Sunday, November 11, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Test of Strenth (5.07)

In this week's episode of TCW we meet the Star Wars universe's Ollivander, in this case an ancient droid named Huyang voiced by Dr. Who actor David Tennant. As Ahoska and Huyang instruct the younglings aboard the Jedi transport the Crucible, Hondo and his pirates board the ship in an attempt to steal the lightsaber crystals.
"The young are often underestimated."As the younglings return from Ilum with Ahsoka, their ship comes under attack by Hondo's gang of pirates. The children must use ingenious and improvised traps to thwart the brigands.

A Test of Strength presents a pretty straight forward story, our two mentors Ahsoka and Huyang are helping the younglings decide on components and begin constructing their lightsabers when the pirtates attack and board the Crucible.  We have a violent game of hide and go seek as the younglings attemp to keep their lightsaber crystals out of Hondo's hands.  In the end both the mentors are incapacitated, Ahoska is captured and taken aboard Hondo's ship, while Huyang suffers a couple "flesh wounds"  losing his arms and his head. This sets up the younglings at the end of the episode to have to mature and in next weeks episode come ot he aid of both Huyang, by repariring him, and Ahsoka, by rescuing her.

This episode was littered to little Original Trilogy references. Hiding below the deck echoes A New Hope as the Falcon is brought aboard the Death Star. Petro's remote practice also brings us back to Luke's early training aboard the Falcon.

The younglings addressing Huyang as "Professor" made me think of Han's sarcastic nickname for C-3PO in Empire Strikes Back, when Solo said, "Chewie! Take the Professor in back and plug him into the hyperdrive!"

It was also interesting to think of storytelling possibilties based on one of Huyang's throw away lines. Much like Obi-Wan in A New Hope when he mentioned "the Clone Wars," Huyang drops a couple references to important events in galactic history that are new.  The Battles of Rashfond and the Peacekeeping of Parliock are implied to be ancient events, will they provide story fodder down the road?

Of course the OT wasn't the only thing to get references, The Old Republic computer game got a shout out by the inclusion of the TOR era Jedi symbol on the hatches inside the Crucible.

Of course my favorite part of this entire story arc is the lightsaber lore and we get even more in this episode. We have a description of by Huyang of some of the component materials and shapes for lightsabers. You would be hard pressed not to notice the influence of the Harry Potter franchise and it's wandlore and the enigmatic wand builder Ollivander. I really liked this touch.

When the Wookiee youngling Gungi chooses a material for his hilt he picks wood. Apparently there is one wood that is strong enough like metal to act as a lightsaber hilt, the wood of the brylark tree.  Additionaly we get the following line form Huyang, "a simple grip, a curved approach, one inlaid with the bone of the Cartusion whale, pastillion ore or black onk." 

We also get the added tidbit that lightsaber crystals must have the Force awakened within the crystal before the lightsaber can be used. We also learn that Huyang keeps a record of the design of every lightsaber created by a Jedi.

It is interesting that the awakening of the crystal and the use of the Force in assembling the lightsabers is similar yet slightly different than the portrayal of lightsaber construction that we get in the EU.  The EU novel I, Jedi has some of the most in-depth description of lightsaber construction and the use of the Force to unify the various components of the lightsaber at something beyond the mechanical level.

The use of Huyang, the Gathering and the Crucible makes me wonder what George is saying about lightsaber construction and whether or not this implies that all Jedi lightsabers before the Empire where created on expeditions aboard the Crucible under Huyang's supervision. If this is the standard practice then it stands to invalidate tons of EU stories about how and when Jedi construct their lightsabers.

The importance of lightsaber construction and Petro's reckless disregard reminded me of an important moment in the Expanded Universe. Adult EU fans may have missed this because it occurred in a young adult novel, but Tenel Ka's accident at the Jedi Academy would have long lasting implications to the EU.

In Kevin J. Anderon and Rebecca Moesta's Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Lightsabers, Tenel Ka constructs her lightsaber out of a rancor tooth and uses a flawed crystal inside the lightsaber. During a sparing session with Jacen Solo, her blade fails and Jacen's lightsaber chops of Tenel Ka's arm. 

In this week's episode we see Petro use his miss assembled lightsaber as a makeshift explosive to allow the younglings to flee to safety. 

Rating: Like all the episodes of the "younglins" arc, I will be grading this episode on a curve. By targeting the episodes at a younger demographic, it is a different flavor than the majority of TCW episodes at this point in the series' development. That being said, A Test of Strength gets a 8.5. Lots of little references, a very cool set of lightsaber lore, a great new droid, and pirates makes this episode a fun one.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Test of Strength (5.07)

Clone Wars Download: Webisode 5.07: A Pirate's Life

Coming up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: 

11/17/12: Episode 5.08: Bound for Rescue 

"The younglings attempt to rescue Ahsoka from Hondo's pirates."

11/24/12: Episode 5.09: A Necessary Bond

"Pirates and Jedi reluctantly join forces after Grievous attacks Hondo's settlement on Florrum."


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