This week's Clone Wars dumped a lot of the traditional Star Wars trappings - although they kept in the now-expected moment of ripping off the original trilogy - and the result was something that seemed more like a war story than usual... and a welcome reminder that there's more to George Lucas' saga of a galaxy far, far away than lightsaber battles and midichlorians."Rookies," the show's fifth episode, was the first to show the hidden potential of the Clone Wars to be something different - and potentially more - than the movies it was spun out from. Ignoring the bigger names for a story about clones who had to go through a story we've seen hundreds of times before (They have to learn to be soldiers - which includes sacrifice, of course; the slacker ends up dying to save the universe), what worked about the episode wasn't the plot, but the details, whether it was the clones listening to intergalactic radio because they were bored, the new (and much less annoying) commando droids - you can tell that they're more bad-ass because their voices were deeper when they said "roger roger" - or the fact that, for once, we saw war actually being hell... or at least, approaching it, with a death of a character that wasn't a droid.
As with every episode of the show to date, it was flawed, but it was also different, and that counted for a lot. While we didn't see enough of the individual clones for them to be anything other than a collection of stereotypes (and, thanks to the voice acting of Dee Bradley Baker, a collection of stereotypes all with the same quasi-New Zealand flat voice, which didn't really help matters), there was enough potential to earn the goodwill to see the episode through relatively unscathed. If the show can build upon episodes like this, that show a smaller, more mundane and, yes, more realistic side to the war mixed in amongst the high adventure of last week's shenanigans, then the series as a whole may end up building up into the most satisfying of all of the Star Wars to date. (On the other hand, the trailer for next week doesn't look promising, especially to hear Obi Wan call R2 droids "a dime a dozen." They have dimes in the Star Wars universe all of a sudden?)