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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