Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Zillo Beast is the Godzilla of the Star Wars universe

This is the graphic used in the episode "the Zillo Beast" to test the Republic's
newest "weapon of mass destruction" versus the terrible droid army. I've also
used this picture before for my short story "The Insanity of Zero" back when
I thought people actually might read it. However, I found a lot of success
giving it away for free on Amazon and Smashwords, so it's all good. :)
I absolutely loved the two-story arc that started with "The Zillo Beast" and ended with the episode "The Zillo Beast Strikes Back." In short, the Zillo Beast is the Godzilla of the Star Wars universe.
This is the Zillo Beast after getting rudely awakened by the explosion featured
in the picture above. Those green waterfalls are outflow from broken pipes.
Anyone that's followed my blog or my postings knows that I'm a fan of kaiju movies. For example, I'm really looking forward to this summer's "Pacific Rim" probably more so than just about any other movie being released (maybe with the exception of Iron Man 3 on Friday). As an aside note, if you haven't been keeping track of records, Iron Man 3's international debut raked in $195 million and shattered the previous record set by "The Avengers!" Boo Yeah. Robert Downey Jr. Is. The. Man. Sorry for my segue...now back to the Godzilla of Star Wars.
Zillo Beast contained! Or so the Republic thought. Why would any civilization
ever take such a huge creature back to the city? It almost seems like foreshadowing
of certain doom. But maybe I only say that because I saw "King Kong." I guess
they don't have "King Kong" in Coruscant. What a pity.
So there I was, quietly watching the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series on television, when this episode started. I squeed in joy as I realized I was in for a treat with an homage to all things kaiju (kaiju is a Japanese word that means "strange beast"). You may ask, how do we first meet the Zillo Beast?  Well dear reader, it happened in the aftermath of a completely epic explosion of the Republic's newest droid-disrupting weapon. If you recall your Godzilla lore, you will note that we meet Godzilla in exactly the same manner following nuclear tests off the island of Japan.
The Zillo Beast scaling huge buildings in Coruscant. Yes, those are fighter
planes shooting at him in the background. Zillo Beast is just hungry. Zillo
Beast must feed on clones! NOM NOM NOM
When the smoke cleared, a huge crater had been made, and at the bottom was a very angry Zillo Beast awoken from its slumber. Mace Windu soon realizes that the Zillo Beast is the last specimen of its kind, so the Jedi face a dilemma: should they save the beast or help the Dugs kill it (the Zillo Beast is on the Dug homeworld).
All large one of a kind Kaiju always meet the same end. It doesn't matter if
it happens on Earth or in Coruscant. Humans just don't like it when you stomp
on their buildings.
Naturally, they make the decision to take the Zillo Beast back to Coruscant in the hopes of learning the secret of its impenetrable natural armor. In King Kong fashion, it breaks free of its bonds and rampages through the city. They eventually kill the Zillo Beast using poison gas. It's kind of sad in the same way that the death of King Kong is kind of sad. In the clip below, Mace Windu comes face-to-face for the first time with the almighty Zillo Beast! It's very exciting.
And below is the clip where the Zillo Beast breaks free following a decision made by Senator Palpatine to euthanize it using a newly developed toxin. Much chaos ensues on Coruscant.
And that's it! I made it from A to Z. I look forward to see who else crossed the finish line. Tomorrow is another Insecure Writers Support Group post and a spotlight on author Jessica Bell's book regarding Adverbs and Cliches. Question: Did I make you a fan of the Clone Wars television series? Are you going to check it out on your own when you get the chance? Are you sad that this is my last "Clone Wars" post ever?I lost my Magic 8 Ball, but I hope that "signs point to yes." Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Above is a picture of my Clone Wars maquette (a little statue) of Master Yoda. I bought it at a comic book store many years ago and sometimes display it in a curio cabinet in my house along with other things I've collected. I have a couple of nice things that I like to put in the cabinet. My friend James once remarked, "Why do you have that dumb statue of Yoda in there next to the other nice stuff? It makes me think of that phrase 'one of these things is not like the other...'"

Anyway, my maquette is well constructed, looks nice, is very nerdy, and I like it! I bet Sheldon Cooper owns one. Yoda doesn't need any explanation as anyone that follows Star Wars knows exactly who he is, so I'm just going to say this: one of the things I like about Yoda in The Clone Wars is that he really doesn't fight. He's simply a teacher and takes that role very seriously. I just wish someone had told him how to brush his teeth because Yoda's teeth are atrocious. Also, has anyone ever seen a female version of Yoda's race? I'm kind of wondering what they look like.

Below, please find some pics I posted describing a scene where Yoda is doing what Yoda does best.

In this scene Yoda explains to the younglings that they were not trapped by the cave, but by their minds. He turns to each and points out what they have learned.
  1. Byph found courage.
  2. Ganodi found hope.
  3. Gungi found patience.
  4. Zalt found trust.
  5. Katooni found confidence.
  6. Petro found selflessness.
And even when Yoda faces a Sith apprentice in Asajj Ventress, he continues to teach. If you have the time, please watch this short clip. It's almost laughable how quickly Yoda deals with Ventress (who is a handful for just about anyone else). Yoda was a badass.
Tomorrow is my post on the Zillo Beast-the ultimate Godzilla tribute done by the Clone Wars!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Xanadu Blood

The Xanadu Blood over the planet Naboo.
Ay carajo, finding a suitable "X" word in The Clone Wars was really hard (I didn't want to use X-Wing). But my persistence paid off, and I present to you, dear reader, the tale of the Xanadu Blood.

In Star Wars, a bounty hunter's ship is almost as important as the actual bounty hunter. For example, Boba Fett flew around in Slave One (or what I like to call "the floating iron" because it looks like an iron you'd starch your clothes with). Another bounty hunter by the name of Cad Bane is no exception to this unstated rule and flew around in a heavily modified Rogue-class starfighter given to him by the Separatists on behalf of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious.

Cad Bane used the Xanadu Blood to deliver Force-sensitive infants to the planet of Mustafar for Darth Sidious. This bounty hunter kidnapped the infants from Glee Anselm, Rodia, and Naboo. While he was enroute to capture Gungan youngling Roo-Roo Page on Naboo, he ran afoul of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and was captured.
This is Cad Bane. He's kind of the "go to" bounty hunter used in the Clone Wars as he
appears in a ton of episodes.
Along with Bane, the Xanadu Blood got taken on board the Star Destroyer Resolute. Tano and Skywalker examined the ship to find clues about Bane's kidnapping mission. However, Bane was a clever Bounty Hunter, and prior to his capture, he erased the fighter's navigational computer records. Not to be deterred, the Jedi continued their investigation and found volcanic ash on the hull of the Xanadu Blood that ended up leading them to the planet Mustafar!

Below is a clip that shows the interrogation of Cad Bane following the discovery that the ships records have been wiped. Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin decide to team up to "force compel" Cad Bane. It's basically Jedi-sanctioned torture because otherwise, Cad Bane's mind is too strong and Jedi Mind tricks don't work on him. I don't know why, but this scene kind of reminds me of the United States' decision to use water boarding to get information from detainees in Guantanamo.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Water War shows us the incredible technology of the Mon Cals in epic Star Wars fashion

Riff Tamson and the droid army invading Mon Cal. Click to Embiggen.
When I saw Return of the Jedi in the theaters for the first time, I really liked the Mon Calamari, Admiral Ackbar. To this day, I think what an imagination Lucas had to think up an alien that looked like that. I've always wanted to know more (aside from the fact that they built huge ships). Well I got my wish at the beginning of season four of Cartoon Networks television series The Clone Wars.
Admiral "It's a trap!" Ackbar. Behind him are the glass transportation
tubes of the capital city of Mon Cal. Click to Embiggen.
Water War in a nutshell shows us the incredible technology of the Mon Cals in epic Star Wars fashion. The plot is pretty simple:

The king of the Mon Calamari has died, and his teen-aged son Lee Char is now next up in line. There are two sentient races on Mon Cal. The first is the Mon Calamari that look like Admiral Ackbar and the second are the Quarren who look like Mindflayers from the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. Basically think of a human with a squid-like face. Anyway, these two races previously lived in harmony under the old king, but refuse to do so under the teen-aged prince because a bad guy named Riff Tamson is stirring things up.
Riff Tamson. Doesn't he look awesome? Click to Embiggen.
And Riff looks freakin' awesome! They've taken a great white shark and basically given it human-like qualities. He's ferocious, a fast swimmer, and you get the impression he likes to eat other races for pleasure (live bait). We're talking a "gnaw on your leg until your f'ing dead" type thing. And of course, he's a strong arm for Count Dooku who is trying to start a civil war on Mon Cal in order to weaken this world that's allied itself with the Republic.

So over the course of three episodes, we get a water war. There are clone troopers in aquatic swimming gear, huge firefights, lightsaber battles, and enormous Mon Cal cities which are breathtakingly beautiful. They have glass tubes connecting the towers of the Mon Cal cities that have super fast currents flowing in them so people in the tubes can swim from one building to the next in a flash.
Prince Lee Char and the Mon Calamari. I think the animation in this series
just got better and better with each season. Look at the detail on the Mon
Calamari around the prince. Click to Embiggen.
The war machines also get really creative. There's a huge squid-like space ship that has enormous tentacles that fan out. At first I thought, "What an impractical design." But during these episodes it shows that the squid ships fan their tentacles out under water and start to spin. The enormous circular motion makes the water also start to spin, basically creating a whirlpool or maelstrom that buffets and destroys anything unlucky enough to be caught fighting underneath it. Of course Anakin makes short work of one ship with a lightsaber in spectacular fashion. He later gets tortured by Riff Tamson in a machine made from living gargantuan electric eels (again very creative).
Quarren are in back. No episode underwater would be complete without
Jedi Master Kit Fisto (front and center) and Anakin in a water suit just
behind his shoulder. Click to Embiggen.
The scope of this three episode arc is huge. The first wave of clone troopers that come to the rescue is utterly defeated. The second wave of support from Gungans arriving from Naboo also gets defeated. It's only when the Quarren realize they've been duped by Riff Tamson and rise up with the help of the Mon Calamari to take back their world, that the Separatists are finally defeated.
This machine is called a hydroid medusa. They are half machine, half monster.
Riff Tamson said they were pretty much invincible. Cybernetically enhanced
jellyfish, they were huge behemoths with on-board power plants and multiple
electrified tentacles that killed any biological being upon contact. Riff dropped
these by the hundreds over Mon Cal city. It was epic. 
And in heroic fashion, young Prince Lee Char is crowned King of the Mon Cals at the end. If that isn't enough of a selling point to love this epic story, Admiral Ackbar is in every episode. He's the most trusted adviser to the young king. I've embedded a clip below for your enjoyment so please check it out. And no, I've no idea if these are available on Netflix.
If you are intrigued and want to see more, check out this fan-made trailer for Season Four. It's one of the coolest I've seen online and actually shows those squid-ships I talked about above.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ventress is a villain I can really cozy up to

Asajj Ventress is pictured above wielding one red lightsaber, but more often than not, she is found with two in hand (see picture below). Remember in one of the Star Wars movies when Yoda said that, "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny?" Well that little line fed to Luke doesn't appear to be true at all.

Correction, maybe it was true for Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Darth Tyrannus, but it never was for Ventress. She always did what she wanted to do. To be fair though, she never got the "Darth" title either, which may have something to do with her ability to just walk the line as far as good and bad goes. I have no idea if that's because she's just got a really strong mind, or if it's because she's a woman. Maybe Yoda just didn't get it right because he was a dude. Something to think on, eh? If I recall details from the Star Wars extended universe, there are other women who used the Dark Side who also ended up coming back from it too. Was Mara Jade one? I hope someone can weigh-in on the comments below with regard to my theory of "women being particularly resistant to the dark side."
For awhile, Asajj Ventress worked for the Separatist army and their endless droids.
Anyway, Asajj got recognized as a child when she was given away for training among the Jedi. Her master taught her some and her strength in the force grew. Unfortunately for her though, that all ended when her master got killed.

Ventress' story is replete with tragedy.  Recognized for being a Force prodigy, Ventress wound up at some point training with Count Dooku who took her rudimentary training and turned it into a formidable weapon that he and his Separatist army could rely upon.

Fearless in battle, Asajj Ventress wasn't afraid to take on Obi-Wan and other Jedi. She even fought him alongside Anakin, and it made for some of the greatest lightsaber combats. Despite the fact that Ventress always lost, she always got away too. That's a sign of a good villain. Ventress always had a reliable escape plan at the ready if things ever went sour.

At some point in season 3 of The Clone Wars, Ventress got so powerful that she created a "disturbance in the force." Darth Sidious contacted Darth Tyrannus (Count Dooku) and ordered him to kill Ventress, because she'd gotten too powerful. Dooku whined some because he really liked her, but acquiesced and tried to have her killed by blowing up the starship she was on. Of course, Ventress escaped and went home to the Nightsisters (her family) to plot her revenge on Dooku.

That "revenge" didn't go well. It ended up destroying the Nightsisters clan leaving her alone in the universe. At that point, Ventress wasn't "sith" anymore or necessarily a "nightsister." She was a free agent doing whatever she wanted to do.

Surprisingly, Ventress came to the rescue of Obi-Wan, helping him to fight Savage Opress and Darth Maul when he got cornered and overwhelmed. And in the series finale, she proved instrumental by allying with Ahsoka Tano and Anakin to oust Barriss Offee as the Jedi responsible for framing Ahsoka in the bombing of the Jedi temple.
The actress who played Barriss Offee in the second movie. The
quote is from the 2003 Clone Wars shorts from Cartoon Network.
Barriss Offee was the student of Master Luminara Undulee
In the clip below is a great scene of Barriss Offee and Ahsoka Tano fighting in the streets of Coruscant. Now, Barriss at this point is disguised as Asajj Ventress. Barriss is extremely powerful and overwhelmed Asajj and took her lightsabers to complete the disguise. Asajj never had the kind of telekinesis that Barriss wields and neither did anyone else. I think Barriss (as I've said before) was probably the most powerful telekinetic to have ever lived in the Star Wars universe. If you watch carefully, you'll see what I'm talking about. She doesn't even have to visualize objects to hurl them around (she can be behind corners). My original post on Barriss can be found HERE. And yeah, Ahsoka (even though she's basically a Jedi Knight at this point) doesn't stand a chance. I'm a little miffed with The Clone Wars being canceled because I want to know what happened with Barriss, Asajj, and Ahsoka. These are three very interesting women whose storylines are basically just "cut off" with no resolution in the series finale. It's enough to make me say "arrrggghhh!" Enjoy the clip.
And below is a second (extremely short clip) showing a deleted scene from the original Clone Wars episode because it was too "controversial." Watch it and see the personality of Ventress in full force (another reason I really liked her).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Undead are rare in the Clone Wars but they do exist and so does magic

Undead Dathomirian Nightsisters. Kinda cool eh? Click to Embiggen.
I think that most people tend to think of Star Wars as lying firmly in the genre of science fiction space opera. However, I tend to think of it as a fantasy more than science-fiction. The Jedis are just wizards with swords, and then there's the whole Nightsister clan that gave birth to Asajj Ventress (Sith apprentice to Count Dooku depending on where you find her in the storyline) on the planet Dathomir.
Mother Talzin is a bonafide true sorceress in the complete sense of the word.
The episode "Massacre" is number 19 in season four. After failing to kill Dooku or control Savage Opress, Asajj Ventress is advised by Mother Talzin to reject the ways of the Sith and rejoin the Nightsisters. However, an angered and fearful Count Dooku is determined to see the end of Ventress and Mother Talzin. Via Dooku's command, General Grievous launches a droid assault, only to find an army of undead Dathomirian Nightsisters' awakened by Daka, the eldest of the Sister's clan. Talzin creates a voodoo doll to finish off Dooku, whilst Ventress and Grievous square-off in saber combat. Ventress downs Grievous, however she is helpless to watch as the last of her sisters on Dathomir are massacred. The episode closes with the green misty spirit of Mother Talzin bidding farewell and good luck to Ventress, whom is now left to grieve for her clan.
This is Daka, Eldest of the Nightsister clan. Unlike other grandmothers
who bake bread, Daka is a super powerful necromancer who calls forth
undead from their graves to defend their homeworld. I guess she also makes
a mean stew.
My take: I love the special effects in this episode and the Nightsisters made for some very interesting characters. It kind of added a third element to Star Wars. On the one side we have the Jedi. On the other we have the Sith. And then there's this murky gray area of practicing witches that can cast actual magic. Mother Talzin demonstrated tremendous power. She had illusions, could create objects out of nothing, turn her people invisible or into undead warriors, and the list goes on and on.

Now that you know magic is very much alive and well in the Star Wars universe, how does this sit with you? In other words...are you a Star Wars purist who doesn't want magic to infuse an otherwise "sci-fi" storyline? Or do you welcome the magic and hope that they use it in the Star Wars movies made by Disney? I sure do. I'm actually getting kind of jaded with the whole "I'm a Jedi; you're a Sith! We must battle!" I would like to see combats that have more than just glittering lightsabers and electrical fingers frying people. My love affair with telekinesis is kind of over too. Been there, done that. Let's have a Dumbledore vs. Voldemort recap in the Star Wars universe! Below is a very exciting clip that shows the end of the poor Nightsisters and the death of Daka. Oh well...she was really old.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tarkin is first a Captain and last a Grand Moff but always an extremist

Captain Tarkin is on the right
For those of you who are fans of the original Star Wars movies, you may remember Grand Moff Tarkin having this little exchange with Princess Leia:
"The more you tigthen your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
                                       --Leia Organa to Grand Moff Tarkin
We get to know Tarkin a lot better in the cartoon series The Clone Wars. One of the episodes I'm thinking of is "Citadel" and it's subsequent sequels that take place near the tail end of the third season. In that episode, Captain Tarkin and Jedi General Even Piell undertook a mission to find the Nexus Route, a strategically valuable hyperspace route which would lead into both the heart of the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems (that's where all the Separatist planets are). During the mission, they were ambushed and attacked by Separatist forces. Before they got boarded, Piell and Tarkin each memorized half of the information regarding the Nexus Route before erasing it from the ship's computer files. After being forced to surrender, Tarkin and Piell, along with other officers were taken as prisoners to the Citadel, a Separatist prison on Lola Sayu.
Captain Tarkin at the end of season five sentencing Ahsoka Tano for
bombing the Jedi Temple. His manner, appearance, and uniform strike
me as being very "Nazi" ish, which I'm sure is intended.
Needless to say, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and padawan Ahsoka Tano rescue Tarkin from the Citadel. However, not before Tarkin let's loose with this little bit of conversation to Anakin:
Anakin:  "You lack faith in the Jedi."
Tarkin:  "I find their tactics ineffective. The Jedi Code prevents them from going far enough to achieve victory, to do whatever it takes to win, the very reason why peacekeepers should not be leading a war."
Basically, what Tarkin says reminds me of what I think a dictator would say. You know...the kind like Assad of Syria that would feel it's okay to turn chemical weapons on his own people. Also, with regard to the above quote, Anakin agrees with Tarkin in that episode. All the signs were there. Obi-Wan should not have been surprised that Anakin went to the Dark Side so easily. In this YouTube clip Anakin and Tarkin exchange words, basically trying to outdo each other on how well they know Chancellor Palpatine (he later becomes the Emperor).
I'm pretty sure that at the time of Star Wars: A New Hope arrived, Tarkin was the most powerful non-Force user in the Empire. I think he even outranked Vader, but don't quote me on that. It just sure seemed like it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Savage Opress gave me six insights as to why Star Wars is really a story about revenge

Three villains from the Clone Wars television series. From left to right:
Darth Maul (yes he lived), Savage Opress, and  Pre Vizsla (leader of Death
Watch). They are all motivated by revenge. Pre Vizsla wanted revenge on
those factions on Mandalore who had turned the populace away from
their historical warrior-like way of life. In the U.S., he'd be a member of the N.R.A.
A little background first so you aren't sitting there scratching your head in confusion.

Savage Opress was a Dathomirian Zabrak Nightbrother who became a Sith Lord alongside his brother, Darth Maul, during the Clone Wars television series.  He came about in the third season because Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine) demanded that Count Dooku kill his most prized apprentice, Asajj Ventress. Asajj had become too powerful and as a result, created a "disturbance" in the force. In a nutshell, Darth Sidious did not want his own apprentice (Count Dooku) to rise up and overthrow him (which is entirely possible if he trained an apprentice with as much power as Dooku wielded). It's also great foreshadowing to the fact that Sidious is overthrown by his own apprentice (Darth Vader) in "Return of the Jedi." I love that scene because it's a testament of how powerful Darth Vader really was.  He single-handedly did it all himself and relied on no help at all. Just kind of a "You know what old man? I'm really tired of your crap, and I've decided this is your retirement party." And it was done. Something Yoda, Mace Windu, and probably countless others could never accomplish.

It must be difficult being a powerful Sith Lord. Not only do you have to worry about the Jedi, but you must always look to your own for possible backstabbing. It kind of makes the whole "this is a team effort" motif problematic, because your team could turn on you at any time.

Anyway, the reason for my post today is (up until I got introduced to Savage Opress) I kind of thought the Star Wars universe was this big space opera that could inspire all kinds of fan fiction, and that it's so huge that you could literally tell any story. I suppose that at least part of that is true. However, I also think that if you wanted to stay with Lucas' vision for whatever reason (since Star Wars is his baby), I believe you'd want to stick with the whole "revenge" theme in any plot or story you wrote. Revenge literally infuses practically every story line and drives all the evil you see present in Star Wars from the movies to the television series and probably even the comic books and novels. Here's my "rudimentary" evidence:

1) Lucas called the third prequel "Revenge of the Sith." That's pretty straight-forward. Obviously the Sith are very butt hurt at being oppressed by the Jedi and really really want their revenge. And it matters so much that the very word makes it into a title.

2) In the television series, Savage Opress is birthed out of revenge when Asajj Ventress survives and wants revenge against her former master that tried to kill her. So the Nightsister witches make Savage Opress out of black magic and then plan on using him as an assassin that they can control once he learns enough from being Count Dooku's apprentice.

3) The whole "dark side" seems to be motivated out of revenge. In other words, the Sith often seem to channel hate for some wrong that they feel they've been dealt and want revenge against the people who wronged them.

4) Darth Maul is cleverly re-written as someone who survives being cut in half and naturally, he wants revenge on the person that cut him in half, i.e., Obi-Wan Kenobi. So he gets his revenge by killing Duchess Satine right in front of him about mid-way through Season 5, because Obi-Wan loves Duchess Satine. Nice revenge plot there.
5) Anakin starts to slip to the dark side when he kills a whole clan of Tuskan Raiders after they kill his mother. If that isn't revenge, I don't know what is.

6) Bounty Hunter Boba Fett is totally motivated out of revenge after witnessing the Jedi cut down his father Jango Fett in the second movie. They even show the boy touching his head to his father's helmet.

So there you have it.  Savage Opress gave me six insights as to why Star Wars is really a story about revenge. So I predict episode VII will probably kick off three more movies centered around revenge. Someone will be extremely butt hurt over something and then they will spend three movies trying to deal with that "wronged" person. I actually hope it's not formulaic like that, but let's be honest...a lot of Star Wars is formulaic. A lot of publishing for that matter. We are creatures of habit and we love our formulas!

Don't even get me started on James Bond.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Rise of Evil in season three of the Clone Wars sets the tone of things to come

We all know that the Star Wars prequels end badly for the good guys. But even if you didn't and watched the Clone Wars cartoon series, you would probably get that impression alone from season 3. Not only do we have some very key episodes beginning with "Nightsisters," but we have a three-part storyline that begins with "Overlords," continues in "Altar of Mortis," and ends with "Ghosts of Mortis." So basically, the rise of evil in season three of the Clone Wars sets the tone of things to come. If you like dark fantasy, these episodes are right up your alley.
This is Mother Talzin. She gives me the creeps, and her voice is equally evil.
First off, the episode called "Nightsisters" is downright creepy. Asajj Ventress betrayed by Count Dooku is set adrift in deep space and rescued by a freighter that finds her damaged vessel just floating through space. Once they wake her up, she kills them all and takes their ship to a planet that is best described as dripping blood and black magic. It's also home to a race of women called the Nightsisters and a race of men who gave birth to the legendary Sith Lord, Darth Maul. Just picturing those two getting together to produce children brings up images I really don't want to imagine.

The Nightsisters are an entirely female group of individuals...witches...led by a woman called Mother Talzin that you seriously would not want to meet in a dark alley. She's scary, is basically an evil wizard, and has trained all of the women of her clan to be assassins and witches.
This is the Son of Mortis wielding the Dagger of Mortis. One things for sure...there's no disputing
that he's evil. Just look at his wardrobe.
"Overlords", "Altar of Mortis", and "Ghosts of Mortis" follow the "Nightsisters" storyline. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka become stranded on a mysterious planet where the Force is incredibly strong. Three powerful entities called the Father, Son, and Daughter live there. And when I say powerful, I mean these entities wield the force like gods. The Father can grab the end of a lightsaber with his bare hand and thrust it away. The Son turns off lightsabers with a gesture of his hand and can shapechange into a flying demon. And the daughter has similar powers and glows in the dark (a very interesting effect). The Father tells Anakin that the Sith hunger for their power, and that it's a constant struggle to keep his two children (representing Light and Darkness) in balance with each other.

Anyway, the Son ends up taking Ahsoka captive in an attempt to entice Anakin into joining him to use their combined strength to overpower his Father and Sister. To this end, the Son casts Ahsoka under the spell of the dark side. To turn Anakin to the Dark Side, the Son shows Anakin future images of himself causing so much pain and death as the Sith Lord Darth Vader...and despite what you want to think, it actually ends up working because Anakin joins the Son to keep himself from that fate. Very logical, right? Anyway here are some clips for you from these episodes. Enjoy!
And below is the clip showing Mother Talzin dispatching assassins to kill Count Dooku. It's a great clip. You should watch it mmhmm.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Queen Miraj Scintel

Queen Miraj Scintel was a villain in Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series' fourth season. She appears in episode twelve called "Slaves of the Republic."

The theme of slavery is nothing new to the Star Wars canon. Anakin was a slave at one time, and his mother remained a slave for the majority of her life. In "Slaves of the Republic" Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka go undercover to infiltrate the slavers on the planet Zygerria in order to find colonists (members of Ahsoka's people) who have been kidnapped from Kiros and forced into slavery. In the slave markets near the palace, Ahsoka draws unwelcome attention when she prevents a slaver from whipping one of his slaves. Anakin slyly gets them out of the mess and gets an invite to the palace by order of the queen herself.
Anakin force-choking the queen. I guess she was a villain, so this kind
of behavior is acceptable, right? Or is it foreshadowing to come?
Posing as a slaver, Anakin is quick to win the queen's favor. He claims he killed a guy named Bruno Denturri and seized Ahsoka from his abode. He also flirts with the Queen. While Anakin is conversing thus, one of the Queen's slaves attempts to stab her and Anakin intervenes. As a result, the slave throws herself to her death. The queen needing a replacement, takes Ahsoka as her new slave. Having won her heart, the queen invites Anakin to the slave auction that night (you get the impression that this is kind of a first date thing).
I love the ancient Egyptian feel of this episode. 
While Anakin is keeping the queen busy, Obi-Wan rescues the captured governor of Kiros from the slave pits. But the governor doesn't know where all of his people are. Helping the governor to escape, Obi-Wan is captured and of course, tortured. All slave masters torture you know? And Obi-Wan being a famous Jedi does not go unnoticed by the queen.

So you can see where this is going. At the auction that night, the Queen announces a special entertainment and invites Anakin to whip Obi-Wan. Anyway, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka are soon exposed for what they are (the queen is no fool!) and she forces Anakin to be her sex slave saying that she'll hurt his friends if he doesn't pleasure her.

And the same emotional blackmail is used against Obi-Wan and Ahsoka by holding hostage innocent people who will be tortured and killed if they rebel against her.

Anyway, this episode is a great example of where you start to see Anakin's moral compass fray around the edges. It's really quite terrible that Jedi who experience intense emotions and act upon them are basically embracing the dark side. It seems only human to want to protect your own from being hurt. Yet to do just that is oftentimes what separates the Sith from the Jedi.
Have a great Friday :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Padawan Ahsoka Tano exemplifies the best of the Jedi even if she doesn't have the title

The very last scene of the Clone Wars. It ended with Ahsoka Tano leaving
the Jedi Order. Anakin begged for her to return. But she refused. And
that is how one of the greatest Jedi stories ended.
"Snips," Anakin whispered from the wreckage of the A-Wing.

Ahsoka clenched her teeth as she heard the familiar nickname.

Internally, she counted the seconds while she mustered enough courage to reply. With a sigh, she stood with palms flat on the fuselage and lifted herself up slowly...painfully.

A small smile crept across her lips; hood masked her face. “Always in time to save your life Sky Guy,” she answered him. She felt a particular joy that only Anakin could summon. Always her Master, Anakin believed in her no matter what, and she'd come to rely upon his resolve in frightening times.

Waiting for his reply, Ahsoka became satisfied in the silence that hung between them both.

It wasn't the silence that you associate with awkwardness. It was the silence of mutual friends basking in each others presence.
This gif is from an episode where Ahsoka fights Death Watch. It's a really
cool episode. R2 hands her the lightsabers, she cuts herself free, and jumps
coming down and killing like four Death Watch in Mandalorian armor at the
same time. She just cuts their heads off (yes beheadings in a cartoon for kids).
From Wikipedia --

George Lucas stated that the character of Ahsoka was developed for the series as a means of illustrating how Anakin Skywalker develops from the brash, undisciplined Padawan in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones to the more reserved Jedi Knight in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. However, Master Yoda worries about Skywalker's personal relationships. By giving Skywalker his own Padawan, it would place the character into a paternal role where he would be forced to become more cautious and responsible. It would also give Skywalker new insight into his relationship with his own mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and explain how their relationship matured. Lucas stated that, having raised two daughters, he "knew something about the subject," and decided to make Skywalker's apprentice a young female.

My take -- Ahsoka Tano is my favorite character in the series. She just really grew on me season after season. The Star Wars movies had a vacuum of female Jedis.  Previously, I'd been intrigued by Luminara Undulee and her Padawan Barriss Offee, but these characters never got any screen time in the movies (you see them once in the Battle of Geonosis). Ahsoka, however, is a star in The Clone Wars. She's powerful, incredibly skilled, and a person that (unlike Anakin) could never go to the dark side. Her moral compass is without question as straight as the one possessed by dead Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.

The Clone Wars ended with Ahsoka leaving the Jedi council forever because when it came down to it, the Jedi council, did not trust her (even Mace Windu and Yoda thought she might be guilty). The only one that did believe her was Anakin, and he proved this by bringing the traitor Barriss Offee to justice (Barriss had framed Ahsoka for a terrorist bombing of the Jedi Temple) even though it meant allying with a known dark side apprentice named Asajj Ventress to do so.
Disciple of the Dark Side, Asajj Ventress held the key to Ahsoka's innocence.
Maybe it's as early as this event that Anakin began to question and to hate the Jedi Order for alienating him from Ahsoka.

I hope to someday know of the fate of Ahsoka Tano. Did she survive when all the Jedi were eradicated throughout the galaxy? She had all of the skills to be a full blown Jedi Knight, but she didn't have the title. Perhaps Anakin as Darth Vader never looked for her. All I know is that when Yoda died in Return of the Jedi, he said to Luke, "When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be." I suppose technically that means Ahsoka could still be alive.

In the end, Padawan Ahsoka Tano exemplifies the best of the Jedi even if she doesn't have the title.

Below is a video that shows many highlights from Season 3. It will give you a feel of who Ahsoka Tano was and how the most powerful of the Jedi (Anakin) also had the most interesting padawan. They don't show it in this clip, but when Ahsoka has embraced the dark side and fights Anakin (foreshadowing anyone?) he pushes her with telekinesis and she stops herself by thrusting two lightsabers into the ground and leaving a trail of molten lava behind. I thought that was really cool.
And below is a clip that shows Ahsoka Tano battling General Grievous. For those of you who don't know, General Grievous killed Jedi during the Clone Wars and was trained by Count Dooku himself in lightsaber combat. He's a droid that even some Jedi Masters had trouble dealing with (like Kit Fisto). Ahsoka fights
him because he wants to kill younglings (those Jedi babies who are still too weak with the force to defend themselves against a truly skilled opponent). Ahsoka (because she's Anakin's padawan) is no mere student. She's very much like Obi-Wan, able to take on much more powerful foes (remember Obi-Wan fought Darth Maul while he was still a padawan of Qui-Gon Jinn).

It was a difficult choice to pick clips to show you guys. When I get to "V" in this whole A to Z challenge I'm going to talk about Asajj Ventress and show you the clip where Ahsoka fights Asajj (but it's really Barriss Offee in disguise). Barriss goes to the dark side by the end of the series and she's INCREDIBLY powerful. Her telekinetic powers are way better than Vader and in the clip I intend to show you in a week or so, you'll see that.
If you are a Star Wars fan and have never heard of the Clone Wars, I urge you to take the time to watch these videos. They are AWESOME.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Obi-Wan Kenobi would have left the Jedi Order for Duchess Satine

A collage of many scenes involving Duchess Satine and Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Duchess Satine before she died, "Had you said the word, I would have left the Jedi Order." After he said that, it was hard not to burst into tears. Oy...what a heart wrenching scene.

After Satine's death, he was asked, "Did you love Satine?"

Obi-Wan replied, "As a Jedi, I'm not to form emotional attachments. But, yes. I did."

In a way, I'm glad that they canceled The Clone Wars cartoon series. The death of Duchess Satine really put a cap on it. She was Obi-Wan's greatest and probably only love in his life, and arguably one of the most influential figures in the canon (mostly because I think Obi-Wan Kenobi was the greatest hero of the Old Republic).
In the clip below, I've embedded the only scene in which I can recall where Obi-Wan Kenobi fights with a red lightsaber. He does joke to Asajj Ventress that "It's not my color." Setup: Darth Maul and his apprentice Savage Oppress are about to kill Obi-Wan when Asajj Ventress (a Sith who is a recurring character and not entirely bad) comes to the rescue. I really got to where I liked Ventress. Sure, she hated the Jedi but she had her reasons. She always fought with two lightsabers and because Obi-Wan doesn't have one (and they're about to be attacked) he borrows one of hers. It's an awesome fight scene.

And yeah for those of you who don't know, Darth Maul didn't die in episode 1: The Phantom Menace. He just got cut in half, abandoned by Palpatine, and pieced together with artificial legs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nute Gunray is every bit a racist Asian stereotype

Nute Gunray
"The Phantom Menace" gave us many offensive characters. Jar Jar Binks was a racist stereotype that poked fun at African American people. His mannerisms and speech seemed to be modeled on stereotypical and racist views of Blacks. And in the same movie, Lucas managed to also single out Jewish people with Watto the junk dealer who concerned himself with "only money." But still not satisfied with that, Lucas gave us Nute Gunray, thereby sealing "The Phantom Menace" as having a trifecta of some of the most racially offensive characters in history.  And you're in luck, because Nute Gunray is in the Clone Wars cartoon series and that's who I'm going to talk about today :).

Nute Gunray was a Neimodian who served as a Minister of the Trade Federation. His first real episode is "Bombad Jedi," which is the eighth episode of season one of the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Threepio, Jar-Jar as a Jedi and Padme Amidala on Rodia.
In this episode, Amidala is sent by Chancellor Palpatine on secret mission to Rodia (remember Greedo?) to negotiate a peace treaty. On her way, she meets up with a Rodian friend who just happens to be a traitor working for Nute Gunray (the head of the evil Trade Federation that was responsible for keeping a stranglehold on Amidala's home planet of Naboo). Anyway, this traitor captures Amidala and Jar Jar Binks disguises himself as a Jedi and tries to rescue her. With a little help from a sea monster and her friend (who has second thoughts on allying with Gunray), Padme is rescued and Nute Gunray is captured. The episode is named "Bombad Jedi" because Padme's friend calls Jar Jar "Master Bombad."

Below is a clip from the episode featuring everyone's favorite character, Jar-Jar Binks. Honestly...I hated this episode. And that's probably why it stuck in my memory.
Why do I think Nute Gunray is a racist stereotype?

1) He speaks with an Asian accent.
2) He works in the tech field (the Trade Federation is full of droid workers, robots, etc.)
3) He is every bit an unfortunate racial stereotype of Japanese businessmen, treating "trade" like "war."
4) Emasculation and asexuality. From Wikipedia: Chinese laborers in the mid 1800s were given an emasculated image due to physical appearance and the fact they did what Americans considered to be "women's work." They wore long silk gowns (which Gunray does) and usually had long braids.

So yeah...there you have it. Racism is alive and well in children's cartoons people! But I still like the series as a whole. I guess nothing is perfect. If I could ask Lucas one question though, it would be "what the hell were you thinking when you made this character?"