Well, here we are: ‘The Lost Missions.’ Until last week’s shocking announcement of a season seven, this was the end of The Clone Wars, a fractured, half-pieced together season without a real overarching plot – or so I am led to believe. Up first is a four part story that has is really quite important to the overall Star Wars canon, touching on the infamous ‘Order 66.’
The entire arc centers around the malfunction of an inhibitor chip placed inside each clone’s head. The clone that experiences the malfunction is Tup, who gets his wires crossed somehow and winds up murdering Jedi Master Tiplar. When taken to Kamino, everyone there seems to know exactly what happened, but refused to say anything, as the chip is supposed to be a secret.
I have to give Dave Filoni + co a ton of credit here, as the show gives you all the information you need without really clobbering you over the head with it. Everything about the chip, the malfunction, etc, is all laid out by what you see, and rarely by what anyone really says. Yes, we know that Dooku was behind it, and yes, we know that it is a secret, but no one ever really comes out and says “We will one day use this to destroy the Jedi.” Even when that is made explicitly clear, it is done so in a more subtle way than it would’ve been two or three seasons earlier. These are some of the most nuanced episodes of the series, even though they are quite simple in their objectives.
2. We’ll get there fast, and then we’ll take it slow
There are times that the visual look of The Clone Wars doesn’t exactly match the visual look of the prequels, but Kamino is not one of those times. Perhaps because 99% of what you see in Attack of the Clones is also computer generated, the entire sequence on Kamino seems as ripped from the prequels as anything in this show, and I don’t mean that as a negative.
It is really a testament to the crew behind this show that there are a handful of clones with such developed personalities with so little to physically or aurally distinguish them. Fives is one of the most familiar clones, and his journey through these episodes is heartbreaking on a number of levels. His compassion for Tup, his concern for the Jedi, his anger at the circumstances of his creation, his frustration at not being believed, all of that combines to a really nuanced performance by Dee Bradley Baker. By the time he breathes his last, we have seen him go through every conceivable emotion, and most of it was for naught.
4. Continued weirdness of blue collar workers
For a series that has been so good about created characters of nuance and depth, almost every grunt is a broad stereotype. The cab driver in “Orders” is a carbon copy of every tough guy New York City cab driver you’ve ever seen in a film, though no kid watching these episodes would have any idea what the reference is to. It is a weird decision that gets made over and over again, but look for it next time: waitress, bartender, cab driver – they are all one note and annoying.
5. The end of innocence (not the Don Henley song)
Between Ahsoka leaving the Jedi and these episodes, you get a sense of the war taking its toll, even if the Republic is ‘winning.’ These characters have seen some shit by this point, and are struggling to keep their focus on the mission. We even see it from Yoda and Mace Windu here, where they are frustrated and distrusting, far more than they were before. That is some of my favorite stuff in this show, because in the prequels, things are never really given that level of nuance; in Clones things are bad, yes, but then in Sith, everything feels so different. This series has done a nice job connecting the two tones, and I look forward to seeing how these episodes wrap up before I have to wait until 2019 or 2020 for season 7.