The D-Squad arc in Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an under-appreciated slew of episodes that sees a ragtag team of droids being sent on a mission to retrieve an encryption module from a Separatist dreadnought. This arc received a tepid response when it was initially released; the tone was much lighter compared to the rest of Season 5. However, the D-Squad arc is better than you remember, and the sacrifices these undervalued heroes are willing to make have made it exceedingly relevant in recent years.
A running theme throughout this arc is the idea of training vs programming. The leader of the mission, Colonel Meebur Gascon is an extremely short alien who repeatedly admonishes his team for having no real experience nor knowledge. Unlike sentient beings, droids are programmed knowing exactly what they’re capable of doing. Living organisms are taught how to do things and have a great capacity to think outside their boundaries and be creative. Gascon makes fun of R2-D2 and his companions for their perceived lack of ingenuity and simpleness. Conversely, the droids poke fun at Colonel Gascon for being a former map reader and how his training hasn’t prepared him in terms of the mission they’re embarking on.
In the second episode of the arc, “A Sunny Day in the Void,” D-Squad crash lands on the desert world of Abafar and find themselves marooned on the planet. The training and programming mindset seems inefficient as the team struggles to get out of the desert. Colonel Gascon is slowly going mad from the desert heat and loses his resolve after finding a derelict ship with the remains of its dead crew. Ironically, Gascon is saved by the single-mindedness of a pilot droid named Wac-47. His steadfast commitment to completing the mission is what motivates Colonel Gascon to continue on. The two of them are able to escape the desert by trusting in the instincts of the native desert creatures and following them outside the desert to a nearby settlement.
In the settlement, D-Squad stumbles upon an amnesiac named Gregor, a Clone Commando suffering from amnesia after surviving a hellish battle and crash landing on the planet. Gregor is the byproduct of both the training and programming mindset, as he was genetically engineered and drilled fervently as a Clone Trooper. Due to his amnesia, he’s a little worse for wear in terms of abilities, but his combat instincts are still there. Gregor leads D-Squad to a Separatist ship and nearly sacrifices himself fighting the battle droids as he allows the group enough time to escape the planet. Gregor’s selfless actions highlight the sacrifices a person is willing to make for their comrades despite the differences in origins and circumstances.
Throughout the arc, the members of D-Squad go beyond the call of duty in order to accomplish their mission or save people. After escaping Abafar, the team finds themselves in a Jedi Cruiser full of bombs the Separatists plan on using against the Republic. When the group is cornered by a large number of buzz droids, the astromech droid M5-BZ opens an airlock pulling him and the buzz droids into the vacuum of space. And when the ship nearly reaches the Republic Fleet, R2-D2 detonates the bomb early saving the fleet from total destruction. R2 and the rest of D-Squad went beyond the limits of a normal droid or living being to accomplish their mission. It wasn’t training nor programming that allowed them to succeed, it was their bravery and courage in the face of endless odds.
The D-Squad arc while it’s not as celebrated as the Shadow Collective arc, it holds a special place in the eyes of many. It’s an arc reminiscent of the Droids cartoon; the episodes are full of humor mixed with genuine heart. Benjamin Diskin and Stephen Stanton, the voice actors for Colonel Gascon and Wac-47, respectively, have to carry these episodes largely by themselves due to being the only characters on the squad with an actual voice and they do a great job. For an arc with seemingly everything against it, it delivers a good lesson on the message on heroism and what it means to truly be a hero.
Streaming on Disney+, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars stars Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the clone troopers, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan and Sam Witwer as Maul.
An underrated Star Wars: The Clone Wars arc sees a ragtag group of droids complete a dangerous mission for the Republic.