Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – Stupid Title in a Great Adventure

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a stupid title. We know the film is about Han Solo, so adding that is “A Star Wars Story” tells us nothing we don’t already know. Given that they wanted to make a Trilogy out of this film I’m not sure how they’d show they are different, but I’m good with the sequels having different titles. Beyond my gripe about this title, I really liked this movie and thought it was a great. This was a film that explores the underworld of “Star Wars” where there are thieves, pirates and gangsters and no one is to be trusted. I enjoyed this film so much that I would watch sequels as the core cast and story were compelling and I found myself entranced through this entire side adventure within the Star Wars Franchise.

The film was directed by Ron Howard, (after the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired) and written by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan.

The story follows the adventures of Han Solo and explores how he became the smuggler we know in “A New Hope.” I’ll get more into that later on but the core of the plot is how he gets the Millennium Falcon and his motivation for going into the smuggler life. 

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The “Star Wars” Underworld – The underworld is one of the core parts of the Star Wars films. We see Jabba and his palace in “Return of the Jedi” and get glimpses of the underworld of Coruscant in the prequels and in series like “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” tv series. I like this world… this is a world where money and power run everything and even the Empire stays out of their way. It is here, where we see characters make difficult and dark choices, as a matter of course and “Solo” does not disappoint in that regards. This film develops the underworld and we see the toll it takes on those who are forced into it or choose to become a part of it.

The Cloud Riders – This is a pirate group that is always getting in on Beckett’s jobs, as we see, he and the leader have a history with one another. I won’t spoil what happens with them, but there is more to them than meets the eye and, like everyone in this movie, they are far more complex than they first appear to be.

Tobias Beckett and his Crew – Woody Harrelson is fantastic as Beckett, a corrupt guy out for himself but, also, caring, as we see he’s married to his partner Val and clearly loves her. As well as, great rapport with his pilot, Rio, an alien with four arms and attitude. Eventually Chewie and Han join this group on a train heist job. The crew has a great dynamic and I would have watched a show about the 5 of them. Han joins them after he discovers their con and becomes part of their crew. 

Dryden Vos and the Crimson Dawn – Paul Bettany plays an amazing villain. This is a guy who reeks threat and charm as he invades peoples’ space, and does all he can to disarm them before ever having to fight them. You can tell why he became leader of the Crimson Dawn, as he flies in a huge ship to track his assets to make sure they finish their jobs. His power is far reaching, too, as Qi’ra and Han were orphans under the control of Lady Proxima, and now she is under Vos and the Crimson Dawn’s control. His organization has become one of the most powerful gangs in the galaxy. 

Lando – Donald Glover captures Lando’s charm beautifully. Young Lando is a gambler who does what he wants, and will cheat to win. This provides an interesting dynamic with Han who is idealistic and good at this point, where Lando shows the direction Han will go. Lando, of course, owns the Millennium Falcon and his co-pilot is L3, a droid who believes in equal rights for droids and has a complicated relationship with Lando.

Han and Chewbacca – Han and Chewbacca are the heart of the film, as we see that they have each others back on multiple occasions. Initially they start out distrusting each other and depending on one another for simple survival, but with each sacrifice they make for each other, they soon become partners and close friends by the end of the film.

Okay:

Qi’ra – Qi’ra is Han’s childhood friend and love interest. Amelia Clarke does a decent job in the role, but I wouldn’t call her super memorable. She plays her part in the advancement of the plot and there are some great twists with her character, but I feel more could have been done. I wanted more scenes of her with Han, so their relationship could be developed further and so that the romance would feel more real.

Fanservice – Want to learn how characters got their nicknames or names? Want to know why the Falcon looks why it does? Want to get some “A New Hope” references? Well, you will get all this, and more, in this film. It never gets as bad as “Rogue One” in the references and the original characters carry the film. So much of the fanservice wasn’t needed and I would have preferred we never had the questions answered.

The Cons:

The Cinematography – The cinematography is really dark. There were times I had trouble seeing what was going on on screen and had to depend wholly on what I heard the characters were saying, rather than what I was seeing. This was a huge detriment and what kept the film from being the perfect film of its type.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” was a film that as far as I know, no one was asking for, but in the end I was glad it got made. Hearing about the development hell, from the firing of the first directors, to hiring an acting coach for the lead… I was ready to hate this film. I had no expectations and was really annoyed this film even existed. “Solo” has now become one of my favorite “Star Wars” films. The film takes risks by giving us a world where no one can be trusted and the status quo is loss. I would watch sequels to this film, and cared far more about the characters here than I did anyone in “Rogue One.” If you like “Star Wars” or heist films, check it out. It is well worth your time and for me it did not disappoint.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

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Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) – An Amazing Subversion of Expectations

   “The Last Jedi” is my second favorite Star Wars film. This is a series that is second only to “The Empire Strikes Back,” and in many ways has greater depth even though the structure of this film is a bit of a mess. What this film does though is upset the status quo, delve into the reasons the First Order and Resistance have for even existing in the first place and also a much deeper analysis of “The Force” that we haven’t really gotten since the Original Trilogy. Before I get into spoilers, this is a film with the best characters and themes thus far, amazing character development and emotional payoff, amazing action and it is easily the most beautiful of all the Star Wars films. Seriously, check it out.

The film was directed and written by Rian Johnson while being produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman.

The story involves the Resistance attempting to escape from the First Order who are attacking them after the destruction of Starkiller Base, while Rey is seeking Luke’s help in their fight. Things soon get more complicated when the First Order executes a trap that forces members the Resistance to seek outside help  to escape the First Order trap, and a clash within the Resistance itself between Poe and Vice-Admiral Holdo after General Leia is incapacitated.

SPOILERS

The Pros: The Cinematography – This is visually the best looking of any film in the Star Wars franchise. Whether it is the filming of fight sequences in space or within a ship…the camera executes the action beautifully and each planet was somewhere I wanted to return back to after it was done.

The Universe – This Star Wars has quite a few different environments and animals. From the adorable porgs, to crystal foxes, to the salt world of Crait, Luke’s Island and Snoke’s Flagship and a Casino World. I was never bored because there was always more to see as each environment was so rich.

The Reason for Resistance – One of the major themes of the film is the reasons to resist. We see this as a class struggle in regards to oppression through the eyes of kids and Rose, a character we are introduced in this film…and also that personal identity is a huge role too and that finding the balance between them is important. Poe is driven by ego and glory for much of what he does but comes to see that it is bigger than each fight, the war is larger than any one person as the individuals and groups define what it means to resist, just as much as if not more than the personal reasons to fight.

The Cost of War – So many people die in this film. There are lots of heroic sacrifices, but also the people who are being oppressed by those profiting from the war, the deaths of so many soldiers on both sides who die. You feel that in this and it does a good job humanizing both the Resistance and the First Order. War is hell and sometimes no one wins, this film captures that theme beautifully.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of this film. This film is all about relationships between characters, be it Leia and Poe, Rose and Finn, Kylo and Rey or Luke and Rey. Each relationship gets developed over the course of the film and reveals layers to the characters that didn’t exist in “The Force Awakens.”

Vice Admiral Holdo – Holdo is a character who has got a lot of crap from the fanbase, but she was one of my favorite characters in the film. She was respected for winning in the past but Poe doesn’t get that. She is presented as an antagonist through a good portion of the film, and the payoff of who she actually is and what she is doing is great.

Rose and Finn – It is through these characters that we get to see another face of the Resistance and why they fight. Finn is originally a part because of his friends and is even willing to leave in order to protect Rey but Rose reminds him of the bigger picture and that at the core they exist to fight oppression. It is handled on the casino world and seeing their friendship bloom was one of the more memorable parts of this film.

Master Luke Skywalker – Luke is done with everything. Like before in the Original Trilogy guilt defines him and it is mistake that helped lead to Kylo Ren’s creation and that guilt is something he carries with him and resists until the end. He is wanting to destroy the Jedi order and die as the last Jedi until Rey helps him realize there is so much more that he’s forgotten and that he can still make a difference and change things. Mark Hamill is fantastic.

General Leia Organa – I miss Carrie Fisher. It was great seeing her in this, her whole drive is survival and protecting the Resistance from the First Order. She is the mentor who is there to remind the young folks there is a time and place for glory but you have to work to keep everyone alive, or there won’t be anyone else left to fight. This was my favorite presentation of her besides “Empire Strikes Back” and I’ll miss her in these films, now that she’s gone.

Rey and Kylo Ren – One of the core relationships is that between Kylo and Rey both of who are alone and seeking more beyond the old order as so much of who they were was tied to the legends of the past. They are connected but still adversaries and it is great relationship to see explored as Ren becomes more confident and much more of a bully and Rey finds an identity outside of her parents and her expectations of Luke and the Jedi.

Subverting Expectations – If you go in expecting “The Empire Strikes Back” or another version of “Return of the Jedi” or “A New Hope” prepare to be surprised. This is a film where most things don’t work out for any characters. Things change, both in the First Order and the Resistance in regards to their identities…but it doesn’t repeat the cycle. We get away from The Ring Cycle a bit here and from that “Star Wars” seems to finally be developing it’s own identity outside of the past. We also see The Force not being tied to bloodlines and the fantasy feel of the past films and midichlorians are implied to no longer be a factor (Rey’s background and the last scene of the film). I loved that, this is no longer the Skywalker show, Star Wars has to be bigger than one family drama and I can’t wait to see where the series goes.

Everybody Loses – Poe finds out he was wrong, Rose and Finn get betrayed, Rey isn’t able to turn Kylo Ren and even the Resistance only barely survives. The First Order isn’t in great shape either after the events that take place and it is going to be transforming further or it will collapse. That is powerful and with it we see the most potential for change both within the Resistance and the First Order. They’ve lost too much to remain static.

Okay: Welcome to the Casino / Side Quest – This first point is related to the second point, there is a side plot on a casino world in order for Rose and Finn to get a code breaker in order to break onto Snokes’s ship so that they shutdown the Empire’s ability to track the Resistance’s fleet. It explores the meaning of the Resistance so I’m not putting it as a total negative but it could have been shorter and achieved the same purpose in the plot, and I would have traded a few Finn and Rose scenes for more scenes with the codebreaker played by Del Toro named DJ. He is fun.

Structure and Clutter – The greatest issue with this film for me was the structure and how cluttered some of the different plots are. It wasn’t bad, I saw this film twice but it does feel long during some of the side tangents. The overall story and themes greatly overwhelm this in quality though and it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.

This is probably going to be in my Top 5 films at the end of the year. This is a film I’ve watched twice and is easily the most fun I’ve had at a film this year since “Baby Driver.” I can’t wait to see where things go after this film as it upsets so much of the status quo. I am a guy who loves the original Extended Universe and I always will, but I’m glad they didn’t repeat it (and I still enjoy it as another timeline of Star Wars). By the time of “The Force Awakens” I was done with the Skywalker drama, predictability will kill this franchise as so many of the problems that plagued the Prequels was the lazy recycling of the Original Trilogy. This film is strange, different, takes chances and changes things and honestly, it is the only way Star Wars can grow beyond the corner it was written in to. Here is to Disney embracing that change and giving us more great stories like this film.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10. Second best Star Wars film thus far.

 

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 8 – “The Future of the Force” – Ahsoka and the Inquisitors Make for a Great Story

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 8 Future of the Force

    I’ve been wanting to see Ahsoka in action since she was revealed at the end of Season 1 and this episode showed just how great of payoff that was. Here we see that she is stronger than both Inquisitors yet still has vulnerabilities and can be outmatched, though the Inquisitors clearly outmatch Kanan and Ezra. The fact the story is a continuation of a story from “The Clone Wars” helps matters as well and creates the best episode since “The Siege of Lothal.”

     “The Future of the Force” was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Bill Wolkoff.

     The story involves Ahsoka sending Kanan and Ezra on a mission to a planet the Inquisitors are on to prevent them from getting their target. We soon their target is a child as Zeb, Kanan, Chopper and Ezra must rescue the child and escape the Inquisitors.

The Pros: Kanan – Kanan is in full Jedi mode this time and we see him in action as a protector and Ezra’s master as he helps Ezra find his cool when dealing with the Inquisitors. He is very outmatched but he puts up a good when he’s facing an Inquisitor one on one.

Ezra – Ezra shows he is the apprentice in this as much of this episode has him protecting the child and running. He’s good though even though he is no match for the Inquisitors. He is a survivalist at the end of the day and knows how to run.

Chopper – I liked Chopper in this episode as he goes from wanting to destroy the Inquisitor Ship with the baby in it to being a protective figure who enjoys being with the children. It kind of hits on the fact that the droid is insane.

Zeb – Zeb continues to show why he is part of the Rebels as we see him escape, protect and find the children even when he has no force abilities and everything he throws at the Inquisitors gets thrown right back at him. You never see him despair or stop fighting.

Fifth Brother – This guy is pretty awesome. I admit that I wasn’t all that impressed initially as the character has no prior history, but in this we see how ruthless he is and effective as he knocks out our heroes on multiple occasions, even though the Seventh Sister is the more talented of the two.

Seventh Sister – She is awesome. She discovers where the rebels are because she left her droid outside the tower to spy, she easily defeats Kanan and Ezra and we only see her lose when she’s facing Ahsoka, who easily stops her and the Fifth Son. This episode revealed that her power isn’t as great, but she makes up for it in guile as she prepares an Imperial Assault for the Rebels location after Ezra accidentally reveals it to her droid.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka has become the Knight or at least Master at this point. She easily beats the Inquisitors and even manages to escape the Empire when the Rebels escape with the two children the Inquisitors were trying to capture. I look forward to her eventual fight with Vader as he’s the only one who could easily beat her at this point since the Inquisitors were greatly outmatched, which makes me wonder why she hasn’t come on more missions…She has her own stuff going on that adds mystery along with her power. Can’t wait to see where her arc goes.

The Final Duel – The final duel is amazing! The Inquisitors beat Kanan and Ezra in an intense fight only for Ahsoka to defeat the two of them as the Imperials arrive. The battle never loses it’s stakes and is the best action in the series since Darth Vader’s fight in the Siege of Lothal.

   I’ve been missing this, this season has so far been a mixture of good and okay but every Inquisitor episode has been solid. I hope the writers remember that going forward as they are the best threat we have besides Vader, just like in Season 1 with the High Inquisitor and Tarkin being the primary threats. Rebels getting back to that will give us stakes again as the Inquisitors rarely completely lose which raises the stakes for the next episodes.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – A Story Ruined By Excess and Horrible Dialogue

Attack of the Clones

   “Attack of the Clones” is a film that could have been and wasn’t dead from the beginning like “The Phantom Menace” there are good ideas here…a Galaxy on the brink of war, forbidden love as well as the chance to explore politics and philosophy…sadly we don’t get very much of any of this at all. There are inklings of all these ideas here but the script fails to execute them choosing instead to focus on fight and chase sequences that go on way too long and just bring the film down.

      “Attack of the Clones” was directed by George Lucas who also co-wrote it with Jonathan Hales and was produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves strife in the Republic as a faction of the Republic looks at leaving while an assassination attempt is made on Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman) leading Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin (Hayden Christensen) to investigate the assassination attempt and protect her.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is great. Love in a time of war, politics of grey and a mystery to be solved as a huge point of the plot is discovering Jango Fett’s origin and why the assassination on Padme happened. Sadly the same cannot be said for the execution of the premise.

 Ewan McGregor – I’m not putting Obi-Wan down because his character is not written consistently (sometimes calm and collected, other times more reckless than Anakin), but Ewan McGregor really does a wonderful job with all the dialogue and lines he is given. He gets into it fully and he is never boring to watch.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – Ian McDiarmid is wonderful as Palpatine as we get to see him deftly manipulate everyone around him once more. He is good at playing it sad when he is given an army and when he talks to Anakin there is warmth there showing just how great of a sociopath Sidious is.

Okay: Padme – Padme was okay, she is there teach Anakin empathy and does a good job of it as she is the one calling him out on things (except when he kills the Tuscan Raiders). Sadly her motivations are never shown and we never get to see her faction in the Senate or her interact with them. This was a shame as it could have established Bail Organa as more than just a cameo and given us motivation. I had no idea why Padme made the choices she did.

 Contrast – One thing that was pulled off decently was contrast. Padme came from wealth and was from a beautiful world and had a family, Anakin’s world was desolate where he lost everything and had no support. Already they have trouble relating to each other which sets up the failed relationship better later on. It wasn’t great due to dialogue and things that were written but the idea and the contrast shown was decent at least.

The Cons: The Republic – The Republic never shows us the players outside of Palpatine, Jar Jar and Padme. All we get is the Naboo story and we never see the political factions, even the one Padme is a part of and what they are doing to fight for peace and keeping the Republic from militarization. It never gets past the idea and tell phase, we never see show.

The Jedi – The Jedi are also an idea when they aren’t cops or superheroes, which is a shame. War is going on and except for Yoda saying that they haven’t won and the the Clone Wars has begun we see nothing to really understand or know the Jedi. They come off as bland, faceless bureaucrats, just like the Republic and Separatists.

The Separatists – Dooku says the reason they are leaving is because the Sith are controlling the Republic, ironically he is one too but I never got that the Separatists were anything more than selfish businessmen using robots to fight their wars. This faction isn’t humanized and is simply there to be shot at. So much potential lost to show us complex players since this is supposed to be an era of grey that completely fails.

Sword as Life, The Death of the Jedi Philosophy in the Prequels – Obi-Wan tells Anakin “Your sword is your life.” This is messed up and unbalanced as Jedi are supposed to be more than the tools they use. Sadly the tools are all they are as we see Yoda pull out a lightsaber and fight Dooku when in “Empire” he tells Luke that weapons and war do not make one great and that size doesn’t matter. This entire film counters that as we see him use a tiny lightsaber…whatever happened to the philosophy of the force? I guess stupid action is easier.

Editing – “The Phantom Menace” had decent editing, this one has a lot of very awkward scenes that end before jumping somewhere else. It breaks up the flow of the film and was really distracting.

The Dialogue – I don’t need to say much here. Lucas can’t write romance and it really shows. Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen aren’t bad actors but the dialogue is bad they just come off as unnatural and stilted. There is nothing to believe and it isn’t just them.

Excess – Excess is a major theme of the film, especially excess of action. The Battle of Genosia goes on way too long, the chase to catch the Bounty Hunter Jango Fett hired goes on way too long, Jango hunting Obi-Wan goes on way too long, the droid factory is just thrown in there and countless other events that I could point out. They seem to be there because visually they might look good, but it doesn’t mean anything. All we get are pretty colors and it doesn’t mean anything at all. Also Anakin killing the Sand People and wanting to stop death…excess and everything being over-dramatic really brought it all down.

Questions and Things That Didn’t Make Sense – Why did Jango hire a Bounty Hunter? Didn’t his boss hire him to kill Padme? Was Sidious always planning the Clone Wars since the army was ordered 10 years prior? Who is Sifo-Dyus? Why did Dooku leave the Jedi order? Who are the factions in the Senate? Why do the Separatists want to leave and why would they trust the Trade Federation after Naboo?

Reference – “The Phantom Menace” had this problem too but it was bigger here. Jango being Boba’s father, certain scenes shot to be like “Empire” it was like George was afraid to just give us a story and had to tie everything to the Originals even if it didn’t make sense.

  This was a film that could have easily beat “The Phantom Menace” but fails to hold up under scrutiny. There are fewer pros in this one than “The Phantom Menace” but the cons are overwhelmingly worse. So often it felt like I was watching a videogame that I could not play and was expected to believe things I was told while never being shown the actions. The opening was meant to give us complexity but all we get were bland heroes and villains who left no impact.

Final Score: 3 / 10

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

Epguide520

   “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 3, Episode 10 – “Heroes on Both Sides” – The Complexity of the Separatists

Epguide310 Heroes on both sides

    “Heroes on Both Sides” lives up to it’s name and shows just how complex politics can get as as we see Padme and Ahsoka go behind enemy lines to see one of Padme’s old friends who serves as a representative in the Separatist Parliament. It’s a powerful episode that shows the factions that profit from keeping war going and how the long game Dooku and Palpatine are playing will more often than not, end in success.

    The episode was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Daniel Arkin.

    The story involves Padme seeking a peace with the Separatists under the table as the Banking Clan and others are calling for a Bill that would deregulate them and allow them to charge more interest in order for the Republic to fund the war. This leads to Ahsoka and Padme going to the Separatist Capitol to meet with Padme’s friend Mina, who is a Senator in the Separatist congress. From here  things unfold as factions work against their quest for peace.

The Pros: Mina and Padme – Both are idealists with blind spots as neither of them realize their leaders are Sith using the war to their own advantage and ends. Both are good people though that seek peace and don’t care about the seperation or conquest of the Republic. It’s great seeing htem together, especially as Mina is older and mother contrasted with Padme’s youthful idealism.

The Separatist Congress – The Separatist congress is just as diverse as the Republic and we see that even they are tiring of the war and just want it to end, but fear the Republic because they believe the Republic started the war. They propose a peace accord though until Grievous mounts a secret attack on the Republic which leads to the Banking Clan bill passing.

The Republic – We see the politics among the Republic too with money wielding influence but also with counters with Organa and Mothma as members of the more liberal faction with Padme working for peace. Sadly it all comes crumbling down though as Padme reveals those she was helping and her plan to Palpatine who with Dooku sets in motion the destruction of the chance for peace.

Grievous’s attack – Grievous is a threat for once! He sends suicide droids down that blow up the generator on Coruscant shutting everything down. It strikes fear and makes the Banking Bill pass as well as keeping the war going. For once Grievous gets a win.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka visits the Separatists and after talking to Mina’s son realizes the misunderstanding their is surrounding the Jedi among the Separatists and in the Republic towards the Separatists. Even after the attack she doesn’t regret her action as she sees the shades of grey in the war that Anakin does not as Anakin is all about order.

  I really enjoyed this episode. We see consequences to actions, Grievous gets a win and see how powerful Palpatine and Dooku are at keeping the war going and manipulating their factions and we see how fascist Anakin is compared to Ahsoka who is far more like the liberal Padme.

Final Score: 10 / 10