Original Air Date: 3 October 2008
Written by: Steven Melching
Directed by: Dave Bullock
Special Guests: Brian George (King Katuunko)
The very first episode of The Clone Wars was entitled Ambush. Following the establishment of a treaty with the Hutts, the Jedi seek to build a military base on Toydaria, to help in the war. To finalize negotiations, Yoda is to meet with Katuunko, king of the Toydarians. But the Separatists learn of this meeting, and Ventress shows up with battle droids. Her ships force Yoda and a small squad of clones to land on Rugosa by escape pod, and she challenges him to fight his way back to the meeting place. If he succeeds and reaches Katuunko by nightfall, the Toydarians join forces with the Republic. If he fails, they join the Separatists. Ventress sends a battalion of droids and tanks to meet Yoda. After a long battle, Yoda makes it to the meeting place and prevents Ventress from assassinating the king. She flees, and Toydaria allows the Republic to build its base. I watched it on my Season 1 blu-ray set.
This episode is the only true Yoda-centric episode in the entire series so far, and he is very well portrayed. His character is wise, quick-footed, and lethal, like in the movies. He is also forever the teacher, and has a very touching moment where he teaches the clone troopers in his squad about how to strengthen themselves from within. He also has his playful streak, like in his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. Overall, I think he was very well done.
Rugosa was a really cool moon. The planet’s ecosystem seems to be made up of coral, instead of plants. This makes for a beautiful planetoid, colored in bright purples and pinks, with trees shaped like nothing we’ve ever seen. This begins a trend of truly remarkable planets featured in The Clone Wars.
King Katuunko and the other Toydarians were very well designed. They closely resembled Watto from Episode I and II, but cleaner and more regal. Katuunko is voiced by Brian George, arguably most famous in the role of Babu Bhatt in three episodes of Seinfeld, but is also a common voice actor in cartoons and video games. This is not the last time we see him; Katuunko returns in Season 3’s Supply Lines andWitches of the Mist.
Ambush was originally meant as a standalone episode. However, other episodes produced later in the series connected it to a larger arc. Season 3’s Supply Lines established that the reason a treaty was being negotiated with Toydaria was so that humanitarian supplies could be delivered from the Republic through Toydaria to Ryloth. The supplies are able to make it through immediately, and the treaty is retroactively concluded in Ambush. But despite receipt of those supplies, the Twi’leks of Ryloth still fall to the CIS, leading to the Ryloth trilogy of episodes (Storm over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, and Liberty on Ryloth) near the end of Season 1.
The blu-ray for The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One included short featurettes describing each episode. The featurette for Ambush was intriguing. At almost seven minutes long, Dave Filoni and Henry Gilroy talked about portraying Yoda as a teacher, and showcase his fun side. Kilian Plunkett, one of the Clone Wars concept designers, discussed Yoda’s design and how stylized he was compared to the prequel trilogy Yoda, and the design of King Katuunko and the othe Toydarians. They also discussed the design of Rugosa. Dave Filoni wanted to maintain George Lucas’s idea that each planet was influenced by one major environment (the ice planet, the forest moon, etc.) Lucas had used all the major/easy environments, and Filoni had to determine which ones remained. Sound designers David Acord and Matthew Wood commented on adding humor into the battle droids, noting that they could ad-lib anything they wanted into battle droid dialogue, since they had no mouths to sync to. This featurette was interesting.
Overall, I love this episode. The story is great, Yoda’s characterization is spot on, and the designs are incredible.
Next week: the Malevolence Trilogy!