Season One, Episode Five — “Rookies”
By Jason Gibner. If you stop a Star Wars fan on the street who has watched the entire run of Clone Wars and ask them what they thought about Clone Troopers, you may be met with one or all of these things: a high five, a falsetto-tinged rendition of the word “awesome,” or perhaps a backflip while shouting “Captain Rex Forever.” One of the many feats of magic provided by The Clone Wars series is that it didn’t just get us to know (or even like) the Clone Troopers, it made us really, really love them. You can attribute this to the brave and noble personalities written into their characters and the bonkers voice work done by Dee Bradley Baker. I mean, the guy had the impossible job of providing a voice for every single Clone Trooper on the series, and yet he somehow imbued each of them with their own separate personalities… with a thick New Zealand accent, naturally. The guy simply doesn’t get enough credit.
This early Season One episode begins our relationship with the Clone Army with a home run, kicking things off in a wholly unique, Clone Wars-style way: right out of the gate we’re shown what a routine day in the life was like for these soldiers, and the results are downright fascinating… and more than a little touching.
WHAT WORKED: There’s a reason for why, when Captain Rex was revealed to be a returning character in Star Wars Rebels‘ second season, the character got a roar of applause at Star Wars Celebration last year. There’s just something about the unflinching bravery and brotherhood of the Clones that speaks to the “wars” side of Star Wars. Whoever it was on that early Clone Wars creative team that decided every season had to have a few “Clones only” episodes should be given a chocolate bar, because they earned it. Right off the bat you can see that Dave Filoni gets these guys: they’re depicted as doomed scrappy-dog soldiers who, for now, look up to the Jedi generals and only want to do what’s right. Maybe it’s because we know that Order 66 will eventually change them all that we are so endeared to them now? Maybe, but the story of the Clones told over Clone Wars’ six seasons is one of the reasons that this show is the best.
WHAT DIDN’T: While the Clone stuff in this episode is all Gem Mint Ten, just about everything else feels like an afterthought. Anakin and Obi-Wan pop up in the episode but contribute almost nothing, and General Grievous is at his moustache-twirling bad guy best (or worst). We are briefly introduced to the impressive Commando Droids, but for now they still seem as disposable as all the other separatist droids. There’s even a giant cave eel monster thing in this episode, and not even that can steal the attention away from our new Clone best friends.
“The name’s Rex. But you’ll call me Captain or Sir.” – Captain Rex.
“Your armor, it’s shiny and new. Just like you.” – Captain Rex.
“We can’t let a few puny Clones stop us!” – General Grievous.
Battle Droid: “Do we take prisoners?” Hevy: “I don’t.”
“You’re exactly the kind of men I need in the 501st.” – Captain Rex.
BEST MOMENT: In an effort to save his fellow Clone Troopers and the Jedi in space, brave trooper Hevy sacrifices himself against a whole army of droids. He gets shot up pretty bad but still drags his body over to a bomb detonator to make sure the the good guys are saved. For real people, this was on a kids show. This is straight up Band of Brothers stuff, but everyone looks like Temuera Morrison in white armor.
EPISODE MVP: Captain Rex. When Rex and Cody drop into this episode from their too-cool-for-school Republic Gunships, the whole episode begins to strut down the street like Travolta in the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever. In fact, at this point the whole series starts listening to “Staying Alive” and really never stops. That’s what Captain Rex means to Clone Wars.
– When it first aired on Cartoon Network in October 2008, “Rookies” featured Clones using the word “Hell” as an expletive twice. During the rerun of the episode the following month, the word was cut out after parents complained. Now on Netflix, you can hear all the “Hells” put back into place.
– I wish we saw more of BD-3000 DJ hologram droid. Or could hear some more of that sweet space rock radio.
– Jedi Fortune Cookies: “The best confidence builder is experience.”
8 out of 10
Next: “Downfall of a Droid”, soon.
Before: “Rising Malevolence”, “Shadow of Malevolence”, “Destroy Malevolence”, here.