Original Air Date: 24 October 2008
Written by: Steven Melching
Directed by: Justin Ridge
Special Guests: Gwendoline Yeo (Bettie-Bot VJ)
The next episode of The Clone Wars Season 1 was a standalone entitled Rookies, first airing on 24 October 2008. The action centers around a remote outpost on the Rishi Moon; a listening post whose task it is to watch for Separatist fleets headed for Kamino. The post is crewed by rookie clones, “shinies”, who were not fully trained and had never seen action. They are caught off-guard when Commando Droids attack the base, killing the senior clones present, leaving only four left: Hevy, Echo, Fives, and Cutup. The droids hard-wire the base’s All Clear signal, so that the Republic does not detect a a CIS fleet headed for Kamino. The four surviving clones escape the outpost and hide in the wilderness, and Cutup is eaten by a massive Rishi Eel. They see Commander Cody and Captain Rex arrive to inspect the outpost, and are able to warn them of the CIS attack. The two senior clones meet the Rookies, and re-infiltrate the outpost. They are able to defeat the Commando droids, but they cannot signal the Republic before droid reinforcements can stop them. They rig explosives to destroy the base, but their remote detonator fails to work. Hevy decides to stay behind and blows up the base manually, sacrificing his life, but signaling the Republic of danger. Anakin and Obi-Wan’s fleet repels the CIS invasion force, and Echo and Fives, no longer rookies, are inducted into the 501st Legion.
This is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. While Anakin and Obi-Wan do have cameos, the bulk of the action is centered on clones. We see the different personalities that clones can exhibit, from Hevy’s impatient calls for action, to Echo’s obsession with regulations, to Fives’s pride for serving the Republic. Each one is different, but they’re like brothers, and therefore very close. They compare and contrast nicely to impulsive Rex and by-the-book Cody, in terms of their personality and experience.
The plot of the episode was very well thought out. The CIS wants to attack Kamino (a perfectly logicaly military target) and therefore needs to silence any spy posts, to ensure that Kamino is caught off guard. But they didn’t count on a band of brothers who, despite being underestimated at every turn, would eventually take back the base and alert the Republic, saving their home. The clones’ inexperience is believable, and they learn a lot along the way (sometimes the hard way, as with the deaths of the other clones).
The new designs for this episode looked really cool. The Rishi Moon and the listening post looked good; the interior of the base really looked like a place where men lived and worked, complete with music coming from a radio and pinup art. The Commando Droids looked menacing and deadly; a blend of the best traits of the B1 and B2 droids.
The features on the blu-ray discuss how slight artistic differences (hair, scars, tattoos, beards, etc.), along with the amazing voice work of Dee Bradley Baker, help distinguish each clone. They also describe the process of designing the Rishi Moon, its base, and the Commando Droids, and talk about the practice of re-using the same digital design in multiple episodes (boxes, doorways, etc.)
My only complaint about this episode is related to scale. There is one shot where you can see the CIS fleet through a telescope at the listening post. The ships all look the same size, despite the Lucrehulk Battleship being almost four times larger than the Munificent-class frigate. This is such a nitpick on my part, but I don’t like when they scale these ships incorrectly.
Despite that minor point, I loved everything about this episode. I look forward to being able to review its prequel, Clone Cadets, and its sequel, ARC Troopers, when I get to Season 3.
Next Review: Downfall of a Droid and Duel of the Droids!