Friendship Shows Us Who We Really Are

I find that I’m really liking Star Wars Rebels.  One of the main reasons I think I love it so much is the camaraderie and friendships aboard the Ghost between all the crew members.  I love Kanan and Hera’s relationship, or more precisely: friendship.  Now, I haven’t read A New Dawn yet, but it’s sitting on my night table and is next in line once I’ve finished this epic fantasy series (for those of you who care, it’s The Kingkiller Chronicle).  So if I’m bringing something up that contradicts with the book, then I apologize.

I’ve gone into this a little bit with my “Not As Certain As Being Left Behind…” post from a year and a half ago, but I was re-thinking about friendship in Star Wars over SWCA.  The Star Wars movies are lacking some real, serious, admirable friendships.

Off the top of my head, this is what I can think of for friendships in the movies:

  1. Han and Chewie. Why it’s a bad example – Chewie has a life debt on Han.  Not that I don’t think their
    Tell me you kind of died of happiness inside when this happened. YEAH??

    Tell me you kind of died of happiness inside when this happened. YEAH??

    friendship is real or one of the best in the saga, but I don’t think their friendship stemmed from something organic.

  2. Han and Lando. Why it’s a bad example – Clearly, Lando betrayed Han.  But friendships go through rough patches, just like any relationship.  It just seems like Lando and Han were always uneasy around each other from the start.  Though I believe their friendship progressed further, we don’t really get to see it in the movies.
  3. Threepio and Artoo. Why it’s a bad example – they’re droids.  ’nuff said.
  4. Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan/Anakin, Anakin/Ahsoka. Why it’s a bad example – this is a little harder.  I have no doubt that a relationship with your Padawan breeds a great friendship.  But again, I guess I’m a little hesitant because it’s not that organic of a situation.  You are both placed together in a situation where you don’t have much of a choice.  You become friends in the way that I become friends with my co-workers…there’s no one else around, so might as well be friends with them.  And some of the friendships last a long time and are really sincere, but some are just situational.
  5. Padmé/Obi-Wan. Why it’s a bad example – I actually think this is the closest we have to a real friendship inobi wan padme Star Wars…with one tiny problem: The scenes that really exemplify her friendship with him were cut from Revenge of the Sith.  Unfortunately, a lot of the greatest Padmé scenes were cut from ROTS, but that’s a story for a different time.  I think if Padmé had lived, and if Padmé hadn’t been dealt the whole Anakin-is-her-secret-husband card, then her and Obi-Wan would have been the best example of a friendship within the movies.
  6. Anakin/Palpatine. Why it’s a bad example – Duh.  Well, at first I think it was a friendship of sorts, though Palpatine was clearly using and manipulating Anakin for his own ends.  But as soon as they became the two Sith, everything changed.  It was a relationship now based on fear, not anything sincere, that’s for sure.

the crew of the GhostBut with Star Wars Rebels, I love the crew of the Ghost because they all chose to stick together and become family.  I think it’s a great example of friendship in Star Wars.  They are all there by choice.  Every one of them can leave when they want but they choose to stay because this band of misfits are a solid group of friends that became a family.

More importantly, and I hope this never changes in the series, I love that Kanan and Hera’s friendship is not romantic.  If it was romantic at some point, then all the props to them because what’s even more amazing is that they were able to move past that and stay friends (I never figured that out with my ex’s. Ever. You break up with me and you’re dead to me.  See ya.).

But let’s suppose there was nothing romantic in their past.  It shows children, and all of us, that you can have a male/female friendship without romantic entanglements.  I think that’s missing heavily in our society.  We bombard children with ads, movies, books, and a lot of it is centered on something romantic.  Either male novels will be full of silliness that the male character gets in (ages 6-9ish) and then move toward action packed books where females play small roles (ages 10-15ish).  With female novels, it’s rare that I see a male female friendship.  Either the female is off on her own saving the world (with random love storylines thrown in) or it’s completely centered on a love story. This is not just the case with novels.  Turn on the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network and you’ll see something similar.

hera and kanan star wars rebels

Kanan and Hera show us that each can be a competent, unique person in their own right, with strengths and weaknesses, but also the ability to be best friends without falling for each other.  They are hanging out because they want to hang out, because of a situation that wasn’t forced upon them.  Not only is it so important for children to see, but I also think it’s a good reminder for us.

I really think Kanan and Hera’s friendship make the Star Wars universe a better place.

Let’s Take a Look at Star Wars Rebels

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Rebels has kicked off and…overall, I liked it.  Last week we had the one-hour premiere with a movie on the Disney Channel.  This week the season officially got underway with its first episode on Monday night.

I loved the movie.  I thought it was exactly what Star Wars should be and how they should approach the series.  They stayed away from any characters we knew and the only glimpse we got of a familiar character was a hologram recording of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The recording was the one he released in ROTS, warning all Jedi to stay away from the temple and that the Jedi are no longer safe.

Other than that – we were introduced to a completely new band of characters.  We have Hera the Twi’lek pilot who commands their ship Ghost, Kanan the undercover Jedi, Zeb is the Lasat who is really the tough guy of the operation (and his species is based on original concept drawings of Chewbacca!), Sabine the Mandolorian who is kind of a pyro and graffiti artist, and finally we have a newcomer named Ezra.  A kid of the streets who gets pulled into this little clan and decides to stay to do some Jedi training with Kanan.  Oh, and we can’t forget Chopper: the little astromech droid who helps run the ship.  They did a great job on making him seem pretty different from Artoo, a fear I had.

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The opposition to this team on a larger scale is, obviously, the Empire.  Specifically, at this point we know of two beings: Agent Kallus, an official of the Imperial Security Bureau and The Inquisitor, a Pau’an male who hunts down remaining Jedi.  We have not seen much of him yet – only saw him at the end of the movie when Kallus reported that he had found a Jedi (Kanan).

What I liked most about the movie is that we were introduced to new areas, new people, new ships and my imagination was opened to a part of Star Wars I didn’t know, but there was “something familiar about this place”.  Ralph McQuarrie’s touch was extremely obvious and some of the landscape shots were ripped right off of what he had done for the OT.  Not saying that’s bad, in fact, it gave us the OT feel.

I was most surprised at the time period of Rebels.  Apparently it takes place 5 years BBY.  I completely missed this somehow.  That means that Luke and Leia are 14 and the Jedi have been written off the galaxy for 14 years.  What made me question this time period is that the need to have an Inquisitor means that there are still quite a few Jedi throughout the galaxy.

I don’t like that.  Jedi shouldn’t be that prevalent still, right?  Han Solo was really skeptical of the Force and Luke barely knew anything about Jedi.  If Luke and Leia are 14 at this point, and Han would be older, wouldn’t it mean that the knowledge of Jedi would be a little more common?

Also, they are making this group of misfits look like the beginning of the Rebellion.  The Rebellion should have been pretty much established by this point in the game, even if they are not completely rebellious (pun intended ha!) yet.  The crew on Ghost are smart; I think they would have heard about the Rebellion through their travels across the galaxy and at this point either joined them or aided them in some way.

Which brings me to the first episode of the TV series.  After coming off of a successful premiere movie, I cringed and got angry when I saw C-3PO and R2-D2 appear in the first official episode.  UGH.  Really?? I know that other people have no problems with this but I do.  I was hoping that Rebels would stay away from that trap of bringing in familiar characters to satisfy all audiences.

Seeing Threepio and Artoo made the galaxy seem smaller than it actually is.  Do you really think they would run into these two droids?  Really?artoo threepio star wars rebels  It was completely fine in TCW, because they had every single PT character running around that why not bring in everyone we know?  In fact, I got used to that in TCW.  But Rebels clearly seems to be reminding us that this is a new band of characters on new planets and in new situations.  The cherry on the cake was when they drop off the droids at, of all ships, the Tantive IV with Bail Organa.  (bangs head against wall)  I was expecting a teenage Leia to just stroll in and talk with her father.  Thankfully that did not happen and I was spared, but if we are going to introduce Organa this early in the series, maybe I should just brace myself and expect it to happen at some point.

The only interesting thing about the situation was that Artoo had recorded some of the conversations on Ghost and had brought it back to Organa who noted that they should keep an eye on them.  I still think they could have used other droids and a different character for this, but maybe by the time the series ends it will tie back to bringing the crew of Ghost into the Rebellion.  And, by the way, shouldn’t the droids be pushed off onto Captain Antilles at some point?  They’ve really been with Organa for 14 years?

bail organa rebels

Other than my major grievance with the droids, Tantive IV, and Organa – I think the first episode was pretty cool.  They stuck it to the Empire by stealing their prized weapons that were supposed to be illegal throughout the galaxy, and then later destroying them.  It spoke to an interesting larger lesson: the Empire can do what they want, regardless if weapons are illegal or not.  In the hands of the Empire, those laws are conveniently forgotten if it will further their cause.

Ezra showed us some of his Force powers…he has more than I thought.  But they came into action when he was angry and scared.  Not very Jedi-like, eh?  So Kanan will have to curb that and teach him how to use the Force in a calmer state.  Or will Kanan change the rules a bit and not follow the strict Jedi Code?  Speaking of Kanan…I couldn’t really figure out how old he was.  I was guessing late 20s or early 30’s.  Oh – nevermind, Wookiepedia says he’s 28 and was 14 when Order 66 happened.

Lastly, I wanted to touch briefly upon the tone and style of the series.  I enjoyed the style and the banter between the characters, but my good friend Mr. Reticent pointed out that it was a lot lighter than TCW.  Not only with the situations and how they talked with each other, but also the animation style.  When you contrast the animation, there is a big difference.  TCW was more angular, sharp and it felt like watching a video game sometimes.  Rebels is smooth, almost more “cartoony”, which makes sense considering that it comes from Disney.  The tone of the episodes seemed to play more for a Disney crowd as well…I’m not sure if any of you guys watch The Disney Channel/Disney X D or Cartoon Network – but they are two very different styles and draw in two different crowds.  Both focus more on drawing in boys than girls, but CN is a lot cruder in my opinion.  I find CN to grate on me often and I watch the shows with disbelief that kids watch that channel as it can feel gritty.  Disney X D still seems unfathomable to me at times, but at least I can somewhat relate and understand why a boy would watch a show on the channel.  X D plays it a little safer and perhaps that’s why Rebels also seems to reflect that. (apparently I can’t write X.D. without WP changing it to a gigantic smiley face)

I find it hard to decide whether or not I will like the series based on what I’ve seen.  I loved the movie, giving it an 8.5/10, but felt the first TV show would come in at a 6/10.

 

Okay, I’m almost done, I swear.  Two side notes!

  1. Greg Weisman has left Rebels. I am most sad about this as he was the one person I was really pumped to have part of the show and thought would lead it in a smart, good direction.  But why did he leave?  I can’t find anything online so if anyone has information on this, please let me know to satiate my curiosity.
  2. Kiri Hart. I can’t go further without mentioning her.  You guys know how often I have talked about my unusual name and how I’ve never met anyone else with my name.  Well, guess what?  She is the VP of development at LFL and oversees a lot of the Star Wars content produced by Disney…including Rebels.  Look for her name at the end credits of Rebels.  SUPER WEIRD.  SUPER, SUPER WEIRD.  But I’m loving it.  I would not wish anyone else to have my name but someone at LFL.  It’s a sign.  I’m not sure of what, but it’s a sign.

Goodbye to The Clone Wars

It’s one thing to guess and speculate that The Clone Wars might be ending after the season finale where Ahsoka left the Jedi Order…but it’s another thing to know it won’t be returning.

And so today we received the news that ended, The Clone Wars has.  Or, as I like to say, it was given Order 66.

The Clone Wars helped me leave my little shell of Star Wars purity.  When the series began, I refused to watch it and refused to acknowledge it.  The fact that Anakin had a padawan angered me so much that I would speak scathingly about the series whenever someone brought it up.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I started watching TCW when I was bored with TV and flipping through the guide.  There was a rerun on and I watched Ahsoka and Anakin battle someone in this weird fantasy-like planet.  I can’t even remember the episode now, but I was so starved for anything Star Wars that I reluctantly was drawn into it.  I believe I started watching in either Season 2 or Season 3.

Well, guess what?  I started to DVR the episodes and before you knew it, I was hooked and actually ended up loving Anakin’s padawan: Ahsoka.

The Clone Wars says goodbye

The Clone Wars says goodbye

TCW not only grabbed my attention but it helped catapult Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka) into a business primarily for fan girls.  She helped lend strength to us geek girls with her company Her Universe: a clothing site full of Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, and much more geeky wonderfulness.  She recognized the need to create merchandise for female sci-fi fans and it has since skyrocketed.  What started out as one business devoted to Star Wars clothing expanded to other sci-fi franchises, but it’s also paved the way for other websites and stores to create geeky, fitted clothing for women/girls.  I’ve noticed an increase in women’s sci-fi clothing ever since Ashley started her company.  I do hope she continues expanding Her Universe, though I don’t see why she wouldn’t.

Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein

So what’s happening now?  Lucasfilm said it was “exploring a whole new ‘Star Wars’ series set in a time period previously untouched in ‘Star Wars’ films or television programming.”  They said there would be more details in future months.  They also mentioned that “Star Wars Detours” is also delayed (perhaps never to see the light, in my opinion) because “Detours was conceived and produced before we decided to move forward with the new Star Wars trilogy, and in the wake of that decision, Lucasfilm has reconsidered whether launching an animated comedy prior to the launch of Episode VII makes sense.”

When we first found out that Disney was acquiring Lucasfilm, I briefly touched upon TCW and Detours and what that would mean for both series.  I thought that maybe it would move to Disney XD.  Now we see that is not the case, but I’m sure this new Star Wars series will be on Disney XD.  Back in October, I checked to see if we had Disney XD.  We do!  Phew, so I guess I can follow the new series from the beginning this time around.

The only point of confusion for me is that it looks like this new series may be animated as well.  I wish they would just move TCW to Disney XD, but if this is not to be the case, what are they going to do?  There are tons of options, but I was kind of hoping for someone to finally say that we are going to see the live action TV show.  We can still hope right?  Though that may be more likely to show up on ABC.

So many changes going on in our Star Wars world!  Just have to hold on and enjoy the ride as best as possible.

Official starwars.com announcement of the Clone Wars departure: http://starwars.com/news/a-new-direction-for-lucasfilm-animation.html

A goodbye post from James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in TCW): http://jamesarnoldtaylor.com/jamesarnoldtaylor.com/Clone_Wars_Thoughts.html

Her Universe: http://www.heruniverse.com/

Clone Wars Season 5 Finale: My Thoughts Part II

Final thoughts about the end of Season 5 of The Clone Wars.  There was a lot going on in these episodes, but what stood out to me primarily were the clones and their reactions to the events and just how messed up the Jedi Council had become.

I always had a problem in Revenge of the Sith with Order 66 and how quickly the clones turned on the Jedi.  And as I watched TCW over these few years, it seemed even more unlikely that the Clones would turn on the Jedi when they seemed to be mostly capable of independent thoughts and were quite close to many of the Jedi they served under.  You could see inklings of that in Revenge of the Sith with the banter between Rex and Obi-Wan.

What these episodes of TCW helped me realize is that the key lies in the fact that the Jedi were labeled as “traitors”.  In TCW, Ahsoka was labeled as a traitor for (supposedly) bombing the Temple and though Anakin gave orders Clone trooper clone wars s5ep18to the Clones to bring her in alive, they followed higher up orders from Tarkin to stun her and I believe at one point, kill her.  It shed light on how the clones were able to easily kill the Jedi in ROTS with no hesitation.  “Traitor” is a word they do not suffer lightly as their allegiance is to the Republic (later Empire) and whoever is in charge of it (Palpatine).  How easy it was for me to think they served the Jedi and forget that they were trained to serve the Republic. This helped me to understand the clone’s mentality better and if you watched these episodes closely, you notice that the whole arc mirrored ROTS and Order 66…probably on purpose.

Secondly, with these episodes, I got to see how involved the Jedi had become in politics.  When Grand Moff Tarkin said that Ahsoka would stand a trial by the Senate, Yoda barely argued.  He seemed to briefly state that he wanted to a fair trial in the order of “Jedi Tradition” (whatever that means), but Tarkin quickly overrode him.  What happened to the Jedi?  I was so disappointed to see themjedi council observing ahsoka's trial s5ep20 walked over, but understood it was necessary for the downfall of the Order in the Republic.  Briefly Yoda mentions to Ahsoka that the Dark Side was clouding everything, but it was a lame excuse at the wrong time.  Throughout all these episodes they seemed to be going along with Tarkin’s assumption that Ahsoka was in the wrong.  The funny thing about Tarkin too, is that you get the impression that he was behind the attacks in some way.   Unfortunately, that’s never proven but I wonder if he knew it was Barriss all along.  There were plenty of evil smirks and grins coming from him whenever he accused Ahsoka.  Or maybe he was just really out to prove that the council was not as powerful as it once was and the whole situation played nicely in his hands.  The whole trial of Ahsoka really showed how weak and less influential the Jedi Council had become as a group.

Slowly and reluctantly, I’ve begun to realize that I like how TCW ties into the movies and fills up some back stories.  Sure, I’ve had problems with it – namely Darth Maul returning from the dead, too much time on main characters, but overall I have appreciated their attempts to answer lingering questions that may not have been covered in the prequels.  In these episodes, we see the Jedi slowly losing their influential power as well as the Senate/Republic/Palpatine/Tarkin gaining more ground.  It’s easier for me to understand now that when Palpatine accused the Jedi of attacking him and creating his disfigurement, people of the Senate bought into it so willingly.  Not only did the Clones turn against a Jedi, but it all makes a lot more sense in how this reflects back onto ROTS.  As Palpatine/Tarkin folk get stronger, the Clones allegiance is tied more closely to them and further away from the Jedi.  So when Order 66 is issued, it was really not that hard to execute it.

Ahsoka, Anakin, Tarkin, Barriss clone wars s5ep18

Ahsoka’s Departure: Clone Wars Season 5 Finale Part I

Yup, my post was so long that I will have to split it into two parts to get all my thoughts on the latest episode out onto this blog.

Ok, ok, everyone.  Let’s stop crying.  Let’s stop acting like this is the end of the world.  It’s a TV show.  Yes, the finale involved a major moment for Ahsoka and Anakin, but it’s still an animated TV show.

I can tell you, though, that these past 4 episodes have been a fresh of breath air for The Clone Wars.  After spending most of December with a boring side plot line that involved droids and a little frog character, TCW got back on the right footing with the Darth Maul/Death Watch story line.  I mean, they even killed off a semi-main character (Duchess Satine, if you’re wondering)!  But it wasn’t until these past four episodes of TCW that it began to get interesting and intense.  I’ve been holding off writing on it only because I wanted to know what happened in the Season 5 finale episode.

In a nutshell, this is what has happened in the past four episodes:

A portion of the Jedi Temple is blown up.  Jedi’s die and so do civilian workers.  Is a Jedi behind this or a civilian?  Investigation begins, led by Anakin and Ahsoka.

While Ahsoka is interviewing a main suspect, the suspect is Force strangled in the air and it looks like Ahsoka killed her.  Conveniently, the security cameras had their sound disabled so we can’t hear Ahsoka crying for help as the woman is strangled.  We now know that a Jedi is behind the attacks, but it looks like Ahsoka is the culprit.

Image on Security Camera in Jedi Temple

Image on Security Camera in Jedi Temple

The Jedi want to bring Ahsoka in for questioning, but Ahsoka runs for it and every step she takes makes it look more and more like she is the one behind the attack.  Anakin seems to be the only one who believes she is innocent, but the council bans her from the Jedi Order.  Ahsoka meets up with Asajj Ventress and they try to get to the bottom of it.  Ahsoka finally ends up being captured and is put on a trial in front of Tarkin (yes, Grand Moff Tarkin when he was younger) and is given the death sentence.  Thankfully, Anakin comes in to save the day and you realize it was actually Ahsoka’s friend, Jedi Barriss, who was behind the attacks.  The Council ends up apologizing to Ahsoka and asks her to rejoin the Jedi.  Ahsoka declines and leaves the Council and Anakin.

Ahsoka Refusing to Return to the Jedi Order

Ahsoka Refusing to Return to the Jedi Order

Yup.  We see Ahsoka leave the Jedi Order for good – hence the many internet wails of sadness, real or otherwise.  I have to admit, I was a little surprised.  I’ve been wondering for a long time how they would get rid of Ahsoka on TCW since we all know she doesn’t end up in Revenge of the Sith.  I held the belief that she would fall in love with Lux and leave the Jedi Order for love, doing what Anakin could not.  But this is more poignant.  It’s a crash of beliefs and ideals that Ahsoka held so high.  Being a Jedi is your life.  There’s no turning away and why would you want to?  It’s a hard life, but also an extremely gratifying one and a life that not many people get the ability to experience.  You are the special elite – almost more so than high officials of the Republic.

The tables were turned in this episode where Ahsoka was once viewed as the deceiver, she now looks at the Jedi as traitors.  They did not believe her innocence and they were her family, her life.  She was betrayed by them, and now they are betrayed by her as she turns her back on them.  The mirroring was so perfectly done.

Ahsoka does what Anakin cannot, or does not, have the will to do. She leaves.  Anakin should have left when he married Padmé.  His life would have probably been better and easier without the pressure of the Jedi.   As things get worse within the Jedi Order and as the Dark Side begins to cloud everything, Ahsoka sees clearly enough to know that it’s time to get out of there and to figure things out on her own.

What’s great about Ahsoka’s departure is that you still root for her.  You know and understand that she cannot be part of the Jedi Order after how they turned on her.  She was basically treated as a prisoner and her only advocate was Anakin.  At the end of the episode, Anakin says to her, “I understand wanting to walk away from the Order.”  All Ahsoka says in return is, “I know.”  You get the feeling then that she knows more than she let on.  Does she know about Anakin’s marriage to Padmé?  Probably.  Does she understand Anakin’s frustrations with the Council, the inner Jedi politics, the outward politics affecting the purity of the Jedi?  I think she definitely does now.

What a great way to end TCW…especially as we don’t know what will happen next season.  Now that it’s in Disney’s hands, we still don’t know if it will continue to air on Cartoon Network or if it will continue to air at all.  If this is the end of TCW, they did it perfectly, which almost makes me hope they don’t keep the series going on.  We have an open page now for Ahsoka, which I’m sure the EU would love to expand upon.  She is technically no longer a Jedi so she may not be killed with Order 66.  Also with this ending, you see why Anakin never mentions his former Padawan in ROTS since it may be too painful for him.  It also sheds more light on how the Jedi react to events in the third prequel movie and to Anakin’s continuing frustration with the Jedi.  It provides a good foundation for Palpatine to start gnawing into Anakin’s doubts and uncertainties regarding the Council, Mace Windu, and Yoda.

Bravo.  Clone Wars – you definitely converted me.  From a fan who was enraged over Ahsoka and the choice of even creating an animated series, I am now a huge fan of hers and glad I came around.  Thanks Clone Wars!  Hope to see you soon, but if not, it’s been fun.

Ahsoka leaves Anakin and Jedi Order