Ambush – Clone Wars episode 1.01

Blue wisdom. “Great leaders inspire greatness in others.” On that note, we now have a measure of George Lucas’ greatness or lack thereof.

Narrator.

A galaxy divided by war. The Republic and Separatists are vying for allegiance from neutral planets. I’ll be your best friend. Oh yeah? I’ll be your best friend and I’ll give you an orange Starburst. Ooooh.

Ambush.

Three Watto-looking people (remember Anakin’s owner in Phantom Menace?) are waiting on a moon to negotiate with Yoda. (If you think for one second I’m going to look up the name of Watto’s race, you’re crazier than the premise to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Suck.) Asajj Ventress shows up first, and Dooku holograms in to tell the Wattos about the orange Starburst.

Yoda’s ship is ambushed by Separatists. He takes an escape pod down to the moon’s surface. Two battle droids aboard a Separatist ship fire at the pod. They bemoan how awful they are at marksmanship. I bemoan their banter. I wouldn’t complain if it wasn’t to try-hard.

Ventress asks the Wattos how the Jedi could possibly defend the Watto system since their ship is retreating. Yodo holograms in and Ventress proposes a challenge. If he defeats her best troops (you know, the ones who aren’t so good at marksmanship), they system will join the Republic. If not, they party with the Separatists. I love how the Wattos just stand by and let these two strangers play dice with their system.

Battle droids lead hover tanks into the jungle. The leader tells them to stop. They don’t. He repeats his order and pleads with them to stop. Finally, they do. He does the whole bit: shaking his head, hiding his face in his robot hand. A tank commander insists he can get through the dense brush and is sent flying off the tank when it is stopped by the vegetation. Comic relief minus the comedy. It’s Rosenbot and Guildendroid. Yoda giggles because he’s outsmarted the galaxy’s most inept warriors.

The droid infantry advances. Yoda and his three clone troopers (Izzy, Dizzy and Lizzy) wipe out a couple of squads. Super Battle Droids, the worst designed robots in the galaxy, somehow pin down our heroes with no more accuracy than a frat guy at a urinal on Friday night. Yoda uses his Force voodoo to turn one Superbot against his droid pals.

Next up: destroyers (droidekas). Naturally, the droids don’t attack with any coordination or support. It’s just one video game wave after video game wave. Our heroes retreat and settle in a cave.

The droid hover tanks pursue. For some reason, they make World War II tank sounds complete with clanky tracks and squeaky rollers. Hover tanks squeak says George Lucas.

Yoda has the troopers remove their helmets. He gives them a Force 101 primer and pep talk. I’ve watched the Clone Wars out of order, but this is the first moment (including the Clone Wars movie) that belongs with the Episodes IV and V that we all know and love. The troopers are initially convinced they’ll fail. Yoda inspires them. It’s a good scene.

Yoda positions the clones on a ridge. The Separatist tanks advance at the bottom of a ravine (brilliant). Yoda takes them on alone in what is a very good battle scene. While Yoda is mopping up, the clones shoot an overhanging cliff to wipe out droideka reinforcements. Yoda lets an alien bird perch on his finger. Zipadee Dooku, zipadee ay.

The Wattos (oh, hell, I caved and looked it up: Toydarians) decide to join the Republic. Dooku orders Ventress to kill the leader (which I believe is a violation of the Geneva Convention) but Yoda freezes her with Force voodoo. Then he deactivates her light sabers and Force yanks them out of her hands. She retreats.

Overall a solid episode. It highlights one of the many issues so infuriating about the prequels. The episode shows us why Yoda is so valuable. He’s a leader, a source of inspiration, a warrior. Anakin, on the other hand, has no obvious positive traits. He’s a whiny brat. I’d take Darth Maul’s second cousin as my apprentice over Anakin. And Kenobi has been rewritten to be a feckless doof just along for the ride. These are all scriptwriting issues–all easily fixed. I’ll cross my fingers that it all changes by the end of season 2.

To the next episode: Rising Malevolence, or back to the episode guide.

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