“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Recap – 1×04, “Destroy Malevolence”

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We are entering a new golden age for Star Wars fans. While the prequel films were generally considered to be mediocre, the recent TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars filled in the gaps and told new stories with the same beloved characters, and was fairly well-received. 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 “Destroy Malevolence,” where a scrappy band of rebels, including a politician and a few droids, sneak aboard the massive doomsday weapon and try to take it down from the inside – okay, maybe it’s a bit like the Death Star.

Spoilers after the jump.

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Today’s Aesop: “A plan is only as good as those who see it through.” Then a reminder that Grievous’ ship is in retreat, and that the Jedi are in pursuit. Obi-Wan and Anakin are in an all-out assault against the Malevolence, but despite the damage it has taken, the ship is so big it can take all the damage they throw at it. However, the ship is still too damaged to jump into hyperspace.

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Grievous gets a call from Dooku, who can help set up a trap to destroy the Jedi. Grievous is too proud to accept the help, but Dooku doesn’t want the Malevolence to fall, and he says that a very important Galactic Senator is on her way to Grievous… with her as Grievous’ hostage, the Jedi will call off their attack.

Three guesses who the Senator is?

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Yup. Padmé’s gonna get taken hostage again.

Sure enough, Senator Amidala is en route (with C-3PO in tow) to what she believes to be normal non-hostage diplomacy, on a special mission from Chancellor Palpatine, but her ship jumps into the middle of the battle with the Malevolence. She makes contact with the Jedi, and of course Anakin tells her to get out of there as fast as she can, but it’s too late – she’s caught in a tractor beam and pulled into the ship.

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She tells Anakin that she won’t be a Separatist bargaining chip, and they should continue the attack. So of course, Anakin does the logical thing and puts the war before his personal feelings, and they keep firing and destroy the Malevolence.

Nah, I’m just playing. Can you imagine? Nope, Anakin has them halt the attack, and Padmé is taken prisoner.

On the ship, Grievous insists that the droids repair the ship – he really wants to give it back to Dooku in working condition – and we get a chance to see the inside, including a system of “rail-jet” trams that run throughout the ship like subway cars.

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I’ll just tell you know, those will be a big part of this episode.

Padmé rigs her ship to explode, and she and C-3PO sneak off the ship. Grievous boards Padmé’s ship right before it explodes, and we get another sequence of the battle droids being terrible at everything (the firefighter battle droids can’t even hold their hoses without being blown off their feet by the recoil – seriously, why does anyone use them for anything?). And then Grievous emerges from the rubble and puts the ship on alert for stowaways.

Not to interrupt, but it just occurred to me the ship probably has life-scanners on board for just such an occasion, yet nobody bothers running a check for a human life-sign on the ship. Just saying, yet another way they could have resolved this whole mess in less than 5 minutes.

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Anakin, Obi-Wan and R2-D2 set off to rescue Padmé. Anakin has a plan, but Obi-Wan points out that he needs a Plan B as well – every operation needs a back-up. Anakin doesn’t have one yet, but he’s got a plan to dock with the damaged portion of the ship (where the sensors won’t be in working condition) and sneak on board the ship.

Padmé and C-3PO sneak through the ship, and Padmé tries to find a way to contact the fleet. She overhears a squad of battle-droids tell Grievous that the hyperdrive should be operational shortly, and she knows she’s got a limited amount of time before she’ll be out of reach of the Jedi.

Anakin and Obi-Wan board the ship, and make quick work of a few battle-droids, remaining mostly undetected. Padmé gets a signal through to the fleet, and Ahsoka redirects it to Anakin. They coordinate and plan to meet up at what appears on the scans to be a “large, open area” in the center of the ship.

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On the bridge of the ship, the droids tell Grievous that they picked up an unauthorized communication from inside the ship, but didn’t catch it in time to hear what was said or who was talking with whom. Grievous starts monitoring all communication on the ship, desperate to find Padmé.

Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive at the “large, open area” in the center of the ship, which turns out to be the rail-jet tunnels. Padmé and C-3PO arrive as well, but neither can see the other. Padmé and C-3PO are found by a squad of droids, and are forced to retreat and jump onto the trams, but they get separated (because of course they do). Anakin and Obi-Wan see this happen, and dive in to catch up with them.

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What follows is a pretty cool sequence where the four characters use the trams to move around on the different levels and speeds, and try to join up but get separated by various junctions and tunnels. It’s a bit like the scene in the factory in Attack of the Clones, but it actually reminds me more of the baggage carousal sequence in Toy Story 2.

Also, just like that scene in Attack of the Clones, there’s a lot of C-3PO shenanigans going on. Obi-Wan tries to levitate C-3PO to his train, but C-3PO gets hit by a passing train and carried away.

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Anakin finds Padmé, but Obi-Wan calls and says he got separated from C-3PO. Padmé tells them that the hyperdrive is almost functional, so while Anakin looks for Threepio, Obi-Wan will go make sure the hyperdrive stays offline.

Hey, guess who has been listening for communications on the ship and totally overhears the entire plan?

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General Grievous heads off to deal with the problem personally.

Anakin calls R2-D2, who scans the ship to find C-3PO, and R2 shuts down the train (which C-3PO was still riding on the front of). Threepio is safe, but stranded and lost in the middle of the ship. Meanwhile Obi-Wan gets to the hyperdrive room, but walks right into an ambush.

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Guys, there is a LOT going on in this episode, and I kind of love it. Some of the other episodes so far have been pretty simple as far as plot goes, and as a result they have more scenes where they feel like they’re spinning their wheels, dragging out the story for 22 minutes. I’ve been joking about how much these episodes remind me of A New Hope, but this episode legitimately does remind me of that movie in a lot of great ways – we’ve got a bunch of characters trying to meet up and getting separated and running around on separate tasks (once again Obi-Wan is on a solo mission to shut down a piece of tech on his own), as they struggle to take down a super-weapon from the inside. The playful banter isn’t as good (partly because these characters aren’t as interesting, but that’s less a dig on the Prequel characters than it is a commentary on how great A New Hope is), but it’s still the strongest episode of the show so far.

Anyway, General Grievous taunts Obi-Wan before ordering the droids to kill him, but then Obi-Wan takes down a bunch of droids single-handedly and escapes. He tries to call Anakin and warn him that they’ve been made, but Anakin and Padmé have worked that out by now.

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To make matters worse, Grievous jams their transmissions, but not before they plan to meet back at Anakin’s ship (the Twilight, the same smuggler ship he’s been flying ever since the movie – even though it was barely holding together when he first got it, he’s still using it for some reason).

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Artoo finds Threepio, and leads him back towards the Twilight. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé storm the bridge. Anakin carves up a few battle droids, and Padmé quips, “Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been playing with droids.” Anakin adds, “I used to put them together. Now, I just take them apart.” I’m not gonna lie, as much as I enjoy cartoon Anakin, that is a super dumb line. Anakin and Padmé clean up the droids to cover the fact that they were here, and Anakin hot-wires the ship, to “Give Grievous a little surprise…”

Meanwhile, the fleet is getting ready to attack the Malevolence again, and Ahsoka isn’t sure how much more time they can give Anakin.

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Meanwhile, Obi-Wan’s fight with Grievous leads them back to the rail-jets, and the two fight on one of the trams. Obi-Wan jumps onto another tram going in the opposite direction and escapes. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé clear the bridge and leave just as another squad of battle-droids arrive, who notice that earlier droids are gone, so they assume that the repairs to the hyperdrive are finished.

For real, guys, battle-droids are so dumb, it’s a wonder this war wasn’t over in a weekend.

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Anakin and Padmé, C-3PO and R2-D2, and Obi-Wan all arrive at the ship at the same time, because of reasons. They escape, and Obi-Wan calls the fleet. However, it turns out Grievous has a fighter of his own, and he leads a unit of droid ships to chase down Anakin. Padmé mans the guns, and Obi-Wan notes that she seems to know her way around the Twilight pretty well…

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Grievous gets the call that the hyperdrive is repaired, and tells the Malevolence to jump away – he’ll meet them at the secret base in Sector 4. They start the jump to hyperspace… but then their navi-computer starts acting up, and flying them directly into a nearby moon.

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Grievous gets a call from Dooku, who is wondering why the Malevolence – the prize of the Separatist fleet – isn’t at the rendezvous point yet, and whether or not Grievous has made his retreat.

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So General Grievous just hangs up. Which, I’m not going to lie, is probably the smartest thing to do under those circumstances. He flies away into hyperspace, and the Malevolence crashes into the moon and is destroyed. On board the Republic ships, there is much rejoicing! Obi-Wan says he imagines Anakin had something to do with that, and Anakin says, “All part of the plan, Master.”

Awkward family photo ending!

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And that’s the end of the episode, where Anakin ostensibly learned a lesson about how no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy or something, but really just learned that sometimes, when it serves the plot, you are just incredibly lucky and don’t have to question it at all.

Be sure to join us next week for “Rookies,” where we remember how weird it is that some random dude from New Zealand who was in Attack of the Clones for 20 minutes turned out to be the luckiest actor in Star Wars history.

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