Sunday, October 7, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A War on Two Fronts (5.02)

Prime Directive? We don't need no Prime Directive, this is Star Wars baby. Not some flying chemistry lab in space. We go to planets, blow stuff up and overthrow regimes.

"Fear is a malleable weapon." 
Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Rex travel to Onderon, a world under Separatist control. There, they will train a group of insurgent rebels -- including Lux Bonteri -- to help take back the capital city of Iziz from the rule of a duplicitous king.

Now that is what I call a throne.
This week's episode begins with a plea for assistance from a small band of Onderon rebels who are seeking to overthrow their Separatist installed king.  We see an interesting debate take place among the Jedi Council, as Anakin proposes training and equipping the Rebels as a way to force the Separatists to divert resources from the Clone Wars.  As Ahsoka looks on Jedi Master Windu sides with Anakin and Obi-Wan with the support of Yoda take the opposite side of the debate.  The usually copacetic duo of Yoda and Mace are a bit at odds this week, "We can divide the Separatist forces and press them on two fronts," said Master Windu. "Stop those who spread terror, the Jedi must," said Master Yoda. Ultimately the Council agrees to use Onderon as a test case for Anakin's strategy.  Even Obi-Wan seems to support the idea, so was he just taking the debating position of opposing it to test out Anakin's idea or are his doubts about the strategy real?

Adi is one solid looking Force Ghost. The result of moving up "Revival" in Season 5 is that it makes this arc occur after the season premier.

In this Jedi Council debate we also have some buzzwords and concepts thrown around that will feel very real to today's viewers. Terrorists, insurgents, rebels, all these words will resonate with kids and adults today if they pay attention to the news.  I really enjoy when some of these more substantive issues are introduced to kids.  The issues of the rule of law, self-determination and the distinction between what is a good rebel and a bad terrorist are important issues for us to think about, and the earlier we get kids digging a little deeper and taking that next level of intellectual exploration the better.

The "how you doing," look from Lux.

The key plots that we deal with this week are the training of the rebels and Lux's ladies.

The training is interesting there is a time limit in terms of what they can show on TCW, as such we got  three diverse training exercises. (1) How to destroy a Droideka, (2) How to destroy a Separatist Tank, (3) How to shoot a battledroid in the head.

That is one pretty blaster.
The training scenes served the duel purpose of advancing the rebels story and also created the dramatic tension in the relationship between Ahsoka, Steela, and Lux.  It is clear that Steela has some feelings for Lux, whether this is sisterly and protective and romantic is still up for debate, but I would say it is romantic.  We also have Ahsoka clearly dealing with feelings she is unfamiliar with. The animators did a tremendous job in this episode with Ahsoka's eyes and face conveying emotion in the various scenes. Clearly she has a romantic attraction to Lux, but these are feelings I am not sure she is even capable of fully understanding at this point based on her Jedi upbringing. How she sorts through her feelings for Lux will no doubt be one of the major subplots of this four episode arc.

Lux seems to flirt with both Ahsoka and Steela throughout the episode so his feelings are most unclear, perhaps he is simply doing his best charm offensive on both, the consumate politician that he is.  It does have me wondering about Lux and Ahsoka.  What if Lux is using Ahsoka, sure he may like her but perhaps his devoition to Onderon is the paramount attachment for him. He could know about his connection with Ahsoka and be playing her in an attempt to sway the Jedi to his cause. This cynical view of Lux's intentions would provide for interesting character development for Ahsoka. How would Ahsoka react if her emotions were used against her in such a way?

Ahsoka giving Steela the stink eye.
Then we have Saw's flirtations with Ahsoka. Which could be the result of a few different motivations. Saw views himself as the leader of the rebels, so perhaps he could be cozying up to Commander Tano in hopes that she would support his claim to leadership. Perhaps he finds Ahsoka attractive and has his own romantic feelings for her. Perhaps he is simply trying to make Lux jealous and to get Lux's attention away from his sister Steela, because we know he isn't especially fond of Lux.

One thing is for sure, I think Dave Filoni just created a shipping war on TCW, as Luxsoka and SteeLux supporters will burn fandom to the ground. Alright maybe not, but it's one more thing to argue about.

"Have I told you about my secret marraige?"

I really enjoyed the quiet scene between Anakin and Ahsoka, where he switched to a more paternal/mentor role and called her "Snips."  This show of concern was a window into Anakin's heart, his empathy and attachment.

Finally a few random thoughts.

Jedi Robes! Nice threads.

Just because jet packs are awesome. Jango would be proud.

Probe droid. Always bring a Wookiee to your rebel base to deal with these.
It is also interesting to note the Egyptian and Indian influences on the names on Onderon.

"Saw Gerrera was a loyal follower of King Ramsis Dendup, the benevolent monarch of Onderon who attempted to keep his world apart from the tensions of the Clone Wars. Saw believed firmly in independence, and did not want to see his planet thrust into galactic warfare. But Dendup was ousted by King Sanjay Rash, who committed the world to the Separatist cause. Saw was one of the fervent young loyalists who refused to acknowledge Rash's rule, and openly rebelled against the crown. He and his sister were cast out of the walled city of Iziz and forced to live in ruins amid the jungles of Onderon. There, Saw plotted against Rash's draconian rule, and with trepidation accepted off-world support from the Republic." ~Star Wars Encyclopedia: Saw Gerrera

We also got some cool shots of Ahsoka using the Force.


Onderon from space

The introduction of Onderon a planet originated in the EU and the introduction of another back story for the beginning of the Rebel Alliance may make some Star Wars fans get nervous.

We are only at the first episode of the arc, but there are some curious elements brought into the story of Onderon. It seems like largely the Clone Wars version of Onderon is staying somewhat true to the ancient comic version of the planet. We have the walled city of Iziz (pronounced like the goddess Isis), we have beasts and beast riders.  We have yet to see if the show will touch upon the moon Dxun.  We also have yet to see if the show will mention the planets ancient history with Freedon Nadd.

The idea that Anakin may have inadvertently created the Rebel Alliance with his training and equipping of the rebels on Onderon is interesting and the easiest way to retcon all the Rebel Alliance origin stories is that it was a group that united a multitude of movements that were opposed to the Galactic Empire.  Much easier to retcon that than the various Death Star plans stories.

The idea of the rebellion on Onderon and Mace's support of the idea also has me thinking about Matthew Stover's novel Shatterpoint and how badly Jedi training rebels Haruun Kal turned out for Master Depa Billaba.


Rating: 8.0 Clearly an introductory episode to a larger story, but I enjoyed the return of Rex, Ahsoka, and Lux.  The animation of this episode was off the charts, lots of action both in the foreground and background and incredible lighting by Joel Aron and his crew.

Direct Link to Watch "A War on Two Fronts" at

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode 5.03 "Front Runners"

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