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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Cloak of Darkness (The Clone Wars - S01E09) - Television

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: Cloak of Darkness

Season: One

Episode: 9

Chronological Episode: 14

Original Air Date: December 5, 2008

Runtime: 22 minutes

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

Ignore your instincts at your peril.

Viceroy Gunray captured! Senator Padmé Amidala has scored a victory against the Separatist Alliance on the remote world of Rodia, securing the arrest of the diabolical Confederate leader, Nute Gunray. The Jedi Council has dispatched Master Luminara Unduli and Anakin Skywalker's Padawan Ahsoka to escort the Viceroy to Coruscant under heavy guard. Once there, he will face trial for his many war crimes....

“Cloak of Darkness” is usually identified as one of the better season one episodes, but I rarely hear about it when people are discussing the best episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It should at least be in that discussion though. It might not be as powerful as episodes like “The Lawless” or “The Wrong Jedi”, but “Cloak of Darkness” is an episode that I appreciate more and more every time I watch it. Just like “Rookies”, it demonstrates the full potential of this series and marked an important shift in the direction of the series. While “Rookies” introduced the idea of exploring the clone troopers as individuals, this episode is important because it was the first true Separatist victory we saw in the series. That’s right, it’s okay to have the bad guys win. For the series to be taken seriously, The Clone Wars needed to show the Separatists as a legitimate threat and that they are capable of defeating the Republic. “Cloak of Darkness” did just that. This episode was also invaluable to Asajj Ventress’ development. Despite the cool design and some great voice work from Nika Futterman, Ventress failed to make an impression in The Clone Wars film or episodes like “Ambush.” Prior to this episode, Ventress was a thinly written character who was more of a nuance than an actual threat to the heroes. The Ventress we meet here was the legitimately terrifying, silent assassin I wanted to see when she was first introduced. Ventress had a ton of great moments in this episode. Her decapitation of the clone trooper, the silent and wonderfully directed scene where she planted the explosives, the lightsaber duel with Luminara, and the murder of Argyus. All of them were standout moments in a great episode. Episode writer Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series) did a great job with all of the characters though. I loved the dynamic he established between Ahsoka and Luminara and the way he juxtaposed Argyus with Commander Gree. Even Nute Gunray was entertaining in this episode. Going back to Ahsoka, I think Dini understood that character’s voice and personality better than most of the writers in season one. Her characterization hasn’t changed that much since the film, but this was the best example from season one of how well her character can work. Between the impressive character work, the (mostly) sharp dialogue, and the excellent pacing Dini’s script is among the best from the first few seasons.

   

The episode picked up right where “Bombad Jedi” left off, with Nute Gunray in Republic custody. Luminara Unduli, Ahsoka, and a squad of Senate commandos were assigned to transport Gunray to Coruscant where he would stand trial for war crimes. Meanwhile, Dooku dispatched Ventress to retrieve or kill Gunray. The Jedi began their interrogation of Gunray. I thought this scene did a good job of establishing the dynamic between Ahsoka and Luminara. Luminara was a calm and thoughtful Jedi Master while Ahsoka grew impatient and threatened to kill Gunray. Ahsoka was obviously bluffing, but Luminara wouldn’t even consider using the threat of violence. It’s not the Jedi way. It also provided an interesting parallel to real life debates over the use of torture in interrogations. You can definitely see how much Anakin has already influenced Ahsoka. Pairing Ahsoka with a Jedi like Luminara was nice change of pace and it offered up some great material in the rest of the episode. Their interrogation was interrupted by a Separatist attack. The initial Separatist attack was another great moment. Thankfully, the regular battle droids and their juvenile humor were nowhere to be seen. The Super Battle Droids were silent killing machines and appropriately chilling in their lack of emotion. They made quick work of a lot of the clone troopers too. The tide didn’t turn until Luminara and Commander Gree intervened. Luminara had ordered Ahsoka to stay behind and guard Gunray. I’m not a fan of The Clone Wars version of Nute Gunray, but I mostly enjoyed the back and forth dialogue between him and Ahsoka in this episode. Gunray’s “Open this door and I’ll buy you planet” line to Ventress also made me laugh. With Luminara distracted, Ventress attacked Ahsoka in the detention center. Luminara arrived but Ventress escaped when she set off the explosives she had planted. Once again, Luminara ordered Ahsoka to guard Gunray while she tracked down Ventress. I liked how they developed the relationship between Ahsoka and Luminara in this episode. Ahsoka was clearly impatient but Luminara’s overconfidence blinded her to the threat that Ventress posed. These two very different Jedi were able to learn something meaningful from their time together.

   

In the episode’s best scene, Luminara battled Ventress in the destroyed engine room. They battled each other as the flames from the destroyed engine danced in the background. It was a beautiful sequence and Ventress was a real threat to Luminara. Futterman’s delivery of the “Now you fall, as all Jedi must” line was downright chilling, as was Ventress’ laugh. Argyus convinced Ahsoka to leave her post and help Luminara. Ahsoka arrived just in time and saved Luminara’s life. While Ventress engaged the Jedi, Argyus revealed himself as a traitor. He killed his fellow senate commandos and freed Gunray. I was genuinely surprised by the Argyus reveal so it worked for me. I think James Marsters did a good job voicing Argyus and juxtaposing Argyus with Gree brought up some compelling moral arguments about duty and what it means to be a soldier. Gunray and Argyus escaped in the only working shuttle and rendezvoused with Ventress who used an escape pod to get away. When Argyus told Ventress that he would mention her contributions in his report to Dooku, she brutally stabbed him through the heart. Just like Grievous’ murder of Gha Nachkt, I was shocked how long they lingered on the shot of the lightsaber sticking out of Argyus’ chest. It was pretty brutal, but it was the perfect way to end his story. Even in victory, the villains still find a reason to betray each other. Gunray telling each of them that he always had a good feeling about them highlights how slippery and cowardly he really is. The episode ended with a nice moment that brought some closure to Ahsoka’s relationship with Luminara. As for my issues with this episode, they’re all pretty minor. While I liked the character, Argyus’ design was laughable. There were a few lines of dialogue that made me roll my eyes and Tom Kenny’s portrayal of Nute Gunray is still too over the top for my liking. Overall though, “Cloak of Darkness” was a great episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

   

What Worked

  • Great script from Paul Dini
  • A Separatist victory and a legitimately threatening Ventress
  • The Ahsoka and Luminara partnership
  • The Argyus reveal

What Didn’t Work

  • A few minor complaints
External Links:
Added: March 5, 2017
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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