Artificial Continuum

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Despite a frustrating five month wait, The Clone Wars has finally returned to television. With high expectations and a ever growing fanbase, this season has alot to live up to. Luckily, last night's two part season opener delivered.

When Season One first aired in 2008, fans were blown away by a particular episode (Rookies) surrounding a group of rookie clone troopers. Dark, compelling, and unique this episode became a fan favorite and a turning point for the series. The Season Three opener acts as both a prequel and a sequel to this classic installment, and both are equally strong episodes on their own.

The first out of the two was the prequel episode Clone Cadets. Picking up several months before the events seen in Rookies, the audience follows the tumultuous training and origin of the ill fated Domino Squadron.

The plot for Clone Cadets is enjoyable, but not wholey original. The story of teamwork and graduation into adulthood is one that has been seen numerous times in multiple military tales.

While it may not have been the most action packed episode in the series, Clone Cadets is noteworthy for being one of the most character driven. The story of Domino Squadron is interesting and compelling in its own right, but oddly its the side characters who are the most interesting here. The first being the bounty hunter Bric. Acting as a mentor for the clones, this ill tempered and surprising deep character is a welcome inclusion to the Star Wars mythos and easily becomes a scene stealer.

However, perhaps the most interesting character introduced in this episode is the malformed clone 99. Mishapen during a mistake in the cloning progress, 99 acts as a lowly janitor for the training station on Kamino. Despite this, he acts as an older brother and watchful eye for the trainees. 99's arc throughout this episode and the follow up, Arc Troopers, is surprisingly heavy and deep material for the series. Regardless of any original reluctance towards the idea of 99, he wins you over and is the true star of this episode.

The animation has also improved significantly from the previous seasons. Characters no longer stand stone faced and passive during dialogue, and environments are incredibly detailed. However, there are some points, especially during several fist fight sequences, that experience some noticeable difficulties.

The dialogue also occasionally slips into cliches and tropes typical of the story it tells.

Overall, Clone Cadets is a worthy addition to the series and a promising start to a new season.

Score: B+