Season One, Episode Sixteen — “The Hidden Enemy”
By Jason Gibner. The whole concept of the clone army within The Clone Wars is one of the more compelling and explored facets to the series. What began as an throwaway explanation to the foot soldiers that populate the Galactic Empire (and a possible explanation for bringing back a bounty hunter in Mandalorian gear) was explored in every angle during the show’s six seasons. We grow to love Rex, Cody, and the rest of these grunts as individuals, even if they all share the same face and speak with the same voice. The Clone Troopers are as essential to The Clone Wars as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and as such, they deserve to have their stories told.
“The Hidden Enemy” attempts to touch on the themes that come with such unique characters with a clumsily told, paranoia-filled “traitor in the midst” story that could have gone somewhere with more time and care. But contained in the series’ svelte twenty-two minutes, it amounts to little more than a somewhat forgettable yarn. Let’s take a look.
WHAT WORKED: There’s some brief moments where the Clone Troopers are in utter shock that one of their “brothers” could be selling them out. Just imagine a million yous are made to be their own person. Now imagine just one of those yous decides that all the other yous are idiots and possibly deserve to die. That is some wild stuff, and bless this episode for trying to show that a clone’s life is more than the “let’s get those clankers” jingoism we saw earlier in the show. There’s some heavy “Order 66” stuff down the road for these guys that is sometimes forgotten when this show is at its blaster-firing best. And yet…
WHAT DIDN’T: … As philosophically interesting all that can be, the episode’s reasoning behind this conceit is unfortunately rather empty. The idea that one clone would suddenly think he was being controlled by the Jedi and turns against them and his entire army just isn’t believable at this point in the war. The brilliant story arc in Season Six, where the trooper Fives has his Order 66 chip going off a little earlier than expected, explores many of the same themes with a lot more grace and skill.
The episode also features a lot of fairly clunky action with a shoehorned side plot with Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ventress that never seems to go anywhere. The whole thing feels a little rough around the edges. It’s an episode with lots of swell ideas that never got fully fleshed out past their inception in the writer’s room.
Obi-Wan: “How did you get over here?” Anakin : “I improvised.“
Commander Cody: “A spy, sir? But… who would want to betray our troops?“
Obi-Wan: “Ventress. And here I thought this mission would be unpleasant.” Asajj Ventress: “The pleasure is all mine, my dear Obi-Wan. I’ve missed you.“
Captain Rex: “There’s no escape now, you piece of rankweed!“
Obi-Wan: “Give up, Ventress. ” Asajj Ventress: “I’m all yours, Obi-Wan.”
Anakin : “You couldn’t be a greater disappointment. How could you do this to your brothers?” Sergeant Slick: “Only a Jedi would ask that. It’s the Jedi who keep my brothers enslaved. We do your bidding. We serve at your whim. I just wanted something more.”
BEST MOMENT: As the clones begin to feel the frustration of chasing an enemy who literally knows their every move, they begin to wonder how they can catch the traitor clone. In one brief interrogation scene we get an interesting glimpse into how these troopers work as a unit and, more importantly, how they think: we meet a Clone named Chopper who is revealed to have made a necklace with the fingers of Battle Droids he’d blasted. Slightly creepy stuff that shows these guys think on their own in rather interesting ways.
EPISODE’S MVP: Dee Bradley Baker. I’s easy to forget that every single Clone Trooper in the show is voiced by one person alone. The episode has a fairly long scene in a room filled with Clones all taking turns to speak, and each has a slightly different tone and inflection — all done by Dee Bradley Baker. I can’t imagine what those recording sessions looked like, where Baker was left to answer his own questions for hours.
– Jedi fortune cookie for this episode : “Truth enlightens the mind, but won’t always bring happiness to your heart.“
– Supposedly, the episode’s script originally had the Clones getting a combat droid nicknamed “The Beast.” His sequence was later cut; it was decided that the Clones shouldn’t use droids to directly fight droids.
– So this episode serves as a direct prequel to the much maligned Clone Wars feature film. Much of the film’s opening battle is set up within this episode.
– Weirdly, the a lot of the episode features recycled music from other Star Wars sources. There’s an edited-down version of “Battle of Christophsis” from The Clone Wars; the music for the fight between Rex, Cody and Slick is an odd variation of the speeder chase music from Attack of the Clones.
– When Obi-Wan, Anakin, Cody, and Rex check out the tactical droid’s severed head, the word ‘tactical’ is written in Aurebesh on the side of it.
6 out of 10
Next: “Blue Shadow Virus”, soon.
Before: “Trespass”, here.