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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Ambush (The Clone Wars - S01E01) - Television

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: Ambush

Season: One

Episode: 1

Chronological Episode: 6

Original Air Date: October 3, 2008

Runtime: 22 minutes

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

Great leaders inspire greatness in others.

A galaxy divided by war! Peaceful worlds must choose sides or face the threat of invasion. Republic and Separatist armies vie for the allegiance of neutral planets. Desperate to build a Republic supply base on the system of Toydaria, Jedi Master Yoda travels to secret negotiations on a remote neutral moon....

It’s hard to believe, but “Ambush” will have aired eight years ago as of this writing. While the 2008 theatrical release was our first introduction to the world of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this episode was our introduction to The Clone Wars as an ongoing series. It was certainly a much better introduction than the theatrical release and demonstrated the potential of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. However, this is not a perfect episode and it is clear that the series was still experiencing some growing pains. I want to begin by discussing the one major issue with this episode, the cringe worthy battle droid humor. The battle droids were never a terrifying or threatening enemy but in the beginning of The Clone Wars, they were often reduced to sources of poorly executed slapstick humor. Obviously the battle droid humor was intended for the young kids who were watching The Clone Wars, but it was probably painful to sit through for the rest of the audience. Humor is essential in Star Wars, but not when it is this poorly done and cringe worthy. Thankfully, The Clone Wars evolved past the battle droid humor that plagued some of these early episodes. With all that being said, “Ambush” is a great episode that succeeds in spite of the battle droid humor.

   

The basic setup for this episode is Yoda was sent on a mission to convince King Katuunko to allow the Republic to build a base on Toydaria, but Count Dooku dispatched Ventress to convince the King to join the Separatists instead. It’s a simple premise, but an effective one. This episode was an interesting look into the early stages of the war when both sides were vying for the support of initially neutral systems. However, it’s the presence of Yoda that elevates this episode beyond the promising premise. Yoda is my favorite Star Wars character so I will always have a fondness for stories that heavily feature him. One common complaint about the prequels was the overly serious portrayal of Yoda. To me, it made sense that we would see a more serious Yoda during the height of a war but there was something missing. Yoda’s sense of fun was part of his charm and I’m glad we saw the return of that aspect of his character in this episode. I think the portrayal of Yoda in this episode was perfect. From his conversation with the clones in the cave (more on that later) to the way he outsmarted a group of battle droids and got them to destroy each other. Even small moments like when Yoda looked around at the landscape of the moon and commented on the beauty of the universe felt like quintessential Yoda.

   

After a Separatist attack, Yoda and a group of three clone troopers (Thire, Jek, and Rys) crash landed on the moon’s surface and had to get past Ventress’ droid army in order to reach King Katuunko. Thire is actually the clone commander who Palpatine dispatched to find Yoda after their duel in Revenge of the Sith, so it was interesting to watch Yoda and Thire bond over the course of the episode with that in mind. Yoda and the clones defeated several squads of battle droids but were forced to seek shelter after Thire was injured. Without a doubt, Yoda’s conversation with the clones in the cave was my favorite scene in the entire episode. It reminded me why Yoda is my favorite Star Wars character. When Yoda asked the clones to remove their helmets, Thire commented that there isn’t much to see since they all share the same face. Yoda countered by saying that eyes can deceive you and that all of them are very different in the Force and addressed each clone individually. For example, he told Jek that weapons do not win battles and told him to use his mind to outthink the droids. I love this quote from Yoda, “Clones you may be, but the Force resides in all life forms.” This scene works so well because it explores both the Force and the idea of individuality in an army of clones. It felt genuine and that is exactly how the Yoda we met in The Empire Strikes Back would address a group of clone soldiers under his command. The use of John Williams’ music made the scene even better. Composer Kevin Kiner rarely used existing John Williams themes in the early stages of The Clone Wars, but this was a perfect moment to use Yoda’s theme and I’m glad he did.

   

The droid army discovered the location of Yoda and the clones, but the droids didn’t stand a chance. Watching Yoda destroy the battle droid army was a lot fun. Again, I thought this scene did a great job conveying the idea that Yoda’s mind is his most powerful weapon. The moment when the clones used the last rocket launcher to hit the canyon wall and destroy the remaining droids was a great moment as well. After Dooku learned that King Katuunko decided to join the Republic, he ordered Ventress to kill the king. Yoda arrived and made quick work of Ventress, who only escaped because she forced Yoda to focus on saving Katuunko from a bomb. There was a brief moment between Yoda and Dooku which I appreciated. The relationship between Yoda and Dooku is one of the biggest missed opportunities in the prequel trilogy in my opinion. They were master and apprentice. Dooku’s betrayal should’ve hurt Yoda as much as Anakin’s betrayal hurt Obi-Wan, but we’ve only had brief glimpses into that relationship which is a shame. Although it suffered from the use of idiotic battle droid humor, “Ambush” was an excellent Yoda centric story that quickly proved Star Wars: The Clone Wars could produce a great episode.

What Worked

  • Yoda centric story
  • Return of the more lighthearted Yoda we met in TESB
  • Yoda’s speech to the clone troopers in the cave
  • Use of John Williams’ music

What Didn’t Work

  • Cringe worthy battle droid humor
External Links:
Added: November 26, 2016
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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