002: THE HIDDEN ENEMY

How does the episode The Hidden Enemy explore the idea of brotherhood?

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The CIS continue to bombard the planet of Christophsis. After a failed ambush against the Separatists, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Rex and Cody discover that there is a traitor within their ranks.

The Hidden Enemy is a story that is driven by the concept of kindredship. While Star Wars is no stranger to a family drama, the traditional focus on the Skywalker clan shifts in this instalment for a darker, more intimate story, primarily regarding a platoon of clone troopers operating on the besieged planet of Christophsis. There are a number of other episodes that better explore the ethics and creation of the army, but what Hidden Enemy does particularly well is to look at the idea that these men – who are all cloned from the same source- could hold such different values and views on what they are fighting for. Not only is this concept the dramatic catalyst for the events that take place in this episode, but it ties intoThe Clone Wars’ main message: In war, you can easily lose yourself.  In fact, the moral of this episode, “Truth enlightens the mind, but won’t always bring happiness to your heart” reinforces this grand theme of TCW when looking at both the clones and the Jedi. Having been seduced into providing republic intelligence to the separatists,  Slick is adamant that his views on the war are the correct way of looking at it. If his mission is successful, he will aid in bringing the war to a close, at which point he and his brothers can carve out their own lives. It’s hard to argue Slick’s reasoning here. On a metatextual level, both the moral and the events it pertains to leave us feeling uneasy as a viewer. Despite the confusion over who ordered the creation of this army ( both in-universe and in real life) and despite the relatively positive treatment the clones recieve, it is the Jedi who are leading an army bred for the sole purpose of fighting a war, and it is the Jedi who are slavers.  

Back in the text, even the clones who aren’t “villainous” as it were, are not entirely the heroes we believe them to be. As is revealed in this episode, Chopper is collecting droid fingers from battlefields – a particularly unsubtle and grim reference to collecting war trophies from human remains. On top of that, Whilst those clones who don’t share Slick’s “treacherous”  views are quick to condemn him at the denouement of this episode, many of them will eventually turn on the Jedi due to their uncompromised genetic loyalty to the “Republic”, and their true creators. Between the treacherous clones, the clones who are loyal to a false democracy, and the Jedi who are loyal to their long held ethics, there’s a constant state of murky morality on display in this series.The Clone Wars is ultimately is an incredibly mature show for children and it is no surprise that two episodes into its chronological run, it provides us with one of the most philosophically pertinent issues raised in the Star Wars universe. The clones are brothers and the Jedi are brothers, but in no way are the Clones and Jedi brothers to each other.

The Hidden Enemy also introduces one of the strongest tools in The Clone Wars’ disposal: Asajj Ventress.  Repurposed from the EU, Ventress is a dark side acolyte whose life up to this point has been full of pain, loss and insecurity. The Dathomirian former slave-turned-jedi padawan-turned-sith apprentice claims she has never felt a true sense of belonging or kindredship in her life, so it is little surprise that she would a.) be a prime target for Dooku’s corruption and b.) excel in a task that would involve persuading a clone to turn on his brothers. Retroactively, what is interesting about the fact that Ventress debuts in this episode in particular is that it rather foreshadows her character arc. Ventress blindly assumes the network of separatists and sith she has found herself within is a strong one, however she too will feel their betrayal one day.

Anakin and Obi-Wan are present in this instalment too,  though they provide very little in way of narrative as the focus is largely on the Clone dilemma. One thing that is worth noting, however, is the sexually charged hostility between Asajj and Obi-Wan as it marks a refreshing shift for Star Wars. It’s a far cry from Han and Leia’s romantic banter in the original trilogy, as Obi-Wan and Ventress connect on no other level than their mutual lust and animosity. While it is quite obvious that Asajj would relish the chance to kill Obi-Wan, and that he would not hesitate to do the same to her, the show goes out of its way to show the two flirt verbally and physically. This dynamic is important as it introduces to the viewer the idea of Obi-Wan engaging with the opposite sex in such a manner, possibly as a prelude to the character of Satine Kryze who will be later introduced. Satine and Obi-Wan’s story throughout The Clone Wars is an important one in terms of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s brotherhood as it draws a strong parallel between the two Jedi and how the two chose to follow different paths.

 

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