The Essential Clone Wars: “Shades of Reason”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S5:E15 – “Shades of Reason”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Sam Witwer, Jon Favreau, Anna Graves, Julian Holloway, Clancy Brown
WRITER:
Chris Collins
DIRECTOR:
Bosco Ng
PREMIERE DATE:
January 26, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Maul and Pre Vizsla each jockey for control of Mandalore.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Well of course the bad guys are secretly plotting against each other. It almost wouldn’t be Star Wars if they weren’t. In a way it’s kind of stupid. But it also makes sense. Star Wars shows us that greed and a lust for power, i.e. the dark side, are all-consuming. And once you start down that path, you can never have enough…

Pre Vizsla gets in front of the crowd and says that Death Watch is here to save them from the gangsters. The crowd buys into what he says very quickly, despite the group ominously having the word “death” in its name. Not exactly easy from a marketing standpoint, is it? You’d think the Empire would have run into the same thing with the Death Star.

One of the things that interests me about this episode is that none of our heroes are in it. There’s no Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Yoda, etc. Not every show can pull that off. It’s a credit to the quality of the writing and the patience said writers have in crafting this story.

The animators did a great job with Satine’s face in this episode. You can feel her worry, despair, even pain at the situation she and her people find themselves in.

Pretty epic fight between Maul and Vizsla (shown above). Maybe my favorite one-on-one confrontation of the entire series thus far.

Ultimately, Maul decapitates Vizsla with the Darksaber and takes his spot as leader of Death Watch. The whole “he who holds the Darksaber rules Mandalore” thing is obviously what they’re preparing to invoke between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan as head toward season three of The Mandalorian. This was a handy episode to watch in that respect.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Eminence”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S5:E14 – “Eminence”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Sam Witwer, Jon Favreau, Clancy Brown, Katee Sackhoff, Kevin Michael Richardson
WRITER:
Chris Collins
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 19, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Maul and Savage Opress team with the Death Watch against Obi-Wan Kenobi.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My stance on Jon Favreau voicing Pre Vizsla has softened a bit. He doesn’t necessarily sound like a warrior belongs in a group with Darth Maul and Savage Opress. But maybe that’s the idea. Vizsla is more of a conniving scheming, after all. Maybe it works in a subtle sense…

When Savage gets up from the operating table after Maul comes to retrieve him, he bumps his horns on the lamp above the table. That’s obviously meant to be funny. But it’s oddly timed. Kind of like the stormtrooper bumping his head in A New Hope. Only that was an accident on the set, and they just left it in. From an animation standpoint, this was obviously intentional. It’s an interesting choice.

Jabba the Hutt, as well as the Black Sun leaders, are voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Richardson has worked on a litany of Star Wars projects, as well as shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Teen Titans, and the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. He also got two Daytime Emmy nominations for voicing the Joker in The Batman.

I was pleased to see that the Black Sun leaders were falleens, the same species as Prince Xizor, who ruled Black Sun when we first saw them back in the ’90s in in Shadows of the Empire. Nice continuity there.

Was that Dengar I briefly saw with the bounty hunters that fought Maul’s group (shown above)? That’s a cool little cameo. Dengar, of course, being one of the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back. He had maybe a couple of seconds of screen time as a background character. But still, die-hard Star Wars nuts like me recognized him.

It’s almost always cool to see Jabba’s palace, as it’s a classic location from Return of the Jedi. Especially when we get to see it from different sides and vantage points.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Revival”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Savage Opress, Maul, Star Wars the Clone Wars, RevivalSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S5:E1 – “Revival”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Sam Witwer, Clancy Brown, James Arnold Taylor, Jim Cummings, Matt Later
WRITER:
Chris Collins
DIRECTOR:
Steward Lee
PREMIERE DATE:
September 29, 2012
SYNOPSIS:
Maul and Savage Opress align themselves with pirates.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The brief “Master and Apprentice” scene, where Maul and Opress fight over who has what title, is consistent with George Lucas’ portrayal of the Sith. Treachery and betrayal is a staple of any Sith partnership. Each is always looking to be more powerful than the other, and in the end will make a grab for that power.

Legendary voice actor Jim Cummings performs in this episode as both Hondo Ohnaka and the warehouse director. He’s an extremely versatile performer known for voicing Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, the Tasmanian Devil, and countless other characters. This is my first exposure to Hondo, who had been on the show in previous episodes. But anyone who’s heard Cummings perform villain roles before would likely recognize his voice very quickly. The Clone Wars was very lucky to have him, as any show is.

Hondo Ohnaka, Star Wars te Clone Wars, revival

I’ve always wondered how Maul got involved with Crimson Dawn in Solo: A Star Wars Story. This episode gives us a brief glimpse through that proverbial window, as Maul becomes involved with organized crime for what is presumably the first time.

The Jedi Obi-Wan travels with in this episode, and is ultimately killed by Savage Opress, is Adi Gallia. The character made her debut as a background player in The Phantom Menace. Oddly enough, I remember her most prominently as a playable character in the video game Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles.

What is that green vapor emanating from Opress’ wound after his arm is cut off? Did they just add that as a spooky effect?

The episode ends on a shot of Palpatine. I’d be curious to know his take on Maul’s return. Hopefully they meet again at some point, as they obviously have unfinished business…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Revenge”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S4:E22 – “Revenge”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Clancy Brown, Sam Witwer, James Arnold Taylor, Nika Futterman, Barbara Goodson
WRITER:
Katie Lucas
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
March 16, 2012
SYNOPSIS:
Maul and Savage Opress enact their plan to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Very early in the episode, we hear Maul repeating the name “Kenobi” over and over again. Last time, I questioned how the Jedi knew Maul’s name. This time, I question how Maul knows Obi-Wan’s name. Did Nute Gunray know? Did Sidious know?

Barbara Goodson, who voices Mother Talzin, also provided the voice for another famous witch: Rita Repulsa on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. When she’s chanting and casting her spell on Maul, it’s the closest she comes on this series to sounding like Rita again. As a Power Rangers geek, that was pretty cool to hear.

As should be obvious to anyone who’s read the story, Maul’s new look is based on his appearance in the short comic book tale, “Old Wounds.” That story highlighted the Star Wars: Visionaries graphic novel released in 2005. It saw Maul, complete with robotic legs, travel to Tatooine to go after a toddler-aged Luke Skywalker. He was, of course, met by his old rival Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul’s look, and the story itself, came to us courtesy of Aaron McBride.

Right before the fight with Maul and Savage Opress ensues, Obi-Wan does “the pose” (shown above). That’s what I’m calling it, at least. The one where he brings his saber-holding hand behind him, and holds his free hand out front. He did this in Revenge of the Sith, then later in Rebels, then again in Obi-Wan Kenobi. He even did it in Star Wars: Brotherhood. At this point, “the Obi-Wan pose” would be an apt name for it.

Obi-Wan and Asajj Ventress teaming up is a fun little arrangement. The episode ends with them fleeing together in a ship. I wish we could have seen how they parted ways, given their bitter history. Did they come to a mutual understanding and decide, in fitting with the episode’s opening tagline, the enemy of my enemy is my friend? It would have made for an interesting scene.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Brothers”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Darth Maul, Star Wars the Clone Wars BrothersSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S4:E21 – “Brothers”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Clancy Brown, Sam Witwer, Ben Diskin, Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein
WRITER:
Katie Lucas
DIRECTOR:
Bosco Ng
PREMIERE DATE:
March 9, 2012
SYNOPSIS:
Savage Opress’ search for his brother Maul culminates on Lotho Minor.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Savage Opress finds his brother Maul on Lotho Minor, which is basically a big junkyard planet. So are we to assume that big shaft Maul fell down in The Phantom Menace was a garbage chute? I didn’t look like one. Then again, I doubt George Lucas or anybody on the creative side of things thought Maul was going to survive that fall. Much less getting cut in half at the waist…

Maul is voiced by Sam Witwer. Longtime Star Wars fans will recognize him as the actor who provided both the voice and likeness for Starkiller in The Force Unleashed. He gives a great unhinged, guttural performance in this episode.

Interestingly enough, Witwer would once again provide Maul’s voice for Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2019. This despite Lucasfilm having access to Peter Serafinowicz, who originally voiced Maul in The Phantom Menace.

Lotho Minor Star Wars the Clone Wars, Brothers

I like the idea of a big junk planet. Had they not developed Jakku as we saw it in The Force Awakens, I always thought a planet like Lotho Minor might be an interesting place for Rey to hail from.

I got a big kick out of the snake character Morley, voiced by Ben Diskin. Part of me wishes Opress and Maul had taken him with them when they left Lotho Minor. Granted, that makes no sense from a character standpoint, so in the end it’s probably better he died.

I appreciate the idea that Maul’s mind was damaged he lost to Obi-Wan and hasn’t recovered, even after more than a decade. It makes sense. To call what he went through a traumatic experience would be a gross understatement, don’t you think?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Witches of the Mist”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S3:E14 – “Witches of the Mist”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Corey Burton, Clancy Brown, Nika Futterman, James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter
WRITER:
Katie Lucas
DIRECTOR:
Giancarlo Volpe
PREMIERE DATE:
January 7, 2011
SYNOPSIS:
Asajj Ventress springs her trap on Count Dooku.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Another thing that’s stupid about the “Savage Opress” name? George Lucas has said that the bad guys in Star Wars (specifically in the prequel era) all think they’re good guys, and doing what’s best for the galaxy. If you thought you were a good guy, would you tack the word “oppress” on to your apprentice’s name? No. You wouldn’t.

Unless you were stupid. There’s always that.

Granted, I didn’t buy the whole “bad guys think they’re good” theory in the first place. Either way, somebody here is wrong…

Obi-Wan immediately assumed the footage they got of Savage Opress was of Darth Maul. I’m assuming he, and the Jedi at large, learned Maul’s name from interrogating Nute Gunray after the events of The Phantom Menace.

Dooku’s sadistic training methods for Savage Opress feel true to his character, and the Sith as a clan. The Sith channel hate into power in the Force. I’d say electrocution via Dark Side lightning is a decent way to spark hate in someone.

Get it? Spark? Tee hee.

How long did Dooku actually train with Opress? Doesn’t seem like very long…

Mother Talzin simply tells Obi-Wan and Anakin that Opress is on the planet Toydaria, and they go running off to find him. Shouldn’t they have asked for, y’know, more specifics? Toydaria is an entire world. You’d think they’d want to narrow it down to a city or something.

Fun fact: King Katuunko is voiced by Brian George. He also voices Ki-Adi Mundi. George is probably best known for playing Babu Bhatt on Seinfeld. He also had a recurring role as Raj’s father on The Big Bang Theory.

King Katuunko has a pretty brutal death in this episode. He gets his neck forcibly snapped, and then his corpse gets dragged around by Opress. Not exactly the dignified ending you look for when you’re a king.

The title of this episode is a little misleading. It’s more about Ventress, Dooku, and Opress than the titular “Witches of the Mist.” A better title might have been “The Sith Trap,” or something to that effect.

At the end of the episode, Mother Talzin reveals to Savage Opress that his brother Maul is alive. I maintain that if they wanted to bring Maul back, they didn’t need to create the Savage Opress character. They could simply have had Talzin send Ventress after Maul, with the idea that he could help her overthrow Dooku. The whole “Darth Maul has a brother” idea grates on me to this day.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Monsters”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Savage Oppress, Star Wars the Clone Wars, MonsterSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S3:E13 – “Monster”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Nika Futterman, Clancy Brown, Corey Burton, Barbara Goodson, Dee Bradley Baker
WRITER:
Katie Lucas
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 14, 2011
SYNOPSIS:
Count Dooku gains a new ally in Savage Opress…or does he? 

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode sees the debut of a new character named Savage Opress (pronounced Sə-vazh “O’press”). He becomes Count Dooku’s new apprentice, but is secretly in league with Asajj Ventress.

I hate Savage Opress. And not in a “villain you love to hate” sort of way. I find the character cringeworthy. That’s in no small part because of his name. Savage Opress is one of the worst and most lazily concocted villain names I’ve ever heard. The Star Wars prequel era has more than a few lazily named villains. There’s Darth Tyranus, there’s General Grievous, and one can also make a case for Darth Maul. But Savage Opress? It’s like they weren’t even trying. They just shoved two evil-sounding words together and called it a name. Pure and simple laziness.

I’m also not thrilled with the idea of giving Maul a brother. Given where this storyline with Savage winds up going, it’s obvious they introduced him with the intention of bringing Maul back. So why not cut out the middle man and find a different way to bring Maul back? Maybe have Mother Talzin reveal to Asajj Ventress that Maul is alive, and have her be the one to hunt him down…

The one upside to Savage Opress? He’s voiced by Clancy Brown. Brown is a renowned voice actor, having performed as Mr. Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants and Lex Luthor in the DC Animated Universe, among numerous other roles. He also played Burg in the Mandalorian episode, “The Prisoner.”

The Jedi Master who Savage Opress kills late in the episode is named Halsey. For the record, this episode came out a few years before Halsey released her first album. Just puttin’ that out there. 

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian – Channeling His Inner Batman

The Mandalorian, season 1 posterSERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1:E6. “Chapter 6: The Prisoner”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Bill Burr, Natalia Tena, Clancy Brown, Ismael Cruz Cordova
WRITERS:
Christopher Yost, Rick Famuyiwa
DIRECTOR: Rick Famuyiwa
PREMIERE DATE:
December 13, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
The Mandalorian is tasked with helping to free a convict from a New Republic prison ship.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

One name that jumps out at me from the get-go is Christopher Yost. He’s written his share of comic books, and also worked on Thor: Ragnarok. So Mando was in good hands here from a writing standpoint.

It was, and still is, incredibly surreal to see Bill Burr in the Star Wars universe. He’s one of the funniest comedians out there. And yet, his work as Migs Mayfeld isn’t necessarily comedic. This episode speaks well to his work as an actor.

So Mando and Xi’an (played by Natalia Tena) have a romantic history of some kind. I guess even in a galaxy far, far away, chicks dig the strong and silent type. How does that work, though? Like, physically? Mando never takes off his helmet, after all.

Boy does that make for some weird visuals…

So we’ve got ourselves a prison break heist episode. Mando is put on a team tasked with getting in, freeing a prisoner, then getting out.

When I saw this episode, being the nerd that I am, I couldn’t help but wonder how long a transition it was for the New Republic to establish themselves as the new law in the galaxy. The Mandalorian takes place five years after Return of the Jedi. So less than that. Pretty impressive all things considered.

The Mandalorian Chapter 6, the Prisoner

This is a nitpick, but it’s curious to me that there’s a mouse droid on this New Republic prison ship. To me, they’re synonymous with the Empire, the Death Star, etc. But again, that’s nitpicking.

The use of droids as prison guards is a little odd too. As they’re supposed to be the good guys, it feels like the New Republic should have live guards. Maybe there’s a lack of living bodies to give those jobs to. We eventually find out there’s only one organic on the ship.

Seeing Mando go into predator mode and hunt everybody down was pretty awesome. He was channeling his inner Batman.

Nitpicks notwithstanding, this is actually one of my favorite episodes. It’s nicely paced, there’s a great tension in the air, the characters are interesting. It just works. A very well done episode.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.