The circle is now complete. When Star Wars: The Clone Wars began it was but the learner.
Now it is the master. Yep, this weekend’s installment, “Missing in Action,” was the 100th episode of the saga. How far we’ve come.
If you had told me way back in August 2008 that Clone Wars would not only run 100 episodes but have become one of the most thrilling, stylish, thought-provoking explorations of that Galaxy Far, Far Away ever, I don’t know if I would have believed you. 100 episodes in, Clone Wars has become the bridge everyone hoped for between the prequels and the original trilogy.
And though I remain an ardent defender of the prequels, for those left dissatisfied by Episodes I, II, and III, Clone Wars has been a return to the nuts-and-blaster-bolts basics of the original trilogy and, most importantly, the gee-whiz retro-futuro spirit that made everyone fall in love with Star Wars in the first place. Above all, what has been Clone Wars’ prime directive? To have fun.
Clone Wars also knows to give fans what they want. And “Missing In Action” served up something fans have been clamoring for for a while: a clone commando!
Of course, it took awhile for our new one-man-army, Gregor, to realize he was just that. “Missing In Action” found us back on the eerily minimalistic planet Abufar, a.k.a. The Void. “I have never been to Tatooine,” pilot droid WAC said to R2, “but if this place reminds you of it, remind me never to go there.” He’s become an old-timey Vegas comedian!
But seriously, Abufar is horrible. And we knew that because we saw a grizzled Aqualish expectorate a huge wad he’d been chewing into a spittoon.
This is a place where a foot-high Aleena could brandish a shiv and hold up a denizen five times his size. (I choose to think that was King Manchucho, and this is how far he’s fallen after he and his people were relocated following his planet’s destruction.) Col. Gascon and the droids even ran afoul of a Dug!
The colonel called this place an “armpit,” and an armpit it was. Still, he made the bold claim that, despite their lack of money, resources, or transport off this dusty rock, that “Nothing short of death or dismemberment will stop Col. Meebur Gascon from delivering that module to Coruscant.”
Yes, it seems like forever since we began this space odyssey with the snail and his droid entourage, but, remember, they’re trying to make their way back to the Republic after stealing that critical Separatist encryption module that’ll allow the GAR to decipher Seppie communications. And Gascon sought to do so in “Missing in Action,” by…setting foot in a cantina!
Abufar’s watering hole was dark, dank, and unfriendly. Pretty much just like the Mos Eisley cantina.
Except this one was run by a chubby Sullustan with a Cossack accent who not only refused to serve the droids—cantina owners typically ascribe to the anti-droid agenda—but Gascon as well.
He even called the colonel a “conduit worm.” Since they couldn’t go in the front door, WAC led them ‘round the back and presented Gascon with his meal: a pile of garbage! The snail was appalled. But his disgust was tempered when he saw exactly who was taking out the garbage: someone with chiseled features, heavy brow, and Kiwi accent. A clone! Even with a beard, Gascon could tell he was one of the Republic’s finest.
NEXT: You want a clone commando? You got a clone commando!
Unfortunately, this clone, Gregor, had no idea he was a clone. Gascon tried to enlist him on the spot, but Gregor brushed him off and said he had to get back to work.
He didn’t want to lose his job because he’s in the lucrative dishwashing racket, after all. Yep, it’s an amnesia storyline. Usually, that’s one of the worst tropes any TV show could employ. (See: Teri Bauer forgetting who she was for eight episodes on 24.)
But here, since he was obviously a soldier dealing with PTSD or shell-shock after a battle, it made sense. In fact, it made this armor-wearing clone more human. He even asked his boss, that surly Sullastan barman Borkas, what a clone is. “Clones fight battles across the galaxy,” Borkas said. “They are brave soldiers. Does that sound like you, Gregor?”
WAC noted to Gascon that they were currently on their third plan. Well, it’s good to be flexible, right?
The colonel’s new strategy was to enlist Gregor to help them out, and hopefully get off Abufar. To do that, R2 positioned himself outside the window to Gregor’s hovel when he got off work, then beamed in a hologram of Captain Rex to try to jog his memory. It seemed to work.
They all filed in to his flat and began to peel away the layers of fog that had enshrouded his knowledge of the past. Gregor began to recall that he was on a transport that crashed on Abufar.
Gascon scanned Gregor’s wrist identichip—apparently, all clones come with a barcode—and saw that he was not only a clone, but a clone commando, and had been one of the few survivors of the Battle of Saresh, one of the Republic’s worst defeats in the war. Now that jogged his memory! But would he remember his fighting skills as well?
Borkas barged in just at that moment and brought a big crate with him.
It was Gregor’s scuffed and scratched commando armor! He said he would give Gregor back his armor if he could take his gun from him. Gregor lunged…and missed. Borkas conked him on the back of his head with the clone’s own blaster. The indignity!
Apparently, he had not remembered his fighting skills along with everything else. Luckily, the droids were a four-bot army of pain and they quickly attacked Borkas and tied him up, leaving him behind to say, “You will all be stuck here begging Borkas for a job in his diner!”
That’s because there were Separatist droids in town, and they were loading a shuttle full of rhydonium fuel to fly up to an orbiting Republic cruiser and blow it up.
So, yeah, Gascon and the droids had a new mission: save that cruiser from destruction.
Luckily, the moment Gregor donned his armor he seemed to recover all his fighting skills. He’d cover Gascon and the droids while they made their way to the shuttle and commandeered it.
He crouched behind and tumbled over canisters and barriers while quickly picking off a few droids with his blaster. And when reinforcements came, he realized he had an advantage. He could blow up some of the rhydonium canisters near the droids and take out a whole bunch of battlebots at once. Tactics!
Unfortunately, it all proved too much for Gregor. And though he valiantly defended the shuttle as the droids piloted it out of the warzone, he wasn’t able to scramble aboard himself.
He told Gascon to leave, to not come back for him. The last we saw, he was still making the Seppies pay, pranging droids and chalking up a few more scratchmark tallies for his helmet. “You will be remembered, Captain Gregor,” Gascon said. “We will take your heroic story back to the Republic, and we will watch for your return.”
Oh yeah, this is not the last we’ve seen of Gregor, I’m sure. Still, a heckuva introduction, and it’s a testament to the ability of accomplished scribe Brent Friedman and the Lucasfilm Animation team to still be able to make these clones unique individuals with distinct personalities.
What did you think of “Missing In Action”? Was this an appropriate introduction for the long-awaited clone commandos? Or are you ready for Maul & Co. to return? Either way, here’s to 100 more.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lucasfilm]