The Clone Wars Rewatch: A Bad Batch of “Clone Cadets”

Five headstrong clones are put to the test to see if they can work together to succeed or must face the consequences of failure.

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.

3: “Clone Cadets” (Season Three, Episode 1)

“Brothers in arms are brothers for life.”

Synopsis:

Five headstrong clones — Hevy, Cutup, Droidbait, Fives and Echo — struggle to complete their training on Kamino under Jedi Master Shaak Ti and drill instructors/bounty hunters Bric and El-Les.

Analysis:

How much is a life worth? The clones are bred to be perfect soldiers, fine physical specimens conditioned for the rigors of war. They’re given numbers instead of names. Their faces are indistinguishable from one another. Those who succeed are valued for their training and valor, but still essentially expendable. And those who fail? Well, can there be a greater failure than being unfit for the role you were literally born and bred to play?

As Bric says, Clone 99 is a reject. And yet, even with his humanity stripped away, his life altered by his genetic defects and physical limitations, and his work relegated to menial labor and janitorial clean-up instead of fighting the war, 99 exhibits all the characteristics of a hero.

He takes pride in his work, perhaps recognizing the importance of even the job no one wants. When Bric insults him to his face, in a moment when he isn’t overlooking his presence altogether, 99 comes to the defense not of himself but of the squad.

Clone 99 is gentle, thoughtful and wise. His advice prevents Hevy from running away and ruining his squads’ chances of passing their test on their second attempt. Bric may only see them as clones, cadets who either fall in line or get cast aside, but 99 recognizes their individuality, their value as people, not just clones or soldiers. Clone 99 was never given the chance to prove himself in the training facility, but he doesn’t sound bitter when he counsels his brothers. He’s more like an excited and supportive family member, in awe of the successes and achievements of his kin. He is grateful.

Through Clone 99, the so-called “bad batch” that is Domino Squad begins to find some traction as a team. When we first meet the motley crew, they’re sniping more at each other than they are at the training battle droids. Echo can’t keep quiet or learn to adapt; Hevy, in a bit of foreshadowing, seems to think he can do everything on his own; and in their first attempt at the final test when Droidbait gets hit, they leave their brother behind on the simulated battlefield.

None of them are particularly good at following orders and they’re sloppy, the antithesis of Clone 99 and his life of cleanliness and order. But when Bric cheats and they have no ascension cables, the Domino Squad shows more ingenuity than any squad before them, passing the test and claiming their victory at the top together as a team. By allowing them their individual quirks and personalities, they turn those characteristics into strengths that benefit the whole.

And that includes 99. Far more than just the forgotten clone who cleans up after his brothers, his wisdom was an essential guiding force in making Domino Squad a cohesive whole. And just as 99 recognized Hevy’s individuality by giving him his name, Hevy recognizes 99’s humanity by gifting him his medal. “You deserve it,” he says. “You’re one of us.”

Intel:

  • As a prequel to the Season One episode, “Rookies,” this introduces Domino Squad before they arrived at Rishi Base.
  • Listen closely: The Citadel Challenge version THX, variable 1138 is a nod to George Lucas’ feature film debut.

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 Jar Jar Binks and Bail Organa must work together to get much-needed supplies to Ryloth in “Supply Lines.”

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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