Top 10: Stories of The Clone Wars

Welcome to Top 10. In this series, I will pick a subject in Star Wars and pick my top 10 rankings within that category. I initially began this ahead of Solo: A Star Wars Story by ranking the first 10 Star Wars films and enjoyed doing it so much, I thought it would be fun to make into a more regular series. Today, in honour of the announcement that The Clone Wars will be returning for a 12-episode series, I will be looking at the Top 10 stories from The Clone Wars

Though I was not initially interested in the show and thought that I would be too old to enjoy a cartoon, a combination of a debilitating hangover and procrastination from university revision led me to give the show a try and I was soon hooked and up to date in time for Season 4. Now, I absolutely love the show and would recommend it to Star Wars fans who haven’t watched as it introduces great characters – Ahsoka and Rex are 2 of my favourite characters in the whole of canon! – and I really do feel that it improves the Prequel Trilogy, especially relating to Anakin’s friendship with Obi-Wan and his fall to the Dark Side. Along with the movie, there are 121 aired episodes over 6 seasons, with 2 other 4-episode arcs released with basic animation, the Dark Disciple and Son of Dathomir arcs translated to a novel and comic book respectively as part of the Clone Wars Legacy project following its cancellation. The show itself worked as an anthology, with the early seasons jumping around a lot in chronology, but the later seasons generally ran in the order that the events happened during the war. While any of the stories were multiple-episode arcs, some were standalone episodes, though some of these could be considered spiritual arcs, like “Rookies”, “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers”. For this reason, my list will contain a mix of single episodes and entire arcs, though I will stick to physical arcs as opposed to the more spiritual arcs.

WARNING: this will contain some spoilers, though I will try not to go into too much detail

 

10: “Innocents of Ryloth”

Straight off the bat we see me picking a specific episode as opposed to the spiritual arc that it is a part of. This was the second episode in a 3-part arc during season 1 that showed the Republic’s liberation of Ryloth, while the season 3 episode “Supply Lines” works as a prequel by showing the Separatist invasion that led to this. The reason that I have gone for just the 1 episode here is that each episode showed different groups focusing on their part of the Liberation – each episode works on its own.

In this episode we see Obi-Wan and the 212th Attack Battalion on a mission to take out a group of Separatist anti-aircraft guns that are hampering the Republic advance. 2 clones – Waxer and Boil – are on a scouting mission when they come across an orphaned Twi-lek girl, Numa.

Coming so early in the series, this is one of the first episodes to set up recurring clones (other than Rex and Cody) and the way Waxer and Boil interact with each other and Numa really helps to show how despite all being from the same template, each clone is an individual. This episode really helps to show the cost of war and show that the Separatists will do nefarious things to achieve victory, but also shows the importance that even civilians can have on a battle with the proper motivation. Though not part of the episode, I love that following this episode, Waxer and Boil both included tributes to Numa on their armour, while Numa is show to have later joined the Free Ryloth movement and appears in Rebels wearing clone armour including Boil’s name.

9: Onderon Arc – “A War on Two Fronts”, “Front Runners”, “The Soft War” and “Tipping Points”

In this season 5 arc, Ahsoka, Rex, Anakin and Obi-Wan are sent to Onderon to train a group of Rebels to take on the Separatists. After the initial training, Ahsoka remains to advise he rebels while they make their attempts to free their planet from the tyrannical leadership of its new Separatist-allied king.

I love this arc for a number of reasons. Ahsoka’s feelings for Lux and her position as mentor and adviser for the rebels without being able to actively fight for them really helps to show how much she has matured as a character over time, while the group of rebels shows a number of different personalities, from Saw Gerrera’s action-first approach to Lux Bonteri’s more controlled approach. I love that Lucasfilm decided to use the character of Saw in Rogue One as the events of the arc clearly develop him into a character who would always be looking for a fight moving forwards. Possibly one of the most interesting takeaways from the arc is the questioning as to what the difference is between rebels and terrorists, a very fair point especially considering what Saw goes on to do in the future.

8: “ARC Troopers”

In this season 3 episode, we see the 501st Legion and the 212th return to defend Kamino from invasion. Ventress and Grievous lead the Separatist forces in an attempt to steal Jango Fett’s DNA. During the episode, Fives and Echo – the only survivors of Domino Squad – work with Rex, Cody and malformed clone 99 to protect a group of young clones and help win the battle.

“I’m a soldier, like you! This is what I was bred for.”

While this episode certainly helps benefit from the story told in the other parts of it’s spiritual arc as discussed above, each of these episodes is separate from the other. I am a big fan of Domino Squad and 99 is a wonderful character who makes up for his deformities and physical barriers with a great heart. His sacrifice is arguably one of the saddest in the entire show, despite only appearing in 2 episodes. I’m a big fan of the wars in Star Wars and this has plenty of action to keep me busy, with a good balance between the Jedi’s battles to the actions of the clones in defence of their homeworlds.

7: “Landing at Point Rain”

In this season 2 episode, the Second Battle of Geonosis begins as Republic forces lead a large assault on a droid factory. Heavy resistance from Separatist forces causes the Republic forces to be split into 3, with Obi-Wan, Ki Adi Mundi and Anakin & Ahsoka’s forces all separated and having to make their way to the staging point.

As I’ve just mentioned, I love episodes that are action-heavy and this one is full of exactly that. The splitting of the forces into 3 keeps the action fresh as the narrative cuts between the 3 groups, with each group having dangers to face. Despite all the action, there is still plenty of appropriate humour, generally in the interactions between characters, with Anakin and Ahsoka bickering, Waxer and Boil (making their second appearance on the list) moaning about being given the dangerous assignments and Obi-Wan’s reminiscing back to the execution he survived that started the First Battle of Geonosis. Once the groups all meet, the tracking shot following the clones’ final advance is wonderful and I wish there were more sequences like this in the show.

tvclonewars.jpg6: Order 66 Arc – “The Unknown”, “Conspiracy”, “Fugitive” and “Orders”

Part of the season 6 “Lost Missions”, this arc shows just how close Palpatine’s plans came to falling apart. During a battle, one of the 501st soldiers, Tup, murders a Jedi in cold blood. Fives goes with his friend to Kamino, where it is found that Tup has a chip in his head that has malfunctioned. After further investigation, Fives realises that this chip is in all of the clones and part of a conspiracy to destroy the Jedi. However, he is framed for attacking Palpatine and as he tries to tell Anakin and Rex of the conspiracy, he is killed.

After 5 seasons of watching the clones and Jedi work so closely, it was hard to imagine them being able to suddenly turn their guns on their generals and kill them in cold blood. This arc shows us that it was not a conscious decision and helps to show just how long Palpatine had been planning his rise to power. Knowing that these clones had no choice in their actions when killing the Jedi makes the entire story of the Prequel Trilogy and especially Order 66 so much more tragic. Fives has always been one of my favourite clones so to see him be the main focus in the arc was great, while his death is another one that can break hearts.

“The mission…the nightmares…they’re…finally…over…”

In terms of the impact on the wider canon, it is also this story that gives Rex the impetus to do some investigating of his own, leading to him removing his chip and not betraying Ahsoka, later becoming a member of the Rebel Alliance. Both Tup and Fives mentioning the nightmares with their dying breaths and the reaction of the clones there when Fives dies makes me want to see a novel from the clones’ perspective similar to Battlefront: Twilight Company so that we learn more of the clone’s lives.

When I started putting this list together I honestly thought this would be higher, which just shows the quality of stories in this series.

5: Maul’s Influence Arc – “Eminence”, “Shades of Reason” and “The Lawless”

My initial intention was to include all 6 Darth Maul episodes in this arc, but I chose to split it into Maul’s return – which narrowly missed out on a place on this list – and Maul’s influence. I have already discussed the arc slightly in my Darth Maul Character History, but to keep it brief: Maul and Savage Opress join with Death Watch and a number of criminal organisations to create the Shadow Collective. The Shadow Collective take control of Mandalore and Maul takes over leadership of Death Watch, which leads to civil war on Mandalore, before another fateful confrontation with Obi-Wan and ultimately a battle against his former master.

Just writing all that makes me realise just home much the creators managed to fit into just 3 episodes! I was not initially sure if I agreed with the decision to bring Darth Maul back fro the dead, but if I still had any reservations when these episodes aired, they were soon gone. All the interactions between the main characters drew me in, and we were treated to some wonderful battles between Maul & Pre Vizsla and the brothers & Darth Sidious, while hearts can be broken watching Maul and Obi-Wan’s confrontation. I’ve loved the Mandalorian warrior culture in Star Wars canon and though only a short sequence, Obi-Wan’s rescue and escape from Mandalore is a great example of why and I think the moment where the blast doors open and Obi-Wan (along with us the viewer) sees the scale of fighting going on as the civil war begins is one of my favourite shots in the entire show!

4: Temple Bombing Arc – “Sabotage”, “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”, “To Catch A Jedi” and “The Wrong Jedi”

The final 4 episodes of season 5 see Anakin and Ahsoka investigating a terrorist bombing in the Jedi Temple. However after detaining a subject, Ahsoka is framed for their murder. She escapes and attempts to prove her innocence, but is captured and the Jedi Council, under pressure from Tarkin and the Senate, expel her from the Order in order to face a Republic trial. Anakin finds evidence of her innocence just in time and the Council welcome her back to the Order, but she decides not to return.

“I understand, more than you realise. I understand wanting to walk away from the Order”

“I know.”

This arc starts well with the first episode featuring beautiful scenes like the funeral in the Temple and it just gets better as it goes on. Come the final episode and your heart strings are being tugged constantly as Ahsoka begins to lose all that is dear to her. The final scene, when Ahsoka leaves the order, is so beautiful and I can’t imagine many people keep dry eyes watching it! Matt Lanter and Ashley Eckstein get the emotion just right and Kevin Kiner’s music is perfect for the occasion.

If nothing else, this arc shows that the Jedi are far from perfect. Only the Jedi who have spent time with Ahsoka – Anakin, Obi-Wan, Plo Koon and Yoda – seem hesitant to declare her guilty and had her to the Republic, but even then it is only Anakin who stands by her and looks for evidence to prove her innocence. This arc does so much to establish Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side: we can see why he is not so willing to trust the Council and we also see another example of how fear of losing someone he cares for will push him down a dark path in order to achieve his goals.

3: Mortis Arc – “Overlords”, “Altar of Mortis” and “Ghosts of Mortis”

Possibly the craziest story of the entire series, this season 3 arc sees Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan stranded on the world of Mortis, a planet incredibly strong in the Force. They meet 3 powerful entities, the Father, the Son and the Daughter. The Father identifies Anakin as The Chosen One and the only one who can replace him and keep the balance between the Daughter (Light Side)  and the Son (Dark Side), however the Son constantly works to entice Anakin to the Dark Side, eventually leading to all 3 of the Force wielders dying.

“Know yourself! Know what you will become!”

It is hard to explain why I like this story so much, but there are some wonderful moments in it. We get to see the Son turn Ahsoka to the Dark Side in an attempt to turn Anakin and the Daughter giving her life to bring Ahsoka back following her death. The scene in “Overlords” where Anakin controls the Son and the Daughter, making them release Ahsoka and Obi-Wan before making them bow is stunning and also proves that, despite plenty of debate among fans, Anakin really is the Chosen One and not Luke. Arguably the best scene in the arc, though, is when the Son shows Anakin a vision of the future. As he struggles to resist, we (and Anakin) see the Emperor’s force lightning, Anakin about to kill a youngling, Padmé being choked with the force, Obi-Wan’s “You were my brother, Anakin!” line, the destruction of Alderaan and finally, as he drops to his knees, the mask of Darth Vader.

These episodes are not just a stand-alone in canon now, either, as the “Mortis Gods” appear in the World Between Worlds arc during the final season of Rebels, while it is also implied that the Daughter is guiding Ahsoka after this in the form of the convor Morai. This story could be easily cut from the series without impacting the overall story, but I am so glad it is there.

2: The Citadel Arc – “The Citadel”, “Counter Attack” and “Citadel Rescue”

Another arc that manages to fit so much into just 3 episodes, this season 3 arc sees Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi-Wan, along with Rex, Cody and a task force of clones attempt to rescue Even Piell – who holds information vital to the Republic – from a Separatist-held prison that was designed to hold Jedi – the Citadel. Piell and his captain (Tarkin, making his first appearance on the show) are rescued and divulge that they each have half the information committed to memory. A number of the task force and released prisoners are killed in the escape attempt, including Piell, who passes his half of the information to Ahsoka in his final moments, but with Republic Reinforcements arriving, the survivors are able to escape.

What is not to like about this arc? It has subterfuge and infiltration, firefights, character development and some beautifully poignant moments. The idea to use carbon freezing to infiltrate the Citadel is a great nod to The Empire Strikes Back and explains why Vader would consider using this method to trap Luke. Echo’s death (or so we all thought – more about that in the future) was wonderfully done in that we do not see it but instead have it implied with the ship exploding while he is on the ramp, Fives and the rest of the task force’s sad reactions (alongside some beautiful music from Kevin Kiner) and a pan down to the smoking remains of Echo’s helmet. As a fan of the clones, especially Domino Squad, this moment hit hard. I love the idea of a prison designed to hold rogue Jedi and the traps throughout the prison suitably amp up the danger for our heroes.

1: Umbara Arc – “Darkness on Umbara”, “The General”, “Plan of Dissent” and “Carnage of Krell”

“I am not just another number! None of us are!”

My Number 1 pick is the Umbara arc from season 4. The 501st invade Umbara but Anakin is soon sent back to Coruscant and replaced with Pong Krell, who dislikes the clones and utilises brutal tactics that result in heavy casualties. Rex tries to keep the peace as Fives and some of the other troopers go against Krell’s orders and do what they feel to be right, but after Krell sends the clones to attack a group of Umbarans who have stolen clone armour (actually Waxer’s platoon who have been given the same false information about Rex’s group), Rex leads the survivors against their General.

Considering my love of clones and battles, is it really any surprise that this gets my vote?! All the battles were different, from the 501st’s initial assault to a number of Umbaran ambushes, one including a number of deadly vehicles. While we have seen Rex’s character develop in other episodes – “The Deserter” being an obvious example – he has always been a soldier to follow orders and it is in this arc that Rex truly takes command for himself and puts his men first. We get so many other clones featuring heavily in this arc – Fives, Jesse, Dogma, Tup and Hardcase – each with their own distinct personality, I would have loved to see Dee Bradley Baker recording these scenes. The moment when Rex realises that his unit are attacking other clones, and his frantic attempts to communicate that to both sides and stop the fight, is wonderful and Waxer’s death, right after telling Rex they were ordered to attack them, is so sad, and the tear as he recounts it to Rex with his final breath’s is another contender for the saddest clone death in the show.

Along with the Temple Bombing arc, Krell’s deception shows that the Jedi are in decline during the Clone Wars, while the clones working against Krell is a great nod to the capability of them to kill Jedi and the upcoming betrayal during Order 66. With Order 66 likely to feature during season 7’s upcoming Siege of Mandalore arc, I’m looking forward to seeing more clone v Jedi action.

 

So that’s my list, how does it compare to yours? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…

3 thoughts on “Top 10: Stories of The Clone Wars

    1. I wish we’d had a similar portrayal of the clones in the Prequel Trilogy (Cody is the only one who is made to feel different) cos I think the series would be so much blander if all the clones were the same

      Like

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