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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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 Rebels – Season 1, Episode 7 – “Gathering Forces” – Ezra and the Dark Side

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“Gathering Forces” is the second part of the story that began with “Empire Day.” In this we see Ezra use the dark side for the first time and see continuity as the episode from 2 episodes prior is used by Kanan and Ezra in this episode, as well as Organa’s ship and Tseebo. Suffice to say, overall it is a good end to the arc.

“Gathering Forces” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Greg Weisman.

The story picks up where we left off with Tseebo asking for forgiveness for not helping Ezra and his family. Ezra rejects his offer and he goes to fix the hyperdrive while helps them to escape The Inquisitor and his fleet temporarily. They soon realize he is still following them so Ezra and Kana return to Fort Anaxes where the Fyrnocks are located who they plan to use against The Inquisitor as well as leaving Ghost so that Hera can deliver Tseebo away to safety.

The Pros: The Crew – Sabine helps Ezra heal with the disk with his parents, Hera learns what happened to Ezra’s parents when she listens to Tseebo and they all Tseebo escape. The crew is great in this episode though Zeb and Chopper don’t really do much.

The Inquisitor – The Inquisitor schools Kanan and Ezra and forces Ezra to use the dark side, which is always a plus for a Sith. He also feels like a threat the entire episode even though they escape.

Kanan – Kanan comes up with the plan to use the Fort as a lure to pull in the Inquisitors forces and use the Fyrnocks to fight the Imperial forces. He has a lot of awareness this episode too as we see him give Ezra time and space alone after the dark side was used, knowing that it would affect Ezra even if he didn’t feel it at first.

Ezra – Ezra uses the dark side forgives Tseebo and has a moment of peace when Sabine gives him a disk that has a photo of him with his family. It’s a touching moment and we see just how much potential Ezra has as a Jedi this episode.

Okay: The Trap – The Fyrnocks were always cute and not a threat so I didn’t really like them used as a weapon against Stormtroopers since the Stormtroopers looked more threatening.

“Empire Day” was the stronger episode but this one was still great. We get to see Ezra’s force potential and The Inquisitor forced one of our heroes to use the dark side. We also see The Inquisitor fear too as he has to report his failure to his Master. This is contrasted with the peace Ezra finally gets looking at the photo of his folks and forgiving Tseebo.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

Star Wars Rebels – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Rise of the Old Masters” – Enter The Inquisitor

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     This episode establishes the new threat of The Inquisitor really well as well as implying that Order 66 and the aftermath has been very successful. The only folks around now are untrained Jedi like Kanan who were never able to finish their training and now are the best hope for people like Ezra who are force sensitive but have no experience or discipline. It is a great stakes episode.

   The episode was directed by Steward Lee and written by Henry Gilroy.

    The story begins with Kanan training Ezra but it going wrong and Kanan realizing he doesn’t know enough about being a Jedi himself.  After they receive information that Jedi Master Luminara is captured by the Empire they decide to mount a rescue for her. This leads to Ezra feeling like Kanan doesn’t want him and the things soon become complicated as their information about the prison is outdated and they are forced to improvise.

The Pros: The Infiltration – Finding a way in to the base is one with high stakes all the way through. They have to drop in a shuttle, go in least guarded door, make it look like nothing happened and get to Luminara before the alarms are sounded. Nothing goes as planned and when Ezra and Kanaan reach the location they find Luminara dead and that she was a trap laid by The Inquisitor to capture and kill them.

Kanan – Kanan is very human in this. We see his insecurities in this and realize he was never fully trained but we also see that he uses the force like Ezra. They are most in contact with it when protecting others. In this case Kanan saves Ezra and after they rescue the crew using the force before he begins training Ezra without being insecure.

Ezra – Ezra is arrogant per usual but has a good head. He has no desire to join the dark side and is very attached to his new family. We see him get schooled by the Inquisitor but at least providing a distracting while Kanan fights. He also is key in their escape from the base and says he wants Kanan as a Master.

Sabine and Zeb – Sabine helps them escape the turbo lift and is key in the escape. Zeb trolls Ezra at the beginning of the episode but comes around at the end is key with Sabine. There is also a moment where they make fun of Kanan in front of Kanan about how the plan keeps getting worse and that he never makes good plans.

Hera – Uses her skills as a pilot to use the fact that Ray like beasts want to mate with the ship to be her Calvary against the Imperial forces attempting to stop the Crew from escaping. She does a good job in this and is once again the solid base for all of them.

The Inquisitor – Jason Isaacs is wonderful in this role! This guy is confident, deadly and from what we can gather has killed quite a few Jedi already. He’s the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with and he is so powerful Kanan and Ezra get their buts handed to them and the crew is forced to run away from him. He’s just that dangerous that victory means escaping him not defeating him. Can’t wait to see what they do with this guy. He has a great design with Sith tattoos and the grey skin of his species, the Pau’an.

   I really enjoyed this episode. It establishes the threat of The Inquisitor and The Empire and we see just how outmatched our heroes are, considering their only victory is in surviving not stopping or preventing anything. The Jedi religion is pretty much dead at this point and you really feel it. The Jedi are survivors (those few that are left) and are hunted, there is no safety when the Empire controls all.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10.