Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Episode 116

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One of the chief successes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is its creative team’s ability to make the Republic’s army of genetically identical soldiers as compelling as the series’ lightsaber-toting protagonists. The tough-as-nails Captain Rex and the loyal Commander Cody emerge as likeable characters, while their clone subordinates exhibit unique personality traits and eccentricities that one would expect as side effects of fighting in a galaxy-spanning conflict.

However, individualism can sometimes precede dissent, an issue dealt with in the latest episode, “The Hidden Enemy.” As the Republic attempts to defend the planet Christophsis from Separatist control, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rex and Cody discover that a security breach is giving the droid armies a clear advantage. Someone, likely a clone trooper, is feeding the enemy information. Anakin and Obi-Wan venture behind enemy lines to investigate this threat, while Rex and Cody remain behind at the Republic base to question their fellow clones and weed out the spy.

It’s hard to fully object to a lightsaber duel, but the Jedi’s excursion to the Separatist headquarters and their ensuing battle with the evil Asajj Ventress almost feels unnecessary. It’s as though director Steward Lee, along with writers Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg, did not have enough faith in the episode’s main storyline and felt obligated to include these scenes as an act of fan service. The duel definitely has its moments—including some odd, sexually-charged banter between Obi-Wan and Ventress—but it never seems as interesting as the paranoia brewing among the clone troopers.

But with the Jedi out of their way, the clones are put through their paces. They uncover that one of their brothers, Sergeant Slick, has been leaking military intelligence to the Separatists. The turncoat reasons that the Jedi are using the clones as slaves, and that his betrayal was in the name of freedom. One wonders whether more clones will follow Slick's lead as the war rages on.

This episode serves as a prequel to the vastly inferior Clone Wars movie that hit theaters last August. For fans of the series that missed out on the film, it may be worth a rental to see how the battle on Christophsis plays out and how Anakin is introduced to his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, at its conclusion. However, don’t expect that film to live up to the better installments in the series.

As is the case with most episodes of The Clone Wars,  has plenty of slight nods to Star Wars fans sprinkled throughout. Keep an eye open for World War II-esque pin-up posters of Twi’lek girls and Naboo handmaidens hanging in the clone barracks.

While not particularly remarkable, “The Hidden Enemy” is an above-average Star Wars adventure that gives this series’ clones some much-needed dramatic heft, planting some promising thematic seeds that will hopefully come to satisfying fruition.

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