Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 3 – “Always Two There Are” – The Inquisitors Return

Always Two There Are

    Zeb is finally useful again! This episode was good at showing at why he’s a member of the Team as well as establishing the threat of Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister as we finally get to see them in action and why they were made Inquisitors. Suffice to say, this episode made me curious to see how their backstories unfold.

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

      The story involves Ezra, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper going to an abandoned Old Republic Medical Base for supplies and having to escape when Inquisitors arrive on the scene as Ezra and Sabine end up captured.

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is that of horror as the base is good at giving a good haunted vibe to it that only increases with the arrival of the Inquisitors.

The Inquisitors – I really like the Seventh Sister and think the Fifth Brother has potential. The Seventh Sister does the temptation deal and shows how on top of things she is as she knows about Ahsoka and manages to capture Ezra. The Fifth Son captures Sabine and it is only with a suicidal plan from Zeb that our team even manages to make our escape.

Rex – Rex is teaching Kanan discipline which is something he never got fully as he was only a Padawan during the Clone Wars (something the Seventh Sister points out). It’s cool seeing Rex becoming the Obi-Wan of the group. I feel bad for him having lost so many brothers though and the fact that his Jedi is now a Sith Lord.

Kanan – Kanan grows a lot in this as we see him finally listen to Rex and be willing to learn and grow.

Zeb – Zeb is great! He goes from comedic relief to showing why he’s a part of the Team as he risks everything to save Sabine and Ezra and keeping the others safe from the Inquisitors. He needed this episode after how off to the side he’s been this season.

Okay: Sabine and Chopper – These two are good but I can’t think of any character defining moments for them. They are simply there being supportive and we don’t learn anything new about them.

  This was a great episode and easily the best this season since “Siege of Lothal” was a tv film. I highly recommend it and hope we see our Inquisitors defeat our heroes at least a few times and hurt the Rebel Alliance. We know the Rebels win in the end, so let the villains show why they are villains and win sometimes.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 1 – “The Lost Commanders” – Ghosts of the Clone Wars

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    “The Lost Commanders” is a good episode that could have been great if the format had been 1 hour instead of half that. We get some great exploration with the Clones and learning about what happened post Order 66 with some questions still open and things that need to be discovered. How they are doing things though…I think the 24 episode format could work for this season if they play their cards right.

     The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and Sergio Paez and written by Matt Michnovetz.

     The story involves the crew of Ghost seeking allies and a base for the Rebellion in the Outer Rim as Ahsoka points them in the direction of the surviving Clone Commanders while she investigates the Sith Lord Darth Vader.

The Pros: The Commanders – The Commanders are awesome! You have Wolffe who reaches out to the Empire because he doesn’t trust the Rebellion and just wants peace, Rex who is advocating for help and Gregor who has gone crazy from the events of the war. It’s really cool seeing their dynamic and how war weary they are. They all carry regrets and for Rex Ezra is the hope he saw in Anakin.

Kanan – Kanan distrusts the Clones and for good reason as Wolffe did sell them out, even if he apologized. We learn that the Clones killed his Master and from that we learn some Jedi did betray the Clones while others like Rex, Gregor and Wolffe removed their chips…when they did is still a mystery but it helps make Kanan a little more comfortable with them.

Ezra – Ezra is getting war weary too and is stuck above taking care of their ship after Imperials injure it. We see that she is the more cynical view to Ezra’s hope and they compliment each other’s perspective really well. She also sees the bigger picture and we learn Jedi and Clones saved her during the Clone Wars.

Okay: Sabine and Zeb – Much like the Siege of Lothal, these two are just kind of there and can’t even kill a scouting droid the Empire sends. It’s a shame that Zeb is just comedic relief and used to catch an alien for the Commanders to eat.

Ahsoka – She’s going off the find out about Darth Vader and points them in the direction of the Clones. Not so much a character as a plot device this episode.

  This was a good but not great episode. We see the promise of things to come but there was more that could have been explored. Kanan and Rex should have fought and dealt with the end of the Clone Wars. I guess we’ll see more of that later hopefully but hints aren’t the same as answers and if the Clones are going to be brought in, we need answers.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Top 5 Episodes/Arcs of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

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     “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was at the end of the day a really good show. When it had arcs and stories that mattered it us some of the best that has come out of animated television here in the United States. These 5 episodes and arcs I will be listing are the ones that stood out the most and that I’d recommend. There are many more favorite episodes and arcs I have on this show, but the best deserve special recognition.

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5th Place

“Heroes on Both Sides” – Season 3, Episode 10

  Written by Daniel Arkin, this episode showed us that there were Separatists that wanted peace and showed how Dooku was using their idealistic dream of a government that respected them and their beliefs existance was as much a tool as the Republic. We see Padme go against the Republic to try and open up talks and even see Ahsoka make a friend and learn that the Separatists aren’t all Droids and Grievous and showing the Jedi aren’t all faceless soldiers willing to kill for their supposed greater good. It is really great and we see the chance for peace stifled by Palpatine and Dooku and how Ahsoka’s prejudice changes as she sees the people and no longer just the enemy faction. The main reasons it isn’t higher on the list is we still see mostly humans as the good face of the Separatists (Padme’s friend) and the fact that it contrives a romancish for Ahsoka.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-3-episode-10-heroes-on-both-sides-the-complexity-of-the-separatists/

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4th Place

“Children of the Force Arc” – Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Cad Bane is one of the best characters to come out of this series and this where he is introduced and we see him be one step ahead of the Jedi as he is kidnapping force sensitive children for Darth Sidious for payment and how he will sacrifice anyone to get the job done. He is brutal and it takes a lot to bring him down. Also once he is trapped by Anakin and Obi-Wan he quickly escapes when he lures Mace and Obi-Wan into a trap where he is holding the Jedi Holocron that has the information on the current force sensitive children in the Galaxy. This episode is good in that Palpatine and Bane outsmart the Jedi and still win even though the end plan is stopped.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/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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3rd Place

“Trespass” – Season 1, Episode 15

“Trespass” is a great episode as it is one that the Jedi aren’t really the focus at all. Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan are there to offer guidance but it is really a story of sovereignty and respect for native populations as the Imperial Pantora must deal with their internal politics and come to respect the natives who are already on the moon and find a way to speak to them without being annihilated. The stakes are high and the Senator and the Minister are complicated…as are the native population of the Talz. I’d highly recommend this episode as it shows that the writers don’t need the heroes from “Star Wars” to tell a story that is one of the best to come out of “Star Wars.”

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-episode-15-trespass-sovereignty-and-imperialism/

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2nd Place

“The Clone Conspiracy Arc” – Season 6, Episodes 1-4

 This is the arc that explores Clone Identity (a major theme of the series) really well as we see Fives resisting his programming and seeking the truth, even as he is losing his mind and has been labeled an enemy of the state. This arc showed that the Clones don’t get a happy ending. They are programmed to turn on the Jedi, even if the Jedi have become friends and no one will stand by them because in the end they are property. The arc is really tragic and brings an arc that has been going on for 6 seasons (Fives’s arc) to a close as he finally finds peace in death as well as giving us the truth of the nature of Order 66.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/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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1st Place

“The Lawless” – Season 5, Episode 16

This episode made a bad decision (bringing Darth Maul back) go somewhere! In this we see that there are 3 Factions now in the Clone Wars. The Separatists, Shadow Collective and the Republic and in the process this war tears apart Mandalore and ends in the death of Duchess Satine is Maul murders her for Obi-Wan defeating him. From here things fall into chaos as Death Watch turns on Maul and Darth Sidious arrives, ending Savage Opress and making Maul his weapon again as Death Watch asks Obi-Wan for Republic help…spelling doom for Mandalore, one of the strongest Neutral worlds that will now be under future control by the Empire.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-5-episode-16-the-lawless-the-dynamic-of-power/

The episodes didn’t make the list because I had so many others that were in competition but I’d check out any Asajj Ventress episodes as well. Her arc is one of the strongest in the series, and she is one of my favorite characters. She is complicated and changes over the course of the series as she loses so much but endures. Also any Mandalore episode is good too, that planet and people were handled really well in this show.

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Retrospect – There Were Amazing Stories But Star Wars Prequel Problems Haunted This Series

Star Wars The Clone Wars

  “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is a show that is a favorite. It had a lot of problems that could have killed the series for me, but when it had strong episodes and arcs…it gave us some of the best stories on television. Politics and war are complicated as are issues of identity and when this show was at it’s best it did that. It was far superior to Episodes I-III because it took it’s subjects serious and gave us complexity that made even Anakin a compelling character who was worth investing it.

      The series was created by George Lucas with the main developer, head writer and director being Dave Filoni (from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”)

        The story is about the Clone Wars, where we learn of love lost, Clones and their identities, adventures with Droids, Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side and the plots and manipulations of Count Dooku and Palpatine and the story of those caught in the middle who weren’t on the Separatists or the Republic side and how they are faced with choices as the Clone War is forced upon them.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is fantastic! Lucasfilm animation really did a fantastic job on giving life and diversity to the characters and worlds that made up this series. Each alien race was unique and even the Clones were shown to be distinct in their personalities and identities as shown through the animation.

The World – The world of “Star Wars” gets so much exploration in this! From droids, to Clones, to Neutral Worlds, to Republic and Separatist worlds and also Senate Politics, Bounty Hunters and so much more. I’m glad it went for 6 Seasons and in many ways wish it had gone longer.

The Cost of War – The cost of war is huge in this and we see that the Separatist Parliament is as much a pawn as the Galactic Republic’s Senate. So many die, from countless Jedi, to Clones we come to know…the neutral worlds that are pulled in and destroyed in the war. There is also a loss of innocence too as the war drives Anakin to greater extremes and the Jedi Council is shown to be both incompetent and rather corrupt.

Politics of War and Sovereignty – Sovereignty is a major issue of this series that is explored in detail in the stories of Mandalore and countless other Neutral Worlds that are pulled into the conflict and are torn apart from within by it or consumed by it when the Separatists usually attack, and even the worlds that are saved lose their sovereignty to the Empire later.

Nationalism – We see Nationalism exploited by Palpatine to control the populace but also see it used by Viszla, Padme and Satine to try and get their agendas on what they want for their people passed as well. We also see Toxic nationalism too in the assassination of a Senator when an aid was angry that he had joined the Republic.

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Clone Identity and the Clones – I really like the Clones. Fives who is the rebellious Clone who is nervous at first but risks all to find out the truth that they are slaves to a chip set to go off when the time is right and with the murder of the Jedi…we see him lose his Brothers and end up as the last one of the Clone Cadets still standing. We also see Rex face a Clone who has left the force and respect his choice and the fact he is fighting for his family. There are others too but Rex and Fives best represent development over multiple episodes throughout the series as a whole.

Clovis – This is a great minor character who is Padme’s ex and a Separatist spy who in the end tries to re-write that wrong by saving the Banks but ends up a pawn once more and loses everything because he had the willingness to hope in the good of others and in his trying to do the right thing, ends up dead.

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Asajj Ventress – Ventress goes from Dooku’s apprentice, to seeking revenge to finding her own path as Bounty Hunter who is neither good nor bad. She protects Ahsoka when the Council turns on her when she is framed and we see that she is no longer Sith as she trusted Dooku but he turned against her the moment Sidious asked. At this point she knows revenge isn’t possible as every plan fell to Dooku and she opened up another enemy in the war by corrupting Savage Opress and turning him into a monster, something that it seems to imply she regrets as her quest for revenge lead to the loss of all her people, the Nightsisters.

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Cad Bane – I really like Cad Bane. He is the best original character to come out of this series as he is a dark shade of grey. He will kidnap children and kill anyone for enough money but he also respects those who save him and are efficient in their mission, which leads to a mutual respect of Obi-Wan when Obi-Wan is undercover. He has also broken out of prison multiple times and is truly the best Bounty Hunter in the Galaxy as he can hold his own against any Jedi and only lose from being outnumbered. He had a great character design and was part of some of the best stories in the series where we see him turn losses into wins.

Savage Opress – Savage is voiced by Tom Clancy and is wonderful as a boy who loses his innocence in Ventress’s quest for revenge. He is a protector of his brother but in the end kills him after he is pumped full of Dark Side magic. He later carries on this protector role towards Darth Maul even though he is unstable from all the magic coursing through him and has gone kind of crazy. In the end Sidious kills him when he and Maul briefly form a 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars, The Shadow Collective. I really liked this character.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – Dooku is fantastic in this series and I really respect him as a character after this. He is one of the core manipulators of the Jedi and we even see him try for Sith Master a few times until his weapon of Opress turns against him. It is really his loss of an apprentice that dooms him to Anakin in Episode III. If he hadn’t turned against Ventress he would probably still be alive as she won him many battles, as Grievous was not the best of antagonists or generals.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – Sidious is evil and loves it and Palpatine is really good at using people’s honesty against them. He turns Padme’s idealism into a weapon, Anakin’s affection into jealousy and makes possible through his planning with Dooku, the invasion of countless worlds by the Republic. In this way he never loses and this series lays the ground work for Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Ian Ian Abercrombie and Tim Curry did a wonderful job.

Mandalore and Death Watch – Iszla was voiced by Jon Favreau and played a Mandalorian extreme Nationalist who wanted to bring back the Warrior Mandalore. He faces off against the pacificist Duchess Satine and even wins at one point when he aligns with Maul’s Shadow Collective, but loses when Maul turns against him. Satine also fails in creating a Neutral and peaceful Mandalore as she is killed by Maul as Maul recognized Obi-Wan’s love for her. He later uses the corrupt Prime Minister as his pawn until Bo-Katan and the remainder of Death Watch start a Civil War to retake their world and ask for Republic help.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is someone who chose duty or love and in many ways has some regret as he knows he isn’t the prefect Jedi and in it fears failing Anakin. He loses Satine his ex-lover and friend to another’s hatred and revenge and we see him unable to deal with Anakin’s dark side actions either as Anakin kills many times for the final end and doesn’t even allow the chance of a peaceful solution. This dilemma is part of what makes him compelling.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is shown to be very flawed in this. From jealous, to attempts to be controlling, but also someone who will risk everything for another…whether it be one of the Clones, a civilian or a Jedi. In this we see Palpatine feed his ego and how the Council’s own misconduct drive him towards hating and distrusting them as he feels more and more isolated as the lie he is living with Padme as their marriage cannot be open weighs on him.

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Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka is Anakin’s apprentice and is stubborn and egotistical, much like Anakin but also more of a Jedi than Anakin as she never kills and no matter how difficult things get she stays true to herself. Her jumping into things gets her into trouble many times though as does her attachment as she nearly gets the Republic involved in conflicts they shouldn’t be in because of her emotional investment. She is also a grey Jedi too as she leaves the Jedi Order after they turn on her when she is framed and goes her own way, which ends up saving her from Order 66. She was one of my favorite characters in the show.

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The Cons: Jar Jar Binks – He’s just as annoying as he is in Episode I and II and nothing can save him. It doesn’t matter how many times you make him a hero, it is an embarrassment to any serious conflict going on as he takes away from the drama with his stupid jokes and ways.

General Grievous – This guy is an embarrassment to the Separatists for most of the series and spends the majority of it running away and even getting captured and beat by the Gungans of all people. He is better in the last few episodes he is in but all he is really good at is running away. When Episode III roles around he isn’t much better. We only know he is a threat from what the narrator tells us, not from his actions during an episode.

Bringing Back Darth Maul – Darth Maul should have stayed dead as all he did Opress could have done under his own power and for Maul even when he learned about his brother. All his being brought back does is look like a cheap move for profit given how iconic the character is. He is handled well in “Lawless” and the “Shadow Collective Arc” but that doesn’t change the fact that bringing him back was a mistake.

Boba Fett – Fett is a punk kid who loses everything he gets into. He doesn’t get revenge on Mace and I never believed that the older Bounty Hunters had any reason to follow him until his last episode he appeared in. This character like Maul worked better as a mystery.

Blank Pacifist Species – Too many to name but they are the faceless victims of the Separatist and are there just to show that Dooku and his generals are bad. Beyond that they serve no purpose.

Blank Slate Jedi Masters – Plo Koon, Mace Windu and a few others are just as blank as they are in Episodes I-III and have no flaws. They are fortune cookie philosophers and in the end the conflicts they are put in are only compelling because they might die. This was a missed opportunity of the series to show them as flawed individuals not Perfect Avatars of Peace.

This is a series well worth checking out. I wouldn’t watch the Jar Jar episodes or Boba Fett episodes again personally and some of the Droid episodes are pretty weak but anything with Cad Bane, Clone Identity or politics and war are some of the best writing on television, especially for a kids show. This is a show that shows death, corruption and destruction and isn’t afraid to shy away from the evil that people are capable of…nor is it afraid of showing courage and strength of character as so many of our heroes go their own way and make their own path in the Galaxy far far away and so long ago…

Final Score: 8.5 / 10. One of my favorite shows and worth checking out. It isn’t as good as “Star Wars Rebels” Season 1 but it is still good quality overall.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episodes 10-13 – “The Immortality Arc” – Yoda Against the Darkness

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  There is a lot I want to like about this arc. We get to know the force more, we visit Moraband the Homeworld of the Sith…we learn at least some of what happened in regards to Sifo-Dyas and we get to spend time with Yoda, this really is his arc at the core. The problem is we don’t get to know him all that well. Yoda never had the vulnerabilities that Anakin and Obi-Wan did and that made the temptations he faced not feel as strong as they could have been, Yoda also asks with wisdom the entire time so the arc once we leave Sifo-Dyas doesn’t feel like it really has stakes. I’ll get into that more though.

    “The Lost One” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Christian Taylor who also wrote the other episodes in the arc. “Voices” was directed by Danny Keller, “Destiny” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and the final episode “Sacrifice” was directed by Steward Lee.

  The story begins with the search for Sifo-Dyas as Anakin and Obi-Wan visit the Pykes to find the missing diplomat who was traveling with him while dealing with the threat of Dooku who has to silence the last missing link. This sparks Yoda’s vision quest as Qui-Gon is communicating with him to help him achieve immortality so that his life force can live on to train the one who will bring balance to the Universe.

The Pros: “The Lost One” this is a really great episode. We get to see the former Chancellor Valorum and see Dooku being strangled by Sidious for not killing all the missing links to the Clone Creation. We see Anakin and Obi-Wan and the Pykes attempt to stop him and Dooku show why he is Darth Tyranus as he kills the Pyke leader and escapes from Obi-Wan and Anakin after suppressing the only person who knew what had happened. It is a great arc and shows some wonderful dynamics between Palpatine and Yoda and Dooku and Obi-Wan.

Score: 10 / 10

Anakin and Obi-Wan – When they are investigating Sifo-Dyas’s disapearance and death they have some great conversations and we see how powerful they are Jedi too as even the gangster Pykes respect them. They don’t succeed in their plan but they do a good job to try and succeed.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – Proves once again why he is a Sith Lord. Kills the leader of the Pykes who was trying to kill him. kills the Chancellor Aide who had been traveling with Sifo-Dyas and manages to escape from the Pykes, Obi-Wan and Anakin as well as helping Sidious attack Yoda later.

Darth Sidious – This guy is evil and knows it and we see him moving forward on his long term plans while still having the patience to wait. After Yoda gets out of their trap he recognizes the power of Yoda and the Jedi and knows that their plans cannot be rushed. He’s a smart powerhouse.

The Philosophy of the Force – Minus how often they bring up Midi-chlorians, which has always been a stupid idea…the relationship between the living force and cosmic force is really cool. The living force feeds the cosmic force which gives back and keeps balance in the Universe. Yoda learning all of this and making peace with his death and all he will lose is powerful.

The Cons: The Force Priestesses – These five are all different personalities and being that still have their being even though their bodies are one with the force. They are archetypes so not really characters, which was a shame.

Moraband Was Underwhelming – For the homeworld of the Sith this place was pretty boring. Darth Bane is revealed but they don’t do anything with him and for all the talk of the Dark Side they do not do enough with fear and temptation…the fact this is Yoda makes it so there are not stakes either.

   The show got canceled at this time, which was a shame as Grievous was just beginning to become an actual threat, Mother Talzin’s overall agenda is still unknown, Darth Maul is missing and we have no idea what became of the Separatist Parliament. For an ending this could have been a lot better, but I appreciate that they attempted to answer the question of Yoda becoming a Force Ghost. I’ll have a write up on the series as a whole later as well as my Top 5 Episodes/Arcs. Suffice to say though, this has been a fun journey.

Final Score: 8 / 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, 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 4, Episodes 7-10 – “Darkness on Umbara Arc” – Personhood and War’s Potential to Corrupt

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  “The Darkness on Umbara arc” is really good. In this we see what the war has done to Jedi and how many Jedi see the clones as expendable, as well as giving us the chance to see the sheer variation of Clones and how they bond and clash. It’s a powerful episode and one that has great foreshadowing of what is to come as Krell’s disillusionment will be Anakin’s by the end of the war.

   “Darkness on Umbara” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Matt Michnovetz who also wrote the other 3 episodes in the arc. “The General” was directed by Walter Murch. “Plan of Dissent” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy who also directed “Carnage of Krell.”

    The story involves the conquest of Umbara by the Republic where thing soon change on the battlefield where Anakin is recalled by Palpatine and General Krell takes over. Krell has no respect for Clones and sees them as expendable. This leads to Clones like Fives and Hardcase acting on their to save forces and eventually Captain Rex rebelling as well when he sees how corrupt Krell is.

The Pros: Umbara – Umbara is a dark planet and the stakes are high as the Umbarans are great fighters and the Clones only win through strategy and not force of numbers as the Umbarans far outnumber them. They also have really advanced tanks and weaponry too and a lot of the Clones fall to them because of dangerous they are as a foe.

General Krell – Krell is seeking to become a Sith and does it by turning his troops on one anohter and sacrificing to the Umbarans so that Dooku will take him as an apprentice. The reasons behind this we learn are disillusionment. He has seen visions of Order 66 and the Death of the Republic so now only serves himself. He was a great antagonist and enemy and he only loses because Dogma shoots him because of how betrayed he felt at being used.

Dogma – Dogma is the one who worships authority, but after he learns that Krell had turned two Clone Units against each other turned against Krell and is the one to kill him. He’s like a child and seeing how broken he is from the betrayal is powerful.

Hardcase – Hardcase is friends with Fives and is the one who destroys the power of the Umbarans in a secret mission with Fives. He loves combat and war but sees the bigger picture too and hates Krell for taking them for granted. He dies in the Battle of Umbara does a major blow against the Umbarans in the process.

Fives – Fives from “Rookies” has grown a lot and he is the one always questioning Krell and the one who asks Rex not to stand against them as he knows their mission will save lives. He loves his Clone Brothers more-so than loyalty to the Republic and it is great to see how he’s deceloped as a leader.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is beginning to get disillusioned too as when they free themselves of Krell he still sees that they are cogs in a much larger machine and that it could be any general in the future who could do what Krell did. It’s a powerful moment and is part of what goes on when he goes from speaking against Krell, to actively helping his men come up with other plans and finally arresting Krell. He was not able to kill him though.

   This was a great 4 episode arc and one I’d highly recommend. Some of the best episodes are the ones that explore how the Clone War is destroying people and how others see the Clones. It is that shows that there is a rise in the Dark Side as people are seen as expendable to meet ends, whether those ends are noble or not…Krell’s path is the path Anakin is on and no doubt many other Jedi who fear losing it all.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 1 – “Clone Cadets” – Clone Identity

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    “Clone Cadets” is a great episode! This is an episode where the characters we come to care about are the Clones and even some mercenaries too! In this the one Jedi (Shaak Ti) is the weakest character. The episode is full of tender moments and all the characters not only form identities beyond numbers but grow as characters.

    The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Cameron Litvack.

     The story is about Domino Squad on Kamino and their quest to pass so they aren’t forced into being forced into labor on Kamino. From here their story unfold as their personalities clash and they slowly develop identities beyond the numbers they were born with.

The Pros: Training – The training sequence is really cool. They fight simulations with battle droids as the enemies where they have to take the tower. It’s done really well as the only way to win is with full cooperation of the team.

Kamino – The Kamino don’t care about the Clones and say as much to Shaak Ti, for them it is all business which shows just how devalued the clones are by all those around them, even their creators.

The Mercenaries – The mercenaries have very distinct personalities. Bric is rough but his challenges help make Domino the best squad while El-Les’s advocating for them gives them the chance to pass in the first place. He sees potential in them and is open about it versus Shaak Ti who is very guarded but can relate to them better. Bric looks down on the clones and doesn’t truly see them as people.

Shaak Ti – Shaak Ti is the wise teacher who reminds the squad that she can relate to them as she is a Jedi and their is no room for her as part of the order to be a true individual, just like the clones. She also views all life as sacred as a counterpoint to the Kamino’s disregard for life. She is still a Nationalist though and sees the Separatists as evil which they are not, they are a lot more complicated than Palpatine propaganda.

Domino Squad – Domino Squad has a great arc! They embrace the names given them, from Echo who repeats everything to Cutup who is the joker but good at adapting, to Hevy who is reckless but also courageous and Fives. All of them pull through the adversity and through the support of 99 who was a clone who was designed “wrong” find support in each other and with 99 and win the day.

99 – 99 is abused by all those around him but eventually finds a friend in Hevy and Domino Squad who embrace him as a brother since he is a clone like them who was the only one who believed in them at one point. He receives Hevy’s medal as well as a promise that Hevy will return showing that he finally has family.

The Message – Don’t let others define you, define yourself and remember those who face adversity just like you. This is the core message and what the clones teach us about ourselves.

  This is another episode that demonstrates just how powerful I hope this show can be. I actually care about the clones, when in Episode II and III they were just numbers. They were as personified as droids and simply weapons. In this we see the weapons are aware and have struggles of their and are so much more than what the Republic has chosen to make them. I can’t wait to learn more about them and their struggles.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008): Great Television Film, Should Not Have Got a Theatrical Release

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   “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is a really fun television movie that finishes up the Christophsis arc and introduces us to Ahsoka and the huts as players in the game of the Clone Wars. It gives us a lot of good world building but the writing and even the cinematography show that this should have only been released to television, not to theaters as it was.

    The film was directed by Dave Filoni, written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy and produced by George Lucas and Catherine Winder.

    The story begins with Jabba’s son being captured by the Separatists and Yoda ordering Obi-Wan and Anakin to find and rescue his son and deliver him to Jabba. This is also when Yoda sends Anakin his new apprentice Ahsoka. They must all work together to win the battle of Christophsis and to find and rescue Jabba’s son before the Separatists make a deal that will give them control of Jabba’s routes through the Outer Rim.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Kevin Kiner did a great job on this soundtrack! The music was the best part of this film. It had a very “Battlestar Galactica” feel to it and during the action sequences especially it made the stakes feel high.

The Action – This is a good action movie. Lots fights to show how powerful each of the factions are in the Clone Wars and how powerful the individual Jedi or Sith are as well. This made for some wonderful fights, especially Dooku and Anakin and Obi-Wan and Ventress.

The Battle of Christophsis – The Christophsis arc is finally complete! Thanks to the action of Ahsoka and Anakin in shutting down the Separatist shield that was protecting their forces and Obi-Wan capturing the general we have a Republic victory! It takes a lot to get there though and many die on both sides. It isn’t glorified and the Republic troops arriving to occupy doesn’t exactly give hope either.

Count Dooku – Dooku is being played by Sidious as Sidious wins no matter what happens (Jabba working with the Republic is a win for him, Jabba working against them will lead to him getting more power). Dooku is being played in this though and we see him fail against his enemies and his blaming Ventress for in it for her initial failure. In this we see his cruelty, manipulation and why he is a Sith.

Ventress – Ventress puts up a good fight in this but is cornered in the end by Obi-Wan. This doesn’t stop her from fulfilling her duties though as she warns Dooku of Skywalker’s approach and manages to escape Obi-Wan to fight another day.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is the clear headed one who has no problem taking a new apprentice. It is he who realizes that Ahsoka will be good for Anakin and will help Anakin to grow as Anakin has helped him to grow. We also see his arrogance too as he gloats to Ventress when he knows Ahsoka and Anakin have escaped the Monastery.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin doesn’t want a padawan, but comes around when he sees how similar Ahsoka is to him and that gives him self awareness about how he is reckless and cocky. They have a great dynamic too and he does share his hatred of the Tatooine and the desert with her as has lost so much to the Hutts and remembers his life as a slave quite clearly. It is a great character moment and we see how Ahsoka is making him a better person.

Ahsoka – I really like Ahsoka! She’s young for a padawan but is powerful in the force. We see her save Anakin multiple times and show a kindness Anakin lacks. She cares for Jabba’s son at one point and we see her hold Anakin responsible for his recklessness as he does to her. It’s a great dynamic and they act a lot like a mixture of friends and siblings. I can’t wait to see how her character grows and changes from the Clone Wars.

Okay: The Minor Characters – Whether it was Cody or Rex, Yoda or Windu, Jabba’s Uncle or Padme…none of them felt fully fleshed out. They felt more like plot devices and not full characters in this. This is a shame as the main characters had some wonderful character moments.

Delivering Jabba’s Son – The delivery of Jabba’s son is okay, I liked the fight between Anakin and Dooku as they seemed more closely matched, but it dragged. Especially in regards to the droids against Ahsoka. Jabba was also far to easy to play.

The Cons: The Script – The script is corny and not nearly as solid and tight as it would if it was an episode or part of an arc made into a single film. At times it lags just to give us money shots of the landscape when that time could have been cut out or given us more character moments.

The Tone – The tone is all over the place. We get some really brutal deaths and Jabba even has dancing girls but we also have lots of jokes and humor that kids would clearly enjoy. This clash of tones kept it from being great.

It Going to Theatres – This film should not have gone to theaters and if I’d seen this in theaters I would not be as kind to it as I am now. It is better than the prequels in regards to it’s potrayal of Anakin and his relationship to others but it also is not quality enough to go to the theaters. Like “Spark of Rebellion” this should have been a tv movie as it just feels like a long episode. Because of the choice of how it was originally presented is going to be counted against it.

  This film should not have gone to theatres but it is still good as a tv film. We finally finish the Christophsis arc, get to see Dooku in action and see that the Hutts and Gangs are a 3rd faction in the war just as they are usually presented in the later eras as the X Factor in the war between the Empire and Rebellion. Ahsoka is a wonderful character too and I really like the character dynamic between her and Anakin. The final bit, the soundtrack is super memorable and is worth listening too, even if you have no plan to see the film.

Final Score: 8 / 10.