. I really like when he's talking to Obi-Wan, telling him the truth about how Sidious is controlling everything, and Obi-Wan just dismisses it.

The final act, which is basically just four action scenes stuck on top of each other, I actually quite like. They're all so different from each other - from the monster fight, to the army of Jedi, to the full-blown war - that it doesn't get boring. And it's interesting that, in contrast to how they were shown in the previous film, the Jedi get their asses kicked. If Yoda hadn't've shown up when he did, the Jedi would have lost horribly. And the clones! I love the clones! I love how they're Stormtroopers but with crazy sci-fi fins on their helmets. I love how they fly in ships that have mini-Death Stars on them. I love how it's kind of messed up that the Jedi just take this army they knew nothing about and just go ahead and use them anyway (admittedly they didn't have much of a choice, but still). The one bad - no, terrible - part of these scenes is the stupid and bad C3P0 side plot where he gets his head swapped and spends the whole battle making bad puns and being terrible. Fuck that.

The fourth action scene, the lightsaber fight, is the weak link here. This whole fight between Dooku, Obi-Wan, Anakin and eventually Yoda is probably the worst lightsaber-on-lightsaber fight of the prequels, and maybe even all of the films. It's just not very interesting - it takes place in a boring hangar, the choreography doesn't have anywhere near the energy that the Maul fight did, and even when Yoda joins in, it still doesn't work (mainly because it's just him hopping around everywhere while a stunt guy swings at nothing). I do like the bit where Anakin cuts the power line and the lights go out - there's one short slow motion shot that looks cool... but that's it.

And of course, the film ends once again with the bad guys winning and Sidious loving every minute. That's great.

So overall, Attack of the Clones is better in a lot of ways than The Phantom Menace. It has better characterisation, a much more interesting plot (well, part of it), and ends with a bang. But boy, the love scenes. Boy. Nothing in Phantom Menace was as bad as Anakin and Padmé rolling around in the grass. NOTHING.

Nute Gunray status: Still cool. The little "eh hehehe" laugh he gives when Padmé is clawed by the Nexu is amazing.
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I want to smell dark matter
The thing that struck me most about Episode 2 when I rewatched it before TFA came out was how badly the effects have aged. It has a lot more CG than Phantom Menace, but the CG isn't at the point it reaches in ROTS where it still looks good eleven years later. I mean look at the scene where Anakin is riding the space cow. It looks horrible. Of course for all the "TOO MUCH CGI" complains they actually had a lot of miniature sets, but they somehow don't look quite real either so everyone assumes they're just bad CG. I do like the look of Kamino and Coruscant and stuff, it's just hard not to think compare the film to a video game at times (the robot factory scene most obviously.)

I like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan a lot so the detective Obi-Wan stuff is good...but it doesn't have a satisfying ending. The whole Sifo-Dyas thing is just confusing the way it's presented. Who the fuck is Sifo-Dyas? Why does his name sound a bit like Sidious? Why don't the Jedi question more this Clone Army showing up just when they needed it? The general audience who don't use Wookieepedia or try to justify this stuff in their head must have been baffled.

Similarly, Count Dooku is quite poorly introduced. They mention him a couple of times (but the audience are clueless as to who he is) but they REALLY should have left in the scene with Obi-Wan and Jocasta Nu talking about him in the library. Christopher Lee is a lot of fun though.

Hayden's acting annoys me more than Jake Lloyd because at least Lloyd was a kid. Hayden can't even get the "couldn't find a speeder I really liked!" bantering with Obi-Wan right (he's better at this in ROTS though.)

The romance...I remember I read once that it would have worked better as a montage with just the music playing over it. And I think that's really true because the dialogue is pretty terrible there's some really nice imagery (that shot of them being led into the Genosis arena) and 'Across The Stars' is up there with the very best Star Wars music which is saying a lot given how much great music there is in Star Wars! And Padmé has so many great outfits.

I'll also COMPLAIN about the Jedi vs Battle droids sequence of the arena fight because while it's cool to see so many Jedi (Kit Fisto!) it's pretty badly edited. One minute the Jedi are just cutting through the droids as usual, then there's one shot of the droids marching forward firing and suddenly the Jedi are surrounded.

BUT there's a lot of good in there: The Coruscant chase sequence (and the Death Sticks bit), Obi-Wan's cool fight with Jango in the rain, Jango's sonic mines even if they make no sense, the figith with the creatures in the arena, Mace Windu fucking chopping Jango's head off in front of his son (I'm sure that won't warp him in any way!)...the part where Watto wants Ani to help him with some deadbeats but Ani has the power now...Palptines continued manipulations (though Ian McDiarmid isn't in the movie enough for my liking)...Padmé's stomach...and of course this...

So yeah I like TPM more, I think, but as a Star Wars fan person there's still a lot of cool stuff in AoTC that you can only get from a Star Wars.
Yeah a lot of the effects, especially the compositing of live action stuff into CGI backgrounds, hasn't held up that well. I think it's party due to, as you said, it being a weird part in CGI's development where people used it everywhere but the fidelity wasn't there to always look good, and I think it's also in part due to the fact that Attack of the Clones was the first feature film to be filmed digitally which meant that they were simply filming (and making the effects) at a much lower resolution than they were if it was on film.

At the time the idea of shooting a film entirely digitally was seen as a crazy thing to do and a fad that no director would ever use, but now it's just sort of accepted as a perfectly normal way to shoot a film.


Boobie inspector
Part of me wonders if Padme only told Anakin she loved him because she was sure they were both about to be killed, and then when they were saved she had to play along because he already told her how be killed women and children because he was upset, and she didn't want any other women and children to die because she had upset him again, which is ultimately what lead her to not want to live once she realised she had wasted years of her life, and fathered two children to this monster to save people, and he still ended up killing a load more kids anyway.
Star Wars: Clone Wars

Released between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith the Clone Wars microseries was designed to be a series of small animated short films showing the goings on during the Clone Wars. As such, the first 20 chapters are only a few minutes each, showing small action vignettes of action across the galaxy. But these small animated episodes actually had a bigger effect on Star Wars continuity than I think they ever thought they would.

Since a lot of these episode are just a few minutes long and consist of just pure action, there's less plot to talk about, and mostly just action.

Chapter One
Starting with a quick montage of battles across the galaxy, this first episode is mostly set up, establishing that Anakin and Obi-Wan are going to Muunilinst to attack the Banking Clan. Palpatine is pushing for Anakin to lead the fighter squadrons, although Obi-Wan and Yoda still think he's not ready - this is a nice set up of how Palpatine manipulates Anakin by putting him against the Jedi. Things are pretty much as they were at the end of Attack of the Clones: Obi-Wan and Anakin are still Master and Padawan, and the war is still in it's infancy.

Chapter Two
Here we are introduced to the ARC Troopers - the elite recon Clone Troopers. This episode deals with their infiltration of Muunilinst - but before that there's a quick scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan, and their relationship is pretty much as it was in Episode II - Anakin is headstrong and cocky, and rather whiney about the whole thing. They've very much taken the Hayden Christensen Anakin and put him in a cartoon. What's interesting is that Anakin and Obi-Wan are played by Mat Lucas and James Arnold Taylor, who would both go on to reprise those characters in The Clone Wars. James Arnold Taylor's impression of Ewan McGregor doing an impression of Sir Alec Guinness is not as developed as it will be, but it's still good. I was actually surprised that this was Mat Lucas though, as his Anakin voice here is much closer to Hayden Christensen here than it ever was in TCW (that's not a bad thing, as I'm sure I'll come to).

Oh yeah, ARC Troopers. After that first scene, the episode is basically dialogue-less action. Being directed by Genndy Tartakovsky it's really good dialogue-less action of the ARC Troopers entering the Muunilinst city and getting shot down by droids...

Chapter Three
Picking up where Chapter Two left off, this chapter continues the story of the ARC Troopers in their attack on Muunilinst (can I just say that 'Muunilinst' is a really fucking annoying word to type over and over again??). There's not much more to say other than it still looks really really good, and ARC Troopers are cool.

Chapter Four
With the Banking Clan shaking in their boots, San Hill (REMEMBER HIM?? FROM ATTACK OF THE CLONES???) is yelling at their Separatist commander, Durge, asking why the hell he isn't doing anything. Durge is basically just a big angry man in a suit of armour (OR IS HE??) so he just growls and walks away, only jump on a speeder with a bunch of IG droids and speed around destroying tanks. It's pretty cool.

Chapter Five
Suddenly we jump location! When these episodes we released, they were done so separately, which meant that the jumps in plot and location aren't quite as jarring as they are when you watch them all together. Anyway, this is the good shit: Kit Fisto. He's on Mon Calamari and he's got to help the Mon Calamari get rid of the Quarrens, who have allied themselves with the Separatists I guess?? Anyway, Kit Fisto is cool, and he's shirtless for most of it (why wouldn't he be?) and he does some cool force stuff underwater. It's cool because Kit Fisto. There's some weird stuff with the Quarrens, they sort of remind me of the Aquaphibians from Stingray in that they have super advanced technology but just walk around shirtless with tridents for some reason. Anyway Kit Fisto sorts them all out because he's Kit Fucking Fisto.

Chapter Six
Another location jump! Now we're on an unknown world, where a bunch of crazy creatures, robots and bounty hunters are gladiatoring it out in a big fight to the death. Count Dooku's there, and I guess he's making them fight to find his next apprentice or general or whatever (count Dooku is voiced by Corey Burton, who would also go on to voice him in TCW). But it's not really them he's there to see, it's someone else. A ~mysterious figure~ who sneaks up on him, and who he then challenges to show their fighting skills with the rest of them. The figure jumps into the ring and removes their cloak, revealing a grey, bald head.

~It's Asajj Ventress~
~This is the introduction of Asajj Ventress~
~I fucking love Asajj Ventress~

I really doubt that anyone involved in this series could have foreseen where the character of Asajj Ventress would end up, especially as she's introduced her as essentially another henchman for Dooku.

Anyway she whoops their asses using force powers and twin lightsabers - notably green and blue. And she's all "I AM SITH".

Chapter Seven
And Dooku's all "LIKE SHIT YOU ARE" and force lightings her until she's unconscious. This is when Dooku formally takes on Ventress as his assassin, all in front of a hologram of Sideous (so Sidious obviously knows about all of this), and also gifts Asajj her twin curved red lightsabers. Although this is basically just setting up a disposable villain for this series, it's really quite impressive that this episode is the start of a character arc that would span not only this series, but over five seasons of another series, and eventually a novel.

Chapter Eight
Hey check it out we're back on Muunilinst and Durge is still During along with his biker droids. Obi-Wan decides that's a pretty good idea actually and forms his own biker gang, with clones naturally. This is the first time we see Obi-Wan in Clone armour, and it sets up one very important fact: Obi-Wan looks awesome in Clone Armour.

The chapter ends with a pretty great battle between Obi-Wan and Durge, ending with Obi-Wan cutting Durge into pieces. That's that then! (SPOILERS: IT'S ACTUALLY NOT, WE SEE DURGE REFORMING WHAAAT)

Chapter Nine
Oh yeah Durge is back and he's mad. While trying to get the Muuns to surrender, Durge comes back and eventually looses his armour, revealing himself to be a big blobby tentacle thing like Tetsuo at the end of Akira. He absorbs Obi-Wan(???) and then Obi-Wan uses the force to make Durge explode from the inside(??????). It's pretty rad.

Chapter Ten
This chapter takes place in the space battle above Muunilinst, with Anakin doing some crazy flying - basically setting up the "best Star Pilot in the galaxy" line. It's a nice collection of crazy flying shit. All seems well at the end until a mysterious starfighter appears. WHO COULD IT BE (it's Asajj Ventress).


I want to smell dark matter
At the risk of coming across as not a REAL FAN, I must admit I could never get into that series. I don't know how much I even watched. I remember the Kit Fisto episode and the one where Mace Windu was punching apart tanks with his bare fists or whatever, but the rest all merges into one. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, the animation was good and it had crazy action. But as it was mostly just action and little in the way of character work I found it hard to care much. Whereas the Ahsoka series had actual good character stuff and, well, it had Ahsoka. The Ahsoka series also felt like it belonged as part of the Star Wars universe, whereas this kind of felt like a cool cartoon with Star Wars characters in it. So I don't have much to say on it. (I like San Hill and Asajj Ventress.)

Chapter Eleven
Anakin and Asajj dogfight through space and eventually through the streets of Muunilinst, attracting the attention of Obi-Wan, who calls Anakin saying "What are you doing he's obviously leading you into a trap". Asajj jumps to hyperspace, and of course Anakin is all "NO FUCK YOU DAD YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO" and jumps into hyperspace following her. This is consistent characterisation of the character of Anakin Skywalker.

Chapter Twelve
Location jump again! Now we're on Dantooine, where a boy watches a huge battle between Clones and Droids, and Mace Windu is right in the middle of it. There's like a Droid super weapon that stamps down on things?? It's weird.

Chapter Thirteen

While Episode I portrayed the Jedi as a wild force of nature, here Mace Windu is shown to be basically a superhero, making giant leaps into the air and force-punching Super Battle Droids apart with his bare hands (and the force). It's extremely exaggerated, and only works because Tartakovsky makes it look so cool. I guess you could argue that it's supposed to be from the point of view of the kid watching it all, hence why it's so crazy and over the top (because a Jedi is essentially a superhero to a normal person), which is interesting.

Chapter Fourteen
The narrative switches again, and now we're on the snow planet of Illum, where Luminara Unduli is teaching her Padawan Barriss Offee about the construction of a lightsaber. It's cool to see them both, as this is the first time (in what I'm watching) they've ever been identified as master and apprentice - they were barely together at all in Attack of the Clones! They're attacked by cloaked droids, which is bad, but luckily Yoda - who is on Padmé's ship getting a lift from her somewhere - senses their danger and goes to help.

Chapter Fifteen
Yoda pursades Padmé to change course and rescue the Jedi by using the force to persuade Captain Typho because Captain Typho's an idiot, I guess. That's pretty messed up, Yoda. Anthony Daniels is the only member of the film cast to reprise his role, because Anthony Daniels will take literally any job.

Chapter Sixteen
Yoda sets out to rescue Luminara and Barriss on his own, while Padmé, Typho, 3P0 and R2D2 stay with the ship. Of course, Padmé being Padmé she goes off and finds some droids to fight. Also Padmé looks cute as hell in her snow bunny outfit.

Chapter Seventeen
Anakin has followed Asajj's ship to a moon of a giant red planet, with a lot of old temples... (it's Yavin IV). Anakin's also mad because Obi-Wan sent a squad of Clone Troopers after him to make sure he doesn't mess things up. Anakin messes things up by letting Asajj murder all of the Troopers, destroying their ship, and even destroying Anakin's ship and the droid inside. This makes Anakin really mad, and they prepare to fight.

Chapter Eighteen
The fight between Asajj and Anakin is, like all of the action in this series, really well done. Running and fighting in the treetops of Yavin, they perform moves that only really work in animation, and would either look really stupid or just plain not work in live action. The climax of the episode is the two of them facing off against each other as it starts to rain, with the water hissing as it hit's their lightsabers. It's a really good lightsaber-on-lightsaber fight, that matches the ferocity of what we saw in The Phantom Menace.

Chapter Nineteen
The fight continues in the rain, and eventually atop one of the old Massassi temples. Losing his lightsaber, Anakin gives into his anger and uses one of Asajj's red lightsabers to beat her and knock her off the top of the temple, as flashes of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Qui-Gon appear on the screen. It's pretty cool and another step down the dark path for Anakin.

Chapter Twenty
This is it, this is the one everyone was waiting for: The introduction of General Grevious. Stranded in their crashed ship, a group of Jedi including Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, Sha'a Gi (no really) and the cutest Shaak Ti you ever did see. No really look how cute Shaak Ti looks in this art style:


Since Grevious was still in early development, all the team working on this show had to go on was his design (which still wasn't 100% locked down at this point), the fact that he hunts Jedi, and the fact that he uses lightsabers. Everything else they basically had to guess, and they were pretty close. He his portrayed here as an unstoppable killing machine - he's not quite yet the moustache-twirling Transylvanian that we would see later, but more of a generic evil robot dude. He does use what would become his signature move: Spinning a lightsaber around really fast. He's also a lot more inventive with his fighting, including doing stuff like holding lightsabers with his feet.

Grevious pretty much wipes out the entire group of Jedi, leaving just Ki-Adi-Mundi to face him...

Chatper Twenty-One
This is the first chapter of the second batch of episodes. These episodes were made a lot closer to Revenge of the Sith being released, and were also longer, with a larger focus on setting up RotS directly. After resolving the cliffhanger from the last chapter - the ARC Troopers rescue the Jedi, with only Ki-Adi, Aayle and Shaak Ti (I.E., the ones actually in the films) surviving. Once that's done, the episode goes to dump a whole lot of plot on us: 3P0 gets his gold plating, Anakin gets knighted, Padmé gives R2 over to Anakin as a gift, and Anakin gets his scar. For a series that has been pretty plot light, it's a bit of a change.

Anakin getting knighted is the most important part of this, and so gets the most focus. The Jedi Council agrees that, despite the fact that Anakin hasn't undergone the Jedi Trials, he has still proven himself worth of being a Knight. Obi-Wan is Anakin's biggest supporter in this, which is nice of him! Yoda cuts off Anakin's padawan braid, and Anakin sends it to Padmé, who puts it next to the Japor snippet Anakin gave her way back in The Phantom Menace - which is a nice touch! From there we go into a montage of Anakin being a really good Jedi during the Clone Wars, this is where a certain other Clone Wars series fits in...

Slight continuity note - this all matches up pretty perfectly with The Clone Wars, except that in the montage of Anakin's Jedi antics he flies a Revenge of the Sith style Jedi starfighter (Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor). As the entire montage takes place before The Clone Wars series (as part of it involves him getting his scar, which he has throughout The Clone Wars series), he should be flying the old-style Delta-7 fighter. This is probably because this montage was originally placed much closer to Revenge of the Sith, whereas now we know it has to take place a lot earlier in the Clone Wars, before the entire The Clone Wars series.

One important thing this series gives gives us a look at, which The Clone Wars will expand upon, is what Anakin's like when he's not around Padmé. It's important to note that we basically never see Anakin away from Padmé during the entirety of Attack of the Clones, and the few times we do he's talking about Padmé anyway. This gives us a chance to see the more normal, heroic side of Anakin, when he's not being creepy and awkward around that girl he likes.

Overall, for a series that was designed basically to be a series of action vignettes, it ended up adding several important moments into the Star Wars canon (admittedly mostly in the last 5 minutes of Chapter 21). While this series is now technically non-canon, jumping from the end of Attack of the Clones right to the start of The Clone Wars (the 3D one), you're still missing a few important events, as they were already explained here.


Boobie inspector
In the novel Shatterpoint, its revealed that Mace Windu has the power to see exactly where to hit something to break it with minimal force.

Its a hand waving retcon for the cartoon, and certainly nothing we saw happen in live action.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Episode 216 - Cat and Mouse

A wise leader knows when to follow.

An impenetrable defense! Separatist ships blockade the resource-rich planet of Christophsis, trapping Senator Bail Organa and his relief Effort. Desperate to aid the esteemed Senator, a Republic task force under the command of Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker must break the impasse. But time runs short for the Senator and the good citizens of Christophsis....

It feels weird starting The Clone Wars in the middle of a season 2 episode, but this is chronologically the first one since the first three seasons of TCW is all messed up, timeline wise. It actually worked a lot better as a bridge episode between Clone Wars and The Clone Wars (note the 'The') than I was expecting, with it basically being a short submarine drama, focusing on the character of Anakin. Since the last thing we saw Anakin do in Clone Wars was get Knighted, this is our first really look at Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight.

What's great about his characterisation now is that he's still the headstrong, cocky and argumentative person he has been previously, but now about 100% less creepy, and a lot more relatable as a person. During the course of the episode, his headstrong nature doesn't always work, and he has to work out a way of fixing the mistake he made - by being about as equally headstrong, all while arguing with Obi-Wan. It's a really nice balance between the character we saw in Attack of the Clones, and a character we actually think could be an honoured hero.

We also get our first climpse into some of the other ideas of the Clone War, namely how the clone intereact with each other, and the fact that there are non-Jedi, non-Clone officers for the Republic, and non-Droid Admirals for the Separatists. This is the first time we see Admiral "Moustache" Yularen, and he gets a nice bit of backstory with Admiral Trench.

Speaking of Admiral Trench, he's a really good villian, being part crazy sci-fi character (he's a really big spider person) but also a credible threat. It's a mix that feels distinctly "Star Wars", and really feels distinctly George Lucas - more so than, say, Durge did in Clone Wars.

Overall - a good episode, and a really good bridge between the 2D series and the 3D series. I really can't wait to watch more of the 3D series. SO...

Episode 116 - The Hidden Enemy

Truth enlightens the mind, but won't always bring happiness to your heart.

A planet under siege! Separatist forces mercilessly batter the beautiful and elegant world of Christophsis. Unable to defend themselves any longer, the people of Christophsis call upon the Jedi for assistance. Hoping to save lives and prevent further destruction, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker plan a daring ambush which can turn the tide in the fight for this crucial star system...

Jumping back an entire season, this episode gives us our first real look at who the clones are, and introduces us to two of our main Clone characters: Rex and Cody. The episode establishes that while all the clones are, well, identical, they all have their own idiosyncrasies that makes them unique. It also introduces the idea that a Clone might not necessarily be good. It does feel a bit early to introduce the idea of a "traitor Clone", since we haven't really had a good chance to get to know the clones yet (this makes more sense when viewed as a later episode of season 1). Either way, the mystery of who the traitorous clone is really well done, and gives us a good look at who Rex and Cody are.

The other plot in this episode is Obi-Wan and Anakin being lured into a trap by none other than Asajj Ventress. Since there's no "I thought you were dead" moment, and because Obi-Wan seems to have met her already, there are some implied meetings between these characters between Asajj's battle with Anakin on Yavin IV and this. Nika Futterman is so good as Asajj, and gives her a sense of character and depth that the character never really had in the other series. This is mostly expressed in the best way possible: Outrageous flirting with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

This is another good episode, a great mix of action and plot, that gives us more insight into who the clones actually are, and also Asajj Ventress is there and I fucking love Asajj Ventress.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

A galaxy divided! Striking swiftly after the Battle of Geonosis, Count Dooku's droid army has seized control of the major hyperspace lanes, separating the republic from the majority of its clone army. With few clones available, the Jedi generals cannot gain a foothold on the Outer Rim as more and more planets choose to join Dooku's Separatists. While the Jedi are occupied fighting a war, no one is left to keep the peace. Chaos and crime spread, and the innocent become victims in a lawless galaxy. Crime lord Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped by a rival band of pirates. Desperate to save his son, Jabba puts out a call for help — a call the Jedi are cautious to answer…
IT'S SO WEIRD TO HAVE A STAR WARS FILM START WITH THE WARNER BROTHERS LOGO. If you look back into TK's archive you can probably find my original review of this film back in 2008. As I recall, it wasn't very positive... Looking at it now as just a small part of The Clone Wars, rather than a new Star Wars film, it holds up a bit better, but is still rife with problems.

This is the "proper" start of The Clone Wars series, and as such there's a noticeable difference in quality, even when comparing it to an episode at the end of Season 1. The animation is stiffer, the lighting doesn't look as good, and it just generally doesn't look as polished as it would do later. While released as a feature film, what this actually is is the first four episodes of the series - The New Padawan / Castle of Deception / Castle of Doom / Castle of Salvation - stitched together into a feature. And it's because of this the film has most of it's problems, mainly it's pacing. The first 25 minutes (the first episode) is dealing with a totally different plot than the rest of the film: The introduction of Ahsoka and the battle of Christophsis (taking place soon after the end of "The Hidden Enemy").

OK, let's talk about Ahsoka. Now she is, in my opinion, the most important Star Wars character that has never been in an episodic Star Wars film. Back then when this came out, she was just "Anakin's annoying padawan". You can tell they're still trying to figure out what sort of tone this series is going to have, and Ahsoka's nicknames "Skyguy, Artooie" are a part of all that. In the context of the rest of the show, and Ahsoka's appearances in Star Wars in general this stuff is a lot more tolerable, because we know it's the start of a character arc rather than how the character will always be. And Ahsoka starts off a lot like Anakin - headstrong, with a lot to prove, and a little bit reckless. Putting her with Anakin is an interesting mix because it both shows off where Anakin is more mature than her, but also highlights where he very much isn't. It's a good way of showing how Anakin has grown from Attack of the Clones while still highlighting that he's not without his flaws.

After the Chrstophsis stuff... I think it's pretty boring? Okay, the vertical fight up the cliff is cool, and it;s cool to see Jabba again (although at this point all we've seen of Jabba has been at the podrace back in The Phantom Menace), but the trouble is the rescue of Jabba's son doesn't really tell us a lot about The Clone Wars, or let the characters do anything interesting. The most interesting it gets is when it forces Anakin to retrn to Tatooine, as the last time he was there some Very Bad Things happened, but apart from that it's really strange that the first big plot in The Clone Wars isn't really about The Clone Wars that much. The plot with Padmé and Ziro is fine, mostly - I don't have that much of a problem with Truman Capote The Hutt, but it gets introduced way to late (because it would've been part of the fourth episode) and so feels like it comes out of nowhere.

One of the interesting things about this getting a theatrical release is that it meant they got a couple of the film actors to come back to provide the voices for their characters: Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu and Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. Jackson coming back as Windu seems rather wasted, as A) Mace Windu doesn't really do anything here, and B) Jackson doesn't really seem to be interested in giving a good performance. Having gotten used to T.C. Carson's Mace Windu, it just seems sort of wrong hearing Samuel L Jackson's voice come out of the animated character. Lee fares much better, and seems like a natural fit to the animated character, and he actually gives a good performance. Plus it's really cool to hear Christopher Lee as Count Dooku say "Ventress".

Speaking of Asajj Ventress, she's in this, and she's cool - even if she is basically the disposable henchwoman. Her inclusion is one of a small number of things that Dave Filoni brought back from the Tartakovsky series, as well as a lot of the voice cast (although it is a different voice actor for Anakin, I was mistaken before), Obi-Wan wearing clone armour (although not as much as he did before, and this was also done for animation reasons) and the fact that Rex is dressed like an ARC Trooper. He didn't need to have these callbacks, but it's nice that he did as it helps tie things together.

Overall, as the first few episodes of a TV show they're not terrible, just not very interesting. But this really should never have hit the big screen, ever.


I want to smell dark matter
I like to think characters like Admiral Trench came about by George Lucas walking into a room, saying "Dave, give me a SPIDER GENERAL!" then walking out again. And Dave Filoni isn't entirely sure if he's serious but does it anyway then shows it to George and Lucas smiles and says "that's exaclty what I wanted!"

I really liked the Obi-Wan/Ventress flirting. When I read Dark Disciple I could picture any scene with them together (there weren't enough of them really) in my head perfectly because the relationship was so well done on the show.

I thought the Clone Wars movie was "okay" when I first watched it. Of course I was watching on DVD and not in the cinema. I can't imagine how it would look on the big screen. Probably not good! I remember a bit where Obi-Wan had tea with an enemy general and it was kind of weird?

Stinky the Hutt was cool and we should see more of him.
Episode 301 - Clone Cadets

Brothers in arms are brothers for life.

Clone troopers unite! As war rages across the galaxy, the Republic's clone army strives for victory against the evil forces of the Separatists. Bravery, valor, unity -- the lifeblood of victory on the battlefield and in space.

It all begins on the planet Kamino, where Jedi General Shaak Ti oversees the training of clones with the help of contracted bounty hunters. Bred to be perfect soldiers, these cadets must first be subjected to intense physical and mental training before heading off to war....
Having episodes about clones is a really hard thing to do, especially in this episode where the clones are supposed to be just starting out, and don't have a lot of individuality yet. As such you get an episode where the main characters look exactly the same and sound exactly the same. But yet... it works? Like I literally have no idea why it works, but it does. Somehow the animators and Dee Bradley Baker (who is the MVP of this entire series) manage to make us care about each different clone, and as such episodes like this work really well. This is the first time we meet Domino Squadron, and seeing them each grow as individuals; each with their own different personalities, and eventually picking their own nickname, is a great way to establish that the Clones are characters worth caring about. It's important to establish this, as otherwise the only characters you're really caring about are the Jedi, most of whom have plot armour anyway. Of course we also have characters like 99, where we see that not all Clones are equal, and that "bad batches" exist.

We get to see how the Jedi and the Kaminoans see the clones, with the Kaminoans seeing them literally as a product, and the Jedi (or Shaak Ti at least) seeing them as people. It's great that even though we see Shaak Ti, a Jedi we trust, working alongside the Kaminoans we still don't get the sense that they are in any way to be trusted.

It's cool to see ARC Troopers again, and since we saw their heroics back in the Clone Wars series it's kind of nice to have this series acknowledge that and have the rookie Troopers see them as heroes.

It's also nice to see Shaak Ti again, although she is less adorable now, she's still great. I guess she got better after getting her ass kicked by Grievous and took an easier job on Kamino with the Clones.

Overall this is a great establishing episode focusing on the Clones as people, and setting up Domino Squadron. The only part that doesn't really work is the asshole instructor bounty hunter deliberately setting up Domino Squadron to fail, which comes off as a bit forced (especially when he beats up Cutup), but at least he realises he was wrong in the end.

I like Domino Squad! I sure hope we seem them again and they all live a long time!
Episode 303 - Supply Lines

Where there's a will, there's a way.

A world under siege! The Separatists have launched a massive offensive against the planet Ryloth. A blockade of deadly battleships has cut off any support for the dwindling Republic defenses.

Though they have fought valiantly with the help of Twi'lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla, hope is fading for Jedi Master Di and his men as the droid army closes in....

There's a lot about this episode that's very similar to The Phantom Menace: There's a blockade of a planet, there's a lot of time spent on political negotiations against the Trade Federation, and Jar-Jar's there. But this episode, in just 25 minutes, manages to do basically all of those elements in a much better way than TPM ever did.

The negotiation plot works mainly because a) a lot simpler than what TPM's talks were about, and b) we actually know what's at stake. In The Phantom Menace we're told a lot that the Federation's blockade of the planet is a very bad thing, but never really shown it. As such, when Padmé is trying to convince the sentate to get it sorted out, there's never really any stakes. This episode fixes this problem by constantly cutting between the negotiations on Toydaria and Master Di and Cham Syndulla (who I'm sure won't turn out to have any significance in the future!) defending the people of Ryloth. This also has the benefit of making sure the episode never gets too boring - after they've talked about the ethics of sending supplies through the Separatist blockade for a while, the episode cuts back to Ryloth for some action.

Master Di (full name Ima-Gun Di, guess what he does at the end of the episode!), a one-off Jedi for this episode, is really well realised and you're very quickly made to care about him and his clones. It makes his sacrifice and last stand at the end of the episode legitimacy very powerful, and easily the best part of the episode. I also dig that the human Admiral, Dao, who dies at the start of the episode has awesome 70's sideburns which makes him feel like he's just stepped off the set of Star Wars.

I also like how Toydaria is given it's own culture and identity, instead of just being a planet of Wattos like it would've been in a darker time of the Star Wars EU when all Rodians were bounty hunters, all Twi'Lek women were slave girls and Mandalore was a planet of Boba Fetts.

Even Jar-Jar works in this episode, mainly as he actually seems relatively competent now, while still being a big goofball. He even gets to use his "clumsiness" as a skill by distracting the Trade Federation while the Rebpublic ships leave for Ryloth (and I love the Nemoidian who gets really into Jar-Jar's antics).

It's actually impressive how balanced this episode is, considering it's similarities to TPM. Many lessons were learnt, it seems.

Episode 101 - Ambush

Great leaders inspire greatness in others.

A galaxy divided by war! Peaceful worlds must choose sides or face the threat of invasion. Republic and Separatist armies vie for the allegiance of neutral planets.

Desperate to build a Republic supply base on the system of Toydaria, Jedi Master Yoda travels to secret negotiations on a remote neutral moon....

Hey we're finally on the first episode of season one! One of the bad things about watching The Clone Wars in chronological order like this is that the differences in the quality of the animation is really noticeable when you're jumping from season 3 back to season 1. Not that this episode looks bad, far from it, but there's just a noticeable lack of detail in a lot of the environments, and the animation still isn't quite as natural as it was in Supply Lines.

This episode is essentially a bit of a character piece on Yoda, giving us our first real chance to see what Yoda in the Clone Wars is actually like. The Yoda we see here is still very much the Yoda we in both Phantom Menace and Clones, but for the first time we see a lighter side of Yoda (maybe apart from when Yoda was with the younglings), and we also get to see just how powerful Yoda actually is. While it may seem odd that we only start to see a slightly more playful Yoda during a galaxy wide war, he really only shows it off here because he knows this is a situation that he can easily handle as he's only facing off against droids and Ventress (who is still awesome, by the way). Even though the Clones he's with seem to think it's impossible, Yoda is always sure that they'll be able to win.

It's also interesting to see that Yoda, like Shaak Ti before him, also sees the Clones as individuals, even going as far as saying that every Clone feels difference in The Force. There's a nice little scene where Yoda talks to the Clones about this, made super effective by the fact that it's one of the few times in this series that composer Kevin Kiner drops in a theme from the films (Yoda's theme, in this case), making it clear that yes - this is the Yoda we know and love.

For such an early episode it's quite well done. There's an obvious lack of polish compared to Supply Lines, but it's a good "short adventure in the Clone Wars" episode.


I want to smell dark matter
That Jar-Jar!

I remember the Yoda episode fondly as at the time I wasn't sure how good TCW was going to be. I thought it would probably have entertaining action but not much depth. But then the scene where he was talking to the clones about the force came and I thought "hey, this is pretty good!" I never worried about the quality of the series again (well, until that four part droid episode...and the one where Padme investigates poisoned coke or something.)
Episode 102 - Rising Malevolence

Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction.

The clone star fleet is under siege! Dozens of Republic warships have been destroyed in merciless surprise attacks that leave no survivors. Rumors spread of a terrible new Separatist weapon.

In the face of growing fear, the Jedi Council sends Master Plo Koon to hunt down the menace before it strikes again....

Hey, this is the first time I've watch two episodes of this show in order!

Focusing mainly on the relationship between Anakin and Ahsoka, this episode highlights the differences in Anakin both now that he is a Jedi Knight and now that he has a Padawan. WIth Plo Koon in need of rescue, the dilemma Ahsoka faces here is the same one Anakin faced in Attack of the Clones - go after a loved one, or stay and do your duty. Whereas back then Anakin followed his emotions, here he tells Ahsoka not to disobey the Council's orders... before disobeying the Council's orders. The lesson he's teaching Ahsoka is, of course, not that orders must be obeyed, but that there's a better way of disobeying orders. It's a nice advancement from where he was in AotC (where he was basically Ahsoka), but still keeps him as the troublemaker who goes off and does his own thing. It also shows that Anakin might not be the best influence on Ahsoka...

Even though this is only the first time we've seen her since The Clone Wars film, Ahsoka's already been toned down to more tolerable levels. She's still Sky-guying up the place, but her complaining and arguing with Anakin at least comes from a relatable place - she wants to save her friend.

We also get our first real look at Plo Koon in this episode, who up until now has just been "that guy in the background at the Jedi Temple". And yeah, he's Plo Kool. It's nice that he has backstory with Ahsoka (and calls her "Little 'soka") as it's a quick way to get us to care about his character. The scenes with Plo and his Bros in the escape pod are well done, especially as they watch their fellow Clones get blown out into space by the droids, which is pretty fucked up actually.

SO YEAH, solid episode overall. Nothing amazing, but pretty good.

Episode 103 - Shadow of Malevolence

Easy is the path to wisdom for those not blinded by themselves.

A deadly weapon, unleashed! The Separatist battleship ''Malevolence'' advances unopposed through Republic space, tearing apart any ship that stands in its path.

After a daring rescue and narrow escape, Anakin Skywalker prepares a counterattack on the enemy ship and its diabolical droid commander, General Grievous....

While the previous episode was about Ahsoka emotions blinding her to a better solution, this episode is now about Anakin doing the same thing. In this case, he concocts a daring plan to fly a group of bombers through a nebula specifically not just to attack the Malevolence, but to kill Grevious himself. Eventually it turns out this plan was too reckless and would have been impossible, and it takes Ahsoka to let him see that an alternate plan - just crippling the ship's weapon - is a better course of action. Since these episodes are still introducing us to the Anakin/Ahsoka dynamic, it's a good pair to show both how Anakin is influencing Ahsoka as well as Ahsoka influencing Anakin, with Ahsoka being the voice of reason in this case.

The actual attack and bombing run is well done, mostly because Y-Wings are pretty cool, and I especially like this Clone Wars design. It's a nice mix of prequel aesthetics but with enough Y-Wing that it still reminds you of the Rebel ships (that we won't see for a while yet!). Plo Koon is, still, Plo Kool.

These episodes are the first time we've seen Grievous since his introduction back in Clone Wars. As this series was made after Revenge of the Sith, this is an obviously more 'accurate' portrayal of the character. He's less Jedi killing badass and more Saturday Morning Cartoon villain, "Mwua ha ha ha"-ing as he destroys enemy ships. I actually think this is a more interesting version of the character, as it gives him more personality - and more flaws - than if he were an unstoppable killer.

Episode 104 - Destroy Malevolence

A plan is only as good as those who see it through.

Grievous in retreat! Before the battleship Malevolence could destroy an Outer Rim clone medical base, a Republic strike force, under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, crippled the warship, disabling its dreaded ion cannon.

Now the Jedi relentlessly pursue the Malevolence....
After watching the first proper arc of the series, what's impressive is how each episode is actually very different - one being about a tense search-and-rescue, the next being essentially a WWII bomber film, and this one being an action-adventure rescue. It's this episode that feels the most "Star Wars"-y, with the rescue plot being something straight out of the 1930's serials that inspired the whole thing in the first place -there's also a lot of deliberate parallels with Leia's rescue from the Death Star.

We get some back character interaction, mainly between Anakin and Obi-Wan (Ahsoka isn't doing much in this episode), and a brief hint of the romance between Anakin and Padmé. There's even a slight comic side story with 3P0, which is like his comic side story in Attack of the Clones only about 40% less shit. It's interesting that this episode is mainly focused around characters from the films, it makes it feel much more connected to Attack of the Clones since it's repeating the same interactions, and it also isn't having to introduce anything to the story. It just does feel like a mini-Star Wars adventure in a 25-minute bite, complete with a Star Wars style ending shot comprising all of the prequel characters (Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padmé, 3P0 and R2), something we never actually got in the prequels themselves.

These episodes are a really solid start to the series, even if they don't seem to offer anything more than "more adventures of our heroes in the Clone Wars!".