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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 6 – “Deal No Deal”

By @HolocronJosh for @sw_holocron

The adventures of Ahsoka and the Martez sisters continued in the sixth episode of The Clone Wars’ final season entitled “Deal No Deal.” In this installment, Ahsoka accompanies Trace and Rafa Martez on a questionable mission to run spice from Kessel to the Pyke Syndicate, which, inevitably, does not go as planned.

Right off the bat, this episode is a significant improvement over “Gone with a Trace.” While that episode served to supply the viewer with important contextual information about the Martez sisters and the state of Ahsoka following her attrition from the Jedi Order, it was fairly lightweight, simple, and seemingly inconsequential to the broader narrative of the show. “Deal No Deal,” conversely, is more story focused, leaning into the adventure-of-the-week style The Clone Wars has used so effectively throughout its run. Now that the necessary introductions are over with from the previous episode, this episode spends more substantial time on delivering an entertaining, tense Star Wars story, while providing some great character moments and dynamics that are a hallmark of The Clone Wars overall.

One of these particularly notable character moments was Anakin sensing Ahsoka’s presence on the Silver Angel and, subsequently, letting the ship through on Coruscant. This scene was obviously reminiscent of Darth Vader’s Force connection to Luke as he neared Endor in Return of the Jedi. It’s also reminiscent of Leia and Luke’s Force connections in The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi, sensing one another from afar. Ahsoka and Anakin sensing one another in this episode really evoked these classic Star Wars moments, while subtly offering some insight into Anakin’s mentality toward Ahsoka during this time in that he let her go without penalty. The bond between Anakin and Ahsoka is one of the strongest in Star Wars and has developed well beyond the quirky back-and-forth between the two in the 2008 film, and this moment shows how well that relationship has developed over time. This is a truly unique master and apprentice bond as Ahsoka’s arguably justifiable departure from the Jedi Order irreversibly changed their relationship in a way we haven’t seen with other duos like Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan or Luke and Yoda. Let’s hope that this season of The Clone Wars offers more opportunities for Anakin and Ahsoka to interact, as the trailers for the season have hinted.

Ahsoka’s interactions with other characters were another highlight of the episode, in particular Rafa Martez. Throughout the episode, Ahsoka and Rafa were arguing over everything, with Rafa questioning Ahsoka’s background and involvement with her sister, while Ahsoka questioned Rafa’s plan and willingness to involve her sister in such a dangerous scheme. However, Ahsoka and Rafa were more aligned than anyone in certain matters, especially when critiquing Trace’s decision to dump the spice they were carrying. It’s interesting to see two characters who argue with one another so frequently, but, fundamentally, share the same opinions and worldviews on many things. This dynamic was engaging throughout the episode and a definite improvement over Rafa’s character from the previous episode.

Shifting more to the crux of the narrative, the core mission (or scheme) was definitely the highlight of the episode. For starters, to see Ahsoka, this young woman whose entire worldview is based around her upbringing as a Jedi, to not only split from the Order that raised her, but to move spice for a crime syndicate is a really interesting plot point. Ahsoka is still trying to find her way in the galaxy, independent of the Jedi, and for now that involves helping out her friend Trace no matter what. The mission itself was very entertaining, with the characters journeying to Kessel. The pathway to the planet looked just like it did in Solo: A Star Wars Story and it was fun to see the wealthier, more organized side of Kessel that was hinted at in Star Wars Rebels and not seen in Solo. Eventually, the characters made their way to the spice mines that were more reminiscent of the facility seen in Solo. Seeing events during The Clone Wars take place on Kessel was a real strength of the episode and further cements how the level of connectivity between different eras and characters in Star Wars is a highlight of the saga overall. The narrative of the episode culminated in another great moment, with Ahsoka using a Jedi mind trick to trick the Pykes into letting them go, but that obviously didn’t pan out as expected. And, subsequently, the episode’s cliffhanger set the stage brilliantly for the next episode.

“Deal No Deal” was a marked improvement over the previous episode, which helped establish new characters and plot points that were more substantially explored in this week’s installment of the show. Diving into a more grounded narrative helped this episode’s pacing tremendously, while offering great character moments, humor, and easter eggs throughout. There are two more episodes left to go in this arc and, while it would be nice to see more diverse, intense stories covered in this final season of the show, it’s still entertaining and insightful to see more of Ahsoka’s journey before the Siege of Mandalore arc. Once again, perhaps this arc is an episode too long, but we’ll suspend judgment on that for the time being until the next two episodes air. All in all, “Deal No Deal” is definitely worth a watch and sets the stage nicely for Ahsoka’s journey throughout the rest of The Clone Wars.

Score: 8/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, and Starwars.com

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11 Characters Who Could Appear in The Mandalorian Season 2

By @HolocronGeorge, @HolocronJosh, and HolocronWilliam for @sw_holocron

Over the last couple weeks, the talk in Star Wars fandom has primarily involved the recent rumor of Rosario Dawson joining the cast of The Mandalorian season 2 as fan favorite character Ahsoka Tano, which would make this her first live-action appearance. We thought this would be a good time to have a fun look forward at the upcoming season of the Disney+ show, which is scheduled to premiere on the streaming service in October of this year. Along with Ahsoka, there are a variety of other interesting characters that could possibly appear in The Mandalorian at some point. This list is by no means exhaustive, but we thought we’d play around with the idea of previously seen characters appearing in the highly anticipated second season of the show and hypothesize as to their potential roles in the plot.

1. Boba Fett

It’s no secret that Boba Fett is a fan favorite, with the character’s popularity arguably paving the way for the creation of The Mandalorian in the first place. In canon, the last time we saw Boba was when he flew into the Sarlacc Pit and was presumed dead, but many believe that it is possible he could have escaped to live another day as he did in Legends. Many fans have theorized that the bounty hunter seen at the end of Chapter 5 of season one approaching Fennec Shand on Tatooine is Boba Fett, citing the sound of the footsteps as eerily similar to the sound of Fett’s entrance in The Empire Strikes Back. If he were to show up, he could have a number of different roles in the show. Boba could appear in a one-off episode like “The Prisoner” last season as a minor side character. Or he could play a more substantial role in the show as an ally of Din Djarin or a nemesis hunting after The Child. Boba could also appear in flashbacks to events on Mandalore or other flashbacks, potentially exploring a prior relationship between Boba and Din. 

2. Cad Bane

Speaking of notorious, deadly bounty hunters, Cad Bane is another logical choice for a character who could show up in The Mandalorian. The show is obviously about bounty hunters and has already introduced us to an array of people involved in this “complicated profession.” Bane’s inclusion in season two seems natural given his last known canon appearances are when Bane collaborated with Dooku to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine and when Bane paid Captain Sear for blueprints of the Jedi Temple in the Clone Wars era, and his character has yet to be seen since. It is possible that Bane, not Boba, was the bounty hunter who approached Fennec in season one and this is how he could be introduced. Not only is the prospect of seeing Bane for the first time in live-action crash with Din Djarin in a post-Empire era really exciting, but the potential for Cad Bane to be actualized in live-action in any capacity seems like a great opportunity.

3. Luke Skywalker

At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Jedi were reborn. Anakin Skywalker’s sacrifice meant that his son was able to live and restart the Jedi Order. As The Mandalorian is set 5 years after Return of the Jedi, which is arguably Luke’s prime, we could see Dyn Djarin and The Child meet him at some point, particularly as the latter does indeed have Force powers. As Luke was restarting the Jedi Order at this time, it’s possible that he may take an interest in The Child and see him as a potential apprentice. However, if Jon Favreau and co. don’t go down this route, it’s still possible that Luke could appear, with the Jedi helping The Mandalorian. Luke has already appeared in canon several times after the Battle of Endor and before his appearance on Ahch-To in The Force Awakens, including the Shattered Empire series, The Rise of Kylo Ren comic series, and the Battlefront II campaign. It’s not implausible to suggest that Luke could appear, in a very limited capacity, in The Mandalorian given his activities during this era, such as hunting for old Jedi and Sith artifacts and training young Jedi. Moreover, young Luke’s appearance in The Rise of Skywalker paves the way for the usage of old footage to portray Luke or Mark Hamill to reprise his role as a younger version of himself with some of the in vogue de-aging technology seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Either way, it’s possible that Luke’s path converges with Din and The Child in the show.

4. Maz Kanata

Maz Kanata didn’t have the substantial role in the sequel trilogy many predicted or was initially planned in The Force Awakens, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample room to delve deeper into the character’s background. Maz is centuries old, therefore making her appearance in the era post Battle of Endor that The Mandalorian is set in possible. Maz’s somewhat ambiguous connection to the Force is reminiscent of The Child’s abilities in the Force given that neither are Jedi, yet both exhibit knowledge of and bonds to the Force. The Mandalorian has already placed the viewer inside many bars and taverns across the galaxy in its first season, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Maz Kanata’s castle seen in The Force Awakens could be the next stop for Din and The Child.

5. Admiral Gail Ackbar

Din’s path has already crossed with forces of the New Republic and Din has expressed some unsavory opinions of the new regime in a conversation with Greef Karga last season. Although the show so far has primarily centered around Din’s bounty hunting and relationship with The Child, multiple reports prior to the release of season one explained that the show will delve deeper into the origins of the First Order, making it logical to assume that the New Republic could also play a more substantial role in the show moving forward. Given Ackbar’s relatively limited role in the sequel trilogy, The Mandalorian could be a perfect opportunity for the fan favorite character to reappear. The show has already hinted slightly at Ackbar’s appearance in the show when Greef offers the bounty puck of a Mon Calamari to Din. Not only does the hologram resemble Ackbar, but Greef refers to the bounty as a “nobleman.” Din’s pursuit of Ackbar or a relative of his could be a really interesting plot point in the show’s second season, even as a one-off episode akin to “The Prisoner” or “The Gunslinger.”

6. Iden Versio

While the casting of some characters from animated shows or video games may be difficult, this would not be the case with the protagonist of the Battlefront II campaign Iden Versio. Janina Gavankar, who has forged a successful career in TV shows and movies as well, portrayed the character brilliantly in DICE’s 2017 shooter and the possibility of her reprising this role in live-action is inticing. Recently, Gavankar coyly responded to a rumor of the character’s appearance in the upcoming season of The Mandalorian. And the timelines match up relatively well. Iden’s journey in the Battlefront II campaign spans many years, but kicks off after the events of Return of the Jedi. Similarly, The Mandalorian is set in the aftermath of Palpatine’s death and the fall of the Empire, with the remnants of the fallen Empire playing major roles in both The Mandalorian and Battlefront II. 

7. Snoke

Given the previous point about the potential for The Mandalorian to explore the origins of the First Order, Snoke’s inclusion is entirely plausible. It seems relatively clear from an array of different canon comics and books, in addition to some of the reveals hinted at in The Rise of Skywalker, that the First Order was born out of the desires of many Imperial officers and loyalists who wanted to continue the reign of their beloved Empire despite the Emperor’s death. However, at some point, the puppet Snoke, with Palpatine pulling the strings from the background, “hijacked,” for lack of a better term, the First Order and took them to another level of power and villainy. Eventually, the shards of the Empire we see in The Mandalorian will form into more of what we see in The Force Awakens as an organized First Order and Snoke obviously plays a large part in that. Not only could Snoke’s inclusion provide a great connection to the sequel trilogy, but it could also be an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the character’s origins that The Rise of Skywalker and The Rise of Kylo Ren comic series only touched the surface of. This isn’t to say Snoke could play a large role in the show as that is highly unlikely. However, a mere cameo or even mention of the Supreme Leader would be very interesting moving forward in The Mandalorian.

8. Q’ira

The incredible cliffhanger ending of Solo: A Star Wars Story featuring Q’ira’s fateful decision to adopt Dryden Vos’ position in Crimson Dawn, rather than leading a life with Han, is yet to be continued in canon following the 2018 film. Despite this, Q’ira remains an interesting character to explore, especially when Star Wars is delving deeper into underworld activities in projects like The Mandalorian. As Din Djarin crosses paths with bounty hunters, crime syndicates, mercenaries, smugglers and governments throughout the show, it could be that Crimson Dawn and, therefore, Q’ira become involved in the Mandalorian’s affairs. Q’ira would obviously be older at this point than when we last saw her and her inclusion in The Mandalorian may spoil aspects of her character arc taking place after Solo that we have yet to see. However, if there are no current plans for Emilia Clarke to reprise her role in a sequel to Solo or another project, The Mandalorian season two seems like a great opportunity to reintroduce her character into the fold.

9. Ezra Bridger

Given the cliffhanger that Star Wars: Rebels ends on in regards to Ezra Bridger, the young Jedi Padawan who was trained by Kanan Jarrus before his death, one can deduce that a follow up to these events is only a matter of time. It’s been rumored that an animated sequel to show to Rebels is on it’s way sooner rather than later, but even if this is indeed accurate, Ezra could still show up in The Mandalorian. If Ahsoka appears in the second season, then that could signal the creators behind the show are potentially following up the events of Rebels in The Mandalorian, meaning that the question of what happened to Ezra may be answered here.

10. Sabine Wren

From one Phoenix Squadron member to another, Sabine Wren comes next. There have been whispers about the famous Mandalorian and former wielder of the darksaber’s inclusion in the second season of this show. Sabine has been a fan favorite from her time on Star Wars Rebels and her connection to the darksaber, which she eventually handed off to Bo-Katan Kryze in the show, provides a tangible connection to The Mandalorian given Moff Gideon’s acquisition of the famous blade sometime during the original trilogy era. If Din Djarin and The Child ever journey to Mandalore or encounter more surviving Mandalorians, it’s a possibility that Sabine could make a much welcomed reemergence in canon.

11. Bo-Katan Kryze

Speaking of darksaber wielders, Bo-Katan’s inclusion seems to be one of the clearer cut choices to include on this list. As noted previously, Moff Gideon possesses the storied blade of Tarre Vizsla in the season finale of The Mandalorian, but it is unclear how he acquires this from the darksaber’s last known owner – Bo-Katan. Overall, Bo-Katan could play an integral role in The Mandalorian moving forward if the show decides to delve deeper into the fall of Mandalore, which I think it will. The last time we saw Mandalore, the planet was reunited under Bo-Katan’s reign as the clans came together to rebel against the Empire’s occupation of their plan and domination of their below. Some point thereafter, however, “the purge” occurred, leading to Imperial Security Bureau officers like Gideon presumably defeating Bo-Katan and reclaiming the planet and the darksaber. Whether it be in flashbacks to the tragic puge or if she is indeed one of the surviving Mandalorians scattered across the galaxy, Bo-Katan’s inclusion in the show makes a lot of sense.

As mentioned previously, this list is by no means exhaustive as we anticipate many more characters mentioned or seen in Star Wars canon will pop up in The Mandalorian at some point. From Dengar to Bossk to Palpatine to Han to Chewie to C3PO to Lando to IG-88 to Phasma to Mon Mothma, the list of potential characters that we haven’t touched on are endless. And that’s one of the best things about Star Wars, especially in the new canon era – the level of interconnectivity of events, characters and locations across different eras and projects. The Mandalorian season 2 is over 6 months away and our excitement will continue grow every day until it premieres this October.

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 5 – “Gone with a Trace”

by @HolocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Ahsoka returned to The Clone Wars this week in an entertaining, albeit standard and lightweight episode. After leaving the Jedi Order, Ahsoka journeys across Coruscant when her speeder breaks down and her journey converges with Trace Martez, a young mechanic living on Level 1313.

One’s opinion on The Clone Wars as a whole is in large part determined by their opinion on Ahsoka as a character and how she fits into Star Wars canon, especially in the earlier seasons of The Clone Wars in which she has a more consistent, substantial role in the show. Over time, we’ve gotten to know Ahsoka more and more, including through the incredible Season 5 arc in which she leaves the Jedi Order, her intriguing role in Star Wars Rebels, and E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka novel. And, while this episode does not offer the depth to the character seen in these installments of her story, this episode sheds light on Ahsoka’s values and personality now that she is not consumed by the Jedi Order’s way of doing things. Little moments in the episode like Ahsoka defending the Jedi Order against Trace Martez by saying that the Jedi didn’t start the war are great in their ability to highlight key parts of Ahsoka’s personality in relatively brief moments. The fact that Ahsoka, a woman who was not believed and felt betrayed by the people she considered family, defends the Jedi and their role in the war speaks volumes about her stance on right and wrong. So does Ahsoka’s willingness to help Trace on a somewhat shady task involving local gangsters and killer droids. This isn’t the squeaky clean Ahsoka we were introduced to in the 2008 film, calling Anakin “sky guy.” This is a more mature, calculated version of Ahsoka, who, now that she is not beholden by the doctrine of the Jedi, dictates her life as she sees fit, including helping people who helped her. In this sense, the episode was interesting in offering a new look at Ahsoka, bridging the gap between her falling out with the Jedi and the Ahsoka novel.

Exploring 1313 was also a highlight of this episode. Across the board, it seems that Star Wars fans have been yearning for more of Coruscant, in particular its underworld, for years now. And this episode delivers a little more on that, as has The Clone Wars show overall. Coruscant looks beautiful in this episode, truly echoing how amazing the planet looks in the prequel trilogy. From the colorful lighting of the streets to the different species populating the city to the griminess of the underworld, the animation this season is really impressive, especially in detailing environments.

Speaking of aesthetics, it’s interesting to see Ahsoka with the updated animation, as we did with several hallmark characters of the series in The Bad Batch arc. The facial animation adds a lot of nuisances to Ahsoka that compliments Ashley Eckstein’s consistently impressive performance as the character. The animation adds a certain maturity to the character, which aligns with her evolution since we last saw her (and her new outfit is great too). Other characters in the show, including the Martez sisters, look great, once again showing how the animation this season elevates the show to another level. This was probably best encapsulated by the climatic action sequence of the episode, speeding through the underbelly of Coruscant chasing after the droid. The action really evokes the feeling and tone of the prequel trilogy, in large part due to how refined and smooth the animation appears.

Although it’s entertaining to see Ahsoka return to the front, this episode was lacking a bit in regards to narrative and emotion, elements that this season of The Clone Wars has succeeded quite well in. That isn’t necessarily a negative, as this episode was clearly going for a light hearted, more child friendly re-introduction to Ahsoka. But, it would be nice to see more of the final episodes of this amazing show dedicated to dramatic character moments and key plot points as opposed to fun, yet lightweight and seemingly inconsequential episodes like this. That being said, this episode definitely succeeds in setting up Ahsoka’s journey for the rest of the show. She clearly still has strong feelings about the Jedi and is deeply affected by their “betrayal.” She’s a changed person, doing things and interacting with people she typically wouldn’t engage with as a Jedi. But she’s not a Jedi anymore. We know from promotional material and the E.K. Johnston novel that Ahsoka plays a major role in the Siege of Mandalore. So, it’ll be interesting to see how the show uses this episode as a springboard to launch her character into that more plot heavy arc with more broader narrative implications.

All in all, it was great to see Ahsoka again after several years since her final appearance in the fourth season of Star Wars Rebels. Ahsoka is a true staple of The Clone Wars show and era overall, so if there’s any character to spend a little more time exploring in a lighter, fun, less plot heavy episode it’s her. We’re definitely looking forward to the rest of season 7 of The Clone Wars and seeing more of Ahsoka’s journey leading up to the events in Revenge of the Sith in substantial episodes.

Score: 6.5/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney, Starwars.com, and Disney Plus

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Home Release

by @HolocronGeorge by @sw_holocron

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker landed on Digital HD earlier than expected, with Disney releasing the final film in the Skywalker Saga a few days prior to it’s previously set Tuesday March 17th date. Along with the film, the release includes a variety of special features, including a full length documentary titled The Skywalker Legacy.

While the film itself was met with extremely divisive reviews, we at Star Wars Holocron enjoyed the film to varying degrees. One of us loved the movie, putting it in his top three Star Wars films, while I myself loved elements of the film, but found it slightly underwhelming. The digital release is great, however, in that it allows us to revisit and, therefore, reevaluate the film months after its theatrical release. Just the ability to pause the movie and rewind it to replay scenes is amazing for a film like The Rise of Skywalker as it has so many memorable, powerful scenes. From Ben’s conversation with his father to Lando’s arrival on Exegol to Rey adopting the Skywalker name on Tatooine, The Rise of Skywalker is full of rewatchable, emotionally resonant scenes that tie the trilogy together nicely.

Moving to the special features, the main attraction is the aforementioned documentary entitled “The Skywalker Legacy.” Most of the recent Star Wars releases have made a tradition of well edited, powerful documentaries detailing the making of the film more intricately and the broader themes of the film and the saga. In particular, the documentary accompanying The Last Jedi’s digital release was really interesting. “The Skywalker Legacy” follows its predecessor’s pattern by delivering another entertaining, insightful documentary. Little reveals in the documentary like Alec Guinness’ granddaughter making a cameo appearance, the black beans used for the quick sand on Pasaana, and Kurosawa’s influence on Kijimi, add so much to the enjoyment of the movie and really cements, regardless of one’s opinion of the film, how much thought and effort when into its creation.

As with other Star Wars home video releases, The Rise of Skywalker includes other special features dedicated to the creation of all the different creatures and aliens seen in the film. Interesting species have been a highlight of Star Wars since 1977 and it’s great to see this tradition continue with the sequel trilogy, emphasizing novel aliens and creatures primarily achieved with practical effects. The special features “Cast of Creatures” and “Aliens in the Desert” demonstrates this creativity in creature creation and offers new looks at characters only briefly seen in the background of the film.

Other special features included in this release are entertaining, albeit brief and more surface level. “Warwick and Son,” highlighting Warwick and Harrison Davis portraying Wicket and his son respectively in the film is a nice little tribute to Davis’ legacy in the franchise and worth a watch for die hard Star Wars fans. For those who particularly enjoy the mechanics behind the making of movies, the “Pasaana Pursuit” special feature offers unique insights into how the scene was filmed and the intricate planning it required to come off so smoothly. The John Williams special feature that is a digital exclusive is an Academy Awards-esque tribute to the composer’s eternal legacy with the franchise. It’s entertaining and moving, although quite short.

Lacking on the home release of The Rise of Skywalker are deleted scenes and a director’s commentary. I’m personally not a big fan of deleted scenes as they’re often hard to situate within a film and appear unfinished or unrefined, but it would’ve been nice to see some of the scenes left on the cutting board. We know from leaks, concept art, and the novelization that there are scenes that were filmed that did not appear in the final cut, such as Kylo speaking to an oracle on Mustafar, so it’s a shame that some of these scenes aren’t available for viewing (for the time being), especially given how relentlessly fast paced the film is overall. Moreover, hopefully a director’s commentary for the film is released at some point, similar to how The Force Awakens’ 3D release included a director’s commentary that the original Blu-Ray release did not. JJ Abrams’ and Rian Johnson’s commentaries of the previous sequel trilogy films were great as they gave a chance for the directors / writers to explain the reasoning behind some of the choices in their films and add little tidbits regarding the making of the film. Let’s hope that, at some point, deleted scenes and commentaries become available.

Overall, The Rise of Skywalker digital release is worth a look for even moderate fans of the film. Divisive films like this are ripe for revisiting as it provides the opportunity to reevaluate your initial opinion and notice things you previously missed. Most of the special features, in particular the commentary, are well worth viewing for even casual fans of Star Wars and hopefully add to one’s appreciation of the care taken to make these movies. As noted, the home release is distinctly lacking deleted scenes and a commentary, but, other than that, the special features are entertaining and interesting. Moving forward, it’ll be intriguing to see how The Rise of Skywalker is re-evaluated, as The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens were, now that people have access to the final installment in the Skywalker saga at home.

Score: 8/10

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 4 – “Unfinished Business”

By @holoconJulie for @sw_holocron

The Bad Batch arc concluded with perhaps the best episode of the season yet with “Unfinished Business.” This episode saw the Republic forces, led by Anakin and Rex, use Echo’s tragic situation as a once Clone Trooper turned Techno Union confederate to their advantage by sneaking Echo aboard a Separatist ship and feeding them false information. This episode had what the last episode was lacking, which is emotional, interpersonal content that offsets the impressive action set-pieces. Once again, the heart of this episode was Echo, whose loyalties were questioned and debated by Clone Force 99, Rex and Anakin. Putting the audience in a unique position as to where they lie in this debate was smart given the unpredictability of Echo’s state of mind following capture. Especially given the way in which the last episode concluded, the resolution of this lingering question regarding Echo’s loyalties was interestingly explored in this episode and culminated in a tense final showdown with Admiral Trench’s forces.

Speaking of Admiral Trench, it was great to see the Harch admiral once again. Trench has always been an interesting fixture in The Clone Wars and continues the pattern of cool looking alien species in Star Wars. Anakin’s tussle with Trench showed a different side to the Jedi Knight’s mentality, one that more echoes his murder of Tusken Raiders than it does his playful interactions with Ahsoka and Obi-Wan. Anakin’s entrance into the bridge of Trench’s ship was very reminiscent of Anakin’s arrival on Mustafar and subsequent execution of the various Separatist leaders. It’s a shame The Clone Wars hasn’t delved deeper into some of these darker sides of Anakin’s personality, but, when it does, the show really thrives and further sets up his inevitable fall to the dark side in Revenge of the Sith. Hopefully, the remainder of season 7 will offer more moments like this that shed light on Anakin’s underlying darkness.

The final moments of the episode were quite powerful, with Echo choosing to align himself with Clone Force 99, rather than accepting a medal for his achievements. This distinction between “regs” and the Bad Batch has been quite poignant throughout this arc and adds more to the individuality of the Clones overall, even beyond what we’ve already seen throughout the show. The final salute to Rex from Clone Force 99 and their newest member really cemented how the show can deliver emotionally fulfilling moments amidst episodes full of action and humor. This adds yet another later to Rex’s character, who, across The Clone Wars and Rebels, is easily one of the most interesting characters over the last five years in Star Wars canon.

It was also nice to see more Jedi in this arc, with Obi-Wan and Mace featuring a little more substantially in this episode. Hopefully, the remaining episodes of The Clone Wars offer more moments with Mace as he’s been an underutilized character throughout The Clone Wars, the prequels, and broader Star Wars canon. His wisdom and power and resentment of Anakin are all really intriguing avenues to explore in future Star Wars projects.

Technically, this episode excelled once again. The voice acting, visuals, and animated choreography of action scenes was top notch. Dee Bradley Baker in particular continually performs at another level as a wide array of different characters, making each and every Clone feel distinctly unique. Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor as Anakin and Obi-Wan evoke Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor’s performances as these characters, while also bringing their own spin to these iconic figures in Star Wars canon.

All in all, this arc culminated in a satisfying, entertainment and emotional finale. It’ll be nice to progress from this arc into stories we’re not as familiar with for the rest of the season. We still haven’t seen Ahsoka, Maul, Yoda, and more, so the prospect of seeing this characters again in The Clone Wars is really exciting.

Score: 8.5/10

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 3 – “On the Wings of Keeradaks”

By George William for @sw_holocron

The third episode of season seven of The Clone Wars entitled “On the Wings of Keeradaks” has arrived and continues the story of Rex, Anakin and Clone Force 99 as they attempt to recover Echo and prevent his mind from being used by the Separatists to further their war efforts. The emotional crux of this four-episode arc, as shown in the unfinished versions several years ago, is the relationship between Rex and Echo. The best parts of this episode aren’t related to the action or more technical components of its creation, but, rather, the tragedy in seeing Echo’s transformation and the reemergence of his brotherly bond with Rex. However, these emotional beats are often sacrificed in favor of more gorgeous looking action. In particular, the role of Clone Force 99 seems to have been reduced greatly, with their character dynamics being utilized for humor, narrative progression, or action, as opposed to exploring more nuanced differences between them and the other clones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the impressive visuals on display this season. But, for those who realize prioritize the interpersonal dynamics on display in The Clone Wars and aren’t that moved by the action set pieces, this episode may be a little lacking.

Speaking of the action, long-time Clone Wars and Rebels director Bosco Ng once again excels in this department. This is best exemplified in this episode in an Indiana Jones-esque sequence in which Anakin, Rex and Clone Force 99 are trapped in the middle of a massive bridge between two groups of droids on either end of the bridge moving in on them. Not only is this scene visually stunning, but the tension built up through dialogue, sound design and music help to make this scene truly memorable. The episode’s climatic battle further highlights the impressive action in this episode, with all of the characters demonstrating their unique, individual strengths on the battlefield.

Although it wasn’t explored too deeply in this episode, the reintroduction of Echo provided some great moments. In particular, Rex’s speech to the natives about what the Techno Union did to Echo encapsulates many of the horrors of war seen in this show, which, coupled with insights yielded from other episodes throughout the show, suggest that both sides are responsible for the severity and brutality of this war to some extent. The last moment of the episode is a great tease for the fourth and final episode of this arc, with audiences who have not seen the unfinished version left guessed as to what will happen next in regards to Echo. All in all, this was another good episode of The Clone Wars, despite a disproportionate emphasis on action as opposed to meaty character moments as the previous two episodes of this season has given us. Check back next for our review of the final episode of The Bad Batch arc!

Score: 7/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney, and Disney Plus

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 2 – “A Distant Echo”

by @HolocronJosh for @sw_holocron

The seventh season of The Clone Wars continued with “A Distant Echo,” the second installment of this four-episode arc featuring Rex, Echo and Clone Force 99. As noted in the review for last week’s episode, for many people, the major story points and character developments in this episode are already known given the unfinished version of the episodes were released in April 2015. However, the added scenes featuring new, poignant character moments in these episodes, in particular A Distant Echo, are, to quote Sheev Palpatine, a “surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.” This is best exemplified during Anakin’s communication with Padme and the way in which Rex covered for his general as to avoid Obi-Wan discovering this relationship. For starters, it was great to see Padme so early in the season, which was an unexpected surprise. Although Padme, like Anakin, in The Clone Wars takes a little getting used to given how she acts and sounds differently than Natalie Portman’s portrayal of the character in the prequels, Padme became a really interesting character in the series, especially when her character was used to expand on some of the political machinations of the era. This scene did not delve much into politics, however, but was a touching moment between husband and wife that emphasizes the strength of their relationship and the tragedy of its downfall in Revenge of the Sith. This scene was also noteworthy as it is probably the most explicit mention of the fact that Rex and Obi-Wan know about Anakin and Padme’s relationship. While this is played for humor in the episode, other Clone Wars episodes and even Revenge of the Sith subtly touch on the disturbing notion that Anakin did not trust or feel comfortable enough with Obi-Wan to tell him about Padme. All in all, the additions to the episode, in particular the interaction with Anakin and Padme, were highlights.
The actual story of the episode continues to be a really interesting arc. The mystery surrounding the origins of the algorithm predicting the Republic’s battleplans was resolved (slightly) at the end of the last episode, but to see this mystery elaborated on in this episode, including the big reveal of Echo at the end, were really well done.

Overall, the show has done a great job over the years of portraying a war that we all know the outcome to and that, for all intents and purposes, is entirely manufactured by Darth Sidious for his own insidious ends in a really interesting, unpredictable way. One wouldn’t think that an episode about a seemingly minor battle near the end of this three-year long war before Revenge of the Sith would be that intriguing, but the show is written in a way that the audience is truly invested in the developments of the characters during this time and how each event subtly or overtly leads up to the impending doom seen in Revenge of the Sith.


Expanding on what was said last week regarding the visuals, this episode of The Clone Wars continues to impress aesthetically. The movement is smooth, the environments are textured, and the facial features are textured. The refined facial animation actually reminded me a little bit of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s animation, which was impressive to say the least. Once again, the action was executed really well, in particular the final action sequence in which Clone Force 99, Rex and Anakin were fighting a barrage of droids in a hallway. Yes, these are sequences some of us have previously seen in an unfinished version, but they really come to life with such precision in animation. Kevin Kiner’s score was also superb in this episode. Kiner’s themes throughout The Clone Wars are underrated and it would be great to see him given a shot at providing the score for a TV show or even a movie down the line.
Regarding negatives, this is a criticism I have about some episodes of The Clone Wars overall – sometimes certain episode arcs feel like they warrant less episodes than they’re given. For example, this arc spans four episodes, but could probably be told just as effectively and more concisely in two, maybe even three, slightly longer episodes. Once again, a broader criticism of The Clone Wars, but I’d like to see more Jedi than Anakin and Obi-Wan. Obviously, this episode lends itself to that given Anakin’s journey and relationship with Rex, but it would be interesting to center episodes around the perspectives of more Jedi during this war.


Overall, this episode is another great installment to The Clone Wars that will definitely please fans of the show. Beyond the stunning visuals, this episode moves this four-episode arc along, culminating in a truly tragic, heartfelt moment, while offering new insights into the relationship between Anakin and Padme and the extent to which others are aware of this relationship, which has implications moving forward. Hopefully the next two episodes of this arc add new scenes like this as they add depth to the story and characters. Check out our review for the third episode of Season 7 of The Clone Wars “On the Wings of Keeradaks” next week!

Score: 8/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney