Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Clone Wars Double Review: Clone Cadets and ARC Troopers

Su cuy'gar, everyone! Welcome to Clone Army's first official review. Today, I'll be reviewing Season 3's premiere double-feature of "Clone Cadets" and "ARC Troopers". So let's dive right in with the episode that came first- "Clone Cadets".

Note: I am using a site known as to rewatch the episodes after their premere, so I can write an accurate review of the show instead of just first impressions.

Also: SPOILERS AHEAD CAPTAIN! Don't feel like spoiling the story, jump ship now.

The first episode of Season 3, as expected, was a strong one, and Filoni and his team picked an interesting and fitting spot to start- the beginning, where clone troopers are trained before shipping out to war.
"Clone Cadets" follows the early story of Domino Squad- a batch of clone troopers that, if you've followed this series from the beginning, you'll recognize a few minutes in. See, Domino Squad is the squad of troopers we saw in the fifth episode of Season 1, "Rookies", that were stationed on the Rishi Moon listening outpost. Bringing them back instead of creating a random new batch of troopers to follow makes for a nice consistency in the series.

Yes, Echo, Fives, Hevy, Cutup and Droidbait (who is finally given a name) are back, and ready to kick some clanker shebs... if they could stop trying to kick each other's. Thing is, Domino Squad is as dysfunctional as a squad comes, being completely unable to work as a team. As a result, they are unable to pass the final test they need to become full-fledged troopers. One night after a particularly bad run, the Domino troopers each have a runin with a different character to reaffirm their place as a team- Echo and Fives with Shaak Ti (WHO IS FINALLY IN THE SERIES HOO-RAY.), Cutup with his drill sergeant from whom he derives his nickname, and Hevy with a deficient maintenence clone called '99, who prevents Hevy from going AWOL and gives him the name we all know him by. Of course, the next morning, they are allowed to repeat the test and, despite not having necessary ascention cables this time around, they are able to overcome their differences and work as a team. The troopers then graduate and ship out to what we can only assume will be Rishi.

Personally, I think Dee Bradley Baker has one of the toughest voice jobs in this show and he does such an incredible job given his task- which is to voice. Every. Single. Clone trooper. In the series. Ever. (Of course, Daniel Logan returns to voice the kid clones, but that's another story.) From Rex to Cody to Echo to Cutup and Fives to even the deficient '99, he's able to give them all a distinct personality and flavor and grant them all life. And for that, Dee Bradley Baker, you have my undying respect.
Dee voices almost all the characters in this episode, and despite the sheer numbers of characters he has to do, as I said, each one is different. Says a lot about a guy. The only other characters in this show have all-new voices, and for some reason, Shaak Ti is vaguely Spanish (Why? We know from the Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon she speaks with a fairly deliberate Coruscanti (english) accent). The voicework for the whole episode, as the entire series, is still top-noch, delivering believable performances that never seem awkward or forced. While we're on the subject of performances, the animation, too, is top-class- Say what you will about the "wooden" or "clay" look of the show, but I really do like the series' distinct visual flavor, and I think it combines the stylization of the original cartoon with the detail and scope of the films really well- best of both worlds, as they say.

As far as the story goes, while this episode was a little predictable, it wasn't hard to root for the underdog squad nobody thought would make it- and considering for a clone trooper, teamwork is very vital to survival, the moral of working together doesn't seem patched-on like lot of stories with morals can seem. In addition, Domino Squad is given their much-deserved due, and while this episode ends on a happy note (YAY GRADUATION.), we all know that, save Echo and Fives, Domino Squad is doom-destined, adding a tinge of sadness and, at the same time, making Rookies that much stronger and resonant of an episode. When Cutup got his name, I almost wanted to cry, because we know his fate in Rookies- (SPOILER: He gets eaten by an eel. But you knew that.)
On a side note, Cutup sounds vaguely Scottish/Irish in this episode, and it adds a lot to his character. It's awesome.

Overall, Clone Cadets was a strong and surprising episode, in that it featured clones exclusively and we don't get enough of that. While this particular dose of Star Wars might not have enough of an "Oomph" for some when it comes to action, the story was still important, and it was wise to follow up this episode with ARC Troopers.

And with that, I begin my review of the action-packed episode ARC Troopers!


This was a very good episode.


Probably the last time an episode was this brimming with action was Landing at Point Rain, with a scale and fury that really gives off a true sense of war. Unlike the last episode (Which I am not faulting it for), this episode really gave that "oomph" needed for a season premere.
This episode brings us, Fives and Echo, back to Kamino a few months after they've graduated as troopers. They're now wearing custom armor now that they're part of the 501st, and who else do they bump into but the ever-endearing 99. He proceeds to ask, why are we back here after all this time? The Seppies are planning an attack on Kamino, of course. (What, again?) The attack begins, and through a very clever means of landing troops which I will not give away right now, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress and battalions of battle droids attack Kamino.

While Shaak Ti holds the line against the droids (Does she just spend all her free time there?) Grievous fights Obi-Wan, Anakin thwarts Asajj's attempts to get clone DNA, and Echo, Fives, 99 and a handful of clone cadets (Little ones voiced by Daniel Logan) meet up with Captain Rex in the barracks to take out the droids attempting to kill the clones in the barracks who aren't there. (Wut.) 99 sadly dies, Anakin gets the DNA back, Grievous and Ventress escape, and Echo and Fives get promoted. Cut to credits, preview of the next episode, and we're done.

Like I said, this is a very well-put-together episode, with great action, strong visuals and plenty of scale and a balance between clones and lightsabers. If I were to make a list of all the cool moments this episode gave us, I'd be here all day. However, I will mention a few- The fact that the battle spanned across Tipoca City instead of just one area helped give a great sense of magnitude, and the hangar battle was particularly great. And on an aside,I was originally going to cite Ventress smiling as one of the weirdest things I've seen all day (Just watch the episode.) but she actually had outdone herself, as this episode displayed one of the creepiest scenes in this show, which Cartoon Network censored out because they are super lame. THAT IS WHY I AM HERE.
Wanna see it? Head to Youtube.

Definitely one of the darkest moments this show has seen, and something that'd better be on the Season 3 DVD release.

The barracks scene was also great, and 99's death, while a little overdone in the music department, was well-deserving of it, with his sympathetic character being developed over the span of two episodes, which, for a clone, is rather unusual (Unless you're Rex or Cody, but whatever.)
Also, I'm hoping that Echo and Fives return, 'cuz I'd love to see them wearing classic-style ARC additions to their already awesome armor.

(Also, Rex is an ARC, isn't he?)

My thoughts on this episode? Kandosii.

If the rest of Season 3 is as great as these episodes, then the force is certainly strong with this season of The Clone Wars. Here's hoping that is the case, 'cuz Jar Jar's in the next episode.

*muffled crying can be heard*

Until next time, k'oyacyi, everyone!

-Commander Ben

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