Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 2 “Earth,” episode 15 – “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” – When Fictional Tragedies Meet Real World Ones

Tales of Ba Sing Se

       These shorts are really good and hit really close to home as Mako, the voice of Iroh died around this time. So not only are deaths being remembered and our characters experiencing moments of loneliness, but no doubt those who knew Mako personally were also experiencing something similar. He was a great actor and voice actor and in regards to “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was the voice of the best character on the show.

    I’ll be reviewing each of the stories individually and coming up with a score the episode as a whole after.

“The Tale of Toph and Katara” – Bonding Time

Written by Joan Estoesta and Lisa Wahlander

  The episode is Katara and Toph going to the spa and later taking on some bullies with bending and bonding over the experience. It is a fun short and we see that Toph is insecure in herself and that she puts on heirs of toughness because it is a defense mechanism…knowing that she doesn’t have to do that around Katara is a relief to her and they are friends afterwords.

Final Score: 8 / 10 (Needed exploration of Katara as a character).

“The Tale of Iroh” – Remembering Those Who are Lost and Living for Those Who Live

Written by Andrew Huebner

  This was a powerful episode and is the episode that ends with it being in honor of Mako who had died around this time. The story shows that Iroh is truly a member of the White Lotus and is at peace wherever he is in the world and wants to help those wherever he is. We see him help a child stop crying and a few other things around town too before he has the picnic to honor his dead son who had died in the Siege of Ba Sing Se. In this we see that guilt at not being able to help his son do the right thing is what motivates him. He wants to do good to others because he blames himself for his son’s death and not doing the right with the war.

Final Score: 10 / 10 (Best of the shorts)

“The Tale of Aang” – You Can Change Things

Written by Gary Scheppke

  This is an episode that shows Aang’s idealism and his role as the Avatar as we see him free the animals from the Zoo and make them a large area right outside the wall so they have space and the Zookeeper can make money again. It’s a fun adventure and we see that his desire to help animals is tied to him wanting to find Appa again.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“The Tale of Sokka” – A Play of Words

Written by Lauren MacMullan

  Like the Aang episode we see that Sokka stumbles into situations and is usually quite intelligent until he messes up. We see him being popular with the ladies as he out Haikus their teacher but he messes up when his ego takes over and we see how that is always his downfall. The moment he expresses himself as better than anyone, he is knocked down a peg.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“The Tale of Zuko” – Relief and the Shadow of the Past

Written by Katie Matilla

 This episode shows that Zuko is still trapped in the shadow of the Fire Nation. This is what keeps him from having a relationship with Jin, though we see that he is finally starting to live as he thanks Iroh for setting up the date and that he did have a lot of fun. In this we see that Zuko is aware of his issues he has within himself but doesn’t know how to face them or to not be the Prince. In this way he is bound to his role and family while Iroh is free from it. I really liked Jin as a character too.

Final Score: 9 / 10

“The Tale of Momo” – Alone

Written by Justin Ridge and Giancarlo Volpe

 This episode is about Momo’s search for Appa and how he is chased and nearly killed a few times in the city but how it’s kindness allows it to bond with other animals of the city. Sadly Mom is not able to find Appa and ends with Momo sleeping in Appa’s footprint.

Final Score: 8 / 10

  As a whole this was a great episode full of mini-stories that revealed to us information about our characters. Making the episode in honor of Mako was the right thing to do too. It is an episode that is reflective and could be argued as filler but what puts it apart from filler is that events happen to our characters that show us who they are define them. We see what what motivates our heroes and what they strive for within themselves and the world around them.

Final Score: 9 / 10. The episodes are all fun even though they vary in quality and as a whole they are well worth the watch. These are short stories that matter in “Avatar.”

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 1-3 – “Children of the Force Arc” – The Sith Agenda and the Amazingness of Cad Bane

Sidious_hiring_Bane

     “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

Triumphant_fighters_on_Ryloth

     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.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 11-12 – “Dooku Captured,” “The Gungan General” – Adventures with Pirates

Epguide11

 

“Dooku Captured” and “The Gungan General” are two connected episode related to Obi-Wan, Anakin and Dooku and them getting captured by pirates and what ensues from there as the pirates seek to make the most out of their hostages. It is not a great episode but it does have some moments of fun.

The directors were Jesse Yeh and Justin Ridge and the writer of both episodes was Julie Siege.

The episode involves Anakin and Obi-Wan’s attempt to catch Dooku. Things go wrong when Dooku traps them in a cage but things soon go wrong for him when Pirates take him hostage. After Ahsoka frees Obi-Wan and Anakin and from here they are sent to negotiate with the pirates for Dooku but things go crazy from there when they are captured unknown to the Republic as they sent Senate Negotiators with the spice the pirates asked for for Dooku.

The Pros: Anakin and Obi-Wan – These two have great chemistry in these episodes and we see them act honorably with the pirates as in they don’t kill them or give them the spice since the spice was supposed to be traded for Dooku. It’s a good moment showing the Jedi trying to keep the middle ground.

Count Dooku – Dooku is shown to be an elitist in this but smart in that he realizes how much of a threaet the pirates are due to their great numbers. He does manage to escape when the power is shut down by Jar Jar and the Clones and makes his escape while killing two pirates in the process and the implication he’ll be coming back for revenge. He is a good threat in this episode and kicks it off almost killing Anakin and Obi-Wan in a cave.

Ahsoka – Makes a brief appearance and saves Obi-Wan and Anakin. It’s a small moment and great too as she forces them to admit they needed saving.

Okay: The Pirates – The pirates are all about kidnapping and hostages and are good at it. The thing is though there is no awareness or explanation why they are divided between two camps with one working against one other.

Jar Jar and the Clones – They have some good action but I didn’t believe that Jar Jar could accidentally do all of that. The only part I believed was his noticing the relationship between the flora and fauna. The Clones are okay too but we don’t really get to know them as the episode sadly overly focuses on Jar Jar again.

Jar Jar and the pirates are the weakest part of this episode, but it is still a lot of fun and it isn’t afraid to go dark since we see Dooku strangle a pirate to death and use one pirate to shoot another pirate with the force. These moments show just how much of a threat he is, while Jar Jar taking out the pirates just made the pirates look weak.

Final Score: 7 / 10