Wielding a unique purple lightsaber. Decapitating Jango Fett. “This party’s over.” On the surface, Mace Windu emerged from the prequel trilogy as a badass Jedi Master (badass seems appropriate given Samuel L. Jackson asked for “BMF,” which stands for bad mother f****r, to be inscribed on the hilt of his lightsaber). But, despite the superficial coolness and calmness exuded by Mace, primarily driven by Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as the character, taking a deeper look at Mace’s behavior, values, and attitudes toward others highlights much of what was wrong with the Jedi Order before their fall at the end of The Clone Wars.
(In)balance in the Force
In keeping with the much spoken of Chosen One prophecy, restoring balance to the Force is a topic of central importance to broader Star Wars canon. Balance has been much debated among Star Wars, with the films never providing a straightforward explanation of what it truly means. Some have hypothesized that balance simply means good overcoming evil or, using Star Wars terminology, the light side overcoming the dark side of the Force. Others, including The Rise of Skywalker co-writer Chris Terrio, have added nuance to this explanation, claiming that balance doesn’t mean that the dark side has been eradicated, as some darkness is always inevitable, but that the dark side has diminished and become less powerful. Interestingly, George Lucas and Dave Filoni have added different layers to the meaning of balance. They claim that balance in the Force is akin to a balance between attachment and detachment – selfishness or selflessness. Anakin says as much in Attack of the Clones when he speaks to Padme about this topic. Anakin affirms this idea in Revenge of the Sith when he says to Palpatine, “The Jedi are selfless…they only care about others.” In other terms, balance in the Force is not just a state in which the dark side is minimized, but also means striking a healthy middle ground between over-attachment, fueled by sentiments of fear or jealousy or anger, and total detachment, defined by being completely impersonal, unloving, and inattentive to the emotional needs of others.
So how does Mace Windu fit into all this? Mace epitomizes how far the Jedi Order had drifted from this healthy balance, skewed too far toward total detachment. When a young slave boy taken from his mother appears before the Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace, the boy is not met with reassurance or friendliness, but, rather, hostility and apprehension. This hostility and apprehension is exhibited by Mace throughout the prequel era. Mace does not help Anakin deal with his prophesiczed Chosen One status. Instead, Mace is completely impersonal, detached from any emotional, empathic connection he should have with a young man like Anakin. The second in command of the Jedi Order should model ideal Jedi behavior, but, instead, has taken the idea of the dangers of attachment so far that he, and much of the Jedi Order, have become completely detached from others in a meaningful way. When Ahsoka is accused of murder, Mace and other Jedi are quick to judge and condemn her – not exercising caution and taking into consideration the type of person Ahsoka is, but simply throwing her under the bus for a crime he did not commit. When the ordeal is all over, Mace and the others do not offer a sincere apology to Ahsoka, opting to frame the situation as a final step in the padawan’s training. Even in the face of a mistake, Mace is not able to exhibit any semblance of meaningful attachment to others, any genuine, personal care for someone part of the Order in desperate need of support like Anakin or Ahsoka. This attitude symbolic of inbalance shown by Mace is shared by much of the Jedi Order, even in Yoda to an extent, and highlights how internally corrupted Jedi values had become by the time the Order fell.
Hypocrisy in the Order
Mace’s distortion of Jedi values extends further as he also continually exhibits a hypocrisy that is a hallmark issue of the overarching Jedi Order at this time. The Jedi are introduced in the prequels as guardians of the peace, not soldiers. But, upon The Clone Wars and even beforehand with the conflict on Naboo, the Jedi blurred the lines between warriors and peacekeepers. Mace fully embraces the role of a General in the war, leading soldiers, drawing up military plans, and seldom considering the ramifications of involvement in the Clone Wars on traditional Jedi values. This hypocrisy extends to Mace’s treatment of others. In season 7 of the Clone Wars, while Yoda treats Ahsoka with a warm, fatherly attitude, Mace is combative with Ahsoka in critiquing her role as a citizen now. In mistreating Ahsoka, despite her good intentions and how she was poorly treated by the Jedi, Mace misses out on vitally important intel provided by Maul regarding Sidious and Anakin. It is this form of hypocrisy that the citizens of the galaxy detested in the Jedi, and something the Sith exploited. Mace, like many Jedi, champion values of kindness and reassurance, while simultaneously exhibiting a coldness and harshness toward others. Mace and other Jedi are meant to guard the peace and avoid military conflict and violence, but at the same see themselves take part in a massive, galaxy-side that impacts billions of lives.
“He’s too dangerous to be kept alive!”
The hypocrisy of Mace culminates in his handling of Palpatine following Anakin’s report that Palpatine is the Sith Lord pulling the strings behind the scenes. The notion that Palpatine is “too dangerous to be kept alive” may appear reasonable given the sheer power the evil Sith Lord possesses. However, such a notion is completely against Jedi values and is disturbingly reminiscent of Anakin’s merciless slaughter of Dooku earlier in Revenge of the Sith. Not only that, but keeping Palpatine alive in that moment would have offset Anakin’s turn to the dark side as the reason Anakin acted against Mace was to preserve Palpatine’s life and, in turn, save Padme from “certain death.” In this sense, Mace embodies the completely misguided, hypocritical decision-making of the Jedi at this time in not only trying to kill a disarmed, surrendering Palpatine when it is against Jedi code, but also in making such a decision with total ignorance to how it will impact Anakin.
As time has progressed, Mace has shaped into a far more interesting character than initially portrayed in the prequel trilogy. Projects like The Last Jedi, Jedi Fallen Order, the Aftermath trilogy, and most recently the final season of The Clone Wars have done such a good job reshaping perceptions of the Jedi. The galaxy is not black and white, with the Jedi as the good guys and the Sith as the bad guys. Behavior of Jedi like Mace highlight just how corrupted the Jedi Order had become by the time of their destruction and the extent to which their hypocrisy and impersonal detachment greatly contributed to their fall. Much of this refined understanding of the Jedi Order is accomplished by how Mace has been portrayed in canon, making him a truly interesting, unique character to explore.
Over the past several months, a myriad of casting rumors surrounding the second season of The Mandalorian have been circulated in trade reports. News of the impending live-action debuts of Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex, along with the rumored returns of fan favorites Boba Fett and Bo-Katan, accompany rumors of established actors such as Michael Biehn and Timothy Olyphant playing a role in the second season. Given the extent of these reports, we’re going to go over their implications for the new season of The Mandalorian premiering on Disney+ later this week.
The Return of the Jedi
After the end of The Clone Wars earlier this year, fans’ love for and connection to Ahsoka Tano became even stronger. The Siege of Mandalore proved to be the ultimate showcase for Ahsoka as a character, demonstrating her strength, determination, and courage, along with her inherent complexity being the padawan of the man who would become Darth Vader. After the series finale of Rebels revealed Ahsoka lived beyond the original trilogy, the possibilities became endless of where she could show up next. Despite the rumored Rebels sequel show in development, Ahsoka’s next appearance seems like it will be in The Mandalorian, as reported by Slash Film. Rosario Dawson’s casting of the character has been met with largely positive reception from fans and we similarly think the casting of Dawson is great. Although it would be amazing to see Ashley Eckstein reprise her character, maybe even as a motion-capture version of Ahsoka, Rosario Dawson seems like the logical choice for the role in live-action. The question then becomes: how and why will Ahsoka show up in The Mandalorian? Will she be hunting after The Child? Will Din find her while pursuing The Child’s people? Will Ahsoka merely show up in a one-off episode akin to The Gunslinger or The Prisoner? The possibilities are endless, but rumors are circulating that Ahsoka’s appearance in The Mandalorian will serve as a backdoor pilot for her own Disney+ series. Either way, Ahsoka’s first live-action appearance in The Mandalorian is definitely intriguing.
Attack of the Clone(s)
Ahsoka isn’t the only fan favorite character appearing in The Mandalorian as The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets are reporting that Temuera Morrison will appear as Captain Rex and Boba Fett in the series. Rex’s appearance seems reasonable given Ahsoka’s conclusion and the two characters’ close bond that surely transcended beyond the original trilogy. However, it’s Boba Fett’s inclusion that has drawn even more attention from Star Wars fans. Even before the first season, Boba’s appearance has been speculated and the appearance of a mysterious figure at the end of Chapter 5: The Gunslinger furthered this speculation. Boba’s role in the show could be wide ranging, from a competing bounty hunter, to an ally, to even a tease for Boba’s more substantial role as a lead protagonist in season three. Regardless, seeing Temeura Morrison return to the fold and how his characters may converge with Din Djarin and The Child is so exciting.
Din doesn’t seem to be the only Mandalorian in season 2 as both Sabine Wren and Bo-Katan Kryze are rumored to appear, according to Slash Film and other outlets. While rumors have been less substantial regarding Sabine’s inclusion, the former Phoenix Squadron member’s role in The Mandalorian makes sense given her shared heritage with Din and the conclusion of Star Wars Rebels teasing future adventures of Ahsoka and Sabine. Sasha Banks, who several have suggested could be playing Sabine, made a mysterious appearance in the first trailer for The Mandalorian season 2. Meanwhile, Bo-Katan’a appearance has been more widely reported by the trades, with Katee Sackhoff playing the character in live-action for the first time. Bo-Katan was last seen leading the Mandalorian rebellion against the Empire, wielding the dark saber on her crusade. Since then, the Mandalorians have been slaughtered and Gideon has claimed the famed saber. Bo-Katan, therefore, may find a similar enemy as Din in Gideon or may even try to use The Child as a lure to seek revenge against Gideon and reacquire the dark saber.
Rounding out the cast
And just when we thought there couldn’t be more rumors, Timothy Olyphant and Michael Biehn have also been reported as having roles in season 2. Olyphant, famous for his role in Justified, is rumored to play Cobb Vanth, a lawman on Tatooine portrayed in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy. This role is interesting, because Vanth acquires Mandalorian armor that, although not explicitly identified as Boba’s, is heavily implied to be that of the famed bounty hunter. This has led to some speculation that The Mandalorian will see Boba reacquire his armor from Vanth and that, potentially, Vanth was the character approaching Fennec Shand at the end of Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. We discuss this rumor in greater depth in another blog. Meanwhile, Michael Biehn is reported to play an old friend or colleague of Din’s. Biehn is famous for several classic 1980s roles and seems to be in the mold of Carl Weathers and Nick Nolte in actors who made names for themselves in the 1980s now appearing in Star Wars.
With the new season of The Mandalorian fast approaching, the reports of new characters and actors making their introductions makes us even more excited. Stay tuned to Star Wars Holocron for more coverage of the upcoming season of The Mandalorian and more!
While the new series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian has provided us with some great behind the scenes looks at The Mandalorian and interesting conversations with the show’s creators, a recent episode of the show featured executive producer, writer, and director Dave Filoni discussing the importance of the Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Maul duel in The Phantom Menace.
Filoni spoke about the stakes of the fight and the implications it has for the entire Skywalker saga:
“What’s at stake is really how Anakin is going to turn out. Because Qui-Gon is different than the rest of the Jedi, and you get that in the movie…He’s fighting for Anakin, and that’s why it’s the Duel of the Fates. It’s the fate of this child. And depending on how this fight goes, his life is going to be dramatically different.”
Filoni went on to elaborate on how Qui-Gon would have been the father figure Anakin always needed, cognizant of Anakin’s want for attachment and the need to strike a balance between selfisness and selflessness, but that losing this prospective father figure has massive consequences:
“So Qui-Gon loses, of course, so the father figure [is gone]. Because he knew what it meant to take this kid away from his mother when he had an attachment, and he’s left with Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan trains Anakin, at first, out of a promise he makes to Qui-Gon, not because he cares about him. He’s a brother to Anakin, eventually, but he’s not a father figure. That’s a failing for Anakin. He doesn’t have the family that he needs. He loses his mother in the next film. He fails the promise to his mother, ‘I will come back and save you.’ So he’s left completely vulnerable, and Star Wars is ultimately about family.”
The theme of family resonates strongly through the Skywalker saga and Filoni believes that the duel in The Phantom Menace directly relates to how this theme is explored in Return of the Jedi:
“So that moment in that movie, that I think a lot of people diminish into just this cool lightsaber fight, is everything that the entire three films of the prequels hangs on. It’s that one particular fight. And Maul serves his purpose, and at that point died before George made me bring him back. But he died, and that’s showing you, again, how the Emperor is completely self-serving. He’s just a tool. He’s using people and now he’s going to use this child. That follows all the way through to the line, which terrified me as a kid, when the Emperor tells Luke, ‘You, like your father, are now mine.'”
Conversations like this add so much depth and insight into moments in Star Wars that, on the surface, may just seem like cool scenes or interesting lines. We for one could hear Filoni speak for hours and hours on the deeper meaning of Star Wars. Fingers crossed we get more of these discussions down the line in subsequent episodes of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian.
by @holocronJosh and @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron
Star Wars: The Clone Wars recently wrapped up with its seventh and highly acclaimed final season. An impressive catalogue of 133 episodes makes it difficult to narrow down the show’s greatest accomplishments, but pooling together the thoughts of all four of us at Star Wars Holocron helped land on the series’ 10 episodes.
Warning: spoilers for seasons 1-7 of The Clone Wars follow
10. Eminence – Season 5, Episode 14
Every Clone Wars episode with Maul is a real highlight, but Eminence stands out among many of them. Eminence is unique in that the regular cast of heroic characters like Ahsoka, Rex, Anakin, and Obi-Wan are absent, with the episode instead focusing entirely on Maul and Savage’s alliance with Death Watch and the formation of the Shadow Collective in order to retake Mandalore. This episode delves heavily into the inner workings of the underworld and crime syndicates, something The Clone Wars always excels at. While the perspective of the Republic and the Jedi is obviously interesting, there’s always been something about the seedy underworld of Star Wars that is enticing to fans and Eminence is one of The Clone Wars’ best forays into this topic. The bulk of the episode centers around Maul and Pre Vizsla traverse the galaxy to assemble their syndicate, with Black Sun, the Pykes, and the Hutt Cartel all featuring in this episode. Maul and Vizsla’s back-and-forth throughout the episode and the tension that surrounds their alliance is so entertaining to see and nicely sets the stage for events to come. Alliances between unstable, treacherous characters forged around similarly insidious goals is never a good idea, so the audience is left in place of eager anticipation for events to come following reveals that Maul and Vizsla plan to betray one another once they takeover Mandalore. The action sequences in the episode are top notch, in particular the beheading of Black Sun leadership on Mustafar. And, overall, the episode packs in a ton of story and world building in regards to Mandalore that make it stand out amongst the entire series.
9. Clone Cadets – Season 3, Episode 1
Season 3 started off with a prequel episode, an origins tale featuring many of the clones that quickly became fan favorites. Set on the clone homeworld of Kamino, it was great to see the rain and thunder pour down as Fives, Echo, and more worked their way up to become full fledged soldiers. This episode features an underdog spin to it, as the Republic overlords that be become doubtful of the squad’s ability to work together as a team and, overall, become sufficient soldiers for the Clone army. However, over the course of the episode, and through inspiration from beloved character 99, a defective clone who works as a janitor, Hevy, Cutup, Droidbait, Fives, and Echo prove everyone wrong and become soldiers. This episode shows off the beautiful aesthetics of Kamino, as well as having a truly heartfelt message under it all, making it one of the best of the show.
8. Orders – Season 6, Episode 4
Another Clone focused episode, “Orders” follows Fives as he tries to unravel the mystery of the chip in every Clone’s head. Fives pushes and eventually secures a meeting with Chancellor Palpatine, then flees after being accused of attacking the hidden Sith Lord. Fives hides deep in the Coruscant city center as Rex and other Clones reluctantly hunt their brother. This episode ends with the tragic, albeit inevitable death of Fives, a character that fans have come to know and love for seasons. This is perhaps one of, if not the most suspenseful episode in the whole show, as a fan favorite character tries to escape the destiny that the audience knows is inevitable given the events of Revenge of the Sith. Kevin Kiner’s score is once again excellent, with the voice acting of Dee Bradley Baker arguably carrying the whole episode. The emotion Baker puts into Fives’ final scene and his conversation with Rex is truly special, and one demonstrating his immense talent.
7. The Lost One – Season 6, Episode 10
Season 6 of The Clone Wars was, in many ways, focused on wrapping up as much as they could before the Disney takeover. One of these previously unresolved plot threads was the disappearance of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, who played a key part in the creation of the Clone army. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda go looking for answers regarding Dyas’ disappearance, prompting Palpatine to order Dooku to clean up any potential warning signs of the impeding Sith takeover. This episode answers a key question fans have had since 2002’s Attack of the Clones, and further adds to Palpatine’s unique, multi-layered plan, making it an extremely important entry to canon. Moreover, this episode is also incredibly tense at times, which is down to the excellent writing and directing.
6. Hostage Crisis – Season 1, Episode 22
Unfortunately, the earlier episodes of The Clone Wars don’t get a lot of love, but Seasons 1 and 2 are full of interesting arcs, one of the best being Hostage Crisis. Up until this point, the show had used characters like Dooku, Grievous, and Ventress as villains, but none of them particularly stood out yet. It wasn’t until the introduction of Cad Bane in this episode that The Clone Wars found its first truly great villain. While other villains like Ventress improved in later seasons, Bane was the first antagonist in the show that really resonated. His introductory episode is wildly entertaining from start to finish as we see Bane and his group of bounty hunters hold members of the Senate hostage in exchange for the release of Ziro the Hutt. The more contained nature of the episode helps establish a lot of suspense and tension to every scene. And to see a collective of cool looking, highly skilled bounty hunters in action on Coruscant is great. Coruscant has always been an interesting planet that fans want more of, so to see be the sole setting of an entertaining Clone Wars episode was amazing. This episode also provides some insightful moments into Padmé and Anakin’s relationship and conveys how close their bond was before it all fell apart in Revenge of the Sith. The Clone Wars has always excelled in making Padmé a well fleshed out, thoughtful character and episodes like this affirm that level of character development. All in all, Hostage Crisis is a great installment of The Clones Wars, providing an enthralling adventure of Anakin trying to stop Bane and his bounty hunters in an episode full of action, suspense, and a hallmark villain.
5. The Wrong Jedi – Season 5, Episode 20
The Wrong Jedi is the final episode of The Clone Wars’ fifth season and marks the conclusion of Ahsoka’s role in the Jedi Order. One of the many great things the prequel era content has done is portray individual Jedi in unique ways, given them personalities, values and interesting arcs. For instance, we’ve seen Pong Krell, a Jedi who became disillusioned with the values of the Order and tried to undermine the Republic’s efforts from the inside out. A similarly unique character arc, yet substantially more developed, is Ahsoka’s, as seen in The Wrong Jedi. We’ve seen Jedi, like Anakin and Dooku, leave the Order for purposes aligned with the dark side, but we’ve never truly seen a Jedi voluntarily leave the Order for a just cause. The excellent, novel character development that this episode provides for Ahsoka makes this necessary viewing for any Star Wars fan. Moreover, as many of the best Clone Wars episodes do, The Wrong Jedi also explores the hypocrisy in the Jedi Order. This is evidenced by the Council’s debate at the beginning of the episode in which Mace, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Saesee Tiin are so willing to condemn Ahsoka despite questionable evidence. The Wrong Jedi provides further insight into values when Anakin and Ventress discuss Ahsoka, with Ventress pinpointing how similar her and Ahsoka are. This parallels the similarities drawn between Ahsoka and Maul in the seventh season of The Clone Wars as well. The true reveal in The Wrong Jedi that Barriss Offee was the one who killed Letta Turmond is done excellently and exemplifies how tense this entire episode is, all the way to the trial and the final moments in which Ahsoka leaves Anakin and the Order behind. The Clone Wars often excels when it trades action for a more methodical, emotional narrative and The Wrong Jedi is a perfect example of this.
4. The Phantom Apprentice – Season 7, Episode 10
The Clone Wars came to an end with the Siege of Mandalore arc, one that is already deep in the Star Wars history books. In this episode, the battle on Mandalore goes full steam ahead, which puts the newly updated animation on full display. Moreover, the fight between Ahsoka and Maul has quickly become a fan favorite lightsaber duel in all of Star Wars, particularly thanks to the motion capture work of Ray Park and Lauren Mary Kim. This episode is fantastically written by Dave Filoni, showing just how far he and the show in general have come since it began in 2008. The scene in which Obi-Wan tells Ahsoka about Anakin’s special assignment also further cements the amazing overlap and connection between the final Clone Wars arc and Revenge of the Sith. In many ways, the Siege of Mandalore is Revenge of the Sith but from the perspective of Ahsoka and Rex, and it’s certainly worthy of this title.
3. Overlords – Season 3, Episode 15
The first in the Mortis arc, “Overlords” sees Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka be pulled into a planet strong with the Force, eventually meeting the Mortis Gods, aka the father, daughter, and son. This episode, and this arc in general, has a real mystical aspect to it akin to something like Bendu in Rebels, albeit the latter not quite on the same level as the Force. It’s clear when watching Clone Wars and Rebels that Dave Filoni has a real interest in mystifying the Force and making it extremely strange and unique in the best way possible, and Overlords demonstrates this greatly. Despite having very little action, the interest and suspense in this episode is extremely high, which is a testament to the magnificent script by Christian Taylor. Moreover, the return of Qui-Gon Jinn was truly an amazing moment, and one that added so much to the episode overall. Given the quality of Overlords, it’s clear to see why the Mortis arc is considered one of, if not the best in the show.
2. Old Friends Not Forgotten – Season 7, Episode 9
“Old Friends Not Forgotten” marked the first of the acclaimed Siege of Mandalore arc. The episode and the entire arc are the most refined and cinematic The Clone Wars has ever been and it was difficult to pick what episodes from this arc should be on this list. “Old Friends Not Forgotten” was chosen as it stands out as a single episode in isolation probably better than any of the Siege of Mandalore arc, perhaps with the exception of “The Phantom Apprentice” according to some of us here at Star Wars Holocron. This episode perfectly executed the lead up to the Battle of Coruscant and the final events of The Clone Wars. The opening sequence on the bridge was a great callback to The Clone Wars film and demonstrated how far the show has come from that initial movie, delivering an impactful, methodically paced, enthralling battle (with a great Anakin moment akin to Luke on Crait in The Last Jedi to top it all off). To see Obi-Wan and Anakin struggle with Ahsoka regarding the intentions of their mission was great to see and highlighted just how corrupted the Jedi’s values had become due to the war. They chose to go and rescue Palpatine, a single man, rather than liberating an entire planet from its tyrannical ruler. The Clone Wars has always played around with the idea of the war being discrepant from traditional Jedi values, exposing the hypocrisy in the Order as peacekeepers turned soldiers, and this episode really hammers this point home. The excellent build-up to upcoming events continued in this episode with Ahsoka seeing the Clones donned with their altered helmets to honor her and Ahsoka’s heartfelt goodbye to Anakin marking the last time they see each other until their meeting on Malachor. And it wouldn’t be The Clone Wars without action, but this episode delivered what may be the best action sequence of any episode of the entire series. The actual siege of Mandalore was incredible to see, with Mandalorians fighting Clones and Ahsoka and Rex racing to the bottom. Visually, this episode excelled beyond belief and matched much of the action we see in live-action Star Wars films. And, finally, like all great TV episodes, this episode leaves you wanting more. The final moments of the episode with Maul capturing Ahsoka and revealing that he expected Kenobi was great in not only reintroducing Maul into the fold, but also getting the audience thinking about Maul’s true intentions, which were revealed in the next episode. In sum, “Old Friends Not Forgotten” adopted a more methodical pace and provided audiences with some heartfelt moments like Ahsoka and Anakin reuniting, while also delivering incredible action and offering more insights into the values of the Jedi Order, collectively making it one of the best of the series.
1. The Lawless – Season 5, Episode 16
It wasn’t easy picking the best Clone Wars episode out of the 133 installments of the series, but The Lawless ended up topping them all. The Lawless in many ways feels like the culmination of a number of arcs in The Clone Wars. This is the last we see of Satine and Savage, and Maul or Mandalore until their return in the seventh season. And each plot, at least for the time being, is wrapped up perfectly. Although Maul and Obi-Wan have obviously met before, this episode really capitalizes on the rage and relentless pursuit of Maul that drives his motivations throughout the entire Skywalker saga. Maul’s true cruelty and menace is on full display in this episode, perhaps more than ever, and really elevates him to another level regarding his status as a villain. The death of Satine in the episode at the hands of Maul was both unexpected and tragic. Kevin Kiner’s score, the manner of death, the voice acting, and of course the imagery all culminate to produce an incredibly emotional scene that adds so much depth to the broader political machinations and Obi-Wan’s character overall. The reveal, although predicted by some, that Bo-Katan was Satine’s sister was also interesting to see and added complexity to the Kryze family regarding their conflicting philosophies about the future of Mandalore. The moment Bo-Katan and Obi-Wan share when he finds out about her relation to Satine was touching and added another layer to her tragic death. Just when this episode seemed like it couldn’t be any more enthralling, we then see Sidious sense a disturbance in the Force and arrive on Mandalore to confront Maul and Savage. The ensuing lightsaber duel is by far the best one The Clone Wars has ever seen and even among the best duels we’ve seen in the entire Star Wars saga. Akin to his fight with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith, Sidious’ incomparable skills are on full display here. The fight sequence is expertly choreographed and features some great moments of dialogue, like Sidious talking about the Rule of Two. Savage’s death is surprisingly tragic as well, which was an unexpected emotional beat in the episode. Also, this episode gives us Obi-Wan in red Mandalorian armor, so that’s a huge thing going in its favor as well. The Lawless, overall, is the best The Clone Wars has to offer from top to bottom – enthralling narrative, well-developed character arcs and choices, incredible visuals, and some truly iconic Star Wars moments.
It was difficult to select such a limited pool of episodes for this list, so below are some honorable mentions that barely missed the cut:
Academy Award winner Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit, The Mandalorian) was recently announced to direct and co-write an upcoming Star Wars film. And, as such, we thought this would be a great time to explore why Waititi is a perfect choice to lead Star Wars into the future. With the conclusion of The Rise of Skywalker, it feels like wave one of the Disney era Star Wars films has drawn to a close. Ushering in a new era of films and a new direction for the franchise now that the Skywalker Saga has concluded is a daunting task, but one that we think Taika Waititi is expertly prepared for. Here are 3 reasons why we think so:
1. Experience in the Star Wars Universe
Taika Waititi’s involvement in Star Wars began with The Mandalorian on writing and directing the season finale finale, in addition to voicing IG-11 in the show. This introduction into the Star Wars universe is vital in showing that Waititi is more than well equipped to tackle subsequent Star Wars adventures. Waititi directed the episode with such precision and a unique vision, while simultaneously infusing his own unique vision into the episode. Although there are a wealth of acclaimed directors who would love to lead a Star Wars project, it’s encouraging that Lucasfilm is hiring someone who has already expertly navigated a Star Wars and shown what they can bring to such a project.
2. Expertly Blends Action, Humor, and Drama
There are few, if any, directors out there who carefully strike the balance between action, humor, and drama. Sometimes too much humor can bog down an otherwise dramatic, moving narrative. Other times, a movie may be filled with such relentless action that it renders the drama and humor ineffective. Taika Waititi across his diverse range of films has already demonstrated that he can intelligently blend these facets of storytelling. Jojo Rabbit most recently exhibited this facet of Waititi’s skill set, delivering an emotionally powerful, heartbreaking tale amidst a relentlessly funny movie. Star Wars has a long standing tradition of similarly blending humor and action. From A New Hope to The Phantom Menace to The Force Awakens, Star Wars is continually able to produce hilarious moments and character dynamics, while also conveying some jaw dropping action. Waititi demonstrated this pattern in the finale of The Mandalorian, as exemplified by the great opening banter between two Scout Troopers and the emotional sacrifice of IG-11 to save the child. To execute this properly requires paying deep attention to the delicate balance of humor and action, laugher and suspense, etc. This is something that Waititi showed in Thor: Ragnarok, as that film has moments of great humor, such as “He’s a friend from work!”, yet also the tragic death of the title character’s father, Odin. Jojo Rabbit also exemplified this as a movie full of cutting edge, offbeat jokes, but a final act that is so emotionally moving.
3. A Unique Vision and Style
After the end of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars is in a new age of films, one where creativity is paramount to the continual success of the overall franchise. With Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi demonstrated his truly unique vision, one that is completely different from any other director or writer working in Hollywood today. Ragnarok exemplifies sheer creativity, taking a character in Thor that was previously thought of as bland and average and injecting new found humor and flat out weirdness, making him one of the most beloved heroes in the MCU today. Waititi is a forward thinking director, which is exactly what Star Wars needs at this moment in time. New stories will have to be different from the Skywalker Saga in order to stand out and be their own entity, and Waititi has proved time and time again with his filmography that he is the person to do just that.
The news that Oscar winner Taika Waititi is now attached to co-write and direct a Star Wars feature film was met with a warm reception, with most fans completely on board with his hiring. Waititi is incredibly talented in multiple different areas, making him the perfect person to take Star Wars forward. Moreover, his co-writer, Oscar nominated Krysty Wilson-Cairns, is an excellent choice, especially given the awards success of her latest film 1917. Despite no knowledge of the time period that this film will be set in, nor any story information in general, fans will still be excited that Waititi is coming aboard.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Paramount, and Disney+
Nearly twelve years after Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted in theaters, the series’ emotionally powerful and wildly entertaining final episode has finally arrived. As Ahsoka and Rex were caught in the midst of Order 66 at the end of the last episode, this episodes sees the two try and escape the clutches of their former friends and soldiers, while also contending with the presence of Maul aboard their ship.
Shifting back to August 2008, The Clone Wars film was met with overwhelmingly mixed reactions from critics and fans alike. Many cited the introduction of Ahsoka, the childlike humor, and the animation style as key issues with the film. And, while I actually really enjoy the film and find the story quite interesting, it’s understandable that many fans did not respond well to the show’s introduction. Over time, however, the show has become increasingly refined in both its storytelling, tone, and animation to such an extent that the series finale “Victory and Death” is a Star Wars story that can stand alongside some of the best movies.
While other episodes in this arc have traded action set pieces for a slower, more methodical pacing and more dialogue-heavy sequences, “Victory and Death” leans much more heavily into the action, which suits the story perfectly. If “Shattered” was the emotional blow we were all waiting for as we witnessed Order 66 happen from a different, yet similarly devastating perspective, “Victory and Death” is the aftermath of this event. This episode is not about political machinations, or liberating planets, or negotiating deals. Rather, Ahsoka and Rex are driven by a unitary goal – to survive. The desperation and tension infused into every part of this episode are palpable as not only are Ahsoka and Rex trying to make sense of the situation, but they’re also trying to do the humane thing in avoiding killing their former comrades. This was a great dynamic conveyed in the episode as the characters struggled between their relentless pursuit of survival and attachment to their friends turned enemies. Such a conflict was perhaps best portrayed when hundreds of Clones were simply waiting for Rex and Ahsoka to come down from their observation deck. Seeing Rex’s plan to pretend like he was arresting Ahsoka unfold was tense and kicked off an incredible chain of events in the hangar bay that once again tied to that struggle between survival and attachment.
Although we didn’t get much of Maul in this episode, it was still interesting to see his character’s arc in the show conclude, setting the stage nicely for his appearance in Solo as the leader of Crimson Dawn. Maul’s destruction of the hyperspace engines was a visually stunning sequence and added another element to an already intense episode. Not only are Ahsoka and Rex stuck aboard a ship full of hundreds of Clones trying to kill them, but now the ship they’re on has been pulled out of hyperspace and is crash landing on a moon. This added a great sense of urgency to the episode and allowed for a stunning moment where Ahsoka had to choose between pulling Maul back into the ship on one side (visually very akin to The Force Unleashed and The Rise of Skywalker) and saving Rex on the other side.
The final 10 minutes of this episode were some of the most visually breathtaking minutes of any Star Wars story we’ve seen. The notion of the ship crashing onto the surface of the moon after Maul’s destruction of the hyperspace engines was a stroke of genius from Dave Filoni that not only added urgency to the sequence, but also paralleled the Invisible Hand crashing into Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith. The entire sequence was expertly crafted and paced. Ahsoka flying through the sky attempting to land on Rex’s ship neared the intensity of the previous episode’s Order 66 sequence and truly demonstrated how excellent the animation has been this season.
Fittingly, the finale concluded on a more somber note. Ahsoka’s burial of their former comrades mirrored a similar shot from The Mandalorian, albeit serving a different purpose in the story, of Stormtrooper helmets on spikes in the ground. This sequence really symbolized how devastating, traumatic, and tragic Sidious’ plan was and will continue to be for people like Ahsoka and Rex. In one moment, the normality of their lives and the galaxy was destroyed and the only thing Ahsoka and Rex can do right now is mourn and try to acclimatize to the new state of affairs Sidious has installed. Ahsoka looking over the helmets of her deceased friends demonstrated her unwavering compassion in that she still loved and respected her friends, despite what acts of atrocity the Clones were committing across the galaxy. This really cemented a common theme throughout this season – that Ahsoka is a Jedi through and through, exhibiting the purest and most altruistic of Jedi values, even if she isn’t a part of a formal Jedi Order. Not only is this a powerful message and character development for Ahsoka, but it also ties to similar themes in the sequel trilogy as Rey and Luke genuinely exhibit the best of what the Jedi can offer despite no allegiance to a formal Order. In all, the imagery on display in this sequence affirmed that Ahsoka has become one of the most fleshed out, interesting characters in the entire saga – an innocent young Padawan first seen on Christophsis, who, with age and experience, matured and internalized her own values independent of the Order and who, unfortunately, witnessed the complete destruction of the people she was once loved in such a tragic manner despite her best intentions.
And just when you thought the episode pulled enough emotional punches, the last part of the last episode of the last season of The Clone Wars may have surpassed them all. The first appearance of Darth Vader in The Clone Wars was haunting. The ominous silence. The sleek animated rendition of the character. The red glow of his helmet’s eyes. It was heartbreaking to see the extent to which Anakin had transformed and the relationship between Anakin and Ahsoka had fractured because of this. The imagery of Vader investigating the crash site and eventually picking up and igniting the lightsaber he only recently gave to his former Padawan was extremely powerful. The Clone Wars overall seemed like it lacked in regards to adding to Anakin’s transformation to Vader. The show offers moments of his tendency toward the dark side, but, overall, opts to depict a lighter, more jovial and friendly version of the character that feels a little discrepant with the monster in a mask and a suit we see at the end of this episode. But, I think it’s important to note that The Clone Wars isn’t about Anakin, it’s about Rex and Ahsoka. Dave Filoni has said as much on several occasions, emphasizing that Ahsoka and Rex are the main characters, not Anakin or Obi-Wan. In this sense, while it would’ve been great to see more of Anakin’s transformation into Vader through the seven seasons of the show, ultimately, it is the story of Ahsoka and Rex that is central. This is one of many reasons why this last episode feels so fitting to the overarching narrative of The Clone Wars. The show has highlighted many different characters, some we’ve previously seen and others we have not, but it is the lead protagonists in Ahsoka and Rex that fittingly close out the show. And, given that, this moment of a twisted, villainous Anakin approaching the presumed site of Ahsoka’s death felt well earned and fits nicely into the broader Star Wars canon.
And with that, The Clone Wars draws to a close. Across its seven seasons, the show has offered novel insights into beloved characters, but, ultimately, found its strength in fleshing out new characters like Ahsoka and Rex, while simultaneously accomplishing a wealth of world building and setting the stage nicely for the forthcoming events in the Skywalker Saga. This episode excelled in every department – from story, to tone, to vocal performances, to animation, and, most importantly, with the emotions it yields in Star Wars like us. There truly wasn’t a better, more fitting, and more powerful way to conclude this 133 episode show. Overall, The Clone Wars will be remembered for everything it added to canon, fleshing out Sidious’ grand design, some of the amazing stories it told, and definitely the iconic characters it introduced us to like Ahsoka and Rex, while also expanding on existing characters like Maul and the Clones. And to think that this incredible show all spawned from a brief conversation between two characters in a film from 1977. The Clone Wars has shown that possibilities in the Star Wars universe are endless and, in the end, the franchise continues to deliver over and over again.
by @holocronJosh and @holocronGeorge for @sw_holoron
The penultimate episode of The Clone Wars traded much of the series’ hallmark action for one of the most emotionally impactful installments of the show yet. “Shattered” picks up where “The Phantom Apprentice” left off, with Ahsoka, having captured Maul, transporting the former Sith apprentice and leader of Mandalore back to Coruscant. However, things don’t pan out the way Ahsoka intends as Darth Sidious’ grand scheme for galactic domination is finally actualized.
Whereas last week’s predominant theme was tension and suspense, this week definitely prioritizes a sense of dread and impending doom, akin to Revenge of the Sith. There’s a disturbing ‘calm before the storm’ sort of feeling that permeates every scene of this episode before the execution of Order 66. Tense moments of silence and the removal of any background score in several key scenes throughout this episode, in addition to what the audience already knows regarding the unfolding of Palpatine’s plan, fosters this palpable sense of dread that shows The Clone Wars excel when it takes a step back from action set-pieces and funny one-liners.
This sense of dread is infused into the first moments of the episode, with Ahsoka transporting Maul and preparing his delivery to Coruscant. Although they have succeeded and Mandalore has been liberated, Ahsoka senses something is wrong, especially in light of the ominous conversation she had with Maul in the previous episode. Something doesn’t feel right about all of this and the episode does a great job carrying an ominous, suspenseful tone throughout. It is during the aftermath of Maul’s capture that we see Ahsoka say goodbye to Bo-Katan. The transformation from enemies to friends is a theme common throughout Star Wars and how this theme was applied to Ahsoka and Bo-Katan’s relationship was particularly interesting over the course of The Clone Wars. With Bo-Katan’s Clone Wars arc presumably concluding here, it sets the stage nicely for her introduction in Star Wars Rebels. More broadly, this episode subtly set up Mandalore’s role in the Imperial era very well. As the planet has been devastated by coup d’états and internal conflict throughout the Clone Wars, the people of Mandalore look devastated and fatigued by the end of this latest siege. With Republic presence on the planet at this time and the fact that the Republic transitions into the Empire shortly after the Siege of Mandalore, the Empire’s control of Mandalore seems to logically follow.
Upon saying goodbye to Bo-Katan, Ahsoka participates in what may be one of the most interesting parts of the entire episode. The audience is given a retelling of the scene from Revenge of the Sith in which Mace, Yoda, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Aayla Secura discuss their suspicions of the Chancellor. While this scene concludes in Revenge of the Sith after discussing this, the scene in The Clone Wars continues as Ahsoka walks in the room and recounts the proceedings on Mandalore. With the exception of novelizations and adaptations, this is one of the few times throughout Star Wars canon that we see the same moment told in different mediums. It was really cool to see the conversation between the Jedi Council members unfold and then have Ahsoka introduced into the mix, which will surely add to subsequent viewings of Revenge of the Sith. This moment was great in highlighting some of the flaws of the Jedi. In particular, Mace’s demeaning attitude toward Ahsoka and unwillingness to listen to her or apologize for their previous actions demonstrates some of the hypocrisy and distorted selflessness that drove Anakin to the dark side. Scenes like this add so much complexity to the Jedi Order in showing that the war is not black-and-white and that the Jedi’s blindness, hubris and arrogance (things Luke spoke of in The Last Jedi) were partially to blame for the destruction of the Order and rise of the Empire. This scene also offered more insight into the Council’s suspicions of Palpatine. The extent to which the Jedi are aware of Darth Sidious’ plan to play both the Republic and Separtists off against each other and, ultimately, their knowledge of Sidious’ real identity is left ambiguous in the prequels. This episode and other moments throughout the series really cement the fact that the Jedi Council genuinely held well-founded suspicions regarding Palpatine being Sidious. And, if it wasn’t for Mace’s arrogance in this scene, it is possible Ahsoka could have provided them with valuable insights regarding her discoveries about Sidious. This scene concluded with a more solemn moment between Ahsoka and Yoda regarding Anakin. It’s a heartbreaking point at which Yoda clearly feels deeply sorry for Ahsoka’s departure from the Order, but is still willing to support her and be a fatherly presence to her when speaking of Anakin.
It is when Ahsoka begins transporting Maul back to Coruscant that the episode really pulls some of its strongest emotional punches. The moments leading up to the execution of Order 66 are beyond ominous – they are haunting. The silence aboard the ship, the lack of conversation, and absence of music all add to this feeling. The conversation Rex and Ahsoka have regarding the validity of the war soon after is one of the best sequences in the episode. Rex’s discussion on the Clones’ conflicting feelings regarding the war is so powerful and shows the audience just how well the show has developed the Clones from beyond the mindless, identical soldiers we initially saw in Attack of the Clones. Rex continues to play a major part with the proceeding events as Order 66 is executed, kicked off by an amazing subtle shaking and drop of Rex’s helmet. It was great to see Rex try to fight his programming at first and give Ahsoka the slimmest of clues necessary for her to begin uncovering what’s really going on. With John Williams’ score from Revenge of the Sith playing in the background, the aftermath of Order 66 was emotional to watch as Ahsoka had to fight the very people she once saw as friends.
Following this, Ahsoka’s brief collaboration with Maul as a way to save Rex and escape this situation was so entertaining to see. The Maul sequence that followed obviously evokes the iconic hallway sequence at the end of Rogue One with Darth Vader similarly slaughtering soldiers with ease. This was some of the best action we’ve seen in The Clone Wars bar none, with Maul’s strength in the Force and brutality on full display as he breezed past the group of Clones.
The episode concluded with Ahsoka using her newfound information regarding the inhibitor chips to try and rescue Rex. This was an incredibly tense scene, directed, acted and visualized to perfection. The simultaneous saying of “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me” was mind blowing to hear and is another great point of connectivity to other pieces of canon in this season of The Clone Wars. And, as the episode ended with Rex’s recovery and a cliffhanger regarding how Ahsoka and Rex will escape, it was clear this was one of the strongest episodes The Clone Wars has ever delivered.
All in all, this episode was a true achievement from the creators of the show. Linked so well to the events of Revenge of the Sith, this episode provided real insight into concurrent events with Ahsoka, Rex and Maul that not only add to an understanding of Episode III, but are emotionally powerful unto themselves. The episode could have done with being a little longer, with some of the events in Revenge of the Sith seeming to pass very quickly in the episode. While Revenge of the Sith takes place over approximately 10 days, this stretch of episodes seems to occur during a much briefer time and that discrepancy can be a little troubling. Otherwise, this episode was thrilling from top to bottom and will easily go down as one of the best installments of the entire series. It’s safe to assume everyone in the Star Wars fandom is eagerly anticipating what is shaping up to be the best May the 4th of all time, with the complete Skywalker Saga on Disney+, the new Mandalorian behind the scenes series, and, of course, the highly anticipated series finale of The Clone Wars.
by @holocronGeorge, @holocronJulie, @holocronJosh, and @holocronWilliam
As The Clone Wars coming to an end with the highly anticipated final two episodes of the Siege of Mandalore arc, we at Star Wars Holocron recently had the chance to speak with Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano, to talk about her character, her cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, her new children’s book “I Am Padawan”, and more.
When asked what fans could expect to see from Ahsoka in the final two episodes of the show, Eckstein had this to say:
“I will say, just when I thought I couldn’t love Ahsoka more, she continues to amaze me. Ahsoka is just absolutely incredible in this arc. The final two episodes that we haven’t seen yet, she’s just going to continue to blow people away. There’s a reason why I ask myself almost daily ‘what would Ahsoka do?’ because I feel like Ahsoka would always do the right thing and she would always help people. She would always choose the light. She would always choose hope. I don’t want to give anything away, but what she represents and what she stands for, I just admire her so much. It sounds so crazy to admire this fictional character in a galaxy far, far away, but I do, and I think everyone will agree with me after they watch these episodes.”
Eckstein has also played Ahsoka in other Star Wars projects, including making a vocal cameo in The Rise of Skywalker as one of the Jedi voices that Rey hears on the Exegol. Eckstein touched on the behind the scenes process of bringing Ahsoka into the film:
“When I went in and recorded the lines [for The Rise of Skywalker], it was truly surreal. There were only three people in the room and it was at Bad Robot. Matthew Wood and JJ Abrams were the two other people. JJ could not have been nicer. He walked in and introduced himself and then immediately thanked me for being in the film, and I just couldn’t believe it! I was like, ‘Thank you for letting me be in the film!’ So it was really just a truly surreal session. The lines were already written by the time I got there and I didn’t get them ahead of time. I actually was handed the lines when I walked in the room, and talk about a cold read. I was literally reading the lines for the first time as I was performing them, so I was very nervous! But I actually read all of the lines, so all of the lines that you hear in that montage, I assume that everyone read all the lines and then they just mixed and matched and pieced it together. I will say this, [JJ Abrams] didn’t give me too much direction in terms of how Ahsoka would say it. He left that up to me in terms of how Ahsoka would say it. I read it three different ways. I read it really quiet like a whisper, then a bit louder, and then a bit more powerful. And then that was it. It was about a 20 minute session and it was wonderful.”
Beyond her role as Ahsoka, Eckstein is no stranger to branching out into different mediums within the Star Wars galaxy, having launched her own clothing line “Her Universe” and also writing a children’s book titled “I Am Padawan”, which was released this April. On what drew her to write this book, Eckstein detailed how the opportunity to inspire young kids through Star Wars was of great interest to her:
“I have to say, I wrote it from my own experience because Star Wars has taught me so much. I’ve learned many of these life lessons through Star Wars. And after traveling the world over the past 10 years and meeting a lot of fans of all ages, especially a lot of kids, I found that they’re similar to me. They relate a lot of these lessons that we learn in our everyday lives, they relate them to Star Wars, and especially kids. It’s much more exciting to learn a lesson about bravery or hope or even failure if you put it in the Star Wars context, versus if they’re just learning a lesson about failure with something they did at school, but at the end of the day they’re still learning a lesson about failure which is a very, very important lesson that everyone needs to learn. It’s something that I’ve always tried to do. I’ve always tried to relate kids’ everyday lives through Star Wars, so I really tried to take that approach with this book. I have to say, Lucasfilm called me and asked if I would write this, and I said yes without even thinking faster than anything I’ve said yes to in my entire life (laughs). So the credit goes to them for giving me the opportunity to write it, but I very quickly realized how much a book like this means to kids because I was one of those kids. I grew up on the little golden books. I grew up learning so many of these life lessons because of these books, so I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”
Beyond voice acting and book writing, Eckstein is keeping the door open to take on other hats in the Star Wars universe:
“I very quickly realized early on how much Star Wars means to people and I so badly wanted to live up to the opportunity given to me by being the voice of Ahsoka. By being a part of the Star Wars universe, it’s opened so many doors that I never thought would be open to me. I just took the approach of saying yes and seeing where it would take me because these were such truly life changing opportunities. I felt I might as well say yes and I’ll figure it out as I go. I once said I would never write a book and I was okay with that because I just didn’t think I had the talent to do it, and now thanks to Star Wars and Disney, I’ve had the opportunity to write two books. I once thought I’d never write a script or never direct but I will tell you that if I was given the opportunity, I would absolutely say yes just because I feel blessed to be a part of this universe, but it doesn’t come from a place of selfishly wanting to do it. It comes from a place of I see how much joy Star Wars brings to people and I want to continue to do that, so whether it’s through voice acting or whether it would ever be through live action acting or whether it would be directing or writing or whatever it may be. If it gives me the opportunity to continue to bring hope and joy to people, I’ll probably say yes and figure out how to do it later (laughs).”
With The Clone Wars coming to an end, many fans are wondering what’s next for Ahsoka. Although there are rumors that Rosario Dawson will come on board to play the character in the second season of The Mandalorian, the question still remains if Eckstein will ever play the character again after the conclusion of the Siege of Mandalore. On this topic, Eckstein reminded fans that she’s said goodbye to Ahsoka before, and that her reprising her role at some point isn’t fully off the table:
“I have said goodbye to Ahsoka so many times. I think what fans don’t realize is that from the time that Ahsoka walked away in season 5, she wasn’t in the next season very much, so I said goodbye then. Then when [The Clone Wars] was cancelled, I said goodbye to the character and wasn’t sure if I would ever get to come back. Then Star Wars Rebels happened and I said goodbye to Ahsoka then after Rebels ended, and then Forces of Destiny happened and I said goodbye to Ahsoka then. So every single time I’ve said goodbye, she’s always caught me by surprise. I’ll be honest, I said goodbye to Ahsoka after Rise of Skywalker and after Clone Wars and that’s where I’m at now. I’m currently not recording anything, but you never say never. She continues to surprise me and I hope one day I get to voice Ahsoka again.”
We’d definitely like to see more of Ashley Eckstein’s portrayal of Ahsoka in the future. Twelve years ago, the character burst onto the scene in The Clone Wars film to a mixed response from fans, but has since developed to become one of the most fleshed out, interesting, and inspirational characters Star Wars has to offer, much of which is due to Eckstein’s depiction of the character.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, and Golden Books
by @holocronGeorge and @holocronWilliam for @sw_holocron
Who would have thought that a cool looking, albeit rather simple one-dimensional villain in Episode I: The Phantom Menace would, over the course of 2 television shows, another movie, and comics, become one of the most well developed, complex, tragic, and intriguing characters in the Star Wars saga? Well, by the conclusion of this week’s episode of The Clone Wars fittingly entitled “The Phantom Apprentice,” Maul’s position as a dynamic, interesting character, if it was in any sort of doubt, was affirmed. This week’s episode picked up immediately after last week’s as Ahsoka and Republic forces attempt to liberate Mandalore from the grips of its evil dictator Maul. However, as events settle into place, Ahsoka begins to realize that Maul’s intentions are not as black-and-white as mere control over a planet, but, rather, are tied to a more complex plan to thwart Darth Sidious’ schemes of galactic domination.
One of the core themes of this episode was intrigue, a theme that strongly resonates throughout the prequel trilogy. The audience is privy to information the characters are not and, therefore, know that the events that will soon unfold will have detrimental effects on the galaxy. Meanwhile, the characters, both in The Clone Wars and in the prequels, are trying to put the pieces together, but it is too little too late. This has always been a strength of the prequel era content as it creates a sense of impending doom, tension, and mystery as the Jedi try to uncover the Sith’s insidious plans. This theme is on full display in “The Phantom Apprentice,” which largely centers around discussions regarding Darth Sidious and attempts to uncover his true schemes and identity. These moments of intrigue, such as Ahsoka probing Maul for information about Sidious, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan speaking of the mysterious ways of Palpatine, and Maul later in the episode teasing Ahsoka of the horrible things to come if Sidious’ plan is actualized, are some of the strongest moments in the episode.
Maul and Ahsoka’s conversations about the unfolding events were a particular highlight in this installment. The episode really delved into Maul’s role in Palpatine’s plan and it was great to see Maul put the pieces together on screen regarding the plan, such as realizing Dooku’s true role in turning Skywalker to the dark side. Maul’s discussions on the forthcoming events were truly haunting, as it was evident he opposed Sidious, while at the same time not inherently opposing the plan to destroy the Republic. Maul was resigned to the fact that the Jedi would be destroyed, but still wanted to disrupt Sidious’ plan even slightly by luring Anakin to Mandalore and killing Sidious’ would-be apprentice. This was a great twist and one that was really unpredictable in the episode. After the conclusion of the last episode, it seemed clear that Maul made it known to the galaxy he had retaken Mandalore so that he could reinstate his power and lure Kenobi to the planet to enact his revenge. But Maul had more intricate plans to not only kill Kenobi when he arrived, but to kill Anakin and, in turn, disrupt Sidious’ plan. All of this was great to see and really hammered home how oblivious the Jedi were to the plots of the Sith.
More broadly speaking, “The Phantom Apprentice” continued a really impressive narrative that kicked off with last week’s installment. Everyone’s place in the episode makes complete sense and their motivations are entirely logical, well thought out, and developed. Maul’s multifaceted motives and plan is perfectly portrayed, making a potentially convoluted scheme completely interpretable by the audience, something the prequels didn’t always do. Ahsoka’s journey this season continues to develop well. Her altruistic motivations and reservations about the Republic are on full display, as are her continued suspicions into the political machinations at play and worry for her former master Anakin, who is at the center of all of this. Once again, this episode hammered home that Maul and Ahsoka are the centerpieces of this episode and, potentially, the series overall.
One of the exciting prospects heading into this season was the potential for overlap with Revenge of the Sith. Sam Witwer in our recent interview spoke about how they got to engage with Revenge of the Sith in very interesting ways, and we couldn’t agree more with Witwer’s verdict. Obi-Wan’s conversation about Dooku’s death situates the episode clearly in the Star Wars timeline. Despite Star Wars being full of prequel content, it’s never really done anything like this in regards to overlapping events across different projects. This was so interesting to see and really changes your perception on some events in Revenge of the Sith, given that the audience knows Obi-Wan was troubled by Anakin’s actions and that Ahsoka was concerned for him across the galaxy. The Siege of Mandalore arc is so intertwined with the third prequel that it has now cemented itself as essential viewing along side Revenge of the Sith in order to fully understand the context of the fall of the Republic and the rise of Darth Sideous and his new apprentice Darth Vader. In many ways, this arc feels like Revenge of the Sith told from another perspective, this time from the eyes of Ahsoka.
This episode had tons of other great parallels to other iconic Star Wars moments and characters. For starters, the similarities to The Last Jedi’s throne room scene were on full display during Maul and Ahsoka’s confrontation. Maul trying to recruit Ahsoka, another force-sensitive apart from her former master, to take down a common enemy was akin to Kylo’s attempts to recruit Rey following the throne room battle. In both scenes, you think there may be a chance for the two to align with one another, before their relationship disintegrates into combat. Speaking of sequel trilogy parallels, Maul’s manipulation of Jesse evoked imagery of Kylo’s usage of the Force to extract information from Rey in The Force Awakens, even down to the same sound effects. Perhaps one of the most unexpected connections to other material in the episode was the appearance of a young Dryden Vos, Paul Bettany’s character from Solo: A Star Wars Story, consulting with Maul and the other heads of Crimson Dawn. The lightsaber duel on the catwalk at the end of the episode felt similar to the duels on catwalks in The Phantom Menace, also featuring Maul.
It would be blasphemous to conclude this review without touching on some of the phenomenal technical and aesthetic aspects on display. As was announced at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, Ray Park returned to the fold once again to do motion-capture work for Maul’s fight scenes. And the work definitely paid off – Maul and Ahsoka’s duel was one of the best The Clone Wars has ever depicted, maybe only bettered by the three way duel between Sidious, Savage and Maul. The animation overall was once again breathtaking, as were the voice performances. Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein excel in their respective roles again and these episodes simply wouldn’t be as emotionally resonant without such powerful, commanding performances.
There are now only two episodes left of the final season of The Clone Wars, with the finale scheduled to drop on Star Wars day, aka May 4th. While the series may be approaching it’s end, it’s safe to say that the show is only adding to and cementing it’s legacy as a truly groundbreaking piece of this franchise.
by @holocronJosh, @holocronGeorge, @holocronJulie, and @holocronWilliam for @sw_holocron
Star Wars Holocron recently had the opportunity to speak with Sam Witwer about a range of Star Wars related topics. Part 1 of our exclusive interview focused on the Siege of Mandalore, with Parts 2 and 3 covering Rebels and Solo respectively. In today’s Part 4, Sam Witwer talks about The Mandalorian.
Witwer is a fan favorite among Star Wars fans, so much so that many have pushed for the actor to appear in a live action film or TV show. When asked about whether or not he would be interesting in appearing in The Mandalorian, Witwer revealed that he was originally on a shortlist for a role in the first season of the show:
“I got put on a shortlist on Mandalorian for some role and I thought maybe that was from Dave [Filoni], but then I found out it was actually from casting. Casting came up with the idea. The way they do it, I guess, is they put a bunch of people on a list and then the producers pick someone. So I relayed that to Dave, and I think it was awkward because I was saying “When I’m on the show” and this and that. But what I was actually trying to say was I actually took myself off that list because I don’t want to mess with your show (Laughs). I was trying to say that. I don’t want to mess with the show, nor do I want to take the risk that I’m wrong for the show and then you hire me because I’m your buddy. I was trying to say that but it came off wrong (Laughs). And there was this awkward silent moment. I think I need to text the guy and tell him that’s not what I meant! But what I meant to say was that if [Dave] had a need for me and there’s something I can do for you, you can tell me yourself. I’m not going to try to get in the way. That’s what I was trying to say. Because I don’t feel like Star Wars owes me a damn thing. Star Wars has been very good to me.”
Witwer also talked about how he was a fan of the many Easter eggs and smaller details in the first season, one of which being the reappearance of the Flame Trooper from The Force Unleashed:
“I was really happy to see our flame trooper [from The Force Unleashed] show up in The Mandalorian. That was fun…That was so fun. Because that’s not just a flame trooper, that’s OUR flame trooper. That’s the markings on the armor from Force Unleashed. There’s so many things in Force Unleashed that we designed, so many ideas just like that that I think would be incredible to bring into the cinematic universe. It would be great. But yeah the flame trooper, I definitely smiled at that. I don’t know if… well, look, it’s Dave Filoni, so I have to believe it was done on purpose. (Laughs).”
Witwer also teased the second season of the show:
“There are things that [Dave Filoni] has coming in The Mandalorian Season 2 that are going to blow people’s minds. Because the thing is that Dave and George always had the same instinct when it came to this.”
Witwer elaborated on these instincts that Dave Filoni and George Lucas share, and gave an example:
“And what this is is that they would ask them, ‘Okay we need to tell a story about witches.’ And then they’d sit there and say, ‘Well do we have something like that in Star Wars? What about the Nighsisters of Dathomir. They’re witches.’ Yeah, okay, wait a second now, [George and Dave] go in and look at the designs and look at how it looks and go ‘yeah that fits.’ And sometimes [George and Dave] would be like ‘Oh that doesn’t fit, we actually have to do this instead, right?’”
Witwer also talked about his interest in Mandalorian mythology, which plays a big role in The Clone Wars and Rebels and seen again in the first live action Star Wars show:
“Start them out as passivists and then, you know, have their ancient past be warrior culture. Now, they’re passivists, but then they get corrupted by the war and become warriors all over again. I mean, I remember at the time, all the fans being up in arms about how they were pacifists. And you’re just like, don’t…”Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” Don’t think that people won’t change. That’s how stories work….And with the Mandalorians, it’s not interesting to say they were a warrior culture. What’s interesting is, why are they a warrior culture? Why is that? What drove them to that? How do they think about this stuff? And learning about, even watching The Mandalorian, seeing that that character [Din Djarin] is a way more orthodox, old school, religious type Mandalorian, whereas Pre Vizsla’s the guy who is dipping his toe into the water in terms of dipping into the old ways with Beskar. Not the best Beskar, but Beskar, y’know? They’re manufacturing that armor so that people who join them can start training and have their own set of armor. He built this. You know, he was the guy who was experimenting with that. Whereas, then you jump ahead to The Mandalorian, you know. The Mandalorian has the good stuff. They’ve rediscovered the art of creating the best stuff, creating the best Beskar, you know what I mean? It’s wonderful mythology, but, like, it’s not impressive or interesting if it’s just put in front of you like all at once. You have to build that story and watch it grow.”
We’re eagerly anticipating the upcoming season of The Mandalorian after the first eight episodes were so enthralling and entertaining. Sam Witwer’s inclusion in the show would have been great and we’d love to see an actor with such range and a passion for Star Wars appear in a future live action project soon. This concludes Star Wars Holocron’s 4 part interview with Sam Witwer! May the force be with you all!
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney+.
Interview was conducted and transcribed on 04/16/2020.