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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

Do or Do Not – SWR #44

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Welcome back to the Star Wars Report!

On this episode, your hosts Riley and Bethany discuss (as usual) many things Star Wars! Including the upcoming release of a new, improved and updated Essential Guide to Characters!

We talk about how Battlefront 3 and 4 got canceled. Wait, there was a Battlefront 4 on the drawing board!? Sigh.

We talked about what books we’d like to see set in the original trilogy, and why the hosts and a guest find some viewpoints about female fans to be annoying.

We talked about an awful Jar Jar popsicle you can find over at Club Jade

We took a couple of live call ins, and this was our first live, video show with new equipment!

We talked about Obi-Wan Kenobi being charged with a hit and run….

We want to thank our sponsor Toy Hutt for sponsoring this episode of the Star Wars Report!

And we talked about a new Darth Maul image, and our excitement to see Star Wars: The Clone Wars return!

We ended with our thoughts on Yoda’s advice, “Do or do not, there is no try.” and read a short column based on that advice.

“Impossible is only a word found in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

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The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 22 Review

Hello and welcome to our final review for season four of The Clone Wars! Season four has certainly been a wild ride, but did the last episode live up to its predecessors? In the season finale Maul has returned, angrier than ever, and looking for revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi! Below are my thoughts on the finale and a look back on the season.

In the beginning of the episode, Savage has taken Maul back to Dathomir in order to be healed by Mother Talzin. After getting some awesome new legs, not unlike the legs we’ve seen in the Visionaries comic, Maul plans to exact his vengeance on the Jedi. I found it interesting how, even after Talzin healed Maul, he still struggles with the Force. For a character that we know will be reoccurring at least in the next season, I think it’s fantastic that a villain in the show will have his own problems with the Force, and will have to not only fight the Jedi, but rebuild to his former level of strength at the same time. I’m curious to see how Maul evolves throughout next season, and if his path crosses with Sidious, and what that outcome would look like. Will he join the Separatists? Will he form a rivalry with his replacement, Dooku? His mind is on one track, revenge, but judging by his patience at the end of the episode, he’ll take any route necessary if it means getting Kenobi.

Star Wars: Visionaries Maul vs The Clone Wars Maul

Another big topic of the episode was Ventress. Now, having been betrayed by the Separatists, the Sith, and being the only Nightsister left (besides Mother Talzin), Ventress’s new career as a bounty hunter has driven her into an alliance with Kenobi. This sets up a battle between Asajj and her former servant Opress, and Obi-Wan and his master’s killer. To put it simply, it was incredible! We’ve seen a lot of lightsaber duels in The Clone Wars, even some that might’ve been similar to this one. But the fact that it were four people, one of whom could be considered a giant, in a tiny cargo hold of a ship that’s filled with supplies made it even more intense. Plus the banter between Kenobi and Ventress, which I have severely missed over the past few seasons, really added to the episode. As someone who watched season one, I greatly appreciated the nod to their established character relationship, making their alliance a highlight of the episode.

Something I would like to discuss was when Maul could feel Obi-Wan’s rage. And it could’ve been something small that Maul just said to distract Obi-Wan, but what if this was something that could affect Obi-Wan later on? It would certainly be something to shake things up since Obi-Wan throughout all the films really never struggles with any issues similar to Anakin’s. So if Maul struggles with re-mastering his Force abilities and Obi-Wan starts to struggle with his rage against Maul, pitting the two disadvantaged characters against each other is a cool concept.

Revenge was a very good episode. And I think that this is the first finale where we get left on a cliffhanger ending. I loved how Maul was portrayed, and the alliance between Ventress and Kenobi that will continue into the next season. I really think that this episode was the strongest finale we’ve seen yet for The Clone Wars.

I would also like to say that season four of the series was the best it could possibly be, and easily the best season of The Clone Wars yet. It had a bit of a rocky start, nothing too bad, but nothing fantastic. We’ve seen episodes like the Mon Calamari ones before, and the Jar Jar episodes weren’t too bad either, but very predictable. I think when I reached the Krell arc I was amazed with season 4. The writing suddenly skyrocketed, the action intensified, and the stories became suspenseful and totally unpredictable. Since then, we’ve gotten stories about mandalorians, bounty hunters, Nightsisters, and slavers. This was not a boring season by any means, and there was a huge variety of stories packed into twenty two episodes, which are all beautifully animated. I was so impressed with how this season turned out compared to the last one that I can’t wait for season five, and to see what they can improve even more! Great work Clone Wars team!

And that wraps up my final review for the season! I would like to thank you all for reading these over the past months; I can’t wait to come back and start reviewing season five! Anyways, if you have any comments regarding this last episode, or the whole season, feel free to leave a comment below! See you in September and may the Force be with you… always!

-Ryan

 

Geeking Out and Fangirling About The Clone Wars Season 4 – SWR #39

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Welcome back to the Star Wars Report!

This week your hosts Riley, Mark and Bethany are joined by special guests Steve Glossen, of Geek Out Loud fame, and Teresa Delgado, of Fan Girl Next Door fame.  Thanks for coming on you two! We had so much fun.

During this round-table episode we discussed our various thoughts on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4, including, but not limited to, our favorite episodes, our favorite arcs (And are we in favor of long arcs?) the return of Darth Maul, the death of Captain Tarpals and more.

We also speculated on the content and the stories to come in the officially announced return of The Clone Wars to television for Season 5. (Hint: There should be at least one session of Cooking with Yoda.)

Though more seriously, is it possible that Darth Maul will team up with the criminal underworld in Season 5?

This time we decided to record our aftershow, which this time happened to be about The Hunger Games movie! The aftershow is recorded and played after the credits, so it’s quite easy to skip out on, if you only wish to hear Star Wars discussion. Let us know what you guys think of the idea of an aftershow, and keep in mind we would talk about many things, not just the Hunger Games.

Enjoy the show, and remember, many Bothans died to bring you this episode!

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Darth Maul: Underworld Crime Lord?

 

The return of Darth Maul to the land of the living has opened  up a tremendous number of storytelling possibilities for The Clone Wars series.  In Maul, George Lucas and Dave Filoni have reintroduced a character that brings with him the cache of being not only a film character, but also a character unlike most in the films in that he has an unknown fate.  The possibilities for Maul run the gamut from being killed early next season to surviving the Clone Wars and becoming a Yoda-like Sith hermit somewhere in the galaxy.

Our friends at Knights Archive posted an article about a new Scholastic book that may shed some light on Darth Maul’s plan and the direction the character is going to go.   Targeted at kids age 8 to 12, Scholastic’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy is a 160 page book due out this September.  The summary (at Edelweiss) for the book reads as follows:

For the first time ever, Scholastic is publishing Star Wars Clone Wars… based off the hit Cartoon Network TV show, viewed by over 2.4 million every week!
Our story will follow the highly anticipated return of Darth Maul–the infamous villain of Episode I: The Phantom Menace–whose popularity rivals that of Boba Fett. When Darth Maul reunites with his brother, Savage Opress, can even Obi-Wan Kenobi stop him before he rallies the criminal underworld to his cause?

What is this talk about the criminal underworld?  For further clarification we  headed over to Amazon.com to see if they had the same or a different description;

For the first time ever, Scholastic is publishing Star Wars Clone Wars… based off the hit Cartoon Network TV show, viewed by over 2.4 million every week!
Waiting on details from LucasFilms regarding Season 5, but the novel will feature the highly anticipated return of Darth Maul, the villain of Episode I’s Phantom Menace, whose popularity rivals that of Boba Fett.

If you take Amazon’s description specifically mentioning “Season 5″ and Edelweiss’s description hinting at events we have yet to see, and combine that with the fact that the book will be released in the same month that the Season Premiere of Season Five will air, it is pretty clear that Scholastic may have dropped a major plot point from Season Five.

Before we get in to my wild speculation about where this story could go, I think it is useful to take a little bit of perspective on the history of Darth Maul and the history of George Lucas’s interest and involvement in the Expanded Universe, The Clone Wars, and the Live-Action Series.  Based on anecdotes about Mr. Lucas, we know that he is focused on the stories that he personally crafts and tells in the Star Wars universe.  While his company licenses and produces a plethora of EU works under the Star Wars brand, it is not like he is reading and approving every book written.  It is also true that we have heard on multiple occasions that he enjoys the comics and from time to time will borrow an idea or look for something from the comics.

There are two significant stories that I believe Mr. Lucas had a larger hand in crafting than the standard EU fare.  Those would be 1996′s multimedia campaign around Shadows of the Empire and 2008′s The Force Unleashed.  Shadows of the Empire was significant for a number of reasons. The story itself was set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi so it had to fit in with Lucas’ vision of those stories.  Shadows was also a bit of a trial balloon to gauge fan interest in Star Wars before the 1997 release of the Special Editions of the original trilogy and the 1999 release of the Phantom Menace beginning the prequel trilogy.  It makes sense that Lucas had a strong hand in the project, but it was author Steve Perry (among others) who crafted the specifics of the story.  As Steve Perry explained in an interview with EUCantina.net;

EUC: Let’s move on to specific projects: Mr. Perry, what can you tell us about being involved in the Shadows of the Empire Media Event? Mr. Reaves, what can you tell us about working on Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, as Darth Maul is such a mysterious character ?

SP: SOTE was a test-run by Lucasfilm, designed to see how such a multimedia project would work, during the time before the second set of movies. A very collaborative effort, which was laid out during a meeting at Skywalker Ranch, wherein a bunch of us sat down and hammered out a storyline, then parsed it out — I took notes, then went home and wrote an outline upon which the novel, comics, games, toys, etc. were based. It was a lot of fun, and I got to play with the original cast, plus come up with some interesting EU characters.

Lucas also had a large role in The Force Unleashed and that story and game’s development.  The video below goes in depth on Lucas’s role in the story of the secret apprentice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66vVBcKas3A&feature

Then of course there is the currently on hold Live-Action Series which already has a full season of scripts written.  With the working title of Star Wars: Underworld, the Live-Action Series is suppose to focus on the seedier side of the galaxy during the rise of the Empire.  Notice the connection between Shadows of the Empire and the Live-Action Series.  It seems like criminals and scoundrels have a fairly large part to play in Star Wars, but we will get back to that in a minute. In terms of The Clone Wars, we know that George Lucas has a very strong hand in the show, and while Dave Filoni is the supervising director and the show runner, Lucas is present at story conferences where stories are “broken” and many ideas are developed.  This can be seen in behind the scenes clips released as well as numerous comments by Filoni and other TCW staff members.

Lucas has set up a story in TCW where we know have Sidious in control of the Republic, his apprentice Count Dooku leading the Separatists in this charade.  We also have Sidious’ eye on a potential new apprentice in Anakin, two former apprentice’s of Dooku in Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress and a former apprentice of Sidious in Darth Maul.  This is a lot of Sith or would be Sith for the Rule of Two to attempt to contain. At this point there is no reason to believe that Sidious knew that Maul survived, but that is possible. Operating on the assumption that Maul is now a wild sabacc card that doesn’t fit in with Sidious’ plans, then it would make sense that there isn’t a place for Maul at Sidious’ side.  Count Dooku certainly wouldn’t react well to his Master’s previous student returning and seeking to usurp his position.  Sidious may also be reluctant to accept Maul back into the fold.

Actor Sam Witwer has been making the media rounds giving interviews to promote Darth Maul’s return.  Christian Blauvelt of Entertainment Weekly got some interesting quotes from Witwer regarding Maul’s future.

You won’t necessarily see all the layers of the character right away, it takes time to unravel. I don’t think I’m spoiling too much when I say that he’s going to be around for a little bit. You will see a lot more of him going forward than you would have expected.

There are major consequences for Darth Maul being reintroduced to the Star Wars galaxy. This guy doesn’t just show up, wave his lightsaber around, have a few mean lines here and there, then pass into obscurity. He makes a major splash in the Clone Wars, and it’s entirely consequential the things that he’s up to and tries to accomplish.

That goal of revenge is not something that goes away, but what does change is how he’s going to go about it. And some of that involves Asajj Ventress. You’ve seen her become a bounty hunter. But Darth Maul would never become a bounty hunter. He’s way too ambitious for that. He was trained as a Sith Lord and that’s what he wants to be… But the revenge that Maul wants starts out very straightforward — I’ll lock lightsabers with Obi-Wan Kenobi! — but then it becomes a lot more complicated. Simple revenge isn’t good enough. It’s gotta be grand revenge, on a huge scale, and the galaxy’s going to know about it.

Some of Darth Maul’s past may point to what he may do in Season Five. At the end of Season Three when they telegraphed the return of Darth Maul, my initial thought was that Maul and Opress would combine with Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters to form another base of power in the galaxy to throw a wrench in Sidious’ plans.  In Season Four we saw the Nightsisters (except for Mother Talzin) wiped out by General Grievous and his droid army, so this potential power base has been removed from Maul.  There is another possibility that Scholastic may be hinting at in their book description however.

In 2000 Dark Horse Comics published Star Wars: Darth Maul, a comic series about Maul’s mission to decapitate the Black Sun criminal organization’s leadership.  Black Sun was the entity created by Steve Perry for Shadows of the Empire with Prince Xizor at its head.  Maul: “Do you wish Black Sun destroyed utterly?”Sidious: “No. One day it might prove useful to me, For now it must be thrown into disarray so it cannot threaten our designs.” In Black Sun we have an as yet unexplored base of power, thrown into disarray by Maul’s slaughter of the Vigos, Black Sun may be ripe for Maul to assert control over the organization.  While we have seen criminals, smugglers and bounty hunters explored in TCW series we have yet to see Black Sun appear on the show in any form.  If Maul is going to be rallying the “criminal underworld to his cause,” what better place to start then Black Sun?  By uniting Black Sun and other criminal operations under his control, Maul has the opportunity make a much bigger impact in the galaxy. It may be that Black Sun and the criminal underworld was a backup plan for Sidious, an external threat he could use to justify centralizing more power or more military buildup if the Separatist plan didn’t work correctly or was cut short by the premature death or capture of Dooku and Grievous.

In Revenge we see that Maul knew about the Grand Plan and the planned Clone Wars when he sighs and says “Oh yes, so it began without me.”  If Maul knew about the backup plan then perhaps he knew about other back up plans or could at least extrapolate based on Sidious comments what his intentions might be.  In a very in depth interview on The ForceCast, Sam Witwer discusses just how smart Maul is and how much  he would have learned as the apprentice of Sidious.  There is a nice symmetry to the idea that Maul who was found in the trash on Lotho Minor, could rise to power again atop a heap of criminal trash and villainy.  King of the Underworld may not be as good as Galactic Emperor, but it’s better than nothing.

As Darth Plagueis said, “You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another, then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species… finally, the galaxy itself.”  In Revenge we saw Maul gain power over himself through his healing, in Season Five we could see him gain power over another in Savage and possibly over a group in the attracting the criminal underworld to his banner.

~ Peter Morrison