Every season on TCW we get a story arc that takes a break from the darkening drama of the series and targets the younger viewers. This weeks episode is the first in an arc focusing on a group of Jedi younglings. While the younger viewer arc is usually my least favorite arc of the season, I think this one may be different. As you may have guessed I am a bit of a lightsaber fan, so the fact that we are getting more lightsaber lore is just awesome. To steal from Harry Potter, the crystal chooses the Jedi.
"He who faces himself, finds himself."The Gathering further pulls back the curtain on how Jedi training occurs. In this week's episode we see a series of Jedi Younglings who are ready to take the next step in their advancement. But before they can become apprentices they must construct their lightsabers. In order to construct their lightsabers they must travel to the Jedi's sacred planet of Ilum and find their lightsaber crystal. As with many Jedi training exercises there is much more to this mission than simply finding crystals, the young Jedi must confront and overcome their own flaws. After all a Jedi like a crystal is weak if it contains flaws but strong if it is pure.
Ahsoka escorts a group of younglings to Ilum, where they will learn from Yoda and undergo a crucial rite of passage: the construction of their lightsabers. They grapple with both physical and inner challenges as they face the dangerous task ahead of them.
There are six Jedi younglings featured in this episode:
Katooni: "A bright-eyed Tholothian girl, Katooni was a Jedi youngling during the time of the Clone Wars. During that conflict, she underwent the ancient Jedi ritual of The Gathering, where she explored the Crystal Cave of Ilum to seek out her lightsaber crystal. Inexperienced and timid, Katooni needed to find confidence in her abilities in order to succeed."
Byph: "A wide-eyed Ithorian boy, Byph was a Jedi youngling studying at the Jedi Temple during the time of the Clone Wars. At the height of the galactic conflict, he was selected as a top student to undergo The Gathering, an important Jedi rite of passage that tested students on the frozen world of Ilum. Byph had to overcome his fearful nature and find the Ilum crystal that would become the heart of his lightsaber."
Ganodi: "A starry-eyed Rodian girl, Ganodi was a bright student in the Jedi Temple during the Clone Wars. She underwent an important rite of passage called The Gathering, which required her to enter the heart of the Crystal Cave on Ilum, and discover the crystal that was perfectly attuned to her through the Force. This gem would become the heart of her lightsaber, but first, she needed to overcome despair at the overwhelming nature of the challenge before her."
Petro: "An impulsive Jedi youngling, Petro had a fiery competitive streak that sometimes rubbed his fellow students the wrong way. He was a young boy during the Clone Wars, when the Jedi Knights were overextended fighting in the galactic conflict to protect the Republic. Because the Jedi Order needed a new generation of Jedi Knights, it was important that he undergo a crucial Jedi ritual known as The Gathering. On the frozen world of Ilum, Petro had to seek out the crystal that would become the heart of his lightsaber. He longed to construct his Jedi weapon, and become a new legend in the history of Jedi warriors."
Gungi: "A rare example of a Wookiee in the Jedi Order, Gungi had a lively, inquisitive face whose wide smile was punctuated with a snaggletooth emerging from his lower jaw. Like many Wookiees, Gungi was temperamental and expressive -- and controlling his patience proved to be a real challenge. When Gungi was a Jedi youngling during the time of the Clone Wars, he needed to learn to slow down his impulsive ways in order to pass the ancient rite of passage ritual known as The Gathering."
Zatt: "A bright Nautolan boy, Zatt was a Jedi youngling during the thick of the Clone Wars. With the Jedi Order spread thin during the galactic conflict, the training of the next generation of Jedi Knights was of priority, and Zatt underwent an important rite of passage supervised by Jedi Master Yoda and Padawan Ahsoka Tano. On the frozen world of Ilum, Zatt had to seek out his lightsaber crystal -- as per the tradition of The Gathering. Zatt had to learn to put aside his love of technology -- and the sensor unit he constantly fiddled with -- and rely on his own instincts to complete his quest."
The overall message of the episode is pretty straight forward and evocative of Luke's facing the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah. You have to face your fears to overcome them and to grow.
Petro is interesting in that he is the sort of youngling/padawan that is common in the SWEU. Talented and cocky, and just smart enough to get himself and others in trouble.
Of all the characters I have to say that Gungi is my favorite. He looks like a puppy, thus he is adorable.
The new vision of the crystal cave on Ilum is really cool and the Force controlled mechanisms to enter the Temple, and to melt the door of ice to the cave are a nice tough.
We get a couple of interesting tidbits in the Episode:
"The Crucible soars towards the sacred Jedi planet of Ilum. The ancient vessel lands in the frigid wilderness, and the six younglings emerge, bundled in cold weather gear. Ahsoka and R2-D2 lead the children to the apparent dead-end of a frozen cliff face." (The Gathering Episode Gallery #4)
"The crystals are colorless until the young Jedi holds it, upon which it becomes attuned to the Force-user. This appears to be what governs the colors of Jedi lightsabers." (The Gathering Trivia slide #5)
The coolest sort of easter egg in the episode is the inclusion of the first meeting of Jedi Master Plo Koon and future Jedi Ahsoka Tano. We see a very young and adorable Ahsoka here. The plus side of this is that Dave Filoni has long talked about wanting to tell this story. The downside is that by including it in the newsreel, it seems likely that we won't ever get the story fully told in the show.
Rating: 7.0. Visually and in terms of expanding what we know about Jedi and lightsaber lore this episode was a ton of fun. But the very nature of the episode limits just how much it can appeal to a more mature viewer.
Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Gathering
Clone Wars Download: Crystals and Caves: A Jedi Rite of Passage
Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Test of Strength (5.07)
"The younglings fight pirates with improvised traps after they're attacked on their way home from Ilum." ~TV Guide Description.