And so, its almost time to reveal the top spot in our countdown. But not before the deserved runner-up. The imaginative, adrenaline opening sky battle of Jedi Crash, and the stunning debut of dangerous Durosian Cad Bane in Season finale Hostage Crisis were almost there as prime candidates, but ultimately the important and danger-brewing signs and portents events of Episode Sixteen, The Hidden Enemy, won the day. And here's five supreme reasons why...
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1. Back to the beginning. Originally devised as one of the planets to be seen during The Clone Wars of EPISODE III, the crystalline cities world of Christophsis would ultimately make their intriguing onscreen debut launching the first animated movie, and proving another intriguing, well-realised planet with potential use in future, or past, stories, with Lucas soon choosing the latter, deciding to make several further prequel to the prequel adventures there, before and leading into the ground-pounding events that introduced Ahsoka Tano, with steadfast Jedi heroes Anakin and Obi-Wan's first taking control of the planet, and afterwards, setting things up for the enemies en masse efforts to re-take the important planet back to Separatist sovereignty.
2. Traitor in the ranks. The apocalyptic live-action scenes to come of ORDER 66's Jedi Purge are brilliantly hinted at in this episode, as the unthinkable becomes reality to both our Jedi heroes and their equally surprised Clone commanders-that one of their own, a Clone Trooper, is a traitor ("Gone Jango", as Dave Filoni calls the syndrome!), setting them up for a series of explosive incidents on Christophsis, as the re-invasion plans by the Separatists begin anew. Beyond the idea of the traitor-whose cause here is seemingly for his own personal freedom from the war and his "brothers", other solitary rogue figures within the Clone ranks would be seen again throughout the series, like Season Two's The Deserter, and the amnesiac Clone Commando Gregor, playing a key part of Missing in Action.
3. Together again - Rex and Cody. Right from the start, Animation Director Dave Filoni and co. told STAR WARS fans that THE CLONE WARS would have a greater emphasis on the series fascinating, heroic, yet later murderous Cone Troopers, and they certainly lived up to that promise with just this first season, as new lead, and action confidante to Anakin and Ahsoka, Captain Rex, became one of the series most popular characters. Into the series, the early episode Rookies proved a huge hit, and especially with its scenes involving Rex- the STAR WARS equivalent of Clint Eastwood- teamed up with Obi-Wan's venerable and efficient Clone Commander Cody. In The Hidden Enemy, the pair make for a great pairing once again, as their investigations begin into their fellow officers, discovering some disturbing things about their battle habits in the process, leading to a cat and mouse search within their barracks, alongside some nice hand-to-hand action and visual flourishes that keep worthy continuity with the original STAR WARS films. Plus, they have a little help from a certain Astro Droid!
4. The return of Asajj Ventress. The "hairless harpie", first conceived as a potential villain for EPISODE II and then a four-colour star through the Expanded Universe, had made a terrific impression in Genndy Tartakovsky's first ground-breaking micro-series for CARTOON NETWORK, then making the leap to a whole new animated dimension, voiced with a sarcastically dark and sexy edge by Nika Futterman, for Filoni's CLONE WARS in its pilot feature episode, followed by her stunning lightsaber action against Ahsoka Tano and Luminara Unduli in Paul Dini's excellent Cloak of Darkness. Her ultimate reveal in this episode is not unexpected, but its great to see her once more in bitter antagonistic form towards her sworn enemies, Kenobi and Anakin, engaging them in a war of words and saber clashing for an ingenious time-buying duel inside a deserted, trap filled building-events that literally and visually take us into the opening scenes of the sadly one and only THE CLONE WARS movie.
5. Anakin in action. Caught in a tight spot and surrounded by Battle Droids, Obi-Wan and his soldiers are cornered by Battle Droids and things are starting to get hairy. Future dark warrior Anakin and his own team, meanwhile, are in a separate high-rise building, watching the continuing doom from afar, and, it seems, powerless to help them. But this is Anakin Skywalker we're talking about - "The Hero Without Fear", soon lightsaber smashing a window and repelling down towards the other building, along with his do-or--die soldiers in a bold and exciting action sequence evening the odds for rescue and escape that keeps the best STAR WARS traditions, accompanied by strong incidental music from Kevin Kilner that subtly hearkens back to his impressive themes from the animated movie.
Coming to Blu-ray and DVD from October 15th- THE CLONE WARS: The Complete Seasons One to Five, here: Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 1-5 Blu-ray Region Free: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV