You've never heard of the squadron that made the Balmorra Run in less than 10 parsecs?
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.
7: “Shadow of Malevolence” (Season One, Episode 3)
"Easy is the path to wisdom for those not blinded by themselves."
As the Separatists begin targeting Republic medical facilities, General Anakin Skywalker leads a bold strike on General Grievous and the Malevolence, with the help of his Padawan Ahsoka, Jedi Master Plo Koon, and a small squadron of clones in new long-range Y-wing bombers.
The galaxy often echoes itself in new and unexpected ways, with similarities bridging eras and disparate timelines in a way that mirrors how real-life history also tends to repeat itself.
In revisiting this episode for the first time since Solo: A Star Wars Story was released, the visual splendor of Han's legendary Kessel Run gives Anakin's less-bragged-about Balmorra Run even more resonance. Disappearing into the nebula to chart a shortcut, a shadowy place full of mysterious beasts, Anakin is as confident as the young and foolhardy Han, believing he and his Shadow Squadron can beat the enemy to their target with an old smuggler's shortcut. His mission is noble, rushing to the aid of 60,000 wounded clones in a secret outer rim Kaliida Shoals medical station that's about to be attacked. But at what cost?
Blinded by literal gas and their own egotism, the Shadow Squadron stumbles into the nesting ground of the Neebray mantas, making surviving the shortcut a challenge. They're rushing toward something they don't entirely understand, feeling like they could take on the whole Separatist fleet alone, no doubt.
On the other side, they face the Malevolence in a battle that proves to be nearly as costly as the Rebellion's trench run on the Death Star itself. While the rest of his men have their confidence shaken in the process, Anakin is bullheaded -- even after losing half his squadron, he at first refuses to entertain a new plan.
Anakin is used to leading by example, admirably charging into the fray alongside his men. But perhaps he sometimes forgets that while the clones who serve by his side are skilled fighters and fliers, they lack the abilities and training of a Jedi and his own preternatural prowess in the pilot's seat. Yelling over the intercom from her seat in the gunner bay, Ahsoka must act as his conscience. He believes he can execute his plan, and maybe he's right. But what good is winning the fight if it obliterates his entire fleet of fighters?
Changing tack to torpedo the ion canon, they successfully protect the medical facility just as the Republic warships arrive to help.
Without Anakin's brash plan, help would likely have come too late, but it was only a partial success, and his emotional response to the toll is palpable. So unlike the monstrosity he would become at the hands of the Emperor -- and General Grievous, whose anger makes droid heads roll -- Anakin is still compassionate and kind, and just beginning to understand the toll the war will take.
Lives were saved, soldiers were lost, and the battle is just beginning.
- Joe Johnston, the Visual Effects Art Director for Episode IV, speculated that Rebel Y-wings were a "chopped" version of an older craft, seen in its full Clone Wars-era glory here.
- The four-legged power droid in the Republic hangar bay is known as a "plunk droid." Like its cousins the GNK models, or gonk droids, it get its name from the sound it makes as it shuffles around. Plunk. Plunk.
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 Anakin's quest to "Destroy Malevolence" gets a bit more personal.
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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