The Clone Wars review: ‘The Deserter’

While ‘Grievous Intrigue’ threw in a lot of action without much plot, ‘The Deserter’ combines story, character, and action to make a stronger episode. While Republic searches for a crash-landed Grievous, an injured Rex comes across something that forces him to rethink his life: a farmer and father, who happens to be a clone deserter.

Forced into an escape pod last episode, Grievous crashes on Saleucami, and with his pod’s transmitter damaged, heads off to find another pod with a working pay phone. Unwilling to walk, he orders his battle droid to find him some transportation. Everyone knows that no one walks on Saleucami. Oh, Saleucami – I was amazed by the lush landscapes that feel like broad-stroked matte paintings now rendered into 3D. Anyway, his droids apparently find a reek for him to ride, but after they are forced to walk, they complain of needing to recharge their power.

Obi-wan and the clones land with ground forces to start combing the area for Grievous. Obi-wan heads out with the walkers to inspect the landing ship crash site, while Rex leads a group on speeder bikes. While zipping along, Rex is sniped by a pair of commando droids, who are quickly finished off by his comrades. The sucking chest wound isn’t apparently bad enough to call in, but Jesse, Rex’s second, decides to take him to a nearby farmhouse so that Kix the medic can check the wound. Jesse reaches a farmhouse and convinces the rifle-toting bony Twi’lek, Suu, to let them use her barn for Rex. Kix patches Rex up, and decides that he should be left behind to rest and Rex sends his men to continue the mission under Jesse. Suu and her kids come in with food, and Suu’s daughter mentions that Rex looks like her dad.

Meanwhile, Obi-wan Kenobi and Cody have found an intact battle droid and use its memory banks to learn where other escape pods have likely landed. They come across Grievous’ crash site, and start tracking behind the Separatist general. Grievous is having a bad time of it, as his droids are starting to lose power and shut down on the trail.

Later that night, the injured Rex senses an intruder in the barn and tries to draw his pistol, before the farmer, Cut, disarms him with a staff. In the moonlight Rex discovers that Cut is a clone, and Rex calls him on being a deserter. Cut explains that he chooses not to kill, but his duty is now to his family. Suu and the kids arrive, defusing a tense situation, and invite Rex in for dinner, in their shoe-shaped house. There was a pink Twi’lek who lived in a …. you get the idea. Anyway, Cut and Rex debate their positions on duty over roast nuna. Cut believes in choosing one’s own destiny, and that the clones are individuals, but Rex counters that he chooses to help the Republic and maintain civilization for future generations, even if they aren’t his own offspring. Speaking of, human clone + Twi’lek = two children, I think I just heard the EU uh-oh alarm go off. Judging by the age of these kids, Cut is not likely to be the biological father, unless that accelerated again gene got passed along. Cut and Rex play a game of the dejarik hologame (let the clone win?) and Cut shares his backstory – of how he ran after his ship was shot down and the clankers shot the rest of his unit.

Grievous has reached the one pod with a phone, and deals with the battle droid too dumb to call for a ride, then fumbles around for quarters to make the call to ask mom to pick him up. Maybe Grievous should ask for a Droid or something for his birthday, since all the other kids have them nowadays. His troops realize that they are being sandwiched between sets of Republic forces on two sides, and a battle starts. After the first AT-TE takes a rocket in the noggin, a second walker sees an incoming rocket and shoots it down – clones with Jedi reflexes? Awesome.

Back at the ranch, Suu’s kids, Sheea and Jekk go out to play in the fields, but come across another escape pod in the dark. Venturing in, they do what any kids would do: accidentally activate a whole squad of commando droids, which apparently have the standard Windows boot-up time. Running back to the house, they warn their father of the coming droids, and Cut prepares to defend his shoe-house, and leaves the injured Rex upstairs as the last line of defense for his family. As the first three commando droids comes to the door, Cut mows them down, and then realizes a second wave is infiltrating through the cellar. Forced to brawl with the invaders, Cut learns that it is never a good idea to punch a droid in the head bare-fisted. With Cut pinned down under debris, the remaining droids head upstairs where Rex picks off a few more, then the two men finish off the last couple barehanded.

Grievous and Obi-wan start dueling again at the escape pod, while Republic forces keep a Separatist shuttle from landing to pick up the general and his droids. Realizing his exit cue, Grievous launches his wrist cable and has the shuttle hoist him out of the battle zone. Another getaway for the cyborg!

As morning dawns, Rex finally calls in to the troops and says that he’ll be returning to them. Aware that there are penalties for desertion, Suu asks what will Rex, the order-bound soldier, do. The commander asserts that while Cut is a deserter, he is no coward, and that while his duty would be to report Cut, he will pretend that his injuries may prevent him from filing a report, and then Rex rides off into the dawn on an eopie.

While the episode is part of a Grievous-centered arc, Grievous is not the main act here. Like when Rex had to confront a clone saboteur promised freedom in ‘The Hidden Enemy’, Rex and the viewers get to see another side of being a clone in Cut Lawquane. While Rex truly believes the rightness of what he is fighting for, he is starting to see that there are other opportunities out there for himself and his brothers, and that a choice in life is something one has to take, rather than wait to be given. This moral quandary provides some meat to the episode. This episode really showcased the talents of Dee Bradley Baker, voice of all the clones – not only did he have Rex and Cut, but also several other distinctive men to bring life to.

The visuals in the episode were solid. I especially liked the background landscapes of Saleucami, with their almost painted look, though some of the close in shots of the vegetation as they marched by had this three-quarter view video game perspective that reminded me of the LEGO games. Still, the battle visuals looked great and had some innovative moves. Story, plot, and some cool battle imagery and dejarik – This episode is a winner!

Final score: A

7 Replies to “The Clone Wars review: ‘The Deserter’”

  1. Absolutely. Everything about this episode clicked brilliantly. (I also liked the previous ep more than you did.) TCW is off to a great start in 2010!

  2. Great episode. I am loving this new season so far. I can’t get enough of the clones. I could have done without the whole droids getting tired gag but the cool commando droids more than made up for it.

  3. So what’s the verdict on the kids? Are they hybrids or what? There’s no way the writers could have been unaware of the can of worms they were opening.

  4. The episode guide on mentions: “Cut explains himself, saying he made a choice not to kill for a living, and that his duty is now to his adopted family.” (emphasis mine)

    Wookiepedia likely saw this mention of ‘adopted’ and in the childrens’ entries, calls them the adopted children of Cut.

  5. @aaron: I wonder if the Republic knows that droids need to recharge periodically. one tactic might be to simply keep the droids active and moving so that they can’t get a recharge break, and eventually they’d go to sleep mode.

    the bits of droid humor helped to add some fun and makes for an odd contrast – the klutzy error prone not-too-smart droids with their monstrous doesn’t-accept-failure-but-is-still-a-coward general, and then with their all-professional enemies. and yet the battle droids regularly stomp over clone forces (like when that droid rockets Obi-wan’s AT-TE).

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