Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Wrong Jedi (Season Five Finale) Preview Clips

Perhaps Ahsoka will resort to the "Wookiee Defense" to extricate herself from the clutches of the Republic justice system, or perhaps not.

One thing is for sure, if the current Clone Wars story arc is a procedural, then we are in to courtroom part of the Law & Order episode.

I find it interesting that Admiral Tarkin refers to Ahsoka as "former Padawan Tano" did the Jedi already expel her from the order or demote her?  Hmmmm.

Check out four clips below to get a taste of what is in store this Saturday.  Will Ahsoka be convicted before the Jedi framing her is exposed?  Will she be put to death? Will Anakin lose his mind and get all Sithy? Will Tarkin lose and get all grumpy?  Tune in Saturday, same Jedi time, same Jedi channel to find out.

Clip #1: The Jedi Council Judges Ahsoka

Clip #2: Anakin confronts Asajj, just how long will it take him to realize she doesn't have her lightsabers?

Clip #3: Ahsoka before the mercy of Palpatine with Tarkin prosecuting. She is so boned.

Clip #4: Cartoon Network's Teaser for the episode

SOURCE: Star Wars YouTube Channel

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Jax Pavan and his motley crew of rebels is back again in a sprawling novel that ends up being the best novel starring Jax Pavan. While this is technically not part of the Coruscant Nights Trilogy, The Last Jedi is a continuation of that story line centered on the capture of Whiplash resistance leader Thi Xon Yimmon and the personal grudge between Pavan and Vader.  Friends, enemies and rebels all get caught amidst the struggle between Pavan and Vader.

Publisher's Summary:

The Emperor’s ruthless Order 66 has all but exterminated the Jedi. The few remaining who still wield the Force for good have been driven into exile or hiding. But not Jax Pavan, who’s been steadily striking blows against the Empire—as a lone guerrilla fighter and a valued partner of Whiplash, a secret Coruscant-based resistance group. Now he’s taking on his most critical mission: transporting a valued Whiplash leader, targeted for assassination, from Coruscant to safety on a distant world. It’s a risky move under any circumstances, but Jax and his trusted crew aboard the Far Ranger, including the irrepressible droid I-Five, are prepared to pit their combat skills and their vessel’s firepower against all Imperial threats—except the one Jax fears most. Reports have raced across the galaxy that the dark lord of the Sith has fallen in a duel to the death with a Rebel freedom fighter. But Jax discovers the chilling truth when he reaches out with the Force . . . only to touch the dark, unmistakable, and malignantly alive presence that is Darth Vader. And Jax knows that Vader will stop at nothing until the last Jedi has fallen.

This book has a serious advantage over most novels, it is set in what is one of the most interesting time periods in Star Wars. The rise of the Empire and Jedi purge present us with the villain we all love to hate, Darth Vader and any book that can use Vader as the main villain really has an unfair advantage.  Reaves and Bohnhoff don't stop with Vader, they dig down into the EU and continue the use of Vader's goon squad the Inquisitors.  They also toss in some Black Sun, some early rebel groups (Whiplash and others), and even take a day side trip to Dathomir to play with the witches.

While I have enjoyed much of Reaves' works,  Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and The MedStar Duology in particular, the Coruscant Nights Trilogy while enjoyable was not one of the highlights of the Expanded Universe for me.  Going into The Last Jedi, my expectations where not to high, but I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book.  It is hard not to love I-5YQ, the droid with more personality and brains then most sentients.  I also have a soft spot for former journalist Den Dhur.  The relationship between Jax Pavan, Laranth,  I-5, and Den forms the emotional backbone of the novel that takes the characters in some unexpected but compelling directions.

I love the way the story of Pavan diverges from his friends part way through this novel only to reconnect.  This allows for some very power character growth on Pavan's part and some real tension regarding the choices that Pavan makes while on Dathomir. I am sure I won't be the only reader who stared at the page and started shouting at Pavan during a particularly tense moment on Dathomir.

This book also uses some novel Force powers, some Force philosophy, and introduces the ability to alter time and events, but does it in such a way that limits the dangers inherent in time travel as a plot device.  Though I have to wonder if this new Force power may be a convenient way to retcon some stuff down the road.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how it deals with the theme of attachment.  In the book we have not only attachments between individuals, but also Pavan's attachment to objects.  A Sith lightsaber, a pyronium nugget, a miisai tree, and Darth Ramage's Sith Holocron all are objects which Pavan is attached to, to an extent that is unusual for a Jedi. Most Jedi leave a rather spartan existence with little beyond their lightsaber being a constant companion.  All of the objects that Pavan is attached to play an important part in the story and without these attachments Pavan would have been less successful in his endeavors.

The personal attachments of the characters are also very compelling but these are characters that long time EU fans will have grown attached too.  It is interesting that first with co-author Steve Perry and now with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, that author Michael Reaves has carved out a unique little corner of the Star Wars galaxy with his own regular troop of characters.

The positive spin on attachment is a nice counterpoint to what we often get in the Expanded Universe and films.

One closing note, this novel gave me the mental image of Emperor Palpatine in a speedo, that is both a horrifying and hilarious mental image. Thanks to the authors for that.

As a 460 page paperback novel, The Last Jedi is well worth the $7.99 cover price and resolves the story in a very satisfying way that also opens up new storytelling possibilities in the Classic Trilogy as well as New Republic eras. While some fans may be concerned about the expansion of Force powers in this story, I believe it is a novel that will quickly become a cult favorite among EU fans.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available in paperback and ebook formats on Tuesday, February 26th. For more information or to read and excerpt visit Random House's website.

Author's Note: A review copy for the novel was provided by Del Rey/Random House for this review.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Wrong Jedi Teletoon Trailer

The below video is a trailer from Canadian broadcast company Teletoon which airs TCW up north.

It contains a brief but rather spoilery clip at the end.

SOURCE: Youtube

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: To Catch a Jedi (Episode 5.19)

"In war, truth is the first casualty." ~Aeschylus
I've got a bad feeling about this...

"Never become desperate enough to trust the untrustworthy."
The fugitive Ahsoka escapes to the criminal depths of Coruscant.
This week's episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars followed Ahsoka's flight from Republic authorities into the underlevels of Coruscant where she receives the aid of fellow Padawan Barriss Offee and Sith acolyte turned bounty hunter Asajj Ventress.  There is a very neat bit of story telling going on in this episode, but I'll get to that in a bit.

This week's episode was written by Charles Murray and directed by Kyle Dunlevy, and while I don't like how I believe this character arc is going to effect certain characters, I have to say it has been superb.

This story revolves around trust. Anakin's trust of Ahsoka, the Jedi Council's trust of Ahsoka, Mace's trust of Anakin, Ahsoka's trust in Barriss and Ahsoka's very tentative trust in Asajj and Asajj equally tentative trust in Ahsoka.

The brilliance of the storytelling is that both Ahsoka and Asajj are being falsely accused in this episode. Ahsoka of the bombing and murder of the clones and Asajj of attacking Ahsoka and presumably next week being accused by Anakin of being behind framing Ahsoka.  This works well because both characters are coming from such different personal histories but finding themselves in similar circumstances.  How quick are the Jedi to doubt Ahsoka and how quick is Ahsoka to doubt Asajj and believe the masked assailant was Asajj.  This pairing continues next week as both Ahsoka's and Asajj's fates appear to be hanging in the balance, I don't think both can escape this story arc unscathed.

I think we can look forward to three big events next week; 1) The trial of Ahsoka and her sentencing, 2) The revelation of the Jedi behind the bomber, presumably Barriss Offee, and 3) Anakin's confrontation with Asajj.

Ahsoka's trial will be fun because we will get to see Palpatine being all Palpatiney.  It will also be interesting to see if Ahsoka is convicted and expelled from the Order and exiled from Republic or if the true culprit is revealed during the trial and Ahsoka is found innocent but her trust/faith in the Jedi and Republic is so shocked she leaves of her own volition.

All signs point to Barriss being the villain in this arc. If you look at the previous episode The Jedi Who Knew Too Much in light of this week's episode, all of Barriss body language points to her being guilty.  In addition in this week it appears that she sets up Ahsoka by convienently sending her and Asajj to the munitions factory where she is caught red handed with nano-bombs.

The fact that the mysterious assailant is a slim Force using female and we have no other characters used in this arc that would fit for this big reveal makes it a pretty telegraphed shot.

I also found the mysterious assailant's fighting style to seem much more graceful and Jedi-like than one would expect.  It was a nicely choreographed duel.

I also get the sneaking suspicion that Anakin is going to over react next week and not believe Asajj's denials about not attacking Ahsoka and being behind the plot. Is she able to somehow convince him, or does Anakin slip into darkness again and kill Asajj?

On the continuity front, if Even Piell's death was a continuity tremor, then Barriss Offee's turning bad will be much worse.  Barriss Offee was the star of the Medstar Duology (MedStar I: Battle Surgeons and MedStar II: Jedi Healer) , a set of two novels written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry set during the Clone Wars.  These books are under appreciated gems in the Expanded Universe.  Of all the Jedi to take this turn Barriss seems like the most unlikely of candidates and seems like she is being used simply because TCW team has not dedicated enough time to building up a group of friends or peers around Ahsoka.  Outside of Barriss and Lux, I am not sure Ahsoka knows anyone her own age or in her peer group.

Direct Link to Watch Episode 5.19 To Catch a Jedi

Clone Wars Download 519: A Wretched Hive: The Coruscant Underworld

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode 5.20 The Wrong Jedi


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: To Catch A Jedi Preview Clip #1: Tarkin and the Jedi Council

Tarkin being a total Moff, Anakin brooding in the corner and Yoda believing Ahsoka is guilty? The Clone Wars is ratcheting up the intensity again in the second to last episode of the season. "To Catch A Jedi" airs this Saturday on the Cartoon Network.

Just my two cents, but I think Yoda is questioning Anakin's faith in his padawan in a very Yoda fashion.  My bet is the next thing that happens after this clip is that Anakin is assigned or asks to go after Ahsoka and help prove her innocence.

I gotta say I love the Plo Koon has Ahsoka's back.  In my head Ahsoka is Punky Brewster and Plo is Henry Warnimont.  I blame the '80s.

For a high-quality version of the trailer visit

SOURCE: Youtube

Star Wars Insider #140 Cover: Ahsoka's Fate?

Newsstand Edition

Well it certainly looks like Season Five of The Clone Wars is going to end with a bang, and the next issue of Star Wars Insider magazine is getting in on the action, featuring Ahsoka on the cover and a cover stories featuring 10 questions based on the final episodes and an interview with Dave Filoni regarding the future of the show.
As season five of Star Wars: The Clone Wars comes to an end, Star Wars Insider will be asking 10 questions raised by the latest episodes! Supervising director Dave Filoni talks about the future of the show after the explosive season finale, and designer Kilian Plunkett offers a look at how the worlds and characters of The Clone Wars are created. For fans of the original movies, we'll be taking an exclusive look behind the scenes of Return of the Jedi, which is 30 years old this year! 
I smell a cliffhanger.

Alternate Cover Art

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Who Framed Ahsoka Tano? UPDATED 2/24

Who is the rogue Jedi who is responsible for the nano-droid bombing of the Temple and presumably for the framing of Ahsoka Tano?

2/24/13 UPDATE:

Based on the events of Season Five Episode 19, To Catch A Jedi, I think we can safely eliminate Sora Bulq, because the bad guy who got the jump on Asajj and then Ahsoka is clearly of the female persuasion.

Now clearly Dave and crew want the viewer to suspect Barriss Offee as the culprit.  We see Barriss alone in her quarters wearing dark clothing and talking to Ahsoka via comlink.  Later in the episode it is Barriss who gives Ahsoka the lead to the munitions factory where she is confronted by the masked assailant and captured by the Clone/Jedi task force.

As an Expanded Universe fan, and a big fan of the MedStar Duology that stars Barriss Offee, I would have a lot of storytelling problems with how they are handling Offee's character if they make her the villain.  I would also have some reservations because Barriss is one of very few friends that Ahsoka has in her peer group.

The good news is that while we see Barriss in what appears to be dark clothing, the outfit appears to be different than the attacker.

In terms of how the character's body looks it seems close enough that it could be Barriss, but the outfits are clearly different gone is the skirt that Barriss wears and in is a catsuit with different textures than the rest of Barriss' usual outfit.  I think we are getting some misdirection here.

For the life of me I can't figure out is who the character might be if it is not Barriss.  It seems odd that we would have a completely new character that would set out to frame Ahsoka.  One possibility is a return of Aurra Sing, but this would mean that Dave Filoni and crew are giving Sing back EU Force abilities that they prevented her from displaying earlier in the series.

This is setting up to be one great season finale.  I guess the real killer will be unmasked next week.

Original Speculation:

Based on Lucas' penchant to borrow from the Expanded Universe comics, one has to wonder if the prime suspect is Jedi Master Sora Bulq and if Bulq's story will involve a heavy does of retroactive continuity repair.

There is one telling shot from this weeks episode that leads heavily to this suspicion.

In addition to our usual cast of characters we have a few odd ones.  The Episode Guide says this about this image:
"Among those in attendance of the Jedi funeral are Mas Amedda, Palpatine, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Barriss Offee, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Plo Koon, Yoda, Eeth Koth, Admiral Tarkin, Admiral Coburn, Admiral Yularen, Kit Fisto, Saesee Tiin, Shaak Ti, Tera Sinube, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Eekar Oki, and a Weequay Jedi."
This could simply be the TCW crew re-purposing a well used character model, i.e. Weequay pirates to fill in the background of this scene, or it could be a telling clue.

I suppose we will find out in one of the next two episodes.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much (Episode 5.18)

"I assure you, he (Palpatine) rarely does anything without a strategy." ~Admiral Tarkin

What is better than killing two birds with one stone? How about five?

In "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much" Ahsoka Tano finds herself framed for the murder of a terrorist suspect as well as clone troopers.  In a daring prison break and flight across Coruscant Ahsoka flees towards freedom and away from her friends.

"Courage begins by trusting oneself."As the Republic military takes over the Temple bombing case, Ahsoka finds herself at odds with Admiral Tarkin.

Just when you think The Clone Wars can't get any better, you get a gem like this.  The Jedi Who Knew Too Much has the most stunning urban background animations we have seen on the show thus far.  The use of imagery to show the transition from Republic to Empire is incredibly effective but also incredibly cool looking.  The frenetic pace of the second half of the episode makes 22 minutes fly by in record time and the animators really out did themselves this time, effects such as the deflection of stun bolts with the lightsaber, the LAAT/i spot lights and the Star Wars 1313 shot are just too good for television.

I speak about visuals, because the use of color and visuals is very important in Star Wars.  While Empire is my favorite film, visually Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones because of the way they are shot, the effects and colors that are used are visual masterpieces.  This episode is equally compelling for me visually as those films.

There are two actors that are the focus of this episode and two others that set up those performances.  Stephen Stanton is deliciously evil as Admiral Tarkin and Dee Bradley Baker's performance as the assorted Clones (Fox and Rex in particular) set up tremendous performance by Matt Lanter as Anakin and Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka.

It is interesting to think that the two "stars" of the series are probably the least experienced in terms of voice acting in the cast.  In the early episodes I think it is perfectly legitimate to criticize some of the range and tone of their performances.

In the first half of this episode Lanter maintains a cool measured and mature Anakin, while in the second half the anger, frustration and fear that is always boiling below the surface is ever present. You can feel the intensity of Anakin's emotions in his stare down with Captain Fox.

While Eckstein portrays a more mature and confident yet not cocky Ahsoka.  The scene in the Jedi Temple hallway between Barriss and Ahsoka points to the grounded nature of Ahsoka's character and the difference between her level of cockiness and her master's.  The final exchange between Anakin and Ahsoka is so well done and the way Ahsoka uses Anakin's name in that conversation speaks of a friendship that has grown beyond a master-padawan relationship towards one that is much closer to Anakin's relationship to Obi-Wan.

The use of names, titles and ranks was very skillfully done in this episode.  The subtle shift of how the Clone referred to "Commander Tano" before she was imprisoned and after she had "killed" clones is a subtle but important storytelling point.

From a storytelling perspective there is just a ton to unpack here.

If you assume (and I think we can safely) that Palpatine is behind all the evil shennanigans that are going on here, the question becomes, what is he hoping to accomplish.

1) Pressure on Anakin
2) Disillusioning the Clones
3) Tarnishing the Jedi in the minds of the citizenry
4) Removing a leading light from the Jedi's next generation
5) Elevating human military leadership above the Jedi

1) Pressure on Anakin

We all know Palpatine has had his creepy little eyes on Anakin for awhile.  Acting as Anakin's friend, mentor and confidant, he has cultivated a relationship with Anakin that allows him to learn all of the man's flaws and thus where his pressure points are.  The ultimate tipping point for Anakin on his path to the Dark Side is fear of loss of Padme.  One of the criticisms of Revenge of the Sith is that Anakin's turn seems to happen too quickly.  While we had seen rather extreme flashes of darkness from the character, the core of the confused and scared person still seemed to be good.

What I think we have here is Palpatine working on Anakin from multiple angles.  First he is playing on Anakin's fear because Ahsoka is in danger.  Second he is playing on Anakin's self-perception of weakness.  The death of Anakin's mother caused the young Jedi to have an insatiable thirst for power so that he could control all of the events around him, including life and death.  Tarkin and the clones under his command rejecting Anakin's claim of authority pushes Anakin to the edge.  This plays into Anakin's underlying thought that systems whether it is democracy or the Jedi Order are flawed and that only through strength and force of will can one impose one's desires.

It will be very interesting to see where this arc goes not only for it's effect on Ahsoka but also for it's effect on Anakin.

2) Disillusioning the Clones

Way back in The Deserter we have seen Clones rejecting their programming, questioning the Republic and the Jedi and their role in the war.  This theme was brought front and center in last season's Umbara arc with the dark Jedi General Pong Krell. Krell's reputation for casually throwing away the lives of clones preceded his arrival on Umbara.  His trickery that caused clones to murder their fellow clones no doubt quickly became the gossip among the ranks in the Republic army.

The clones are a tricky issue, the make us confront issues such as free will and nature versus nurture.  The very idea of Order 66 is a brilliant way of Palpatine putting an execution squad around every Jedi in the Grand Army.  It is too simplistic to say that the Clones were simply programmed to obey orders blindly, because we have clearly scene that while they are clones, the are individuals, they are people.  No matter what programming they received they have evolved.  So it becomes important that Palpatine ensures that when he issues Order 66, that the clones will be ready to follow through.  How do you do this? You sew the seeds of mistrust between the clones and the Jedi.  By framing Ahsoka, you have another Jedi who views the clones as disposable, who is willing to sacrifice their lives for her own desires.  How pissed off do you think the clones are going to be at her? Even if she is ultimately exonerated, there will always be that nagging doubt in the clones mind, about Ahsoka and about other Jedi.

3) Tarnishing the Jedi in the minds of the citizenry

It is much easier to seize power with public support than without it.  In his declaration of the First Galactic Empire, Palpatine uses the Jedi "Coup" as justification for his actions.  Much like his sewing of doubt among the clones, this stealth public relations campaign against the Jedi is long in the making.  Portraying the Jedi as believing they are above the law, or that they are dangerous or unstable weapons of mass destruction makes it much easier to instill the fear or doubt of the Jedi in the hearts of the populace.

4) Removing a leading light from the Jedi's next generation

While it is clear that Yoda's decision to pair Ahsoka and Anakin together was largely for Anakin's benefit. To give him an apprentice to teach, develop a relationship with, and then learn to let go in a healthy way.  It is also clear that Yoda wouldn't have paired a mediocre padawan (looking at you Scout) with the Choosen One.  Anakin's padawan had to be able to keep up with one of the most reckless and powerful Jedi in the Order.  As Ahsoka is grown she has become a very formidble Jedi.  Her prowess is on full display during the chase sequences of this week's episode.

It is no doubt that during normal times, Ahsoka would have been on the fast track to knighthood and would be an early favorite for future master status and even potential Jedi Council status down the road.  If Palpatine is able to imprison, kill or force Ahsoka to leave the Jedi Order, he weakens the Order going forward.

5) Elevating human military leadership above the Jedi

The episode begins with the transfer of authority from the Jedi to the Republic over a non-Jedi. The episode ends with the Republic exerting authority over a Jedi.  For the most part whether in this series or in the EU the Jedi Order polices itself (Kyp Durron *Cough, Cough*).

The prisoner transfer, Fox's pulling rank on General Skywalker, and the arrest and imprisonment of Ahoka illustrate the struggles that the Jedi face from being grafted on to the Republic military's command structure.

The off-screen promotion of Tarkin to Admiral and his prominence and exertion of authority make clear that the Jedi are being slowly sidelined so that when Order 66 occurs the military will continue to function without missing a beat.

Before I close there are a couple things that I can't wait to see revealed:

1) Who is the "Jedi" behind the plot?

2) Who Force-choked Letta to death?

3) Does the Palpatine in judgment of Ahsoka scene come at the end of the arc? If so is exile imposed or the death sentence?

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this episode, but instead I think I am just going to go watch it again. Bravo Clone Wars crew.

Direct Link to Watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much (5.18)

Clone Wars Download #518: Military Might

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

Episode 5.19 "To Catch a Jedi"

"Ahsoka makes a deal with Asajj Ventress to find answers about who set her up for murder."


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Star Wars Expanded Universe Authors Weigh in on Episode VII, VIII & IX

Image Source's Dark Lord of everything Star Wars, Christian Blauvelt recently had the chance to speak with eight distinguished Star Wars franchise authors and asked them three simple but interesting questions.

  1. What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX:
  2. What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight:
  3. How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: 

A couple excerpted answers that I really liked:

Paul Kemp, author of Star Wars: The Old Republic—Deceived
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: What I really hope to see is love of the underlying subject matter. I think Star Wars is a phenomenon because it’s more than just a space opera or space fantasy (take your pick). It’s a mythic story and touches at something deep in the human experience. It’s built on a foundation of heroic myth and heroic transformation and that’s what makes it so appealing, generation after generation. I’d just like to see the new stories build off that foundation (because it’s a rich one, and there is lots of room for new and wonderful stories, all while hewing to the mythic structure).

Christie Golden, author of Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi—Ascension
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Vestara Khai. *coughs a little* Okay...Pocket the chitlik. No? Seriously, though, the Skywalker and Solo offspring are such terrific characters in their own right, it would be wonderful to see them brought to life.

Aaron Allston, author of Star Wars: X-Wing—Mercy Kill
How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: You know, I actually don't want to see them die in the movies, and it's not just because of affection for the characters.

Action movie characters live pretty tortured lives. There's no chance of them appearing on-screen for 90 minutes of shopping or gossip, so any time we put them in front of the camera, it's for punishment. At a certain point, we recognize there's no way they can keep doing this and survive, so we kill them, an act so common and callous we don't even refer to it as killing them — it's "killing them off." Ellen Ripley. Bernard Quatermass. Hoban "Wash" Washburne. Sometimes characters die because their portrayers can only show up for one or two day's filming, and the director and producer decide to maximize those three minutes of screen time by whacking the character.

Me, I'm all for having Luke, Leia, and Han be in a scene showing them knocking back shots of Corellian brandy while playing cards. Then the screen can go through a 1940s-style wipe and the camera can zoom in on their descendants saving the galaxy for a new generation.
How would I answer these three questions?

What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: 

Much like the Millennium Falcon, the Star Wars franchise on the surface may not look like what you would to expect to find when looking for classic mythic storytelling, but also like the Falcon, the franchise has it's thematic backbone where it counts. Star Wars is so compelling for me because it operates on multiple levels, the grand myth appeals to that primal urge for good versus evil.  Following the hero through his journey of self discovery and victory in the first trilogy and through his tragic fall in the prequel trilogy are both very satisfying and thematically fit with the greatest stories from various cultures across the world.

At the same time the lived-in futuristic universe that is layered over this mythic backbone captures the imagination like few other genre settings can. Between the space ships, lightsabers, blasters and droids, the technological setting of Star Wars is just plain cool.  

In addition to the thematic backbone and setting, the addition of compelling characters in the original trilogy is what created cinematic magic.  

So in Episodes VII-IX, I hope to see the perfect combination of mythic storytelling, a return to that lived-in futuristic universe and some new compelling characters.  Not much to ask right?

What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: 

This is a tough question.  I would love to see some classic secondary characters like Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson. The Rogues would provided some comedic relief in the films, they could even bring along Kettch  I think there are two Expanded Universe characters that I would really love to see on the big screen, the obvious Mara Jade Skywalker and the less obvious Corran Horn.  A bonus with a Corran Horn character in the film is that we may get a Booster and Mirax cameo. 

How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: 

I really don't want to see any of the big three meet a violent end.  It seems like the cheap emotional play to kill off any or all of them to give Episode VII emotional weight.  I would much prefer to see Luke semi-retired teaching at a Jedi Academy or a new Jedi Temple.  I would also love to see Han and Leia enjoying some time together, Leia in semi-retired or active stateswoman role and Han getting into mischief as her semi-reformed scoundrel husband who gets into trouble when he gets bored. 

I think just about everyone agrees if Han and Leia do die, they should be together and they should be aboard the Falcon.  Luke dying in a fashion similar to Obi-Wan would be a little to much of a carbon copy. If Luke were to fall in battle, he should be fighting against the pull of death after being mortally wounded.  This struggle to survive would mirror Anakin on the lava banks on Mustafar, Luke should only submit to the inevitable when the Force ghosts of Yoda, Obi-Wan and his father tell him it is time to let go and become one with the Force. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much (Episode 5.18) Preview Clips

I gotta say it is totally a guilty pleasure, but I love me some Moff Tarkin.

In this week's upcoming episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Tarkin returns and does some verbal sparring with the Jedi.

It also appears that both Ahsoka and Barriss Offee are rather emotionally effected by the terrorist bombing.  My guess is that a peer of theirs a padawan perhaps from their youngling class was killed in the explosion.

It is also great to see a very Imperial feeling prison complete and Ahsoka clearly having less than warm and fuzzy feelings for Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

Preview Clip #1: Ahsoka visits Letta in jail

Preview Clip #2: Tarkin in all his glory

SOURCES: Youtube Star Wars Channel and IGN

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Sabotage" (Episode 5.17)

It looks like The Clone Wars went back to school when it comes to criminal procedure and if Lt. Tan Divo starring Season Two's "Senate Murders" was CrimPro I than this week's episode "Sabotage" is definitely CrimPro II.

"Sometimes even the smallest doubt can shake the greatest belief."
Anakin and Ahsoka investigate a deadly bombing at the Jedi Temple.

Written by Clone Wars newcomer Charles Murray (@ChiefRocka77), this episode presents a great version of Anakin and Ahsoka's relationship and some very cool parallels to Episode III.

We join the action mid-battle after the newsreel as Ahsoka and Anakin are piloting their "New" Jedi Starfighters on Cato Neimoidia. The Starfighter opening and buzz-droid attack was a nice call back to Episode III's opening and presents an interesting parallel in terms of relationships between Ahsoka/Anakin now and Anakin/Obi-Wan in episode III.

While Ahsoka may still technically be Anakin's padawan, she is on the cusp of knighthood and her ability to not only save her own skin but also Anakin's points to a self-assured and capable young woman.  This is a relationship that is entering a peer stage, much like Anakin and Obi-Wan do in Episode III.  One can only hope that the ultimate dissolution of Anakin and Ahsoka's relationship will not be as heart wrenching as Anakin and Obi-Wan's relationship. 

This week's episode also showed some very well done animation.  Upgraded character models for Captain Rex, new Jedi Starfighters, very good facial animation on Anakin in particular and and incredible fully immersive hologram of the terrorist explosion.

I gotta say that director Brian Kalin O'Connell and writer Charles Murray took this week's episode in an interesting direction. If we didn't know any better you would assume this is a stand alone episode, because other than the ultimate trial and conviction of Letta Turmond it seems like the immediate issues presented in the episode are wrapped up rather nicely with a bow.

This episode also brings up an issue that has been dealt with in various ways in the EU as well as in Episode III. How exactly does Palpatine turn public opinion against the Jedi? The fall of the Republic was so skillfully crafted by George Lucas in his storytelling that Palpatine even though he is absolutely evil, is also a completely compelling character.  The Sith Grand Plan is both incredibly intricate and complex and incredibly simple.  Palpatine uses the Jedi sense of duty and devotion to the Republic to get them to stray from their core ideals and debase themselves in a seemingly endless war.  The reward for the Jedi for their effort is that the public disdain for war falls upon their laps and the populace's frustration and fear is easily transferred to this group that represents the "other" strange mysterious mystics who possess powers that the ordinary folk do not and a cannot and that seem to be above the law and society of the common man. 

This issue of the public opinion of the Jedi will come back again in this arc I am sure.  This issue will recur  with the Clone's views of the Jedi leading up to Order 66, as well and ultimately of Palpatine's selling to the public of the ultimate lie about the Jedi coup.

The bulk of the episode focuses on Anakin, Ahsoka and Jedi Crime Scene Analysis Droid RUSSO-ICS as they investigate the explosion in the Jedi Temple hanger that resulted in the death of Jedi, Clones and civilians.  The investigation ultimately leads to Letta Turmond, who's husband was a worker in the hanger.  Letta turned her husband into a walking bomb through the use of unstable nano-droids which she had him consume with his food.  

It is interesting to see the influence of Hitchcock's Sabotage on this episode. In Hitchcock's film the focus of the story is on an investigation of a terrorist plot in London.  The prime suspect is a movie theater owner names Karl Verloc, who has a young wife. The wife also has a little brother (Stevie) that is part of the couple household.  The Scotland Yard detective in the film works undercover at a grocery store and ingratiates himself with the brother and sister in an attempt to learn if the husband is guilty.  Ultimately Karl has a bomb hidden inside a film canister, which he has the young boy transport unknowingly to Piccadilly Circus. Karl is very clear that the boy must deliver the package by a certain time because he doesn't want the boy to be killed.  Ultimately the kid is delayed and the bomb goes off killing the kid and a bus full of passengers.  Karl is then murdered by his wife when she finds out what happened.  

In this episode Letta appears to be playing the role of Verloc, with her husband Jackar Bowmani playing the role of Stevie as well as a the film canister.  In Hitchcock's film Verloc is murdered, it also revealed in a description of next week's episode that Letta will be killed and Ahsoka will be blamed for it.  We know that Letta is in custody in a Jedi holding cell below the Temple and that theoretically it would be nearly impossible for anyone but the Jedi to have access to her.  This fact makes the red herring of a Jedi being involved in the terrorist plot in this week's episode to be not so subtle foreshadowing about what is to be coming in the rest of the arc.  I will again wonder if the issue of a Dark Jedi or Jedi double-agent will result in the appearance of a character like Sora Bulq in The Clone Wars.  

I eagerly look forward next week to see what kind of emotional havoc The Clone Wars teams visits upon Ahsoka in this arc.


THE CLONE WARS DOWNLOAD: The Cost of The Clone Wars

Next Week on The Clone Wars:

Episode 5.18: "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much"

After meeting with Letta Turmond, Letta turns up dead and Ahsoka is arrested.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Clone Wars Season 5 Finale Ahsoka Arc Trailer Analysis

The toughest part about analyzing the season five final arc trailer is that from what we have been given there are multiple storytelling pathways which are equally compelling and thus also equally likely.  Below there will be spoilers of what is publicly available plot summaries, images and my own informed speculation about what is to come.  I am likely to be wrong many times, but perhaps just once or twice I will be correct.  Read with caution.

S05, E17  "Sabotage"

Anakin and Ahsoka investigate an explosion at the Temple, suspicious that a Jedi-turned-dark is responsible.

S05, E18  "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much"
After meeting with Letta Turmond, Letta turns up dead and Ahsoka is arrested.

S05, E19  "To Catch a Jedi"
On the run in the underworld, Ahsoka makes a bargain with Asajj Ventress while hunting for proof of her innocence.

S05, E20 The Wrong Jedi
With Ahsoka on the run, Anakin, who continues to believe in Ahsoka’s innocence, hunts for the truth.

So we know the arc opens with Anakin and Ahsoka on a mission to Cato Neimoidia where their Jedi Starfighters come under attack by buzz droids.  Does the similar opening to Episode III portend dark events in this arc?

Meanwhile back at the "Old Folks Home" protesters are picketing outside the Jedi Temple.  I would think that if anyone group in the galaxy could withstand protesters it would be the Jedi. Silly protesters.

What looks to be a LAAT/i lands in the Temple's hanger while some innocent workers are loading and unloading, and proceeds to explode. How rude.

Good luck getting the Mon Cala smell out of the walls.

A little too familiar imagery of terrorism.  But it gets the point across.

Anakin and Ahsoka speed back to the Temple.

Ahsoka runs into some old friends at the Temple

Jedi funeral, not becoming one with the Force = FAIL.

Ahsoka looks more devastated than most of the Jedi, did someone she cared for perish?

Things don't go well for Mace when it is stormy on Coruscant. But in HD the rain on the window looks terrific.

CSI Jedi style.

The David Caruso droid is featured in this episode. Did I ever mention that I saw Caruso's Kiss of Death in the theater? I have no idea why I went to see it in the theater, but it was hilariously bad, not even Nic Cage bench pressing a girl could save that steaming pile of a film. But it did have Mace Windu in it as well.

These are the images I am having some of the most trouble placing in the arc. Either Ahsoka is presenting what she learned to the Jedi Council as part of her investigation, she is being tried first by the Council for the death of Letta Turmond or she is standing before them ready to leave the Order. I would think if it is part of the investigation then Anakin would be present as well. I suppose upon further pondering it could also be Ahsoka asking for permission to search for prime suspect Letta Turmond on her own.

This solo shot of Ahsoka walking makes me wonder if she is leaving the Order at least temporarily after the events of the arc. Not sure where to put this image chronologically.

Ahsoka tracks down Letta.

Sometime after this encounter Letta is killed and Ahsoka is blamed. Who kills Letta and who framed Ahsoka, it has to be agents of Palpatine, but who?

I absolutely love every single "Imperial" shot in this trailer. Breathtaking.

Tarkin's back, back again, Tarkin's back, tell a friend.

This doesn't look ominous at all.

We get some very interesting new character models. Lightsabers, masks, and armor? Who might these be? Velma thinks they might be what eveolves into the Imperial Senate Sentinels, so lets call them Republic Senate Sentinels for now.

For the prosecution, Admiral Tarkin. He is pretty much the antithesis of Perry Mason.

Foreshadowing much.  It's the little things but the Imperial Guards are one of my favorite character designs in all of Star Wars.  They need more screen time.

Yeah, about that democracy thing. Not so much.

I put these next two shots together because of the back grounds.  Does Anakin attempt to break Ahsoka out of jail? The architecture looks very similar.

Ahsoka on the run in the underlevels of Coruscant, while security patrols hunt for her.

Time for quick cuts, grimaces, angry looks and fisticuffs.

Anakin looks a little bit like he is about to slaughter peeps.

Asajj without the mask fighting Anakin?

 Ahsoka looks a little peeved herself.

In the end it's hard to say exactly what is going on with Ahsoka. I would bet that Palpatine uses that anti-war protests and potentially a Jedi subverted by Dooku to stage a terrorist attack on the Temple. He would do this knowing that Ahsoka were away on a mission and that they would be the most likely Jedi because of Anakin's importance to lead an investigation.  He does this to set in motion the downfall of Ahsoka and further emotional trauma he wants to inflict on Anakin.

Ahsoka seeking to prove herself asks or disobeys orders and goes looking for fugitive Letta Turmond.  She confronts Letta, but Letta is killed in such a way that witnesses or holo-cams make it look like Ahsoka is responsible.

Palpatine issues an arrest warrant for Ahsoka, and the Jedi lead by Plo Koon go looking for her to bring her in for questioning.  The Jedi go along with this believing that the facts will clear Ahsoka, but conscious that given public distrust of the Jedi they must submit to the civil legal processes or they will prove their critics correct.

Anakin of course disagrees with this approach, he knows Ahsoka is innocent and their is no reason to put her in jeopardy in his view.  The Council is worried about Anakin because his emotions are swirling and they are not sure if he can sit back and let the legal process play out.

Ahsoka is hauled into the Hall of Justice where Palpatine sits in judgement, I bet that Tarkin presents the evidence against her in what amounts to a military tribunal. This is the Clone Wars version of GITMO.

Ahsoka is either convicted or while the proceedings are taking place she escapes and once again is on the run, where she runs into Asajj Ventress in the slums of Coruscant.

Asajj initially thinks Ahsoka is after her so she attacks Ahsoka. Ahsoka is close to being killed when she convinces Asajj that she needs her help and Asajj puts her lightsabers away.

Ahsoka and Asajj team up to look for proof of Ahsoka's innocence and to find the real killer.

Meanwhile Anakin leaves the Temple and comes looking for Ahsoka, in addition to countless Republic military forces searching for her.  You will notice in the trailer that she is fending off stun bolts, so clearly the order is to detain not kill at this point.

I would bet the arc concludes with two major things happening.  1) Ahsoka is able to find evidence that exonerates her. 2) In his passion to search for Ahsoka, Anakin dips his toes into the dark side again and commits some act of violence that Ahsoka witnesses that shocks her.

Ahsoka at the end of the arc is a tangle of emotions, doubts in the Jedi Order over how they treated and doubted her and doubts in her Master after what she witnessed.  Ahsoka leaves the Order in the closing shots of Sesaon Five in an attempt to find peace and make sense of it all.

SOURCES: Zap2it, Teletoon, Youtube