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.

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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.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episodes 13-14 – “Jedi Crash” and “Defenders of Peace” – The Price of Attachment and Those Caught in the Crossfire

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   I’m really liking “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” thus far. Minus Jar Jar getting far more screen time than he should (he should be replaced by someone else) and the general incompetency of Grievous it really is an amazing show thus far that manages to explore powerful themes related to war. These are two connected episodes that explore the theme of pacifism during war, the affects of war on neutral populations by larger powers and non-attachment.

    The episodes directors were Rob Coleman and Steward Lee with the writers being Katie Lucas and Bill Canterbury.

      The story involves Anakin suffering a major injury when he and Ahsoka rescue Aayla from her ship that the Separatists are destroying. They crash land on an unknown world and must look for a healer. They soon put the pacifist Lurmen in a difficult situation in aiding Anakin as the Separatists soon arrive to use their planet as a testing ground for a new weapon.

The Pros: The Lurmen – This species is designed to look like monkeys and they look sympathetic but not cute thankfully. We aren’t dealing with Ewoks here. They are also a complicated society with pacifism as a tradition that isn’t questioned until the Separatists want to use their village to test a new weapon. The leader’s son and the younger generation are the ones who fight though and embrace the new possibility of the Republic.

General Lok Durd – Voiced by the amazing George Takei, this guy is someone who has no concept of valuing life. For him everything is about power and position and he treats the Lurman like a slave casts raiding their village as an example of Separatist “Protection.” He has invented a weapon that destroys organic life but doesn’t get the chance to use it as Anakin destroys it and captures him. I hope we see this character again. He’s deadly and pompous and fun to see in action.

Aayla Secura – Secura teaches Ahsoka about the importance of non-attachment and tells about her own experience with it when her Master was gravely injured and the choice she had to make. She is a major part of the team and does a good job at walking the fine line in their dealings with the Lurman and fighting the Separatists.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka shows how much she is like Anakin in this when he almost dies when she asks to stay with him when if she had he might have been killed by the animals that were hunting. Because she goes with Aayla they find the Lurman village and it is her defense of them and conversation with them and inspires the Chieftain’s son to fight.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is out of commission for most of the episode and shows that he is capable of calm as he respects the Lurman’s pacifism and defends them from the Separatist weapon and army.

The Choices of the Neutral – In this episode we see the Chieftain of the Lurman always true tradition and pacifism and believes he is doing so to protect his people. We see later that a lot of it is just tradition and that he doesn’t want to lose his culture as their people will be wiped out by the weapon if they do not fight. His son and the younger generation choose to fight and in the end we see the Republic Fleet ominously arrive over the planet as he warns about what this might bring. His fears are validated in the end as the end result is the Empire. I wonder if the Lurman even exist anymore in the Imperial Era or if they were all wiped out.

Does Pacifism Work? – The question posed is the question of Pacifism working as a philosophy. I’d argue it can, but only if there aren’t any bullies or threats willing to take, kill or main you. If you do nothing you are letting greater evil occur and that is why Pacifism doesn’t work. By not fighting back the Chieftain was ready to let all his people die without even the chance for life. This shows that as an ideal it is great, but in practice against those who are ready to kill you, it is one of the worst paths that can be chosen.

On Attachment – Aayla tells Ahsoka that one person should not live so thousands can die. Echoing the Vulcan philosophy of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. This is the reason for the Jedi Non-attachment as like Buddhist monks their goal is to live right action to the greatest degree and not be blinded by attachments when it may needlessly risk themselves or innocents.

   These episodes were powerful, especially “Defenders of Peace,” which was better. They asked important questions and we saw people change. From Ahsoka becoming more Jedi than Anakin as she embraces non-attachment and in the Lurman choosing to fight after embracing pacifism for who knows how long. I’d highly recommend these two episodes. George Takei as Lok Durd was brilliant too. These stories show just how great this show can be and why at the end of these reviews, chances are it will have become a favorite show.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 6 -7 – “Downfall of a Droid” and “Duel of the Droids”- The Danger of Not Recognizing the Sentience in Droids

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    “Downfall of a Droid” and “Duel of the Droids” were fun episodes in the two-part episode that explores R2-D2 and his relationship to the Republic and Anakin. In this we see how taken for granted droids are and how they are only seen as tools and what they can give people, not as actual thinking beings.

    The episode was directed by Rob Coleman who also directed “Duel of the Droids” and written by George Kristic with “Duel of the Droids” written by Kevin Campbell and Henry Gilroy.

     The story involves dealing with the threat of General Grievous who has been ambushing the Republic Fleet from a secret base. From here Anakin and Obi-Wan seek to find the base but when the battle goes south R2 is believed to be destroyed. We soon learn a trash collector picked him up and is going to sell him to Grievous so that he can find out the Republic’s secrets.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The music this episode is like a spy thriller and it is fantastic to listen too. Every battle sequence feels like the stakes are much higher because of how beautifully the music is intermixed with the action.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan shows just how detached he really is, which in many ways is to his detriment as it just makes him appear cold. In this case it is the missing R2 but what if had been a Clone Trooper. He tells Anakin multiple times not to look for R2 and later in this arc even says Anakin should kill R2 so the secrets don’t get out and warns Anakin about his attachment making him reckless (which he has a major point on that at least).

Anakin – Anakin shows just how attached he is in this episode and goes to pretty drastic means to get R2 back, I don’t think he recognizes R2 as a living being fully but I think R2 is a time he remembers when his mother was alive. For him R2 is a good droid but also his connection to the life that once was that he’ll never get back, as well as his attachment to Padme.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is the middle ground in this but shows herself to be resourceful and drastic too as she distracts Grievous long enough for the Clone Troopers to plant the charges on the listening post. She almost dies in the process and Anakin calls her out though in the end doesn’t do much about it as he had been acting the same way the entire episode.

R2-D2 – R2 is cunning and resourceful and manages to send enough messages out for Ahsoka and Anakin to find him at the secret base. He also fights R3 and wins. In this we see R2 scared but even when scared the courage it has to continue to fight even if it’s humanity is never recognized and the Republic sees it as expendable.

R3 – R3 is another Astrometric droid who is secretly serving Grievous and puts Anakin and his troops at risk multiple times as well as almost destroying R2. It was brilliant making a droid like this a baddie since it never speaks.

Okay: General Grievous – We are told how much of a badass Grievous is and we hear how he’s destroying lots of ships but in both episodes we see his fleet and his base destroyed and him barely escape. Sorry, that doesn’t make him threatening. His fight with Ahsoka showed how powerful he is as well as his taking on Commander Cody and multiple Clone Troopers easily. Why can’t we get more of that rather than every named Jedi easily beating him?

   This was a good arc that establishes the individual personalities and desires of droids and how they are taken for granted. We also see how easily Ahsoka and Anakin could be turned to the dark side given their extreme attachment and recklessness. In this way it a great 2 part series for these reasons and the soundtrack adds so much to it all too.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10.