In season 2 of The Clone Wars, a great many technical hurdles are surmounted. We see significantly improved cinematic quality as well as the start of important narrative arcs that return again and again as the show progresses. The Sith now resort to hiring bounty hunters and mercenaries to steal objects and intel or to assassinate targets. Meanwhile, the Jedi attempt to strike at the heart of the droid army. It is a contest of strategy. Joel Aron was hired to dramatically improve the quality of the 3-D animation and it really shows. There are plenty of allusions to Blade Runner, King Kong, Akira Kurasawa, and other classic film motifs. Influences include everything from zombie horror flicks to westerns and space epics. Some of the best stories in this season include ones with characters like the bounty hunter Cad Bane (first introduced in the finale for Season 1) as well as the start of the Mandalorian narrative arc which returns again in future seasons. Somewhat controversially, I actually quite enjoyed the episodes that highlight political intrigue and interpersonal maneuvering in the Galactic Senate. In summary, this is a terrific collection of stories to add to the Star Wars universe.
Season 2, Episodes Twenty-Three-Twenty-Five “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force”
“A lesson learned is a lesson earned.”
“Overconfidence is the most dangerous form of carelessness.”
“The first step to correcting a mistake is patience.”
We begin with a three-part story arc in Episodes 23-25 (“Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force”) with a dramatic battle on the colorfully organic planet of Felucia where Ahsoka Tano is disciplined for disobeying a direct order. The Republic retreats from Felucia, and Ahsoka is punished by the Jedi Council on Coruscant. She is given a more suitable job away from the battlefield–guarding the holocrons of the Jedi Council archives in the Jedi Temple. Meanwhile, the Western-styled bounty hunter Cad Bane (who previously appeared in Season 1 and was voiced by Corey Burton who also performed the voices of Ziro the Hutt and Cound Dooku) is hired by Darth Sidious to steal a holocron. Bane hires a changeling in order to transform into a recently deceased Jedi and he infiltrates the Temple. Ahsoka battles the changeling after it transforms into the kindly old librarian while Cad Bane steals the holocron which can translate Kyber crystal details for every known force-sensitive youngling in the galaxy. It threatens the very future of the Jedi order! The holocron is connected to a Rodian Jedi named Bolla Ropal who is brutally tortured to death when he refuses to give Cad Bane access to the holocron, but then Anakin and Ahsoka invade Cad Bane’s ship with a contingent of clone troopers. They recover the lifeless body of Bolla Ropal and battle Cad Bane with his droids in a zero gravity hangar. Ahsoka is captured in the fracas until Anakin rescues her. They destroy Cad Bane’s ship and flee without the holocron, however Anakin cannot shake the feeling that Cad Bane has somehow survived. In the next episode, we learn that Cad Bane has indeed escaped with Anakin and troopers (Cade Bane disguised himself as a clone trooper). He commandeers a Republic ship and jumps to hyperspace while Darth Sidious again hires Cad Bane to procure four force-sensitive children using the names provided by the holocron. Darth Sidious hopes to train a cohort of spies for the future empire. However, Republic forces again capture Cad Bane and the Jedi use the force to enter Bane’s mind. In doing so, they compel him to reveal the location of the holocron on a remote base in deep space inside the neutral zone –however, it is quickly revealed to be a trap for Obi-Wan and Mace Windu –and Cade Bane easily escapes. Meanwhile, while inspecting Cade Bane’s personal ship, Anakin and Ahsoka uncover a link to the remote mining planet of Mustafar and so they travel to Mustafar to investigate. Miraculously, they uncover the stolen children moments before the facility is destroyed in an act of self-destruction by the Separatists (Mustafar is the fiery planet where Anakin and Obi-Wan later duel in Revenge of the Sith).
Season 2, Episode Twenty-Six “Senate Spy”
“A true heart should never be doubted.”
Next (in Episode 26 “Senate Spy”) there is treachery in the Senate! The Jedi Council suspects senator Rush Clovis of Scipio is a traitor so they tap Padme/Senator Amidala to spy on him. Anakin and Padme have a lover’s quarrel and Padme pretends to rekindle an old fling with Rush Clovis as he pays a visit to the Neimoidians for deliberations over a secret deal with the “Banking Clan” involving the tactical coordinates to a Jedi facility. When negotiations go awry, the Neimoidians attempt to poison Padme, but Anakin saves the day and delivers the stolen disk to the Jedi Council. In the end, Clovis is left to the Neimoidians for punishment.
Season 2, Episodes Twenty-Seven-Thirty “Landing at Point Rain,” “Weapons Factory,” “Legacy of Terror,” and “Brain Invaders”
“Believe in yourself or no one else will.”
“No gift is more precious than trust.”
“Sometimes, accepting help is harder than offering it.”
“Attachment is not compassion.”
Episodes 27-30 (“Landing at Point Rain,” “Weapons Factory,” “Legacy of Terror,” and “Brain Invaders”) concern Poggle the Lesser, a Geonosian bug leader, and his shield-enclosed droid production facility on Geonosis Using the information stolen from Senator Clovis, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, and Ki-Adi-Mundi lead a combined clone trooper assault on a massive droid factory on Geonosis. Skywalker and Ahsoka lead a ground assault with Mundi while Kenobi’s airship is shot down. Needless to say he survives, and Anakin remains on the planet’s surface to lead the attack on the massive droid factory. He and Ahsoka are joined by Luminara Unduli and her Padawan Barriss Offee. Ahsoka and Barriss team up and infiltrate the factory with the trust of their masters. However, the plot falls into a Separatist trap and Ahsoka and Barriss are forced to detonate the factory with themselves inside. Luckily, they survive amidst a mountain of rubble. Now that the factory has been destroyed, Republic forces mount a clean-up effort on Geonosis led by Obi-Wan and Luminara Unduli while they seek the whereabouts of Poggle. Luminara Unduli tracks Poggle to the Progate Temple where he is hiding deep within the catacombs, meanwhile a sandstorm on Geonosis prevents Kenobi and Skywalker from launching an immediate rescue mission. Once the storm lifts they invade the temple’s catacombs and uncover an army of bugs which cannot be killed because they are controlled by a giant bug queen (Queen Karina the Great) via a hive mind from collectivist worms –in this somewhat strange episode, Obi-Wan wishes to speak with the queen who has entrapped Luminara, rather than simply attacking her. The Jedi confront the bug queen in her underground cavern, but a battle ensues anyway when she refuses to submit to the Republic. Anakin’s desire to destroy is contrasted with Obi-Wan’s desire for knowledge (Anakin destroys one of the hive mind worms while Obi-Wan laments that it could have revealed valuable information). Poggle is kidnapped, and several clone troopers are infected by stray hive-mind worms. They board Ahsoka and Barriss’s ship which is headed on a supply run to a medical station on Cestis. The “zombie” clone troopers stage a mutiny, and even Barriss becomes infected while Anakin transports the kidnapped Poggle to Coruscant for imprisonment. We see flashes of Anakin’s turn to the dark side as he tortures Poggle in exchange for information on how to stop the worms –they die in the cold so Ahsoka ruptures her ship’s coolant system. The clones all begin freezing and the worms start dying while ice begins crawling up the ship’s windows and the temperature falls below freezing. Master Fisto comes to the rescue and Ahsoka wakes up in a medical bed wondering if she did the right thing by not killing her friend Barriss while she was infected with a worm. This question plays special importance when considering Barriss’s future betrayal of Ahsoka in Season 6.
Season 2, Episodes Thirty-One-Thirty-Two “Grievous Intrigue” and “The Deserter”
“For everything you gain, you lose something else.”
“It is the quest for honor that makes one honorable.”
In episodes 31-32 (“Grievous Intrigue” and “The Deserter”) the Republic has been struggling in the Outer Rim against the ever-elusive General Grievous and his droid armies. We open with a battle between Grievous and the Jedi known as Koth, a member of the Jedi Council. When Koth is captured, Grievous sends a holo message to the Jedi on Coruscant showing Koth being tortured, however it is soon discovered that Koth was using hand signals to secretly reveal the ship’s coordinates. Kenobi and Skywalker launch an attack on Grievous, however it is soon revealed to be a trap. Still, Anakin rescues Koth while Obi-Wan and Jedi Master Adi Gallia attack Grievous who narrowly escapes in his damaged ship to the nearby planetary surface of Saleucami. Kenobi and a squadron of clone troopers quickly search for Grievous while his droids batteries are dying. Meanwhile, a band of clone troopers is attacked by commando droids and they seek refuge with a farming family, the father of which (“Cut Laquane”) is a clone deserter who simply desires a peaceful life with his Twi’lek wife. They square off with more commando droids and Captain Rex heads back to camp promising not to expose Cut for deserting.
Season 2, Episode Thirty-Three “Lost Lightsaber”
“Easy isn’t always simple.”
In episode 33 (“Lost Lightsaber”), on Coruscant, deep within the slums, Anakin and Ahsoka seek out a black market arms dealer but Ahsoka is robbed on the street and her lightsaber is stolen. She decides to conceal it from her master, Anakin. Ahsoka then teams up with the elderly Jedi Tera Sinube to help locate her stolen lightsaber. Along the way, she learns patience and the benefit of slowing down so she can focus.
Season 2, Episodes Thirty-Four-Thirty-Six “The Mandalore Plot,” “Voyage of Temptation,” and “Duchess of Mandalore”
“If you ignore the past, you jeopardize the future.”
“Fear not for the future, weep not for the past.”
“In war, truth is the first casualty.”
Episodes 34-36 (“The Mandalore Plot,” “Voyage of Temptation,” and “Duchess of Mandalore”) are some of the best in Season 2 in my view. The Council of Neutral Systems represents over 1,500 planets who wish to remain on the outside of this war, however the Jedi Council receives word that Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore is working with the Separatists. However, upon arrival on Mandalore Satine tells Obi-Wan about a violent rogue Mandalorian group known as “Death Watch” which does not wish for Mandalore to remain neutral in the war. Death Watch has been hiding out on Mandalore’s moon, Concordia. An assassination attempt is made on Satine and, instead of facing capture, her attempted killer leaps off a tall building to his death (a brutal demise). Then Obi-Wan and Satine visit the moon Concordia where they meet with Governor Pre Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau), Obi-Wan is kidnapped by Death Watch, and when Satine rescues him, they learn that Pre Vizsla is actually behind Death Watch –he surprisingly reveals the darksaber which was stolen by his ancestors from the Jedi Temple during the fall of the Old Republic. Obi-Wan and Satine narrowly escape and head for Coruscant where she will plead her case for neutrality. We learn a bit of background on Obi-Wan’s and Satine’s past romance. Had she said the word, in the past Obi-Wan would have left the Jedi Order to be with Satine. At any rate, a traitorous senator named Tal Merrick tries to kidnap Satine until Anakin sneaks in and suddenly slaughters him in cold blood. In this series, we learn of Obi-Wan’s past romantic relationship with Satine, a fact which will loom large over the rest of the show, and once again, the clones are better fleshed out as unique individuals with names and hopes and struggles.
Season 2, Episode Thirty-Seven “Senate Murders”
“Searching for the truth is easy. Accepting the truth is hard.”
Next, in Episode 37 (“Senate Murders”) Padme attempts to persuade the Senate against ordering more clone troopers, meanwhile Senator Farr is poisoned and so Padme and Bail Organa hunt down the killer, the Rodian Lolo. Senator Deechi is suspected but the he is found dead, and then the “log-necked” Kaminoan Senator Burtoni is suspected too. But in the end, the killer is revealed to be the Rodian Lolo, Senator Farr’s associate. Before the episode closes, Padme’s anti-clone trooper motion fails and the Republic places an order to manufacture more clones on Kamino.
Season 2, Episode Thirty-Eight “Cat and Mouse”
“A wise leader knows when to follow.”
In episode 38 (“Cat and Mouse”) a Separatist blockade is unfolding on the beleaguered planet of Christophsis where Bail Organa remains trapped. Anakin leads an attack via a cloaked vessel, he disobeys a direct order from Obi-Wan to deliver supplies to the surface in order to launch a failed attack on Admiral Trench’s ship (Admiral Trench is a large tarantula-esque figure voiced by Dee Bradley Baker who also voiced all the clones in the series, as well). On the second pass, Anakin beats Trench at his own game redirecting torpedoes fired by Trench at his own ship. Thus spells Trench’s demise.
Season 2, Episode Thirty-Nine “Bounty Hunters”
“Courage makes heroes, but trust builds friendships.”
Next, in episode 39 (“Bounty Hunters”) a medical station has been attacked by Separatist forces and the Republic has lost communication. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka are sent to investigate but when they arrive their ship is attacked and they are forced to eject onto the surface of Felucia. They find farmers of Silim, one of the most valuable plants in the galaxy. Bounty Hunters have been hired by the farmers for protection. This episode is a nod to Akira Kurawasa’s Seven Samurai as the Jedi train the farmers in exchange for a ride back to a Republic outpost.
Season 2, Episode Forty-Forty-One “The Zillo Beast” and “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back”
“Choose what is right, not what is easy.”
“The most dangerous beast is the beast within.”
For the next two episodes 40-41 (“The Zillo Beast” and “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back”) we are dropped into a massive battle on Malastare (where the Dugs like Sebulba reside) and the Republic unleashes its newest weapon, a proton bomb which destroys all droids in a nearby region, however the bomb awakens a gigantic underground creature on the planet known as a Zillo Beast, which was once believed to be extinct. Mace Windu deliberates over whether or not to destroy the creature but he ultimately says it is against the Jedi way to destroy the last of its kind. The Dugs dump toxic chemicals onto the Zillo Beast but it escapes so the Jedi devise a new means of transporting the beast to Coruscant. Naturally, Chancellor Palpatine wants to kill the beast in order to use its strong scaly armor in battle, however the beast soon escapes and runs amok on Coruscant a la King Kong. In a sad twist of fate, the Republic ships dump large amounts of toxic gas onto the beast which finally ends its life –however Chancellor Palpatine then orders the scientist Boll to clone the Zillo beast.
Season 2, Episodes Forty-Two-Forty-Four “Death Trap,” “R2 Come Home,” and “Lethal Trackdown”
“Who my father was matters less than my memory of him.”
“Adversity is a friendship’s truest test.”
“Revenge is a confession of pain.”
In the next three episodes 42-44 (“Death Trap,” “R2 Come Home,” and “Lethal Trackdown”), the Jedi Cruiser Endurance offers some respite for Mace Windu and Anakin while we a Youth Clone Brigade comes aboard for training. However, within the ranks of the Youth Brigade is a young Boba Fett who sneaks aboard hoping to assassinate Mace Windu as vengeance for beheading his father as seen in Attack of the Clones. Boba (who goes by “Lucky” as a cadet) plants a motion triggered explosive at the entrance to Mace Windu’s room but it kills a clone trooper instead and then Boba Fett blows up several sections of the ship forcing all aboard to abandon ship. In the escape pod, Boba sabotages the pod to avoid being caught. Boba is then rescued by bounty hunters led by Aurra Sing and the cadets are abandoned in deep space until Anakin manages to locate them. Anakin and Mace Windu travel to the planet surface to inspect the crash of the Endurance, hoping to find any survivors, but they find several executed clones, some vicious Gundark creatures, and the bounty hunter group, including Aurra Sing and young Boba Fett. The bounty hunters kidnap a trio of Republic officers, amidst some slapstick acts by R2-D2, however when Mace Windu and Anakin become trapped during an explosion among the wreckage of the Endurance, R2-D2 manages to rescue them. When the bounty hunters begin executing their prisoners in order to lure Mace Windu into a trap, instead Plo Koon and Ahsoka arrive and a battle ensues. The remaining clone troopers are rescued and the episode ends as Boba Fett tells Mace Windu he will never forgive him for murdering his father. Mace Windu simply responds, “you’re going to have to.”
Standouts for me in Season 2:
- Episodes 34-36 “The Mandalore Plot,” “Voyage of Temptation,” and “Duchess of Mandalore”
- Episodes 42-44 “Death Trap,” “R2 Come Home,” and “Lethal Trackdown”
- Episodes 23-25 “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force”
- Episodes 31-32 “Grievous Intrigue” and “The Deserter”
- Episode 38 “Cat and Mouse”
- Episode 37 “Senate Murders”
- Episode 40-41 “The Zillo Beast” and “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back”
- Episode 39 “Bounty Hunters”