THE CLONE WARS – A LOOK BACK

THE CLONE WARS – A LOOK BACK

By: Dan S. Turpin

 

“Begun the Clone War has.” – Jedi Master Yoda

 

***SPOILERS BELOW***

Picking up after the events of Attack of the Clones, the opening salvo of the contrived conflict, the Republic sends its Jedi all over the galaxy to put out the fires of war, all the while, being manipulated by Chancellor Palpatine’s/Darth Sidious and Count Dooku/Lord Tyranus’s grand scheme….

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

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Lucasfilm made a slight snafu by releasing the animated pilot first as it had yet to find its creative footing and really showcase the talent involved. It’s not terrible by any stretch, but it gave ammo to the bitter critics and raised skepticism of how STAR WARS will translate and THRIVE on television. Thank the Maker, Clone Wars shut all that down; impressing audiences and critics, winning several Emmys and becoming cartoon Networks biggest ratings grabber- ever. The credit goes to creator and executive producer, George Lucas and writer/director/producer/show runner, Dave Feloni who was a Lucas-by-proxy, for capturing the nuances of the characters and universe and infusing it with high action, emotions and plenty of adventure.

Too many were dismissive by calling it a, “kid’s show,” which it can be, but it was/is for everyone, since not many kids shows have aliens doing torturing methods that involve BRAIN stirs on their victims or have the word, “murder”, or “Senate” in an episode title. As bloodless as it is, it has a high body count for being family entertainment.

Deeper characterizations and themes of betrayal, duty, friendship and misplaced loyalties are sprinkled throughout and played out through the prism of war and political machinations; sophisticated storytelling with visual flair and amazing voice acting, push The Clone Wars over the top of some of the best damn STAR WARS ever seen and one of the best animated series- period.

Unfortunately, this excellent series will be a Rorschach test for some – many will likely only see exactly what they want to see and won’t give it a proper chance. The CG animation will be dismissed and lamented over for a regressive, old fashion style; or that it’s ugly, too “video gamey” – Only what you take with you.

Set up as mini-movies, each episode with a narrated version instead of the standard opening crawl gets a hunk of set-up out of the way at the start, straight to action and contains all the expanded universe characters, iconic starships and bounty hunters you could ever want!

To its credit, Clone Wars never started off small, and the 22-minute running time didn’t mean a darn thing. Visually it could rival and often times surpass the movies and the sound packed the required punches as well, especially if you have a quality sound system. It’s huge and this epic quality translated beautifully. The best part is that in some ways,(not all, but some) the series was/is far superior to the prequel films as we get to spend a lot more time with all of the participants- no more broad strokes- we get strong characterizations from all the usual suspects and few more surprise appearances. Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Plo Koon, Ki Adi, Yoda, Mace Windu and Padme Amidala get plenty of screen time as they struggle to keep the peace in a galaxy at war.

Anakin has become my favorite character of the series and we see him as the noble hero, frustrated by the boss’s obsession with procedures and rules; he is the most compelling figure as we see flashes of darkness, yet his decency keeps him stable…for now. He’s a well-meaning kid, but his zealous tactics are at times questionable and he unknowingly puts his fellow Jedi’s in danger. He’s likable and brash and at times and even naive loaded with a great sense of humor as does the series; a great running gag throughout is how Anakin and General Grievous never see each other… since they officially don’t meet until SITH. Obi Wan is still the big brother, frustrated by his Padawan’s antics, he too is fun, likable and so very proper with his measured judgment.

Jar Jar is still around being as divisive as ever and continues to annoy those around him. His last appearance in season 6 redeems him somewhat as he fights off some enemies and saves Mace Windu’s life.

Padme doesn’t get as much time as the two show hogs, but she too is duty bound and they all get their moments to shine and does a wonderful lead in to Revenge of the Sith. Her last few appearances with Anakin in season 6 offer some very prophetic happenings and show Anakin’s dark side moments as he becomes increasingly fearful and PROTECTIVE.

The series’ most controversial aspect was the addition of Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan’s. How can Anakin have a Padawan? Anakin was a blank slate for many years so it wasn’t entirely impossible. Many cried foul at this, but as the series moves on, she proves her mettle and becomes a welcomed addition. She turns out to be the best addition, the best character to a long list of new character additions, alongside my favorite Ventress and Savage Opress.

My favorite Jedis established in the films make appearances throughout and are expanded on; Kit Fisto, Plo Koon and my favorite, Ki Adi,; all end up dead by the end of Episode III, but here have their moments to shine. CW took should be recognized for all the new characters it introduced specifically for this series; Ziro the Hutt, Cade Bane, Hondo, Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress, characters that appear as typical window DRESSING at first, but do add up to something memorable and valuable.

Old favorites make an appearance throughout the series, like Zutton, Chewbacca, Ackbar (not yet Admiral), (the future Grand Moff) Wilhuff Tarkin who, naturally, strikes up an instant friendship with Anakin; Liam Neeson reprises his role as Qui-Gon Jinn briefly in season 3 and Season 6, explaining the prophecy of the Chosen One and the latter time, conferring with Yoda and explaining just what the “living force” means and how the Midichlorians do not contradict a single thing!

Palpatine is always around, the Galaxy’s version of the Don Vito Corleone, schemes, plots, manipulates both sides even when he’s not directly involved. Bounty hunters make an impression; IG-88, 4-LOM, Zuckuss, Dengar, Bossk and the previously mentioned Cade Bane; a Duro who wears a big cowboy hat and talks like Clint Eastwood- he looks just as cool as I described; Jabba The Hutt and his extended family, uncle Ziro The Hutt, a very clever and flamboyant character that is best taken with a much needed sense of humor. He’s not a campy joke, but a worthy addition as he proves he’s just as sneaky and cutthroat as his nephew Jabba and in later episodes will pay for it with a lover’s betrayal. Pirate Hondo Ohnaka makes several appearances throughout the series.

One fascinating storyline dealt with the clones and how they wondered if they were worthy as individuals while Yoda gives them a very interesting and heart-felt life lesson.

In the latter seasons things get heated and more exciting with the Mandalorians and Obi Wan involved in a civil war on their home world of Concord Dawn and the return of an old enemy and the home stretch episodes deal with Yoda trying to solve the mystery of the Sith and just getting enough information to know something bad is coming for the Jedi order.

I was skeptical at first, harrumphing at the “Computer Generated” animation. I feared it would be ugly and stiff like Starship Troopers: Roughnecks, but I could not have been more wrong! Forget all that- the animation style has a wonderful fluidity, smoothness and is easy to enjoy. The eyes on the human and humanoid characters is still an odd point as most have that glassy look, but it gets less so as the series moves forward, but never enters Polar Express ugliness.

The action of course is the heart of the series- the animation is booming whenever a fight breaks out; Space ships pulling alongside each other, firing lasers- blasting everything; the Jedi and Sith bounce about their environments, throwing loose objects and displaying their athletic prowess with abandon. Not to forget the Clone Troopers, who are swift and lethal, making their presence alongside the Jedi essential.

The vastly over-hated prequel films do a decent job of world building; this series surpasses that occasionally, simply due to time. Anakin and Obi Wan’s relationship is fleshed out and we find out why old Ben said ‘he was the best star pilot in the galaxy and a good friend.’

Voice actors Matt Lanter as Anakin and Corey Burton as Kenobi are damn near uncanny to their movie counterparts, infusing both with what he know along with a few surprises, both are excellent and prove that voice acting is consistently underrated and misunderstood. For the trivia nerds, these two played the parts longer than anyone so credit is long overdue.

The films set the events and situations up and presented them in broad strokes, this series fills in the blanks and focuses in a little closer on characterizations, motivations and especially the bad guys and the overall themes and time taken to explore more areas of the universe. It’s excellent to see Dooku, and Palpatine’s agenda seen and dissected and understood; the most favored element is to see how both sides are sometimes correct; the Jedis are not always right and the Sith are not always wrong; makes for an interesting climax in SITH.

For the betterment of the series, the Jedis are still seen as heroes of the galaxy, although still tied to procedure and bureaucratic routine, (a necessary element to show since Palpatine uses the system against them) they do show their intentions are good, despite the Chancellor’s meddling and their system rotting, which would not make any sense for something so established to crumble overnight. Ironically, the only one not stifled by routine and procedure is Anakin, who takes a lot of heat for his impetuous philosophy, but is at least honest with his intentions, Ahsoka too as she tries to bend her idealism to conform with reality.

It’s also great to see Anakin in the role of hero, not yet on the verge of cracking, he’s still a likable hero and we root for him despite knowing his fate. We see his obsessiveness over the ones he loves; Padme, Ahsoka and even R2-D2. Not so much with Obi Wan who he occasionally targets for his petty jealousies. His relationship with Ahsoka is one of the big surprises of the series with her being the only pure character of the series who walks away from everything before being affected by Palpatine’s machinations. A character I was skeptical about, but turned out to be a real treat, one of my favorites in fact due to her clarity of character. Her relationship with Anakin is big brother/little sister type, but it quickly moves past the gimmick and gets into strong defining relationships. They become great friends and Anakin slowly sees her as his equal as she proves her fighting skills and her ethics.

Mission accomplished as it captures everything we love about the Star Wars universe impeccably so in its most pure, visceral form. Wonderfully kinetic, the series reflects the style, attitude, ideals and spirit of the seven (and counting) “Star Wars” films in the expected and unexpected ways.

These are the absolute best and my favorites of the seasons. They may not coincide with the agreed upon greats, but for me, they work splendidly.

 

Season 1 2008-09

BOOM!

1- Ambush

Following the mixed reactions to the Clone Wars movie, the new series debuted with a force and reminded people to never under estimate Star Wars. It’s a perfect bland of action, character, humor and theme- yes theme! This series has it out the wazoo and it shines luminously here with Yoda at the forefront- what better way to usher in the new series. This is spread out over the first two episodes.

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5- Rookies

A standout as it focuses on the sacrifices of war and makes an effort to give the clones some distinct personalities- Yoda shines here as he imbues the Clones with confidence and self-worth, very mature and nicely done.

7- Duel of the Droids

Anakin and Asoka finally track down both the location of R2-D2 and the Separatist listening post, established in the previous episode. Once there, the pair of Jedi led their clone troopers to rescue their droid comrade and destroy the station.

Plenty of nice bits here, Asoka is left alone to fight off General Grievous and learns a thing or two about herself, as do we. This riff of Anakin and Grievous never meeting is kept on through the series end. She steps out of her role as Anakin’s sidekick. After this she becomes more than just a gimmick.

I liked Anakin’s near maniacal devotion to R2, besides the important data he is carrying; he considers him his friend and proceeds to jeopardize the mission all in the name of friendship. That’s a likable and respectable trait in anyone and it’s played for truth and not forced or gimmicky.

I am a droid guy, I love anything droid related and the final showdown between was as sweet as anything since the films. R2-D2 is my favorite character and to see him get some shine time is always welcomed, plus it’s just a great episode. Rousing and packed to the rafters with action and we get some great character moments from all the leads, especially R2, but Anakin and Asoka as well, a real nice departure from their usual Jedi sleuthing.

R2 is shown in all the movies to be his own personality, as loyal and as fierce as a dog and a smart as a whip, but R2 is clever and he’s also a valiant warrior as he uses all the gizmos and additions to fight the other droid. No one thinks of R2 as an ass-kicker, but he is. It’s done with great affection for sure, but it’s also a kick ass action scene that is a great foreshadowing to the Anakin vs. Obi Wan fight in Sith- And everything, from the gantry, to the swelling of the music, to the clash of droids matches that showdown in such a way as to provoke intentional amusement and enthusiasm- such a geeky moment, the highlight of the season and series. Love it

22- Hostage Crisis

Bounty Hunter Cad Bane, takes several Republic Senators hostage (including Padme and Bail Prestor Organa), for the purposes of securing the release of one Ziro the Hutt (the same from the Clone Wars movie). As a wild card, Anakin is in the Senate Building – but without his light saber.

The resulting action is excellent, tense, flawlessly executed sequences riffing on Die Hard. In the end, the Senators are saved, but Bane accomplishes his mission to free Ziro who comes back for troublemaking. This episode offers some excellent character moments and some nice quiet beats between Anakin and Padme as they continue in their secret romance; losing the light saber gag starts off as carry-over from the movies but builds up to a wonderful conclusion that would make John McClain smile.

The stand out moments, Anakin’s ingenious fighting skills and my favorite new character, Ziro the Hutt who plays much better here than in the movie, shares all the best jokes with Bane.

 

Season 2: 2009-2010

The first season was a bit wobbly, but things vastly improve in season two; a solid season, plenty of good stuff coming with the bounty hunters and Mandalore arcs, but this was my favorite.

5-Landing at Point Rain

Due to the war, the Republic was unable to maintain control of the planet and now it has reverted to being a foundry for the Separatists’ droid armies. It’s a reality that the Republic cannot allow to continue, so they send Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ki-Adi Mundi, Anakin and Ahsoka Tano to lead a powerful planetary invasion with the goal of shutting down the foundries and capturing the Geonosian leader, Poggle the Lesser.

Brutal! Our kids take a hit and keep on fighting; pounding and more pounding as they lose troops at a distressing rate. They are consistently outnumbered and outflanked- heroics from both sides, Jedi and Clones win the day. Beautifully designed and choreographed, the action is far more substantial than anything in the films from this battle’s POV. Well written and executed all the way around, not only as fun episode, but as an important one, the action never lets up and becomes an excellent treatise on war and heroics however simplistic it may be; exciting and tense from the opening shot to the roll of the credits.

17- Bounty Hunters

In a rural and remote corner of Felucia, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka form an uneasy alliance with four deadly bounty hunters to protect a local village from Hondo Ohnaka and his band of pirates.

This was an interesting episode as it showed Bounty Hunters working during the Republic. The most interesting element is that the Hunters weren’t indiscriminate murderers; how much more of business minded they are then getting in melees. This riff on the Magnificent Seven was clever and full of the usual eye popping battles, but a very cool theme of not judging by the cover.

 

Season 3: 2010-2011

4- Heroes on Both Sides

When the Senate begins debate on a bill that would eliminate government oversight of the Banking Clan’s activities, Padmé and Asoka travel in secret to the capital of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, in an attempt to forge a peace agreement with the Separatists. Before the eyes rolls from cement heads watching, this is quite compelling and continues to show the corrupted political process rotting.

It’s always interesting to see heroes on a mission, forced to question their ideals and situation when they realize maybe they aren’t on the right cause. The Clones/Jedis aren’t totally right and the Separatists aren’t completely wrong. Star Trek: Enterprise tried this with the Vulcans with mostly brilliant results as a once perfect race that was shown to be not so truthful and pristine as we once thought. Planting the seeds for the Jedis not being complete, perfect heroes; we saw the cracks in the prequel films and it made perfect since as long-standing institutions don’t crumble overnight nor do its participants. Most bemoan the political stories, but they are tightly paced and compelling here and lay the ground work to the inevitable.

5- Clone Cadets

On Kamino, before the events of “Rookies” (Season 1 Episode 5), 5 clone cadets of Domino Squad are at risk of washing out unless they pull their team together while trainers Bric, El-Les, and Jedi Master Shaak Ti debate their fate.

One of the more interesting aspects of the series was its unique take on the clone soldiers and its attempts to make them individuals. One of its greatest traits has been addressing moral ambiguities, Star Wars has always been known for its straight-shooting mentality and its black and white cowboy hat wearing bad guys versus the good guys- all part of the charm and I dig it, but the unsure nature of the events unfolding makes things just that much more interesting… and the series takes a potentially dumb idea and makes it great. We find out the clones are not carbon copies of Jango, but real people, with real feelings and the only thing they share exclusively are their looks. They want to be recognized for their unique abilities. The animation team manages to discriminate the clones with understated differences in dialogue, body language, and tone. Very cool ideas are sprinkled throughout.

9- Hunt for Ziro

Quinlan Vos, a favorite from the EU also makes his first appearance in the series as he teams with Obi-Wan Kenobi to battle the awesome cowboy hat-wearing Duro bounty hunter Cad Bane (the show’s best original creation) and culminating in genuinely surprising twist. This episode takes place soon after the Season 1 finale, Hostage Crisis. Ziro the Hutt has been freed from prison on Coruscant and is now being held by the Hutts on Nal Hutta — they want Ziro to hand over incriminating information about their dealings, while Ziro realizes that he will only stay alive as long as the information is hidden and the Jedi’s must get to Ziro before Bane does…

Tit for tat, quid pro quo- a very amusing episode packed with tons of atmosphere and film noir touches and plenty of gangster film homages, as it introduces one of the universe’s strangest characters, Sy Snootles, the female singer in the band in Jabba’s palace from JEDI, who is just a working singer here and is the stories’ femme fatale with her hotly gaze on Ziro. They share a passionate history- yes, Ziro digs chicks, who would have thought? His dark romance with Sy gives the episode a strange amount of heft considering the inherent absurdity and poignancy as it ends with a shock- Sy indeed does live up to her femme fatal title.

Vos is excellent, (and canon) as he is a great counterpoint to Kenobi’s by-the-book stuffiness and Anakin’s balls deep, gung-ho attitude. Have a sense of humor first before dumping rage on Ziro, I found him very funny and clever. I had fun with this episode, as it successfully pools tongue-in-cheek sensibilities with an action-driven plot and leaves us wanting more at the end; it had no reason to work, but is masterfully pulled together.

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12- Nightsisters

Troubled by Asajj Ventress’ growing prowess with the dark side of the Force, Darth Sidious commands Count Dooku to eliminate her. But Ventress survives Dooku’s hit, and the jilted former apprentice vows to take revenge and goes to her kinswomen, the Nightsisters, led by the mysterious Mother Talzin located on the planet Dathomir.

WOW. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” certainly fits the stage here. What a great episode packed full of tons of Shakespearian overload…. Star Wars has a unique way of getting one to “like” or even identify with a the supporting characters and Ventress is no different, I felt sorry for her as her entire world is ripped from her without any type of warning. Dooku as usual, pours golden words in her ear only to stab her in the back. Some bitter irony in his future not realizing he too will eventually suffer the same fate. Once again, the Sith dynamic is underscored as they can’t trust anyone and whoever adopts an apprentice will betray said apprentice.

No longer just a bulldog or hired hit of Dooku, Ventress has some legitimate grievances and goes full- Khan on Dooku for her revenge. After this episode she has some greatness still left in her as his allegiances are cast in a haze. A once paper-thin character gets plenty of development becoming one of my favorites from the series. Some great moments for Anakin to shine as he shows off his great piloting skills and Dooku shows some moments of humanity and I was surprised by his look of regret when he thinks Ventress is dead.

Some striking visuals indeed fill the frame as we can add Dathomir to the ever growing list of exotic, mysterious alien worlds. Stunning as a blood-red planet, and the barren forest, complete with giant webbed teardrops hanging from the trees; it sets the eerie tone as we meet the Nightsisters, another instantly iconic mysterious baddies, led by Mother Talzin, with her gliding gait and her spooky echo in her voice. Dathomir and the “Sith Witch” concepts were pulled from the former EU book, “The Courtship of Princess Leia.” Awful, terrible book, but excellent ingredients turned into of the best episodes with wall-to-wall action and backstabbing fill this episode written by none other than Lucas’s eldest offspring, Katie Lucas, well done!

13- Monster

When Count Dooku calls upon the Nightsisters seeking a replacement for Ventress, she and her kin seize the opportunity to exact revenge. Ventress visits the far side of Dathomir and the males of the planet seeking the most brutal and powerful warrior among them. Talzin has Asajj secretly select a warrior from the distant Nightbrother village: Savage Opress. With the power of dark magic, Talzin transforms Savage into a hulking warrior ultimately loyal to Asajj. She then delivers Opress to Dooku, where he will serve as his secret Sith apprentice in a plot to overthrow Darth Sidious.-

Another new character favorite, Savage Opress, is victimized by the Sith. I felt some sympathy as he was being pulled and lied to from every direction; the Zabrackian version of Anakin; both victims of “corrupt institutions,” and both going off their nut because of said institutions. The plot thickens moves and morphs into some impressive moments as Opress become quite powerful.

Star Wars is constantly dealing with the concept of evil and here it’s handled quite deftly. Opress wasn’t born evil, but cruelty and the fostering of his hate lead him to be. Dooku came off very much like those scumbags that raise pit bull puppies to fight; the breed is not born evil by any stretch, but treated with cold, unrelenting cruelty over time will transform any creature and Opress certainly does. It’s ironic too how the Jedis are not much different, they too pluck worthy candidates and ferry them away from family and friends and “train” them and indoctrinate them- the only difference is the emotions used and the message sent. Excellent.

14- Witches of the Mist

Sent to track down the mysterious figure behind the deaths of several Jedi, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi find themselves on the trail of Count Dooku’s newest apprentice – the monstrous Savage Opress. However, Dooku and Asajj Ventress discover that their creation has a will of his own, and that he has grown more powerful than either of them had anticipated – perhaps even more powerful than the combined forces of the Jedi and the Sith.

I found it interesting to see Opress unspoiled at first, plucked from his clan, but later turned into Dooku’s brute who was outright cruel to him, constantly berating and shocking him with Force lightning to do his bidding; an eerie mimic the path later taken by Anakin and underscores the psychological slavery the apprentices endure. Opress was a mean motherscratcher at his physical peak; no wonder Vader deferred to Palpatine, one flick of the lightening and his iron lung would shut down.

Dooku was shown to have a weakness as well; he put way too much trust in the Nightsisters considering their link to Ventress. A cool mirror moment with Dooku training Opress like his former Master Yoda trained him with Opress stating, “What you ask is impossible.” Reminiscence of Luke’s training on Dagobah, but obviously going in the other direction. An eerie moment as Dooku is full of wisdom and guidance one second and shocking him to get what he wants the next. The Count becomes more like a Bond villain here, (ironic sense Christopher Lee was the Bond baddie Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun! – I rock!) Calculating, cruel and full of betrayal to move the agenda.

Overall, it’s a fantastic episode that continued to build up the mythology and added some interesting complex psychology into the mix. Stellar visuals, music and propulsive action that ends with a thrilling 5 way duel between Ventress/Dooku/Opress vs. Obi Wan/Anakin. Again, impressive work, kudos to Katie Lucas, for creating such a compelling episode with interesting characters.

15-Overlord

A mysterious force draws Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka to a distant planet, and its inhabitants — a family of exceptionally powerful Force-wielders — in an attempt to determine whether Anakin is truly the Chosen One. The patriarch of this family, known only as the Father, has spent ages maintaining the balance between his Daughter, who is strong with the LIGHT side of the Force, and his Son, who aligns with the dark. The Father reveals his days are numbered, and he seeks Anakin to take his place as the fulcrum of this balance. A series of tests proves that Anakin is capable of controlling both offspring, as the Father does, but Skywalker refuses to take the Father’s place.

Here we go, the Mortis trilogy- Anakin’s fate is revealed… or as some have called, The Holy Trinity saga. Shit just got real. There is no other to say it, the entire STAR WARS mythology was turned upside down, given a good shake as the mystical elements are turned up to 11. This is the beginning of the end for the Jedi order and the Republic as they inch closer to know of the bad things happening and what is to come; these three episodes contain some of the most incredible moments, scenes and action of the entire franchise. It’s the On Her Majesty Secret Service level of franchise importance, except nothing is crapped on in the next INSTALLMENT but is definitely on Empire Strikes Back in execution and emotional importance.

YES, it’s THAT good.

It also introduced three more STAR WARS weirdoes, The Daughter, the Son and the Father, non-corporeal Force users (Anchorites as The Father explained) who have a vested interest in Anakin as the ship carries passengers Obi Wan and Ahsoka…as Anakin is vetted for his role as Chosen One.

-Overlords

Having not seen this episode since it aired, I had forgotten the power behind it. One words describes these episodes- SURREAL, some very heavy stuff is thrown around as it asks a profound question; would you want to know the day you died- which is in essence what happens to Anakin when he’s turned to the Dark side, the good man who all know is placed on pause so to speak while Darth Vader emerged- shown his fate, the kid doesn’t like what he sees. I found it ironic here that after Anakin was shown his fate, he reacted the same strident way he did when he was anointed Darth Vader – a fool again to believe the Son and nearly accepted his OFFER to join him. Also fascinating to see Anakin, gifted with all the powers by the Father, was the Chosen One as the prophecy said, yet he didn’t take him up on his sincere offer to take his place. He was though ready to accept the Son’s dishonest offer – interesting.

16-Alter of Mortis

Alter of Mortis has tons of symbolism and references to the future as Son tried to convince Anakin to join him in the vision at the BEGINNING of the episode, he sounded conspicuously like Emperor Palpatine using the lines “My friend” and “How simple you make it, with a heavy vibe from Empire Strikes Back as Son tried to sway Anakin with the promise of restoring balance and peace just as Anakin himself would later do with Luke, interesting too is that Anakin was strong enough to reject the offer.

The Chosen One prophecy is described in painstakingly precise detail, for all those anti- Midichlorians- watch this! Even the Jedi had no clue what the true force is all about, many interpretations and uses and no one defining explanation. It SOON became clear that Son and Daughter represented the two sides of the Force, with the Father as the balance, but at the same time that our entire idea of the Force was woefully insufficient. As Father said, we and the Jedi knew only a “very simple view of the universe.”

I was as perplexed as Anakin as this episode cracks open and offers up a picture of the universe more majestic than anything we have ever been given to understand about STAR WARS. Not only do we learn more about the Force, but Qui Gon too as he makes a brief return and converses with Obi Wan who spills his guts about his abilities to train Anakin and his fear of screwing it up.

17- Ghosts of Mortis

The final treatise of the trinity saga shows Anakin’s fate and is touched on in closer detail in the last episode as his stubbornness and ATTACHMENT is played up paving his way to the Dark side all the more easier to accept in SITH. He has a hard time accepting it and with an act of mercy by The Father, didn’t really know how to handle it. One of the most unsettling moments ever was the creepy montage of Anakin’s Dark side descent shown to him via Son; from “lightning Sidious in Jedi” to “choking Padmé”, from “anguished Obi-Wan” to “exploding Alderaan”, and from “I hate you” to “You were my brother, Anakin!”- All brilliantly told- there has never been a scene this chilling and powerful in the history of the series. And to top it all off, we got an image of Anakin reaching out in anguish in front of the smoky image of Darth Vader’s mask. The act done to him by the Father might be called a cheat by some, but I saw it as merciful and perhaps Father saw it, despite putting a band aide on a hemorrhage, also as staving off the inevitable and hopefully eschewing it altogether.

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WOW! This is not to be missed.

18-The Citadel

With help from R2-D2 and a squad of captured battle droids, an elite team of Jedi and clone troopers led by Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt to free a captive Jedi

After much anguish and philosophizing from the previous episodes, we get back to more straight forward adventures. The first of many great bits was how Anakin, Obi Wan and the clones were encased in Carbonite to escape the droid sensors gaining access into the prison and seeing R2 in General mode leading a battalion of battle re-programmed Battle droids. Neat.

Great action and visuals all around, but the best part was the repartee developed between Tarkin and Anakin, they see eye to eye on many things; like why are Peacekeepers in charge of a military campaign, Tarkin asks and Anakin agrees. Again, another strike against the Jedis that is not incorrect.

19- Counterattack

After their ship and only way off the planet is destroyed, Anakin and Obi-Wan must lead the escaped prisoners across Lola Sayu’s perilous landscape as Plo Koon commands a task force of four cruisers and their fighters through the Separatist defenses in a daring rescue. Even Piell is ravaged by anooba tracking beasts, but before he dies, he passes on his Nexus Routes coordinates to Ahsoka. When the survivors return to Coruscant, Ahsoka knows half the intel, and refuses to disclose it to anyone but the Jedi Council, while Tarkin refuses to hand over his half to anyone other than the Chancellor.

Even Piell, the freaky looking Jedi Master with one eye gone, was a cool character to see in action, but fleeting moments they were as he dies soon after.

We continue to see Plo Koon as one of Anakin’s closest friends and his loyalty keeps the kid sane as he is the only Jedi Master that didn’t dislike him, (Windu) or lie to him, (Obi Wan, Yoda). Plo Koon sees good in the boy much to the chagrin of some of his colleagues; he admires and believes Anakin is correct… most of the time.

The more interesting bits are with Anakin and Captain Tarkin as compliments Skywalker on his military sensibilities, revealing a hidden lack of faith in the Jedi Order. The two quickly form a smooth working relationship and mutual respect, Anakin slowly comes to the conclusion that the Jedi are floundering. Tarkin’s moments with Ahsoka are strained; he clearly holds her and her integrity in contempt and its ditto for her with him.

20- The Citadel Rescue

The concluding story arc went out with a bang as we see some of the best space scenes in the entire series so far. I truly believe that no other episode has produced an array of space battle sequences with more visual equivalence to the opening scenes of Revenge of the Sith. One of the shots I enjoyed the most was the one where the ARC-170s deployed for combat as the camera panned back to show the assembled Republic cruisers- nice.

The best bits are with Anakin and Tarkin, who is an evil oil slick that has Anakin in the palm of his hand. Both reveal their closeness to Palpatine, but its Tarkin who boats of having his ear paving the way for his future assignment on the Death Star. Both men are enamored with each other, both see the Jedis as flawed and vulnerable and both see each other’s talents and strengths as they will soon make for a harmonious pairing.

21- Padawan Lost

During a mission on the planet Felucia, Ahsoka is kidnapped by a group of Transdoshan sport hunters, Krix, Smug and Dar -along with a group of younglings are dropped on the Transdoshan moon, Wasskah and forced to engage in an elaborate cruel hunt. When morale sinks and the group is on the verge of giving up, Ahsoka uses her Jedi training to keep them all alive.

Here’s an odd little episode, taking a break from all the galactic turmoil and philosophic battles with Grievous vs. Jedis vs. Dooku vs. Sideous; we get to journey down a side corridor of the universe if you will; the path less traveled, into what is initially a fairly straight-forward story.

A nice adventure tale with Ahsoka flexing her wits and escaping hunter’s grasp. I love it when odd, small characters are given the spotlight, the Transdoshan sport hunters is an odd as you get. For the nerds keeping track, this is not bounty hunter “Boosk” from “The Empire Strikes Back,” – just the same species- the ugly the better and they were nasty buggers made creepy communicating with guttural noises and high-pitched reptilian shrieks when in distress.

Lots of great visuals and action, but most of all Ahsoka being tested both physically and especially psychologically as she’s forced to grow up fast as the Padawans constantly undermine her fighting spirit with near unanimous acceptance of defeat. Ahsoka is had been the sunny-side-up character up to this point until she’s given a big dose of disappointing reality. This is another instance of a straight-forward adventure turning dark as Kalifa is killed by the hunters with a laser blast hole shown in her chest. Intense.

Anakin’s reaction to his Padawan’s disappearance is not surprising… he freaked his shit out… the series continues to reap what the movies have already planted- Anakin’s fear. His fear of losing those close to him as well sense the urgency laced with some irony as its’ a reminder to viewers of his steady but inevitable descent into darkness because of said attachments. Although I did not find his irrational behavior as a bad thing this time because Ahsoka and him share that head-strong trait and this time, that stubbornness that each possess behooves them- Anakin’s dogged pursuit of his friend and Ahsoka’s refusal to be a trophy on an alien’s wall.

Interesting too was Anakin’s final moments as he becomes sick and tired of the Jedis ways as Plo Koon keeps reminding him, “There’s nothing more we can do” and this is a test for his young Padawan.

For nerds keeping score, we see some nice visual and sound effect touches; in the hunters room there were heads of Wampas, Banthas and Wookiees hanging on the wall. Zutton, the red Snaggletooth, makes an appearance on board the prison ship and at the beginning of the episode as the droid reinforcements landed; we hear the Imperial klaxon from Return of the Jedi.

22- Wookiee Hunt

Ahsoka and the younglings meet a new addition to their group, Wookiee capture, Chewbacca as they CONTINUE to elude the grasp of the Transdoshan hunters, Krix, Smug and Dar.

Heavily promoted at the time, Chewbacca the Wookiee makes his first appearance and it’s one of pronounced tribute as the character is treated respectfully and knowingly. His appearance looks great, but the animation of hair is still a tricky thing. He’s not just a cheap cameo, but integral to the story as it’s revealed that he was a prisoner on the Transdoshan prison vessel that is crashed THANKS to Ahsoka and her teams sabotage.

The best part is we see the Wookiees in real fighting action, something that did briefly in Sith, but do a lot more. Alongside Chewbacca is GENERAL Farfull, seen first in SITH; they beat, choke, throw and treat the Transdoshan like dirty rag dolls. There is an excellent spirit of teamwork developed among the crew with Chewbacca his addition the to team bolstered their confidence even more despite not having weapons. We see his bravery, his fighting skills and his mechanical abilities as he builds a transmitter for their rescue. The animation nails every little movement to perfection. I love his reveal, as he steps out of the shadows similar to Indiana Jones in Raiders.

Ahsoka learns plenty of lessons in this duology as she struggles to keep her Jedi TRAINING intact and not take the Dark side route even though she was tempted several times; a nice dichotomy paired with Anakin’s reactions to similar things. The Transdoshan made great villains, nasty, mean and unrepentant.

For nerds keeping score, another EU bit of history made Canon- Wookiees being hunted by the Transdoshan has been mentioned many times in EU and in several well-received books.

Season 3 started off a bit SLOW, but ends with a bang. There is one major story arc that ends all story arcs with Anakin and its surreal- plenty of other damn fine important character defining moments with the introduction of the mysterious Nightsisters, Ventress and Savage Opress. Others to watch for with plenty of political stories and adventures tied together by the recurring characters Ackbar, Captain Wihuff Tarkin (Later to be Anakin’s boss, Grand Moff) as we get some damn fine happenings and the hint of a late characters return in Season 4.

 

Part 2 COMING SOON…

 

I invite you to come over to The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics (Click group name to visit!) to discuss this with us. Even if you disagree…everyone is welcome!

 

Dan S. Turpin is an Administrator for The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics, and Administrator for Star Wars Exposé Facebook groups.

Be sure to stop by www.taoswf.com for new content and top shelf merchandise! And please check out our Partner Groups, Star Wars Exposé, Honor The Force, & The Galactic Roundtable.

 

Gerard Baer

Gerard Baer is a Managing Partner and Creative Director for The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics (TAOSWF) and www.taoswf.com, along with all their associated properties. Main duties include webmaster, content creator and graphic designer for www.taoswf.com, as well as general all around control freak. He has been a Star Wars fan since seeing “A New Hope” in 1977 at age 4, and always will be. MTFBWY…ALWAYS!

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