Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 1, Episode 1
Original Air Date: October 3, 2008
That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my limited exposure to Clone Wars stories. I was impressed by the animated microseries created by Genndy Tartakovsky. It shouldn't have been a surprise as my wife and I were fans of his work on The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory even before we were parents. The Clone Wars film released to theaters was mediocre in my opinion but the TV series that followed was a lot of fun. My daughter and I watched them together in the beginning and I was disappointed when her interest waned as I lost that excuse to continue. I haven't watched since... until now!
In my own posts on the series, I plan to devote some space to contributions to the back story of the originals. However, I will also explore the development of the Clone Wars as an entity worthy of consideration on its own merits. And just as with Star Trek, let us not forget the actual, living, breathing humans behind the creative efforts. For us, Star Wars is a cultural institution. For them, it's a job. Here we go...
"Ambush" is a Yoda story. The Jedi master is on a secret diplomatic mission to the Toydaria system. Wouldn't you know, Count Dooku and his minions arrived just ahead of him, intending to win the Toydarian King over to their own cause. Yoda and his three accompanying Clone troopers face off against Dooku's droid army in an effort to prove their worth.
Each Clone Wars episode is built around a moral, in this case, "Great leaders inspire greatness in others." This fable structure suggests a purpose for the series beyond mere back story, an intention to outline the moral landscape of the entire franchise. "Ambush" also accomplishes some character development where the movies - particularly Episode II: Attack of the Clones - fell short. First, Yoda acknowledges individual differences between his clone companions. Anyone who has known identical twins - and I, for some odd, kharmic reason, have known a disproportionate number - is aware that despite all of the obvious physical similarities, they are still separate individuals, sometimes desperately eager to establish the differences.
More importantly to the franchise overall, "Ambush" does a better job than Attack of the Clones of establishing Yoda as a full-on badass. When I saw Episode II in the theater, there were giggles and guffaws during Yoda's lightsaber duel with Dooku - surely not what the filmmakers had in mind. Obviously, Yoda is a Jedi and should be able to hold his own in such an encounter but there was something undeniably silly about watching a Muppet fly around the room. In "Ambush," it doesn't feel silly. Yoda's dismantling of the droid army, practically single-handed, is butt-whooping awesomeness.
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