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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Clone Cadets (The Clone Wars - S03E01) - Television

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: Clone Cadets

Season: Three

Episode: 1

Chronological Episode: 4

Original Air Date: September 17, 2010

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Brothers in arms are brothers for life.

Clone troopers unite! As war rages across the galaxy, the Republic's clone army strives for victory against the evil forces of the Separatists. Bravery, valor, unity -- the lifeblood of victory on the battlefield and in space.It all begins on the planet Kamino, where Jedi General Shaak Ti oversees the training of clones with the help of contracted bounty hunters. Bred to be perfect soldiers, these cadets must first be subjected to intense physical and mental training before heading off to war....

You're one of us. SPOILERS.

“Clone Cadets” began with Domino Squad attempting to pass one of their final training exercises. Prior to this episode, we had never seen the training of clone troopers on screen before. Examining the lives of clone troopers on Kamino may not be the most electrifying storyline to some, but it is an important one. It was an important step in the collective evolution of the clone troopers as characters for the audience to see how these men were trained, what their lives were like growing up on Kamino, and even what happened to the clones who were labeled obsolete or insufficient. I’m glad the writers used the dysfunctional Domino Squad as our gateway into clone trooper training and their culture on Kamino. The members of Domino Squad included Heavy, Fives, Echo, Cutup, and Droidbait (who were first introduced in the fan-favorite episode “Rookies”). As their training exercise unraveled, it became clear that the members of Domino Squad were unable to come together as a unit to complete their mission. The training exercises themselves were visually striking and a lot of fun to watch. They also demonstrated how immersive and intensive clone trooper training was. After failing their training exercise, Domino Squad returned to the barracks. One small moment that stood out to me was a conversation between two clone troopers in the barracks. One clone trooper was bragging about a girl he was talking to and the other responded by saying, “you never even met a girl.” Moments like this are a reminder of how sheltered and controlled the lives of these men are. They were bred for one purpose only, to fight and die for the Republic.

   

“Clone Cadets” also revealed who oversaw the training of the clone troopers. Jedi Master Shaak Ti was the general in charge of training, but bounty hunters were the ones responsible for the day to day training of the clones. Having bounty hunters train the clones is a very intriguing concept, but it was unfortunately squandered in this episode. The two bounty hunters we met in this episode, Bric and El-Les, were both disappointing additions. Bric was the biggest problem in the episode. A design that didn’t transfer to animation very well and Larry Brandenburg’s over-the-top performance combined to make a character that was memorable for the wrong reasons in Bric. Bric played the role of overly harsh drill instructor, but again it was over-the-top. It felt like a caricature more than anything. After witnessing Domino Squad’s failure, Shaak Ti met with Kaminoan Prime Minister Lama Su. This conservation demonstrated the interesting dynamic between the Jedi and the Kaminoans. Lama Su suggested that if a clone or clone unit was deemed a failure, then they should be terminated. Shaak Ti balked at this idea and said that the clones are living beings, not objects. Not only does this demonstrate the cultural divide between the Jedi and the Kaminoans, but it also demonstrates the type of environment the clone troopers were raised and trained in.

   

A group of ARC Troopers arrived to oversee the clone cadets’ final test. Domino Squad’s test started off well, but they received an automatic failure when they left a man behind on the battlefield. I have to mention that I loved the running joke that Droidbait is, frankly, droid bait. He got shot by the training droids almost immediately on every training assignment. After Domino Squad’s failure, Heavy decided to desert his squad and leave Kamino. And that brings me to the character of 99. 99, a so called “bad batcher”, was malformed during the cloning process and suffered from numerous genetic defects. For me, 99 was the stand out character in this episode. Upon being labeled as a failure, 99 questioned how he could be considered a failure when he never had a chance. 99 convinced Heavy that he shouldn’t waste his chance. Shaak Ti agreed to let Domino Squad attempt the final challenge again. Bric attempted to sabotage them, but Domino Squad came to together as a group and completed their mission. Their sudden turnaround felt rushed, but it worked for me. After all, the writers only had twenty-two minutes to work with. Domino Squad’s final run through the training exercise was expertly directed and featured some of Kevin Kiner’s best work as composer. The whole sequence was really well done. Domino Squad received medals upon the completion of their training. After the ceremony, Heavy gave his medal to 99 and said he was lucky to have a brother like him. It was a great way to close out the episode and the connection between Heavy and 99 never felt forced. I also wanted to commend Dee Bradley Baker, who voices all of the clone troopers. Baker truly carried this episode and this was some of his best work on The Clone Wars. One of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ greatest accomplishments is how it was able to develop the clone troopers as characters. In the prequels, they were used as tool to wipe out the Jedi. The Clone Wars showed us that the clone troopers were nuanced, heroic characters who truly had one of the most tragic journeys in the Star Wars saga. “Clone Cadets” is an important step in that journey.

What Worked

  • Small scale story that examines the lives of Clone Troopers on Kamino
  • 99 and his connection with Heavy
  • Our first look at Clone Trooper training
  • Some of Dee Bradley Baker’s best work

What Didn’t Work

  • Sergeant Bric
  • Domino Squad's sudden turnaround felt rushed
External Links:
Added: November 12, 2016
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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