The Jedi face a devastating new Separatist weapon that’s in the hands of General Grievous in the second of two episodes that mark the season premiere of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, an all-new animated series debuting Friday, Oct. 3 on Cartoon Network.

In “Rising Malevolence,” which premieres at 9:30 p.m., an attack by an unimaginably destructive weapon aboard a mysterious warship leaves Jedi Master Plo Koon and his clone troopers struggling to survive until Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano can find them. They discover that the ship is piloted by Grievous himself.

“Rising Malevolence” follows the 9:00 p.m. debut of the episode “Ambush.” STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS will introduce new episodes at 9:00 p.m. Fridays on Cartoon Network.

Series supervising director Dave Filoni helms the episode “Rising Malevolence” from a script by Steve Melching. George Lucas is the series’ creator and serves as executive producer, and Catherine Winder is producer.

“Rising Malevolence” features several prominent series debuts, most notably those of Jedi Master Plo Koon, General Grievous and his menacing warship, the Malevolence. Also appearing for their first time in the series are Anakin Skywalker and his padawan, Ahsoka.

Plo Koon’s presence was established in Star Wars: Episodes I, II and III, but his character was seen fleetingly in those films. Nevertheless, just as the seldom-seen Boba Fett became a fan favorite after The Empire Strikes Back, Filoni grew fascinated by Plo Koon. He chose the relatively unknown Jedi Master as his first project of character development.

“I liked the design of the Plo Koon character, and I also liked that he was a Jedi Master,” Filoni says of his initial attraction. “Like so many Star Wars fans, I had always wondered what other Jedi were like — and The Clone Wars presented an opportunity to explore those characters”

Melching said he, Filoni and script supervisor Henry Gilroy worked hard to reveal Plo Koon’s character by example — and, at the same time, offer greater perspective on the ways of the Jedi. Moreover, they reveal in “Rising Malevolence” an important connection between Plo Koon and Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan learner.

“We were able to examine both Plo Koon’s personality and Ahsoka’s background by showing their bond and the extreme loyalty of Anakin and Ahsoka to their Jedi comrades,” Melching says. “They know he’s stranded and might not be alive, but if there’s even a chance, they’re going to find him. They have to deviate from their mission to try to rescue him, but they can’t endanger their larger mandate.”

The episode offers numerous scenes of Plo Koon and a small group of clones stranded in a disabled escape pod, which Melching says offered opportunities to expand on the thoughts, sensibilities and unique attributes of each clone trooper.

“The clones are really an army of one — they’re all the same guy. But their experiences in the war are all different, and that affects their relationships with other clones and their Jedi leaders,” Melching says. “They may all seem be the same guy, but they’re developing different personalities, and we work hard to show how they think, where they come from. That helps to define each episode. After all, the clones are ultimately the key to this war.”

Tags: star wars, cartoon network, clone wars

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