Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Maze Run by David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams

Star Wars Insider: Issue 131 features an all new piece of short fiction entitled, Maze Run by authors David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams.

Maze Run is a story featuring Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon set before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope.  It is set in the area of space known as the Rishi Maze, which was first mentioned by Dexter Jettster in his conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi as a point of reference when looking for the planet Kamino in Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Fans will be interesting to note that while she doesn't appear in the story, a deleted scene character is mentioned.  Han's would be love interest at the beginning of Star Wars, Jenny makes a brief appearance in Han Solo's internal monologue in the story.
The one that got away...
The story is written as a tie-in of sorts with the Haynes Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual being released Tuesday January 31st by Del Rey.  It is a little different in that the recent short stories have been tie-ins to novels, whereas this one is a tie-in to what is in essence an Essential Guide to the Millennium Falcon.   As such the two Williams had more a free hand in crafting their little tale in a narrative sense.

The story does go into some of the Falcon's technical aspects like the auxiliary flight controls in the engineering section, the 3D Navcom display and the ships shielding.   The story is interesting in the how it may effect Han's view of the Rebellion and just why it may be a bad idea to associate with that cause.  On the whole however it is a fairly underwhelming tale that doesn't do a lot to impact continuity or allow us to learn more about Han and Chewie.

Of course I am a sucker for Han and Chewie adventures so I still enjoyed it, though it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

SOURCE: Star Wars Insider # 131 Page 45-51.

Description for Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.19 "Massacre"

The current issue (#131) of Star Wars Insider magazine's Launchpad section gives us some details on the next three episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Box: Febuary 3rd

"Obi-Wan Kenobi takes part in a deadly contest to establish warriors fierce enough to participate in a plot to kidnap Palpatine."

Crisis on Naboo: February 10th

"Count Dooku and his squad of bounty hunters launch their plan to kidnap Palpatine.  Can Obi-Wan and Anakin stop them?"

Massacre: February 24th

"The first episode of a four-part season finale.  Count Dooku seeks revenge for his betrayal at the hands of Asajj Ventress and the Nightsisters."

"Look out for: The sinister army of the undead!"  

We learn that Massacre which is the first episode of the four-part arc that will see the introduction to TCW of Darth Maul and the return of Savage Opress will also feature in it's first episode the return of Asajj Ventress and the Nightsisters of Dathomir.

The episode will be directed by Steward Lee and Katie Lucas.  Lee has directed 13 previous TCW and Katie Lucas has written 6 previous TCW episodes.   Most notably Ms. Lucas was the scribe behind last season "Nightsisters Trilogy" which featured the introduction of Savage Opress and the teaser reveal of Darth Maul still being alive.

Sounds like from the description we may be getting some Nighsister magicks that are similar to Sith Sorcery in raising an army of undead.  It is interesting that Lee also directed two of the previous zombie episodes "Legacy of Terror" and "Brain Invaders."

I wonder if the betrayal by Ventress has something to do with foiling the plot to kidnap Palpatine that Dooku will be launching in the final episode of the current arc, or will we be getting some News Reel betrayal at the beginning of episode 4.19?  Perhaps it is just Ventress and the Nighsisters ambushing Dooku with an army of undead in an attempt to assassinate him like last season's failed assault on his mansion on Serenno.

I am really looking forward to the final arc of the season.

SOURCE: Star Wars Insider #131

Our TCW Reviews will now be linked to on Roqoo Depot

The kind folks over at Roqoo Depot have started to link to our Star Wars: The Clone Wars reviews.

If you haven't visited this blog before, thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy TCW reviews as much as I enjoy writing them.  Sometimes they are serious, sometimes they are humorous, but most of the time they are some odd combination of both.

If you like our TCW reviews, check out some of our other content as well.  There is a search tab on the right side of the site that allows you to search for articles on various topics.

Thanks again to Roqoo Depot, though I don't think I am pretty enough to be in Hapan space.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.16 Friends and Enemies

Author's Note:  I would be remiss if I didn't take a brief moment to mourn the passing of actor Ian Abercrombie who passed away on Thursday at the age of 77.  The actor perhaps most famous recently for his recurring role on Seinfeld, did a magnificent job on Star Wars: The Clone Wars as the voice of Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious.  Mr. Abercrombie's perfromances will be missed from the series by this viewer a great deal.  

Part two of the Undercover Brother arc kicks the action into high gear as Obi-Wan tries to stay one step ahead of his criminal pals, the Hutts, and his former Padawan.

"Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer."
Fleeing across the galaxy with criminal fugitives, a disguised Obi-Wan, Cad Bane and Moralo Eval are tenaciously pursued by Anakin and Ahsoka, who have no idea they're chasing their friend.

Before I get into my thoughts on this weeks episode let me do a brief cataloging of what Obi-Wan went through in this episode. He survived two crash landings, poison gas to the face, the business end of the staff to the face knocking him out, he was suspended upside down, electrocuted, punched in the guy by the business end of the staff again, choked by Cad Bane, and kneed in the groin during a hand to hand brawl with Anakin.  Is it any wonder Obi-Wan doesn't like flying?

This episode was amazing, and only after watching it a second time did I appreciate how layered the storytelling was.  It made 22 minutes feel like an hour.  There were some really impressive visuals particularly in the final ship to ship duel towards the end of the episode, but there was so much to mention in this episode that I am sure I will leave some things back.  Let's just cover a few things quickly before I get into the meat of the review, I think we can all agree that Cad Bane is pretty awesome and that the sparring between Bane and Obi-Wan in the guise of Rako Hardeen was particularly satisfying.  It also is revealed though hardly surprising the relationship between Eval and Dooku.  Now on to some aspects of the show I found particularly interesting.

Finally we get to see what to me is one of the most interesting and least explored parts of the series, the little private chats that Palpatine and Anakin have as Palpatine on the surface is mentoring his friend but under the surface is grooming Anakin to take his place at Palpatine's feet as his next apprentice.

This mentor/surrogate father relationship that Palpatine foster's is certainly a lot different then how he treated young Darth Maul, and is interesting and fitting with his character as the ultimate political chameleon that he tailor's his approach differently to different audiences.  Palpatine's raising of Maul was more like the forging of a weapon, whereas his approach with Anakin was much more of a seduction to the Dark Side.  You have these two profound influences on Anakin's life in Obi-Wan and Palpatine, and while we see a ton of the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, it feels like the Anakin and Palpatine relationship has not been fleshed out in a way that shows these little seeds that Palpatine plants in Anakin's mind and slowly watered over the years, making his rather abrupt break from the Jedi and fall in Episode III make more sense.

Complete this little scene with the fact that Mace is having a "private" holocom call with the Chancellor and unbeknownst to Mace, Anakin is sitting in the Palpatine's office, a little play acting that Palpatine uses to flame the fire's of Anakin's anger and resentment against the Jedi for their inaction.  Palpatine sending Anakin on a mission without consulting the Jedi Council, positions our characters in a way that seems much closer to their Episode III relationships then we have seen so far in the series. On a lighter not,  did anyone else catch the nifty Revenge of the Sith statuary in Palpatine's office?

Sistros or Braata statue

We got to see the Glorious Jewel of Nal Hutta, which looked really cool.  We got a wide variety of aliens, mostly low-lifes, a very brief but very inebriated Sy Snootles, more angry including a very Vader-ish Force choke, followed up by Anakin calling Ahsoka Snips.

I really enjoyed the way they portrayed Rako Hardeen, he comes off much more then just Obi-Wan pretending to be someone else, you can almost forget that this isn't Rako Hardeen except for the brief bits of morality that slips from behind the mask.

Hooray for hat jokes, this episode was replete with Cad Bane taking shots about his fashion calling card.  I particularly enjoyed the Indiana Jones hat as well as a hat that looked a lot like the one worn by the smuggler in the SWTOR cinematic "Return" trailer.

How about haggling with a Bith starship salesman, that would be rough.  Of course this episode of the series made the Bith seem a bit like the Ferengi in their duplicitous business practices.  

Captain Rex had a brief but memorable exchange with basically the second ranking Jedi in the galaxy.  When pressed for information on his General Anakin Skywalker's whereabouts, Rex ignored Mace Windu's direct question about Anakin's location.  In the military command structure Rex should have complied with Mace as he outranked Anakin, however it appears that we are seeing some added depth here where we see  the personal bond between Rex and Anakin being more important to Rex then following a superior's orders.

Rating: Friends and Enemies (Frenemies) gets an 8.5.  Tons of action, tons of scum and villainy, and some really interesting intrigue.  Thus ends my ramblings for this week.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Friends and Enemies (4.16)

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Box (4.17)

Are you ready to rumble?  Reason the Sith are awesome reason # 193, who else would hold a battle royal between the galaxies best bounty hunters inside a floating cube?   Once you enter, resistance is futile.

"The strong survive, the noble overcome."
The disguised Obi-Wan accompanies Cad Bane and Moralo Eval to Serenno, where they enlist in a brutal competition with other bounty hunters from around the galaxy to determine who will participate in a plot to kidnap the Chancellor.

Link to Watch The Box Trailer on 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

STAR WARS: SCOURGE gets a Mini-excerpt by Star Wars Books on Facebook

Today we saw the release of a new mini-excerpt for Jeff Grubb's forthcoming Star Wars novel, Scourge that will have a heavy dose of Hutts in it.

STAR WARS: SCOURGE mini-excerpt #1 (ES):
Paperback/eBook on sale April 24, 2012
“A Jedi goes where he is needed,” said Mander. “Your brother, regardless of his fate, knew this. I taught him that, as I myself was taught. I will finish Toro’s task, and if I can, bring those responsible for his death to justice. I would appreciate your help.” He looked at the Bothan. “Both of you.”

We also got information on where the book will fit into on the novel timeline.

It's set after The Hand of Thrawn Duology and before Survivor's Quest on the Timeline. (ES)

Look for more information as this book as it comes out and a review shortly before the novel's release.

SOURCE: Star Wars Books on Facebook

Haynes Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual Review

In what may seem like deja vu the creative team of writer author Ryder Windham and artists Chris Trevas and Chris Reiff are back in the cockpit for another book exploring the inner workings of the most famous starship ever, the Millennium Falcon.

In September of 2010 this trio brought us the Star Wars: Millennium Falcon: A 3-D Owner's Guide, which was a really fun book put together by Becker & Mayer Books.  The 3-D Owner's Guide was an over-sized heavy cardboard book that featured a layered cut-away of the Millennium Falcon, each page contained a "slice" of the ship showing certain systems and surrounding the cut away was text and images associated with the systems discussed.  That book was designed for ages 8 and up, so as cool as it was it was designed for a younger audience and at 22 pages there was only so much information that could be included.

Random House Publishing's Del Rey imprint has taken a similar idea and put a new spin on it that gives a book that is both visually appealing for younger audiences and is detail rich for the more discerning nerd.  Partnering with renowned automotive repair manual publisher Haynes, the Haynes Star Wars: Millennium Falcon: Owner's Workshop Manual is 125 pages of geek fun.

The book is crammed full of  images from the films, production photos, and illustrations.  While this full color book doesn't look like most Haynes manuals I have seen on the inside, the concept itself works to make the marketing gimmick make sense.  If you have used a Haynes manual in the past, this book is of a better quality.  It comes with a glossy hardcover and the internal pages are printed on a nice sturdy paper stock.  

Artwork for cutaway
The only production issue that I have with this book, is the binding which causes you to loose some of the content into the hinge of the book.  This problem is greatest on pages 36-39.  Pages 36-37 feature a cutaway of the ship spread across two pages and pages 38-39 feature a two page floor plan of the ship, the problem is that both images are bisected by the binding.  This would have been potentially solved by either having a fold out insert page at this point in the book, or tweaking how the image was laid out on the pages.
Finished cutaway in the book.

The book contains a ton of information, already released in the United Kingdom, here is the table of contents  which is broken down into nine sections.  (1) The History of Corellian Engineering & The YT-Series, (2) The Millennium Falcon, (3) Piloting a YT-1300, (4) YT-1300 Propulsion, (5) Weapons &  Defensive Systems, (6) YT-1300 Engineering Systems, (7) YT-1300 Sensors, (8) Crew Facilities, (9) Size Comparison Chart.

This book gives you a ton of back story on Corellian Engineering, the YT series in general and the special modifications that Han Solo had made to the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.  While it may not be a must buy for all Star Wars fans, if you are interested in spacecraft, design, art, or simply learning more about the Millennium Falcon, this is a book you will not want to miss.

If this book doesn't make you want to build your own Millennium Falcon, then I am not sure what will.

The Haynes Star Wars: Millennium Falcon: Owner's Workshop Manual will be released on January 31st, 2012 and has a MSRP of $28.00.

For more on the Haynes Star Wars: Millennium Falcon: Owner's Workshop Manual visit, Random House's Website. 

James Arnold Taylor's "Talking to Myself" Trailer is Intense

Voice actor James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) has released via Youtube a trailer for his 80 minute stage show entitled, "Talking to Myself."

Taylor's zest for life and humor shine through in this performance.

I can't wait to see the rest of the performance.

SOURCE: James Arnold Taylor' Facebook

Monday, January 23, 2012

James Luceno to do Facebook Chat Wednesday 1/25

Star Wars Books on Facebook, Del Rey's official Facebook page for the Star Wars publishing line will be holding a chat with author James Luceno on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 3 P.M. EST/12 P.M. PST.

Chat with STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS author James Luceno this Wednesday, 1/25, at 3:00 pm Eastern time. James Luceno will visit us right here on Del Rey's Star Wars Books Facebook page to chat with you about Darth Plagueis as well as his other Star Wars novels. Should be a great chat about an amazing book. He's already commenting on the page about eating hearts and the chat hasn't even begun yet! (ES)

SOURCE: Star Wars Books

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.15 Deception

Having the mentor to the emotionally unstable "Chosen One" fake his death in front of said Chosen One with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance of the Clone Wars doesn't seem like Yoda's best idea ever, just saying.
"All warfare is based on deception."
When the Jedi learn of a Separatist plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine, one of them must go deep undercover as a hardened criminal to extract information from the conspirators.

In an episode directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Brent Friedman, James Arnold Taylor does double duty as both Obi-Wan Kenobi  and Rako Hardeen, and Stephen Stanton returns to the series in the role of a new villain of the week as Moralo Eval.

This was a fun episode.  I loved the scene between Mace and Yoda discussing killing a Jedi, taken out of context that sounded very dark.  It was an interesting set up that they have a plan hatched between the three Masters (Yoda, Mace, Obi-Wan) to hire a bounty-hunter/sniper in Rako Hardeen to assassinate Kenobi.  Of course the Jedi plan is for Obi-Wan to fake his death, but in order for Hardeen to buy it and to establish the necessary cover for Obi-Wan, it means that Anakin and Ahsoka also have to believe Obi-Wan is dead and cannot be in on the plot.  Not only do Anakin and Ahsoka have to deal with this but Padme and Duchess Satine also have to deal with their sense of loss at the death of Master Kenobi.

This seems like a very curious decison for the Jedi.  Is Obi-Wan the only one capable of going undercover? Clearly Obi-Wan and presumably the rest of the Masters know how close Anakin is to his former Master and tag team partner.  They also know Anakin's flaw of attachment is his shatterpoint (couldn't resist), this charade strikes directly at that flaw and risks shattering Anakin.

We see just how emotional and how perilous Anakin's control of his emotions are in this episode, and from the previews it certainly looks like this theme will be explored in the rest of the arc with Anakin potentially hunting down and battling his former Master in disguise.

The transformation scenes were a bit nasty, whether it is nanotechnology or some other means that Obi-Wan was transformed into Rako Hardeen, and the spider like vocal droid that crawled down his gullet, it is clear that Obi-Wan's season of pain is continuing.  I really liked Obi-Wan taking Hardeen's clothes like Arnold did in the Terminator films.

The episode itself is well paced and brings back some classic characters, Boba Fett, Bossk, and Cad Bane all return as residents of the Republic's Panopticon prison.  I really enjoyed the prison scenes, we get to learn that the Republic apparently doesn't have a Juvenile detention facility as  Bob'ika is in with the big boys.  We also learn that even in the galaxy far, far away convicts enjoy a good bench press.  The hulked out Rodian made me laugh.

We learn that things are really coming full circle for Stephen Stanton, who last season voiced Captain Tarkin who killed a Phindian in Osi Sobeck, is now playing a Phindian in Moralo Eval.  Eval isn't alone in his prison cell however as his cell mate is none other then Cade Bane.  Bane of course has a plan to break them out of prison and allow Eval to enact his own plan to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine at an event on Naboo.

Once Obi-Wan is undercover he has to try to win the trust of Eval, which he does by aiding in the trio's escape from the prison.  Of course Obi-Wan and Cad Bane instantly are at odds and it sets up an interesting dynamic as Obi-Wan departs the planet Coruscant with Eval and Bane in a stolen freighter, setting up next weeks episode.

Rating: Deception gets a 7.5.  A solid story with some really cool scenes and visuals. This episode will work much better watched in conjunction with the rest of the arc, because it's really just the story of Obi-Wan going undercover and introducing us to Eval.  It's nice to see Boba, Bossk and Bane back and I look forward to exploring angry Anakin.

Direct Link to view Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Deception (4.15)

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Friends and Enemies (4.16)

In part two of a four-part Obi-Wan arc, while undercover Obi-Wan and Cad Bane become Frenemies as Obi-Wan tries to unravel Moralo Eval's plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine.

"Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer."
Fleeing across the galaxy with criminal fugitives, a disguised Obi-Wan, Cad Bane and Moralo Eval are tenaciously pursued by Anakin and Ahsoka, who have no idea they're chasing their friend.

Review: Red Tails

From Executive Producer George Lucas and Director Anthony Hemingway, Red Tails is a labor of love, years in the making.  With a budget of approximately $58 million and Mr. Lucas ponying up approximately another $35 million do distribute the film, you know this is a story that Lucas desperately wanted to tell.

What we get on the screen is a tale that has two focuses, the individual battles that the fighter pilots of Red Squadron fight versus their German ("Jerry") opponents in the sky, and the battles they wage within themselves, against each other, and against the colossus of racism that made the Army Air Corps a very difficult place for these men to live and fight.

I cannot say enough about the aerial combat depicted in this film, ILM nailed it out of the park.  Even without a story I would pay money to simply see these scenes on the big screen.

While I enjoyed the film a great deal, there are some issues with story and dialogue that I feel missed the mark.  Red Tails focused more on the personal story of the pilots then the war itself, but it felt to me like we could have used more of a build up for the main German antagonist, the Ace pilot known to the Red Tails simply as "Pretty Boy."  Pretty Boy's ultimate fate was as satisfying as it should have been with more build up for his character as the villain of the story.

The sub-plot involving Ray "Junior" Gannon being captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp and the story of his escape seemed superfluous to the story and that character's loss and return could have been told in a more efficient way for the overall story.

The sub-plot involving Marty 'Easy' Julian, who dealing with a domineering father with high expectations as well as the stress of being the flight leader fights his own personal battle with alcoholism, gave the character additional depth.  The problem with this sub-plot is that it didn't seem to go anywhere, there is some hint that the alcohol is impairing his judgement, but the issue isn't really brought to the front and feels like they brought it up without a real storytelling payoff for it.

The biggest criticism of the film will likely be for the dialogue.  There are some rather bad lines in the film that made this viewer cringe at times.  The other issue with the dialogue is that there is a good deal of profanity which will be a factor to consider when deciding if you should take your kids to see it.

On the whole Red Tails is a very entertaining film, I particularly enjoyed the performance of Terrance Howard as Colonel A.J. Bullard and David Oyelowo as Joe 'Lightning' Little.  To me this film had the feel of the old WWII propaganda films, if you view the movie in this genre some of the story and dialogue concerns are consistent with this style of film. It is a movie that will play well taping into the patriotic zeal across this country regardless of race.  It is a film that is the embodiment of that memorable line by Martin Luther King Jr., "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  One thing is for sure, the members of Red Squadron certainly had character in abundance.

See it and enjoy it, and don't forget to watch out for the Jerrys.

For more information and a behind the scenes look at the film, visit the official Red Tails website.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Star Wars: Essential Readers Companion Cover and my musings

Bonnie Burton does yoewomans' work over at the Official Star Wars Blog and today she gave us an update on one the new wave of Essential Guides coming out this year.  On August 21, 2012 Random House will release Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion by author Pablo Hidalgo (@infinata) and artists Chris Trevas (@christrevas) and Jeff Carlisle (@JeffCarlisle) posted the cover art:

For EU readers this is a must have book.  It will cover the entire line of Star Wars fiction writing, from the young reader books to the novels.  I can easily say that this is my most highly anticipated Essential Guide.  Readers of this site will know that I am a huge dork for the Star Wars novels.  I can't wait to dig into this book.

Star poses the question if you can spot the Star Wars covers within the Reader Companion's cover that was brilliantly designed by Scott Biel and painted by Paul Youll.

Starting from Left to Right:  I see Darth Plagueis by James Luceno, Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas (Ghost written by Alan Dean Foster), Young Jedi Knights: Heirs to the Force by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, a New Jedi Order novel, I think it's The Unifying Force but I can't tell, a yellow cover that I think is K.W. Jeter's The Bounty Hunter Wars #1: The Mandalorian Armor, and below Jeff's name X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Mike Stackpole.

Am I right?  Did I miss any?

SOURCE: Star Wars Blog

A beautiful day in paradise with the Phantom Menace approaching

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 4.14 "A Friend in Need"

Ori'buyce, kih'kovid
What happens when you combine TCW head writer Christian Taylor and Supervising Director Dave Filoni ?  You get an episode packed with 22 minutes of Ahsoka kicking butt.
"Friendship shows us who we really are."
A peace conference between Separatists and Republic delegates is interrupted by Lux Bonteri, the son of a late Separatist Senator, who involves Ahsoka in his dangerous search to find justice for his mother's death.
Now that was a fun episode of TCW.  I am a huge fan of serialized story-telling, but when done write episodic writing has lots of merits.  This episode should serve as an example of what a stand alone episode can do to advance the story, provide character development and pack an exciting story into 22 minutes.

This may have also been my favorite Ahsoka centered episode of the series.  Which wouldn't have been possible without to creative choices that TCW team made.  The first was to jump forward in the timeline starting last season.  This time jump allows us to see an older and more mature Ahsoka, which in turn lets them explore more mature emotions and actions including her attraction to Lux Bonteri which features heavily in this episode.  The other was to develop a second (shoto) lightsaber for Ahsoka and give her a more distinct fighting style.  The use of two lightsabers, one of which (the shoto) is held in a reverse grip provides for much more dynamic fight scenes and moves and leads to less generic Jedi in battle scenes.

Ahsoka vs. Death Watch, like the entire Death Watch...I think they'll need more Mandos
We got to see some interesting things in this episode.  Let's start with an older and world weiry Lux Bonteri, publicly accusing Count Dooku of murder showed that Lux has developed some Death Star sized cojones. But just when you are thinking, hey I like this Lux kid, he goes and tasers his would be girlfriend.

Clearly Lux still is a little naive to the way the galaxy work, because he gets the brilliant idea to partner with Death Watch to attempt to exact their mutual revenge against Count Dooku.  We learn that Lux' accusation of Dooku was simply a means to an end to get Dooku to make a holonet call so that Lux could trace the connection and find out Dooku's location.  This information would then be used by Death Watch to attempt to kill the Count.

Apparently George Lucas wanted Death Watch to be more like a biker gang, and I think he got his wish.  In the new version of Death Watch we get less uniformity, we get new sub-groups (complete with emblems and patches), new skill sets, and nifty new armor.  We also get some rather nasty behavior towards droids and local women-folk.  Typical bully behavior.

The scenes with the droids were particularly well done, showed the senseless violence of Death Watch and the droids' drive to avoid deactivation/destruction.  Poor R2 had a lot of work to do to put those droids back together.

Which brings us to Katee Sackoff's new character Bo-Katan.  Katan is Pre Vizsla's second in command and the first female Mandolorian warrior we have seen in the show, though hardly the first female Mando in the EU.  While Katan held her own in battle there wasn't a ton for the character to do in this episode and according to Dave Filoni, it seems like this was an introduction to a character we will be seeing much more of.


              I hope you all enjoy the episode tonight. I think the Death Watch has gotten significantly cooler, and we are going to build on that next season. One of my favorite things about this episode was the introduction of female Death Watch troopers led by Bo-Katan named The Night Owls. We were incredibly fortunate to get Katee Sackhoff to join the cast and portray the deadly Bo-Katan. Her character didn’t originally exist in the script; she was simply a character called “Death Watch Lieutenant” and was a man. I changed that when I went to direct the episode. This was done late in production, and while we were able to create her armor we didn’t have time to do her head, which requires much more complex rigging and time to develop the facial shapes. I decided to leave her helmet on and do a more developed, expressive face in season five. So, for a little sneak peak at what’s to come, I did this quick illustration for all of you. It gives you a glimpse of her face, and who knows, if you can make it to Celebration 6 in Orlando you might get to see more Death Watch action than ever before.

The Force will be with you… always!

Dave (From Dave Filoni's Public Facebook Page)

But lets get back to Lux for a moment, it is clear that while he is disillusioned with the Separatists because of Dooku, he doesn't trust the Republic even if he does trust Ahsoka.  He acts rashly but bravely to shut up Ahsoka and potentially save her life as Vizsla and his cronies enter the tent they are staying in at the Death Watch camp.  This scene gives us what one can only assume is Ahsoka's first kiss.  We know both Obi-Wan and Anakin have had their romantic relationships and now it seems like Ahsoka may be exploring a similar path, does she take the route of her Master or of her Master's Master?

In typical Death Watch fashion, the gang is being very uncool to the local villagers.  After the local chief asks them to leave and return the captured villagers, Viszla agrees but only to go back on his word, kill the chief's granddaughter and starts to set the village ablaze before Ahsoka intervenes.  Ahsoka manages to impale (and presumably kill) one Death Watch warrior, incapacitate two others before battling Viszla and being subdued by multiple cables.

Ahsoka is taken back to the Death Watch camp where she is being restrained by four guards while Vizsla taunts her and an imprisoned Lux, he is about to kill Ahsoka when R2 comes to the rescue and creates a diversion and returns Ahsoka's lightsabers to her.  This is when Ahsoka goes all Anakin and in one move decapitates four Death Watch commandos, before once again doing battle with Vizsla.  The battle continues with the help of the droids that R2 repaired and while Bo-Katan gives chase and another duel occurs atop a speeder, the trio of Ahsoka, Lux and R2 are able to escape.

This leads to the final scene between Ahsoka and Lux which to this scifi fan made me immediately think back to Star Trek II in which Spock dies and we get that memorable scene.  I could almost hear Lux saying, "I have been and always shall be your friend."

I mentioned Star Trek, I feel dirty.

I had two minor quibbles with this episode.  The first was that when Lux pulled a blaster pistol on Ahsoka aboard the shuttle it was referred to as a "gun" this doesn't really seemed to fit with standard in universe terminology.  Not a huge deal but if Han Solo calls it a blaster, it's a blaster.

The other thing that struck me as odd is that when Bo-Katan is bested by Ahsoka and falls under the Speeder, Katan shoots and damages the bottom of the Speeder.  It was odd to see them to take the time to animate the damage to the speeder but for it to not have any impact to the speeder, it drove fine and they abandoned it at the shuttle when they got to it.  I was just waiting for the speeder to blow up or crash.

Rating:  I give A Friend in Need an 8.5, it was a self contained story that showed us a more emotionally complicated Ahsoka and showed us her Force abilities and fighting ability have been honed to the point that she is an exteremly formidable warrior.  Oh, and we got to see more of the Darksaber.

Direct Link to view Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Friend in Need (4.14)

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Deception (4.15)

Next week kicks of what looks to be a mind bending Jedi undercover arc starring Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Obi-Wan faking his own death and Anakin and Ahsoka not being in on the plan?  What exactly is the Jedi Council up to and what repurcussions will it have for our heroic trio? Why exactly is Duchess Satine invited to the Jedi Temple for a funeral?

"All warfare is based on deception."When the Jedi learn of a Separatist plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine, one of them must go deep undercover as a hardened criminal to extract information from the conspirators.

Friday, January 13, 2012

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 27

Eeth Koth represents the softer side of Darth Maul.  What does a Zabrak look like with hair, with amore neutral color scheme and with softer horns?  Yeah, you are right, just not as cool.

Jedi Master Koth not only graced the big screen in TPM, but also managed to make it in TCW as a captive of Count Dooku.  But Master Koth responds about a well to torture as Jack Bauer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

50 in 50: The Phantom Menace 3D Character Countdown: Day 31-28

Broken keyboard situation resolved, time once again to play catch up in our TPM 50 in 50 countdown.  This time four days, four Jedi Masters.

Day 31: Yarael Poof

Yarael Poof's alien physiology would seem to go against any logic in this galaxy or in the GFFA, but somehow the Quermian Jedi's head stays atop is spindly and elongated neck.  Poof's greatest contribution to the Star Wars franchise is probably as fodder for Seth Green's Robot Chicken Program. 

Day 30: Oppo Rancisis

The long lived Jedi Master Oppo Rancisis was just about the most bizarre looking Jedi ever.  The Thisspiasian looks more like something from Cobra-La then from the Jedi Temple.

Day 29: Depa Billaba

Depa took a staring role in the dark Clone Wars novel, Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover.  The former Padawan of High Council member Mace Windu, Billaba fell into Darkness amid the civil war on the planet Haruun Kal.  It was a pretty stark portrayal about how the war could effect some of the Jedi.  

Day 28: Yaddle

Really George?  Really?  I don't know what to say but, it is Yaddle, the girl Yoda.  

Lost Tribe of the Sith: Secrets and Collection Cover Art

The Blog has published the cover art for the final of the Lost Tribe of the Sith ebook novellas as well as the new print edition which will collect all of the LTotS stories in one volume, Star Wars: The Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories.  All the LTotS stories are by author John Jackson Miller.

We also got a synopsis for the short story Secrets which will be released March 5, 2012;

In Sith teachings, nothing is more important than the individual: the glorious center of the universe, around which all other lives pale in importance. But the planetary home of the Lost Tribe of the Sith is not the center of the universe, but a backwater — and the tribe’s legendary founders were little more than slaves themselves!
When the Lost Tribe suddenly rediscovers its forgotten origins, frustration and anger threaten to finish the society once and for all. But the past holds more secrets still — knowledge that, in the right hands, could place the evil rulers of Kesh on a path toward a greater destiny in the stars…

Covers for the rest of the Lost Tribe of the Sith Series: