Friday, February 6, 2009

Season 1, Episode 16 - The Hidden Enemy

The Hidden Enemy is a brief prequel (or at least precursor) to the Clone Wars movie. It, therefore, takes place prior to the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, but after Attack of the Clones. The entire Clone Wars series leads into Revenge of the Sith, which is the last of the trilogy of prequels. To which I say: Star Wars continuity officially needs a spreadsheet. Maybe two. I haven't even mentioned those, you know, original three movies.

I bring this up because The Hidden Enemy has lots of little nods to the Clone Wars movie. It takes place of Christophsis, it mentions "heavy cannons" (which were the focal point of the first battle in the movie), and Asajj Ventress makes a point of getting off-world just in time to be on her mark for the start of the film. Why, exactly, it was deemed necessary to give people the events immediately prior to the Clone Wars movie isn't immediately clear to me. At least now we know.

All these little references make The Hidden Enemy a sort of oddball of an episode. At its core, beyond the obligatory set pieces, is a story that I suspect will have a big impact on fan's understanding of the clones. The idea of a clone traitor, despite the fact that the clones were bred for "obedience" and loyalty (according to the Kaminoans) means that the clones aren't brainwashed, but instead, participating in a culture of service. The line is a thin one between service and servititude where clones are concerned: they're bred (heck, grown) for combat, by the truckloads, but they're also individuals in their way. To see a clone trooper that openly disdains the Jedi opens the door for the story to come.

And so, the main story of Commander Cody and Captain Rex as Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson works very well. Cody and Rex have been well-established as characters now, and watching them feels familiar and fun. The interrogation and subsequent hunting of the traitor are certainly fun and full of fun character notes and smart moments.

The rest of the episode, though, isn't as well thought out. Obi-Wan and Anakin have a secret plan to, apparently, drive directly up to the front door of Separatist central. If that's your plan...why make it secret to begin with? Then, when they fight Asajj Ventress, she announces to them that she has an informant. What good is an informant inside your enemies camp if you announce his existence to them?

Why, I'm forced to ask, are they really fighting her at all? Not that I don't enjoy a good lightsaber duel. I do. It's one of my favorite things. (It's on the list with Brooklyn Lager, Kettle Chips and comfortable shoes.) I just like there to be a reason for the fight. My standards are low on this point. If it was "If you want to leave here, you'll have to get through me" or "I am going to make a very real attempt to kill you" I'd be satisfied. In The Hidden Enemy, it's pretty clear we're watching a lightsaber duel so we know why Obi-Wan and Anakin aren't around while the clones are sorting stuff out.

(Let me go on record, though, of loving the Asajj vs Obi-Wan flirt/fight dynamic. I can't wait until we get an episode in Season 2 that sounds like Who's Afraid of Virigina Woolf? with lightsabers. I pray for it at night.)

With these three disparate elements (the mystery, the movie lead-in, and the lightsaber duel), The Hidden Enemy tries to do too much and feels, as a result, thinner than it should with such rich material. The core story, though, answers a burding question about the clones' psychology, and rolls out in an entertaining way. That makes it an episode that's required viewing for clone wars fans, flaws and all.

Rating (out of five) ***


Thom said...

On Asajj telling the Jedi she has an informant: Didn't she know that they knew? I thought Slick had been spying on them and reporting to Ventriss the whole time.

I really liked this episode, and the theme about the Jedi using the Clones to fight their war is one that should come around more often.

FiFi said...

I think Cody's expression after Slick was arrested is priceless, you can tell he's thinking about Slick's point about clones being used as slaves in the war and they are all too blind to see how much he loves his brothers. I think this really makes all the fans to think about the clones' position in the war again. I also think that they focused a bit too much on the lightsaber duel, they could have focus more on finding out the who's the traitor.