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

Onaconda_farr_dead

     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, Episodes 8-9, Season 1, Episode 22 – “The Hutt Revenge Arc” – Cad Bane is Amazing and Hutt Deception

Epguide308

     Cad Bane is the best thing besides Ahsoka to come of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as an original creation. In this we see just how good he is at the job and get to know the politics of the Hutts. Each episode is a rush against time as Cad has very limited resources and help and is on a timer to achieve each end, be it getting Senate Building info, freeing Ziro or finding Ziro. All of these are things that put Bane under pressure and give us a chance to see that he is the best bounty hunter of this era.

      “Evil Plans,” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle. “Hostage Crisis,” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Hunt for Ziro” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle.

      The story kicks off with Jabba hiring Bane to steal the information for the plans of the Senate Building from R2-D2 and C-3PO, from here the story unfolds as Cad Bane and a group of bounty hunters take a group of senators hostage in order to rescue Ziro the Hutt and deliver him to the Hutt Council for judgement and finally ending Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan traveling to the Hutt homeworld in order to find Ziro and bring him to justice while dealing with machinists of the Council, Ziro, Jabba and Bane.

The Pros: Padme and Anakin – Anakin gives Padme his lightsaber during “Hostage Crisis” and for much the episode they are hiding their love for one another and Padme is trying to hide why she has it while Bane and his bounty hunters are holding them hostages. They do a good job working together and avoiding questions though they look very suspicious later, anyone paying attention would see romance there.

The Bounty Hunters – Cad Bane and his crew are awesome! Aurra Sing is the sniper and takes out the Senate defenders easily, IG-86, Shahan and Robinino who is the hacker also helps capture Anakin when the bounty hunters ambush him. They are victorious and only IG-86 is destroyed.

The Hutts – The Hutts are Crime Lords and their homeworld is like vegas with dancing Twi’leks. There are five leaders and all of them have respect for Cad Bane because of how good he is at his job. They also see Ziro as a personal matter since he has secrets that could bring them down. Ziro trying to hold his own against them was pretty cool too as well as his drive at revenge for being locked up again.

Jabba and Sy – Jabba hires Ziro’s ex-lover Sy who is the singer at the homeworld who kills Ziro and gets Jabba the data pad. It is great seeing that, plus seeing that Ty was a better hunter than the Jedi and Bane.

Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan – These two have a great dynamic! Vos is a Grey Jedi in the EU and it shows here as Obi-Wan and the others see him as crazy. He is confident and arrogant and anything but proper while Obi-Wan is all about politeness and diplomacy. They work well together though and I like that Vos is in this show. He makes Anakin look moderate.

Cad Bane – Bane is amazing in this and the reason to watch the episode! In this we see him do a full job and succeed at each one except killing Ziro as Ty already did, but he does escape the Jedi and holds his own against them, showing just how powerful he is. This guy is cold, calculating, strategic and all about business. It makes him a great player too as he has limitations and has to depend on his mind to win.

The Cons: R2-D2 and C-3PO – Their episode is droid hijinks with C-3PO getting tortured and R2 going to a droid spa. It is so weird and out there that I didn’t like it. There was no point for it but to keep R2 around so he could get captured and Bane could wipe their memories for his attack on the senate building.

   This was a great arc and one I’d highly recommend! Seeing the Hutt world and Hutt Politics was fascinating as well as seeing Quinlan Vos outside the EU and his relationship with Obi-Wan, and of course the main reason to watch it is Cad Bane who is the best Bounty Hunter on this show and is one of the best characters this show created.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

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

Sphere of Influence

   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.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 20-22 – “Boba Fett’s Revenge Arc” – Boba Fett is Ruined

BobaBosskCastasSing-TCWS2E20

       This arc was okay, it wasn’t great as we get a lot of beige Jedi and Boba Fett was too, there was so much potential with his character that was just wasted since the show wasn’t willing to go as far as it could have for showing an orphan who had been raised by the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy. Most of that was abandoned for overdone cliches and the most interesting parts of the episode were Anakin’s reaction to things and Captain Captain Hondo.

      “Death Trap” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Doug Petric, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “R2 Come Home” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Lethal Trackdown” was directed by Dave Filoni who was one of the writers along with Greenberg and Larsen.

    The story involves Boba Fett’s quest for Revenge with Sing to kill Mace Windu for the murder of his father. From here things unfold as he destroys a Republic Cruiser to trap them and deals with the threat of the Jedi closing in as he seeks to bring about his revenge and deal with his conflicted feelings over the people caught in the crossfire.

The Pros: Captain Hondo – This guy is back as Sing’s ex and he has a great dynamic with her and the Jedi as he doesn’t want to get burned from either side. Seeing him play the neutral party for once when he is usually an antagonist was pretty awesome.

Anakin Skywalker – Skywalker almost dies but through R2 manages to save himself and Windu. He is the one all out for killing Boba and if Boba kills Jedi later, he wouldn’t be completely wrong. In this we see how driven Anakin is by ends justifying the means and that there isn’t any accountability as Windu never calls him out fully on being so focused on himself and his ego.

Okay: The Bounty Hunters – They all have cool looks but we never get to know what their drive is beyond money or why Sing is helping Boba. Wasted potential but they weren’t completely useless.

The Cons: Boba Fett – For a character that is supposed to be the greatest badass later he mostly just frowns and fails in his mission and feels bad about the innocents in the crossfire later. Very poorly handled as a character.

The Jedi – Windu and Plo Koon are blank slates in this and we never get to know Ahsoka either because Plo and Windu take up so much of the screentime.

  This was an arc that was okay, but had way too much going against it. It would have been better to leave Boba out and make his story a mystery as now he has been even more ruined by the influence of the prequels.

Final Score: 5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 12-14 – “Duchess of Mandalore Arc” – Shades of Grey and Power Plays

Satine-MemorialShrine

      The “Duchess of Mandalore arc” is awesome! In this we explore the conflict of neutrality during wartime as well as the benefits and disadvantages of a warrior or pacifistic philosophy as both the Duchess Satine and Death Watch leader Viszla both have reason to believe what they do as sovereignty is the primary theme of this arc and how different factions seek to use that to their own benefit and make Mandalore a pawn.

    “The Mandalore Plot” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Melinda Hsu and Drew Z. Greenberg, “Voyage of Temptation” was directed by Brain Kalin O’Connell and written by Paul Dini and Henry Gilroy and “Duchess of Mandalore” was directed by Brain Kalin O’Connell and written by Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

     The story involves Obi-Wan arriving at Mandalore to investigate the terrorist group Death Watch who rumor has is being controlled by his past lover Duchess Satine. He soon discovers they are false rumors and when the Death Watch leader Viszla is revealed he must protect Satine as she advocates for Mandalore to deal with it’s own affairs and not have an occupation done by Republic Forces. She is later framed for the death of a Mandalorian and must reveal the truth of the recording of her Prime Minister to the Senate that speaks for Mandalorian Sovereignty that was doctored to present that as not being the case.

The Pros: “Duchess of Mandalore” – “Duchess of Mandalore” was my favorite episode in the arc as we got to see Viszla in action see Palpatine working actively against Satine so that Republic forces would have reason to occupy Mandalore (and in turn later the Empire) and how she and Obi-Wan navigate the political minefield using Padme to save Mandalore’s sovereignty, though it doesn’t solve the problem of Death Watch or how Death Watch is out of Satine’s control unless she gives up her pacifism. It’s a powerful plot. 10 / 10

Death Watch – Death Watch is a hyper-nationalist organization that wants to restore Mandalore to it’s former strength that it had in the Old Republic as an Empire. Viszla even wields an ancient Mandalore saber that can counter lightsabers. They are a small and powerful organization that has sympathy among the populace as Satine cannot protect them from the Separatist and just neutralized the Republic.

Mandalore – Mandalore is a once warrior nation that now is a primarily a trading world but it still carries it’s warrior roots through Death Watch and the Civil War it experienced prior. It is a beautiful world too and has a classic feeling to it, it captures both ancient mixed with modern with expresses the Mandalorian people really well.

Pre Viszla – Viszla has his own government on the moon where the losers of the Civil War were sent who aren’t pacifists. Unsurprisingly he is sympathetic and a leader of the populace he rules and because of that seeks to empower them as the current Mandalore is vulnerable to outside threats. Minus the hyper-nationalism he is an issue that Satine has not dealt with and his perspective is never dealt the justice it deserves as Mandalore needing an army to protect it’s sovereignty.

Count Dooku – Dooku is the one who sees the big picture and warns Viszla to wait when the assassin fails to kill Satine. He is a player of a long game of making Mandalore another faction that the Separatists control and it is his cool head even after failing Palpatine that make possible that Death Watch will be around for a long time to come.

Palpatine – Palpatine is a smart manipulator in this and would have succeeded if the Assassin had killed Satine. His end goal is control of Mandalore via Republic troops and he has reason to send them as the Separatists are a threat and Mandalore has no defensive force outside of Death Watch which it doesn’t see as representing it to the other governments. Even though his plan does not succeed he never lets on or breaks character with Satine or the Jedi that he was behind any of it. He is truly the Emperor for a reason.

Duchess Satine – Satine is an idealist and dreamer and the events of this arc change that in some ways. She still stands for sovereignty of her world and no involvement of outside troops but she is willing to defend herself. She explores her past with Obi-Wan and confesses that she loves him but afterword they are both so proper and don’t want to risk their friendship as Obi-Wan would never betray his Jedi vows. She respects that though and his call for defense while she calls for pacifism. She is also a nationalist and stands for her people regardless of the cost.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan deals with his romantic interest Satine and we see that though he is committed to Satine he would have given it up when he was a Padawan if she had asked. It’s a great character moment that reveals the humanity in Obi-Wan as well as the fact that he is so committed to the Jedi Code because of that loss. The Code and his being a Jedi is all he has so he can be no closer to anyone beyond as a friend, but he stands with her and helps stop Death Watch’s plot.

Anakin Skywalker – Skywalker is getting closer to the darkside and Darth Vader as we see him justify the occupation of Mandalore since Death Watch is out of Satine’s control, we see him kill the Senate Separatist Spy when Satine and Obi-Wan are unable to do so and we see he doesn’t think about it at all. Killing someone is nothing to him as the ‘Imperial March’ plays. This show really does show Anakin’s descent really well. It starts with taking life for granted and he never lets up on that as the ends of protecting others are always the drive behind it, and it’s hard not to see the times he has taken that choice on the show as wrong, questionable for sure…but not wrong.

A Matter of Sovereignty – Sovereignty is a major theme this episode and the different ways it is sought. For Satine it is not involving outside power, while for Viszla it does involve outside power and a strong military to defend against threats. Neither side is wrong and that is what is debated this episode as we know that the Empire will destroy Sovereignty later while the Separatists may do that sometimes now, but not always. Does Sovereignty involve military strong power or diplomatic soft power, for me the answer is both are needed though the episode falls on soft power primarily as Satine is a pacifist. What this debate means for Mandalore still remains to be seen, the Republic and Separatists aren’t involved yet, but the war is far from over.

Okay: Romantic Potential – The romance feels more realistic than Padme and Anakin but that isn’t saying much. There back story of having to depend on one another for survival when they were younger was really cool and they do have good chemistry but I wanted to see more warmth between them, we only got moments of that.

The Assassin – The Assassin was awesome! He kills a Mandalore informant who passes the real info of the Prime Minister’s recording to Satine and dies in the process and he escapes every attempt at capture and manages to hold his own against Obi-Wan and Satine. We never learn more about the individual and I wish he’d done more damage but he was okay.

    This was a powerful arc, with “Duchess of Mandalore” being a personal favorite of mine as it establishes that Death Watch is not out of the game yet and also that Mandalore is alone for better and for worse to deal with it’s own problems. There is so much potential here as I don’t believe Satine is in control, her almost getting arrested is going to look bad in the public eye, not to mention the death of her Prime Minister. She has no control over Death Watch and they still control a lot of the narrative. This is something the episode doesn’t fully deal with and why I don’t consider this a victory for Satine. There was no middle ground of Republic help which could have stopped Death Watch, while now they have time to recruit and to grow.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10.

Mandalorian_TCW

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Lightsaber Lost” – Learning Patience

Lightsaber Lost

    “Lightsaber Lost” is a good adventure episode that lets us explore Coruscant further and give Ahsoka good character development. It makes good use of the limited time to tell a good story, though some of the quotes from the Prequels are problematic and they come up here at the end. I’ll get into what I mean later.

      The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Drew Z. Greenberg.

       The story involves Ahsoka’s quest to retake her lightsaber after a pickpocket on the lower levels sells it. As she investigates in her search from it Jedi Master Sinube works with her as he has not gone on an adventure for a long time and he specializes in the study of Coruscant’s criminal underworld.

The Pros: The Action – This is a good action episode as we see Ahsoka chasing a bounty hunter across the underworld of Coruscant and even into traffic as they jump from floating board to floating board. It’s a really cool action sequence.

Jedi Master Sinube – Sinube is an old Jedi who is super smart and slow. We see him figure out that the girlfriend murdered the boyfriend and he helps Ahsoka find them and learn patience. He is a great Jedi Master.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is shown to be a lot like Anakin, from her attachment to her lightsaber, her willingness to attack for information first rather than question and how she jumps into everything without looking. She learns to step back from all of that though thanks to Sinube.

Palpatine’s Speech – This is a small note but I liked it. On his video to the public Palpatine is saying some suspect that the Jedi are trying to take over the government due to their expanding power during the war, he disagrees and asks for more wartime powers for himself and the Jedi…it’s a powerful sequence that is setting up the later fall of the Jedi really well. The public is already questioning them if they think they plan a government takeover.

The Cons: The Minor Characters – Everyone in the underworld isn’t fleshed out. The pickpocket is just a coward and has no motivation beyond greed, and the woman who killed her boyfriend and the bounty hunter are never given reasons for stealing the lightsaber and why they think it is so important. I never got reasons for anything they did, so even though they did the murder we never learn why beyond the lightsaber. This was poor writing on Greenberg’s part.

Your Lightsaber is Your Life – This is a messed up idea and one that Ahsoka tells the younglings. It is this mentality that makes the Jedi more of a military order than anything else and with it also cult like tendencies too. Your life is your life and the lightsaber is a weapon to protect your life and the lives of others. This was first mentioned in Episode II and I hate that it made a comeback too. Yoda at Dagoba was big on weapons not being the way of the Jedi and wars not making a person great, though I guess the Prequels changed that…in my opinion for the worse.

   This was a fun episode that is worth checking out. The murder mystery could have been a lot better but Ahsoka and Sinube have a great dynamic and it was fun seeing Ahsoka’s recklessness getting her into trouble that she had to get herself out of. She’s a flawed Jedi and that is part of what makes her so interesting as a character.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 9-10 – “The Hunt for Grievous Arc” – Grievous Just Isn’t a Good Enemy and Great Clone Development

Epguide209

    Every time the writers give Grievous a chance to be a great threat, they ruin it if there is any more than a single episode. In this we see him capture a Jedi Master and proceed to nearly be captured following this, as well as not know how to command or use his men well. Why do they keep using this guy as an enemy? He brings down almost every episode he’s in from his failure to be a lasting threat that can be taken seriously? “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is the only time I can think where he truly felt like the threat he is implied to be in this show and Episode III. Suffice to say, was not impressed with his plan this episode and the fallout from it in the following episode.

    “Grievous Intrigue” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Bob Edlund, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “The Deserter” was directed by Robert Dalva and written by Carl Ellsworth, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

     The story involves Grievous’s capture of Jedi Master Koth and him being used as bate to lure Anakin and Obi-Wan into a trap to be destroyed. Unsurprisingly the trap fails and Grievous must make his escape down to the planet to call for help from the Separatist fleet. During this time Captain Rex is injured and must deal with his loyalties as the man and his family who care for him is a Clone deserter from the Republic army.

The Pros: Clone Identity and “The Deserter” – Clone Identity is explored in this as the deserter watched all his brothers get killed and panicked and ran away but fell in love and has a family who he loves and protects. Rex’s family are his Clone Brothers and we see him respect Cut for not being a coward, though still looking down on his desertion. They have a great talk and explore how Clones are programmed to fight for the Republic and conditioned too but that they are still individuals with fears and dreams and that can lead to many possibilities beyond simply being a soldier in a war that looks like it is never going to end. I really like Rex and Cut as characters and they had a great dynamic together. “The Deserter” would get 9 / 10, due to this.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan has a personal beef with Grievous and we see him hold his own and even nearly kill Grievous at one point. At this point it is personal and we see that blind Obi-Wan to some of the traps Grievous sets and to the life of his men who are far more likely to be killed by Grievous than him.

Okay: The Other Jedi – Anakin, Koth and Adi are just kind of there. They moments of wit but none of it really stands out as the focus is mostly on Obi-Wan and his vendetta against Grievous. I guess they almost die a few times but we don’t learn anything about them. Adi and Koth could have been traded out for any other Jedi Master we’ve met once or twice and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The Cons: Grievous and his Army – Grievous sucks, he sets up this master plan and in the end his ship just gets destroyed and he runs away when he has multiple vessels and could have won the battle above. He put himself needlessly at risk leaving his ship and not jumping to another cruiser and he kills so many of his own men he’s a plus to the Jedi in battle. I didn’t get his personal vendetta against the Jedi either. What had they done to him prior to him becoming a general in the Clone Wars? That is never answered so it just feels contrived. Worst antagonist on this show…

Final Score: 7 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 4-8 – “The Geonosian Arc” – Senate Spies, Superweapons and the Masterful Geonosians

The Geonosian Arc

     “The Genosian Arc” is a pretty amazing one! We get to see war with consequences, have have complex villains, fascinating villains, flawed heroes and stories that make sense and that allow things to change. This episode also establishes how powerful the Geonosians are. Suffice to say, there was a lot to like about these five episodes.

      “Senate Spy” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Melinda Hsu, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “”Landing at Point Rain” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Weapons Factory” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Legacy of Terror” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Brain Invaders” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Andrew Kreisberg, Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg.

      The story begins with Padme being asked to go undercover to investigate a former lover who might be a Separatist spy. From here things unfold as it turns out he and Senator Dod are working with Poggle the Lesser to create a secret weapons factory on Geonosis. This leads to the invasion and Second Battle for Geonosis which echoes far beyond the battle itself as secrets of the Geonosians are revealed.

Cato_foundry_holo

The Pros: The Story – The story is fantastic. We get to learn so much about Geonosis and the people of Geonosis, we get to see that Padme’s former lover does have a heart and isn’t a terrible person, as well as seeing the flaws in Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Luminara and Barriss. There are hints of terrible things to come too when some Clone Troopers are taken over by mind worms from Geonosis.

The Action – The action has consequences, Obi-Wan’s entire team is wiped out, leaving him alone to work with Anakin and Ki-Adi-Mundi. We get open great battles with Super Tanks taking out the Republic forces until they are destroyed on the bridge and we see the Geonosians always fighting until the end. Their ability to fly and undead ones controlled by their Queen as well as Republic troops controlled by the Queen reek havoc on multiple occasions as the arc unfolds. The planet might be finally beat, but the Queen is implied to still be alive, and we know Poggle escapes as he is alive when Episode III comes around.

“The Senate Spy” – I really enjoyed this episode so am putting it as a pro as it adds so much to the overall narrative and explores the romance of Anakin and Padme and made it believable. Of course Padme had lovers before Anakin and obviously that makes Anakin jealous since he is now secretly married to her. We see this all unfold and it is from Padme’s actions that the Republic is able to mount their second assault on Geonosis in order to destroy the base. My only issue is Anakin was way too jealous at times, though this does show how close he is the dark side, which is a theme of this arc. Score would be 9.5.

“Legacy of Terror” – In “Legacy of Terror” we learn that the Geonosians have a Queen and she is terrifying as she births Mind Worms that are able to take control of the dead and the living. We don’t know if she is destroyed when her temple is destroyed, but given how extensive the catacombs of the world are she and her legacy will live on. “Brain Invaders” exists because she is most likely alive still and still causing havoc beneath the rubble. This was a good horror episode as Clone Troopers are pulled into the darkness or killed by undead Genosians. We also see that Obi-Wan’s detachment is a con when he almost lets Luminara get brain wormed to see what it does. He also tries to negotiate with an open threat showing that diplomacy is not always the way. 10.

“Brain Invaders” – “Brain Invaders” shows us the dilemma of survival and what to do when your own people turn against you, whether against your will or no. Ahsoka has to debate killing a friend and we see that even when defeated the Geonosians are one of the greatest members of the Separatists and the influence of the Queen expands from beyond Geonosis. This episode was fast and smart and there is something a Clone says where he expresses their end purpose of killing Jedi. 9.5

The Characters – The characters are amazing in this arc! Whether they are Republic or Separatist, no one is unexplored and we get to fully understand the stakes the flaws of the characters because of it.

Senator Dod – This Neimoidian is pretty smart as he nearly removes Padme as a threat and makes Senator Clovis question his love of Padme when he mentions the obvious of her being a spy. He is ruthless too as he either captures or kills Clovis for failing, even if he did provide funding and means for the base on Geonosis. The Neimoidians tend to make great villains.

Senator Clovis – We never get why he joined the Separatists, but we see in the end that he truly loves Padme as he risks everything to save and all he gets to it is a possible firing squad. He is a flawed antagonist and I wish we’d gotten more time to know his motivations for his loyalty to the Separatists better, beyond money.

Padme – Padme is awesome in “Senate Spy.” She doesn’t put up with Anakin being controlling and treats Clovis as a friend and sees him as such until his betrayal, even though she is a spy. She is instrumental in the war and her loyalty to Anakin and standing up for herself make her a great character.

Poggle the Lesser – Poggle manages to survive through the fall of his world and we see that the Weapons Factory was his plan to a major degree as it was on his world. We also see how he serves the Queen and though he represents their world and is high up within his society, even he has a Master. He is not affected by Jedi Mind control and it is only after he is tortured that he gives up what he knows about the Mind Worms. I really like this antagonist. His people are pretty awesome.

Barriss – Barriss  is Luminara’s apprentice and we see her mentor Ahsoka on a few occasions when Ahsoka isn’t saving her. She is a great character and we see how calm she is and at peace with her Master’s detachment from her possible death. Ahsoka rubs off on her too and we see her become more active because of her time Ahsoka.

Luminara – Luminara is shown to be pretty aggressive and willing to go to great lengths to end the Battle of Geonosis. This leads to her getting caught when she is searching for Poggle the Lesser. In this way she does have a fair amount of Anakin’s personality type as a part of her. She is very much a Jedi Master though and is at peace with losing others and letting go of them, which she councils Anakin on when they are searching for their apprentices.

Queen Karina – Queen Karina is an ancient Geonosian and their Queen. She wants control over everything and her own people fear her, for good reason. She has a zombie army and doesn’t put up with threats from anyone.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan had a few overly analytical moments this episode. When Luminara is caught he wants to capture a live worm and understand how to fight them better, he also didn’t negotiate very well as he asks the Queen to surrender and submit to the Republic. He is most like Ki-Adi-Mundi and has a high level of detachment, both for better and worse as his wanting to talk to the Queen and study the worm lead to Luminara almost being made a slave wen they had no way to destroy the worms at the time.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka gets some great inspiration this episode. She stands up to Anakin not letting her do her job and she has a competition with him on destroying enemies showing her disconnect for life and love of battle that Anakin has. She also learns patience from Barriss and teaches Barriss hope when they are trapped and she finds a way for Anakin to find him. She also learns that war offers no good choices when Barriss pleaded to be killed to no longer be a threat. She is left to consider the choices that may happen and we see how much she grew this episode.

Anakin Skywalker – This episode is about how the war is pushing Anakin to the dark side. From his jealousy of Senator Clovis, his pride when he interrupts Ahsoka, to his torture of Poggle and his willingness to go to any lengths to save Ahsoka to the point that it blinds him to the consequence of battle and war around him. He is a great soldier and friend but not a good Jedi. This makes him complicated and very much a shade of grey and sympathetic too.

Anger and the Dark Side – We see Anakin torture Poggle the Lesser for information on the Mind Worms and from it get what he needs. When he is asked how he got the information he dismisses it. We see part of it when Anakin force chokes him and the “Imperial March” plays showing that Anakin’s desperation to save his apprentice and men is pulling him closer to the Dark Side.

Ends Justify the Means – One of the major themes of this arc is ends justifying the means. We see this when Anakin tells Ahsoka that if she had listened to Barriss and killed her when she was being controlled by the Brain Worms that might have been the right thing. In the end the Jedi’s goal is to save as many people as possible, regardless of the cost.

    There is so much to love about this arc that I can’t help but recommend it all.  Even “Landing at Point Rain” and “Weapons Factory” are good as episodes that show Ahsoka and Barriss making a good team and Luminara and Anakin. You also see how much it costs to get to this victory through these episodes and they are needed to really appreciate the whole. You see so many die, Obi-Wan injured, Ahsoka and Barriss nearly dying crushed beneath rubble as their sacrifice destroys the base and so much else. This entire arc is amazing and the glimpses of Anakin’s dark side and what the cost of war is in battle cannot be underestimated. Definitely a favorite story in this show.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Epguide206

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 16 – “The Hidden Enemy” – A Reason to Betray

Epguide016

Truth enlightens the mind, but won’t always bring happiness to your heart.

     “The Hidden Enemy” continues the Christophsis Arc and also shows us just how diverse the clones are in motivation and the full extent of the Separatist Threat. It is a great episode and it leaves things open too as the Battle for Christophsis still remains unfinished.

       The episode was directed by Steward Lee and written by Drew Z. Greenberg who was also one of the writers on the first part of this arc in “Cat and Mouse.”

        The story picks up with the Separatist Ground Invasion as the Clone troopers seek to mount a counteroffensive. Things go wrong when they are betrayed by one of their own leading Cody and Rex to find the informant while Obi-Wan and Anakin go to confront the Separatist leader. From here the story unfolds.

The Pros: The Clones – We see so much complexity in the clones in regards to their motivations and personalities. The fact that one is willing to betray the Republic to be free says a lot as well as the reasons Cody, Rex and the others choose to fight. They have distinct personalities too with some being nervous or shy and others being hardened and willing to confront their commanders forcefully…and even the twisted idealism of Slick.

The Separatist Threat – The Separatist Battle Droids and Tanks wipe the floor of the Clones to kick off this episode and we finally get to see them as a threat! They are never comedic relief really and the final shot of the huge army arriving on Christophsis really shows just how outmatched our heroes are in the coming battle.

Cody and Rex – Cody and Rex are great characters. We don’t know their personalities fully yet but they care deeply for their brothers and Slick’s words about them being slaves hits at least one of them. You can tell they don’t know fully why they fight except to protect other Clones who have no choice in the matter like them. It’s a sad state of affairs for them and you see that sadness, especially when Obi-Wan and Anakin choose to stay and fight rather than retreat and save lives.

Slick – Slick is the commander of the barracks and sold out Christophsis to the Separatists because he was tired of being a cog in the military machine. He has no freedom and is simply the property of the Republic. When he voices that it hits Cody and Rex too as they realize he is right to some degree. It’s a powerful episode and I hope we see more of Slick or clones like him.

Obi-Wan and Anakin – Obi-Wan and Anakin make a lot of jokes about going into a trap but manage to get out in time and realize that the longer they fight Ventress, the more likely Christophsis will fall, which leads to them retreating.

Ventress – Ventress makes her first appearance in the timeline of the 3D show and we see just how powerful she is. She isn’t a Sith but she is a powerful Dark Jedi and fulfills Dooku’s plan of stalling the Jedi until the forces could be landed really well. We see she has a history with Obi-Wan too as they have pet names they call one another. Together they are stronger than her but she is smart enough to stall them.

The quote that kicks off every episode is strong here. Why are the Clones fighting beyond programming when they are clearly slaves of the Republic and have no choice in battle. It’s a sad state of affairs and the Jedi just take them for granted. In this way the Separatist movement truly is one of independence since those who want power will be granted it. Dooku doesn’t betray the way Palpatine does and we see how far so many of those involved in the movement have risen while the Republic is already on the path towards the Empire. This was the perfect episode of the series for me and shows me just how great this show has the possibility of being.

Final Score: 10 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 16 – “Cat and Mouse” – The Choices in Battle

clone wars 2 16

     We kick off our reviews of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with “Cat and Mouse” it is episode 16 in Season 2 but first in the timeline of events that occur in the series. I got to say, I was much more impressed than I thought I’d be. There are some problems that were obvious, but when it comes to the four core speaking characters I actually cared about them and was curious about what choices they would choose to make. The villain also had a cool design and great backstory.

      The episode was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen.

    The story involves Anakin and Obi-Wan trying to get supplies to Christophsis which is under siege by the Confederacy Admiral Trench. They must get supplies to Bail Organa and stop the siege before Christophsis is lost to the Confederacy. Anakin is leading the attack before Obi-Wan arrives with a secret weapon that could change the course of the battle.

The Pros: The Action – The action sequences are beautiful and really show how big and important all our characters are. Anakin and Obi-Wan feel like generals commanding troops and Trench feels like a threat with his overwhelming numbers and destruction he has done to Christophsis. For this reason his defeat and what it takes to get there feels wonderful.

Admiral Yularen – Is the Admiral over Anikan but works directly with him as he had lost troops to Trench before and wants to play a part in Trench’s downfall when they use the secret cloaked ship that Obi-Wan brought. He goes with Anakin not delivering the supplies for the risky plot to end Trench showing how flexible he is.

Admiral Trench – Trench looks like a giant spider and has a great design. He is a thinker and we see how he thinks all of his plans fully through. He also would have one the battle and not been destroyed if Anakin had been less reckless, which is what he was banking on since he had more ships and the largest ship in the fleet, where Anakin just had a small cloaked vessel. I really liked this guy. He was a respected Admiral for a reason.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin makes a hard choice to use the cloaked vessel to fight and end Trench rather than delivering the supplies. It was the right one in the end and Organa thanks him. In this we see that Skywalker is very ends justify the means contrasted with Obi-Wan’s quest to save lives. Neither approach is wrong per say, Anakin is just more prone to risk.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is the cool head of reason in this who brings a secret cloaked ship to get supplies to Christophsis. It ends up being used as a weapon though by Anakin and we see just how powerless Obi-Wan is to prevent Anakin from doing anything. Obi-Wan was right about that the supplies would have saved lives but wrong in this instance in the fight against Trench as Trench wanted a direct fight as he knew he could win, therefore only surprise could beat him.

Okay: The Clones – We get some personality shown when a new recruit named Sparky takes over for a clone who dies and quickly learns that nothing is routine with Anakin and that every mission is going on the offensive. It’s a powerful short sequence they have talking together and you realize that they’re trapped in the war even though they’re feeling beings with their own choices.

The Cons: The Droids – The droids were made to be comedic and that was really annoying. Battle droids knocked heads and the Hyena Droids were laughing as they were flying. Don’t make the enemy of your series a joke, that just reflects poorly on the writing. Trench should not have to be the only real threat this episode.

    This was a great episode that gave a great exploration of two ways of thought. Action and from action solving a problem immediately even though it may be reckless, and waiting and patience which might win the long term but could also lead to further suffering through inaction. These ideas are contrasted in Obi-Wan and Anakin and it made the episode a pleasure to watch.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10.