Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episodes 18-20 – “The Citadel Arc” – Warriors Versus Peacekeepers in War

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    “The Citadel Arc” is an arc that had a lot of potential that is not fully realized. We meet Captain Tarkin, the future Grand Moff Tarkin who is all about ends justifying the means during war as he builds a relationship with Anakin, and we have Obi-Wan and Ahsoka on the other side of the debate at those who support the Jedi Code and want there to be peace through honor. This is great, though the Citadel, which is the Jedi Prison wasn’t done as well as it could have been.

     “The Citadel” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Matt Michnovetz, “Counterattack” which was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Matt Michnovetz and “Citadel Rescue” which was directed by Steward Lee and written by Matt Michnovetz.

    The story involves Anakin an Obi-Wan mounting a rescue to save Jedi Master Piell from the Citadel. Ahsoka obeys orders and sneaks onto the mission and helps them to rescue Piell and Captain Tarkin, both of hold part of the codes for the Nexus Routes. From here allies and enemies are formed as Tarkin and Anakin are in the camp of anything must be done to win the war while Obi-Wan and Ahsoka hold onto honor and following the Jedi Council as all of them work to make their escape off the planet.

The Pros: Captain Tarkin – Tarkin is all about authority and ends justifying the means, which leads to a great friendship forming with Anakin. We also see how much he values risks too given Anakin’s fighting and we see his connection to Palpatine as he was who he was supposed to report the codes directly too.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka shows her loyalty to the Jedi and order when Piell Trusts her with the codes at his death. We also see her independent streak as she snuck onto the mission against Anakin’s orders. She is a lot like him, but not since she is still very much a Jedi where he is showing signs of moving beyond it to the Dark Side and using his abilities for government and order.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan like Ahsoka is Anakin’s foil, who reminds him of the value of life and that the code exists for a reason. It is great too cause he gets off on the wrong foot with Tarkin immediately.

Anakin – Anakin is one of the best parts of this episode. We see a blooming friendship with Tarkin but also loyalty to his friends and a willingness to risk all to save them. He also is very much in Palpatine’s camp and doesn’t understand or respect the Jedi Code or Peacekeeper mentality at all.

The Infiltration – The Infiltration is really cool. From re-purposed battle droids serving R2, to the crew being Carbon Frozen to hide their life-signs and after climbing up a booby trapped tower to enter the Citadel…the beginning is great.

Peacekeepers versus Warriors – Tarkin is a warrior and believes that War should be fought to be won, regardless of those caught in the crossfire. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka show the other side of it mattering how you fight, even if you disobey orders and that the key is to save as many lives as possible through fighting with honor, while Anakin is losing it.

The Cons: The Warden – Super annoying voice, was taken out easily. Wish someone threatening had actually been the Warden of the Citadel.

Master Piell – Another disposable Jedi.

   This is an enjoyable arc that is worth checking out, mostly due to Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Tarkin and the first episode. Besides that it is mostly entertaining with moments of deep thought that shine through.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episodes 15-17 – “The Mortis Arc” – Dark Destiny and Philosophy of the Force

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     “The Mortis Arc” is an arc that has a lot of great character development and some interesting exploration of philosophy and the force, but also has some cons to in that the Family functions as archetypes and not actual characters. For this reason I wish it had truly been all in the heads of our characters and not an actual plain of existence as it made things to great when it was powerful just when it was personal without all the “Chosen One” bs that pervaded the Prequels.

     “Overlords” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Christian Taylor, “Altar of Mortis” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Christian Taylor and “Ghosts of Mortis” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Christian Taylor.

    The story involves Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka being sent to explore an ancient Jedi Distress call that pulls them into Mortis where the Father and his Daughter (Incarnation of the Lightside of the Force) and Son (Incarnation of the Darkside of the Force) do battle as he strives to keep them in balance. We learn he brought them there so that Anakin could take his place as he can control both, fulfilling his role as the Chosen One. Things go wrong though after the Son kills the Daughter and it is up to our heroes to stop him before he destroys the Universe.

The Pros: Mortis – Mortis is a really cool world. There is destruction and creation in flux as the Father keeps the balance between the two. It has reminds me a lot of some of the Ancient Sith Worlds and Dothomir as we see that the three beings cannot be defined as Jedi and Sith, for all of them are beyond that in different ways. That was a cool idea, that should have been explored more.

Qui-Gon Jin – Qui-Gon’s ghost makes an appearance and counsels both Obi-Wan and Anakin! Sadly since he can’t see the future he doesn’t know what the Chosen One prophecy means and the destruction that Anakin will wrought, only the Father knows and it dies with him. This makes Qui-Gon’s appearance sad, even though his moments with Obi-Wan especially are touching. Liam Neeson came back to play this role too!

Ahsoka – Ahsoka gets infected by the son and we see what Darkside Ahsoka would be like. Her pride and anger are great and she is a good fighter. One she is healed by  the Daughter’s sacrifice it is her thinking that stops a turned Anakin and the Son from getting off the planet and we also learn she is a tech. as she was the one fixing their ship. Her fears come from her future self who warn her to leave Anakin so she won’t fall. Her future self is right too as Anakin will become greater than Dooku in the Dark Side when he becomes Darth Vader.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan experiences echoes of things to come as he tries to have them leave the planet no matter what as the longer they stay the more they risk the Universe with the Son’s escape. He isn’t wrong either as Anakin going to face the son alone leads to his turn as he sees the future and is willing to risk everything so he doesn’t become Darth Vader, even the Universe. It shows Anakin’s naivety and how his ends justify the means  and attachment will lead to his downfall.

Anakin Skywalker – In this we see how Anakin’s guilt and fear drive him to do horrendous acts. From slaughtering the Sand People and to what he will do later as in his vision he sees the slaughter of the younglings and the strangling of Padme and loss of Obi-Wan. It is this that leads him to work with the Son as he will go to any means, even becoming the Dark Side now to prevent that future. It is that drives Anakin at his core and where Darth Vader’s need for control comes from as he has lost so much already.

The Philosophy of the Force – The Force is about balance, the Son and Daughter need each other and the Son mourns the Daughter’s murder by his hands. It takes the Father doing away with it all together for the world to end and for the Force Gods to finally die out. The Dark Side and Light Side need one another just as all people need passion and calm, anger and kindness…all are a part of the whole.

The Cons: The Limitations of Archetypes – It didn’t feel like the Father, Son and Daughter had personalities beyond what they represented. This was the hardest part of the story for me as they were meant to be a new species but that is mostly unknown, they function more as a plot device for Anakin’s reveal of his power and destiny which for meant this could have worked as a force vision or our heroes trapped in their heads as them facing their fears was the best part.

Dark Side Like a Virus – The Son infects Ahsoka by biting her, this simplified the Dark Side a lot and made me wonder why he just didn’t bite Obi-Wan and Anakin and take over from there. It cheapened choice by having Ahsoka have her choice to go dark taken away from her. She was the Padme stand-in for Episode III and it sucked as she is just as possible at going Dark as Anakin.

   I really enjoyed this arc, even with all it’s limitations. It gives us a chance to understand the Force better than we ever have before and to get the motivations and fears of Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi-Wan who are some of the best characters in this series. This is reason enough to watch the arc in the entirety and even though the Beings of Mortis don’t work as well, what they do and what it reveals about our heroes is reason enough to see it.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episodes 12-14 – “Witches of Dathomir Arc” – Factions of the Dark Side

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    “The Witches of Dathomir Arc” is a really great arc in how it shows just how many people use the Dark Side and how by it’s nature it is easy to turn the different users on one another. The one issue I had was one of my issues with “The Force Unleashed” videogame that I will go into deeper into the review. Suffice to say, there are a lot great characters introduced in this arc and it’s exploration of the Dark Side is something that we have yet to see done in regards to the Light Side.

      “Nightsisters” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Katie Lucas. “Monster” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Katie Lucas and “Witches of the Mist”was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Katie Lucas.

    The story involves Dooku’s attempt to kill Ventress after Sidious orders him too and how she returns home to the Nightsisters who with Mother Talzin work towards Dooku’s fall. First with an attempt using 2 sisters Ventress being cloaked and second with choosing a Zabrak of the blood of Darth Maul so that he can be shaped into a weapon to destroy Dooku. From here things fall apart as the only one coming out on top with plans still unknown is Mother Talzin.

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The Pros: The Action – There are some great fights this episode, with the ones that stood out the most being the three-way fight between Opress, Dooku and Ventress and also the one on one fights between them too where their styles really came out…the 3 on 1 fight against Dooku was also really good too when the Nightsisters attempted to kill him, and of course Opress against Anakin and Obi-Wan where it was a callback to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan against Maul.

The Nightsisters – This organization is cool. They rule over the Zabrak’s and are a matriarchal society with Mother Talzin at their head who has her own mysterious agenda that is unknown. They are force users but stick to themselves and the only ones they really use are those who come to them or those they owe a debt too. This makes them not evil, but certainly not good as they deal primarily in dark side force magics.

Ventress – Ventress is a survivor and survivors multiple attempts on her life. From Anakin and Obi-Wan, to Dooku’s betrayal and to every fight she loses with Dooku and the only one she loses against Opress. She is left empty at the end of it all, showing that their is hope for her redemption given anger and hatred has not got her revenge and she’s only made more enemies. Her tragic story is revealed too as she was given away to protect the Witches from outsiders and she lost the bounty hunters to a Jedi attack and lost the Jedi Master who was raising her to another assault by pirates…she was alone until Dooku who was her knew father until her betrayal. Ventress is forever alone and it makes her tragic and compelling.

Count Dooku – Dooku is a true Sith Lord. From his willingness to kill Ventress for Sidious to prove his loyalty, to his using his very elegant form of fighting to beat enemies who outnumber him and try to take away his senses. He is the only character who manages to turn every loss into a win besides Mother Talzin showing why he is the leader of the Separatists and why he is a threat to Sidious.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan gets Mother Talzin to speak about Opress, which is something she didn’t have to do. He also shows how much he values life when the Zabraks attack and he only defends himself and never strikes to kill. Anakin is Anakin and on the edge always but Obi-Wan demonstrates the other side and how in many ways he is if Dooku hadn’t gone bad as he can deal with anyone no matter where they are in regards to the force.

Opress – Opress is a tool of Mother Talzin who loses his brother when he is pumped full of Dark Side magics to make him a weapon and was made to be a slave. Even being a slave he still manages to fight though as he turns against both Dooku and Ventress who had tried to use him and finds the only person who he might be able to trust in Talzin who reveals to him that Darth Maul is still alive and that he can still grow as a powerful force user and Sith. His story is one of anger and regret and his fighting style is heavy and brutal.

Mother Talzin – Mother Talzin’s agenda rules everything and it is still and unknown. She sees the future though as she talks of Opress’s destiny with his brother Darth Maul and we know that Ventress is still a Nightsister with a purpose too. What these purposes are remains to be seen and how the Jedi fall into it.

The Chaos of the Dark Side – The Dark Side by it’s nature of revenge doesn’t leave much room for forgiveness and diplomacy and we see that when the episode ends with Opress going his own way, Ventress still seeking revenge and Dooku still alive. There are now 3 Dark Side users who serve no agenda but their own and that is the nature of the Dark Side as each of them will grow more powerful in the fight against one another, but they may all die in the process.

The Cons: Retconning Maul’s Death – Maul is apparently in exile in the Outer Rim? This makes no sense, no one could survive that fall and it’s as stupid as having Shaak Ti continually being brought back to life only to be killed in “The Force Unleashed.” I get Maul is popular but just leave his blood and lead Savage Opress stand on his own as he is compelling enough with his relationship to Ventress, Talzin and Dooku.

  I really dislike the retcon of Darth Maul’s death as a character should stay dead if it’s in canon as each time they are brought back cheapens how they were defeated prior and usually it means lack of ideas on whoever is writing the retcon. Besides that retcon this is a really strong arc and I highly recommend it, especially for the characters of Talzin, Dooku, Opress and Ventress who are shown to be highly complex and who I am glad are still around to fight another day.

Final Score: 9 / 10

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 15 – “Senate Murders” – Toxic Nationalism

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     Watching “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” in order of events was the right thing to do. If I hadn’t done that I would have had nearly enough time with Farr or gotten to know the character how I did if not for it, because I had time to see his relationship to his people, the Republic and Padme, it makes his death actually mean something. This event is one of the powerful things to happen in the series thus far as well as learning more about the members of the Peace and War Faction.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

     The story revolves around the death of Farr from Rodia when and the Peace Faction are rallying against a Bill by the War Faction to increase Clone Trooper production. From here Padme seeks to find out who was the one responsible as the fight against the Bill rages on.

The Pros: The Politics – The Peace and War factions are really cool. On one side Farr, Mothma, Organa, Padme and Lolo work against the Bill while Deechee and the Kamino Senator Burtoni. Neither side is clear of dirt and we see that both are using whatever is at their disposal to win, though the War faction is more ruthless.

The Death of Senator Farr – Farr is a great character, he will do anything for his people…be it joining the Separatists or fighting against Bills that would lead money going to war rather then the Refugees and his world. He is a true patriot that way as well as imperfect and it is his imperfection that leads to his death.

Senator Burtino – Is cold and calculating and doesn’t respect the Peace Faction at all. She also thinks they aren’t dangerous enough to kill though Lola sets up to be framed for the murder until Padme forces Lola’s hand.

Senator Deechee – Lola kills him too and he is the one who respected Farr. He had Farr followed and knew about the meeting between Lolo and Farr but didn’t know who or the details. I liked this character as he truly believes that increase in troops is the only way to win the war.

Lolo – Lolo is a nationalist and believes that Farr doomed their people the moment he entered the war. She isn’t wrong but she is blinded to any other perspective. This is her undoing in the end as she tries to remain hidden rather than standing openly against Farr politically and using political power to stop him.

Padme – Padme is the idealist and continues fighting for the Bill until she loses everything when Lolo plays her hand and the Peace Faction is discredited in the process as we see that the other side of Populism is Nationalism and Nationalism can lead to great stupidity.

Palpatine – Palpatine does a great job manipulating everything and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had pushed Lolo’s ideology through his very subtle form of influence. He speaks great double speak as at the end he sympathizes with Padme but also thinks that maybe the increase of Clones maybe the only way to make peace at this time…he is brilliant and has planted the growing seed of doubt in Padme.

The Horrors of Nationalism – Nationalism at it’s extreme can mean the silencing of dissenting voices as country matters more than the perspectives within it. It is this Nationalism that leads to Farr’s death and a further economic cost on Rodia because of it.

  This episode is a great contrast with the populism from last episode. Lola was like Padme’s handmaiden except she saw only rage by Farr’s involving Rodia with the Separatists and Republic and her reasons to hate were the same desperation that the people are feeling because of the war. That is what makes the entire event a tragedy and asks the question, “How can there be peace with one’s enemies when there isn’t peace at home?”

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 11 – “Pursuit of Peace” – Populism to Bring Change

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     “Pursuit of Peace” is somewhat connected to the peace arc but is far more focused on internal affairs, which is why I am giving it it’s own review. It is in this we see inside the Republic and how terror is being used to force votes in favor of keeping the war going, to the point that those who are against spending more money on the war are fighting themselves beaten by thugs. It’s a powerful episode and the ending scenes are some of the best this series has offered thus far.

     The story involves Amadala and the Peace Faction (Mothma, Organa and Farr) working to bring about an end to protesting the War Bill and turning the public against it after Mina is killed by “Republic” forces though it is mixed as far as information goes since rumor has it Dooku was involved. From here they chose to stand for her legacy as the final vote approaches in regards to the Bill. Padme and her faction must face threats of violence and the public that has turned against them to stop the Bill from passing.

The Pros: Robonino and Chata – These two guys are a great and they nearly stop Padme, they critically injure Organa and keep him from making his speech forcing Padme’s hand and they injure Farr. These two cause such an uproar that many of the Senators are living in fear for their live and don’t want to vote against the Bill.

The Peace Faction – Padme, Organa and Farr are the most vocal and Farr fights on even with his injury while Padme’s idealism really comes through while Organa is good at hiding his idealism as he is so popular he is a celebrity of the Senate. Seeing their dynamic is wonderful as each has distinct personalities.

Padme – Padme fights for her life on multiple occasions and in the end stands up when her servant tells her story as Padme speaks for the people who the Bill will affect negatively. War makes all the people suffer and the people need to be remembered if the war is ever to be won since they are the reason people fight. It’s a powerful speech and this one really shows how strong Padme’s empathy is, as well as her populist power.

Palpatine and Mas Amedda – These two are working together and Amedda knows where things are going with Empire as the final goal. Together they consider how one voice can change the public and Palpatine decides to wait before taking things to extremes as he knows the nature of the senate.

The Cons: The Banking Clan – These guys are only ruled by greed and I would have liked to see a more logical justification on why they planned to hike interest rates. These guys weren’t handled well, it felt like money for the sake of money with no rational explanation of how loans actually work.

  This episode really showed the power of populism and how one person can direct fear in a different direction, or to remind people why they fight and from there use it to support the Thesis. Padme is a master of words and it is great seeing her idealism contrasted with the ambition and manipulations of Palpatine.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 10 – “Heroes on Both Sides” – The Complexity of the Separatists

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    “Heroes on Both Sides” lives up to it’s name and shows just how complex politics can get as as we see Padme and Ahsoka go behind enemy lines to see one of Padme’s old friends who serves as a representative in the Separatist Parliament. It’s a powerful episode that shows the factions that profit from keeping war going and how the long game Dooku and Palpatine are playing will more often than not, end in success.

    The episode was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Daniel Arkin.

    The story involves Padme seeking a peace with the Separatists under the table as the Banking Clan and others are calling for a Bill that would deregulate them and allow them to charge more interest in order for the Republic to fund the war. This leads to Ahsoka and Padme going to the Separatist Capitol to meet with Padme’s friend Mina, who is a Senator in the Separatist congress. From here  things unfold as factions work against their quest for peace.

The Pros: Mina and Padme – Both are idealists with blind spots as neither of them realize their leaders are Sith using the war to their own advantage and ends. Both are good people though that seek peace and don’t care about the seperation or conquest of the Republic. It’s great seeing htem together, especially as Mina is older and mother contrasted with Padme’s youthful idealism.

The Separatist Congress – The Separatist congress is just as diverse as the Republic and we see that even they are tiring of the war and just want it to end, but fear the Republic because they believe the Republic started the war. They propose a peace accord though until Grievous mounts a secret attack on the Republic which leads to the Banking Clan bill passing.

The Republic – We see the politics among the Republic too with money wielding influence but also with counters with Organa and Mothma as members of the more liberal faction with Padme working for peace. Sadly it all comes crumbling down though as Padme reveals those she was helping and her plan to Palpatine who with Dooku sets in motion the destruction of the chance for peace.

Grievous’s attack – Grievous is a threat for once! He sends suicide droids down that blow up the generator on Coruscant shutting everything down. It strikes fear and makes the Banking Bill pass as well as keeping the war going. For once Grievous gets a win.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka visits the Separatists and after talking to Mina’s son realizes the misunderstanding their is surrounding the Jedi among the Separatists and in the Republic towards the Separatists. Even after the attack she doesn’t regret her action as she sees the shades of grey in the war that Anakin does not as Anakin is all about order.

  I really enjoyed this episode. We see consequences to actions, Grievous gets a win and see how powerful Palpatine and Dooku are at keeping the war going and manipulating their factions and we see how fascist Anakin is compared to Ahsoka who is far more like the liberal Padme.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 4 – “Sphere of Influence” – Pantora versus Separatist Influence

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   This is a great episode! In this we see the complexity of both the Trade Federation and Pantorans and that neither people are pawns of anyone and both are dealing with the Senate and Separatist influence in whichever way they can, while still looking out for their own influence.

    “Sphere of Influence” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Katie Lucas, Steven Melching and Drew Z. Greenberg.

    The story involves The Trade Federation’s blockade of Pantora and how Senator Riyo to find the kidnapped children of the Chairman as she gets help from Ahsoka and negotiates the tense situation in which the Senate is powerless to act and tries to learn who is behind the kidnapping as the Chairman and

The Pros: The Pantorans -The Pantorans take matters into their own hands with Senator Riyo and the Chairman finding the Chairman’s daughters through their own action. It’s an extreme moment of empowerment that shows the lengths the Separatists will glow to blackmail neutral parties onto their sides. I really like these guys and the Trade Federation as political factions being explored.

The Trade Federation – The Trade Federation is complicated. We see that some are firmly Separatists like Gunray and Sib versus the Ambassador who is still walking that line between Separatist and Gunray influence against being a member of the Republic and Senate.

Ahsoka  and Senator Riyo – Ahsoka is super active in this and her and Senator Riyo do a great job of finding one of the daughters and holding their own against the Trade Federation and in ending the blockade.

The Politics – The Politics are great in this episode as before we know the Separatist offer could have been real as they do have more influence with the Trade Federation and the Senate is inept. It is only through Jedi action via Ahsoka and Pantoran action that the daughters are saved.

   This is a great episode that shows just how complicated it can be to remain neutral in the middle of a giant war, especially when you are a planet rich in resources like Pantora. We also see that the Trade Federation isn’t stupid and at least some of the might be willing to learn from their mistakes and not fall into the trap of Gunray’s greed.

Final Score: 9 / 10.