Welcome back to Star Wars: The Clone Wars! After covering season one, we’re back to discussing the best episodes of season two. These include my personal favorites as well as the best written ones.
Let’s get started.
At this point in the series, this was possibly my favorite episode of season one and two combined. If you remember my season one recap, Captain Rex is my favorite Star Wars character. Here’s an episode where my animated husband is front and center.
In “The Deserter,” Rex and Obi-Wan are hunting evil General Grievous. When they split up, Rex is shot by a sniper droid. He needs a night to recover, so his troopers leave him with a farming family to sleep in their barn. Rex discovers the head of this happy family is a clone, Cut Lawquane, who abandoned his position as a Republic soldier. Rex must make the difficult decision whether or not to report the deserter.
This is a pretty loaded episode setting up many different future plots. I’m going to break this down with how the Jedi view the clones, the similarities and difference of Rex and Cut, and how Rex is developing as a character.
Obi-Wan recognizes Rex’s individuality as both a leader and a person. He goes so far to agree with Cody who states Rex is a smart man. Obi-Wan adds that Rex, “Always thinks on his feet.” Certain Jedi clearly trust their commanders and captains. I mentioned in the season one recap it’s a shame to get to know Cody and Obi-Wan’s relationship throughout the show only for Cody to participate in Order 66 (the purge of the Jedi Order). Anakin and Ahsoka clearly trust Rex with their lives. Plo Kloon relies on Commander Wolffe as his right hand. So on and so forth. You know the old saying if something is too good to be true, it usually is? We see this trust get betrayed way later on in the series. Season six, there’s a major incident that is a huge game changer in the Clone-Jedi relationship. Until then, enjoy the happy friendship feels.
As a side note if you’re a Clone Wars fan, I suggest reading No Prisoners by Karen Traviss. There’s a non-Jedi character in the early months of the Clone Wars that’s pretty much like, “It’s super suspicious that there was a ready army of clones. The Jedi just trusts them with no questions asked. What’s up with that?” It also has chapters from Rex’s point of view to see what he thinks of the war, his clone brothers, and the Jedi. Sometimes he does get pissed off remembering when Anakin left him on Teth with no hope of surviving, and sometimes Rex doesn’t understand the war he fights in. It’s very insightful for the character.
Cut and Rex are the highlight of the episode. Unlike Slick’s betrayal in season one where he believed the Jedi were slavers to his clone brothers, Cut left war when he saw there was no point. He was in a horrific battle where droids were shooting the wounded. If he hadn’t left, he would have been killed. He even admits that the war never made sense to him especially when he’d watch his brothers die with no hope. Cut met his wife Suu, adopted her two children, and accepted his new quiet life as a farmer. Unlike Slick who betrayed his brothers, Cut left for the right reasons. His duty is to his family. This is where Cut and Rex are both similar and different. They’re men who have the same principles. Both have huge incentives to fight. Rex fights for the Republic he loves. He wants to protect his clone brothers. He wants to support his Jedi leaders. Cut, on the other hand, walked away from his old life and his family of clone brothers. Protecting his new family is now his personal war. While they have different reasons, essentially Rex and Cut are fighting for the same thing.
Cut and Rex have a particularly interesting conversation about individuality which is the next step in Rex’s journey throughout the show. It starts when Cut asks for Rex’s assigned clone number. The Captain immediately states he also has a name like Cut. If this was any other clone trooper, they would have more than likely given their number. This isn’t just anyone. This is Rex, the amazing hero beginning his journey for a series long story arc. Choosing to go by his name instead of a number is huge step in an army which is cloned to be the same. The clones are supposed to be disposable. They’re pretty much slaves to the Republic in a way. Slick wasn’t that far off as we see later in season six.
Then why do they choose to change their hair? Why get various tattoos or paint their armor to distinguish themselves? It’s because every clone sees themselves as individuals. They are their own person. Some clones do blindly follow orders, but what makes the 501st Legion clones special in this series is the fact they choose individuality. Cut makes Rex question his individuality and uniqueness. He points out Rex has probably wondered what his life would be like if he wasn’t a soldier. Rex shoots this down stating he chooses to fight. He’s not quite ready to admit he’s different from the rest of the clones in the army. We see in later seasons Rex embraces his name, titled, individuality, and leader of the 501st. As of right now, our lovely clone captain isn’t ready to change. Though, his paradigm is shifting seeing that Cut can have a family and peace outside of the war.
To add what a great hero Rex is, he automatically fights with Cut to protect the family from droids who infiltrate the farm. He sees that Cut isn’t a coward. In the end, he chooses not to turn Cut in as a deserter to live in peace with his family.
Holocron Heist and Cargo of Doom
Season two starts off with a bang. As I mentioned in my season one recap, the tagline of season two was “Rise of the Bounty Hunters.” Here we get the best in the business. We get the return of Cad Bane AKA my second favorite villain of the show.
In these two episodes, Cad Bane is tasked with stealing a specific holocron from the Jedi temple. A holocron is like a super fancy USB drive that only Jedi can access with the Force. Not only does he succeed in taking it, the Jedi realize he stole a list of all the Force sensitive children. If that list falls into the wrong hands, it could destroy the future of the Jedi Order.
To best cover these two episodes, you have to separately look at Ahsoka, Anakin, and Bane.
Ahsoka starts the episode in hot water. Her eagerness to win a battle almost makes her lose her men’s lives as well as her own. As punishment, she’s put on guard duty in the Jedi library which happens to be where the holocrons are stored. I love early Ahsoka episodes. She’s a child. Seriously, she’s fourteen and thrown into a war. The kid is going to have moments where her experience is lacking. I love when Ahsoka eats humble pie, because it sets up her growth into future seasons. She accepts her punishment and ends up stopping Bane’s associate. In “Cargo of Doom,” she becomes the teacher to Anakin. Her master is in a rage. Ahsoka tells him to calm down, have patience, and they’ll catch Bane later. She ends up saving Anakin’s life as the vessel they’re stuck on is self destructing.
Anakin’s starting his slide into the dark side this season. It’s slow, but you can see it. That’s what Clone Wars does so well where the prequels failed. It actually makes sense that Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Here we see his biggest Achilles heel is his attachment. He deeply cares for Ahsoka choosing to give up the holocron for her life. In another episode this season, Master Luminara flat out says she’s willing to give up her padawan. Can Anakin do the same? In “Cargo of Doom,” Anakin can’t lose Ahsoka. This comes back again at the end of season five.
Finally, Cad Bane is the biggest threat thus far. Count Dooku may be the antagonist throughout the series, but he usually stays out of the action to command from a distance. Asajj Ventress eventually leaves for her own journey. General Grievous is a joke. And then we have Cad Bane. He’s a Jedi killer. He kills one in these episodes. He’s able to fend off Anakin, Ahsoka, and their platoon. He outsmarts then entire Jedi Temple to steal the holocron. Bane cares only for his own personal gain having no problem letting his associate get captured in his stead. He truly is the biggest challenge up to this point for them. The Jedi really have no clue how to stay ahead of him this early in the Clone Wars. I’m not talking much about “Children of the Force” which is the third episode in this arc. I’m not a big fan of that one. It is important to note we see that Bane can fend off three Jedi using the mind trick on him. He outwits Obi-Wan and Mace Windu to escape. Needless to say, they’re setting up one of the smartest villains of the series.
While taking medical supplies to a hospital, brain controlling parasites have taken over the ship and infected the men. It’s up to Ahsoka and Bariss to save the day. There’s no Jedi masters to guide them. Ahsoka must choose whether to end the life of a friend to save hundreds.
There are a lot of layers in this episode pushing Ahsoka’s character forward. One of the first major parts of the episode is that Ahsoka shows signs of PTSD. She can’t handle silence in her own room after battles. She even says she doesn’t know how to enjoy peaceful times. It’s easy to forget that this girl is only fourteen years old. She’s been thrust into a war she has no control over. All she’s ever known prior to the show is the Jedi Temple. It’s often said in the show that Ahsoka has more liberties than other padawans, because she’s so skilled as Anakin’s apprentice. I know it’s war time, but this is still a relatively young woman being forced to grow up incredibly fast. It makes me question the Jedi’s choices.
Which is why Barriss and Ahsoka’s chat in the dining hall is so telling. They debate that Jedi are supposed to be peacekeepers, but during this war, they’ve become warriors. This goes against what a Jedi is supposed to be. Once the war is over, will they return to their previous position or continue to be fighters? This is an important conversation for these two ladies. It’s set up for a season five story line so pay attention to each woman’s views on the matter.
Ahsoka reaches a huge crossroads in this episode. As a Jedi, you’re not supposed to have attachments. You can care for a person, but you must be able to let them go. Jedi must always do what must be done comes up a few times in the episode. She reaches that point when Bariss becomes infected. Ahsoka faces the choice of whether or not to risk the life of her friend verses the lives of hundreds of clone troopers. Even when Bariss begs for death, Ahsoka can’t bring herself to do it making the right choice to kill the parasite instead. She questioned her choice afterward. As a person, she was happy to save her friend. But did she fail as a Jedi unable to let go of her attachment to Bariss? That in itself is a question for later episodes.
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