Spoiler Warning: There will be some discussion of the Star Wars film franchise, so if you haven’t seen any of the original trilogy and its prequels, Episodes I through VI, please discontinue if you do not want to read any major spoiler points to those films.
Violence plays a bigger part in Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2, and the amount of it does surprise me. Granted, popular series generally adjust their content based on the age of characters, and subsequent storylines and themes adjust, too. For example, the Harry Potter series slowly grew darker in content, relative to its depictions of death and various types of violence, and even the same could be said with the Star Wars film franchise, Episodes I through III. The Phantom Menace had a glaring, hole-defining moment with Qui-Gon Jinn after his fight with Darth Maul; however, the tenor of the film did not reach the level of Revenge of the Sith, where Anakin killed a temple full of younglings.
With regards to darker themes and having them gradually increase, especially when relating to the Harry Potter film franchise, it felt like Season 2 of The Clone Wars equated to jumping from the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, to the third or fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Now, as a parent and newfound fan of The Clone Wars, I absolutely enjoyed the second season of the hit TV franchise. The season’s storylines seemed to flow seamlessly without any apparent hiccups and took advantage of the characters they established in Season 1. If this season succeeded at one thing, more so than any other, it would be dispelling the notion that Jedi are perfect as if they are invulnerable. Yes, we’ve seen Jedi fail in the past – the aforementioned Master Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s fatal loss to Darth Vader (spoiler alert), and Luke Skywalker also being defeated in battle to Darth Vader, which included the loss of his light saber…with his hand still attached.
Yes, all of these things seem like very devastating acts for PG-rated films, which Episode I, IV, and V are all rated, but my memory as a kid and young adult do not match the surprise as a parent when watching the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This season included many more scenes involving torture and violent death scenes. This comes in the short span of time where I watched Season 1 only a month earlier, so the distinction between the two seasons is made from a fresh vantage point.
The Clone Wars Season 2 introduces a scene in Episode 2, “Cargo of Doom,” which indicates how different this season will be from the first. A captured Jedi Master is tortured, repeatedly, until he dies. The scene includes a droid warning Bounty Hunter Cad Bane that the Jedi might not be able to withstand much more torture, while Bane does not show any concern and only asks for more power to the torturing device that keeps the Jedi’s limbs locked in place like a human-shaped X. I highlight this one scene, because the torture is not quick and elaborates the notion of death and how torture created that death.
“More power,” ordered by Bane, is followed by a writhing Jedi, struggling to cope with the pain, until outstretched, twitching fingers go limp, and a medical scan shows a flatline of heart rate activity. This is an ominous moment that continues in severity, even after the captured Jedi is tortured to death. Bane calls to a droid, “Check,” and an electrically charged weapon is then slammed into the chest of the dead character, confirming his death. Another droid’s response, “He is no longer functioning," is then followed by, “Drop him.” The body falls to the floor in a massive heap, with a droid confirming, “He’s dead.”
This one scene indicated quite early that this was going to be a season that I would not let my children watch, yet. Perhaps, this is an overprotective moment for me. Perhaps, I am only delaying the impact this might have on them. For now, I will take it as a reason to share why this one scene measures such a strong response for other parents. How do we approach the topic of torture with our kids? How will they react to seeing a character tortured violently and then see their lifeless body fall to the ground, while concurrently being described by the usually comical droids?
Yes, animation makes it an easier pathway for children to see violence associated with any genre of film, but I would recommend any parent with a child in the vicinity of my own children’s ages to consider watching the season beforehand to make that determination for your own kids. Would I let my kids watch the first season? Yes. Would I let my kids watch Season 2? No.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 2 is quite entertaining, with our favorite characters being introduced time and time again to failure – an important teaching moment for everyone to learn, especially kids. Ahsoka must deal with a stolen lightsaber. General Grievous continues to escape. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Mace Windu all face severe injuries at some point, proving great skill and knowledge do not always win the day. The second season’s darker outlook also includes scenes of kidnapping children, poisonings, and using revenge as a means to an end. There are also brain worms that can control people’s actions, making them somewhat zombie-like, and if that doesn’t put up a red flag to not want your kids to have nightmares, I don’t know what will.
There are plenty of positive moments in this season, as I’ve quickly become a fan of this wonderful series; however, I think it’s fair to caution parents at continuing beyond Season 1 for their younglings.
What do you think? Do you believe Season 2 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is too intense for younger children? What characters are your or your kids’ favorites? Share them in the comments below, and, as always, don’t forget to head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages to share your thoughts with us. If you like this post and want to see more coverage of The Clone Wars, make sure to Facebook like and rate this page below.
Until next time, happy parenting and happing geeking.