Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 7, Episodes 9-12 – “The Siege of Mandalore Arc” – The Cost of the Clone Wars

“The Siege of Mandalore Arc” is possibly the greatest story in “The Clone Wars.” This a story with consequences, nuance, depth and the best music and action in the series as a whole. What a way to end this season. This story has events that will stay with you and I hope we can get more stories like this from “Star Wars” in the future. This is easily one of the best “Star Wars” stories to be created and is Dave Filoni’s best work.

The story begins with Ahsoka Tano seeking help from the Republic to help Bo-Katan take back Mandalore from Maul.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – The action in this arc is epic. This is largely due to the actions having consequences, Maul’s Shadow Collective is a worthy threat and when Order 66 roles around…well you don’t mess with the 501st.

The Music – The music isn’t as operatic in the prior arcs as it is here. Here it is on par with the “Star Wars” films at their best. The action is elevated and the music gives you glimpses into the characters thoughts. It is so rich and I plan to go back to listen to it again when I write fiction of my own.

The Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka Reunion – This arc starts out strong with a tense but wonderful reunion between Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka. In it Anakin is advocating for taking down Maul and in the end gives her half of the 501st (After Obi-Wan allows it) and gives her two new lightsabers. This whole reunion there is much to say but urgency keeps it from happening between our heroes and their missions. Some members who join Ashoska from the 501st also have their helmets painted orange to honor her. This plays into the tragedy later.

Bo-Katan – Bo-Katan is driven and Katee Sackhoff does such a good job as this war weary warrior. She is victorious over Maul in the end but she loses so much and has a populace that isn’t her biggest fan. This provides a fascinating end to her story here as she admits she doesn’t do politics and is only good at fighting, leaving how she’ll be as a leader up in the air. It is powerful seeing her admit that to Ahsoka though and we see fully how much Mandalore has suffered from the war.

The Siege of Mandalore – The Siege of Mandalore is amazing action. In this you see the air assault where a lot of Clone Troopers are taken down but how they quickly take out Maul’s troops once landed and at that point Maul is on the run except for a final standoff that he uses to make an attempted escape. Through it all you see both his and the Republic and Bo-Katan’s power and that Maul could have held on here longer if not for the Alliance.

Ahsoka and Maul’s Duel – Ahsoka and Maul’s duel is a duel with layers and subtext. Maul wants Ahsoka as an apprentice so is holding back as he knows the Republic and Jedi are about to fall and knows with help he might be able to take out Sidious. It is well done and he and Ahsoka are pretty evenly matched and in both cases held back by their mercy and big picture outlook.

Order 66 – The Republic victory is hollow because Maul was right. Order 66 happens and the Clone Troopers turn on Ahsoka. It is only through 3 droids who help, releasing Maul and freeing Rex of his mind control chip that she even barely manages to escape. You feel the weight of this order and Maul and Ahsoka sensing Anakin’s turn before it happens is powerful.

Maul – Maul is such a complex anti-villain. He isn’t a hero but he is right about Sidious and the Republic. It is for this reason that I think Ahsoka frees him during Order 66 because she knows that if she wants to save the lives of the Clones than Maul is the last person you want to free. Maul is racked with sadness and desperation through the arc but he never stops being a threat or fascinating. This truly was a great ending for him and I hope the comic book of how he escaped is eventually adapted into a mini-series or future arc.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka isn’t a Jedi and she tells the Council as much, but she is very much still guided by their ideals. Everything she does is to save lives until she has no other choice but to survive and in doing releases Maul. At one point she even is open to allying with Maul until he realizes that he wants to kill Anakin. Her loyalty to her friends is the one big separation from Maul as both are guided by a bigger picture. It is her friendship with Rex that leads her to risk all to save him and it is her desire to save Anakin and Obi-Wan that would have lead to an Alliance with Maul, a fact Maul misses. This all leads to her exile at the end the arc as she knows there is no place for her, which in turn leads to her story in “Rebels.”

Rex – Rex’s story is so powerful and sad. He is the one who learned about Fives and we see how the Senate and Jedi viewed him as nothing more than a cog and that Fives’s death to reveal the mind control chip meant nothing. We see his tears as he talks about having to kill the Clones for them to escape and how he would have too if Ahsoka had not freed him from the chip. I felt so much for Rex. He had no good choices this arc.

The Ending – The ending is powerful as Rex is the only Clone to survive and her and Ahsoka leave as we flash forward and see Darth Vader find the crashed ship and the lightsabers he gave Ahsoka. It is here mourns what was as a Clone Wars helmet looks on as he returns to serve the Empire.

“The Siege of Mandalore Arc” truly demonstrates the best of what “Star Wars” can be. You can have complex and layered political thrillers full of action and drama that can speak to deeper ideas. This arc demonstrated all of that and gave us a truly amazing end to so many of the characters. If they brought back more stories from this show as mini-series and one-shots I would check them out. This is the power of what these stories can bring.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 7, Episodes 1-4 – “The Bad Batch Arc” – Echoes of the Republic’s Future

It has been sometime since I have watched “The Clone Wars” but I have fond memories of this show and I’m glad it came back. This was a show that captured the individual costs of war through the eyes of the Clones while covering other amazing deep themes. “The Bad Batch Arc” does that as well. I’ll be covering my overall thoughts on the arc rather than individual episodes, same goes for the rest of the Season too, before I give my overall thoughts on the whole.

The story follows the Republic battling Separatist Forces lead by Admiral Trench on Anaxes as they seek to discover what is behind a mysterious Republic Algorithm that is predicting all their tactics bringing about Republic losses. Clone Force 99 is called in to help on this mission.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Sass – Mace Windu and Obi-Wan are small but important parts of this episode as they are the ones who end up leading an assault on the factory near the end and Mace Windu is overall leadership over this arc. Obi-Wan gives so much sarcasm in this episode, it reminded me of why he is my favorite. He also knows about Padme and Anakin, which was a nice touch. Mace on the other hand gives the droids an opportunity to surrender and is the one who stops Trench’s bomb from destroying Anaxes.

The Separatist Threat – The Separatists are great as a constant threat through this arc. Whether it is Trench winning through most of the arc and his willingness to destroy an entire planet to win or Mot Tambor and the Techno Union’s using of “The Algorithm” to bring about constant victory. Each victory is earned.

Wat Tambor and Techno Union – Wat Tambor and the techno union are playing politics really well. They are able to keep neutrality while still helping the Separatists forcing the Republic to go undercover in order for the discovery that they are using the Clone Trooper Echo to predict Republic tactics. Their droids also have a unique design and I loved seeing them in action against Anakin and Clone Force 99.

Clone Force 99 – Clone Force 99 is awesome. You have “Hunter,” a Rambo type who leads them and can sense an area. You have “Wrecker” the muscle who is afraid of heights and loves explosions. You’ve got “Crosshair” the calm distrustful one who is the best of the group at killing droids and “Tech” the kindest of the bunch and the hacker. They are all defunct clones so bring about a level of originality that would be seen in the army of the Empire when it started recruiting from the populace. They exist to be weapons and it is all they love except each other and the mission.

Anakin Skywalker – We are close the “Revenge of the Sith” and we see how reckless Anakin is becoming. He secretly meets with Padme before a mission and learns Obi-Wan knows about them and later kills Admiral Trench saying before hand he isn’t held back like the other Jedi. In many was he is already Vader before the turning ever happened and this arc demonstrates it.

Echo – Echo has been made a cyborg weapon by the Separatists and Techno Union and through this we see how hard it is for him to find himself as he has now been a weapon for both sides. In the end he joins Clone Force 99 as they recognize what he has been turned into while always make him an outsider even among the regular Clones.

Captain Rex – Rex is the main character this episode and from it we see all the different directions he is being pulled in. He’s has to lie for Anakin, Clone Force 99 only respects him over time and in the end Echo joins them when Rex voices his support for him either way. Rex has been through so much and we see why he is a Captain and leader in this arc. He really does carry it and is more compelling than the Jedi in the arc.

The Cons:

Distrust of Echo – I get why Echo is distrusted it is just voiced clunkily in the arc and isn’t set up early enough. This was where the writing always felt off and it brought down the storytelling.

Who do Clone Force 99 Report to? – This question is brought up by Anakin and it is important. The fact that it isn’t answered I didn’t like as in something like Republic you wouldn’t have a “Free Agent Legion” cause these guys aren’t mercenaries.

For the first story coming out of “The Clone Wars” season 7 I was impressed. This captures the complex clone personalities and relationships and it made me realize how much I’ve missed this show. I’ll have to re-watch more arcs again after I finish this season up. Definitely check this arc out if you are a fan of the show.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10 This was a really good Clone story in this series.

“Star Wars Rebels” Season 2 – A Great Beginning, Character Episodes and End but Overall Lack of Focus

Star Wars Rebels Season 2

   “Star Wars Rebels” Season 2 was a season that started with a lot of promise. “The Siege of Lothal” is one of the best episodes in the series and the promise of it being “The Empire Strikes Back” of the show was a very big claim that initially looked like would be successful executed. Sadly the shows lack of focus, clearly showing the threat of the Empire and poor setup of big payoffs brought the show down overall, making it weaker than Season 1 for me. This doesn’t discount what works though and this show is still a favorite. So without further ado, here is my overall assessment of the show.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation continues to be amazing and flow beautifully, especially in regards to the action sequences and giving us what the planets look like. This has never been an issue with the show and continues to be one of the strongest points within it.

The Action – The action when it happens is fantastic. The duels between Inquisitors, fights between the Rebels and Empire and any fight that involves Darth Vader is awesome. My biggest issue is the action wasn’t all the tight so that brought it down.

Hondo – Hondo is back and one of the few elements of comedic relief that works as we see his mercenary nature rub off on Ezra and help push him to the dark side in small ways as in helping him and when he helps the crew it shows an ends justify the means mentality that illustrated Anakin’s fall.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is a pretty amazing character and I’m glad they brought him back into this Universe. I’m still hoping he dies so he can get the warrior’s death that would fit his character arc so well…his arc is great in that he and Kanan grow to have a respect for one another as they are both mentors for Ezra.

Yoda – Yoda makes an appearance in this and it is awesome! He recognizes his past mistakes with the Jedi order and helps our heroes make peace within themselves. He even reaches out to Ahsoka and is happy to see you. He really was handled beautifully this season.

The Crew of Ghost – The crew of the Ghost continues to be where the strongest characters are as we have a “Firefly” type relationship between this crew of survivors as they find themselves pulled into a larger story that they are only pieces in. For this reason, the glimpses of the Universe we get are all the more profound and how it impacts the crew.

The Crew of Ghost – The Crew continues to be the strongest part of the show as I’ve come to care about the drama they go through and what motivates them in what they do.

Chopper – Chopper is shown to be complex in this! He helps liberate an Imperial droid, we learn he fought in the Clone Wars and the cares deeply for the crew and those around him even though he’s a bit insane.

Sabine – We learn more about Sabine’s Mandalorian side and her willingness to do anything to achieve ends even if it means killing. The only reason she doesn’t kill is because she learns from Hera and Kanan who become like a father and mother figure to her. She is a lot of fun and could have done with some more exploration, especially tied back to the Empire.

Kanan – Kanan gets some great exploration in this as we see his relationship to Hera’s father who he fought with in the Clone Wars and is a hero and from that how deeply he cares about her. We see him rise in power in this and go through his arc of letting Ezra go and knowing that he can only give Ezra so much training. He connects with the light side of the Grand Inquisitor too which is pretty amazing.

Hera – In this we see that Hera is looked down upon by her father who is a hero of his people for fighting in the Clone Wars and is willing to go any means to win. It is Hera who shows him that wider perspective of how allies are their best bet to win the war. She really is a great character and we see her abandonment fears when Kanan is going off to face the Inquisitor as she has already lost her mother to war and in a way her father too. Her character is tragic and strong.

Zeb – Zeb is my favorite character in the series and in this he becomes the Hero of the Lasat as he works with the Elders to help them find the original Lasat homeworld. We also see his growth when he connects with Agent Kallus and helps them survive on a dangerous moon. He is a character with depth who manages to bring strength and humor to any situation and is easily one of the wisest characters on the show now.

The Empire – I still really like the Empire in this though I feel the writers spent most of this season making them feel weak. This was bad on their part as we were promised “The Empire Strikes Back” of the show and I didn’t feel that at all. If anything, it was more of “The New Hope” based off the Finale.

The Inquisitors – The Inquistiors have a cool look and start out strong but become weaker over the course of the series. When Ahsoka easily beats two of them they never recover for it and end being slaughtered by Maul in the Finale. I like the idea of them but they could have been handled as a threat a lot better (same with the Empire as a whole).

Agent Kallus – In this season we learn Kallus was a grunt who lost his men to a Lasat Mercenary and that is why he hates them. We also learn the slaughter of the Lasat was not what he thought would happen and he carries guilt over it. By the season’s end he is questioning and alone as he realizes he is being lied to and is just a cog in the Imperial Machine.

Darth Vader – Darth Vader is awesome and is the best part of “The Siege of Lothal” and “Twilight of the Apprentice.” His arc ends with him once again killing Anakin so that he can destroy Ahsoka and all his connections to the past. He beats her but we don’t know if she’s dead or not (I hope she is). This season we get glimpses of the light in the overwhelming dark of Vader.

The Old Master / Maul – Maul is back and he is awesome! In this he acts as Ezra’s teacher in the Dark Side and is responsible for killing the Imperial Inquisitors and blinding Kanan. He is after power and wants Ezra as his apprentice. It is great to see him again as he’s lost everything to the Jedi and Empire and now only has hate and vengeance to drive him. He survives the destruction of the Sith Temple and is out there still too.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka’s arc in this is making peace with leaving Anakin and the Jedi order as we see her fight to avenge Anakin to destroy the monster he’s become in Vader. In the end she chooses to stay with him too as her spirit is broken as she sees the monster consumed by rag and power that Anakin has become. She really is a great character and I like how she never feels comfortable being a teacher because she is a free agent and not a Jedi, just a force user who uses light sabers and the light side of the force. I hope she died, she deserves an awesome death which she got.

Okay: Commander Sato – Sato is another character with potential, though I wish he’d die this season. He is the face of the larger Rebellion that connects to the crew and he even gets captured once. Sadly this doesn’t go anywhere as he is rescued and it establishes his respect for Ezra. He is a symbol of Rebel power and that is about it.

Ezra – Ezra has great moments when we see him tempted by the Dark Side but he is so overpowering at times that he feels like a Mary Sue at times. It is far to easy for him to save the people and the crew and he doesn’t go through any trial I felt until the final battle at the end. There was a lot of missed opportunities for this character.

Other Minor Characters – Sabine’s friend a few others are pretty weak. All they exist for is to show the crew has more allies, and in the process make the Empire even more weak as they can’t seem to kill people who should be dead. At least Ezra’s parents aren’t alive.

The Cons: Lack of Narrative Focus – We have fillers, we have a lot of bottle episodes for characters and some episodes that don’t involve the Empire at all. The Empire is set up to be THE threat with the Inquisitors in “The Siege of Lothal,” but it doesn’t go anywhere until the Finale and I blame that on the lack of focus.

Filler Episodes – We get a whale episode, an episode where we meet a mercenary who worked with Sabine and a few others that just feel like baggage. All they end up doing is make the Empire look weak and expand the size of the Universe.

    This season was not nearly as strong as last, though the First and Finale episodes of the season were on part with the best from last season and sometimes better. It was these episodes where the core drama between Darth Vader and the rebels really got explored and the Empire felt like a threat. Outside of that they spent most of this season being beaten by the rebels at every turn. Seriously, the Inquisitors became useless by the end leaving me to wonder how Dave Filoni is going to fill in a new threat for them as I worry making Vader the main threat will just make him as useless as the Inquisitors, which I don’t want. If this show ruins him I’m going to hate this show. That didn’t happen this season at least, and for all of the problems it had, there were some great moments of gold.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 18 – “The Mystery of Chopper Base” – Fear of Things to Come

Mystery of Chopper Base

    “The Mystery of Chopper Base” is another decent run. I felt the fear and anger the crew was feeling was a bit overdone but it made sense when they actually explained why all the characters feel the way they do. I’m really hoping we lose one of our heroes, if not Darth Vader who is appearing later in the series is going to be hard to take serious as a threat on this show, especially as he’ll probably have Inquisitor back-up. This episode is setting up tragedy, now lets see if it goes somewhere.

     The story was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Steven Melching.

  The story involves the crew finding a threat at the new Rebel Base Chopper helped discover as they deal with the fear of Kanan and Ezra leaving soon to face the Inquisitors and what it will be like to be without them.

The Pros: Sabine – We see Sabine in action a lot this episode as she holds her own against the Spider Monsters and saves the crew quite a few times. She plays an essential role that way. She also nudges Kanan to talk to Hera.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is awesome again, even though he’s mostly in the Zeb role of holding the line (Zeb is nearly invisible this episode). He doesn’t really give any advice but it was great to see him again.

Ezra – In this we see that Ezra is okay killing as he talks about killing the Inquisitors as he thinks that’s the only way for them to be safe against the threat. We also see he can’t control all animals (thankfully) and that he is still very new in the force and not over powered (it is sad they had to establish this as it should have been made more obvious throughout the season). I really hope he turns over the next few episodes.

Kanan – In this we see a lot of Kanan’s stubbornness and that he is now evenly matched with Ezra. We also see how he deals with fear and anger by cutting himself off from people. We see he is capable of knowing though as we see just how much he loves and will miss Hera.

Hera – Hera is in full Captain mode, taking care of the crew and preparing them for when the Jedi leave. This makes her cold at times, but she’s right. I felt bad for her as you see she does have abandonment stuff and Kanan can’t promise her he’ll back when he doesn’t know. She believes anyway and you can see just how much she loves him.

The Ending – Hera and Kanan hold each other as Kanan promises he’ll come back (I hope he dies) leaving us with a feeling of foreboding and hope. It was great seeing their love though as you’d have never seen it in the Jedi Order before Order 66.

The Cons: Anger and Fear – I felt like there was too much of it and it could have been handled better. Them leaving should have been established the episode after the Inquisitors attacked the Jedi Temple as that was when they knew they had to bring the fight to them or they’d always be hunted. Since it wasn’t established early on, the fighting often times comes off as petulant.

This was a great episode, though not a favorite since the characters acting angry and afraid had not been established earlier. There is some great character stuff with Sabine, Ezra, Kanan and Hera though and that is really what carries the story. The animal threat of the episode was alright but it was also sad too that those creatures gave them more trouble than the Empire has often times this season. So I’m hoping that is corrected in the upcoming episodes.

Final Score: 8.8 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 11 – “The Protector of Concord Dawn” – Aggressive Negotiations

Concord_Dawn_thumb

    “The Protector of Concord Dawn” is the greatest episode in a while. Not only do we see a return of the Mandalorians but we are given a choice and dilemma, which is part of what “The Clone Wars” so great. This is an episode that captures the stakes and the charms of the best episodes from that series, which this Season has needed.

The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Henry Gilroy and Kevin Hopps.

The story involves the rebels seeking safe passage through Concord Dawn, which is Mandalorian space. After Hera’s negotiations fail and she is nearly killed as is most of her squadron, Sabine returns seeking revenge as Kanan returns trying to finish the negotiation.

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of the Rebellion having to negotiate with the Mandalorians or to beat them in their space is really interesting as it shows that the Rebellion has to make hard choices too and won’t always be the hero. This episode really illustrates that and that war has consequences.

The Opening Battle – The opening battle is awesome! Phoenix Squadron is annihilated and Sabine, Hera and one other pilot barely escape Rau and his Protectors. It raises the stakes and shows that these are men to be feared.

Fenn Rau and the Protectors – Fenn Rau and his organization are pretty awesome. They get money from the Empire to keep folks out of their space and are intriguing as the reason they made the deal is so they’d be left alone. I had a lot of respect for Rau and hope that he escapes to get revenge on the rebels for capturing him to blackmail him and his people.

Sabine – We see Sabine’s ruthlessness here and that she does know her people pretty well, as the Protectors didn’t want to work with the Rebellion. It is thanks to her quick thinking that they are disarmed and the only reason that her and Kanan weren’t captured.

Kanan – Kanan is the clear head but still gets ruthless for the Rebellion. No matter how you cut it he went darkside here as he captured and held a man against his will in order to take control of his space, this is after he destroyed his ships of course. Kanan’s idealism came up against reality and idealism lost. I liked seeing that as it was realistic.

The Cons: Rex – Rex should have been used. He implied that he trained with Rau but that is never used. He would have been perfect for negotiation as he had the mindset the Rau did of just wanting to be left alone by both sides.

If Rex had been used this would have been a perfect episode. So glad the Mandalorians are back, and I hope the rescue Rau and that Rau gets his chance for revenge. This episode showed that to win in war you have to make hard choices and sometimes there isn’t a good option, just a lesser bad option.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Legacy” – Return to Lothal

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 9 Legacy

     This was an episode that could have been more, sadly I think that giving this series more episodes has only been a detriment to the story. In giving each of our characters more exploration they end up facing the Empire and soundly defeating them making the Empire continue to be a waste of a villain, this of course after Darth Vader and the Siege of Lothal established that you don’t mess with them…hell Tarkin and the Inquisitor established that. This season has forgotten that for character development leading me to have much less favorite episodes this season, including this mid-season finale.

   Henry Gilroy was the writer of this episode.

   The story involves Ezra having visions of his parents on Lothal and wanting to return there as the Empire attacks the Rebels base that Ezra had accidentally revealed to one of the Seventh Sister’s droid. The Empire attacks and the Rebels must make their escape.

The Pros: Kanan – Kanan is the voice of wisdom here as we see him council Ezra on leaping to rage on multiple points. We also see them share the loss of being alone and losing their mentors or parents. These are great scenes that help make the episode stronger. He is the one who talks about the fact that even though Ezra’s parents are dead, they will always be with him.

Hera – Hera looked everywhere for Ezra’s parents and we see how deeply she looked, giving us a greater experience of the loss of them. It also shows how devoted she is to the crew. She is the captain for a reason. I’d watch a show just about her.

Chopper – Chopper chickens out during the battle. It’s funny given how active he was prior. It also showed how insane and temperamental he is.

Ezra – Ezra goes dark side at one point to defeat General Kallus and almost gets drawn into his destruction by the Inquisitors. Was impressed on how they handled his character and I completely expect him to go dark later, if only briefly.

Okay: Zeb and Sabine – Are just kind of there and don’t really do anything memorable.

The Rebellion – Is on the run, I never thought they were all at risk and they lost one ship. You never feel the loss of that ship.

The Empire – The Empire is still arrogant and overall useless even when they find the Rebel Hideout. They really need a win like what they had at Lothal.

  Not much happens with the Empire and Rebellion. The Rebels escape, only losing one ship and again the Rebels face no consequences and experience no real loss, while again the Empire is made to look like fools. I know they are the bad guys, but they have to win sometimes or else they will no longer be taken seriously as threats. Why even have Luke, Leia and Han if Disney XD’s rebels already had it handled…

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 7 – “Stealth Strike” – New Friendship But More Failing Empire

Star Wars Rebels Stealth Strike

    First I’m going to say I like this episode, it isn’t a favorite but I enjoyed it. My issue is that the Empire continues to lose. I should have never listened to the interview where they said this Season would be “The Empire Strikes” back of “Star Wars Rebels.” So far it hasn’t…it’s even more positive than ‘The Clone Wars” and “A New Hope,” which for the Dark Times just doesn’t cut it for me.

“Stealth Strike” was directed by Brad Rau and written by Matt Michnovetz.

The story involves Ezra and Sato being caught by the Empire when they discover an Experimental Star Destroyer that can pull ships out of Light Speed. From here it is up to Rex and Kanan to rescue them and stop this new weapon.

The Pros: Ezra – Ezra is a cocky guy but he loses this time and it isn’t until  Rex and Kanan are helping him take out the weapon that we get to see how powerful he is as a Jedi. He isn’t overpowered like Starkiller in “The Force Unleashed,” so it keeps him interesting. He also earns Sato’s respect.

Rex and Kanan – These two are at odds but have grown to be friends, as we see at the end when Rex doesn’t turn on them and Kanan comes back to rescue him. It’s a great moment and this episode was a Clone Wars callback for sure.

Agent Kallus – Kallus is smart about the Rebels now, sadly the man in charge of the special weapon was not. Kallus got a big “I told you so,” at the end.

Okay: Chopper – Choppper it too overpowered. Nobody suspects droids even though they were the main enemy of the Clone Wars and countless times Chopper has saved the day.

Commander Sato – Sato doesn’t have any personality yet, he’s just a blank slate who commands respect. I want to know what drives this guy so the mystery puts him as an okay rather than a con.

The Cons: How the Empire Was Handled – The Empire captures the Rebels and does nothing with it. Sato should have been sent to an Imperial Prison, Ezra should have been executed or at least the attempt of execution immediately, and the super weapon needed more fail safes.

This was an episode that could have been more. Even Grievous managed to hold onto his super weapons longer and he was a coward and an idiot. I expected more from the Empire, they still have to be the best if the Rebels are to be the underdogs. This season they are not the underdogs at all…except for the Pilot “Siege of Lothal.”

Final Score: 7.8 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 4 – “Brothers of the Broken Horn” – Among Pirates

Brothers of the Broken Horn

  Hondo is back in a decent episode of “Star Wars Rebels.” This is an episode that largely explores Chopper and Ezra and reminds us that more of the characters from the Clone Wars era survived. It isn’t a great episode but it does what it has to do for Ezra’s arc in the episode to be completed.

     The episode was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Bill Wolkoff.

     The story involves Ezra being overwhelmed with all his responsibilities so he decides to take the ship and Chopper to investigate a distress signal. It is there they discover Hondo who tries to make Ezra a member of his crew.

The Pros: Chopper – Chopper comes in handy this episode and we see that he is there for than comedic relief as we see him take on Pirate Droids and gangsters in order to save Ezra and Hondo from being by Azmorigan.

Captain Rex – His scenes are small as he only appears at the beginning and end of the episode but his scenes are great as we see him trying instill discipline in Ezra and train him to be a soldier.

Hondo – Hondo is back and hilarious! We see that he is very a smooth talker and loves the challenge or a worthy mental opponent. He survives, which is a theme of his as he survived the Clone Wars and is surviving the Empire. In the end he leaves with a respect for Ezra as Ezra gets the supplies he needs for a Rebel colony world.

Ezra – This is Ezra’s episode to show how much he’s grown and the episode does a good job of showing it as he quickly distrusts Hondo and is always trying to get back to his crew but with the supplies they need. He is quick on his feet too and acts with fairness even when dealing with cheats and murders like Hondo and Vizago.

Okay: Vizago – He is just kind of there as Hondo stole his ship and shutdown his droids. Rather than working with Ezra though we see him just act self destructive, which was a shame.

The Cons: Azmorigan – This gangster is weak and Chopper even chases him away. I wish we had another Underworld Boss as this guy has never felt like a threat…even when he’s holding guns against our protagonists head.

This was a good episode that is worth checking out if you have been watching the series or watched Clone Wars. Hondo is back and he feels like the character he’s always been, a survivor and pirate who will do whatever it takes to get more…though with some semblance of honor as he respects those who have a code.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episodes 1-4 – “The Clone Conspiracy Arc” – When the Only Freedom is in Death

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   This was a powerful arc that showed that there really isn’t any sort of happy ending for Clones. They were made to be weapons and whenever they assert their agency their creators or the Republic remind them that they are property and within that have been made to a do a very cruel task that breaks the minds of two Clones who find out. One of these Clones is one of my favorites who we have gotten to know since the beginning of the timeline, Fives. This is a tragic story but fits the theme of the last 2 seasons that the coming of Order 66 is inevitable as well as the Republic becoming the Empire.

      “The Unknown” was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Katie Lucas who also wrote the other 3 episodes in the arc. “Conspiracy” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell, “Fugitive” was directed by Danny Keller and “Orders” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy.

     The story involves Tup killing a Jedi when the chip in his head activates early. From here The Kaminoans and the Palpatine seek to cover up what happened by killing Tup and removing the chip or discounting Fives who has begun to figure it out, especially after he removes the chip from his own head. As a fugitive he seeks to reveal the truth to Rex and Anakin when all is working against him, including his own mind.

The Pros: The Conspiracy – The conspiracy to control the Clones is brilliant and it makes sense that Palpatine would have that fail safe so that when the time came, no Jedi would survive. It also makes sense that a fluke would mess things up and that Fives would seek the truth as he has always been a rebellious Clone.

The Kaminoans – These guys are all about the bottom line and we see them talking to Dooku on multiple occasions as they seek to fulfill the Clones original programming and keep the secret safe. They know the Jedi are going to die and don’t care…this goes for just how detached this species is that the Clones are just property and assets and the Jedi are nothing to them.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – In this we see that as one of the original folks who commissioned the Clones he is keeping a close eye on events. He knows what is at stake if the truth is revealed and that the fake war could end and that all the Sith are working for could be undone. To this end he goes to any end to prevent the truth from getting out.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – This guy frames Fives for trying to kill him after he’s been pumped up full of drugs by the Kaminoan Doctors and after he sends his own special Clone Force that wears Red to take out Fives. He is brilliant in this and anytime Fives makes progress at getting the truth out, Palpatine reveals something else (a Parasite made Tups and Fives violent) that discounts their stories. This is an episode where he wins.

Fives – Fives is my favorite Clone outside of Rex and in this we see his rebellious nature work to his advantage to seek the truth as he goes against the Republic and his creators to get the truth out there (The Kaminoans pump him up with drugs) so that Clones can be truly free and not slaves to programming. He was always the more sensitive of the Clones and it motivated him to risk his life against Krell and this time too against the Republic and Kamino. R.I.P. Fives, you were one of the best. In the end he does have freedom as the chip is gone and all it was suppressing (kill the Jedi) is released so his nightmares finally end.

  This was a tragic episode as Fives and Tups never find justice as Palpatine and Dooku win and the plan for Order 66 remains hidden and ready for activation at the end of the war. Fives is the one railing against the system in a very “Brazil” like fashion and like in “Brazil” there is nothing he can do against it. He is a cog in the machine and in the end it devours him and destroys his mind, and from that the only freedom he receives is in death.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 6-9 – “The Path of a Young Jedi Arc” – Enemy of my Enemy

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   “The Path of the Young Jedi Arc” has some really good moments and is a solid arc overall, though it isn’t the strongest in the series. It does at least take the time to explore all of it’s characters and continues to treat Grievous as a valid threat, which is rare enough that I have to recognize it when it happens.

    “The Gathering” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Christian Taylor who wrote the other three episodes in the arc. “A Test of Strength” was directed by Bosco Ng, “Bound for Rescue” by Brian Kalin O’Connell and “A Necessary Bond” which was directed by Danny Keller.

    The story involves Jedi Younglings going to the Ice Caverns with Ahsoka to get their Kyber Crystal so that they can construct their lightsaber. After the younglings face their fears they are attacked by Hondo who kidnaps Ahsoka and from there they must rescue her as the Separatists arrive to get revenge on Hondo for kidnapping Dooku in the past.

The Pros: “The Gathering” – “The Gathering” is great, we see each individual Jedi face their fears. From Ganodi’s finding hope, Zatt learning patience, Byph learning courage, Petro learning compassion and Katooni with trust. It is a great arc and we see them demonstrate these skills later against the pirates.

Grievous and the Separatists – Grievous destroys Obi-Wan and Rex’s ship preventing them from saving the younglings and turns Hondo’s base into a Separatist stronghold. All he does in win in this episode and it is awesome. This is the Grievous we should have had from Day 1. Also Dooku shutting down Hondo is great.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is the guardian and protects the younglings and guides them in their process of learning the force. She is firm and compassionate and never backs away from being a Jedi either as she is willing to work with Hondo who was holding her hostage and planning to sell her for money.

Hondo – Hondo is fantastic in this! In this you see he is a bit insane as he is willing to hold kids hostage even if he won’t kill them, but after he is beaten he acts as a mentor to Katooni and helps her build her lightsaber. He also helps the Jedi escape when he uses Slave I against Grievous.

The Cons: Huyang – Voiced by David Tennant, this droid felt underused and that he was just there for the guest voice and an attempt to have a C-3PO episode. What a wasted character…

 This was a solid and enjoyable arc that did some good things with Hondo, Ahsoka and Grievous and even managed to explore younglings and not mess it up! Only issue was Huyang, which is a shame as David Tennant is one of my favorite actors.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10