The Clone Wars Rewatch: Sacrifices and Mistakes in “Rookies”

Revisit the soldiers from "Clone Cadets" and see how they fare on their first real assignment in the Outer Rim.

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.

9: “Rookies” (Season One, Episode 5)

“The best confidence builder is experience.”

Clone trooper helmets are seen in "Rookies."

Synopsis:

Alone on a distant outpost, clone officers Rex and Cody arrive for a routine inspection and find a few surviving rookies in the heat of an invasion.

Analysis:

They grow up so fast, don’t they? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were meeting Hevy, Fives, and Echo as they struggled to work as a team and complete their training on Kamino and now here they are embroiled in the conflict in an episode that is darker both visually and in narrative.

Clone troopers fight back in "Rookies."

Hevy, in particular, is hungry for a fight. Despite being rushed into service to protect the Rishi outpost, Hevy isn’t trepidatious in the least. Bored by the monotony of defending against nothing, he dreams of fighting on the front lines to serve the Republic with glory and honor. But he initially underestimates the importance of his post. If the Separatist droids get past the station, it leaves the rest of the clone troopers still in gestation on Kamino vulnerable to an attack. That means even during the most boring times, the work of the clones at the outpost is crucial to the Republic’s survival overall.

Commando droids attack in "Rookies."

The perfect foil for Hevy’s foolhardy ways is Captain Rex. Thanks to his training and time in the field, quietly observing the signs that something is awry at the outpost allows him to make a snap decision as soon as the droid invasion flare is deployed, shooting the Droid Commando dressed in clone armor point blank without a second thought. There’s no time for hesitation. He employs the same swiftness when he takes down the eel (perhaps the very same creature that earlier made a snack of poor Cutup, who failed to heed Echo’s helpful warnings about wildlife).

Clone troopers relax before battle in "Rookies."

Echo is Hevy’s polar opposite, with a by-the-book approach that makes for a nervous response to anything that might buck the rules, a rookie mistake of a different kind. They both still see things in black and white, instead of understanding the nuances of using their training and the rules as a guideline.

Here’s the rub. Experience builds confidence, but not everyone in a war is going to make it out alive or survive long enough to get that needed practical knowledge. Hevy’s still prone to youthful errors inspired by an overconfidence in his own abilities and a failure to consider alternate ideas. When the remote malfunctions, sacrificing himself seems like the only option. His actions are unquestionably heroic, succeeding in destroying the base and alerting the Republic fleet the the imminent danger. But experience may have allowed him to see other options. Unfortunately, Hevy’s story ends here.

Intel:

  • The holographic VJ hosting the music broadcast mentions Mimban, the muddy world where a young Han Solo first met Tobias Beckett in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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

Next up: Come back Tuesday when R2-D2 goes missing in battle in “Downfall of a Droid.”

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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