Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Episode 120

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As the second installment of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ explosive Ryloth Trilogy, “The Innocents of Ryloth” remains action packed throughout.  It’s also surprisingly effective as character exploration, focusing on a pair of clone troopers with contrasting viewpoints on the value of saving the Twi’lek people from Separatist rule.

After Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice Ahsoka Tano broke through the Separatist blockade in “Storm Over Ryloth,” it’s up to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ghost Squad to disable the enemy’s anti-aircraft gun outposts so the Republic can land safely on the planet’s surface. However, Obi-Wan and the clones find the streets of Twi’lek city Nabat completely emptied, as the droid armies have taken the natives hostage for use as human shields. After all, droid commander TX-20 notes, the Jedi would not dare harm innocents.

While one might expect this episode to be all about Obi-Wan causing all kinds of Separatist headaches (can droids get headaches?), the real stars here are two clone troopers named Waxer and Boil. Initially, Boil apparently doesn’t care all that much about the safety of Ryloth’s people, referring to derisively as “tail-heads,” a blatant racial slur. Waxer, on the other hand, is far more compassionate.

While searching Nabat on a scouting mission, Boil and Waxer encounter a frightened little Twi’lek girl named Numa. Waxer is immediately concerned with the girl’s safety and wishes to take her with them, while Boil dismisses her entirely.

"Aw, you made a friend. Mission accomplished. Can we go now?" Boil quips.

Numa eventually warms up to the clones once they remove their helmets and prove that they’re not droids, naming them both “nerra,” a term of endearment that we later learn means “brother” in her languge. Following his initial indifference toward her, it was genuinely touching to see Boil endear himself to Numa as the episode progressed. However, at the same time it’s bittersweet knowing that these soldiers—who are growing more and more human as the Clone Wars progress—will eventually become evil with the execution of Order 66 and the birth of the Galactic Empire. This is a tragedy touched upon in the prequel films, but it’s explored further and more effectively in Clone Wars episodes such as this one.

The mission is further complicated when TX-20 unleashes vicious hard-shelled carnivores called gutkurrs, which tear through the clone ranks until Obi-Wan traps them behind a wall of stone. It’s always fun when the Clone Wars team mixes up combat by pitting the heroes against something audiences have never seen before. They’re a genuine threat compared to the battle droids who, more often than not, are merely comic-relief cannon fodder.

Speaking of cannons, Obi-Wan and crew are successful in destroying the anti-aircraft guns while the enraged Twi’leks, once freed, tear TX-20 apart with their bare hands. Realizing that Numa is looking on, Obi-Wan covers her eyes. The moment is undeniably charming.

A solid middle chapter of the Ryloth Trilogy, “Innocents of Ryloth” sets the bar pretty high for its finale, “Liberty on Ryloth.”

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