The Clone Wars Season 3: Secrets Revealed (2010-2011) Review

Most Star Wars fans seem to agree that Season 3 of The Clone Wars is the turning point for the show when it finally hit its stride. By the third season, this animated series started to become a newly inspired reimagining of an otherwise bland string of prequel films –there are new backstories developed, old nostalgia-bait, and the zenith of this season comes with a trio of episodes tracing the vengeance of Count Dooku’s former assassin, Asajj Ventress, as she hires her own personal Dathomiran assassin named Savage Opress, a dark figure set to lead us down a winding path in search of his mysterious brother…

Season 3, Episodes Forty-Five-Forty-Six “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers”

“Brothers in arms are brothers for life.”
“Fighting a war tests a soldier’s skills, defending his home tests a soldier’s heart.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Season 3 opens with a wonderful pair of episodes (Episodes 45-46 “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers”) which are devoid of the usual Skywalker narrative as we follow a group of clone cadets in training on Kamino as they overcome obstacles together. They study under the tutelage of Jedi Master General Shaak Ti as well as a hired group of bounty hunters for training –the gruff brain-headed Bric and the Arcona bounty hunter El-Les,. The cadets are: Fives, Echo, Hevy, and the jokester Cutup, and Droidbait –a sloppy “bad batch” known as the Domino Squad (as featured in the Season 1 but chronologically later episode “Rookies”). They are desperately in need of uniting while training to hopefully become ARC Troopers. An elderly maintenance clone trooper named 99 stands out in this episode as a kindly old sage for the young and fiery cadets, but he is also culturally scorned for being a “mistake” in the cloning process and thus relegated to work maintenance on Kamino rather than fight on the frontlines with the other clones. However, when Kamino is attacked by Separatist forces under General Grievous and Asajj Ventress, he sacrifices himself, finally proving himself in battle and joining the honored ranks of his fallen brethren. There is a nice nod to George Lucas’s THX-1138 in this episode as the name of one of a battle simulations. The lanky Lama Su also appears in this series.

Season 3, Episode Forty-Seven “Supply Lines”

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next episode is a chronological prequel to the series opener in Season 1 (“Supply Lines”). Critical supplies are needed on Ryloth as the droid army closes in. Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di and Twi-lek leader Cham Syndulla require food and ammunition. Republic forces attempt to negotiate treaty with King Katuunko of the Toydarians which is a mere 2,00 parsecs away, but their messages are intercepted by the Separatists. Jar Jar Binks joins Bail Organa to negotiate a treaty with Toydaria to support Ryloth (unfortunately, this is another annoying Jar Jar Binks episode), until the Trade Federation under Nute Gunray shows up all of a sudden to ensure Toydaria honors their neutral agreement. When the Toydarians deny the Republic’s request for a treaty in order to preserve their planet’s neutrality, Jar Jar Binks stages a silly incident in which he serves as dinner entertainment for the Trade Federation in a clumsy scene which ultimately backfires on Nute Gunray and the episode ends with a deal is set to be struck with the Toydarians.

Season 3, Episode Forty-Eight “Sphere of Influence”

“A child stolen is a hope lost.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the next episode, Pantora is in turmoil! Following a Trade Federation blockade, newly elected Chairman Papanoida is caught in a deadly political game as the Trade Federation threatens to bankrupt the planet. Chairman Papanoida sends Senator Riyo Chuchi to the Galactic Senate to negotiate, but while the senate is bogged down in debate, Chairman Papanoida’s daughters are kidnapped by the Trade Federation. A blood sample at the scene of the crime leads Papanoida in search of Greedo at Jabba’s Palace which leads him to one daughter, while Ahsoka releases the other daughter from imprisonment by the Trade Federation. In the end, the Trade Federation speaks before the Senate about listing the blockade of Pantora.

Season 3, Episodes Forty-Nine-Fifty-One “Corruption,” “The Academy” and “Assassin”

“The challenge of hope is to overcome corruption.”
“Those who enforce the law must obey the law.”
“The future has many paths – choose wisely.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the next 2 episodes, Mandalore has fallen into greed and corruption, supplies are hard to come by. As a neutral planet, Mandalore requires a black market to purchase vital food and supplies, however a group of smugglers decide to turn a profit by diluting tea with Slabin, a toxin. Padme Amidala visits the Duchess Satine on Mandalore and an Egyptian Pharoh named Sadik sneaks onto the planet. Then there is a disease outbreak among the children of Mandalore, Padme and the Duchess slink out one evening to witness Sadik’s smuggling operation. After a brief shootout, the smugglers are put down but the Duchess suspects there is further corruption. She requests an undercover Jedi to further investigate the situation. After speaking with Master Yoda, Ahsoka Tano is sent to Mandalore. She then stumbles upon a shadowy meeting of unmarked Mandalorian police. It turn out to be a false ploy by Mandalorian Prime Minister Almec. Ahsoka is commended by the Jedi council and Anakin is sent to Balith where a civil war is unfolding. Ahsoka begins having terribly vivid dreams of an assassination of Padme, who is headed to Alderaan for a conference with Bail Organa. Ahsoka prevents an assassination attempt by the bounty hunter, Aurra Sing by rolling out a hooded dummy of Senator Amidala, however Aurra Sing is one step ahead so Ahsoka rushes back to Padme’s room just in time to save her. In the end, it is revealed that the assassination attempt was concocted by Ziro the Hutt.

Season 3, Episodes Fifty-Two and Fifty-Three “Evil Plans” and “Hunt for Ziro”

“A failure in planning is a plan for failure.”
“Love comes in all shapes and sizes.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next, Cad Bane returns! Jabba the Hutt has hired Bane to kidnap C-3PO and R2-D2 on Coruscant and wipe their memories as part of a ploy to kidnap Ziro the Hutt. Ziro is then placed under the rule of the Hutt Council on Nal Hutta. Obi-Wan is joined by fellow Jedi Quinlan Vos to capture and return Ziro to prison. Amusingly, the dancing character from Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi (a Pa’lowick named Sy “Snooty” Snootles) appears in this episode and is apparently in love with Ziro. This leads to a dramatic escape in which both Cade Bane and the two Jedi track Ziro as he commandeers a starship from his mother and flees to Teth to regain a holo device. However, Snootles suddenly kills Ziro and takes the holo as repayment for breaking her heart. After this, a mountaintop battle unfolds between Cade Bane and the two Jedi but Cade Bane escapes while Snootles delivers the Holo to Jabba the Hutt.

Season 3, Episodes Fifty-Four and Fifty-Five “Heroes on Both Sides” and “Pursuit of Peace”

“Fear is a great motivator.”
“Truth can strike down the spectre of fear.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the Senate, legislation to lift oversight over the Banking Clan is discussed while Padme tries to persuade fellow senators to pursue a policy of peace in order to end the war. However, when this fails, Padme and Ahsoka secretly travel to the capital of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, a group of semi-friendly Separatists, where they hope to discuss a peace resolution, but before negotiations can proceed much further, General Grievous launches a terrorist attack on Coruscant. This episode offers another terrific glimpse into a neutral party as Ahsoka learns that the politics of this war are not as black and white as she once thought they were. Next, the Galactic Senate debates purchasing new clones, but after Padme tries again to persuade the Senate in favor of peace, she is caught up in another dangerous plot on her life as she flees through the streets of Coruscant. When she escapes, Padme takes to the floor of the Senate to showcase her aide Teckla, whose lifestyle has deteriorated as a result of the war.

Season 3, Episodes Fifty-Six to Fifty-Eight “Nightsisters,” “Monster,” and “Witches of the Mist”

“The swiftest path to destruction is through vengeance.”
“Evil is not born, it is taught.”
“The path to evil may bring great power, but not loyalty.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the next trio, and the best of Season 3 in my view (“Nightsisters,” “Monster,” and “Witches of the Mist”), Asajj Ventress leads a Separatist attack on the Sallust System, but Count Dooku has secretly been ordered by Darth Sidious to eliminate Ventress. During the course of battle, her ship is shot down and she lands inside a Separatist hangar where she fights Obi-Wan and Anakin. However, a Separatist droid ship crashes into the hangar and self destructs while Ventress, Obi-Wan, and Anakin all manage to escape. Later, Ventress is rescued from her damaged ship, which is floating in space, by a pack of bounty hunters who are compelled to take her to the planet Dathomir. Here, Ventress meets her mother, Talzin, and she is revived. We are given a bit of backstory: Ventress was once taken away from her family in order to save her clan and she was enslaved before being discovered and trained by a Jedi, but when her Jedi master was killed she turned to the darkside under Count Dooku. Now, she seeks revenge on Dooku for his betrayal. With the support of her mother’s coven (“The Nightsisters of Dathomir”), she and two other assassins become partly invisible and they invade Dooku’s bedchamber striking him with a poison dart to dull his senses. A lightsaber battle ensues but Dooku disengages all three of them using force lightning, but he is still not aware that Ventress is involved. In order to replace Ventress as his personal assassin, Dooku visits Dathomir and agrees to accept a new assassin, this time a “barbarian” man from the far side of Dathomir. Ventress secretly travels across the planet in search of such a man, one who can be used as a pawn to attack Dooku (these men are the same race as Darth Maul). Ventress launches a series of games –three tests to discover the right man for the job. In the end, she chooses Savage Opress (pronounced “Sah-Vaaj”) who protects his brother Feral but in the end he is forced to kill his own brother to prove his loyalty. Infused with dark magic from the Nightsisters, Savage is handed over to Dooku who immediately tests him by sending Savage to Devaron to reclaim the Jedi Temple of Eedit which he easily accomplishes. The Jedi quickly learn that this Dathomiri male is not Darth Maul, who was born on Iridonia but raised on Dathomir. They track him to Toydaria, however before they can do so, Ventress secretly seeks her revenge on Dooku. Ventress and Opress jointly attack Dooku, but in the heat of battle, Savage decides he has been betrayed so he flees and is injured. He collapses back on Dathomir where Mother Talzin revives him and informs him that he has a mysterious brother he must track down.

Season 3, Episodes Fifty-Nine to Sixty-Two “Overlords” “Altar of Mortis,” and “Ghosts of Mortis”

“Balance is found in the one who faces his guilt.”
“He who surrenders hope, surrenders life.”
“He who seeks to control fate shall never find peace.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This trio is one of the strangest in The Clone Wars. In “Overlords,” “Altar of Mortis,” and “Ghosts of Mortis,” Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka respond to a strange distress call that leads to them stranded on an odd-shaped planet filled with dark powers. A character named “Daughter” leads Anakin away believing him to be the Chosen One and another darker character appears claiming to be neither Jedi nor Sith. Obi-Wan has a vision of his old master, Qui Gon Jinn, who says this planet is a conglomeration of the force throughout the universe –both a mirror and a magnet. It contains both the light and darkness ruled by a father and his two children. Anakin discourses with the old Father, while Ahsoka receives a vision from her future self which says she must flee this place. Anakin is placed into an arena where he is forced to choose between saving either Obi-Wan or Ahsoka, but he saves both and rejects the opportunity to replace the old dying Father character on this planet. Before they can depart from Mortis, Anakin is given another vision and The Son takes Ahsoka to his “dark side” of the planet. The Brother kills the Father, and the Daughter gives Obi-Wan a saber which can apparently kill the Brother. This trio of episodes is intriguing but it runs a bit off the rails for me and is somewhat aesthetically derivative of Star Trek and also Lord of the Rings. The Brother and Sister battle, while the Father is re-animated, and Anakin and Obi-Wan battle an evil version of Ahsoka. In the end, both the Father and Daughter sacrifice themselves to save Ahsoka and allow the Jedi to leave –but only after an odd moment wherein Anakin sees a horrid vision of his future as Darth Vader but his memory is soon wiped clean anyway, and as the Father dies, he warns Anakin about following his heart.

Season 3, Episodes Sixty-Three to Sixty-Six “The Citadel,” “Counter Attack,” and “Citadel Rescue”

“Adaptation is the key to survival.”
“Anything that can go wrong will.”
“Without honor, victory is hollow.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In “The Citadel,” “Counter Attack,” and “Citadel Rescue,” an elite rescue squad of Jedi is dispatched to release Master Even Piell from an impenetrable Separatist fortress called The Citadel. Along the way they also rescue a young Captain Tarkin (the future Moff Tarkin), however they are pursued by the vicious Warden Osi Sobeck. The Jedi salvage valuable covert hyperdrive coordinates on this mission, despite the death of Master Piell, and in the end they are rescued by Plo Koon. The death of Master Piell is a good reminder that anything can happen in this show, and that the tone is significantly darker than one might expect from a Star Wars animated series.

Season 3, Episodes Sixty-Seven and Sixty-Eight “Padawan Lost” and “Wookiee Hunt”

“Without humility, courage is a dangerous game.”
“A great student is what the teacher hopes to be.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For the final two episodes (“Padawan Lost” and “Wookiee Hunt”) Ahsoka Tano is captured during a battle on Felucia. She is taken by Trandoshians and released on a forested planet to be hunted for sport a la “The Most Dangerous Game.” There she meets a trio of Jedi younglings who have survived by hiding in the trees, and she persuades them to fight back. After one of the younglings dies, they attempt to commandeer a Trandoshan ship but it crashes. One prisoner escapes –and it turns out to be everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca. Together, they devise a scheme to repurpose a transmitter from the ship’s wreckage while also capturing a Trandoshan hunter which gives them a speeder bike. They use it to take over the main Trandoshan ship and they are rescued by a group of Wookie warriors.

Standouts for me in Season 3

  • Episodes 49-51 “Corruption,” “The Academy” and “Assassin”
  • Episode 56-58 “Nightsisters,” “Monster,” and “Witches of the Mist”
  • Episodes 67-68 “Padawan Lost” and “Wookiee Hunt”
  • Episodes 63-66 “The Citadel,” “Counter Attack,” and “Citadel Rescue”
  • Episodeds 45-46 “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers”

Return to my survey of the Star Wars series

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