Asajj Ventress learns that size matters not when she tries to outsmart Master Yoda.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.
5: “Ambush” (Season One, Episode 1)
"Great leaders inspire greatness in others."
Although he's far from infallible, Yoda often exhibits the best of the Jedi traits and teachings, and his approach to battling Ventress and her army here exemplify many of his most resonant lessons while highlighting what a delightful and unapologetic scamp he can be. After all, part of Yoda's appeal as a character is this duality -- he's at once wise and mischievous, gleeful yet with a serious mind, a formidable opponent in battle who can also be a gentle and patient teacher for younglings and clones alike.
And yet, time and again, his foes judge him by his small stature. They underestimate his abilities and try to undercut the entire Jedi Order with their games -- this time, attacking Yoda's ship in an attempt to prove his powers are exaggerated. How can he and his Jedi Order possibly protect ally planets when he can't even protect himself or his troops?
An unfriendly wager turns Yoda's diplomatic mission to the coral moon of Rugosa into a test of strength as Dooku bets his army against his old master, with the allegiance of the Toydarian empire for the taking. If Dooku can prove an army of Separatists can beat one Jedi and a small band of clone troopers, the king of the neutral planet will have to join his side. If Yoda wins, the Republic can set up a base there, a strategic foothold to aid in the war effort.
Yoda remains nonplussed and downright giddy despite the challenges ahead. Even while he's essentially being hunted, he pauses to marvel at the beauty of the landscape; he knows when to retreat and when to rest. Yoda is a leader of the highest esteem, imparting his wisdom to empower the clones who serve him when they're losing hope by taking a moment to appreciate the importance and individuality of each of the men by his side. "In the Force, very different each one of you are," he tells them, and because they mind what they have learned in the cave, Jek, Thire, and Rys are able to outperform the massive battalion using their last bit of ammo at just the right moment for the greatest impact.
Strength comes from unity and working together for a common good. Yoda is arguably the most valuable member of the squad in many eyes, but when they get separated, he comes back for the trio of troopers to ensure their survival as well as his own. No clone left behind.
And through it all, Yoda never loses his sense of humor or his sense of decorum. Bonus: we learn that in a pinch he can fashion a crutch out of a weapon although he does not rely on weapons as a crutch to win the war. Leading by example, it's clear that strength is more than raw power, or greater numbers, even on a battlefield.
King Katuunko remarks that he's heard a single Jedi wield power equal to 100 battle droids, but the evidence here suggests that one Jedi and a handful of loyal clones are worth a thousand brainless battle droids.
- You may recognize the creature that perches on Yoda's hand as he sits on the coral outcropping; it's a baby neebray.
- Stay on target! The Republic frigate's targeting display looks similar to the Corellian design spotted aboard the Millennium Falcon.
What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!
Next up: Come back Thursday when Jedi Master Plo Koon is stranded by a powerful new weapon in "Rising Malevolence."
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.
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