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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 8 – “Together Again”

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Together Again” concludes Ahsoka and the Martez sisters’ arc of the final season of The Clone Wars in an entertaining, somewhat lackluster episode. This episode sees Ahsoka hatching a plan for her and the Martez sisters to escape from the clutches of the Pyke Syndicate involving the Martez leaving to retrieve spice, while Ahsoka attempts to escape on her own.

As this four-episode arc came to an end, it is clear that this narrative was perhaps not best fit for the final season of a beloved show, especially a shortened season with only 12 episodes. This arc was not initially designed to be part of the show’s final season and that’s understandable given the relatively inconsequential plot, character reveals, and introductions. The creators behind this arc have clearly adapted it to make it more suitable for the final season, including the set-up for the Siege of Mandalore that will soon be discussed. However, despite these efforts, this stretch of episodes simply did not reach the heights of previous Clone Wars episodes, some of which stand alongside the best theatrically released films as truly great Star Wars content. This is not inherently indicative of the arc’s quality, necessarily, but, rather, suggests that these episodes do not have the plot or character moments one would expect from the final season of such an amazing show. Especially when viewed within the context of a shortened final season, these episodes feel even more frustrating given the slew of interesting tales occurring throughout the galaxy that these stories could be centered around.

In looking at this particular episode more narrowly, independent of its role in the larger scheme of the show, once again, The Clone Wars delivers a really enjoyable 25 minutes of Star Wars content. It was obvious where this episode had to pick up, given the conundrum Ahsoka and the Martez sisters found themselves in at the end of the last episode. And the prison break elements of the episode that followed suit were quite interesting. The Martez sisters’ journey to obtain more spice was light and friendly and humorous. But, Ahsoka’s journey in this episode was far more interesting and suspense-filled. Her plan to escape the Pyke facility, while the Martez sisters obtained the spice, was well conceived, but did not culminate in the way it was intended. Along the way, however, the audience was treated with some great moments of tension, particularly centered around the much anticipated introduction of Maul into this season. Although the Pyke Syndicate’s relationship with Maul has been touched on in the earlier seasons of The Clone Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was still a pleasant surprise to see the once Sith apprentice turned underworld leader on the scene again. Coupled with the updated animation that makes Maul look better than ever, Sam Witwer’s performance as the villain is as chilling and menacing and enthralling as it is has ever been. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this episode came from Maul’s mention of Crimson Dawn in this scene. Not only was this a really cool reference to the organization Han Solo and his crew are working for in Solo, but it also establishes that Crimson Dawn has been around longer than fans may have thought. The Shadow Collective was the criminal alliance that saw Maul collaborate with Death Watch, Black Sun, the Pykes, and more in the earlier seasons of The Clone Wars to takeover Mandalore. This episode confirms that it wasn’t too long after the Shadow Collective fragmented and Maul escaped Sidious that Maul kickstarted a new criminal empire, one that seemingly proves more deadly and menacing than its predecessor as future events indicate. Once again, this brief moment of dialogue highlights one of the strengths of Star Wars – the interconnectivity of characters, organizations, plots, locations, and the galaxy overall. An organization first introduced in Solo, led by a character first introduced in The Phantom Menace, is now being elaborated on in The Clone Wars. The Clone Wars and Rebels have excelled in establishing such connectivity between characters and events in the Star Wars saga and every scene like this one in “Together Again” is a real treat for Star Wars fans.

The emotional crux of this episode pertained to Ahsoka’s inevitable revelation of her Jedi background to the Martez sisters. While this reveal panned out rather predictably, it still delivered an effective message that aligned with the episode’s initial statement of changing who you are, but not being able to run away from yourself. Although the reveal that Ahsoka was a Jedi has obvious positive implications for the Martez sisters’ perceptions of Jedi overall, the reveal and its aftermath were more important for Ahsoka’s journey and understanding of herself. In discussing her background as a Jedi to the Martez sisters, Ahsoka realizes that, although she is no longer a member of the Jedi Order, this doesn’t mean she is not a Jedi still, exhibiting the values of selflessness and unwavering care championed by the Order. The notion that a person is defined as a Jedi, not by their participation in an order, but the inherent values they exhibit is a powerful message and one that resonates throughout a number of characters, including Anakin in Return of the Jedi, Luke in The Last Jedi, and Ben Solo in The Rise of Skywalker. For these characters and Ahsoka, they are still inherently Jedi, loving, caring, compassionate, and selfless, despite events and choices in their lives that have driven them away from what we traditionally conceive Jedi as.

The last point of interest in this episode was alluded to earlier and involves the full introduction of Bo-Katan and her recruitment of Ahsoka to liberate Mandalore from Maul. It’s clear, given the previous points, that this episode was not originally meant to lead into the Siege of Mandalore arc, but the writers did a good job making the transition from the Martez sisters arc as seamless as possible. The episode doesn’t linger as long as it should on the moment of Ahsoka’s deliberation regarding whether or not she should join Bo-Katan to Mandalore, instead opting to quickly, formally introduce the Mandalorians into the fold before flying away. It would have been nice for the episode to take a little more time with this moment as deciding to jump back into the fold of the Clone Wars, potentially running into her former Jedi and Clone trooper comrades, is a decision Ahsoka probably wouldn’t take lightly. Nevertheless, this tease for the final arc of the Clone Wars was still effective. Although people were excited to see the Bad Batch and Ahsoka again, much of the anticipation surrounding this season is centered around the Siege of Mandalore, which seems to be a fitting conclusion to the show overall. And this episode does a good job setting that arc up.

So far, two of the three plot arcs of The Clone Wars’ final season have concluded to mixed results. Both arcs had their downs, with some sluggish plotting and inconsequential narratives, but both also had their highs, with some great character moments, stunning animation, and exciting teases of what’s to come. Although this episode certainly doesn’t hit the heights of previous episodes of this arc, the season, or the broader show overall, it still does its job of offering Star Wars fans an exciting 25 minutes with beloved characters, an entertaining, lightweight plot, and great animation. And now that we’re nearing the final episodes of The Clone Wars, our anticipation for the Siege of Mandalore couldn’t be greater.

Score: 6/10

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Star Wars Holocron

Have You Ever Heard The Tragedy of Darth Plageuis the Wise?: The Importance of the Opera Scene in Revenge of the Sith

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

“Have you ever heard the tragedy of Darth Plageuis the wise?” This infamous line and the tale that follows it have become key fixtures of Star Wars lore and even broader pop culture with memes, analytic videos, art, and more centered around Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen’s conversation. As the Skywalker saga has concluded with its ninth installment, now more than ever seems like an appropriate time to revisit the importance of one of Star Wars’ most enthralling and tense scenes. Below are 5 of the main reasons this scene is integral to the Skywalker saga and the galaxy as a whole.

Reason #1: It Establishes Anakin’s Key Motivation to Turning to the Dark Side

Perhaps the most obvious note of importance in this scene is how it sets the stage for Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. Anakin’s vulnerabilities and dark side inclinations are on full display throughout key moments of the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars. From his slaughter of innocent Tusken Raiders, to his angry outbursts against Obi-Wan, to his impulsive actions in The Clone Wars, to his forbidden relationship with Padme in the first place, Anakin exhibited a number of vulnerabilities that laid the groundwork for Palpatine to exploit in order to fulfill his ultimate plan of galactic supremacy. And, despite a whole host of vulnerabilities, perhaps Anakin’s greatest ones were the visions of his mother Shmi dying and the trauma he experienced in failing to save her from the doomed future these visions prophesied. At his core, Anakin fundamentally changed after this event, plagued by the thoughts of his lost mother and, eventually, visions of the same thing happening to his wife. And, to Anakin, despite Master Yoda’s pleadings otherwise, if his visions came true before, why couldn’t they come true again? It is this key internal conflict that the opera scene explores more openly than ever. Palpatine knows that he can manipulate and exploit an already fractured, impulsive, frightened man’s deepest fears, especially given the father-son type bond they’ve cultivated over the years. Anakin’s deepest fear in this moment is helplessly losing Padme like he lost Shmi and, unlike Yoda who urges Anakin to let go of his fears and not do anything about the visions, Palpatine presents himself as the sole person in the galaxy offering him a way to proactively solve his problem. In this sense, Palpatine’s account of Plageuis, in particular the sentence, “He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying,” is vitally important to Anakin’s transformation. Up until this point, Anakin has lived in fear of what may happen to Padme and has a resentment over the Jedi for forbidding his attachment to her and not offering any solutions to his problem. This is the inverse of Palpatine’s stance on the matter as he is offering a seemingly legitimate way to ameliorate these fears. Without the opera scene, Anakin’s turn against the Jedi would be unjustified and unreasonable to the audience as unstable personality characteristics and a resentment over some Jedi values wouldn’t alone explain his mass slaughter of Jedi and continued reign alongside Darth Sidious for years.

Reason #2: It Offers Rare Insight Into Palpatine’s Origins.

For being the main antagonist of the entire Skywalker saga, Palpatine’s origins are mostly clouded in secrecy. While his political origins have been expanded upon in some canon books, Palpatine’s childhood and Sith training is fairly unknown to the audience. The opera scene, however, provided real insight into Palpatine’s Sith background. Not only does the audience get its most explicit mention of Palpatine being a Sith Lord yet in this scene, but it also is provided with some really interesting information about Palpatine’s rise to become the predominant Sith Lord in the galaxy at this time and the conniving, treacherous way in which he did it. Obviously, the Plageuis novel that is now Legends delves quite deeply into the Plageuis-Palpatine dynamic and it would be great to see more of Plageuis in canon, perhaps even in the High Republic era material.

Reason #3: It Provides Information About Sith Lore and Sith Apprentice-Master Dynamics.

In addition to setting the stage for Anakin’s fall by introducing the concept of dark side abilities being used to save loved ones from death, Palpatine’s discussion of Plageuis’ apprentice killing his master is particularly informative for broader Star Wars canon. While Jedi lore is built out substantially in the prequel trilogy, the Sith are intentionally shrouded in secrecy, with only a few brief scenes of Sidious discussing his plans with people like Maul, Dooku, or Grievous. In all, however, the Sith mainly serve as the antithesis of the Jedi, driven by fear and selfishness. One key aspect, however, of the Sith is revealed in the opera scene as Palpatine inadvertently confessed to killing his master. This is a theme that obviously dates back to Return of the Jedi, in which Vader fulfilled his prophecy as the Chosen One, slayed his master, and restored balance to the Force. But Revenge of the Sith, in particular this scene, sheds more light on the concept of Sith apprentices killing their masters. One would think the Rule of Two would bind the two Sith Lords together to such an extent that their loyalty and collaboration is a key part of what keeps them alive, and to an extent this is true. And, while Sith work toward a common insidious goal, Palpatine’s speech to Anakin in this scene really cements the concept of Sith apprentices always seeking to usurp their masters. This is a pattern seen in Charles Soule’s Vader comics, in which Vader resents Palpatine in a way and, going off his speech with Padme on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith, thinks he can overthrow Palpatine. This is a pattern also seen in The Clone Wars in which Dooku is clearly thinking of overthrowing Palpatine, something the Sith master notices and attempts to quell by dispelling Asajj Ventress. This is also a pattern most recently seen with Kylo Ren’s killing of his master Snoke and, how The Rise of Skywalker visual dictionary confirms, this act was Kylo’s true test of his mettle as a Sith Lord. In other terms, betraying one’s master is a key barometer of being a true Sith, a concept introduced fully and explicitly in the opera scene.

Reason #4: It Sets the Stage for Palpatine’s Return

J.J. Abrams has spoken about his love for this scene, claiming it was the greatest setup for him to reintroduce Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. And, in looking back at the opera scene, it truly does feel like a great tease for an ominous event to come. Many fans have expressed their dismay at Palpatine’s return, claiming it invalidates the victory in the Battle of Endor and takes the opera scene in Revenge of the Sith too literally. But, in, listening to the scene’s dialogue, especially lines like, “Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life,” it really feels like great foreshadowing for what is to come in The Rise of Skywalker. Not only does this scene introduce the concept of saving people from death, but also the ability to create (or recreate life) itself. Palpatine’s line, “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural” explains to Anakin the ability to save Padme from death and outlines more broadly that the Sith are capable of many mysterious Force abilities related to the creation and maintenance of life, beyond what most people would consider normal. So, when Palpatine inevitably returns in The Rise of Skywalker, the opera scene has already laid the groundwork for phenomenon like revival, cloning, dark magic, etc.

Reason #5: It Sets the Stage for the Rey Palpatine Reveal.

Expanding upon the last point, the tale of Darth Plageuis also lays the groundwork for the reveal that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter. Following the logic from the previous point, Palpatine’s discussion of unnatural Force abilities pertaining to the creation of life aligns closely with the fact that Rey is the daughter of a failed Palpatine clone, as revealed in The Rise of Skywalker novelization. Without the opera scene, this reveal may have come across as more jarring for fans (and to many, this reveal still feels unearned and misplaced) without the previous context that the Sith and Palpatine have played around with ideas of creating life, cloning and dark magic. In this sense, the scene serves many purposes, one of which is providing some of the necessary context for explaining Rey’s true parentage.

Overall, the opera scene remains one of the most iconic and quotable scenes in the Star Wars saga. It’s surface level tension and suspense and plot importance are great, but there’s also a lot of depth to the tale spun by Palpatine and how his words harbor deeper meaning related to Anakin’s transformation into Vader, core issues of Sith master and apprentice relations, Rey’s parentage, and Palpatine’s origins and eventual return to power. In all, the scene is arguably the moment that ties all three trilogies together and affirms that the Skywalker saga is just as much about Palpatines as it is about Skywalkers.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney.

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Star Wars Holocron

Why Kylo Ren Wears His Mask Again In The Rise of Skywalker

by @holocronJulie and @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Kylo Ren’s mask has been a key fixture of the sequel trilogy, beginning all the way back to the early days of The Force Awakens’ promotional material. And, while the mask is brilliantly designed, paying obvious homage to the iconic mask worn by Vader, its symbolism and meaning across each of the sequel trilogy films is particularly noteworthy. One year after the events of The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren very quickly repairs his mask and wears it for a substantial portion of the final installment of the sequel trilogy. Since The Rise of Skywalker’s release, many fans have wondered exactly why Kylo repaired the mask he destroyed recently as an answer isn’t explicitly stated in the film.

One potential answer to this intriguing question relates to why Kylo wore the mask in the first place. In The Force Awakens, we are introduced to Kylo Ren as a masked, faceless villain. Rey even calls him a “creature in the mask,” because that is what she and everyone else around him view him as. However, the audience soon learns that Kylo wears the mask for a very different reason than his grandfather once did. Whereas Vader needed a mask to breathe, a perpetual scar he must bare due to his violent actions in Revenge of the Sith, Ren uses his mask to hide his vulnerability. He begs the burned helmet of his grandfather to “show him the dark side” once more. The call to the light is so strong in the man who was once Ben Solo that he can barely control it, and he knows that Snoke and others around him can feel him drifting away as he struggles with this conflict. Therefore, he wears a mask to hide his inner conflict, putting a physical and metaphorical barrier between himself and the atrocious actions he engages in order to fully commit himself to the dark side of the Force.

In The Last Jedi, this inner conflict takes a back seat to his rage and anger at Luke Skywalker. Because his mind is more on Luke than his inner conflict, he doesn’t feel as vulnerable, and therefore doesn’t need the mask. As The Last Jedi is certainly the darkest in the trilogy, it makes sense that the villain is also in his darkest moment. In a sense, Kylo’s intentions are more focused than ever in The Last Jedi and in the year leading up to The Rise of Skywalker. He knows he wants to connect with Rey. He knows he wants to be rid of Snoke. He knows he wants true power in the galaxy. He doesn’t need a mask to conceal the discrepancy between his natural inclinations to the Light and his conscious commitment to the Dark, because, for once, these conflicting visions are in line.

Flash forward to The Rise of Skywalker, Ren finds the Sith Wayfinder and heads to Exegol. While there, Palpatine tells him to kill Rey, something that Kylo clearly doesn’t want to do. Once again, similar to his murder of Han in The Force Awakens, he’s been given a task that would perhaps permanently cement his place in the dark side. Even after The Last Jedi, he still feels the call to the light, and he still feels vulnerable, so he repairs the mask in order to not let others see that side of him. He is no longer free of the mask and, therefore, free of the burden of doing things he does not truly feel inclined to do. The purpose and unified vision that led him through the conclusion of The Last Jedi, where he let the past die, is gone. Once again, he feels the conflict, perhaps now more than ever, and, in order to reconcile what he feels he has to do, he believes he must cover himself and his vulnerabilities up again. As The Rise of Kylo Ren comic notes, he’s simply not as ingrained in the dark side and evil as others around him, like Palpatine, Snoke, or Allegiant General Pryde. He simply wants to fit in and make sure that no one else around him finds out about his inner conflict. He doesn’t want to kill Rey, so he repairs the mask in order to not let that be known to others around him.

While the decision to bring back the mask has been criticized by some and labeled a “retcon” of The Last Jedi, there are also legitimate reasons why this is done, however implicit they may be. Very similar to the literal and figurative meaning behind Vader’s mask, Kylo’s mask serves an interesting purpose beyond just looking cool that is up for interpretation and is worth exploring

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 7 – “Dangerous Debt”

By @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The final season of The Clone Wars continued this week with the third installment of Ahsoka’s arc with the Martez sisters, a fun, yet inconsequential episode of the show. This episode picks up where the last episode left off, with Ahsoka and the Martez sisters being captured by the Pyke Syndicate for botching a delivery of spice and trying to escape from the clutches of the Pykes before it’s too late.

This episode emphasizes a more overarching issue with The Clone Wars overall at times pertaining to length of episode arcs. For instance, the Bad Batch arc that kicked this season off was entertaining and full of great character moments and plot points, but probably could have been reduced from 4 episodes to 3 episodes. Not only would this make the storytelling more concise, but it would also remove unnecessary moments or scenes that add very little to the characters and narrative. The current arc that “Dangerous Debt” is situated in suffers from a similar issue in that this is a 4 episode arc that could probably be reduced to 3 episodes still containing complex themes, interesting characters, and unique plot lines. And, while “Gone with a Trace” and “Deal No Deal” both serve solid purposes in reintroducing us to Ahsoka and setting the stage for the entire arc respectively, “Dangerous Debt” suffers from circular storytelling that finds the characters ending up in the exact place they started. This doesn’t mean the episode isn’t fun to watch, beautifully animated, expertly voice acted, and includes some great moments (all of which are true). However, the journey the characters go on this story does not progress their individual or collective arcs in a substantial way that makes the fact that they begin and end up in a Pyke prison reasonable. Some may compare this to the Canto Bight arc in The Last Jedi, in which Finn and Rose’s mission to disable hyperspace tracking fails. I would argue that Finn and Rose evolve as characters during this time, while the journey itself is entertaining and ties in nicely with the overarching themes of the film about failure. “Dangerous Debt,” conversely, doesn’t offer the same journey that justifies the ends.

That being said, this episode is still a really enjoyable 25 minutes of Star Wars content. Removing the aforementioned issues with this episode’s narrative importance, following Ahsoka and the Martez sisters’ adventures running spice is interesting to see. From a broader perspective, these episodes have added a lot to Ahsoka’s character beyond her time in the Jedi Order. We’re seeing that her values of helpfulness and kindness are not solely due to the fact that she was raised and trained by Jedi, but, rather, that Ahsoka is an intrinsically good person whose values stand independent of her teachers and influences. This is best exemplified by the fact that Ahsoka is present on this mission to begin with. Ahsoka became attached to Trace and believed that her new friend would be in danger if she blindly followed her sister on a spice run. Now, Ahsoka is paying the consequences of such attachment (something the Jedi would probably have disapproved of), but that doesn’t stop her unrelenting dedication to doing the right thing.

The continued dynamic between Ahsoka and Rafa was a highlight of this episode, especially given the reveal that the Martez’ parents were killed as a result of the Jedi’s actions. It’s nice to see The Clone Wars play around further with the idea of accountability as this war not only has obvious galaxy wide, political implications, but also impacts individuals and families. The MCU has explored accountability with the aftermath of the destruction of Sovokia in Captain America: Civil War, as has the DCEU with the aftermath of the destruction of Metropolis in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To see similar themes explored in The Clone Wars, in which the actions of our heroes, while well intentioned and for the greater good, carry heavy consequences. This reveal provided even more reason behind Ahsoka’s continued concealment of her identity as a former Jedi, setting the stage for the likely confession in next week’s episode. And, to top it all off, Rafa implied that it was none other than Luminara Unduli who tried to console the sisters after the death of their parents. This was really intelligent writing as Luminara has a hardened, almost emotionally distant reputation in The Clone Wars, which obviously did not help in consoling two young girls who just lost their parents to the very war Luminara and her kind are fighting.

Ultimately, however, the real appeal of this episode came in the few brief moments that teased the upcoming siege of Mandalore. Not only did we get a reintroduction to Bo-Katan Kryze, but an unexpected appearance from Ursa Wren, Sabine’s mother who appeared in Star Wars Rebels. It’s obvious that the final episode arc is the most eagerly anticipated part of this final season among Star Wars fans and to see some of the seeds planted to weave Ahsoka into that plot is really exciting. And, especially after the events of Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian season one, any and all Star Wars set in, around, or about Mandalore are going to be eagerly anticipated by many. In that sense, the fact that this episode included hints at what is to come regarding Mandalore and how Ahsoka will become involved in the conflict is definitely a highlight.

In all, while “Dangerous Debt” had some entertaining and thoughtful sequences, it emphasized the extent to which this arc should probably be condensed into three episodes. It did provide some intriguing insight into the Martez sisters’ resentment of the Jedi and the accountability the Jedi must have for their actions, in addition to teasing the Mandalore arc that will conclude this season. This arc overall has been hit and miss so far, with last week’s episode being far superior over the first episode. I expect next week’s conclusion to this arc will tie things together nicely and set the stage for what’s to come in Ahsoka’s future.

Score: 6/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

6 Characters Who Could Get Their Own Disney+ Show

By HolocronWilliam and @HolocronJosh for @sw_holocron

It’s an exciting time for Star Wars fans as Disney+ offers an entirely new platform to explore interesting stories and characters in the saga. Given the rumors of several Star Wars shows on Disney+ and the streaming service finally releasing in other countries recently, we thought this would be a good time to think about characters we’d love to see front and center of a new TV show on the streaming service. 

1. Han Solo

2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story showed fans the origins of everyone’s favorite scoundrel, including his first encounter with Chewbacca and how he got into a life of smuggling and crime. The film ended on a cliffhanger, with the two likely going to Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine, something that would be amazing for fans to see fully realized in a long story telling format like a TV show. A Solo sequel could also tie up the Han and Qi’ra relationship, with the two now seemingly on opposite sides of the conflict after the events of the film. Moreover, the opportunity to see Han interact with Donald Glover’s Lando again is one that Lucasfilm and Disney may not be able to pass up. The opportunity to see more stories featuring Han leading up to his encounter with Ben Kenobi and Luke in A New Hope would be great to see and a Disney+ show may be the format to actualize these stories, as opposed to another theatrically released film.

2. Sheev Palpatine

Palpatine has plagued the Skywalker’s in 9 movies, even the ones that he doesn’t appear in. His work in the shadows to corrupt Ben Solo and restart his evil regime in the form of the First Order further cemented his position as the main villain of the entire franchise. However, his life prior to The Phantom Menace in canon is largely unknown in many respects. In a potential Disney+ show, the audience could see how Palpatine fell to the dark side, along with his training under Darth Plageuis and some of the political machinations he was involved in on Naboo prior to the start of the Skywalker saga. For years, George Lucas toyed with the idea of a Palpatine prequel show, so it makes sense if they decide to revisit this idea. 

3. Ahsoka Tano

Given the rumors that Ahsoka Tano will appear in The Mandalorian, a live action show starring Ahsoka is now the subject of heavy fan and trade report speculation. After the events of Star Wars Rebels, there’s a lot of story potential with a Disney+ show following this fan favorite character into the era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The plot could center around the former Jedi looking for Ezra Bridger, whose fate is unknown after the finale of Rebels. And could feature a number of other fan favorite characters relevant to Ahsoka’s continued journey. The plot could also be entirely new from the mind of Dave Filoni who, in all likelihood, would be involved in an Ahsoka show in some substantial capacity. 

4. Lando Calrissian

While a Han Solo prequel show is possible, as is one that focuses solely on Lando Calrissian. Donald Glover’s performance as Lando was praised by critics and fans alike after the release of Solo, with some claiming his role in the film was its highlight. Since then, many, including Kathleen Kennedy herself, have suggested that Glover be given a center stage role in his own project. There’s an array of stories a Lando story could cover, including him collaborating with Han to go up against Crimson Dawn, the evil group led by Maul in Solo, or a new enemy entirely. He does also briefly mention his relationship with his mother in Solo, so exploring more of his past and how this led up to his role in Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back could be something very interesting to explore. 

5. Zorii Bliss

Arguably the most exciting new addition in The Rise of Skywalker, Zorii Bliss is yet another character who could lead her own TV show. The adventures of a spice runner on Kijimi, along with the fan favorite Babu Frik, is an idea that many have suggested in the past few months. Plus, Star Wars fans have always been interested in the criminal underworld of the galaxy. This show could easily be set prior to the events of The Rise of Skywalker, potentially featuring an appearance by a young Poe Dameron. However, it would also be interesting to see what the galaxy would look like post Episode IX, particularly from the eyes of a shady character like Bliss.

6. Luke Skywalker

This one’s a long shot, but you never know with Star Wars. Luke Skywalker was the character that kicked everything off in a galaxy far, far away, with the Original Trilogy detailing his journey from farmboy to Jedi Knight. The next time we see Luke in live-action, besides the flashback to the fall of his Jedi temple, is 32 years later in The Force Awakens, meaning that a long period of time passed in between, one we haven’t yet seen much of in live action. Projects like Battlefront II, Shattered Empire and The Rise of Kylo Ren have delved deeper into the character’s journey during this 3 decade time gap, but there’s still ample opportunity to explore more of what Luke was up to at this time. The prospect of seeing Luke Skywalker, after the events of Return of the Jedi, setting up his Jedi Temple and restarting the Jedi would not only be amazing to see, but would also potentially set the stage for his relationship with Ben Solo/Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. Who wouldn’t want to see a young Ben Solo appear again? Given the deaging technology available now and the usage of prior footage incorporated into the flashback of Luke in The Rise of Skywalker, it’s not implausible to suggest a mini series featuring the famous Skywalker could debut on Disney+ at some point.

These are just some suggestions for characters we think could get and deserve a Disney+ show. So far, we have The Mandalorian, Cassian Andor, and Obi-Wan, but it’s unlikely Lucasfilm and Disney will stop there. The Star Wars saga is vast and it’s great that there’s another platform now, beyond theatrically released films, comics, books, video games, etc., to provide more insight into beloved characters, locations, stories and more.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney

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Star Wars Holocron

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