The sixth episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in canonical order is “Ambush” from Season 1, Episode 1 (1:1). This is the first ever episode of the series to air on television, and is an outstanding debut. The showcase here is Yoda, and what a show it is. His wisdom and Jedi skills are on full display here; in fact, it could be argued that this is the best Yoda-centric episode of the series until Season Six. “Ambush” does not disappoint.
This episode features the debut of a few clones, as well as a new moon. The clones include Lieutenant Thire, Rys, and Jek. While they are difficult to distinguish in this episode, there is a bit of dramatic irony, as Yoda has a great moment towards the end of the episode that dispels that. The setting is Rugosa, which seems to be a moon of Toydaria. It is a bit unclear, however. The moons of Star Wars have always seemed a bit vague to me (moon of Yavin; moon of Endor, etc.), and the tradition continues here. Of note is a baby neebray, which perches itself on Yoda’s finger at the end of the episode. It’s a fascinating moment that will be explored below.
Summary of the Episode
As mentioned above, “Ambush” is a showcase for Yoda, as he finds himself in a trap set up by Asajj Ventress and Count Dooku. It is safe to say that the only person truly ambushed is Ventress, who is on the moon of Rugosa with the explicit intent of convincing the King of Toydaria, Katuunko, that the Separatists are more capable of strength than the Republic, and that the King should side with them.The King wants to give Jedi Master Yoda a chance to prove he can evade capture from the droid army.
Yoda agrees, despite the King’s clear doubts, and shows a bit of his subtle, yet familiar pride. It’s for a good cause though, as he seeks two things here: to show that the Republic is a good fit for Toydaria, and to use this opportunity to teach the clones some valuable lessons. The droid army is no match for Yoda, who brings out the best in his compatriots, and King Katuunko joins the Republic. Dooku decrees that Ventress should assassinate the King on the spot, and Yoda easily disarms Ventress, much to her disdain, as well as her fear of Yoda’s power. Her pride does not allow for anything other than escape, as Yoda mockingly returns her lightsabers to her before she runs off. Don’t mess with Yoda!
What this Episode means for Star Wars
This episode is one of my favorites, and it’s because it’s a time capsule episode for Yoda. His prowess with a lightsaber, his ability to connect with the Force, and his sense of humor are at the forefront of the episode. He has always been an endearing character, but ever since Attack of the Clones, audiences know why he is a force to be reckoned with in a dual. His face off with Ventress is a clear testament as to how powerful he is. It also shows Ventress that while she is dangerous, she is no match for a Jedi as powerful as Yoda. Much to learn, she still has.
The continuing efforts of the Republic and Separatist armies to recruit allies is prevalent here, but merely to set the plot into motion. So much of this series naturally has this motif of picking a side, and serves as a nice metaphor for both the Jedi, as well as Anakin’s slowly evolving conflict within himself. While Anakin is not seen or mentioned in the episode, the chess pieces begin to move in crucial ways.
The end of “Ambush” has a seemingly innocuous scene, but it may very well be a harbinger of the Star Wars saga. A baby neebray lands on Yoda’s finger, and he lovingly accepts the small creature. It demonstrates Yoda’s paradoxical, childlike innocence despite his seasoned experiences in battle. It also represents that life continues on, despite the technological danger that is the droid army. Yoda is connected with all living things, which further measure how meaningful his conversation with the clone troopers really is. The neebray connection to the infamous owls in the Star Wars animated universe has yet to be explicitly explained, but it’s worth filing away for future analysis.
“Great Leaders Inspire Greatness In Others”
The most beautiful scene in this episode occurs when Yoda is in the cave with Lieutenant Thire, Rys, and Jek. They are understandably concerned that they are outnumbered and almost out of ammunition. Yoda asks them to remove their helmets, to which they reply that they are not much to look at. He takes this opportunity to point out their individuality, which is somewhat surprising, as he had given no indication that he was aware of it throughout the episode.
As John Williams’ Yoda theme plays throughout, Yoda takes the time to approach each clone, look them in the eyes, and treat them each as unique. He tells Lieutenant Thire that he is patient, Rys that he has team spirit, and Jek that he is clever. While it is a brief moment, it’s among the finest in the entire series. The clones are more than a collection of similar faces; they are recognized and embraced by the Force, indicating their individuality and spirituality. Yoda is a great leader that inspires greatness in the clones. He is a mirror for them, and does not talk about or build himself up. That is what a great leader does, and his impact is immediate, satisfying, and helps perpetuate why Yoda is such a fantastic character.
Five down, one hundred and sixteen to go! Up next is “Rising Malevolence”, episode 102 (1:2), which starts a three part arc. Grab a cup of coffee and join me as we revisit Star Wars: The Clone Wars!