Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episodes 5-7 – “The Clovis Arc” – Consolidation and Control

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   One of the major themes so far in Season 6 is Palpatine’s consolidation of power and how good people get turned bad or are manipulated into doing bad. This is essentially Clovis’s arc has his quest for redemption gets Palpatine all he wanted and further control. It also shows us how violent Anakin is and that he is already walking that line between the Light and Dark side.

    “An Old Friend” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Christian Taylor who also wrote the other 2 episodes in the arc. “The Rise of Clovis” was directed by Danny Keller and “Crisis at the Heart” was directed by Steward Lee.

     The story involves Clovis and Padme’s quest to reveal the corruption in the Banking Clan which leads to Clovis being made the new leader. Things aren’t as they appear to be though as Dooku blackmails Clovis and pushes Scipio to war and an invasion from the Republic after Dooku sets up Clovis as being a Separatist.

The Pros: Scipio and the Muun – The Muun are fascinating as they are ruled by the Muun family and control the Galactic Bank and therefore do all they can to remain neutral in the war even as they are being manipulated by both Dooku and Palpatine. They do a good job but in the end the appointment of Clovis spells their doom as they hand over control of the bank to Palpatine at the end of the arc.

Count Dooku – Dooku is a great manipulator and he preys off of Clovis’s idealism to blackmail him and later to hold him hostage on Scipio so that it looks like he is a Separatist. He spells it out to Padme too in he believes has a price that will cause them to turn or to be a tool. In the end he leaves after and Palpatine’s plan is successful in framing Clovis.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan suspects that Padme and Anakin are a thing and he talks about his friendship with Satine in that he knows Anakin’s struggle (though he doesn’t know they are married and a thing). It was a great moment that really humanized Obi-Wan and showed that he does reach out to Anakin even if Anakin doesn’t reach out back.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is jealous, controlling and on the road to being Darth Vader. He can’t think rationally around Clovis and even attacks him at one point. He never stops distrusting him either even after Clovis covers for Anakin abusing him. In this we see how living the lie is making Anakin more extreme and how his fear of losing Padme is making him a monster. This episode really illustrates the crazy he will become and how easily Palpatine manipulates him.

Padme – Padme is the idealist and is used just like Clovis is as it is their revealing of the corruption by the 5 leaders of the Banking Clan that leads to Clovis being made the head and later blackmailed by the Separatists. She believes in him until the end after he had earned her trust by rooting out corruption and in the end we see her questioning Palpatine’s further consolidation of power. She also stands up to Anakin and takes a break from their relationship until he can think clearly.

Clovis – Clovis is seeking redemption and this leads to him trying to the Muun and Scipio which leads to him being made leader of the Banking Clan. It was this world that adopted him when he lost his parents and in the end he loses it as his good intentions are used against him by Dooku and Palpatine and in the end he sacrifices his life knowing that he’ll forever be remembered as the villain not the man who tried to save his adopted world.

Palpatine – Palpatine gets it all in this! We see him prey off Anakin’s distrust, anger and fear and his setting him up to be Darth Vader, we see him use Clovis’s and Padme’s idealism to set up Clovis to take the fall for Scipio and at the end of it all he gets the Galactic Bank and now has all the funding he needs to run the future Empire.

This was a powerful arc that showed that people can change (Clovis), good intentions can be manipulated (Clovis, Padme and Anakin) and that everyone is part of a larger game (Palpatine’s) that not all of them understand. Even Dooku doesn’t know how deep the game goes as Anakin is that future replacement of an apprentice. I really enjoyed this arc to say the least.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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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 17-20 – “The Trial of Ahsoka Arc” – The Life and Times of Ahsoka Tano

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   “The Trial of Ahsoka Arc” is a solid arc that really shows that the Republic is on the brink of becoming the Empire and just how useless the Jedi Council and the Republic truly are at bringing about any form of justice. It is a powerful arc and it forever changes Ahsoka and pushes Anakin further to his path of later destroying the Jedi.

    “Sabotage” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Charles Murray, who wrote the rest of the episodes in the arc. “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much” was directed by Danny Keller, “To Catch a Jedi” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “The Wrong Jedi” was directed by Dave Filoni.

     The story involves an attack on the Jedi Temple by an unknown Jedi who sets up Ahsoka to take the fall. Over the course of events Ahsoka must prove her innocence while being hunted by the Jedi and the Republic. This leads to her making an alliance with Ventress and later her being cast out of the Jedi Order before her trial before the Republic.

The Pros: Ventress – Ventress is working a Bounty Hunter still and sympathizes with Ahsoka so decides to help her if she will vouch for her after and help get clemency from the Republic. She helped her as well as she could relate to being betrayed…as Ahsoka was betrayed by the Council, Ventress was betrayed by Dooku. It is a powerful scene and we see that Ventress is very much a shade of grey Jedi now.

The Jedi Council – The Jedi Council is a political entity and people in the Republic are distrusting them more, especially since it was a Jedi who did the bombing. They are military generals but are beholden to no one yet still wield military power. In this we see them holding on to it by giving up Ahsoka for the trial as they try to remain neutral, when they never were.

Admiral Tarkin – Tarkin is Ahsoka’s prosecuter and is cold hold dealing with the facts. He builds his case and nearly wins the trial against her if not for Anakin’s capture of Barriss. We see that humans are taking over control of the clones and all of it under the watchful eyes of Palpatine and Tarkin. The Empire is becoming a reality.

Barriss – Barriss blames the Jedi and believes she speaks for the disillusioned people who see that the Jedi are simply tools of the war and started the war (Tyranus and the Clones and the Battle of Geonosis) and to this end she has joined the Dark Side. Her point is not forgotten though and the fact that she came from idealism very much shows that she is still more Jedi than Sith when she did the act.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is losing it all in his mind. When Ahsoka is on trial he goes to any means to get the confession and at the beginning is full of regret for how he hunted and turned on his own Padawan under the guise of Jedi and Republic justice. This pushes him further and makes him afraid to lose others as in the end he has no real loyalty to the Jedi Code either and wants to leave, which Ahsoka does, which breaks Anakin…as he understands why she doesn’t trust the Council or the Republic any more.

Ahsoka Tano – This is the arc where Ahsoka realizes she was a tool all along, and an expendable one at that. No one is there to defend her, not even Anakin in the beginning when she is framed for a crime she didn’t commit. It is up to her and working with Ventress that eventually lead to Anakin finding Barriss but in the end it is too late. She can’t trust the order, herself or Anakin anymore and with that she leaves to make her own path. She survives Order 66 because of it and leaving the Jedi Order (though not going Sith) is one of the best things a Jedi can do during this era.

The Cons: “Sabotage” pacing – This episode’s pacing is really slow and I didn’t care about the robot detective. I felt this arc could have been done in 3 episodes or that we should have spent more time with the players at stake and the drama between the Jedi and Republic. This was the only part of the arc I didn’t like though.

This was a powerful arc that shows just how incompetant and corrupt the Jedi Council and the Republic are. The Jedi make excuses for their actions saying it made Ahsoka a better Jedi ( really guys) and ask for her back, the Republic is just silent on the matter and the only one who fights for her is Anakin but only after he realized by fighting for the Council and the Republic he’d been wrong all along. This is a wonderful and tragic arc and one of the best in the series.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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 5, Episodes 1, 14-15 – “Rise of the Shadow Collective Arc” – The 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars

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   Well, Darth Maul is cool again. This entire arc establishes why he became the Master in his and Savage’s relationship and we see him tactfully use others and rise to own and an entire portion of the Galaxy, all while being invisible to the Jedi as being the one behind it all. It is a really solid arc and one of my favorite so far that the show has done.

    “Revival” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Chris Collins who wrote the other two episodes in the arc. “Eminence” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “Shades of Reason” was directed by Bosco Ng.

     The story involves Darth Maul taking control of Savage and with him plotting to build an army so that they will no longer be drive wholly by revenge but by conquest and power. To this end he attempts to recruit Hondo’s pirates which nearly ends in their death from Obi-Wan until Death Watch rescues them. From there Maul uses Viszla to recruit all the Crime Syndicates to form to the Shadow Collective and finally deals with Viszla himself so that he can own Death Watch and Mandalore as well.

The Pros: Hondo and his Pirates – Hondo is great! When Maul and Savage turn some of his men against them he tantalizes them back by saying that they’ll just take the supplies on Maul’s and Savage’s ship. To this end they turn on the brothers and with Obi-Wan nearly kill them both. Hondo has fun the entire time and respects him men for betraying him for power.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan appears in the first episode in the arc and after Jedi Master Gallia is killed he almost defeats the Brothers Maul but is unable to when they make their escape. We see how powerful he is in this though as he holds off them both and manages to recruit Hondo against them too.

Death Watch – Death Watch is great! From Bo-Katan and Viszla’s quest for power and conquest of Mandalore following Maul’s plan in witch the gangs cause problems and Death Watch saves the people, leading to their taking over Mandalore and arresting Satine to Death Watch coming under control of Maul when he defeats Viszla in single combat. This organization is awesome.

Pre Viszla – This man is a nationalist and had no dreams of conquest, he just wanted to bring back the warrior culture to Mandalore. It is for this reason he arrests the Brothers Maul since Maul wants to conquer the Neutral worlds. He dies with honor in the end as Maul defeats him, though his legacy lives on as Death Watch and the culture of Death Watch now rules Mandalore. Jon Favreau was great as this character.

Bo-Katan – Katee Sackhoff rocks as the Second of Viszla’s who fights on after the Brothers Maul take over. She is a Mandalore patriot and Nationalist and believes only a Mandalorian should rule Mandalore.

Rise to Power – Maul and Savage’s rise to power is really cool. They kill the leaders of the gangs with Death Watch and establish control and then use those resources to fund Death Watch. It’s really well done and Darth Maul is calm and collected the entire time throughout it.

Darth Maul and Savage Opress – Maul is the Master with Opress as the apprentice and we see together they are unstoppable after their failure to get Hondo’s pirates. Maul has learned patience and through it we see him use the greed of the Syndicates and the pride of Death Watch to make them his and make him ruler of the 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars, The Shadow Collective. In the end he places Almec in charge as the face of Mandalore as he made the deal with him in prison and he was a man, unlike Viszla and Satine, who could be used.

Okay: The Gangs – The gangs have great designs but we don’t really see what the Pykes and Black Suns are doing before they are recruited. The Hutts get the most exploration as they were already explored pretty heavily already and they put up the greatest fight before becoming part of the Shadow Collective.

This was a fantastic arc and even though I don’t like that Darth Maul was brought back, I appreciate this story and I think it was one of the best to come out of the Clone Wars. The Shadow Collective is a perfect Sith Tool and I can’t wait to see how Dooku and Sidious deal with the new threat to their end game and plans.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 2-6 – “Revolution on Onderon Arc” – The Process of Rebellion

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  The “Revolution on Onderon Arc” is a pretty good arc. I am pretty annoyed at the character of Lux at this point as I never understood the romantic tension he had between himself and Ahsoka, it felt tacked on, which is a shame as if his character could develop more outside of that he isn’t that bad. The side characters in this are great though!

  “A War on Two Fronts” was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Chris Collins who wrote for all the episodes in the arc. “Front Runners” was directed by Steward Lee, “”The Soft War” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “Tipping Points” was directed by Bosco Ng.

    The story involves the Jedi Council sending Jedi advisers to Onderon to train the rebels of Onderon who are fighting against their corrupt King who joined the Separatists in order to reinstate the old King. From here they must train the Rebels in the art of fighting while staying out of the conflict itself.

The Pros: The Politics – The fact that the Republic is involved via the Jedi but in a manipulative way is really interesting and shows that even they are playing with the definition of neutrality (though Anakin is for more overt involvement though he toes the line later). It’s fascinating as well as the rise of the rebellion in popularity and how they go about doing that, the military’s relationship to the people and the past versus the current King.

The Kings – Ramsis supports the will of the people but not a violent uprising until he sees that the Separatists will go to any ends under the once idealistic King Sanjay who usurped him. They have an interesting relationship as they are nobility so they respect each other.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka must be an observer though she nearly gets involved when the Rebels are about to be executed. In this she is torn for her feelings for Lux and friendship with the group and her role as an observer Jedi. It isn’t dealt with fully but for what they did with it was decent.

Obi-Wan and Anakin – These two are two perspectives. Obi-Wan for as little involvement while Anakin wanted full action initially. This leads to them getting weapons to the Rebels via Hondo when Anakin’s perspective wins out. He also warns Ahsoka about personal feelings as he probably realizes how much his relationship to Padme has cost him in regards to being a Jedi too.

Hondo – Delivers weapons to the rebellion in a really cool way, the fact that Obi-Wan and Anakin want him to keep it on the down low makes it even more entertaining and you can tell how much Hondo loves having a favor over the Jedi.

The Rebels – The rebels are decent (Lux) to great (Saw and Steela) I will go into them individually below. The leader of the military joins the revolution too when the Separatists kill King Ramsis too.

Saw – Saw is angry and the assumed leader of the group and has a major indepedent streak. He is brother to Steela who becomes leader and we see that he believes so strongly in the revolution he turns the General serving King Sanjay.

Steela – Steela is the revolutionary who defeats Sanjay’s and the Separatist forces, though she dies in the process. She goes from a sniper, to the rebel leader to finally the head general of the rebellion. She’s a great character and is the calmest who can see the long game. Only issue was her jealous of Ahsoka in regards to Lux and her relationship.

Rebellion process – First was being able to fight back and building a base, next was attacking a major target to rally the populace and finally fighting with the populace against the oppressive force. I really liked how they did it these episodes.

Okay: Lux – Lux is there primarily as a relationship foil for Ahoska and Steela and for being inept and being the political one, in the end he decides that Onderon should join the Republic, which wasn’t a surprise given he does tend to go with what profits most in the end.

I really enjoyed this arc and liked that it had stakes, Steela’s death actually meant something and in the end things aren’t clear as Lux’s initial assessment about the Republic and the Separatists both being corrupt was spot on. Onderon may not survive the coming Empire.;

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 19 – “Massacre” – Lost Ventress and Grievous Finally Acts Like a Threat

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     This was a great Grievous, Talzin, Dooku and Ventress episode as we see them go through extreme trials and out of it become more than they were before. This was a pretty dark episode as well as we see the slaughter of the Witches (reason the episode is titled “Massacre”) and once more have Ventress on the run. It was pulled off really well.

    “Massacre” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Katie Lucas.

   The story is that of Dooku’s revenge as he attacks Dathomir when he learns that Ventress is there and has become a member of the Nightsisters. As he orders Grievous to attack Mother Talzin attacks him with magic and a battle of wills commences between the two sides.

The Pros: The Undead Army – Mother Talzin summons an undead army that fights the droids and does a lot of damage until tanks and Grievous enter the battlefield and they go to kill the oldest of the Nightsisters who summoned the army in the first place.

General Grievous – He is actually a threat in this episode! We see him kill multiple Nightsisters, shake of zombies and put up a good fight against Ventress. Why couldn’t we have seen this more? He always gets his but kicked by Jedi Masters and he lost to Gungans one of the last times we saw him in action. This is the Grievous we needed from the beginning.

Count Dooku – Dooku does a good job at getting revenge, though he does not succeed in getting Ventress. We see how powerful he is at resisting pain though as a doll of his body is used by Talzin to destroy him and how even with all of that he still has enough willpower to live and to tell Grievous how to find Talzin. The guy deserves being the leader of the Separatists for sure.

Mother Talzin – Talzin shows that she is up there with Palpatine for truly powerful force wielders as she loses most of her clan but survives, turning into the green mist. What she has in mind for others remains to be seen but she helps Ventress heal and find a life beyond the world of the Nightsisters and what was lost.

Ventress – Ventress is the focus of this episode as we see her have community again to lose it as Dooku once more tries to take everything from her. In the end she survives with her life and not much else. It’s a heartbreaking scene as we see just how human Ventress is and how much losing her Sisters meant to her. This was her story.

   This was a great episode that had fantastic action, good character development, stakes and Ventress change in the process. The episode that follows up on this arc is really good too as we get to explore Ventress and her new relationships after she has lost it all.

Final Score: 10 / 10