“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Recap – 1×02, “Rising Malevolence”

It’s a golden age for Star Wars fans. While the prequel films were generally mediocre, Star Wars: The Clone Wars filled in the gaps and told new stories with the same beloved characters. Since it’s not a show I’m terribly familiar with, I’m going to watch and review every episode, all the way up through the brand new sixth season, which aired exclusively on Netflix. This week, we’re watching “Rising Malevolence,” the first of a three-part story all about the droid army’s massive doomsday weapon that is in no way like the Death Star.

Spoilers after the jump.

This episode’s intro-Aesop is “Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction.” Let’s see if that holds true, as the narrator tells us that several Republic ships have been destroyed in surprise attacks that leave no survivors. Rumors spread of a new Separatist weapon… the Senate sends Jedi Master Plo Koon to investigate the threat.

Plo tracks the weapon to a remote system, and radios in to Anakin and Ahsoka for back-up. Cut to a massive ship (the titular Malevolence), commanded by General Grievous and Count Dooku. They jam Plo Koon’s transmissions, and Ahsoka is very worried. She insists that they charge in and help Plo’s ships, but Anakin says they have to report to the Council first.

Meanwhile, Plo’s ships are taken out by a very Death Star-esque weapon on the side of the Malevolence. The difference is that it doesn’t fire a giant laser beam, but a huge ball of EMP-energy, leaving the ships defenseless.

Then the Malevolence blasts the hell out of the ships, destroying them. Plo Koon manages to get his crew into the escape pods, but Count Dooku isn’t taking any chances – in order to keep the Malevolence a secret – or at least an unconfirmed rumor – he sends out a squad to pick off the escape pods.

Anakin tells the council that the radio silence from Plo Koon likely means his fleet is destroyed. The council tells him that they can’t go look for survivors – this weapon never leaves any survivors anyway, and they can’t afford to lose any more troops to it. They command Anakin to bring his ships to protect their supply convoys, but Ahsoka protests – they can’t give up hope that they might find survivors this time. Anakin tells her that she doesn’t understand her place, and they will follow instructions.

Plo Koon’s escape pod has lost power, so they don’t have a homing device, propulsion, or working life support. They work on getting the power up, but the clones tell Plo that they’re not expecting a rescue. They notice another pod floating in the debris field with them, but find that the window has been smashed open, killing the soldiers inside. Plo realizes they aren’t alone.

Anakin takes his personal ship (the one he got in the movie) ahead of his fleet to scout ahead for danger. Except he totally takes them to the site of the last battle with the enemy ship, instead. And also starts scanning for survivors. Ahsoka points out the hypocrisy of his scolding her earlier, but he’s trying to teach her how to “do what the council says” in different ways (i.e. disobeying them and getting away with it). He says she was right when she spoke out in the meeting, but she shouldn’t have said it, you know, in the meeting.

Plo’s clone troopers get some power working, and pick up a distress signal from another pod, which is under attack by droids. A squad of droids fly out to the pod’s window, and cut it open, sucking the unarmored clones into space. It’s sort of a grizzly sight, but certainly very affective, since it’s rare that the Star Wars movies get so dark.

Ahsoka tells Anakin that Plo Koon is one of her oldest friends, and is the one who discovered Ahsoka and brought her to the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan calls Anakin and scolds him, and Anakin is forced to admit that they’re not finding any survivors. They start to leave, but R2 finds a trace of Plo’s pod.

Unfortunately, the droids have also discovered Plo’s pod. So Plo and the clones suit up and go outside, and fight off the enemy droids in the vacuum of space, destroying them.

It’s pretty baller.

Anakin gets scolded some more, and decides to finally fly back to the fleet, but just then Ahsoka senses Plo in the debris (apparently they just remembered that they have magic powers and can communicate over vast distances, like in Empire Strikes Back) and flies the ship to him.

The clones tell Plo that they’re not getting rescued. “We’re clones, sir. We’re meant to be expendable.” Again, that’s a level of self-awareness we haven’t seen with the clones previously, but it works really well. Plo says, “Not to me,” and Anakin’s ship arrives and rescues Plo and the clones. The ship’s medical droid works on stabilizing the clones, who are not in great condition after the space-walk.

Plo tells Anakin and Ahsoka that the weapon is an ion cannon, which is meant to leave the enemy ships defenseless. Just then, the Malevolence arrives, having lost contact with the droids on clean-up duty. Plo has them shut all the power systems on the ship down, including R2.

However, they forget about the medical droid, and the Malevolence is able to detect them. They power up the ship and haul ass, and only barely manage to avoid the path of the ion cannon beam fired after them.

They jump into hyperspace, and Count Dooku is most displeased that the Republic will learn about the ion cannon.

Anakin reunites with the fleet, getting the troopers home safely. Anakin and Plo Koon go to report to the council, and Anakin wants Ahsoka there as well, for two reasons. First, she never gave up hope, and did a great job. Second, if Anakin’s getting in trouble for this, she’s going to share some of the blame.

And with that, this episode draws to a close. Next week we get part two of the Malevolence three-parter, with “Shadow of Malevolence!”

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