Star Wars: The Clone Wars

⭐⭐⭐ based on 2 reviews.

tl;dr: A competent fleshing out of the wider Star Wars narrative in a way that gives a lot of much-loved characters room to breath. Nicely builds on the themes of the prequels whilst setting in play the themes of the original trilogy at the same time.

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Star Wars

Season One

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

After a slightly lacklustre movie, the first season of The Clone Wars does a decent job of fleshing out the new characters and the current state of the galaxy far, far away. It's a lot of fun getting to meet various additional Jedi and flesh out General Grievous as a character, but the actual narrative strikes a weird balance between standalone plots and multipart episodes. Right from the start of the season we get sequences that directly lead into one another, but then in the middle we just jump all over the place. Just because it's a show aimed at kids doesn't mean we can't get a clear narrative.

I'm also not a fan of making Kit Fisto Jamaican, but maybe that was already canon. It certainly fits with the mildly racist undertones of a lot of other Star Wars races from the prequel era. Speaking of, The Clone Wars continues to prove that Jar Jar Binks is a terrible character and clearly a Sith Lord. It's remarkable how irritating he is and how all of the other characters in the show agree on that point too 😂

Still, whilst it lacks the beautiful animation and the incredible flair of the original Clone Wars series, The Clone Wars (I hate that they did this with the naming 🤦‍♂️) is starting to bring back some elements of its predecessor well. In particular, the episodes that focus on the actual clones tend to stand out, and I love that we're getting recurring characters within their regiments with their own personalities and nuances. More of things like Rookies please! I'm also enjoying the introduction of some new characters, like Cad Bane the bounty hero. Overall, then, it's a solid "meh". It's enjoyable enough but it still lacks the substance of other shows like Avatar or the visual elegance of the original Clone Wars, but it's definitely improving, and I'm slowly beginning to feel comfortable with it's animation style.

Season Two

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

So we're doing this whole "TV seasons with titles" thing then are we, The Clone Wars? Okay, well, Rise of the Bounty Hunters was a solid route to take the series in and I approve. The introduction of Cad Bane and the other hunters at the end of season one was a highlight, so getting to spend a season largely exploring those stories felt a lot better. Not least of all because – an occasional cameo from the like of Greedo and Boba Fett aside – these are characters that can have stakes. One of the big issues that The Clone Wars has is that we know that most of the characters are going to survive given situations, because they're in future films. This is Star Wars so I never expect one of the core cast to die, but all of the plots around capturing or trying to kill either Dooku or Grievous just lack any bite because they're both in Revenge of the Sith. Ditto any peril that Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Anakin get into: you know they'll live. Not so with the bounty hunters, whose fate is unknown.

That said, largely thanks to its focus on Rex and the concept of the clone army, the episode The Deserter stands out as a genuinely interesting story. Whilst the clones hunt Grievous (who actually could be captured, albeit temporarily), the plot around a clone deserter and Rex's own morality is pretty well done.

The second season also gives us some much more interesting additional lore. The exploration of Mandalore and introduction of Satine is really interesting, though I can't quite bring myself to trust her yet. Similarly, the exploration of Geonosian hive minds and mind control is fun and directly leads to an ominous moment where we briefly see the Vader come through. It's nice to see the show actively highlighting and playing with Anakin's descent, as well as feeling a little freer to toy with the ridiculous nature of a war being run by the same person on both sides in Palpatine, as we get Republic WMDs and genetic experimentation. We're also getting less clear "evil race, good race" stuff, which is positive, though the Separatist's still largely get vessels named after negative emotions and are more likely to be things like spiders or snakes, which is less so.

As a whole though, I'm not sure season two does much more than carry us forward a little from season one. Characters aren't really progressed or evolved much and we get a fair amount of retreading, although it is nice to see some of the other Jedi begin to show cracks in their own thinking. So much time in Star Wars is spent highlighting how Anakin is different or a monster for having emotions, but The Clone Wars is beginning to show us that all Jedi have feelings and that there are many interpretations of how to live their rules, none of which are perfect. That alone is probably worth the price of entry, so to say.

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