Episode: The Clone Wars 3.01 – “Clone Cadets”
Original Air Date: September 17, 2010
Screencaps from The Clone Wars Screencap Gallery.
It’s Boot Camp for the clones.
This week’s premiere gives us more perspective on the lives the clone troopers as the show takes us through the clone army’s basic training. More specifically, the episode follows the actions of “Domino” Squad, and from their first scene, we learn that they are not the best the Empire has to offer.
Much like any other story about a rag-tag group of hapless losers, Domino Squad argues with each other, contends with its squad’s own egos, and lacks the right focus to complete the mission. In fact, General Shaak-Ti and trainers Bric and El-Les consider failing the squad and assigning them to maintenance and clean-up. If Domino Squad doesn’t get it together, they’re finished with the army.
Some interesting characters appeared in this, most notably Bric, El-Les, and a “failed” clone named Ninety-Nine. As trainers, Bric and El-Les provide polar opposites. While both being bounty hunters, Bric sees his training duties as just another job, and if the clones don’t perform to expectations, they should be scrapped. El-Les, however, sees something in Domino squadron and refuses to give up on them. Ninety-Nine, meanwhile, provides the audience with a sympathetic figure who, as he puts it, “never got his chance.” Ninety-Nine is physically unfit, appearing like a hunchback whose cloning process was unsuccessful.
Despite receiving repeated insults from clone trainee “Hevy” and others, Ninety-Nine is still there to provide much needed advice to Hevy. Similar incidents with the other trainers provide the squad with the much-needed lessons that they use to rally and succeed, even when something goes wrong during their final test.
One of the only problems I had with this episode was that, despite the attempt to provide personality to these new characters, it never quite gets there. Like Domino Squad, the potential is present, but it isn’t fully realized. Some more emotional moments would have been nice; for example, despite the hard choice that Shaak-Ti must make about the squad’s fate, she seems too passive and indifferent. The moments that turn the clones around are nice, but lack punch. If it was that easy to get them to work together, these moments should have happened well before now.
Lastly, I enjoyed the training area that the clones used. Imagine the American Gladiators arena with lasers and droids. Okay, that, crossed with the old-school Danger Room of the X-Men, with moving components to create an ever-changing landscape.
All in all, this episode probably would have been better for the middle of the season than the premiere, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars