What to Expect From Clone Wars' Dark Second SeasonS

Clone Wars returns tonight with a season that promises to be far darker than the last. We've seen several episodes from the new season and talked to the creators and cast about the new faces and moral shades of gray.

The Bounty Hunters

Last season, we met Cad Bane, the blue-skinned bounty hunter working for Ziro the Hutt. And this season, the bounty hunters will take on a more central role, with Cad Bane and his fellows joining forces with the Separatists (for a price, of course) against the Jedi. Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni says the bounty hunters have given them an opportunity to get away from the clones vs. droids formula, and give Anakin, Ahsoka, and the rest of the Jedi a more colorful set of foes.

In tonight's two-part episode, Rise of the Bounty Hunters, we'll see plenty of Cad Bane when the bounty hunter infiltrates the Jedi Temple to steal a Holocron. You can also check out the concept art of Bane and the other bounty hunters we posted last week.

A New Padawan

Ahsoka isn't the only padawan fighting the Clone Wars, and this season we'll meet Luminara Unduli's padawan, Barriss Offee (who also appeared briefly in Attack of the Clones and featured in the 2003 Clone Wars series). With Barriss, Ahsoka gets a peer, and we will sometimes see how the two fare on missions together without their masters. Barriss' relationship with Luminara also provides a stark contrast to Ahsoka's relationship with Anakin. We'll get to consider the pros and cons of Anakin and Ahsoka's somewhat unorthodox relationship, and the consequences of Anakin's fierce attachment to his padawan.

Shades of Gray

Although many members of the Clone Wars team said young fans appreciate the show because the heroes are the good that triumphs over evil, Filoni says we'll see more shades of gray this season. We'll be breaking out of the clones good, droids bad mold, and exploring instances where our heroes do questionable things for what they believe is the greater good. Anakin, notably, will do something that horrifies his fellow Jedi because he fears Ahsoka's life is in danger, and we will start to see that slide that brought a once-committed Jedi to the Dark Side.

The Specter of Death

No, Ahsoka doesn't die this season, and Ashley Eckstein, who voices Ahsoka, doesn't know if her character's fate is sealed. But death is a very present force in the new season. Ahsoka and Barriss will be confronted with the reality that being a Jedi may mean a short life for both of them. And even as she's accustomed to death as a part of war, Ahsoka will be forced to consider killing an innocent person to prevent an even greater tragedy.

Zombies

As we get closer to Halloween, expect a fun horror episode, one with shades of Night of the Living Dead and the Alien movies. And, though zombified aliens are good for some gentle scares, there's a monster in this episode far more frightening than the walking dead.

The one-hour Clone Wars second season premiere airs tonight at 8pm on Cartoon Network.