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Jedi Visions: Insights or Opportunities?

Jedi Visions:
Mere Insights into the Future or Opportunities to Change Course?

In the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, “Vision of Hope”, Ezra Bridger has visions of fighting alongside Gall Trayvis, the self-styled “Senator in Exile” who has been the source of information (or misinformation) for the Ghost’s small band of rebels.  Despite Kanan’s warning to refrain from taking the visions too literally, Ezra chooses to act upon his insights, hoping to meet and work with this man he idolizes as a celebrity among rebel insurgents.

The events that transpire during this episode of Rebels has caused speculation among fans about whether acting on visions is encouraged among the Jedi.  (Check out RebelForce Radio’s Star Wars Rebels: Declassified episode from 4 February 2015 for their discussion about Jedi visions.)  Citing Yoda’s advice to both Skywalkers in the movies, it has been asserted that using Jedi visions as a guide for action is frowned upon by the Jedi Order.

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From the perspective of the movies’ initial release order, our introduction to acting upon Jedi visions is during Luke’s training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.  While balancing in a handstand and levitating cargo crates and R2-D2 through the Force, Luke experiences a vision of Han and Leia suffering at Cloud City.  When Luke prepares to rush to their rescue, Yoda issues a warning: “Decide, you must, how to serve them best.  If you leave now, help them, you could, but you will destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.”

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Yoda, aware of the machinations and deceptions of the Dark Side, tries to persuade Luke to choose his path based on wisdom and discretion instead of emotion and attachment.  He beseeches him to continue his training instead of hurrying away to confront unknown threats unprepared.  Obi-Wan weighs in on the discussion, warning Luke that temptation awaits him if he leaves before he is fully trained.  Adamantly, the two Jedi Masters, Luke’s mentors, sternly attempt to steer him from acting rashly as he is spurred on by his visions of his friends’ pain.  Some see this as a possible judgment against acting upon Jedi visions of the future.

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In other instances, more blatantly foreboding in its decrying reliance on Jedi visions to govern one’s actions, are Anakin’s visions of his mother’s pain on Tatooine and later of Padme’s death in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, respectively.  Anakin’s nightmarish visions of his mother in peril causes him to leave his assigned post on Naboo in order to find and rescue Shmi from her Tusken captors.  When he discovers her, nearly dead at the abusive hands of the sand people, he erupts in a wrathful rage against the Tusken encampment, slaying men, women, and children indiscriminately.  Certainly, his willingness to allow himself to thoughtlessly follow his visions led to a growing darkness in his person — something that would manifest itself in the eventual rise of Darth Vader when he later acts on his visions of losing his wife during childbirth to the point that he betrays the Jedi Order and slaughters younglings in the temple in a vain attempt to save Padme’s life.

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For those who remember these bleak examples of the dangers of allowing Jedi visions to dictate a course of action, it seems reasonable to assume that the Jedi are not only cautious when it comes to such premonitions, but even to rationalize that acting on those visions is forbidden in the Jedi Order.

That is, until we consider what was revealed in the third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars…

TCW Assassin Fortune Cookie.001In Season 3 of The Clone Wars, Episode 7 “Assassin”, Ahsoka has visions of Aurra Sing threatening to assassinate someone.  When she tells Yoda of her dreams, he informs her that she is having premonitions which can only be seen more clearly through meditation.  In saying this, he encourages her to focus on the visions — to seek to understand what they are telling her.  When she does so, she realizes that Senator Amidala is the one who is in danger of being assassinated.  She brings news of her visions to the Senator, who insists on going ahead with her plans to go to Alderaan in spite of Ahsoka’s warning.

Ahsoka's Vision Aurra Sing

Determined to get a better understanding of what she has seen, Anakin’s padawan returns to her chambers in the Jedi Temple to continue her meditation, resulting in further confirmation that Senator Amidala’s life is in danger.  When she tells Yoda of her concerns, Yoda responds with the familiar words, “always in motion is the future”.  Similar to his direction to Luke many years later, he provides Ahsoka with a choice of whether to act upon what she has seen: “Choose you must, how to respond to your visions.”

Ahsoka Consults Yoda

As she accompanies Padme on her mission to Alderaan as additional security, she is plagued with uncertainty about her visions and how she should act upon them.  Her dilemma is punctuated by a rash response to her vision that turned out to be either misunderstood or a possible variation of the future of which Yoda spoke.  Yet, when she is convinced to act upon a vision a second time, she interrupts an assassination attempt by deflecting Aurra Sing’s shot sufficiently to save Amidala’s life.

Later, when Ahsoka realizes that the would-be assassin was about to make another attempt on the senator’s life, she prevents the second attack and enables the capture of Aurra Sing.

When Ahsoka and Senator Amidala return safely to Coruscant, Yoda congratulates Anakin’s padawan for her choice to act upon her visions in defense of the senator’s life,  “Served you well, your visions have, young padawan.”  He then encourages her to peer more deeply into the matter through her increased insight to discover more about the plot to assassinate the senator from Naboo.  The additional details she provides brings about the confession of Ziro the Hutt who was already imprisoned on Coruscant.

Although Ezra’s visions in Star Wars Rebels “Vision of Hope” turned out to be misleading, it is not a blanket condemnation against using Jedi visions to determine an appropriate course of action — rather it is an admonition to beware of allowing emotions to cloud one’s insight and discipline oneself to spend time and thought in meditation in order to better interpret one’s visions.  As Kanan teaches Ezra in the epilogue, “Visions are difficult, almost impossible to interpret,” Jedi visions do not forbid action, but are to be considered in view of the complexity of an ever-changing future.

Crystal Crisis: A Legacy Refracted

Greetings Bothans! What follows is a post about the recent Star Wars: The Clone Wars Crystal Crisis arc by friend of the Star Wars Report, Joseph Tavano! Be sure to check out Joseph’s new website RetroZap, a pop culture and narrative art site which currently has some of his thoughts on Star Wars Rebels. Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Joseph! ~ Bethany Blanton

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In 1985, there existed a fully formed concept for The Clone Wars. It was conceived entirely in my five-year-old mind. I envisioned the Jedi overrun by scores of doppelgangers sent forth by their Dark Side enemies, invading the universe and attacking the true Jedi from within. I imagined the Clone Wars to be a hall-of-mirrors nightmare across the galaxy where nothing could be trusted and danger was omnipresent.

When The Clone Wars was finally realized on screen, I was way off the mark. And yet, that’s an aspect of Star Wars I love more and more as the Galaxy Far, Far Away grows and matures. One of the best things that Lucasfilm has managed to do is to keep Star Wars moving in new directions virtually no one would have predicted. With every new installment, audiences get to cast off preconceived notions and fastidious theories for an inspired, radically unique story that is not afraid to go down roads less traveled.

Dave Filoni and the writing team of The Clone Wars kept this trailblazing spirit alive for over six seasons, chronicling the events of a three-year war that transpired in a way no one would have ever predicted. Ten years ago, we were left to assume that the wars were going to be a nonstop conflict similar to the battle on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. Clone troopers versus battle droids. Blaster fire everywhere. Lightsabers leading the way through the fog of war. And, in their tour of duty, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi would become brothers-in-arms, inseparable throughout their legendary adventures across the galaxy.

3736092-anakin+and+obi-wan Continue reading

Why Star Wars Rebels Will Be Better than The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was an Emmy Award winning series which premiered in theaters on August 15, 2008 and subsequently on television on October 8, 2008. The series’ television run ended on March 2, 2013 with the conclusion to Season Five, before seeing a brief, 13 episode revival on Netflix on March 7, 2014.

The early story of The Clone Wars is one of highs and lows. Debuting in third place in its opening weekend, The Clone Wars brought in $14.6 million on its way to a domestic total of $35.2 million in its theatrical run. I remember walking out of the theater with my then roommate, and despite some high points we were rather disappointed in this new Star Wars movie. On the small screen The Clone Wars fared better premiering with 3.96 million viewers, a record for a series premiere on Cartoon Network at the time.

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At the beginning, with the very stylized animation design used in the series, the rather obnoxious banter between Anakin and Ahsoka, and the relative lack of music of John Williams, The Clone Wars’ early days were filled with hits and misses. As the show evolved over the seasons it continued to improve each year, with animation, sound, story and acting all deepening as the show grew.

The interesting thing about The Clone Wars is that it was really a massive R & D project for Lucasfilm as well as a labor of love for George Lucas.  Through The Clone Wars, Lucasfilm was able to develop a new branch of the company: Lucasfilm Animation. So without The Clone Wars a show like what we are to get in Star Wars Rebels wouldn’t be possible.

Having seen the premiere of Star Wars Rebels, I am confident in saying that we will get a show that is better than The Clone Wars in Star Wars Rebels.  Here are nine reasons why.

1. The Empire is back

Love or hate the Prequel films, the truth is that the Empire has a much more compelling set of villains than the Separatists. The return of various types of Stormtroopers, TIE fighters, AT walkers, speeder bikes, Star Destroyers, and arrogant and capricious Imperial officers has me incredibly excited, more so than seeing legions of clankers.

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This hearkening back to the Original Trilogy should also appeal to older fans like myself and help younger fans transition from The Clone Wars to the Original Trilogy, and then to Episode VII in 2015.

2. Chronological Order: “216, 116, T, 301, 303, 101…”

The Clone Wars was a show that was released in one order, but that order is not the same as the in-universe chronological order of the events in the show. For example, chronologically the series begins with Season 2 Episode 16, then Season 1 Episode 16, the film, Season 3 Episode 1, Season 3 Episode 3, and then Season 1 Episode 1.

Star Wars Rebels is beginning with the 1-hour premiere “Spark of Rebellion” and then continuing in order after that. This will make it much easier to follow the show, the character developments, and events in the world of Star Wars Rebels.

3. Everyman versus the Ruling Class

Much of the Prequels and The Clone Wars contained stories about the ruling elites of the galaxy far, far away. Sure, there were some episodes on remote planets and in the under levels on Coruscant, but for the most part we were dealing with the power players in the universe.

In Rebels we are focusing on a small group of outcasts in Hera, Kanan, Chopper, Zeb, Sabine, and Ezra. These are street level characters not dealing with the fate of the entire galaxy, but with the fates of their friends and neighbors. I can’t wait to see where they take the story of the population of Lothal as individuals oppose and support the Empire.

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4. Opening Misfire

As I mentioned in the opening, The Clone Wars theatrical premiere was hardly the strongest set of episodes in the series, and was a rather unimpressive debut overall. On the other hand, the premiere of Star Wars Rebels while not perfect is an immeasurably better beginning to a show. If this is the quality of the show at the beginning, I cannot wait to see where it goes as the creators develop these characters further.

5. Animation

The Clone Wars matured into a very beautiful animation style, but it took a long while to get there. It is visually difficult to watch some of those early episodes after being spoiled with the later seasons. Star Wars Rebels has some interesting influences from Ralph McQuarrie and Disney’s Tangled. While there are budgetary realities that will mean there are likely fewer resources available to the team creating Rebels than was available for The Clone Wars, the experience working on the previous show and the advances in technology give the current creative team some real advantages. The animation style for Rebels is more accessible and palatable for casual viewers.

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6. John Williams

On the musical front, Kevin Kiner who was responsible for the music in The Clone Wars returns, but his use and innovation based off of John Williams’ Star Wars scores is much more present in Rebels than it was in The Clone Wars. This tonal shift is important because it adds to the sense that Rebels feels more like Star Wars than The Clone Wars.

7. An Experienced Crew With Some Great Additions

A good portion of the crew that is working on Star Wars Rebels are, as Dave Filoni says, “veterans of The Clone Wars.” The experience of telling Star Wars stories from The Clone Wars seems to have given Filoni and his crew a greater mastery of not only the mythology of Star Wars, but also a better sense of what feels like Star Wars. Of course, the additions of Greg Weisman and Simon Kinberg as well as the work of folks from the Lucasfilm Story Group provides great quality storytelling experience.

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8. Fewer Limits

The Clone Wars was set in a narrower period of time than Star Wars Rebels. Taking place between Episodes II and III, The Clone Wars dealt with some major and minor film characters from the Prequel Trilogy, a number of whom had fates that were fixed by those movies. While characters like Captain Rex, Ahsoka, Asajj, Cad Bane, and the resurrected Darth Maul evolved into major characters in the show with unanswered fates , we know the fate of many more of the characters seeing frequent screen time. There are also limitations on how characters can interact, for example Anakin and General Grievous based on dialogue from Episode III.

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As Rebels begins we are dealing with an almost entirely new cast of characters. There are some first season cameos that were revealed in a trailer for the show, but the characters we are following around are all new, and we do not have any sense of what their fates will be before the events of Episode IV. I am very excited by what creative freedom this is providing for the writers of Star Wars Rebels .

9. A Core Group of Characters

One of the beauties of The Clone Wars was that we got to see a lot of different characters take the spotlight. If a certain character was not your favorite in a few episodes you wouldn’t be seeing them again. This allowed us to meet and get to know a number of really interesting characters, and I particularly enjoyed spending time with the Clones, Asajj, and Ahsoka. Of course this does make it harder for casual fans to jump on board to the show midstream, or to follow a particular characters story.

In Rebels we will be on the Ghost with Hera, Kanan, Chopper, Zeb, Sabine and Ezra and these will be the characters that we get to know and follow around. This will allow us to get to know these characters more deeply and quickly than we were able to do with many on The Clone Wars.

What are you looking forward to in Star Wars Rebels?

~ Peter Morrison writes at his blog Lightsaber Rattling, as well as here on the Star Wars Report. He also co-hosts a podcast about Star Wars Rebels called Rebels Report.

Action, Politics, and a Really Cool General: “The Soft War” Review

The Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 4 Review

Hello and welcome back to yet another The Clone Wars review here on the Star Wars Report! In The Soft War, our rebels of Onderon attempt to save the former king from execution to gain the support of the people in the most substantial episode of the arc, and possibly even the season!

Like last week, the rebels have been trying to get the people to back their efforts against the Separatists. Now the rebels are going more public with their efforts. First by broadcasting their intentions, followed by an attempt to save the king from execution. The theme of the episode, I found, was about finding a new approach. Previous attacks by the rebels have made the citizens unsure about their movement, but saving their king from execution really resonated with the people, including some government officials, and got the rebels the support they needed.

What made this episode so great was a new character, General Tandin. Even when he fully supported the Separatist regime, he had more logical answers and effective solution ideas than any other character. If he really was a villain, he would’ve been a true challenge for the rebels. It was the droid that seemed to stomp on all of his ideas, which brought in another conflict into this arc that was my favorite concept so far. It basically explored what would happen if you threw a droid general and a human general in a room together. What is a machine’s logic is directly compared to a human’s when put into the same situation? In the series so far, none of the Separatists really seem to question any orders when they are given. There aren’t too many Separatist tacticians out there; that’s probably why they trained droids to do all the strategy for them. So it’s interesting to see the one Separatist who knows his stuff  well enough to challenge a droid general.

Sort of stemming from the ending of last week’s conclusion where Saw is upset that Steela was named leader of the group, the team members aren’t as happy with each other as before. This sets up Saw’s plan to go alone and try to save the king before the execution. He fails, but I thought it wasn’t completely unnecessary to show this outside of showing more of Saw’s instinct. It gave the king a chance to learn more about the rebels before the execution, whereas before he seemed confused about who the rebels were, what their intentions are, and why Rash believed he was in league with them. Saw also gets to learn why the king was overthrown, which is a pivotal part in convincing Tandin to join the Rebels, and without him, the whole movement would have failed. So now I can see what Saw’s importance is as a character.

The climax we saw was a big game changer, starting with Tandin’s rescue and betrayal of Rash. The rebels will now have an entire military to fight the Separatists in the next episode. They also managed to rescue the king and gain the support of the people. I found it odd that they didn’t try to reclaim the city’s capitol right then in what seemed like a coup. They ran away, leaving King Rash in control of the palace with the droids. What was so pivotal though is that Ahsoka didn’t need to get involved. Obviously, the rebels passed the test of the Jedi of whether the tactics they used on Onderon would work on their own without Jedi interference. It’s a huge stepping stone that will have to be proved on a much larger scale by next episode, where the Separatists will try to take total military control of the planet.

That’s going to wrap up my review for this week! I loved this episode; it had it all. Good action, good plot development, and it still leaves you at a cliffhanger. Please let us know what you thought of the episode by leaving a comment below! Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you…always.

-Ryan Zasso

Ryan Zasso first entered the Star Wars fan community in early 2010 with the podcast Fanboy’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interested in doing Star Wars related writing, he began writing for the Star Wars Report in 2011.

https://twitter.com/TheOneZasso

 

Insurrection Inside Iziz: “Front Runners” Review

The Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 3 Review

Hello and welcome back to another The Clone Wars review here on the Star Wars Report! This review is will be reaching you after the next episode has already aired, so this will be a good opportunity to look specifically at what will be important for The Soft War that aired just a few days ago. So, let’s dive into the episode and find out what worked, what didn’t, and what has changed over the course of the arc so far! This review is about the episode Front Runners, where the rebels test their tactics inside occupied Onderon, trying to gain enough momentum to free it from Separatist rule.

A War on Two Fronts ended with the rebels infiltrating the capitol city of Iziz, planning on taking the fight to the droids. This episode begins with the rebels doing just that, and continues throughout most of the episode. During all this, they keep bringing up the need to gain the people’s support, which seems to become the main issue for the next few episodes. If you remember last week I talked about introducing the fine line between revolutionaries and terrorists, and now by watching the episode, I thought it was very cool how they handled it. They’ve infused the two to be one and the same. The fine line between what these rebels are, terrorists or revolutionaries, depends entirely on how they are viewed by the people of Onderon. It creates not only a conflict between the rebels and the Separatist government, but also a political struggle between the new king, and the old one. Who can better gain the will of the people when the two forces are colliding in the streets of Iziz?

Since we were introduced to those political struggles in the episode, we were also introduced to the former King Denup, as well as the new king. Hearing just the perspectives of Denup as opposed to the king’s almost typical totalitarian king type personality made it a little more interesting than the usual discussions with Separatist leaders. Denup was able to sum up the ideals of the episode nicely, making most of his views about the “will of the people” on deciding who wins, rather than personally objecting to the new king’s rule out of rage, or even accepting total defeat.

Most of the ongoing character arcs such as the situation between Lux and Ahsoka were not in the forefront of the episode, but there’s really one thing I would like to point out. I liked seeing that Anakin was relating with Ahsoka, and showed that he understood what she was feeling by offering his wisdom. Ahsoka has grown so much as a Jedi that it’s rare that we see the Jedi teacher in Anakin much anymore when on a mission with his padawan. It also shows that there’s still room for Ahsoka to develop and learn. I sure hope there are more moments like these in the season, it worked very well.

Lastly, I have been loving the designs for the people of Iziz. They have a very Roman feel to them, especially with Rash. Nothing says supreme ruler like designing a character that looks like Caesar. Random thought: the rebels really stood out compared with all the citizens, which was quite odd. You would think they’d be spotted immediately as rebels since they’re the only ones wearing armor on a planet where the civilians all wear a similar type of non-armored clothing. Even if the droids can’t distinguish them, the citizens should probably be able to.

And that’s going to wrap up this review! All in all, I liked the episode; it built on some cool things that we’ve never really delved into before here and there, but overall I felt like not enough major events happened that really impacted the story arc. I know this is a week late, so looking at the other episodes we’ve seen so far in this arc, what do you guys think of Front Runners in comparison? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you…always.

-Ryan Zasso

Ryan Zasso first entered the Star Wars fan community in early 2010 with the podcast Fanboy’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interested in doing Star Wars related writing, he began writing for the Star Wars Report in 2011.

https://twitter.com/TheOneZasso