“The best confidence builder is experience”
Original air date: October 24th, 2008
The fifth episode of The Clone Wars is the first to focus almost exclusively on the clone soldiers (Anakin and Obi-Wan have cameos at the end but otherwise play no part in the story) and their day-to-day lives. This story follows a squad of clones assigned to Rishi Station, an outpost on the Rishi moon used to monitor for any Separatist ships that might attack Kamino (where new clones continue to be trained).
While the clones are all genetically identical, they do as much as they can to differentiate themselves, including different hairstyles, tattoos and their own names. Thus, Rishi Station is led by Sgt. O’Niner, who commands the rookie clones Hevy, Echo, Fives, Droidbait and Cutup (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker). Commander Cody and Captain Rex are en route for an inspection, but they’re not the only ones looking to arrive on the solitary moon. Under the cover of a meteor shower, several Separatist ships land to reveal…commando droids!! Thus far in the Clone Wars era we’ve seen B1 Battle Droids (introduced in The Phantom Menace) and B2 Super Battle Droids (introduced in Attack of the Clones on Geonosis). Those droids are easily disposable and not very smart. Commando droids are the complete opposite: their movements are human-like, they can plan strategy and they’re ruthlessly efficient. In fact, if the droid armies consisted of commando droids alone, the Separatists may have won the war, even with the Jedi fighting for the Republic.
One other trick the commando droids have? They can modify their voices to sound like clone troopers. This comes in handy after the droids take over the station, as they’re (theoretically) capable of tricking the Republic into thinking everything is under control. However, while the droids can sound like clones, they can’t act like clones. This is proven when Cody and Rex announce their impending arrival, only to grow suspicious when the “trooper” they’re talking to tries to send them away, ending the transmission with “Roger, roger” which is something droids are known to say, not clones. Cody and Rex arrive and are barely alerted to the true situation in time by the surviving troopers (Hevy, Echo and Fives. Droidbait was killed when the commando droids slipped in and Cutup was seized by a Rishi eel after their initial escape). Working together with the commanders, the droids retake the station, but a lot of droid reinforcements are on the way, more than the clones can handle. The decision is made to destroy the station, as that will turn off the “all clear” signal being sent to the Republic and trigger an automatic response from the fleet to investigate. Everything is rigged to blow, but the remote detonator fails to work. Hevy (over the protests of his comrades) stays behind to manually detonate the explosives, leading to this final moment between him and the droids:
Droids: “Um, do we take prisoners?”
Hevy (reaching for trigger button): “I…don’t!”
It’s a heart-wrenching moment but one that establishes the clones are 100% human, no matter how artificial their creation. They are willing to sacrifice themselves to save others, no droid is capable of that (well, except for maybe R2 or C-3PO, maybe….)
The surviving clones are rescued by Republic forces, and as a reward for how well they fought, Echo and Fives are inducted into the 501st Legion by Captain Rex. For now life is good for the clones that survived, but there will be more adventures to come.
I like this episode, Dee Bradley Baker does such a good job of breathing life into each clone, it’s easy to forget that they’re all voiced by the same person. Initially, Baker needed separate recording sessions for each voice, however by the end of the series, he’d gotten it down so well that he was able to switch between multiple characters in a single session.
Next time: R2-D2 goes missing in “Downfall of a Droid”
What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!
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