Editor’s Note: We’re trying a little something new! Please welcome our first guest poster, The Stooge, with a review of Friday’s episode!
Well, finally. After two weeks of stories about innocent bystanders versus sneering baddies, The Clone Wars delivers the goods. From the start, ‘The Hidden Enemy’ is a definite change of pace, as the newsreel informs us that it takes place on the planet Christophsis, which was last seen in the theatrical Clone Wars movie. And for a second, I worried that they were just broadcasting the movie instead of showing a new episode. But then it became clear that this installment was a prequel to the animated movie! Yes, a prequel to the pilot set between the prequels, airing sixteen episodes after the pilot’s theatrical run. Hooray for confusing continuity!
But hot damn, then the action started. And here’s where we saw something really different: battle droids kicking clone trooper butt. And they did it silently, with no battle droid banter inserted for comic relief. I’m a big fan of the battle droids (yup, I’m the one), but their distinct lack of humor –- especially combined with scenes of troopers getting slaughtered –- was very effective. For the first time since The Phantom Menace, plain ol’ battle droids seemed like a genuine threat.
Granted, those silly droids couldn’t have gotten the upper hand without some help, and sure enough, we soon discover that the Republic forces have been infiltrated by a spy. Obi-Wan, apparently drunk, decides that the best response is to drive up to the enemy’s headquarters, knock on their front door, and DEMAND to know WHO is responsible for such a blatant act of sabotage. He’s greeted by Asajj Ventress, who invites him inside to sit down and talk about their growing feelings for each other.
Naw, they pull out the lightsabers and start fighting, of course! And while Anakin seems to be going through the motions (oh yeah, he’s also there), I swear that Obi-Wan and Ventress appear to be flirting between saber jabs. Usually Ventress bores me, but here she’s at her seductive best, while Obi-Wan gets to show off his very appealing reckless streak. As a result, it’s one of the better duels we’ve seen in the series.
Still, the true stars of the show are the troopers, who have to ferret out the traitor in their midst. Without giving too much away, Commanders Rex and Cody eventually seal themselves in a room full of potential moles, and interrogate the suspects one by one. These scenes are just dynamite, and play out like a production of 12 Angry Clones. Credit goes to writers Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen, who wrote some of the best dialogue yet. (My favorite line: “I always knew there was something deficient about you” – trust me, in the context of the scene, it’s killer.) They also manage to instill individuality into the clones, who until now have pretty much been defined by their hairstyles. Here, they show real personality.
Speaking of which, the traitor himself was one of the best antagonists yet. His motivations are surprising and completely believable, making him a welcome improvement over the heartless villains we’ve seen lately. As opposed to the muddled messages of the past few weeks, this episode actually poses a complex moral question.
We’re also treated to a few cameos from the Clone Wars feature film, including a moment with the hilarious General Loathsom, and a brief-but-cool shot of the tentacled ship which later kidnaps Rotta the Hutt. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, which is pretty strange, considering that it won’t be resolved next week. In fact, Pablo Hidalgo notes (in the comments of starwars.com’s official episode guide) that this was originally slated to be the first episode of Season 2. But it’s easy to see why they moved it up to February sweeps -– all in all, ‘Hidden Enemy’ is a knockout.