Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 16 – “Shroud of Darkness” – Mysteries Revealed

     “Shroud of Darkness” is more great quality from “Star Wars Rebels.” In this questions are answered and we learn just how amazing the Grand Inquisitor was and is. I like that he hasn’t been forgotten as he was one of the characters who got me into the show in the first place. We also see the Inquisitors acting somewhat effective, which is always good.

     The episode was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Henry Gilroy.

      The story involves Ahsoka, Ezra and Kanan returning to the Lothal Jedi Temple as the Inquisitors continue to find them wherever they go and they want to find out why by reaching out to Yoda. From here the story unfolds as a new layer to the Temple is revealed.

The Pros: The Action – The action is great in this episode! From Ezra and Kanan fighting the Inquisitors, from Kanan against the Temple Guards and the Inquisitors rising the Jedi Temple from the ground. This episode is great at showing just how powerful the force is.

The Jedi Temple – The Jedi Temple is really fascinating, as this time it revealed another room and with it more secrets. Curious to see how Sidious and Vader use it to their advantage given all the history within it.

Yoda – Yoda appears in this episode and offers great advice as we get an idea that he sensed but didn’t understand what was coming and from that warns Ezra of how fear can be healthy but that can corrupt when it turns to anger. He also reaches out to Ahsoka to show he’s proud, which is a sweet moment.

The Inquisitors – The Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister are great in this episode. The Seventh Sister finds the Temple and together they do a great job in their fights. Their will only breaks when the Grand Inquisitor appears in his uncorrupted form with the other Guards to face them. It’s a powerful scene.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is dealing with her anxiety over leaving the order and missing her Master Anakin. In this episode she learns what happened as Anakin’s spirit is angry at her for leaving him and that now he is greater and stronger as a vision of Darth Vader appears. It’s really well done and I like that she still has his training videos. She also doesn’t see herself as a Jedi, which is powerful in it’s own right.

Ezra – Ezra’s drive is to protect his friends (hello Luke) and Yoda cautions him against letting fear for his friends control his actions. He may have understood but Ezra is such a cipher sometimes that it is hard to tell. I’m glad he got to see Yoda at least.

Kanan – Kanan’s journey is letting go of Ezra and letting him make his own choices and from this he earns the respect of the light within the Grand Inquisitor, who appears in his uncorrupted form showing the Temple Guard fell to the Dark Side and that is the reason the Inquisitors have double bladed light sabers. This was one of my favorite parts of the episode and my respect for the Grand Inquisitor grew. What a great character.

The Grand Inquisitor – The Grand Inquisitor was once a Temple Guard and the light side within him counsels Kanan that he has to let go of Ezra and let him make his own choices, even if he turns. It’s powerful and he makes Kanan a Jedi Knight. Seeing the good that he was once was before becoming the Grand Inquisitor is powerful, especially since his spirit and those of the other Guards turn on his apprentices the other Inquisitors, stalling them for our heroes escape.

Hints at Things to Come – Vader arrives to visit the Inquisitors and he mentions his Master will be greatly interested in the Temple, and when the Inquisitors give their warning he voices that he plans to use the growing power of the Jedi to turn them to destruction and their end. Please don’t mess up Vader writers…do this right, let him win.

   This was a great episode and is easily one of the best this far. The fact that we get the Grand Inquisitors story and Ahsoka learns the fate of Anakin are powerful scenes and I do hope we see Ezra turn, though I don’t know how it will be tun…he’s too good, though I do hope he turns. The Empire and Dark Side need some wins, Season 2 has been a lot of neutral fights or Rebel Wins.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

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

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

   Henry Gilroy was the writer of this episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal – The Might of Darth Vader

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    “The Siege of Lothal” is a great lead-up to Season 2, which is arriving later this month. We get to see the Empire rock again (though I would have preferred a near complete annihilation of the rebels minus the crew in the Lothal System…but it’s a show for kids so what can you do) and really liked how our characters were shaped and changed by the events around them and how this truly raised the stakes for what will go down this Season. It truly shows how great of a villain Darth Vader is again and what made him so awesome in “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back.”

     The tv movie was directed by Bosco Ng, Brad Rau and Dave Filoni and written by Henry Gilroy.

     The story involves the arrival of Darth Vader and his plot to draw the Lothal Rebels out and annihilate them. Things are going according to plan as our heroes must find a way to escape and help the others in their Rebel Cell escape.

The Pros: Occupied Lothal – Lothal under occupation is really cool as we see Star Destroyers with search lights over the planet and see just how outmatched it is. Vader also destroys the refugees there to force the Rebels out of hiding showing how little life means to him now…so Alderaan down the line is no surprise.

The Rebellion – The Rebellion has internal conflict of those who want to stay seperate from a larger movement and them becoming a militaristic fighting force akin to the Republic and Separatists of old. It is great to see.

Commander Sato – Sato is the rebel commander in the region and is shown to be a stubborn fighter but smart enough to run after Hera talks him down and Vader has destroyed his Capital ship. It is only due to the crew of Ghost being the focus of Vader’s ire that lets them escape.

Hera – Hera is the one aware of the bigger picture and tries to help Jarrus see it too as he eventually does. She knows that they can’t live like the crew in “Firefly” forever and that if real change is going to come about it is going to take a revolution.

Ezra – Ezra nearly gets killed by Darth Vader in this and realizes just how outmatched he is. It is only when working with Jarrus that he stands even the chance of escape against Vader and this sits with him for sometime showing that he may go to the Dark Side for a while since he’s always wanted to be stronger and Vader shows that strength as he easily beat both him and Jarrus.

Kanan Jarrus – Jarrus is the one afraid to fight in war as he remembers the Clone Wars and how it changed everyone and helped the Dark Side grow in power. He’s PTSD from it all and after meeting Vader the Sith Lord knows just how outmatched he is and that their only hope is survival and allies in the greater fight.

Lando – Lando helps them make their escape from the Siege when he gets them a ship. It was great seeing him make a guest appearance again.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka is part of the reason they the rebels are able to escape as it her revealing herself to Vader and realizing that he is Anakin that makes him stop to think and realize that she is the greatest tool to hunting down the rest of the Jedi. She is also lying to the crew as she probably has a lot of shame over who her Master became.

The Empire – The Empire is shown to be unstoppable in this and it is great. They stop the Rebels at every turn and show the Sith mentality when they eat their own as Minister Tau is used as bait to bring the Lothal Rebels out into the open to be destroyed. Vader is truly their face and philosophy.

Minister Tau – Tau is shown to be not truly bad as she is ready to help the rebels and give them information. She is motivated by fear for her life but she was never as cruel to the populace as Tarkin and Vader and tried to rule through some form of affection. This is of course is taken advantage of as all feelings are with Vader and she ends up blown up.

Agent Kallus – Kallus is a complete tool but shows why he is still alive as he always knows when to get out or get help and I can see why Vader uses him as he is completely ruthless and very capable of genocide as he did to Zeb’s people.

Darth Vader – James Earl Jones voices is Vader and it is awesome! In this we see Vader’s plan is largely a success as the rebels are lured out and he learns his apprentice Ahsoka is alive, giving him and the Emperor more hope at fully destroying the Jedi order as they know the Lothal Rebels will be looking for allies and help in the coming fight or simply just to survive. Anakin is gone and the Dragon is here ready to destroy any Rebels or Rebellion. I’ve missed this Darth Vader.

 Okay: Chopper. Sabine, Zeb – These guys are just kind of there and have no distinct growth or choices beyond them voting to fight or run at one point. This is a shame as they are all great character minus Chopper who is mostly annoying.

The Imperial Admiral – The Admiral under Vader working for Kallus is so unmemorable it is not even worth mentioning his name. This guy no doubt has a force choke in store.

  This is a great introduction of the fight to come and raises the stakes high as the Emperor orders Vader to send out another Inquisitor as the Lothal rebels could draw out whatever Jedi are in hiding and Vader really wants to kill his old master Obi-Wan. It is a great scene and we see that the Empire has every reason to remain confident and it’s power at ending whatever threats may be thrown at it.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episodes 11-13 – “Slaves of Zygerria Arc” – The Horrors of Slavery

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     “The Slaves of Zygerria Arc” is a decent story. My biggest issue with it overall is it doesn’t deal with the Republic and their treatment of Clones or the fact that the Hutt’s are allies of the Republic so the Republic does allow slavery via their allies. This is an issue that is never addressed and would have been a great chance to see Anakin’s disillusionment with the Republic increase further. Also Ahsoka’s people don’t feel like a culture, just as an idea.

   “Kidnapped” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Henry Gilroy and Steven Melching who also wrote the rest of the episodes in the arc. “Slaves of the Republic” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and “Escape from Kadavo” was directed by Danny Keller.

   The story involves Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan’s quest to save Ahoska’s people the Togruta who lived in an artistic peaceful colony that was destroyed when the Separatists kidnapped them and enslaved them to the Zygerrians. From here Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka go undercover on Zygerria to rescue them.

The Pros: Zygerria – This is a rough slave planet that reminded me of Egypt and Meereen. The Zygerrians rule through fear and cruelty and are a fascinating species that once held an empire. Their arc is trying to capture that Empire again through their Alliance with the Separatists, not knowing they are merely a tool for the Sith to get slave labor to build their Empire. It was very well done.

Queen Miraj – She is a horrible person and also interesting. She likes Anakin and is attracted to him but is all about power and refuses to see anyone as her equal. It is when she is betrayed that she realized that she was Dooku’s puppet the entire time before he kills her.

Count Dooku – Dooku shows why he is a threat again as we see him easily take out the Queen and him supporting Sidious by the Alliance with the Zygerrians to create slave labor for them. He is smart too and tries to kill Anakin and Obi-Wan but only doesn’t succeed because Anakin and Ahoska were already on the rescue. In the end the planet is still a slaver planet and the Separatists control the world, making it a win for Dooku.

Anakin – Anakin doesn’t change from wanting to destroy the Zygerrians and we see even though he pretended connection to the Queen he never lost site of her as a Slave Master and that she had to be stopped.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan is nearly broken in this as we see he and Rex sent to the camp to be broken. He comes through though and it is a sad process to get there as every time he resists other slaves are killed which leads to his submission. Obi-Wan is not ends justify the means and that is very clear this episode.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka has some great moments where she stands up for herself even as she is undercover as a slave. She like Anakin refuses to submit and it her smart thinking that saves her people who were enslaved.

The Cons: Kiros – An idealistic paradise world that gets ruined, I hate this trope and it is just lazy writing. We never learn the motivations of the people on the planet or their connection to Ahsoka beyond being the same species. At least Wookie culture is complicated. Kiros was just a waste.

  This was an enjoyable arc, but not a favorite. There were too many missed opportunities what with Anakin being a former slave, Ahoska’s people being captured and showing the hypocrisy of the Republic. In presenting the Republic as heroes all they did was show the Republic fights against slavery and supports it via the Hutts.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

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, Episodes 18-21 – “Liberation of Ryloth Arc” – The Price of Command, Human Shields and the Art of Politics

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     As far as arcs goes, the “Liberation of Ryloth Arc” is my favorite. We get to see all of the Jedi in action, get to see the politics of Ryloth among those who are under occupation and those far away and safe and the lengths the Separatists go too to keep the occupation and prevent action on part of the Republic and Jedi. There is also a great Clone Trooper story that is in here too that I’ll go into as well.

     The episodes are “Storm over Ryloth” directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by George Kristic, “Innocents of Ryloth” directed by Justin Ridge and written by Randy Stradley, Henry Gilroy and Scott Murphy and “Liberty on Ryloth” directed by Rob Coleman and directed by Henry Gilroy.

    The story involves the Republic’s liberation of Ryloth and everything it takes to get there. From Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan breaking the blockade over the planet, to Obi-Wan and his troopers shutting down the anti-air guns and saving the slaves too the final liberation of the Capitol by Mace Windu and the Liberation Fighter Cham Syndulla.

The Pros: Breaking the Blockade – The story of breaking the blockade is powerful as we see Ahsoka disobey the Admiral and Anakin and it costing her most of her troops. She is later trusted to backup Anakin when he uses the injured cruiser as a weapon against the Separatist Captain Mar Tuuk who predicts all of Anakin’s moves prior and manages to escape the battle. The story is powerful and full of loss and growth as Ahsoka works to save as many troops as possible but knows she can’t save them all. The cost of breaking the blockade is felt and the Republic isn’t even on the planet yet.

Ahsoka and Anakin – Ahsoka carries her guilt with her and it makes her see the big picture as she moves through it. Anakin also takes responsibility and we see that he is truly the commander. He is also willing to risk everything for the greater good and is still reckless, though his plan is successful in breaking the blockade when Ahsoka plans to distract with their Cruiser by turning it like a shield until Obi-Wan’s reinforcements arrive after Anakin had destroyed the Capitol ship.

Captain Mar Tuuk – He is smart and we see him see the battlefield as a chess match. He predicts Anakin’s move after the file on him and wins in most of the first victories. He did not predict Anakin’s willingness to risk his life and ship though to destroy him which causes him to retreat. He’s one of my favorite minor villains and I hope we see him again.

Waxer and Boil’s story – The two of them discover a young Twi’lik girl living alone among the ruins of her home. After they protect her and care for her she helps them save the rest of her people and is instrumental in Obi-Wan’s defeat of the Anti-Air defenses on the planet. The story is powerful too and she sees Waxer and Boil as brothers for all they did. Waxer is the one who cares for her the most while Boil just want to do the mission but comes around too in time when she helps them. They are her “Nerra” or brother and we see later on that they helped rescue her father.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan shows how powerful he is as a jedi when he controls the native fauna that the Separatists send to kill him and his troops and we see that he truly sees the people even if he is detached as he commends Wax and Boil for their rescue of the Twi’lik girl Numa.

Liberation of Ryloth – The final push to liberate Ryloth is amazing as we see Windu negotiate between the freedom fighter Cham Syndulla and Senator Taa as only with them working together can they defeat the Separatist occupation and capture the Capitol that Wat Tambor is holding. It’s powerful as we see that Cham distrusts rightly but also that Taa cares even though he is away and that he agrees that once the planet is free that the Republic troops will leave.

Cham Syndulla – We see in him a nationalist who watched the Republic fail to defend his world in the episode “Supply Lines” and how that any power can claim safety but could easily turn into another oppressive force, which the Republic does become later as the Empire. He has a long view of history but at his core cares for his people and this is why he works with the corrupt Senator Taa.

Mace Windu – Windu is shown to be calm but also very quick to anger and action, which helps him overwhelm the smaller force he had against the Separatist forces outside the Capitol. We see him never lose focus either or get pulled into politics. His focus is liberating the world and he does a great leading that charge in doing so.

The Innocents of War – We see the innocents in the orphans and civilians who are caught in the crossfire or used as shields by the Separatists. Wherever war takes places, the innocents lose even if they win war.

   All three of these episodes are amazing! Even though Wat Tambor is just greedy and the only memorable Separatist leader is Captain Mar Tuuk but still. We see the limits the Separatists are willing to go to hold a planet and all of our main characters get development and come to better understand the cost of war and liberation on the planet, the soldiers and the populace as well as a reminder of who is being fought for.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10. Favorite arc so far.