The first episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ “Lost Missions” episodes, “The Unknown” brings viewers insight into Order 66 and pathos to the clone troopers. Dee Bradley Baker acts convincingly as clone troopers Fives and Tup (and all of the rest) as they try to figure out what went wrong when Tup unexpectedly killed a Jedi general. “The Unknown” is directed by Bosco Ng and written by Katie Lucas. Tup’s ailment is disturbingly convincing – details such as his gaze not tracking a hand waved in front of his face make it frightening.
Tup’s and Fives’ friendship is re-established early on and remains a central part of “The Unknown.” Fives’ “He was my best friend” is a bit cheesy, but it comes out like a confession. There’s a lot of dramatic irony in watching most of the cast try to unlock what’s wrong with Tup. The suspense comes not from the question of whether the Jedi will discover what the executive order is, but from the more personal story about Tup and Fives.
Less central are the twin Jedi masters Tiplee and Tiplar; I would have liked more of Tiplee’s perspective after the death of her sister, although she does show some un-Jedi-like anger restraining Tup. She disappears, when she could have gone along on the mission. On the other side of the war, watching Dooku and Sidious discuss the problem that only they understand is a fascinating peak behind the curtain into Revenge of the Sith. Palpatine’s dialogue is a bit stiff – “It is pertinent that we ascertain that this is an isolated event“ did not flow well to my ears.
The action in this episode is brutal and well-choreographed. In one of my favorite fights of the arc, Anakin devastates a hallway full of droids. It’s violent, too: a clone trooper sucked into space twitches and contorts. The inside of a wrecked ship looks like a horror movie: it is lit in stark reds and blacks, and the bodies of dead clones float close to the camera. A Republic medic becomes a stronger character than some who have entire episodes dedicated to them just by shaking as he holds up a gun he probably never intended to use.
The idea of a station around a whole planet is cool too, with gorgeous animation – although I’d like to have seen more evidence of the fact that the squad spent days there, such as clones being tired or leaving food wrappers around, instead of just hearing it in the voiceover. The camerawork when Anakin, Fives, and Tup walk across the outside of the space station is elegant and appropriately dizzying. It, like the rest of the episode, was convincing and excellent.