When I started this project, I fully expected not only to keep up with my assigned pieces of canonical Star Wars, but also to keep up with the project as a whole, to finish both Clone Wars series, watch all the movies again, etc.
Boy, Did I ever fail.
Watching the Clone Wars movie was painful, but relatively easy. And then I started season one of the TV series. And it was better than the movie, in most respects. The first few episodes stayed away from the annoying characters and childish plotting of the movie, and focused on a broader swath of Galactic Republic life, from treating the clone troopers as individuated characters to some pretty decently choreographed fight scenes and space battles. But despite the improved quality and smaller size of each entry in the series, I had real trouble watching more than a couple in a single sitting. Binge-worthy, this was not.
Additionally, I felt like I had to be in a very specific mood to even want to start watching them — specifically, eating sugar cereal on Saturday morning. As a Saturday Morning Cartoon™, The Clone Wars hits all the right spots, but with my limited tv watching time, I’m often looking for more than a Saturday morning cartoon.
I never finished Season One, and as everyone else turned in their pieces, it became very clear that I was not going to catch up to my assigned season, Season Five. You may notice that that piece was already written — when I failed to watch it quickly enough, Ryan Howard offered to switch seasons with me to keep up the schedule. It was a gracious offer that I took and then squandered by taking so long with this. I’m very sorry.
I’m telling you this to emphasize the way that I’m coming to season 6 of this series. It’s not as someone who has all of the background on the rest of the events of the Clone Wars. It’s as someone who last watched it in season one, when it was a Saturday morning cartoon procedural, with little advanced plotting and way more Jar Jar than I’d care to see.
To someone in my position, then, Season 6 of The Clone Wars is quite the step up. It actually takes advantage of its serialized nature to tell more complex stories, to tie in more directly with Star Wars mythology, and to do some seriously weird stuff. Ultimately, it was still a Saturday morning cartoon to me, but a really damn good one.
The season opens with a great four-part arc that is probably the pinnacle of what you can do with an animated children’s Star Wars show. When Clone Trooper Tup loses himself and murders a Jedi, his fellow clone trooper and friend Fives must determine the cause — and most importantly, if this is an isolated incident or something that could affect all clones, including him. The resulting plot ties in to the ominous Order 66 shown in Revenge of the Sith, and also serves as an exploration into what it means to be a clone trooper. By the end of the fourth episode, we’ve seen Fives go from loyal soldier to amateur sluth to paranoid conspiracist, which even with just those listings is about two more shades than you’d think Clone Troopers had. We get a glimpse of a clone trooper bar, where we see clones dealing with their semi-humanity in many different ways, and we literally see the inside of a clone trooper’s mind. Well, at least his brain. The conspiracy plotline is well-developed and provides really great backstory on Order 66, and the ending is really quite sad.
Of course, it goes from that height to a plotline straight out of the most boring parts of the prequels: politics and finance. The sonorous opening voiceover gives us a fairly detailed explanation of how the banking clans can finance both sides of the war. Heck, it mentions banking clans. Then they devote three episodes to the details of this financing. I suppose this may be the nadir of what you can do with an expansion of the prequel trilogy. Any storyline that could non-ironically begin with the bombastic line “War Profiteers!” is lacking for appropriate action. They try to add tension by throwing an “old flame” of Padmé’s into the mix, but since I didn’t see his betrayal in previous episodes in the series, even that impact was gone. It did make Anakin show his true colors by beating the old flame bloody though, which is not a plotline that goes well with Froot Loops and Lucky Charms.
The next arc of Season 6 is probably best described by the following messages I sent to Ryan Howard over chat:
I’m watching the episode where Jar Jar is requested to rescue the bird people and it is hilarious
“If you’re looking for a friend of the bardottans, look no further than representative Binks. The queen has been alone with him for quite some time now” (alone said very suggestively) “The innocence of a Child, this gungan has. Perhaps appealing to the Dagoyan his mind is” Damn, mace and Yoda, you throwing serious shade.
“Jar Jar, I asked you here because I trust you, because I know you will be able to help me In ways others cannot” “Mesa hoping so, milady” —Jar jar being suggestive as hell
Yeah, so this is the arc where we learn the following:
- Jar Jar can totally get some
- Holy Crap, Jar Jar can totally get some!
When the leader of the bird people (the “Bardottans”) specifically requested Jar Jar to be her envoy, I was thinking “Ha, I wonder if there’s some Jar Jar + Bird Queen fanfiction.” But then they actually went there, making Jar Jar a queen’s paramour canon, and I could not keep it in. (Speaking of fanfiction, a quick search only brought up this entry but there could be others.)
I don’t know that any other parts of these episodes (force sensitive non-Jedi, mysterious cult, etc) matter. Jar Jar-Queen Julia ship is all that matters.
The last arc of the season, and the series, is Force Detective Yoda, this one’s got a lot of meditating and Jedi saying pithy things about the nature of the force. It also has several episodes that feel like extended versions of that “spooky force cave” scene in Empire. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I didn’t get much out of these force adventures. They relied a bit too much on obtuse Force mumbo-jumbo that I didn’t understand, and that I doubt was that important anyway. On the other hand, it did have Yoda’s cute tiny TIE fighter ship.
So there you have it. Season 6. A pretty good Saturday Morning Cartoon™. I don’t think it ever rose beyond that.
The question for me is whether or not I’ll ever go back and finish the rest of the series. I could see myself working on an episode or two here and there, but honestly, it’ll probably take me years to finish this series. It’s good for what it is, but it’s not terribly compelling to me.