Saturday, February 12, 2011

Battle Meditation Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Ghosts of Mortis (Episode 3.17)

Namaste Clone Wars Fans!

Episode Title & Number:  "Ghosts of Mortis" Season 3, Episode 17 (3.17)

Original Air Date: February 11, 2011. 

Review Blurb: If you have a vision of going to the Dark Side and doing very bad things, then obviously going to the Dark Side  seems like the obvious way to avoid doing said very bad things.  Wait, that doesn't make any sense at all. Anakin is a bit dumb, all midi-chlorians and no brains. 

Jedi Fortune Cookie: "He who seeks to control fate shall never find peace."

Master and Apprentice?

Episode Dramatis Personae:

Father, Male Force Wielder
Son, Male Force Wielder, Dark Side personified
Daughter, Female Force Wielder, Light Side personified (Deceased)
Anakin, Male Jedi Knight
Ahsoka, Female Togruta Jedi Padawan
Obi-Wan, Male Jedi Master
Qui-Gon Jinn, Male Jedi Master (Deceased), Force Ghost
Captain Rex, Clone Trooper Captain, Grand Army of the Republic

Episode Summary:


Stranded! Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano are caught in the middle of a treacherous battle between good and evil.

The scales now tip toward the dark side. Our three warriors must guard against attack as they plan their escape. A great weight has been placed on Anakin's shoulders, for it is now that he must face who he really is....

Episode Guide Synopsis:

The Jedi remain stranded on Mortis, and the Son, aligned with the dark side of the Force, renews his efforts to convert Anakin as the Jedi prepare for a decisive confrontation. Anakin is stunned by images of his dark future. The Son promises him the power to avert this destiny. The Father recognizes that the Son has broken the rules of time. He wipes Anakin's memory of these future visions, and steals the Mortis Dagger to end the conflict. The Father impales himself, thus preventing the Son from stealing his power. The Son, stunned by this, is run through by Anakin. With all three Force-wielders destroyed, the imbalance in the Force disappears on Mortis. The three Jedi are transplanted back to the galaxy proper, apparently at the moment that they disappeared.


I) Story/Writing

Once again this weeks episode was written by Christain Taylor and Directed by Steward Lee. Ghosts of Mortis was the final of the three part Mortis story arc, and I thought it was a fitting conclusion to the arc.  "Ghosts" didn't exactly answer all or even most of the questions that the first two episodes raised but it was a satisfying conclusion to what was the most mind bending storytelling we have scene on the Clone Wars too date.  This arc featured bizarre and super-powered characters, crazy events and visions, and a ton of mythology and metaphors. 

Father went out like Obi-Wan and Yoda

Who was the Father? 
It is completely intentional that the Father is the only one of the three Force-wielders that vanishes upon his death as Obi-Wan and Yoda do. 
Assuming for a minute that what happened on Mortis was real, what kind of being was Father.  It seems significant that they showed him become one with the Force like Obi-Wan and Yoda when they died.  Does this mean he was a Jedi?

If Father was a Jedi, that would certainly explain why he had a 2,000 year old Jedi code.  What would explain his long left?  Some near-human species?  Special properties of Mortis itself in his role.

What are other posibilities, could Father, Son and Daughter actually be Celestials?  The Celestials are the ancient and mysterious architects of many things in the galaxy such as the Maw and the Corellian System/Centerpoint Station.

Could this family be members of the Whills Order?  This seems both the most intriguing and most likely scenario giving the hand of the Maker, George Lucas in this story line.  Qui-Gon and by extension, Yoda then Obi-Wan learned from the Whills teachings the way to join the Force upon death but retain ones own uniqueness in the Force, this ability resulted in these persons being able to return as Force Ghosts.  The Whills are a Lucas idea, not an EU idea, so I think this maybe what is hinted at in the way the Father disappears. 

Empty Robes
I am a bit confused by the dramatic conclusion of the episode.  In Altar of Mortis we see the Son attempt to murder the Father, but in Ghosts of Mortis we see the Son begging his Father not to die.  Is this a change of heart after losing his sister, the Daughter?  After the Son says this, the Father echoing Luke talking to Vader tells the Son that he still senses good in him.  It makes you  wonder what exactly the Son wanted at the end.  Did he simply want to leave the planet, and confident in his own power just wanted to leave his Father behind, alive but impotent? 

At times it almost feels like they have to truncate dialogue in order to move the story along enough to complete it in 22 minutes.  It also makes me wonder if some time was wasted on the whole mechanic Ahsoka thing that could have been better used later in the episode.

Why are the letting Ahsoka fix the only ship on Mortis?

Having Ahsoka work on the Jedi shuttle was kind of cool, she got some new nifty goggles and it showed some skills that too this point, we didn't know she had, but this one didn't make much sense.  Obviously the reason they had Ahsoka working on the ship was because they needed a story telling excuse to get her away from Anakin and Obi-Wan for portions of this episode.  But lets look at it logically, Anakin is gifted with machines, he can build them, he can fly them, he can program them, he is more attuned to machines then most Jedi.  We also know that this is the only ship off the planet, and that even after Ahsoka does her repairs she doesn't know if the ship will hold together once it gets into space.  Really, if your only hope of survival is fixing this ship aren't you going to have Anakin do it and not entrust it to his young Padawan, with limited engineering experience?

Maybe I'm the only one this really bothered, but it just didn't seem that logical and took me out of the episode a bit. 

Are Ahsoka's and Obi-Wan's Memories Intact?

Just how much of Anakin's memory did the Father wipe?  Just the illegal vision of the future it would seem, does that mean Anakin remembers what he did once he joined the Son?  Does Obi-Wan remember being trapped an almost killed by Anakin and his new friend?  Does Ahsoka remember her master turning to the Dark Side?

If he does remember, does Obi-Wan chalk it up to the powers of the Son, like Ahsoka's Dark turn?

When they wake up after going through the LOST light flash sequence before returning to real space again, do they think it was all a dream?  Do they think it was real?  It would have been nice if one of them received a scar or item, a trinket or something in their pocket that they found when they returned to real space and realized that what they experienced was real.

What Was Mortis?

Was Mortis some kind of pocket universe within the larger Star Wars universe, was it something that existed in a different dimension, within the giant black space diamond, or was it simply a dream?  These questions are largely left unanswered by the trilogy.

It seems like we need a scene somewhere down the road, where Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Anakin sit down and talk about what they make of their experiences on Mortis.  It seems like to momentous of an event to simply shrug off and return to the next adventure without some kind of  debriefing.  I certainly hope they comeback to this storyline at some point to help it make sense for both the characters and the fans.

Qui-Gon Jinn was a Force Ghost

It is only my opinion but after seeing Liam Neeson re-appear in this weeks episode and talk to Anakin, I firmly believe that this was a Force Ghost. Before Anakin interacts with Qui-Gon the Father specifically says that on that part of the planet the Dark Side has now influence, so it couldn't be the Son appearing to Anakin trying to manipulate him.  We also know that it can't be the Daughter because she is dead.  So either, its the Father trying to manipulate Anakin, its the Force itself speaking in a form familiar to Anakin, its a hallucination of Anakin's own invention, or its actually Qui-Gon Jinn as a Force Ghost.  I think it makes the most sense that its a Force Ghost. 

II) Acting

Once again Matt Lanter (Anakin) is bringing his fastaball in this episode.  Also Sam Witwer, Sam's vocal range and ability to sound differently scene to scene was very impressive. 

III) Animation

A) Call back to Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith
The lava used in the Well of the Dark Side uses some of the same elements from Revenge of the Sith Mustafar scenes, according to effects supervisor Joel Aron.
 I really enjoy the use of the red and black color scheme as well as the lava, to make the Well of the Darkside evil and evocative of RotS. 

B) Use of concept art helps tie the cartoon into the saga by use of art/imagery.
The very portable Jedi jumpseeders are based off a speeder bike concept drawings from Return of the Jedi.

Any time we see concept art particularly that of Ralph McQuarrie in the series it is really cool, not only do you get to see a different version of something we saw in the movies, but sometimes we get to see something that was left on the cutting room floor for future use. 

Some of the concept design for the Well of the Dark Side was taken from early Ralph McQuarrie designs for subterranean levels of the Imperial Palace where Luke was going to face the Emperor deep within Coruscant in Return of the Jedi.

Wait what?  Luke was going to battle the Emperor deep under Coruscant in Return of the Jedi?  That sounds awesome.  Not that I don't love RotJ, but that sounds cool and its the first I have heard about that. 

 C) Symbols

Wolfpack Shout-out!

IV) New Characters/Planets/Vehicles  

TCW Dark Side Anakin
Angry Obi-Wan in Anakin's vision

Obi-Wan about to get the "Mace Windu" Treatement

Vision of Emperor Palpatine
Daughter's Moseleum

Alderaan goes Boom!  Somewhere Tycho is getting a holo-call interupted...

Its not what it looks like...Don't be jealous Obi-Wan
Compact Jedi Scooter

Mortis goes Times Square New Years Eve!
Hey Rex!

Not a lot new this week, but some new looks for previously existing characters. 

V) Continuity Clashes:  "How I learned to stop worrying and love the ret-cons."

Mind Wipe: In some ways it feels a bit cheap that they resorted to the Force Mind Wipe to remove Anakin's memories of the vision of the Future that the Son gave him in the Well of the Dark Side.  Its a familiar storytelling device when someone learns too much or more then they should that they conveniently unlearn it.  But from a continuity perspective, there is countless times when characters in the Star Wars universe have their memory erased or modified. 

VI) Rating This Episode

"Nothing is Set in Stone:"  Ultimately the lesson of this arc, is that no matter what your destiny there is always a choice.  Destiny sets you on a path, but your choice determines the outcome of that path. 
I really, really enjoyed this episode, I think it was the best of the three Mortis episodes on the whole.  The only big drawback was the Ahsoka mechanic subplot which bothers me.  Ghosts of Mortis gets a 9.0 out of 10. 

VII) Next on The Clone Wars

Next week on TCW is Episode 3.18, "Citadel."

Description of "Citadel" from Knights Archive:
On an all new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi encased in carbonite? Battle droids working for the Republic? And, did he say Captain Tarkin? This jailbreak is going to be rough! Don’t miss part one of a special 3-part Star Wars: The Clone Wars special event!

Cartoon Network's Preview Clip for Citadel

Video Clips 


  1. I think that the Son's hatred for the father disappeared when he killed himself. I doubt he became powerless when the Father was killed, but if he needed hate to fuel his dark side powers then the fact that he didn't kill the Father himself probably meant that hatred seeped out of him.

    I think there are similarities between Vader and Obi-Wan. Vader yells "I hate you" at the end of ROTS, and for 19 years was obsessed with finding Obi-Wan and then eventually does kill him. If Obi-Wan had killed himself or been killed at the hands of another, I doubt Vader would have lost all of his hatred but there would be some lingering feeling of loss. Vader did kill Obi-Wan and probably better for his dark side ambitions.

    Dark Side Anakin told Obi-Wan that it is the Jedi who would stand in the way of peace. Surely Obi-Wan (who doesn't have his memory wiped) would have told the Jedi Council that, and such case perhaps seen that the Dark Side intended to destroy the Jedi in the war.

    I'm thinking that there is more in this story and may have benefited from being 4 episodes rather than a trilogy.

  2. Isn't next week's episode titled "The Citadel"?

  3. Thanks Shea, that is why I need an editor sometimes. Brain cramps.