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 3, Episodes 8-9, Season 1, Episode 22 – “The Hutt Revenge Arc” – Cad Bane is Amazing and Hutt Deception

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     Cad Bane is the best thing besides Ahsoka to come of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as an original creation. In this we see just how good he is at the job and get to know the politics of the Hutts. Each episode is a rush against time as Cad has very limited resources and help and is on a timer to achieve each end, be it getting Senate Building info, freeing Ziro or finding Ziro. All of these are things that put Bane under pressure and give us a chance to see that he is the best bounty hunter of this era.

      “Evil Plans,” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle. “Hostage Crisis,” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Hunt for Ziro” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle.

      The story kicks off with Jabba hiring Bane to steal the information for the plans of the Senate Building from R2-D2 and C-3PO, from here the story unfolds as Cad Bane and a group of bounty hunters take a group of senators hostage in order to rescue Ziro the Hutt and deliver him to the Hutt Council for judgement and finally ending Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan traveling to the Hutt homeworld in order to find Ziro and bring him to justice while dealing with machinists of the Council, Ziro, Jabba and Bane.

The Pros: Padme and Anakin – Anakin gives Padme his lightsaber during “Hostage Crisis” and for much the episode they are hiding their love for one another and Padme is trying to hide why she has it while Bane and his bounty hunters are holding them hostages. They do a good job working together and avoiding questions though they look very suspicious later, anyone paying attention would see romance there.

The Bounty Hunters – Cad Bane and his crew are awesome! Aurra Sing is the sniper and takes out the Senate defenders easily, IG-86, Shahan and Robinino who is the hacker also helps capture Anakin when the bounty hunters ambush him. They are victorious and only IG-86 is destroyed.

The Hutts – The Hutts are Crime Lords and their homeworld is like vegas with dancing Twi’leks. There are five leaders and all of them have respect for Cad Bane because of how good he is at his job. They also see Ziro as a personal matter since he has secrets that could bring them down. Ziro trying to hold his own against them was pretty cool too as well as his drive at revenge for being locked up again.

Jabba and Sy – Jabba hires Ziro’s ex-lover Sy who is the singer at the homeworld who kills Ziro and gets Jabba the data pad. It is great seeing that, plus seeing that Ty was a better hunter than the Jedi and Bane.

Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan – These two have a great dynamic! Vos is a Grey Jedi in the EU and it shows here as Obi-Wan and the others see him as crazy. He is confident and arrogant and anything but proper while Obi-Wan is all about politeness and diplomacy. They work well together though and I like that Vos is in this show. He makes Anakin look moderate.

Cad Bane – Bane is amazing in this and the reason to watch the episode! In this we see him do a full job and succeed at each one except killing Ziro as Ty already did, but he does escape the Jedi and holds his own against them, showing just how powerful he is. This guy is cold, calculating, strategic and all about business. It makes him a great player too as he has limitations and has to depend on his mind to win.

The Cons: R2-D2 and C-3PO – Their episode is droid hijinks with C-3PO getting tortured and R2 going to a droid spa. It is so weird and out there that I didn’t like it. There was no point for it but to keep R2 around so he could get captured and Bane could wipe their memories for his attack on the senate building.

   This was a great arc and one I’d highly recommend! Seeing the Hutt world and Hutt Politics was fascinating as well as seeing Quinlan Vos outside the EU and his relationship with Obi-Wan, and of course the main reason to watch it is Cad Bane who is the best Bounty Hunter on this show and is one of the best characters this show created.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10