Retro Review: The Clone Wars – Downfall of a Droid and Duel of the Droids

Original Air Date: November 7 and 14, 2008
Written by: George Krstic (Downfall of a Droid), Kevin Campbell and Henry Gilroy (Duel of the Droids)
Directed by: Rob Coleman
Special Guests: Ron Perlman (Gha Nachkt)

The next pair of episodes in Season One of The Clone Wars is the duology composed of Downfall of a Droid and Duel of the Droids. The Separatists have outmaneuvered the Republic at every turn, and aims to attack Bothawui. Determined to keep the planet from falling into enemy hands, Anakin deploys AT-TE walkers on the rocks forming Bothawui’s rings. As the CIS fleet passes the rings, with their shields pointed forward, the walkers destroy the ships from behind. Grievous tries to fleet in a starfighter, and Anakin tries to pursue him, but Anakin’s ship is damaged, and he goes unconscious. When he comes to, Ahsoka tells Anakin that R2-D2 was lost in the battle. Anakin convinces Obi-Wan to let him find his droid, noting that since R2′s memory never gets erased, he contains Republic secrets. Along with a new astromech, Goldie, they search the battlefield and find Gha Nachkt, a Trandoshan salvager, but he appears not to have R2. Once the Jedi leave, Nachkt reveals that he does have R2, and is selling him to Grievous. Anakin and Obi-Wan figure that the CIS is tracking Republic fleets with a Listening Post, and Anakin and Goldie go to find it. But Goldie is useless, and almost gets Anakin killed. Ahsoka and Rex rescue Anakin and Goldie. In Duel of the Droids, R2 manages to get a signal to Anakin: he is being sold by Gha Nachkt to Grievous on the very listening post Anakin is searching for. Nachkt manages to recover Republic secrets from R2, but is killed by Grievous for trying to extort more money. The Republic lands a force on the Listening Post, and manages to place explosive charges and fight off the battle droids, while Anakin finds R2 and Ahsoka faces off against Grievous. It is revealed that Goldie is a CIS spy, and was trying to kill Anakin at every chance. At the end, R2, while trying to open the hangar door and allow the Republic force to escape, fights and kills Goldie. The entire team escapes, while the Listening Post falls into the planet below.

These were fun episodes. The story was an interesting take on Jedi and attachment. Anakin’s obsession for finding R2 is unbecoming of a Jedi, but entirely relatable for anyone who has a pet. Anyone who’se ever lost a dog or cat knows what Anakin is going through when he loses R2. Goldie represents the fact that Ahsoka and Obi-Wan don’t understand attachment and friendship the way Anakin does, or how sometimes such attachments can be great strengths.

Downfall of a Droid features the first great space battle of the TV series. Whole certainly we saw the bomber attack in Shadow of Malevolence, this is the first time we see capital ships fight each other, as well as dogfighting between starfighters. However, herein lies my greatest criticism of the duology. Anakin’s tactic, while interesting, involved blowing up capital ships using ground tanks. The AT-TEs were using both their heavy artillery and their antipersonnel weapons to extreme efficiency. This is not realistic at all. Indeed, it is similar to destroying an aircraft carrier with a machine gun. But with suspension of disbelief, the space battle becomes truly epic.

Gha Nachkt was a perfectly slimy, sketchy character, reminiscent of Watto. He is physically and morally disgusting, and he will do anything for a quick buck, and it costs him his life. he is the first Trandoshan of the series, though more will be seen in Season 2 onward. His ship was entirely new in the EU, and was a cool little salvage ship. Nachkt was voiced by Ron Perlman, who is quite prominent as a voice actor, but is also known for his roles in the TV series Sons of Anarchy (as Clay) and the Hellboy movies (as the titular demon-hero).

At the end of Duel of the Droids, we see the epic battle for which the episode is named. Two astromech droids, R2 and Goldie, face off on a rickety skybridge as the space station falls toward a planet. They use every tool available, including saws, arms, electric shockers, and it ends amazingly, with Goldie hanging on for dear life with his tow cable on R2′s body, as R2 cuts the cable with his saw. Goldie plummets to his death, striking debris on his way down. Great duel that cannot be easily put into words.

On the Blu-ray set for Season One, each episode has its own six- to seven-minute feature. The show’s creators speak on the design of Gha Nachkt and his ship, on Goldie’s role, on the duel between Ahsoka and Grievous (because Anakin is not allowed to meet Grievous until Episode III), and the design of Skytop Station (the Listening Post, based on a Trade Federation Core Ship).

A special treat for EU fans: Obi-Wan, while occasionally appearing via holocomm, is having his own adventure, depicted in the novel The Clone Wars: Wild Space, by Karen Miller. In it, he journeys with Bail Organa to an ancient Sith planet, forming the basis of Obi-Wan and Bail’s relationship.

Overall, these episodes were excellent, filled with great characterization and cool battles. I can’t say I liked them as much as Rookies, but they were definitely enjoyable.

4/5 Kath Hounds

Next up: Bombad Jedi, Cloak of Darkness, and Lair of Grievous.

Also be sure to tune in to We Talk Clones, EUCantina’s Clone Wars podcast, for the latest reviews, discussions, and interviews.

About the Author

Andrew Halliday contributes to EUCantina as a writer. He writes our column "The Star Wars Dissection," published every second Monday, and also reviews episodes of The Clone Wars television show. He began writing in 2010, sending letters to the SoloSound.net podcast The EU Review, using mathematics to look at certain trends in Star Wars content. These monthly analyses were expanded into his column in 2011. He has a degree in biology and a love for all things science and math.