Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 1 Recap: Ambush

Jedi Master Yoda’s combat and strategic skills are put to the test as he tries to secure an alliance with Toydaria.

Summary (TL;DR)

Yoda embarks on a secret mission to negotiate a treaty with Toydarian King Katuunko, permitting the Republic to build a supply base in his system. Count Dooku and his apprentice, Asajj Ventress, attempt to thwart these negotiations by challenging Yoda to a battle against her army of battle droids. With the aid of his clone troopers, his mastery of the Force, and quick thinking, Yoda emerges victorious, defeating Ventress. Impressed by Yoda’s remarkable performance, Katuunko pledges his allegiance to the Republic.

Moral of the episode: Great leaders inspire greatness in others.

Negotiating Relief

As the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems battle it out across the galaxy, neutral systems are forced to pick a side or face the risk of invasion. Originally, Toydaria wanted nothing to do with the war, but they’re close to the planet Ryloth, which has been invaded by the Separatists.

In “Supply Lines”, Senator Bail Organa was successful in negotiating the delivery of preliminary relief aid to the people of Ryloth from Toydaria. The experience prompted Toydarian King Katuunko to reconsider his system’s neutrality, opening the door for further negotiations. As a result, Jedi Master Yoda is chosen to take part in a secret mission to forge a treaty with Katuunko — which would allow the Republic to build a supply base in the Outer Rim System in exchange for protection.

Yoda is dispatched to the remote neutral moon of Rugosa to speak with Katuunko. Only problem is he’s late, which is unlike him. While Katuunko and his guards wait for his arrival, he’s greeted by Asajj Ventress — a formidable assassin trained by Count Dooku. Ventress has been sent by Dooku to prevent Katuunko from allying with the Republic, which could jeopardize the Trade Federation’s contract with Toydaria if the system joins the Republic. Ventress presents the king a hologram of Dooku, who argues that his droid armies can offer better security than the Jedi. “How can the Jedi protect you, if they cannot protect themselves?”

The Battle on Rugosa

As if on cue, Yoda’s frigate is ambushed by the Separatists above the Rugosa moon. Yoda tells his troopers to launch all of their escape pods, covering their escape while the ship leaves the system. Yoda reaches the moon’s surface with three clone troopers — Lieutenant Thire, Jek, and Rys. He contacts Katuunko via hologram to inform the king that he’s not far from the rendezvous point. Ventress proposes a challenge to showcase the droids’ superiority over the Jedi. She’ll send her best droids to capture Yoda, and if he escapes, Katuunko is free to join the Republic. However, if Yoda is captured, Toydaria will have to align with the Separatists. Yoda accepts the challenge despite Katuunko’s hesitations, but under the condition that the Jedi is given a fair fight.

For the Separatists, a “fair fight” translates to a single individual facing a battalion of battle droids. Fortunately, the moon’s coral forests are too dense for the droids’ tanks, forcing them to advance on foot. This situation gives Yoda an advantage, allowing him and the clones to ambush the droids in smaller groups. Utilizing the Force to enhance his agility, he moves with such speed that the droids end up destroying themselves before they can even touch him. However, his clone troopers face a tougher challenge as they struggle to hold off a squad of clankers, resulting in Lieutenant Thire getting injured in the firefight. Thankfully, Yoda intervenes and uses the Force to lift one clanker, turning it against the other droids. 

A Turning Point in the Battle

Yoda and the clones are forced to retreat while they can. Yoda leads the clones to a cave where they can rest. The clones are not thrilled with the odds: they’re outnumbered, low on ammo, with only two grenades and one rocket for their launcher. Yoda disagrees, stating that they have everything they need to prevail. He asks the clones to remove their helmets and explains the Force views them as individuals with unique characteristics.

  • Rys tends to fixate on the enemy above all else. Yoda suggests that he should turn inward and draw inspiration from those around him.
  • Jek is obsessed with weapons. Yoda encourages him to perceive his mind as a powerful tool, using its capacity to outsmart the droids.
  • Thire has a tendency to rush into battle. Yoda reminds him that war is a long game, emphasizing that survival is the key to victory. 

The touching moment between the Jedi Master and his troopers. And it’s interrupted by the arrival of a fresh batch of droids and tanks. Yoda tells the troopers to stay out of sight, and that they’ll know when is the right time to intervene. Armed with only his lightsaber, Yoda makes quick work of the tanks and droids. His display of raw power does not go unnoticed. “That’s a lot of smoke for a surrender,” Katuunko quips as smoke fills the air. More clankers are sent after the Jedi, but he’s too busy destroying the tanks to notice. Taking Yoda’s advice to heart, Thire aims his last rocket at an overhanging bluff, causing an avalanche of falling rocks to come crashing down on the reinforcements. 

A Victorious Alliance

In the end, Katuunko decides to join the Republic. Dooku orders Ventress to kill Katuunko, but Yoda arrives, using the Force to disarm her. He demands Ventress surrender, but she remotely detonates some explosives to create a landslide — allowing her to escape while Yoda protects his companions. King Katuunko gifts Yoda his sword as he says there will be no negotiations. He would be honored to allow the Republic to build a supply base on Toydaria.

My Thoughts

Throughout the episode, viewers are treated to the incredible lightsaber duels and displays of Force power that have become a hallmark of the “Star Wars” franchise. The battle scenes are beautifully choreographed, and the animation is impressive. 

But beyond the action, “Ambush” is also a character study of Yoda. The episode showcases his calm and wisdom, his ability to see through deception, and his unwavering dedication to the Republic. It is a fitting introduction to the series, as Yoda will be a central figure throughout. 

In conclusion, “Ambush” sets the tone for the rest of the series. It introduces viewers to the main players in the conflict and showcases the impressive animation and battle scenes that have made the series so beloved. But above all, it highlights the wisdom and power of one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe: Jedi Master Yoda.

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