The Clone Wars Rewatch: The Shroud of “Darkness on Umbara”

The arrival of Jedi Pong Krell brings with it chaos.

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.

73: “Darkness on Umbara” (Season Four, Episode 7)

“The first step toward loyalty is trust.”

A scene from "Darkness on Umbara."

Synopsis:

When Anakin is forced to temporarily turn over command of his clone troopers to the Jedi Pong Krell, tensions begin to run high as the clones are assigned to a deadly mission to take the capital of Umbara.

Analysis:

The already somber tone of this episode takes an even darker turn with the arrival of the gruff Jedi Pong Krell whose entire demeanor shifts once he’s in charge. Expertly captured in the visual aesthetic, it’s clear from the start that this will be a very dark arc.

Krell is quite the opposite of Anakin Skywalker, both in his pride in adhering to protocol and an indifference to the clones that borders on insulting (and sometimes, quite frankly, embraces the more threatening aspects of his personality with zeal).

A scene from "Darkness on Umbara."

He has no respect for the lives of his men, and shows no humility in the face of suggestions that his plan may not be the best one.

A scene from "Darkness on Umbara."

Take, for instance, the contentious interactions between Krell and Rex. Or rather CT-7567, since Krell refuses to refer to Rex by anything other than his official designation. It’s a subtle slight, not as flagrant as his other abusive tactics, but in failing to recognize and respect how Rex identifies himself, Krell is asserting dominance and ensuring that Rex knows that in Krell’s eyes, the clone is not worthy of the Jedi’s respect.

A scene from "Darkness on Umbara."

Krell sees the clones as expendable, tools to be implemented and destroyed if need be in his quest to secure the capital. Their individuality is an insult to his own perceived superiority, their opinions simple insubordination. When they require time to rest, he treats the request as weakness. When Rex pulls his forces back to save the platoon, he inspires outrage in his superior.

A scene from "Darkness on Umbara." A scene from "Darkness on Umbara."

Rex is a seasoned soldier; he knows when to follow orders despite his own misgivings about a reckless plan of attack and he knows when to follow his own training to save the lives of his men. Not clones. Men. But there are some fighting under Krell who find the new general’s approach so demoralizing it has them questioning more than his tactics on the battlefield.

Intel:

  • You can catch a glimpse of Barriss Offee and Ahsoka Tano in this episode. The two Padawans are seen in the space battle in the opening narration.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back next Thursday when Krell continues his crusade in “The General.”

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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