Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Savage Opress Screening SPOILERS: Read with Caution

Author's Note:  I generally tend to avoid as many spoilers possible when it comes to a book, TV show or movie.  At the same time I know that fans are ravenous for any information regarding their beloved Star Wars.  So in the following post I am going to attempt to strike a balance.  It will be a SPOILER heavy play by play of what happened in the Savage Opress episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  At the same time I will not at this point discuss the events towards the end of the third episode, this covers approximately 10-15 minutes of material.  The story arc was so well done that I don't want to ruin it for my fellow fans.  I WILL be talking about the Season 3 second half trailer that we saw after the movie.  Interspersed with my account of what happened in the episodes will be my impressions, theories, speculations, and random  tangents related to what is going on in the Episodes.  I have attempted to break up the movie into how I believe the episodes will be broken up when they are shown on the Cartoon Network.


YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.................

A Republic fleet is under attack by Separatist forces led by Asajj Ventress.  Ventress (Voiced superbly by Nika Futterman) was leading a wing of what looks to be new droid fighter craft in taking out a Republic cruiser.  Ventress becomes engaged in a dogfight with Obi-Wan and damages his ship.  Anakin comes to the rescue and in turn damages Ventess’ ship.  Both Obi-Wan and Ventress crash land into a docking bay upon the Separatist’s command ship, with Anakin coming in close behind.  This space battle was very well done, it was like the Battle over Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith but on a much smaller scale. 

Meanwhile on Serenno, Count Dooku receives a holocomm from Lord Sidious (Palpatine) instructing him that he can sense his assassin growing too powerful in the force.  Sidious chides Dooku about attempting to train his own Sith apprentice and trying to overthrow Sidious.  Dooku of course denies this, like any good Sith, at which point Sidious orders Dooku to kill Ventress.

Tangent:  The Sith Rule of Two instituted by Darth Bane (See Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane novels) was designed as a way to hone the Sith over generations to created stronger and stronger Sith to one day destroy the Jedi and conquer the galaxy.  The basic idea is that in the past when there were many Sith, groups of weaker/lesser Sith Lords would work together to eliminate the stronger Sith Lords, this effectively diluted the quality of the Sith.   Bane believed that this was the absolute wrong approach and against the very nature of the Dark Side.  Under the Rule of Two, the Sith Apprentice remained the apprentice until they could successfully challenge and kill their master.  The Apprentice would not train their own apprentice until they became the master.  Curiously enough from the very beginning even Bane’s own apprentice didn’t really follow this rule.  As with any rule, the Sith only follow the Rule of Two when it fits their needs.

A short time later the injured Ventress holocomms her masters Count Dooku at his estate on Serenno seeking help.  Dooku refuses to come to her aid and orders the other droid dreadnaughts to open fire on the command ship in order to kill Ventress and hopefully the Jedi still on board as well.  

Tangent:  I was really excited to get a chance to see Serenno.  Yoda: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart is one of my favorite novels.  It is a story centered on Dooku’s relationship with Yoda and Yoda’s attempt to turn Dooku away from the Dark side.  It also brings us to Serenno, and lets us look at where Dooku came from.  If you haven’t read this book give it a shot, some of it may end up not fitting with the new Clone Wars continuity, but it’s a very compelling read and we get so few books with Yoda. 

As you can imagine if the attack was successful then it would have been a very short episode.  But thankfully Ventress survived, her ship was adrift and she was unconscious when she was recovered by salvagers.  One of the Salvagers a Twi’lek woke her up and well, that wasn’t his smartest move ever, as Ventress eliminated the crew and commandeered the ship taking it to Dathomir.

Ventress is challenged by a group of Nighsister hunters/guards upon landing, but in our first major bombshell is declared to be one of them by Mother Talzin.  One thing to note about “Mother” this is an honorific, when she is being addressed as such it doesn’t mean she is that person’s actual mother.

The Nightsisters bring Ventress back to their village/temple where they place her on a raised stone table and start performing their magic on her to heal her.  In the course of this treatment she is given flashbacks of her life and we get a new origin story for Ventress.  It appears that as an infant she was the daughter of a Nightsister who we seeing being forced to give her up to a Siniteen (Same species as Clone Drill Sergeant Bric) with facial tattoos.  We are told by Mother Talzin that this was done to protect the Nightsisters but we don’t get anymore explanation.  Fast forward a few years and Ventress’ abductor is dead, killed by what looks to be pirates, at which point she uses a force shove on one of them and is spotted and taken in by a Jedi.  We have a short training sequence with Ventress and a final clip of her and her master fighting what looks like the same pirates, her master being slain in her arms and her falling to the dark side seeking revenge.

This is where things really start to get going.  The Nightsisters cook up a batch of invisibility potion and have Ventress and two of their best warriors take a swim.  This leads the scene we saw previewed at Celebration V.  Mother Talzin gives the Nightsisters Jedi lightsaber (where they came from we don’t know), a poison dart, and sends them off to assassinate Dooku.  It all starts off well enough with Dooku being hit with the dart, and the Ventress and her two cohorts attacking, but that doesn’t last too long.  Just when you think they have Dooku disarmed and defeated, Ventress is stepping in for the killing stroke and Dooku launches a blast of force lightning at them, disabling his opponents and sends them out his office window and over the cliff.  Ventress uses the force to slow her two partner’s fall and manages to get all three of them onto the cliff face and back to Dathomir in one piece.

Tangent:  The issue of where the Nightsisters got the lightsabers could be very interesting.  Are they from the original crash of the Chu’unthor on Dathomir?  Or from the failed recovery mission led by Yoda?  Or from a recent conflict before the Clone Wars kicked off between the Jedi and the Nightsisters, perhaps the Jedi tried to come to Dathomir and reign in these Dark side force users and were driven away.  There is plenty of room for story telling here. 

Mother Talzin may not be a Sith, but her machinations in this episode are very much like Palpatine.  Even in the face of defeat she has figured out a way to turn the situation to her advantage.  She contacts Dooku and coyly mentions that she knows he lost his best assassin (Ventress) and that she may be able to procure him an assassin from the same genetic stock as Darth Maul.   Dooku because his attackers came at him with lightsabers believes the Jedi are stepping up attacks on him agrees and hops onto his spaceship to fly to Dathomir to negotiate the deal with Mother Talzin.

This is approximately where I would imagine Episode 1: Nightsisters ends and Episode 2: Monster begins. 

 Once on Dathomir, Dooku tries to get the Nightsisters to join the Separatists, but she refuses saying she wants nothing more to do with Dooku once they complete their deal and that this repays some old debt. 

At this point I have to wonder why Mother Talzin wants to distance herself from Dooku.  One of her powers appears to be able to have force visions of the future, I wonder if she has seen the ultimate fate of Dooku or the Separatist leaders and doesn’t want any part of that.  The talk of some old debt between the two also sets up a chance for a prequel episode to these three episodes giving us more about the Nightsisters, or it could set up an EU story about the Nightsisters and Dooku in comic, novel or short story form to help retcon some of the changes taking place to the Nightsisters and Dathomir.

After coming to an agreement with Dooku, Mother Talzin sends Ventress to the other side of Dathomir where a male tribe of Zebras live.  At which point Ventress tells a village elder she is here for the “selection.”  It appears to be the common and accepted practice for Witches of Dathomir to travel to the male tribes and claim a male as a husband/slave. 

Tangent: Whether interspecies reproduction is possible out of such units between Zabraks and humans and Rattatakins is not clear but the new issue of Star Wars Insider contains a diagram that suggests at least human-zabrak hybrids are possible.  Because Rattataki are a near human species and it appears that the humanoid stalk of Dathomir may be an amalgam of all three species, it certainly seems likely.

Ventress selects four male Zabraks that she puts them through a series of challenges.   The first they have to attempt to attack her, she whoops their butts.  The second they have to try to defend themselves against her as she attacks in the dark and the third is an obstacle course/chase/hide through a series of columns rising out of the ground. 

This is where we see the debut of Savage Opress, looking notably less fierce then what we have seen in the previews so far.  Savage also addresses one of his fellow selectees as “brother.”  As I noted with the term “mother,” the word “brother” may have a similar connotation in Dathomiri society, in that all members of your tribe are your “brother” or “sister.”  It is not clear whether this particular character is actually Savage’s brother or just a member of his tribe, but with how fiercely Savage protects him, I think it is most likely his actual brother.  Of course that raises the question as to whether Savage is actually Darth Maul’s brother or is just a genetic relative who is his “brother,” by virtue of being from the same tribe.  I think the latter is the more likely answer to that particular mystery, but perhaps time will tell.

After Savage is successful in the tests he is taken by Ventress back to the Nightsisters home where he is prepared, they use their magic to put a mind control over him that allows Ventress to command him.  They further use their green mist magic to for lack of a better work “Hulk” him out, his horns grow and he physically grows in size and strength.  There also seems to be a corresponding regression in his verbal skills.  Apparently Nightsister magic has a little gamma radiation in it. 

For the final test of his loyalty, Savage’s brother is brought in and Savage is ordered to kill him.  Now this is pretty tough stuff for the little kids, but Savage crushes his brother’s throat/spine by physically choking him to death. 

Soon after the Nightsisters put their plan in motion and present Savage to Dooku, and Dooku readily accepts his new assassin/bodyguard.  Dooku takes Savage as his apprentice and begins training him.  He sends him on a mission to take back a temple being used by the Republic and protected by Jedi. Savage kills the Jedi Master and his Padawan. 

In a scene very reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back, we see Dooku in the court yard of his palace, lifting many heavy stone plinths, and challenging Savage to do the same.  Savage struggles and is unable to.  Because Savage thinks it is impossible, it is impossible, much like Luke and the X-wing.  We learn that the Sith are a little rougher in their training methods then the Jedi, every time Savage messes up he gets a healthy dose of force lighting.  When Savage gets tired of this and finally asks how to protect himself against such power, Dooku simply smiles and replies that the wise master does not teach his apprentice all of his skills at once.  (Darth Plagueis, cough cough). 

In the mean time we have the Republic Commando’s of Delta squad returning the dead Jedi to the temple on Coruscant.  It was pretty darn cool to see Boss, Fixer, Sev, and Scorch on the big screen and the animation of the Commandos complete with the blue visors looked awesome.  My biggest criticism though is that there didn’t seem to be any reason why it had to be those characters returning the dead Jedi.  We do not see them do anything else in the episode.  The plus of this is that it doesn’t do anything to affect the continuity of the Republic Commando novel series or video game.  The bad news is that it felt a little underwhelming.  I certainly imagine now that they built the character model we will see more Republic Commando’s in the show, even if it ends up being other squads then Delta or Omega. 

 Anakin and Obi-Wan return to Coruscant and come before the Yoda and Mace in the Jedi Council chamber where they are shown a holo recording of Savage’s attack on the Jedi.  Obi-Wan’s initial reaction is that he thinks its Darth Maul, he is shocked because he cut him in half on Naboo.  But Yoda explains and retcons the origins of Darth Maul in one foul swoop.  Apparently while the majority of Zabrak’s live on Iridonia, a large group of them also live on Dathomir and it’s from this Dathomir group that both Savage and Maul come from.   Now I am sure that there are some of the more continuity conscious members of the Star Wars fandom that this retcon will not satisfy, but for me it worked and its good enough. 

This is approximately where I would imagine Episode 2: Monster ends and Episode 3: Witches of the Mist begins

Meanwhile on Serenno, Dooku sends Savage on a mission to abduct King Katuunko of Toydaria. Unbeknownst to either of them,  Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin after investigation on Dathomir are hot on his heels.  The return to Toydaria certainly helps unravel one mystery from earlier in Season 3.  Why did we have the Episode “Supply Lines,” to expand on the character of King Katuunko so it would feel more significant when, as happens he gets killed by Savage. 

Savage uses his lighstaber to melt through the palace doors, and dispatches the King’s guards.  He then knocks the King out and attempts to depart when Obi-Wan and Anakin walk in and a cool fight breaks out between the three of them on the floating platforms we have seen used in the episode “Supply Lines.”  

Savage manages to pin Obi-Wan and Anakin under a platform and escape.  But before Opress escapes he force pushes their space craft off the royal landing dock and to its destruction.  One note about Savage Opress and his force powers.  It certainly appears in the show that his powers are closer to Starkiller’s (Force Unleashed) then the typical Jedi or Sith we have seen in the movies or Expanded Universe.  He is not only tremendously strong physically but in the dark side. 

Following his escape from Obi-Wan and Anakin, Savage returns to Dooku’s flag ship which is waiting in orbit around Toydaria.  Seeing Savage bring in the dead King Katuunko when he ordered him to bring him back alive infuriates Dooku and he lights Savage up with force lightning again.  This is where things get even more interesting and action packed.  But in the interest of not spoiling the fun and the fate of Savage Opress, this is where my review is going to leave off for now. 

Once the final episode of the Savage Opress series is televised I will share my thoughts on what we saw, but the payoff is too good to ruin it for anyone.  Avoid spoilers for this at all costs and have your mind blown. 

 Check Back tomorrow for my thoughts on the Preview we saw for the second half of Season Three.  Ahsoka looks to be the star of the Season Finale……


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