Star Wars:The Clone Wars
"Insolence? We are pirates! We don't even know what that means!"
- – Hondo Onaka
"The Republic couldn't have asked for better soldiers, Nor I a better friend."
- – Ahsoka Tano
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, also known as TCW, is a 3D computer animated cartoon created by Lucasfilm before the days of the dread lord Kathleen Kennedy, and released on Cartoon Network until its cancellation. Despite a rough start (not uncommon for TV shows as they get) the series was incredibly popular for a number of reasons: its dark tone, amazing character development, the entire goddamn clone army and their balls of steel, and generally being what the prequels were trying to be.
The premise is pretty simple: adventures set in the Clone Wars era. This gave us the ability to explore life in all kinds of different ways: willingness to help others during war, the meaning of being a good soldier, the dangers of corporations in government, political tribalism, the evils and justifications of corrupt leaders, crime in nations devoted to total war, and even stuff like the dangers of revenge and touching on the debate of destiny. Most of these are served on the side, while we get some kickass action sequences that would make C.S. Goto greener than a 3-day old Ork with jealousy.
Some tend to pass it as just a kids show due to it being an animated series but doing so would be a mistake: Despite having a low age rating, it deals with topics that most kids would probably not even be able to understand, such as war profiteering, war economy and corruption. Some arcs also get more grimdark, such as an arc dealing with Trandoshans who kidnap children and then set them free on their planet to hunt them for sport, an arc dealing with an empire whose economy is based solely on slave trade and many arcs which deal with war and its consequences. Some bits are also quite violent, with the show being able to keep its low age rating only due to it hiding most of the graphic stuff with camera-angles.
Generally, it is regarded as the best of the animated series released by Lucasfilm. Disney, having realised this, is getting their rears in gear after the disaster that was Star Wars: Resistance and gave us an incredible, harrowing final season... on their own streaming service.
The Origins of The Clone Wars were to act primarily as a stop gap series until the next money making idea that George Lucas could create. He got together with a team in order to shill a novel idea: tell the story of the Clone Wars, something that they were never able to do with the movies due to time constraints.
Funnily enough, a man named Dave Filoni (Who had plenty of experience on ATLA and Boondocks before this) created one of the first characters on the show: A young Togruta girl who later became Ahsoka.
Technically, there are two series called similar titles. The first was 2003's Star Wars: Clone Wars, an animated miniseries made by Genndy Tartakovsky (He of Dexter's Lab and Samurai Jack fame) chronicling, among other things, the titular Clone Wars and introducing a much more sinister General Grievous to the world.
But then we have The Clone Wars, a CGI animated series (and tie-in movie) that we'll be talking about more and contributed more to the EU. One of the most universally known and loved parts of Star Wars, most fans worth their action figures and limited edition movie sets have watched the show and have an opinion on it one way or another. Some of the most notable characteristics are:
- The Clone Troopers are fleshed out, and we see that they are manly motherfuckers who make Guardsmen's balls of steel look like the cardboard their armour is made out of (seriously, in the movie, they literally charge straight into close combat with giant armoured walkers with large guns, jump off roofs to get on top of them to shoot them point blank, and punch droids in the face)
- Anakin Skywalker is actually a good, fleshed out character, with a good voice actor and shows his descent to child-murdering Force-choking asshat wasn't just him going 'welp, guess I'll fall to the Dark Side.' There was a fair amount of bad-cop “it was him or me” murder to get there, along with several pretty significant personal losses and displays of incompetence from his superiors in the Order.
- Introduces Ahsoka Tano, a major character who's a female Togruta Jedi that's well-written, non-OP, non-Mary Sue and doesn't invalidate characters from the movies. Starts off a bit annoying in the Clone Wars movie, but manages to do something truly special: she learns. Over the course of Clone Wars and Rebels, Ahsoka probably has the most character development out of any other Star Wars character.
- Obi-Wan being a sexy one-liner spouting sarcastic badass.
- And many others.
However, there were some pretty derp moments too, such as
- Babysitting episode/movie.
- D-squad, where a bunch of droids become heroes of the Republic.
- Mandalore and how its fluff was basically screwed 180 degrees, and then some. (Skub, depending on your exact POV).
- Droids were comic relief of the first and second seasons. It was annoying.
- Grievous, and how his character went from 'BBEG' to 'Can't beat a Padawan'.
All in all, it was a good show that took some time to find its feet.
After many years, a seventh season was announced in an attempt to take away from The Last Jedi being shit and add something to the empty Disney Plus lineup. At least some of the episodes will be ones that were in production when the show ended. It promptly disappeared after that announcement for a couple years till it was announced it was going to come out in 2019. And when it did, it blew pretty much everyone away, with fantastic animation, great storytelling, and a harrowing final few episodes. Maul's speech to Ahsoka in particular is downright chilling when you realize he's 100% sincere, is afraid of what's coming, and genuinely wants to try and stop it.
Ok...the first Season is a rough patch that has a some golden moments sprinkled throughout. Part of these problems stem from early show stuff, and the limits of their ability to animate. One in particular was a scene where to characters were fist fighting, and looked like two Fire Warriors in a melee phase.
BUT, nonetheless, there were some good episodes and good characterization. Among them were Plo Koon as space Gandalf, Aayla Secura as hot alien chick who now has a voice (Jennifer Hale, which means Aayla shares a VA with Samus... and gets a sexy French accent), the Awesomeness that is sarcastic Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin's voice actor, and the fifth episode of the series, where the clones really shine on their own, some of which later return. Speaking of clones, special note to Dee Bradley Baker, who literally voices dozens of different clones, each with unique Personalities and voices. Did we mention he does this for 7 seasons? No? Well remember that you twit.
Season two is much better and more watchable than the majority of Season One. Pick a random episode in Season Two, and there is a good chance it is better than almost anything in Season One. Season two is notorious for not only the bounty hunters being a part of no less than three separate storylines, but introduces us to what we would later see out of this series, particularly the Battle of Geonosis arc, which was no less than four episodes of intense, attrition warfare with all the explosions and casualties a die hard fa/tg/uy could ever need, with a special brew of horror on the side to boot.
Another introduction in Season Two is Mandalore, which will become a staple in the rest of the series. The big problem with Mandalore is how it retcons Mandalorians from their original awesome state as warriors to having abandoned that past, and those who embrace that warrior tradition being terrorists. The storyline itself is actually a great political series of episodes with sporadic action, but to fans of the old Mandalorians, it was practically a slap in the face. Season Two also did something in one Episode that the entirety of Attack of the Clones couldn't do: show a genuine romance and love between Anakin and Padme.
This is where things get legit. At this point, the sailing becomes real smooth. It is rare to find a one off episode at this point in the series, as everything is arcs now. Clones from the first season return here, and man do you grow a connection with them. We also get more "criminal underworld" and "political subterfuge" episodes here, which despite not having people getting gunned down in droves, are still entertaining to watch and not overly boring.
Of particular note is that Anakin and Ahsoka start to really come into focus here, with a three episode Arc alone exploring Anakin in a super weird realm called Mortis, with Ahsoka getting her own self contained arc in the Season Finale. Anakin is able to hold off the equivalent of the Force's Chaos Gods, while Ahsoka singlehandedly kicks the butt of Trandoshans, coincidentally also introducing fan favourite furball Chewbacca. There are also some moments here that downright sting your heart. Definitely worth suffering through the first season to watch this.
Half-way through the season, the animation also got a major overhaul with new and better models for everything, turning the series from an odd-looking animation to one of the best-looking 3D-animations out there. The best way I would describe it is that it looks like an animated concept art. Seriously, pause at right moments and you always couldn't tell that it's from an animated series.
Hot dang, this is where stuff gets insane. Not only does the violence escalate substantially, but so does the production quality and storytelling. It's mostly more of the same stuff from Season Three, except for two major, and by association awesome, differences: Umbara, and The Return of Maul. Umbara is unique in that it hammers on on the clones, and looks so good that you might mistake it for a theatrical film if you didn't see it on Cartoon Network. Clones get zapped by what are effectively Necron Gauss weapons, crushed by Necron-battlesuit hybrids, eaten by wild animals, serve under a ruthless new commander who sees them as cannon fodder... all the while fighting through it like complete chads with their
Mars Kaminoan pattern balls of steel. The other story arcs are fantastic, but Umbara is one of the best, and explores many of the questions seen above at the beginning of the page. It is regarded as one of the best arcs in the show for good reason.
But the return of Maul is... amazing. His entire motivation is revenge, and the way they show Obi-Wan rise above it proves he truly has the high ground. Unlike in The Phantom Menace, Maul gets plenty of screen time to be fleshed out as a very talkative, profound character, a trait that will define him for the reminder of his appearances in media, mouse or pre-mouse. He also teams up with his younger brother, the Star Wars equivalent of a Khornate Bezerker, and the two go around cutting through fools like a hot knife through butter.
Season Five was once supposed to be the last Season, and it really zeroes in on Ahsoka. It shows how she has changed, and even uses General Grievous to show this. It also continues Maul's story, showing how much of a genius he is, and speaks volumes of him as a character. This also introduces us to what will later become the early foundations of the Rebel Alliance in an Arc that takes place on Onderon.
But the finale of this Season is both heart wrenching and awesome at the same time. But lo and behold, shortly after this season was complete, the series was cancelled by Cartoon Network.
This is where the Paywalls start, and...yeah. Netflix agreed to take on the Clone Wars for a brief period of time, allowing those diehard fans to watch the last episodes. These episodes are dark, but the focus becomes less on the war, and really hits hard on the themes of the Corruption of the Jedi, the Nature of the Force, and guest Appearances of Mark Hamil and Liam Neeson as Darth Bane and Qui-gon respectively.
This season also sees the end of another fan loved character in what is truly a tragic arc, and Mace Windu and the Temple of Doom. No, we're not joking. Go watch Indiana Jones, then watch this arc. The season also has an arc focusing on Yoda, for the first time since the first episode of the series and this time, we get to see him be the learner, not the master.
Unfortunately, after this season, the series was cancelled again, seemingly for good. As Lucasfilm Animation started to work on Star Wars:Rebels, it seemed as this series will forever lack a true ending. Until six years after cancellation:
Beautiful. Assuming you paid the mouse for a Disney + subscription, then you know that it's just about worth every cent you spent. If the reason you got Disney + was to watch this, then you almost certainly got your money's worth from it. The Seventh Season is so good, that we could write a whole page alone on why it works, and why the characterization is far ahead of anything else currently or maybe even ever produced, with only ATLA maybe beating it in regards to animated shows.
There are three separate arcs: An arc for Captain Rex, which introduces a group named Bad Batch, who are getting their own series later. Then there is an arc for Ahsoka that most people will say they hated and yes, considering that this is the last season made years after cancellation of the series, it does feel a bit underwhelming. Finally there is an arc for the both Ahsoka and Rex that takes place before, during, and shortly after Order 66 with major focus on Maul and Mandalore. This arc really makes the series end on a high note as it is arguably the best arc of the whole series, and some might even argue that it overshadows anything done in any of the movies. Special credit goes to Sam Witwer, who's voicework with Darth Maul makes him not only iconic, but hyper-accentuates the dread and horror of Order 66. As if dead kids and Aayla Secura getting full auto'ed in the back wasn't enough.And considering he was the "whiny bitch" from Force Unleashed is doubly awesome.
Non-Exhaustive List of Awesome
- Dee Bradley Baker (so many clones with different personalities and he voices them all)
- Clones in general
- Anakin and his Characterization
- Obi-Wan as a one-lining sarcastic chad
- Ahsoka as an actually good female character (Looking at you Rey).
- The writing
- The cinematography in general
- The show's embrace of side characters and using them effectively
- Pre-episode intro's which play out like Republic propaganda
- Matthew Wood (who voices all the battle droids plus General Grievous, Watt Tambor, Poggle the Lesser and the Senate Guards to boot. Chances are if a non-major male voice isn't Dee Bradley Baker, it's Matthew Wood)
- Admiral Tarkin
- Captain Rex, Fives, Echo all get special recognition as some of the best clones, though there are many good ones.
- Death Watch
- The dark tone and willingness to kill off significant characters.
- Kevin Kiner's scoring of the clone wars music. Some of his work alone rivals anything in the sequels, and destroys most music heard in modern television music composition. TBH the man could get a whole section just for himself.
- Umbara - A perfect marriage of 40K-grade grimdark and Star Wars.
- Dee Bradley Baker (clones are not even the only characters he voices)
- The exploration of the universe. There are single episodes that do more in terms of worldbuilding than the whole sequel trilogy did.
- Matt Lanter's voice work with Anakin, which is comparable and in some ways better than anything Hayden Christensen ever did.
- Plo Koon
- Darth Maul
- Sam Witwer
- Mace Motherfucking Windu showing off as a total chad and proving why he's THE master. Imagine if there was someone as badass as Vader but for the good guys and that's basically what he is in this series.
- Cad Bane (AKA Chad, which one character actually calls him in the show... albeit mispronouncing "Cad", but still), the galaxy's best bounty hunter with Jango dead and Boba still an inexperienced kid. The character's also a love letter to fans of old westerns, doesn't take crap from anyone and provides one of the Indiana Jones references mentioned below.
- Battle Of Ryloth
- The Indiana Jones references. Seriously, I dare you, go find the ones I'm thinking of, there is one in Season three and another in Season four and one more in Season six.
- Did we mention Dee Bradley Baker (seriously, some Umbaran episodes have several characters and he plays all but one of them)?
- Zygerria as space Mesopatamian slavers
- Hondo Ohnaka being a Magnificent Bastard
- Shaak Ti hammering home the 'Clones are developed characters too' thing.
- The Bad Batch. Imagine a squad of Vindicare, Eversor and Vanus Assassins, led by clone trooper Rambo. And they got their own series too.
- Savage Oppress. Darth Maul's brother, he allowed for Darth Maul's return and was a truly sympathetic character you can always feel bad for even despite the atrocities he commits.
- Darth Sidious is the scariest badass in the galaxy.
There is no bad. Heresy.
Fine. For all that the Clone Wars did right, there are at least a dozen things they did wrong. One of the most obvious of these is Grievous. Now for context, in the Original Clone Wars, Grievous was a killing machine who cut through Jedi like a power sword through a Fire Warrior; his initial reveal had him bulldoze four Jedi Masters in a four-on-one duel (all without revealing his second pair of arms), to the point where Mace Windu himself was only able to stop him by using a Dark Side technique to crush Grievous' organs. He was genuinely terrifying, and Revenge of the Sith had a (sadly deleted) scene where he killed a Jedi to show how strong he was. But in this Clone Wars, he was a tactically incompetent Saturday morning cartoon villain, right down to killing his flunkies for bringing him bad news, being completely unable to win, and generally being used as a beatstick for the hero of the week. Granted, Grievous did have his victories, but they were too few and far between to make up for the initial five seasons worth of Fail. When he can't even kill a Padawan in his second to last appearance in Season One, you know something is wrong.
Another problem with this show was that unlike Avatar, the production quality could be all over the place. In fact, what many fans agree to be the worst arc in the series are in the fifth season, and many tend to think the second worst is in the seventh. This can be applied in some capacity to every season, and though it doesn't detract from the overall quality, we wouldn't be proper fans if we didn't criticize absolutely everything!
There are also some more minor gripes like terrible aim (so bad at times that it makes stormtroopers in A New Hope look like Vindicare Assassins by comparison), the existence of shields being ignored constantly, people punching and kicking droids and people wearing armour (even though Obi-Wan tried that in Revenge of the Sith and hurt his shin as a result), B1 battledroids head apparently being so poorly attached to the body that you can rip it off with your bare hands and LAATs not using their massive arsenal of weapons (there is even a scene where troopers inside the ship fire their weapons instead of the LAAT using its own weapons). Thankfully as with most issues in the series, these got less prevalent as the series went on.
Finally there is the thing that although the Clone Wars was a relatively morally gray conflict in the fluff, where the Separatists became Separatists because they were tired of the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Republic, in the series the Republic side is almost always portrayed as heroic while the separatists are sometimes portrayed as moustache-twirling villains. In the first season, we have Grievous and Ventress killing their allies when they feel like it, an incendiary weapon which completely destroys everything that lives while sparing anything that doesn't (highly effective for an army composed primarily of droids) being taken for a test run on a pacifist village who wish to remain neutral, and a mad scientist who redevelops an exterminated virus (he even says the virus was 'murdered' despite his apathy for other people's lives) and develops it further into an airborne bioweapon. Even the attempt in season 3 to try and humanize the Separatists falls a little flat when you see the war crimes the Separatists regularly commit. Thankfully, this issue becomes less common as the series progresses and is almost non-existent towards the end of the series.
They also dropped Ventress's arc even though it was in the plans, forcing them to eventually finish it as a novel. Still a shame and most would certainly preferred a conclusion for that over Ahsoka's arc in Season 7.
Also "Jedi Cruiser" was always a dumb term for a ship but hearing characters actually say it in universe is just so much worse.
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