Tag Archives: Palpatine

Hunting For Fighter Pods

Hunting For Fighter Pods

The month of September was spent looking for my new favorite line of Star Wars toys. The Star Wars fighter pods series is now in its 3rd wave as of this month in the United States. Series 1 originally was released in February of 2012 and the 2nd wave began hitting stores in August 2012. I began hunting them down in September and my quest was to find as many of Series 2 as possible before the month was out. I consider myself very lucky because I actually was able to get my hands on every figure that was not in a special exclusive pack.

In the midst of hunting down Series 2 I also was on a quest to complete my Series 1 collection. I was actually able to find the last set that I needed to complete the set of vehicle launchers, the Jedi Starfighter. I am missing a few figures from Series 1 still but not many. The one thing that is hindering that collection is the exclusive Darth Maul tin that can be found at Target. I have been looking at my Target stores but I have yet to find the tin. For obvious reasons the tin is needed so that I can complete the collection however, I really want the pack for the Darth Maul figures and Ziro the Hutt.

This is how I went about collecting Series 2. I first went out to a Target that I know does not get a lot of toy traffic just to see if they even had any fighter pods in stock on the shelf. To my surprise they actually had quite a few of the 4 packs. They did not have the blind mystery bags or any of the vehicle packs. So I grabbed a few and began checking them off of the checklist that they give you in the package. The next time I went out to get some I went to a bigger Target that was more likely to have more product but also gets shopped more. Turns out the selection was pretty sparse but they did have mystery bags, the 4 packs and that is where I found my series 1 Jedi Starfighter. I picked these up and was very excited to open the mystery bags. There are 6 exclusive figures in this wave that can be found in the mystery bags and I was fortunate enough to get 2 of these figures. I picked up 4 mystery bags and I got 2 exclusive figures. The 4 packs I got were mostly new figures but it was at this point that my duplicates started accumulating. I made a video to show the opening of the mystery bag figures and it can be found right here.

The next outing to find the ominous fighter pods was with my 11 year old nephew. We first went to Toys R Us and that was a pretty disappointing trip. Not only did they only have a few series 1 fighter pods but their selection of Star Wars merchandise was not that impressive. I have begun to really not hold much stock in Toys R Us or at least the one closest to me as it is always trashed and does not have much in stock. They did have the Ewok set though which I almost bought. My only reasons for not picking it up are because I am on a fighter pod only mission.

From here we went to a different Target and we were able to find a few 4 packs of Series 2 and the BARC Speeder Bike/Pirate Speeder Bike Pack. The next day and last day of the month I went one more time to one of the Targets I had been to already and I found a spectacular find, Series 3 mystery bags! There were only 2 but I was shocked and very excited so I picked them up and 2 more 4 packs.

These last 4 packs would complete the collection of individual figures with hologram Palpatine and a Shock Trooper. It is safe to say that the one major dealer I did not go to was Wal-Mart and had I gone to  one I may have been able to find the other vehicle packs that I am missing and possibly more blind bags. I believe I am missing 8 figures in total from Series 2. The figures I am missing are exclusive to the vehicle packs and the mystery bags. I am also fortunate to have my hands on 4 figures from Series 3. All this means for me is that October may be a month of hunting down Series 3 and I am still looking for that Darth Maul Tin from series 1.

The most interesting thing I found with Series 2 was that there is a variant of Cad Bane. I first found out about this via Adam Pawlus at Galactic Hunter.com he posted some pictures of it so I knew to be on the lookout and I was actually able to get my hands on both versions.

It is still unclear if this was done on purpose but the version that has silver guns and silver bands on his hat was in a 4 pack and the version with black guns was in the speeder bike pack. However, I did see the Cad Bane with black guns in a 4 pack as well. If you can find both I would definitely try to get them both.

It was a fun month of hunting but it looks like I am in for another month of it with wave 3. I will keep you updated over at Fangirl Next Door with videos of my collection, pictures and updates. If you are looking for these cute little guys then happy hunting they sure are fun to knock over!

Teresa Delgado

Star Wars nerd at heart and a pop culture fanatic. Fangirl blogger, movie and book reviewer. Avid reader and film goer.

I love penguins!

Mauling Everything Savagely: “Revival” Review

The Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 1 Review

First of all, welcome back to our weekly review of The Clone Wars here on the Star Wars Report! After much anticipation, season five of The Clone Wars is underway, beginning with a tale of pirates, evil plans and lots of cool lightsaber action. You could say that the premiere of The Clone Wars season five is off to a great start, minus some bad scheduling on the part of the network.

Back in black!

In the beginning of the episode we are reacquainted with the Sith, dynamic duo of Savage Opress and Darth Maul who are raiding ships in order to fulfill Maul’s mysterious plan that involves uniting the underworld under the banner of the Sith. I prefer that premise for a Maul story-line over what I thought they were going to do with him: essentially send him after Kenobi and then kill him off. That may still happen, but his secret agenda combined with the mystery still surrounding Maul and his background makes for something possibly hugely impactful in the Star Wars universe. What it is I do not yet know. Could he be after the Jedi? After the Sith? Maybe even both? If this allows us to get an entire season of Maul traversing the underworld, interacting with all sorts of scum and villainy in the Star Wars galaxy, I’ll be perfectly happy with season five. What we’ll actually get will probably be just that combined with a sophisticated plot, amazing combat scenes, and really good animation.

What was really insightful is how the different characters react to the threat of Maul and his plans. We have Kenobi, who is trying to see the situation as more than just your average evil plan. He believes there is something larger at work in the underworld as he states in the end of the episode. We also have the perspective of Palpatine, who’s attempt to keep the Jedi away from the whole thing hints at a few possibilities. That ploy could mean he’s going to take care of Maul himself, seeing Maul as a threat to his power, and to his role as a Sith Lord. The second possibility could mean that even Maul is just a pawn in Palpatine’s ultimate plan, whether Maul knows it or not. How Savage’s character will play out has the potential to be just as complex. While he’s found his brother, completing his purpose in season 3, what could happen to him now? Something tells me he doesn’t want to be Maul’s apprentice, but I doubt he’d openly betray his brother either, at least not anytime soon.

While I greatly enjoyed speculating about what Maul and Savage were up to, what made this episode so cool was Hondo. Hondo has always been a great character, but for some reason has never been this well written. I think I could watch an entire series about Hondo after seeing him in this episode! He was witty, he was clever, he acted like a real pirate and I perceived him as an influential leader to his kind rather than just some other, two dimensional, villain type character. I also thought bringing back a character that has been so well liked throughout the show since season one was a great idea, and a great place to start if this season is going to be centered around the underworld (At least for Maul’s story.) There haven’t been too many characters out there that have been on both good terms with, and enemy of, the Jedi. This I think makes him a valuable part of the show. I hope he comes up again in this season, as I really think they perfected The Clone Wars’ resident pirate character.

While I thought this episode set up a lot of interesting and fun things to come for the rest of the season, I can’t help but complain about the time-slot. First of all, Friday nights are the perfect time to watch things as a family right at the end of the school/work week, in my opinion. The Clone Wars was an event to look forward to at the end of a long day. Changing that to Saturday morning just feels like Cartoon Network wanted it out of the way for their other shows. I’m no longer able to watch the series in HD because it airs at 6:30 A.M. with my cable. If Saturday is one of the only days I can sleep in, there’s no way I’m going to go out of my way to see it during it’s air time. I know for a fact I’m not really going to have as much fun as when I’m watching it with my family on Friday night. I’ll just be half asleep and forget the episode in an hour. It’s unfortunate that I’m going to be missing out on the HD The Clone Wars episodes this season and instead have to watch it entirely online on starwars.com. Maybe I’m the only one with this problem, but I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same way. Hopefully it’ll get switched back by mid-season or sooner.

Anyways, sorry for the rant but I feel it detracts from my viewing experience to either have to be up quite early on a weekend, or watching it in less quality on starwars.com, and therefore deserved comment. Other than that, I think you already know I thought it was a great start to the season, and I can’t wait to see what happens next week! Be sure to check back every week for these reviews, and don’t forget to comment below to tell us what you thought of the episode! Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you!

~ Ryan

10 Years of Attack of the Clones: Freedom and Tyranny (The best dialogue scene)

Here is part 3 of my ATOC retrospective series!

This is a 7 part series focussing on the 10th anniversary of AOTC. This series will cumulate with our live video podcast commentary of the movie on Thursday the 24th at 7:30 EST at http://www.starwarsreport.com/live Be there!

As much as people like to complain about poor acting and poor dialogue in the AOTC, I think they’ve forgotten one Person.

Ian Mcdiarmid.

What a phenomenal actor. He is really the glue that holds the plot of the prequels together. His portrayal of Palpatine was what made the fall of an entire republic believable. When I think of Palpatine, I think of Pure Evil. And so it’s no coincidence that my favorite dialogue scene is one of the most significant Palpatine scenes in the saga.

““It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy, I love the Republic. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated.”


That’s it. That’s the scene.

He spoke with such astounding shakespearean cadence. When you see that scene you almost believe him yourself. He promises protection, shielding from harm and discomfort in exchange for one small, little, thing… Your freedom.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.  -Plato

 

Darth Plagueis Commentary: Chapters 8-11

Darth Plagueis Commentary: Chapters 8-11

Who is still talking about the Darth Plagueis novel? We are!

Here is our discussion of chapters 8-11.  For this part of the discussion Mark Hurliman of the Star Wars Report and Star Wars Beyond the Films podcasts joins me.  We also have a special guest, Mark’s father (Mark E) who himself is an avid reader of the Star Wars novels.

If you missed the first two parts of our discussion here are the links.

Prologue - Chapter 3
Chapter 4 – Chapter 7

 

Mark: So we’re on Chapter 8, Victims of Their Own Demise

Aaron: Plagueis decides to track down some “Forceful” beings that Venamis had his eye on.  “Forceful”, still can’t get used to that word.  So the first one he tracks down is a gambler.  I guess it’s not really gambling when you are using the Force.

Mark: Breaking Muun tradition no less by being seen in places no Muun would go.  The fact that the first one was a shape-shifter of all things blew me away.  I love the idea of a Sith shape-shifter.

Mark E: A shape shifting gambler who was giving his winnings to Kerred Santhe of Santhe/Seinar.

Mark: Yeah the tie in to Santhe was cool.  Plagueis himself assassinated Kerred Santhe’s father which made a nice twist and kept things going with more details that linked the Sith to older works.

Aaron: I’ve never actually liked the idea of shape-shifters in Star Wars.  I’ve always thought it was more of a Star Trek thing.

Mark E: But shape-shifters are way cool, and pretty hard to hunt.

Aaron: Exactly why I don’t like them. Too easy of a plot device.  Now was he the same species as Zam Wesell from Attack of the Clones?

Mark: No, at first Plagueis thinks so, but turned out it was a Shi’ido like Uncle Hoole in Galaxy of Fear ;)

Aaron: Galaxy of Fear. Oh, everyone read those books…

Mark: I’m only missing #9 and #10.  I was surprised though that Plagueis left the Shi’ido alive.

Aaron: Yes, if you can call the way he left him alive

Mark E: He let him go but basically told him to get his winnings and get out, he was done!

Mark: 11-4D blasts him in the brain, but do we think this was a permanent disabling of his shifting?  Or would he heal up?

Aaron: “You can’t leave me like this” the Shi’ido begged.

Mark: It was left kind of vague there.  But still I loved it. I found myself falling to the dark side in this book.

Aaron: Let me quote the book here.  I think it implies he was permanently disfigured…

“You have one last chance to use your Force talents to win big before your horrid image becomes the centerpiece of the cheaters database on every gambling world.”

Mark E: I didn’t get permanently disfigured as Plagueis was going to allow him to continue fleecing casinos.

Mark: I guess when I was reading it I was figuring Plagueis thought Shi’idos were ugly/ hidious in general.  But it does make sense that the Shi’ido would have one shot in the form it’s in now and that would be the same as any person who can’t shift having one shot, or as many shots as they took before getting caught.

Aaron: So Plagueis moves on to Saleucami to meet somewhat of a cult leader.  It was kind of a gathering of hippies.

Mark E: Really spacey hippies!  Selected hippies.

Mark: And hasn’t The Clone Wars gone there a couple times?  Or mentioned it?

Aaron: This was the planet where Rex got shot and meets the clone deserter Cut Lawquane.  It is also one of the planets in the Order 66 montage in Revenge of the Sith.

Mark: The planet Saleucami has shown up a few times in the EU correct?  Republic comics for one.

Aaron: You can’t spell Saleucami without “eu”.  It is a very important planet in this era.  The Iktochi woman seemed like she knew what she was talking about with her professions.  “On the horizon looms a galaxy spanning war.”

Mark: Yeah she all but calls the future and Plagueis can’t have that.  You had this sense of something very bad was about to happen

Aaron: And once she realizes what he is she basically begs him to take her as an apprentice. “Let me do your bidding.”

Mark: It was a cool throw back to Vader’s “what is thy bidding my master” line.  When he touches her and fries her I thought of a well-executed assassination.

Aaron: The hand holding of death.

Mark E: He did nothing… “she fainted”.

Aaron: And then Plagueis moves on to the third unwitting victim.

Mark E: Naat Lare had broken out of the Bedlam Institution for the Criminally Insane.  Sounds like a fun place!

Mark: I couldn’t help but think of Arkham Asylum.

Aaron: And Venamis helped him escape. He must have had a lot of interest in this guy.

Mark: Plus if Naat had survived he would have made a darn good Apprentice. Venamis picked potentials well, you gotta hand him that.
Venamis might have been a very real threat- he being a Bith after all. We never saw the depths of HIS genius. And from the small bit we got in the Tenebrous Way; I fear Bith Sith!
By this point, I was starting to feel the chapter was more a filler chapter, but it did have a certain EU real feel to it. With every Sith potential even having potentials. As with the EU you can never get rid of the Sith, or Sith wannabe’s.

Aaron: Yes I agree, it did seem like filler but it was cool.  I always like to see Force users who are not affiliated with the Jedi or Sith.

Mark E: What did you think of how quickly Plagueis snapped back when he heard “Jedi”?

Aaron: I think he was excited that the Jedi were involved. Like he was hoping for a confrontation.

Mark E: I liked the fact they tracked him to Barab.

Mark: Barab- I loved it’s use- we know the Barbel have a deep respect for Jedi, and how would they even know a Sith from a Jedi at this point in time?

Aaron: This was happening on Abraxin right, not Barab?

Mark: Hmmm this bears closer inspection… Oh it looks as though it was a Barabel settlement. Which makes more sense come to think of it.

Aaron: I personally got very excited to see Jedi at this point.  I was hoping they would be more involved in the story.

Mark: I agree Aaron- I had hoped they would play a bigger part, but the part they played was diabolically clever.

Mark E: I liked how he had 11-4D watch the Jedi for reaction when he called on the Force.

Mark: Shadow Games give us some minor insight into what it must have been like to be Naat or even Kit Fisto, a Force sensitive Nautolan.

Aaron: I loved the end of this chapter. Plagueis meets Naat and tells him to prove himself by defeating the Jedi.

Mark E: But then Plagueis has the Jedi Ni-Cada do the dirty work for him.

Mark: Yeah, suckering the Jedi to do his dirty work was perfect- had Naat proved worthy, well, things would have been different to say the least.

Aaron: I feel like Naat would have been more of an enforcer and not fit well with Plagueis.  Like Maul was to Palpatine.

Mark: Maul…. Oh poor poor Maul (But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Mark E: Naat was truly criminally insane.  Plagueis had no use for him, whether he was Forceful or not.

Mark: I got the distinct impression that it was the Padawan who did the killing though.  With his Master screaming “Don’t Don’t.”

Aaron: When he said “Stand aside Padawan” I figured the Master handled it from there.

Mark E: Padawan questions “Master?”  Someone else presumeably Master, says “its done, he’s dead.”

Mark: I like how some authors assign nothing to dialog. Karen Traviss would do this and I could get so confused at times.  To me it was more the Padawan excited by the battle “Master!” The Master tries to intervene “Stand aside Padawan.”

Aaron: Based on the last two lines of the chapter it seems clear that the Master did the killing.

Mark: It’s all about point of view.  I’m not saying I’m right- just how I read it was different.

Aaron: Moving on…

Mark: Going back to Hego Damask, and more of the public side of his Sithy self.

Aaron: Chapter 9. Our intro to Palpatine in this book!

Aaron: What did you guys think about the fact that they still kept his first name a mystery?

Mark E: I thought it was explained that he was just rebelling against the norm and he chose to go only by his last name.

Mark: I found the lack of his first name interesting to be sure. I’ve seen some say his name was the same as his fathers but I felt it was way too wide open to lock down. It was some rebelling- I mean the fact that the Palpatine name is a ROYAL line on Naboo. That took me back.

Mark E: The untapped plasma of Naboo, one of the more memorable aspects of The Phantom Menace.

Mark: Oh man the plasma- that totally changed how I looked at the purple beams flowing up in The Phantom Menace during the Duel of Fates!

Aaron: And the value of the plasma made you realize just how important Naboo is in the overall plan of the Sith.

Mark: Yes- the plasma made Naboo more relevant then it was in the films IMO. Or at least it made it have more of an allure.  I liked how the Naboo and Gungans would recall Plagueis’ trip as Damask as the coldest winter they ever had.  We also learn where the Royal Fleet comes from- Hint Hint R2!

Aaron: I liked this line…
“In human hands…rested the profane future of the galaxy.”
He didn’t like humans but knew their importance.

Mark: As if Plagueis knew this and worked all his Sithly plans in that fashion.  He was ready to set Naboo up for life to get his hands on the plasma… or better- to USE the plasma to further the Sith Grand Plan.  Everything seemed to factor into this plan.

Aaron: And he uses Palpatine to help determine who will be the next king.  The Sith don’t leave anything to chance.

Mark E: The meeting between Plagueis and Palpatine was kind of drawn out, but Plagueis did a pretty thorough job of interviewing for an apprentice.  What about Palpatine being a speeder racer?

Mark: Learning Palpatine; like Anakin has a need for speed was great! I never would have taken Palpatine for a thrill junkie!

Aaron: I actually thought that bit of information was out of place.  It never really factored into the rest of the story.  Did we really need to know Palpatine had a sweet ride?

Mark: And yet it too fits with his ole EU self- the playboy.

Mark E: Need for speed plays to the rich kid persona.
And then Hedo hires palpatine as a spy for Damask holdings at the end of the interview! Then Palpatine says he will only work for Hego if he can report directly to him.

Mark: You have to wonder if the amulet Plagueis gives Palpatine was under any spells.

Aaron: Or a tracking device?

Aaron: Moving onto Chapter 10: The Cycle of Violence.  Palpatine gives Plagueis the tour of Theed and they are fast friends.

Mark E: Fast friends, but Plageis “knows he can own him”

Mark: I liked how Palpatine knew the speeder was a bribe from his father, but took it anyway.  Already showing a Sith-like way of thinking.  I’ll use you using me to my own advantage.

Aaron: We learn Palpatine has blood on his hands at an early age, being responsible for the deaths of 2 pedestrians.  He doesn’t seem to care that much about it.

Mark: He has his own moral code.  That seemed to be of great interest to Plagueis.

Mark E: He learned his lesson, wear down pops and you can drive the speeder again.  No accountability for the rich kid.

Mark: Palpatine also has his own opinions of the Jedi and the state of galactic affairs

Aaron: Palpatine is so political minded but tries to act like he isn’t interested in politics. Plagueis could see right through him.

Mark: Like he was a closet politician.

Mark E: Palpatine is certainly racist against the Gungans, “I don’t mind them as long as they keep to their submerged cities and waterways.”

Aaron: Fits with the mostly human Empire when he is in charge.

Mark: Yes I kept expecting to see Plagueis do something SO TERRIBLE that Palpatine would hate all aliens from then on out- but it would appear his prejudices were already in place.

Aaron: I kept forgetting how young he was here. He was only like 17, right?

Mark: I believe so.

Mark: You knew Palpatine didn’t have a chance in the 9 Hells when Plagueis thinks to himself, “Before long, I will own this human.” And then proceeds to manipulate the holy Sith out of him.

Mark E: He’d respect the Jedi more if they’d only impose their will on the entire galaxy.  Sounds like the future!

Aaron: The funny thing is, at this point, Plagueis still can’t tell if he has the Force.

Mark: I loved this- the way it was explained made so many other EU works make sense- like Zekk- how he wasn’t noticed at first, and other Jedi who were missed at a young age.  The fact that it was a defense mechanism in Force strong beings also makes sense why Anakin didn’t just JUMP OUT WITH A NEON SIGN.  It took his blood sample to floor Qui-gon, not his mere presence.  And the way Luceno explained it made so many things work!  I love it when a book does this!

Aaron: It seems the will of the midi-chlorians can be used to explain anything about the power or lack of power of a Force user at any given moment.  Like, Obi wan couldn’t run faster at the end of Ep 1 because the midi-chlorians didn’t let him.

Mark: Which is EPIC! Because the midi-chlorians follow the Will of the Force- so in a sense the mystery is still there while they made it quantifiable at the same time.

Mark: So in this chapter the miners who were marooned in chapter 2- we discover their fate, that of being murdered and left on their employers front door.  Also the book once more jumps ahead a few months.  That’s something I really enjoy about the Sith books- they cover lifetimes, not just events.

Aaron: And then we get Palpatine’s dad basically telling Plagueis “stay away from my son”.

Mark: Yeah that was exactly what Plagueis was waiting for- grooming the moment as it were to set father against son.

Aaron: This was a war of wills that Cosigna had no chance of winning.  Moving on to Chapter 11.

Mark: Avatar of Morality

Aaron: Plagueis meets with Palpatine and tells him a story about how he orchestrated the deaths of his siblings after his father’s death so he could inherit the fortune.

Mark: Plagueis sets the bait that will later ensnare Palpatine and leave him little choice but to join Plagueis.

Aaron: And we are led to believe the story may not be completely true.

Mark: This too plays into the moment that arrived last chapter- now he paints Palpatine the picture of betrayal, and gaining the uperhand over an oppressive family.

Aaron: So Palpatine’s father makes the big mistake of trying to assert his will on Palpatine right after his head has been filled with Plagueis’s ideas

Mark: Bad timing pops.

Mark E: big mistake…

Mark: Plus he gets the whole family onto the ship together.  I mean it IS the perfect opportunity

Aaron: This was almost a little too convenient. We also learn that Palpatine’s dad always had a bad feeling about him. Knew he was trouble.
“You’re an animal at heart”
“King of the Beasts, father”

Mark: Plus…
“if the Force birthed you then I curse it”
“As I do” says Palpatine.

Aaron: He says all the wrong things and Palpatine in all his teenage, untrained Force rage brutally kills his father.

Mark E: Mom, dad and siblings too!

Aaron: I have to say although I saw the death of his dad coming, I was surprised he killed everyone else on the ship.

Mark: Very much Anakin and the Tusken Raider village all over again.  And Palpatine reaches out to his new mentor- and Plagueis goes to efforts to cover up the murders. “Congratulations on becoming an emancipated being.”  Great set up- and you could say that in a sense Palpatine starts to really share the limelight.  One other thing I loved about this book is that it could just as easily be a prequel for a Darth Sidious book to come later.

Aaron: In a way this was a Darth Sidious book.

Mark: Very much so.  This is also when Plagueis himself discovers just how POWERFUL Palpatine is in the Force.  The murders have broken down the barriers protecting him.

Aaron: So now Plagueis knows he picked the right guy, reveals himself as a Sith and tells Palpatine he has a new name.  A lot for Palpatine to take in but he goes right along with it.

Mark: This was the money chapter. The moment when things shift into a higher gear.

Aaron: Once Palpatine was introduced the book really picked up for me.

Mark E: “From this day forward, the truth of you, now and forever more, will be Sidious.”

Aaron: Seeing exactly how he became Sidious was a thing of fanboy dreams.

Mark E: I thought the book really took off from here.  I finished the rest in like a day and a half.

Mark: I loved when Palpatine mentions that he could have joined the Jedi Order and Plagueis comes back “and of what possible use do you think a person of your nature would be to the Jedi Order? You’re heartless, ambitious, arrogant, insidious, and without shame or empathy. More you’re a murderer.” (cue Gollem talking to Smeagol)
You totally had the sense that Palpatine was about to make his deal with the devil. The classic Sith christening. I had the same feeling when Anakin dons the title in the Episode 3 novelization. I love how Plagueis tells him there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“In time you will come to understand that you are one with the dark side of the Force, and that your power is beyond contradiction. But just now, and until I tell you differently, abiding submission is your only road to salvation.”

Boy these were some great chapters.  This was when the book got hard to put down.

 

That is all for our discussion of chapters 8-11.  Check back for chapters 12-15 next time.

- Aaron Goins

 

The History of Clones in Star Wars

Last year’s airing, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, of the four episode arc known collectively as ‘The Umbara Story Arc’ (starting with season 4 episode 7 “Darkness on Umbara”, continuing with the episodes “The General” and “Plan of Dissent”, and culminating with “Carnage of Krell”) has brought to the forefront what I call the ‘plight’ of the clone soldiers. I use quotation marks on that word because it’s one that isn’t limited to in-universe, but out of universe too, and it’s also not technically a plight, but it’s something that fascinates me, nonetheless. In universe, they are beings who are bred for one purpose, who can expect nothing out of life, who will live a stunted life – thanks to quickened ageing – and aren’t thought of as ‘proper’ beings, with the same rights afforded to nearly everyone else (save from slaves) under the Old Republic government, during the time of the Clone Wars in the Star Wars galaxy.
Out of universe, they are, in my opinion, a underutilised factor in the making of novels (and other storytelling mediums) set in the Clone Wars era. So, I thought it would be a good idea to record the history of their appearances, and how they’re portrayed in brief.

The Original Trilogy Films.

Thanks to the rapid ageing, we can determine that original clones from the Clone War would have been somewhere around the 50-60 years age range (this depends on the person, since factors like stress or clean living can quicken or slow the ageing process, according to Karen Traviss’ novels), and so it would seem likely that they wouldn’t have been used at the time of the original trilogy (IV, V and VI). However, thanks to the novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor (set in 5.1 ABY – After Battle of Yavin), we know that at least one of the original (Jango) Fett clones survived past the films – clone GC-1000, named Klick by a ‘humour-challenged’ Jedi Padawan.

Beyond that, we can confirm that at least one more clone trooper survived to the films. We know this because the single player missions for the game Battlefront II featured journal records voiced by a ‘retired clone trooper’ of the 501st Legion – named after the real world cosplay charity group – and this Legion was composed entirely of Fett clones, only. From this game, we know that it was this division that stormed the Tantive IV in Episode IV, and fought alongside the Blizzard Force unit in the battle of Hoth in Episode V. Because of these two sources, I feel it’s quite safe to assume that we did see clones in those films.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the novels, if you can forgive my brief, seemingly nonsensical segue, is that the characterization is negligible. It’s something I lament, given that I enjoy clone-centric episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated cartoon more than most others, but it is understandable, given that they’re not the focus of the stories, but rather just background extras, if you will. This is the case in the films. They’re the bad guys in the films; and in their scenes the action takes center stage, and the story of our heroes, too, which is why I’m not expecting nor demanding a long, emotional soliloquy from one of the stormtroopers telling us what it’s like to be brought up in a vat, instead of two stormtroopers talking about the new model speeder on the Death Star, to be included when the Final, Definitive, Not-To-Be-Changed-Again, Special, Special, Special Edition, Directors Cut of the original trilogy in 3D pops up on store shelves.

The Books – Pre AOTC.

After that, there was very little mentioned in the novels or comics (which, for sake of expediency and clarity I’ll not include in this post) of the Clone Wars, or indeed the clones themselves. This is because the novels that we get are placed either slightly before, during, or after the films, with Lucas ordering that there be no stories to be written, or expanded upon in any great length, about or during the Clone Wars or the Dark Times (the period between Episode III and IV where the Empire solidified their influence and power).

Thanks to the marvellously written “Star Wars Dissection” column on EUCantina.net by one Andrew Halliday (all of which I highly recommend), we know that there were ‘numerous theories about the date and nature of the Clone Wars’. Again, because the writers were kept in the dark as much as we readers were. Still, back story is necessary, and they had to write something, and their theories included: that the Republic and the Jedi fought a war against the Mandalorians, who then fought against the Empire (there is no mention of clones). The Thrawn Trilogy established that the Clone Wars were a series of conflicts between the Republic and insane clones, who were led by Clone Masters. Of course, none of these were ‘true’, and were retconned into other things (source: Star Wars Dissection: Retcons).

Another source of contention was the date of the Clone Wars. There were a few theories that were put forward, and some of them were close, though others were, it later turned out, highly inaccurate. For example, some put forward that the Clone Wars took place long before the Empire came to power, or perhaps, that column suggests, that they took place only a few years before the films. The theory put forward in The Thrawn Trilogy is that the Clone Wars took place in 35 BBY.

Indeed, the Official Star Wars Souvenir Manual 1998 provides a timeline. The entry for 35 BSW4 (Before Star Wars Episode IV, or 35 BBY) writes: “End of the Clone Wars, a violent conflict in which the Jedi Knights fight to defend the Old Republic. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker emerge as heroes.” The entry for 29 BSW4 states: “Fall of the Republic. A dark period when corruption and injustice sweep through the Republic. Senator Palpatine rises to power.” It’s also noted as the date of birth for Han Solo. And in 18 BSW4 we’re told that: “Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader; the Empire is formed, with Palpatine as Emperor. The first stirrings of rebellion begin.” Again, it notes that the birth of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa are in this year. It would be several years until we heard more from the clones, and the Clone Wars. These were our Dark Times. But then the prequel trilogy came along, and some fans would argue that the real Dark Times began. But we won’t get into that

Attack Of The Clones.

Noted for its wooden acting, poor dialogue and Padme’s bodice, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones also featured, yep, clones! And, we must not forget, the beginning of the Clone Wars. What was merely a throwaway line uttered by habitual liar and hermit, Ben Kenobi – as he told a young Luke Skywalker about the legacy of how his father, Anakin Skywalker, left him – fans finally got to see what they had been imagining for well over twenty years. But there was very little to see, as the breakout started late in the film.

What we saw was still visually stunning and very interesting. This is especially so when you think about the tactics involved in the battle of Geonosis. The clone army was employed in a tactic known as the ‘human wave’. This tactic was used a great deal by many armies in our own wars, but most notably it reminded me of the Bulldozer tactic of the Russian army in World War I. This was where armies would send wave after wave of densely packed and unprotected soldiers against the defensive line of the enemy, using speed rather than skill, and hoping that their overwhelming numbers would scare the enemy into retreat. The Russians were notable in that they often only armed the soldiers in the first few waves, thinking that those behind could simply pick up weapons dropped by the previous attackers. What we saw in the film was reminiscent of this (though the clones in the back were armed, too, but that’s another thing which I’ll elaborate on in a minute). They attacked – or defended, it was rather too chaotic to tell – en masse, contradictory to real-world, modern infantry tactics. Though, to be fair, we haven’t really fought a full-scale battle in modern times to compare, or even know what it would look like.

However, we can know in theory. Modern tactics are based on breaking the battle up into manageable squads, arrayed in a line formation and advancing from cover to cover- this is done so that every single soldier can fire his or her weapon at the enemy, yet still be covered by the terrain and fellow squad members. In the film, this was not what we saw (but again to be fair there wasn’t much cover to be had, though they could have laid down – gone ‘prone’).

At the front the clones are arrayed in a skirmish line, with clones being clumped together behind. Such large groups would have provided - and did – very meaty targets for the droid artillery. This portrayal of soldiery was not accurate and is not to be attempted in the real world, except for when playing with LEGO. This was noted by several fans, and because of it military experts were brought in for the battle scenes in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. But it did have one accurate point. The infantry, the artillery and the air support were used altogether, and that is a tactic used in the real world. In later novels, this portrayal was expanded upon in later books to say that the clones were used in this way because the Jedi, who are peace-keepers, and have had no extensive training (unlike the clones, who were raised specifically for this task) in warfare, were in command, and thus were led poorly.

That the battle happened in this way is, again, understandable. But it is interesting to note, because I surmise that later uses and appearances of the clone army were based on this presentment (of a disposable army).

They have feelings too!

Return Of The Books.

With the release of Episode II, LucasArts, Lucasfilm, LucasBooks, Del Rey and other publishers were finally given the green light to provide Expanded Universe stories in this particular setting, something they did with gleeful abandon – this three-year era is perhaps the most filled era in the entirety of the EU. It is something that happened in waves, so before I begin to explore them it’s best if I give you some details of these waves, and their dates:

23rd April 2002 – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (novelisation) released.
16th May 2002 – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (film) aired in theatres.
28th November 2002 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (video game) released.
3rd June 2003 – Star Wars: Shatterpoint – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
7th November 2003 – Star Wars: Clone Wars (cartoon animated TV series) starts to air on television.
1st June 2004 – Star Wars: Cestus Deception – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
29th June 2004 – Star Wars: MedStar I: Battle Surgeons – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
28th September 2004 – Star Wars: MedStar II: Jedi Healer – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
26th October 2004 – Star Wars: Jedi Trial – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
26th October 2004 – Star Wars: Republic Commando: Hard Contact (novel) released.
23rd November 2004 – Star Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous – A Clone Wars Novel (novel) released.
25th January 2005 – Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil (novel) released.
1st March 2005 – Star Wars: Republic Commando (video game) released.
2nd April 2005 – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (novelisation) released.
19th May 2005 – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (film) aired in US theatres.
1st November 2005 – Star Wars: Battlefront II (video game) released.
22nd November 2005 – Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (novel) released.
28th February 2006 – Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero (novel) released.
30th October 2007 – Star Wars: Republic Commando: True Colors (novel) released.
15th August 2008 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film) released in theatres.
16th September 2008 – Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66 (novel) released.

3rd October 2008 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (animated television series) begins to air on television.

(All dates are listed at the earliest possible date they were available to the public, and are sourced by Wookieepedia. Any omissions or incorrect dates are … entirely someone else’s fault. I take no responsibility whatsoever!) But there are omissions, by my own choice. As I’ve said, I’m omitting comics from this discussion for sake of clarity. Otherwise that list would look a lot more clouded. Too, you will notice that a few of those books have ‘A Clone Wars Novel’ in their title. Indeed, all of them are clone wars novels, or tied to them (or this post in some form), but the stamp ‘A Clone Wars Novel’ is to recognise that they were a part of a multimedia project, consisting of games, books, toys and a TV series – and were, as I call it, part of the first wave.

Beyond that, there were also other stories – short stories, novellas and young reader novels – that were tied in, but again for sake of clarity (and at this point, my own sanity) I’ve omitted them. Also excluded are the later tie in novels to Star Wars: The Clone Wars – the CGI animated TV series which is still currently airing, and was mentioned at the beginning of this post, in the form of the Umbara arc. What I have included are the stories which I believe to be most pertinent to this topic. Let me discuss these waves.

Wave I: Unrelenting Force.

In this wave, I include the AotC film and novelisation, the A Clone Wars Novel(s), The Clone Wars (video game) and Star Wars: Clone Wars (animated TV series by Genndy Tartakovsky). The film I’ve covered (and the novelisation is pretty much the same), so I’ll talk about the A Clone Wars Novel(s). The beginning of this series, Shatterpoint, while a decent enough book (you can read my thoughts on the book in an earlier review on this site), didn’t really involve clones until the very end, and their presence isn’t particularly noteworthy. The same can be said for Jedi Trial and Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.

The books that really stand out in terms of giving the clones page time and characterisation are the MedStar duology and The Cestus Deception. The Cestus Deception features a clone that goes by several names: CT-96/298, A-98, Nate and later Jangotat. Nate distinguished himself at the battle of Geonosis, saving a squad from a defective enemy droid. He earned a promotion from that act, but in a later mission he suffered a terrible injury and had to spend some time in a medical facility*, receiving extensive treatment. After that, he was then posted to Vandor 3 to receive further training. After which he was placed in command of a squad of republic commandos (their first appearance), during the events of Cestus Deception on Ord Mantell where he was ordered to destroy a droid factory, as well as foment and then aid a rebellion. It was during these events that he met a woman by the name of Sheeka Tull, who became frustrated by his lack of humanity, indeed even a lack of joie de vivre beyond carrying out his orders, and she endeavoured to show him a life beyond duty to the Republic. It was due to these attempts that he gained a new sense of morality and perspective in his otherwise preordained life as a clone soldier. I tend to think of this as Star Wars: My Fair (Clone) Lady.

*In the later Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss, it’s interesting to note that one main character was almost euthanised by army medics because his injuries were too severe, and it was heavily implied that this practice was common throughout the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). This idea is at odds with earlier stories, like this one, and the MedStar duology.

The other example from this series is the MedStar duology. These two books focus on a group of army medics and surgeons posted on an unremarkable world, where they carried out their work treating and fixing wounded military personnel. One surgeon in particular, Jos Vondar, held the opinion that the clones he treated as somewhat less than human, and were basically ‘meat-droids’, and when he tells one clone that one of his comrades is dead, he is surprised to learn from Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee, whom was also stationed there for a short time, that this clone was grieving for his lost kin. Indeed, he was surprised that he could grieve at all. Unfortunately, no clones are featured as a main protagonist in this book, and this revelation is only a part of this character’s arc, and so it’s not delved into too much.

But this is one of the aspects that I mean to bring to attention, here. This idea that the clones are just empty vessels without thoughts or opinions, even feelings, outside of their designated area of expertise seems like such a waste of possibilities. In and of itself, the fact that they’re empty can be considered a part of their character, but from a storytelling point of view, even possibly a scientific point of view, it doesn’t add up. We, as humans, are designed to be inquisitive, and to be free thinkers, and it’s those traits which help real world soldiers become good soldiers. So it seems unlikely that the cloners, the Kaminoans, would breed something so vital out of them. And, indeed, they didn’t. In Attack of the Clones, Prime Minister Lama Su tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that clones can think creatively, and as such are superior to droids. Though he does go on to say that they modified the clones to be less independent (than the original host – Jango Fett). I argue that independent thought and creative thought are interconnected, and so they’d still be independent enough to think for themselves. I can’t help but think the portrayal of clones in the earlier books as flawed. And the thought of a docile soldier seems a tad oxymoronic, too. This thought is expanded upon in later books. This leads me to believe that while they are bred to be a certain way, they are further indoctrinated into being more obedient and docile.

The other sources in this section, the game and the animated series, don’t add much to this discussion. The game focuses on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and not the clones. Again, this is understandable. And is something the A Clone Wars Novels did, too: focus on the heroes in the piece. This is quite normal, and I can’t fault it. This is Star Wars, after all. The Genndy Tartakovsky series didn’t have much time per episode to devote towards characterisation of anyone. Though it is interesting to note that the artists (according to the audio commentary of Series 1 Chapter 3) studied footage of how real world special forces acted in real combat situations, so that the special forces clones in the episode would act realistically. That, and it established that they didn’t much like rats, and had a shoot on sight policy regarding them …

Wave II: Relenting Force.

In wave II, I include the following: Labyrinth of Evil, Revenge of the Sith (film and novelisation, though I include them as one), Battlefront II and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Labyrinth of Evil, Revenge of the Sith (novelisation) and Dark Lord are often grouped together and called the Dark Lord Trilogy. Again, they don’t focus on the clones, so much, but we are given a touch more of their collective characterisation. But it should be said that they continue the line of thought started in the books of wave I. It’s noted, in brief snippets across the trilogy (and in several factual books), that the clones developed individuality under the guidance of their Jedi officers. Roughly a year after the war began, many clones began to adopt nicknames for themselves, or the Jedi named them – much like Nate – and customised their armor with designs, or shaved their hair in a way other than the standard military haircut. This is at odds with later portrayals, but I’ll speak on that in a minute. Hopefully you’re still awake. In Battlefront II, we are given glimpses, through pre- and post-mission soliloquies by an unnamed clone trooper (or perhaps several), and are given insights into their way of thinking. But, otherwise, not much can be said that hasn’t been said already.

Wave III: Mando’ade Force Rising.

Wave III consists of what I consider to be two of the key aspects of clone characterisation. And one that I included just to satisfy the completionist in me. That one being the The Clone Wars film and novelisation (and the ensuing books series). And the two big daddies being the Republic Commando game and book series, and the The Clone Wars animated TV series. The RC series is one in which I must tread carefully, as it has proved quite a volatile subject in the past, and most likely will do so in the future. This is, in part, due to the actions of the author, on the now closed starwars.com forums, who was known to have frequented them. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say that her supposed (a word which is vital in this instance) anti-Jedi stance, put forward in the books, and defended on the forums (going so far as to call those who disagreed ‘racists’, for example) was quite notorious, back in the day.

To me, the fact that the clones were underutilised in past stories is no one’s fault – though considering it’s the Clone Wars, you’d think more would be said about the clones – and that they were portrayed in such a way is lamentable (one could say it’s a Traviss-ty). The author of the RC books, however, goes some way to provide balance, but was a tad overzealous in her attempt. It was only until The Clone Wars animated TV series that, I feel, we got true balance.

The Republic Commando game is single player, it’s story based missions detailed the battles fought by Delta Squad, a four man group of republic commandos, over the three years of the war, starting with the battle of Geonosis (first battle of Geonosis, I should say) and culminating with events leading up to the battle of Kashyyyk, seen in Episode III. The character the gamer plays as, Boss, was voiced by Temuera Morrison – the man who played Jango Fett and lent his voice and appearance to the clones in the movies. However, it is interesting to note that other people voiced the other squad members. RC-1262 – Scorch, named because he accidentally burned off his training sergeant’s eyebrows – was voiced by Raphael Sbarge. Scorch had a jovial personality, and was considered by some to be the heart and soul of the squad. RC-1207 -  Sev – was voiced by Jonathon Cook. He often pushed himself into exhaustion during training, and was regarded as a fierce – some would say intense – hunter. RC-1140 – Fixer, for his technological skills – was voiced by Andrew Chaikin. He was described as pure and uncomplicated by his Kaminoan project co-ordinator, Taun We. This somewhat broke the mold, when it was released.

In Clone Wars, the clones were voiced by the same man. Yet it’s revealed in an interview with several people who worked on the game (in an unlockable bonus feature on the game disc) that this was done purposefully so that people could differentiate the clones, and give them more character. To enhance this, the decision was made to give them all different colored markings on their armor. (Something touched on in earlier books, as stated above, but the difference is the decision was made by the clones themselves to alter their armor.) This, really, was the first time the clones had been explored at length, and they wanted to give them as much character as possible. It had quite an avalanche effect.

It spawned the tie in novels of the RC series (technically the first book, Hard Contact, was released first, but it’s normal that tie in books are released before the main ‘event’), which further explored the clones, this time in the form of Omega Squad, another group of four commandos and their fight through the war. It delved further into the concept of clones being used as slaves, in a supposed slave army, and the books themselves had a distinct anti-Jedi stance (though the last book in the series, Imperial Commando: 501st, goes some way to reiterate what was stated in past books in a more balanced and lenient way – and explains that the characters were inclined to think more harshly about the Jedi than they perhaps should have. I call the book Imperial Commando: The Apology.), and explores how the clones are thought of by the general public, and how they’re viewed by the Jedi and non-clone, military personnel. In short, not very well. However, it has been established, both earlier and after these books, and in factual books, that the Jedi weren’t as happy with the situation, either.

Then came Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Once again, this is something that divides the fan community. Some think it’s the worst thing ever for Star Wars, and it’s ruined the franchise completely. Some love it and forgive it all its flaws, and to some it’s the be all and end all of Star Wars. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. I look at it on an episode by episode basis. It was okay for the first season or two, but not particularly great. In the past couple of seasons, I feel, it’s really stepped up a notch. Yes, there have been some stinkers in the recent past (and indeed the far past), but I do feel that they are getting better. But, to be perfectly honest, I still sometimes shrug my shoulders and give a great big ‘meh’.

But one area the makers excel, one of the best things about the shows, is, as you may have guessed, the clones. They feature heavily in the show, and are really the heart and soul of it. They’re not ignored. They’ve got personalities, they’re funny, charming, lovably uncomfortable in certain situations, and some are downright psychotic. They provide most of the entertainment of the show, and are not just meat-droids, but are actual human beings, and it is fantastic! In The Clone Wars, they’re finally given their due.

This is what drives me to write this piece, and to say that, like the show or not, you can’t deny that the show does provide a balance between the Jedi and the clones. We have episodes like the aforementioned Umbara arc, as well as “Rookies”, and ”The Deserter”, “Clone Cadets”, and ”ARC Troopers”. We get clones who betray their own kin and join the Separatists because they believe the war and how they’re treated is unjust. We get a clone who deserts to start a family. We get clones who are forced to go against a wayward Jedi (and we see how clones could easily shoot the Jedi in Order 66). We get, amusingly enough, all the good bits of the RC series, yet in moderation. I think this is to be celebrated, and that’s the reason I write this.

~ Michael D.