Sunday, September 19, 2010

Season I, Episode V: Rookies

What is most fascinating about this episode is the narratological web woven between it and the first two episodes of Season 3. Episode 1 of Season 3 is a prequel, whereas Episode 2 is a sequel to this particular episode. We jump back and forth in time quite often in the Star Wars universe (does one even need to italicize Star Wars anymore--it is a word and idea now, not just a copyrighted story). This weaving through space and time gives Star Wars its unique position as a continually updated canon, a story that has no 'original' versions or definitive interpreations, as they are always up for revision, including revision of the individual films themselves. This character of George Lucas' film-making infuriates many, but I attribute that more to nostalgia and our desperate faith in 'originals' and 'authenticity' than to any truly critical bent. It reminds me of early criticism of rappers for their 'inauthentic' borrowing of other beats and bragging about money.

Anyway, some notes on this episode: The difference between clones and droids is at the forefront. New technology produces new droids with a new personality. Clones, despite their common DNA, develop unique personalities. At the same time, the Jedi, for all their compassion, can't help but sound pandering sometimes: "Good man, that clone," says Obi-Wan Kenobi, sounding like a pet owner. This is in fact the proletariat story in the Clone Wars universe. As in our world, the proletariat must battle the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier, these mechnanized beings that resemble the soul alienated by the capitalist workplace. Theirs is inauthentic being, such that even in impersonating clones they cannot help but say "Roger Roger". The clones are even treated to The Force Theme at one point, such that what might perhaps have been construed as an elitist motif becomes a leitmotif of mastery, mastery among all classes and races. One notes that we never saw a clone with his helmet off in Episodes II and III. Also, Hevvy's last act is to blow up his place of employment, from which he is alienated (quite literally, by 'alien' mechnanized beings).
There is a decidedly New Hope feel to the episode, from the lighting, to the tracking shots, to the reference to Han Solo's "Everything's ok down here" on the Death Star, to the hiding out within the menancing techno-complex.
A final thought: does Obi-Wan wear white armour for solidarity with his troops? A bold move for an order clothed in monkish robes.


  1. I feel like we could talk endlessly about the juxtaposition between Clones and Droids so I'm glad you get onto it here. Shouldn't there not be a difference between a sentient droid and a copied, rule-imprinted human? Alienation looks like the difference. Droids have thinking, but not self, or their self IS rules ("must be my programming"). Clones have self, and we see some of them struggling with it as in Season 3 ep 1 where the importance of NAMES to clones becomes clear. Rather than being (as we could imagine) something a few clones come up with Naming becomes a necessary rite of growth for clones. Attaining individual purpose, individual specialty, individual ability, WHILE attaining that PLACE within the cohesive group is a powerful statement, a communal workers statement. Droids have none of this. No self, no community, just programming. Just like office workers not knowing the point of what they do, not having individual worth or purpose, just a program in the machine.

  2. I feel like an asshole. I completely missed the narrative connection between this episode and s3e1. I love that the Lucas team was interested in having us revisit these characters. I clearly don't respect the clones enough, because they mostly look alike to me. Hevvy's affinity for the mini-gun is coming back to me now...

    Further evidence for the Marxist reading of Star Wars: the clones, in there attachments, to identity, to home, to personal achievement, to one another, resemble the audience more than any other characters on the show. In this episode, Lucas has the Force reiterated for those that don't believe in mystical things or old religions: we all have the same blood and there is a shared knowledge in that blood. Political equality among humans is therefore not a given, but certainly the most desirable of all possible organizations. In this episode, we end up feeling galvanized against the personal greed that disrupts our mutuality, described to us in the behaviors of General Grievous and Asaj Ventress.

    On a personal note, it was hard to see Anakin still struggling to make Djiem So work against Makashi without using the dark side. It's even harder to see that he just keeps edging closer and closer to the abyss.