- "The path of ignorance is guided by fear."
"The General" is the eighth episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series' fourth season. This is the second episode in a four-part storyline that focuses on a general the clones express concern about, which began with the previous episode "Darkness on Umbara." It aired on November 4, 2011.
"General Krell orders Captain Rex and the clone troopers of the 501st Legion to conquer a heavily fortified Umbaran airbase, and will not accept anything less than victory. It is an almost certain suicide mission, unless the clones can use their ingenuity to defeat their new enemy."
The clone troopers of the 501st Legion are hard-pressed in holding their current position under the relentless Umbaran attacks from the ground and the air, and are unable to break through to support Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan asks Master Pong Krell to assault a nearby airbase which is being used as a supply staging area for the capital's defenses. The battalion regroups and proceeds towards the airbase. Citing the urgency of Obi-Wan's current situation, Krell discards Rex's suggestion to scout for a secure route, ordering the troops to advance along a central gorge, despite Rex's protest that the narrow route will only allow advances by single squads.
This order divides the clone troopers, as some begin to openly criticize Krell's misguided strategy while others press for pushing on to finish the mission, with Fives being the most vocal of the protesters. In an attempt to quiet the men, Rex takes Fives aside, urging him to help promote unity among the troopers. Despite Fives' assertions that Krell's strategies are too costly, Rex insists that it is their duty as soldiers to follow orders even at the cost of their own lives. Pressed by Fives, Rex finally breaks off the discussion, citing loyalty to his code as his only response. Rex divides the battalion into separate groups under the leadership of Fives, Hardcase, and himself, and they begin to make their way down the gorge. Once right well underway, however, the lead group is ambushed by several caterpillar tanks, which cause heavy casualties among their ranks. With the combined use of rocket launchers and thermal detonators set up as land mines, the troopers eventually turn the tide against these monstrosities.
As the troops continue to advance, they encounter the next hazard in the form of Umbaran spider cannons, whose heavy firepower forces them into retreat yet again. Krell refuses to accept Rex's retreat or send him reinforcements, stubbornly insisting that he and his men are not to give any ground to the enemy. The battalion sustains heavy casualties, and the mobile cannons prove impervious to their rocket launchers, making any further assault seems hopeless. Faced with imminent defeat, Rex quickly develops an alternative scheme to Krell's plan, sending Fives and Hardcase on a stealth mission to the airbase, with the intent to commandeer a pair of the Umbaran starfighter to use against the tanks. When Rex explains his plans to Krell, the Jedi Master furiously denounces the idea and orders Rex to resume a full-frontal assault. Rex and his clones are unable to advance to the airbase due to heavy resistance, but they still continue to battle the Umbaran assault tanks. Rex orders the clones to stand their ground as long as possible, buying Fives and Hardcase enough time to complete their objective.
In the meantime, Fives and Hardcase reach the compound perimeter, where they encounter a sensor wall. After planting explosives at the base of the tree, the two clones scale it and evade the fence. Fives triggers the explosives as a distraction, and both men quickly take possession of a pair of Umbaran fighters. The holographic controls prove difficult to master, but after some harrowing maneuvers, the clones manage to get the fighters airborne and make for the battlefield. The commandeered fighters arrive just as Rex and his men are on the brink of defeat. The superior firepower of the Umbaran aircraft makes quick work of the tanks, and the enemy vehicles are subdued in short order, allowing the remaining clones to advance and secure the airbase. Krell eyes the successful stunt with cold acknowledgment, and orders Appo and the rest of the battalion to move out. At the base, Rex praises Fives and Hardcase, before being confronted by General Krell. After reporting the success of the mission, Krell proves dismissive of the clones' losses, declaring it the price of victory, before departing, leaving Rex indignant but silent. Fives remarks to Rex that it is the general who is refusing to realize the cost of his orders...
Like in "Darkness on Umbara," when General Krell speaks to Captain Rex, he refers to him as "CT-7567," even though Rex's original number was CC-7567.
Appo appears as a Sergeant and not his established rank of Commander. Also, when Appo is speaking to General Krell, his voice has not been modified to make it sound like he is speaking while wearing his helmet.
Krell insists on calling all the clones by their designated number instead of their chosen nicknames. However, he makes an exception when he addresses Appo by his nickname instead of as CC-1119. He also does so for Captain Rex, the second of only two times he uses it.
Toward the end of the episode, there is a shot where Krell does not have his beard and his chin has been shaven, then, seconds later, his beard is back. This is most likely a production error.
When Hardcase is climbing up the to get over the fence, he says, "I prefer a straight fight over all this sneaking around." This would be said years later by Han Solo when he partakes in sneaking aboard the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
This is the first time Walter Murch has directed since the 1985 movie Return to Oz, which was very Star Wars-influenced with George Lucas' help. Coincidentally, one of the clone troopers from the previous episode was nicknamed Oz; this was presumably a reference to the movie.
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