The previous arc I featured was the no-brainer story that every single Star Wars fan needs to absorb. As we move into my top two we hit an arc that will appeal to hardcore fans – especially the ones that have been following my essential arcs. This arc really digs into the psyche and evolution of the Clone Troopers that we have grown to love, the ones that are fighting on the front lines of The Clone Wars and how the war is continuing to affect the Jedi Knights. Not to mention this arc features the most intense battle sequences of the series, and the design work done on the world of Umbara is staggering. Here we go…
#2 // Mutiny on the Shadow World
Season 4, episode 7 — Darkness On Umbara
Season 4, episode 8 — The General
Season 4, episode 9 — Plan of Dissent
Season 4, episode 10 — Carnage of Krell
Why it’s essential watching (without giving it all away….):
- Clones are not just numbers – this is one of the most recurring themes during The Clone Wars series, that the clones are real men, not just numbers and bodies. They have nicknames, they have feelings, they are amazing soldiers, and they are fiercely loyal. Jedi generals like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Plo Koon have embraced these soldiers and treat them with respect and reward their loyalty. We see during the Umbara arc that all generals are not the same, and some certainly do treat the Clone Troopers are cannon fodder. The one in particular I’m referring to is…
- General Krell – Jedi Master Pong Krell is a GREAT character. Very well thought out and very well voice acted by Dave Fennoy. It was also cool to see another Besalisk into the story, as we had previously seen Dexter Jettster in Attack of the Clones. Krell’s introduction into TCW at this point in the story is well-timed as well, just when we are falling in love with individual Clone Troopers the writers bring a Jedi Master like Krell into the story to show the audience that all Jedi don’t view the clones are the war in the same way as our heroes Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. To Krell the clones are indeed expendable, and I do see his perspective early on in this arc. However, as the arc progresses you learn that Krell has more nefarious motives and his views on the war and the Jedi in general have evolved – drastically.
- General Krell’s lightsabers (!!) – another quick sidetone on the design of Pong Krell’s character that I thought was with a separate bullet point. His huge double-bladed lightsabers were so bonkers cool!! And because of his four-armed physiology he is able to fight with a unique and rare form of Jar’Kai. Yeah, total #nerdshit but cool nonetheless.
- Captain Rex – I’ve never met a single person that has watched even part of The Clone Wars who doesn’t like Captain Rex. This is really his story arc, and he shines. Rex finds himself caught in the middle between General Krell (who was sent to Umbara to replace Anakin when Palpatine needed him rushed back to Coruscant) and his troops, and he has to make some very difficult decisions during the course of this four episode story arc. You can really sense the struggle between following orders and his commitment to keeping the soldiers under his command safe, and it makes this arc tense throughout. Rex also faced the difficult task of executing Krell at the end of the arc but was saved from that duty in the last minute by Clone Trooper Dogma, the trooper that had initially turned his back on his clone brothers earlier in the arc. The unification of the clones in this arc was amazing, and it was brought to life via very compelling storytelling. We also learn Rex’s Clone Trooper number designation in this arc – CT-7567 – as Krell initially will only refer to the soldiers by their numerical designation.
- The design of Umbara, the Shadow World – holy hell, Umbara is an amazing world. Brought to life by the artists and animators in stunning fashion, Umbara was quite possibly the best environment designed for The Clone Wars, from the landscape, to the native Umbarans, the design top-to-bottom was breathtaking. The world of Umbara was located in the Ghost Nebula, so it was more-or-less cut off from the rest of the galaxy and the Republic, but eventually sided with the Confederacy of Independent Systems. In the Legends/EU timeline (which hasn’t yet been made canon, but is cool and relevant here, so I’m putting it here) Umbara was the homeworld of Darth Ruin, founder of the New Sith Empire. Just a little side note.
- A real war – the battle sequences in the air and on the ground in this arc are by far the best in the entire series, if not the entire Prequel era. They are hot and heavy, with blaster bolts, missiles, and anything else you can imagine, flying in both directions fast and furious! There is a VERY real feel to these battles and you realize right away that the stakes are very high here. I watch the first two episodes of this arc regularly just to see these battles again and again. If nothing else, just watch this arc for these battles alone, you won’t regret it.
- ARC Trooper Fives – you gotta love Fives. If the name sounds familiar he was the central focus of another essential arc already, and he shines here as well. After being assigned to the mission to accompany the 501st, Fives quickly takes matters into his own hands and while he understands that Rex has to follow orders and do his duty, he also has a duty to perform – which is accomplishing the mission by any means necessary. During the course of the arc Fives, along with Hardcase and Jesse, take three commandeered Umbaran star fighters (which are f**king awesome, by the way) and head up to take out the Separatist Droid Control Ship in the same manner Anakin did during The Phantom Menace, during which Hardcase sacrifices himself for the mission. While Rex tries to accept blame, Fives and Jesse end up being threatened with court-martial from Krell, and all hell breaks loose.
- Traitorous Jedi – in the end Krell admits to having lost his way, going so far on Umbara to not only seed disinformation to the clones under his command (namely the fact that Obi-Wan and his battalion had captured the Umbaran capital much earlier), but going so far as to trick two battalions of Clone Troopers (the 501st and the 212th) to battle each other, telling both that the other is actually an Umbaran brigade wearing clone armor. Waxer, the leader of the 212th is killed during this altercation and Rex and the troopers of both brigades decide to apprehend Krell and have him tried for treason. At the climax General Krell admits to having fallen to the dark side, in hopes of gaining the attention of Count Dooku so he could be his new apprentice. He also tells them that he has foreseen the rise of a new order, and was intent on abandoning the Jedi Order in favor of this. Again, this is a theme explored a few times by the writers and creators of TCW, sowing the seeds of dissent within the Jedi Order. In the end, while misguided, these dissenters weren’t far off from the truth of what was happening……. In tomorrow’s final arc we will meet another Jedi dissenter, and one that was a huge surprise…..
I can’t underscore enough how much I love this arc of The Clone Wars. Hell, it was almost my most favorite one! We are almost at the final stop of my countdown, and if you’re still following along you are in for a treat as we approach the number one arc tomorrow. In the meantime check this gallery of images from the official site: