Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 16 – “The Lawless” – The Dynamic of Power

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     “The Lawless” is where a lot of moments come to a head. Savage Opress’s story ends as does Satine’s. Maul finally faces his old Master and Mandalore is made vulnerable to a Republic invasion through internal strife and Civil War. It is powerful and shows that no one wins in the end, except maybe Sidious as he wants everything and now via Obi-Wan has all the reasons he needs to invade Mandalore and make it part of the Republic and later the Empire. It is a powerful episode and one of my favorites.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Chris Collins.

    The story involves Satine being used as bate for revenge to lure Obi-Wan to Mandalore. Once there she is killed by Maul in revenge. After Bo-Katan rescues Obi-Wan and as they fight to escape so that Obi-Wan can bring Republic help Sidious arrives to take on his rivals Maul and Opress.

The Pros: Satine – Satine’s death actually means something as we have got to know her as a character and even to the end she holds onto her nobility and reminds Obi-Wan of what to fight for. She was a great character who will be missed. R.I.P.

Bo-Katan – Bo-Katan is Satine’s sister and the current leader of Death Watch standing against Maul. She protects Obi-Wan and helps him escape and even is willing to call in the Republic as she knows Mandalore will endure through any occupation. She is a true nationalist and believer as she imprisoned her sister and her sister was her enemy up until the end when she realized that even if pacifism is wrong she always loved her sister.

Savage Opress – His development stopped but his death was still meaningful as buried under the Dark Magic the young boy who was turned into a weapon was still there. He was never as full of the Dark Side the way Maul was as for him it was against his will, Maul it is implied that he had more choice even if he was still used by the Witches. R.I.P.

Civil War on Mandalore – Death Watch against the Shadow Collective…and in the end the people lose. Both sides are powerful enough to keep the war going long enough for the Republic to invade. It is a tragic story but the Civil War makes sense, Mandalore has been through nothing but conflict since Death Watch against Satine and Maul just made certain it would last much longer by taking over and the Shadow Collective.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Kenobi loses the one person he loved and who loved him and through it all endures. His perseverance is strong in this and he never loses sight of Mandalore, for example he questions Bo-Katan when she wants to bring in the Republic as he knows Mandalore will no longer be neutral and that it will be under Republic control. His story truly is tragic and he doesn’t even get to kill Maul.

Darth Maul – Maul is the leader of Mandalore and is confident in this one. His trap goes as planned and he kills Satine to show Obi-Wan how he suffered. We also see that he didn’t have a choice to some degree as well as he was taken as a child to become a Sith. We see in the end he still that child when Sidious tortures him and he begs for mercy and to be brought back. He was still a powerful leader of his own faction though and this episode he was handled well, just like the last arc.

Darth Sidious – Sidious is the one who wins in the end. He wins Mandalore, destroys his rival in the Shadow Collective and Maul and has Maul as a tool even if he’ll never take him as an apprentice again. It is awesome to see him fight too as he wipes the floor with Opress and Maul. In the end he’s the only one who wins as a Republic invasion of Mandalore puts Mandalore under the Empire’s control later.

This was a great ending for a lot of characters. We see where some of the unspoken pain in Obi-Wan’s eyes come from when he talks about the Clone Wars comes from and we also have Opress and Maul’s arc come to a close and with it the dissolution of the 3rd Faction of the Shadow Collective. It is an episode with stakes and quite a few people die, it illustrates from this that in war, more often than not, there really aren’t winners except from those who profit from it’s existence in the first place.

Final Score: 10 / 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, Episodes 1-3 – “Children of the Force Arc” – The Sith Agenda and the Amazingness of Cad Bane

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     “The Children of the Force Arc” does two great things that we haven’t seen before. We get to see more of Sidious’s long term agenda for the galaxy and his quest for Acolytes and are introduced to Cad Bane, one of the coolest Bounty Hunters and one of the best antagonists in the series so far outside of Count Dooku and Ventress.

     “Holocron Heist” was directed by Justin Ridge and written by Paul Dini. “Cargo of Doom” was directed by Rob Coleman and written by George Kristic and Scott Murphy and “Children of the Force” which was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Henry Gilroy and Wendy Meracle.

   The story involves Darth Sidious hiring out Bane to capture a Holocron and Kyber Crystal that will allow him to find all the Force Sensitive children in the Galaxy in order to make an order of Acolytes to serve him. From here Anakin and Ahsoka work on capturing Bane but don’t succeed in doing so until after he’s already started capturing children. From here the Jedi seek to find where they are in order to stop the plot as Bane plots his escape.

The Pros: The Premise – I like that everything that is done and secret, the first episode is heist and it never lets up from that since Bane is a bounty hunter and he has know help beyond those who he uses so he depends on deception to defeat his enemies who far outnumber him. The antagonist having high stakes against him and him rising to the challenge and defeating the protagonists multiple times in creative means make him compelling and gives tensions to the story.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is driven by revenge a lot in this one and it costs her when Bane uses her to get Anakin to open the Holocron. She learns from the experience though and is the one who captures Bane when he goes undercover as a Clone Trooper to make his escape after Anakin and Ahsoka destroyed the ships Gunray gave him.

The Sith Agenda – The Sith plan is to turn the Force Sensitive children into slaves that can be used as weapons. In this you see just how great Sidious’s disregard for life is. He is fast too and quickly destroys the data on Mustafar so the Jedi won’t learn of his existence. We see him play Anakin at one point too when Anakin suspects someone is behind Dooku pulling the strings.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin shows that he will risk all for an individual and helps Sidious by his attachment to Ahsoka. She begs him not to help but Anakin is so afraid to lose others he will go to any means to save the ones he loves. Whether it is torturing Bane or risking important information and his life for his Padawan.

The Space Battle Against Cad Bane – Anakin drops three walkers on the ship and begins tearing it apart as Bane puts his ship on self destruct and uses the many Republic troops around as his means to escape and to cause chaos, as well as to capture Ahsoka. It is brilliant and you see how smart he is and how Anakin’s recklessness makes him unpredictable and dangerous as an enemy.

Darth Sidious – This guy is evil, smart and a genius. He is planning far enough ahead that he’ll have pawns after the war and is so good at covering his tracks no one even knows he exists. It is brilliant that Palpatine manages to do all of this and control the Republic through legal means.

Cad Bane – Bane is one of my favorite antagonist. We see him dress like a Jedi once to capture the Holocron, hold Ahsoka hostage when he looked defeated and escape from Obi-Wan and Mace Windu when he took them to his base after they were inside of his head. He is a worthy opponent and I hope he survives the series. This villain is fantastic. He is true to his deals, is brutal and cares nothing for life and has a sense of humor about it too.

    This was a great arc and all the episodes are really solid. We have great antagonists at work who at different points are the underdogs and have the strengths of our heroes used against them. This creates a masterful story in which Cad Bane is still out there to fulfill whatever his agenda is, which at this point probably includes Revenge against the Jedi.

Final Score: 10 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 9 – “Cloak of Darkness” – The Threat of Ventress

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    “Cloak of Darkness” is a great episode and definitely a favorite. We get some development of minor characters and we get to see just how dangerous and awesome Ventress is! As well as just how influential the Separatist is within the Republic.

    The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Paul Dini.

    The story begins with Master Luminara and Ahsoka delivering Nute Gunray for trial when Dooku sends Ventress after to save or kill Gunray. From here we see her plan unfold as Luminara and Ahsoka try to handle the threat and hold onto their hostage.

The Pros: The Action – The action in this episode is fantastic! We see Ventress fight Luminara and Ahsoka in some wonderfully dark locations that put her assassin skills to use and the assault starting out with a drop of Super Battle Droids to give Ventress the distraction she needs.

Faro Argyus – Is a member of the Senate Commandos and a Separatist spy as he helps Gunray escape due to the reward that Dooku offered him. Sadly he ends up dead as Ventress kills him. I wanted to see more with this character as so far the betrayers tend to have complex reasons for doing what they do be they Clone Troopers that change sides or Faro.

Nute Gunray – Gunray is all about survival and he’s honest about it. In this way he is compelling because he knows he is a coward but he knows he is valuable due to his assets and money. This makes the fight to get control of him all the more compelling because what he offers and represents is compelling.

Master Luminara – Luminara is over confident and believes she can take Ventress on on her own. This ends her being injured and Ventress’s eventual escape with Gunray. She’s aware she messed up though and is grateful to Ahsoka for saving her and recognizes she was right about the threat of Ventress.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is good in this, we see her great at stalling Ventress and being harsh to Gunray to get him to negotiate. She gets it after Anakin most likely and we see how anti-Jedi she is in some of her practices as Luminara calls her out for her cruelty and fear. In the end they respect one another though as Ahsoka’s past experience with Ventress gives her a better understanding of the threat.

Ventress – Sidious sees Ventress as a failure for the Separatist losses early in the timeline will Dooku’s faith is shown to be well placed. Ventress at her core is an assassin and that is how she works best, when she has specific targets and can cause chaos and doesn’t have to worry about negotiations. We see how cruel she is to as she kills Faro out of spite and for his pride.

    This episode was great at showing just how Sithlike Ventress is and how great she is as a Separatist agent. Already in the series she has two victories to her name against major characters while Grievous has none and has ended each running away. She is the compelling antagonist and I can’t wait to see what the series does with her.

Final Score: 10 / 10.