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The Year in Review – SWR #26

Welcome to this, the last 2011 episode of The Star Wars Report!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This was a very special episode of The Star Wars Report; we discussed how we felt about this past year, and where we’ve come from, once we were The Bothan Report, now we are The Star Wars Report! This is a very free-form episode, and it runs a bit longer than normal, an hour and forty-ish minutes. We had quite a turn out in the chat, which was a very pleasant surprise! We’d imagined that there wouldn’t be that many people, it being so close to Christmas. Thanks for that guys, you’re always fun to talk to. =)

We talked about how it’s great to be members of the Star Wars fan community, a community which bands together to help such children like Baby Leah, a little girl who has been sick for most of her short life, and Katie, a girl who was bullied for liking Star Wars.

We also talked a bit more about the Star Wars expanded universe podcast that will be joining us in January, Star Wars Beyond the Films. You can hear a more in-depth description of Star Wars Beyond the Films and how it came to be on the twenty third episode of Nathan Butler’s podcast, the EU Review.

Our sponsor for this episode is Toy Hutt! Mark was delighted to find that Toy Hutt has a figure of K’Kruhk, a bit more on the expensive side, this figure of K’Kruhk would make Mark really happy if anyone is wondering what to get him for Christmas! Haha

We also talked about how The Star Wars Report has changed, and all our favorite Star Wars items that have come out in the past year, how we’ve changed as Star Wars fans, how much we adored The Hobbit trailer, (yes really, we did) and decided we’d discuss it in the next episode. We also read several emails we got from listeners, which we always love doing, and responded to them.

Thank you so much guys, we’ve loved doing the Star Wars Report, we’ve loved talking to everyone on Facebook, Twitter, via email, and in our live show chat room!

“Twilight is upon me and soon night must fall. That is the way of things……”

ON TO 2012!

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The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 11 Review

Hello and welcome back to another exciting Star Wars: The Clone Wars review! This week, when a Togrutan colony starts negotiating with the separatists, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka are sent to the colony to investigate. When they arrive, the only inhabitants of the planet are Droids, slavers, and bombs set to blow up the entire city, and the colonists with it! Read my review for Kidnapped below.

Having departed the Umbara arc, and finally knowing the whole story of what happened to Krell and the 501st, we are taken to an adventure of a completely different nature and atmosphere. Instead of the dark and mysterious forests of Umbara, we now arrive in a peaceful, elegant city of the Togrutans. Not to mention it’s completely empty, which adds an awesome layer of creepiness to the episode. The buildings resembled a lot of the Togrutan traits and features, and made this episode look very appealing to the eye. In addition to brilliant designs for the colony, both the Republic and the Separatists had some new machinery on the battlefield. When the Jedi first arrive on the planet, we see a new addition to the speeder bikes, a side car. Not that it’s a huge deal or anything, I just thought it made for a cool fight scene to have Ahsoka be fighting the commando droids while still flying through the city at quite a fast rate. Probably the more effective and interesting design was that of the sniper droids, which look like Droidekas with a blast shield over its face instead of a shield generator. (It’s really cool to see that they’re making variants based off the same model droid.) Still, I can sense that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these in the future, which makes me glad that there are finally droids that can actually cause problems for a Jedi. Also because it really makes me want a Clone Wars version of Battlefront even more.

Speaking of causing problems for Jedi, the fight scenes in this episode were fantastic! Not only did we see Anakin and Ahsoka have to work together while being pinned down by snipers and while racing against the clock to defuse the bombs, but Obi Wan in a hand to hand fight with a slaver!? This episode puts our Jedi heroes in almost every possible combat type imaginable, all in twenty-two minutes. With anything from fighting droids, to speeder bike chases, to giant monsters, and to the best part of the episode, Obi Wan’s fight, (Which, with no lightsabers or force powers I thought was a great introduction for Obi-Wan this season.), the strong point of this episode is definitely the action. Most of the fights had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen, and if the slaver was going to get away. (On a side note, I thought the slaver drew a lot of inspiration from the 16th century Spanish and a little from the Cathar, cat-like species from the Knights of the Old Republic series.)

Kidnapped also felt like an episode that was meant for foreshadowing the future of the arc, and its characters. Several things in particular felt this way, one being that this arc is going to be revolving a lot around Anakin in the coming episodes, judging from what we know about his past and how he feels about slavers. You know something bad is brewing immediately when you hear that imperial march theme in the background! And although we didn’t see a whole lot of Anakin tuning into his darker side this episode, as soon as they encounter more slavers you just know that it’s going to get worse. Also, another point I kind of missed on my first watch of the episode was Yoda’s hint about a possible connection to the rise of the Sith using slavery as a tool. Now, when I think of that, and how this arc connects to Anakin’s past, it makes me wonder whether the slaves are just a tool to turn Anakin to the dark side, not just for labor purposes. I can’t wait to see this unravel as the arc continues!

Kidnapped was a very good episode. It had excellent action, the start of some character development in our main character, and a decent story. A great start to a new arc! What did you think of this episode? Did you love it? Hate it? Let us know by leaving a comment below! I think that wraps up my review, thanks for reading and may the force be with you…always!

-Ryan

 

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 10 Review

Hello and welcome back to another review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars! This week, the Umbara arc comes to an end with The Carnage of Krell! Pushed to the brink of Rex’s loyalty to Krell’s leadership after he deliberately sends his own troops against one another, the 501st decides to arrest the sinister General for treason against the Republic. Below are my thoughts on the episode.

Last week, we left off with Fives and Jesse being imprisoned by Krell for disobeying orders, and expecting to be court-marshaled. Going into this episode, I had thought the climax/end would be Rex stopping the execution, which in fact happens in the first five minutes of the episode. This creates a brand new sense of suspense that is surrounded in mystery of when, exactly, Rex will snap. The events leading up to Rex’s betrayal were truly not expected at all, and I was in quite shocked when I found that Krell was having the clones kill one another. This episode raises the bar in almost every way: story, character, action, and especially how dark, and sometimes disturbing, it was. But honestly, I think the events in the Carnage of Krell did a fantastic job to set the stage, specifically for the 501st, for Order 66, and possibly gives a different perspective on how the clones could turn on the Jedi in the future. Even if Krell admitted to not being a follower of the Jedi code, the Clones still would see him as a symbol of the Jedi, which would definitely diminish their loyalty, even in the clones like Dogma, who believed in blindly following orders. So how else might the 501st be changed? Well, for one, their trust in the Jedi will have lessened, and two, I think their loyalty toward Anakin will have increased, seeing that he is not a conventional Jedi, and will always put his men before his orders. This would make their ultimate betrayal toward the Jedi easy for most of them, especially if Anakin is leading the charge.

I think Rex has proved to be an extremely unique character, even when compared to his fellow clones. And I do believe that has a lot to do with the time he spent with the runaway clone Cut Lawquane. It just hasn’t really shown until now. His line at the end of the episode is a question that Rex seems to be the only one asking, what happens to the clones once the war ends? It took a “Krell” for Rex to realize that maybe Cut was right. Or at least have some valid points. Unlucky for us, we know that the republic gets overthrown, and an empire takes its place, but I don’t believe Rex would be a part of that, which I think his character is ultimately building toward. It was never Rex’s initial intention to kill Krell, only to arrest him. It was only when he learned of a chance that he might escape that Rex attempted to kill him. Which is also another point: Rex’s failure to kill Krell creates a difference between himself and the clones that will be a deciding factor when the time comes for Order 66. It makes me wonder if we will see Order 66 in the Clone Wars. It would be unfortunate if we didn’t since that would be the perfect time to conclude Rex’s story. I can’t see the Clone Wars team killing him off for a random reason like Echo (which was pointless) when they have a solid and intriguing character story evolving like Rex. It just does not seem plausible to me.

There were a lot of small details I’d like to point out. First of all, I thought the General’s lightsaber had a very cool sound to it, very unique and different from other Jedi. The scene where Rex and the 501st are approaching Krell to arrest him for treason was obviously supposed to mirror the temple assault in Revenge of the Sith, but this time (as mentioned above), we now have the perspective of the Clones and their point of view of betraying a Jedi. Also, I liked how they’ve been setting up the tentacle monster to be the one who defeats Krell. It was awesome for the clones to use the environment as the way to get to the General.

The Carnage of Krell is the best of the Clone Wars yet. The arc has been building toward this episode, and it did not disappoint. Nothing went quite the way we had all quite theorized, and we sure learned a lot more about Rex, Krell, and even the fate of Waxer, which created a lot of emotion in the episode. That pretty much wraps up my review of this episode! What did you think of it? Leave a comment below! Thanks for reading, and may the force be with you…always

-Ryan

 

The Clone Wars Season Two Retrospective

You need to stand before you can walk; you need to walk before you can run.  Season One of The Clone Wars was very much the show finding its legs to stand.  Developing character models and animation techniques, actors were getting used to characters, and writers striking a difficult balance of appealing to both kids and adults, all while being guided by the stories that George Lucas wanted to tell.

Season Two was where the show really began to pick up some steam; there are very few bad episodes in Season Two.  Generally speaking, I think Season Two was consistently good, but there are a lot of episodes that I like fairly equally, it was hard picking a top and bottom three.

The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

Landing at Point Rain (2.05):

Now this is what I am talking about, when I think of the Clone Wars I think of the battle on the front lines.  Point Rain was a lot of fun, we have three different Jedi Generals, Ki-Adi-Mundi,  Anakin, and Obi-Wan lead a three pronged insertion onto Geonosis to attack and destroy the droid factory.  My favorite part of the episode was the touch of humor at the end with Ki-Adi one upping both Ahsoka and Anakin.  65! Suck it Separatists!

Lethal Trackdown (2.22):

Season Two really ended on a fun note.  I like the conflicted young Boba Fett.  I thought it was hilarious that Hondo has had enough interactions with the Jedi for one season, and is basically telling Aurra Sing to have fun with that.

The Deserter (2.10):

Bar none, The Deserter is one of my favorite episodes of TCW and one of my favorite Star Wars stories.  I am fascinated by the idea of a clone army.  The moral issues that cloning raises for the Jedi and the rest of the Republic, and for the issues it raises within the clones themselves.  How do the clones view themselves? How do they form their own individual identities and personalities? How do they view themselves and how do they view the Republic that they serve? In Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando novels she introduced Mandalorian training Sergeants that not only instilled the martial training that was necessary, but they also gave their clones access to Mandalorian culture and offered a sense of belonging and a moral code that goes beyond orders and flash learning.  How do clones who are not so fortunate adjust to life?  Do the clones worry about their future and what will happen after the war ends?

In this episode we meet Cut Laquane, his Twi’lek wife Suu and Cut’s two adopted kids.  Cut presents Captain Rex with a different perspective on the war and life as a clone.  I have a feeling the experience of meeting and debating with Cut will have a strong influence on how Rex’s views may change during the remainder of the series.  We know we are getting some more Rex focused stories in Season Four, and I have to believe that Rex will have an important choice or sacrifice to make by the times the series ends.

The Mandalore Plot (2.12):

Too many episodes I liked to pick just three, but this may be my most controversial pick.  You will hardly find a bigger fan of the Mandalorian culture or Boba Fett then me.  I was predisposed to have a fanboy freak out with this episode, however looking back with some perspective makes this one of my favorites from Season Two.

The issue of Mandalorian continuity probably caused the biggest conniption fit in fandom when the rumors first started spreading about Karen Traviss’ leaving the Star Wars franchise, resulting in the cancellation of two books (Boba Fett Stand-alone and Imperial Commando II).  When this show aired people freaked, pacifist Mandalorians, George Lucas had lost his mind.  Ok, everyone step back from the ledge.

This episode introduced Duchess Satine Kryze ruler of Mandalore and Pre Vizsla, Governor of Concordia and Commander of Death Watch.  Vizsla, voiced by Jon Favreau, was a very cool new character and villain.  The black, samurai sword like lightsaber is so wizard (That one’s for you Ani).  Satine is a character that grows on you.  The concept of Obi-Wan having an intimate relationship is an idea that had been explored in the EU, but this was the first time it had been explored on screen.  This relationship is explored in the other Mandalorian episodes but it first appears here.  Satine is an interesting parallel to Padme, both were rulers of a world, both are strong female characters prone to taking action, and both fell in love with a Jedi in spite of knowing the rules that forbade it.  It is clear that Obi-Wan loved and probably still loves Satine, but unlike Anakin, he is the master of his emotions and is not ruled by them.  Perhaps if Anakin was less self centered and more open and honest with his Master, guidance and even acceptance may have been found.  For the “chosen one” I think the Jedi might have bent the rules, after all they do it for the Cerean reproductive issue.  It’s not the attachment to Padme that is Anakin’s problem, it’s the fear of loss that stems from the loss of his mother and was transferred onto Padme, Anakin would keep a psychologist busy for decades.

This episode dealt with very mature issues, not only do we have the terrorism of Death Watch, but we also have a suicide.  Pretty tough stuff for some of the younger kids in the audience to deal with, but very powerful story telling.

The capture of Obi-Wan is a nice call back to Episode II, and the rescue by Satine has a very Anakin-Padme on Geonosis feel to it.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this episode was the uniformity of the Death Watch Mandalorian armor, but that is the legacy of reading so much EU with the rainbow of beskar’gam that we get there.

It seems pretty obvious that the Mandalorian Civil War that is eluded too and the fragile façade of pacifism that has been erected is only a temporary thing for Mandalore.  That is why Satine is so vehement in her quest for peace and neutrality, because she knows how fragile this peace is.

I firmly believe that before TCW series ends we see a return to Mandalore for the fall of Satine’s government, but I don’t think we see a successful Death Watch rise in its place, but a third faction restoring the Mandalorians closer to the EU version of the culture and planet.

Honorable mentions:  Holocron Heist (2.01) was fun; Bane is a good villain and who is cooler then Jocasta Nu?  As an EU fan I loved the Bariss Offee (2.06-2.08) episodes, the Medstar Duology is a very underrated set of books.  Lightsaber Lost (2.11) had its moments; I really dug Tera Sinube and his cane/lightsaber.  Cat and Mouse (2.16) was a very cool one off story, feels like Hunt for Red October.  Bounty Hunters (2.17) featured some cool new bounty hunter characters particularly Sugi and Embo.  Let us not forget about the Zillo Beast, I feel like playing Rampage all of the sudden.

The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”

Senate Murders (2.15):

Lt. Tan Divo really isn’t my cup of tea and Senator Lolo doesn’t make my favorite character list either. Frankly, the only memorable thing for me from this episode is the cool looking Senate Guards who got the full cape and plume treatment for the first time.  I love the Senate Guards both in the Prequels and in this series as precursors to the Imperial Royal Guards.

Senate Spy (2.04):

Padme has a special friend who is not Anakin.  Well there goes the image of a virginally pure Padme.

So Anakin basically condemns Senator Clovis to death by the hands of his Neimodian friends.  That is a pretty un-Jedi thing to do.  Clovis should have been brought back to Coruscant to stand trial for treason.  I wonder if Padme ever thinks about the fact that Anakin basically killed her ex even though that ex saved her life.

Children of the Force (2.03):

On the whole I actually like Children of the Force, it is certainly interesting to see Anakin going to Mustafar before Episode III and interesting to see that it is a go to hideout location for Palpatine, after all, he sends the Separatist Council there in Episode III.

What I didn’t like was the ending of the Episode.  It would have opened up much more interesting story telling potential down the road if Palpatine’s surgical procedure went to completion on the kids and they were rescued, or if they were not successfully rescued at all and they could be brought back in the Expanded Universe later as Dark Side operatives.

What did you think of TCW Season Two?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Come back next week for our retrospective on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Three.

~Pete

Dragon* Con! Thursday – SWR #9

Live from the convention floor, here’s a special report from Dragon* Con, Thursday evening!

Riley and I arrived in Atlanta earlier in the afternoon and headed to the Sheraton hotel to pick up our con passes.

Thankfully we seemed to miss the longer lines. =)

We explored most of the hotels thoroughly and managed to get ourselves turned around quite a bit, but we had fun!

There were already sooo many people everywhere, and the costumers were making a good appearance too!

Riley and I ran into Aaron Allston!

We also met up with Nanci of EUCantina, Tracy of Club Jade, and Lane of Roqoo Depot!

It was great running into you guys!

We checked out the Star Wars main panel room, and the staff there were putting the finishing touches on the room.

It was a fun evening getting oriented!

We’ll have more con coverage so stay tuned!

- Bethany

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