The Essential Clone Wars: “The Mandalore Plot”

***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.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars The Mandalore Plot, Duchess SatineSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E12 – “The Mandalore Plot”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Anna Graves, Jon Favreau, Corey Burton, Greg Proops
WRITER:
Melinda Hsu
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 29, 2010
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan reunites with an old friend to solve a mystery on Mandalore.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Episodes like “The Mandalore Plot” expose a problem with the show: Obi-Wan’s costume. For whatever reason, characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka appear in the same singular outfit episode after episode. That’s not a drastic problem, as they’re Jedi and virtually always wear similar outfits. But for Obi-Wan it’s a problem, as they opted to put him in battle armor for his singular outfit. That works fine for battle sequences. But this episode starts with a diplomatic mission to Mandalore. As such, the armor is inappropriate. Obi-Wan really should have been in Jedi robes, akin to what he wears in all three prequel films.

Making the Mandalorians their own society of super commandos presents a problem: It devalues Boba Fett and Jango Fett, as we now virtually have a planet full of characters that all have similar costumes and gadgets. Considering what pivotal roles Boba and Jango have in the saga at large, I would have deemed that unacceptable, regardless of whether that’s how the Mandalorians were originally conceived.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, The Mandalore Plot, Pre Vizsla

What’s more, it’s a problem that Star Wars wasn’t able to even try and solve until more than a decade later, when we got to The Mandalorian. When we get to “The Tragedy” in season two, we’re able to see how Boba Fett’s fighting style is much more brutal than Din Djarin’s, and presumably the rest of the Mandalorians. I’d still prefer Boba and Jango had the whole helmet and jetpack M.O. to themselves. But that helped.

On the subject of The Mandalorian, the man who would become its showrunner, Jon Favreau, plays Pre Vizsla. I’m not enamored with that casting choice, though. Maybe it’s the stark contrast of his nasally American accent against the ones James Arnold Taylor and Anna Graves give to Obi-Wan and Satine. (I say that as a guy with a nasally American accent. It’s not an insult, I promise.)

The Clone Wars is a kids show, right? At least in theory? I say that because it’s not often you see a suicide on a kids show. We hear the sound of his body hitting the ground and everything. I ain’t mad at it. I’m just saying you don’t see it often. If ever…

Before strapping Obi-Wan into that Adam West Batman style death trap, the Death Watch soldiers thought enough to take Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. However they apparently didn’t think to check him for communication devices. Bad form, gentlemen.

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

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part IV” Review

Darth Vader poster, Star Wars Obi-Wan KenobiSERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part IV”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr. 
WRITERS:
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
June 8, 2011
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan and Tala infiltrate enemy territory to find Leia.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s talk about this straight away: There was some buzz last week about a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As much as I’ve mostly enjoyed the show so far, as far as a second season is concerned, I’m lukewarm at best. From a story perspective, Obi-Wan is supposed to be in seclusion for the 19 years between A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith. As a fan, I can buy that he briefly leaves Tatooine for a desperate situation. But if you go back to that well again, you might be pushing it too far.

Now, if they want to come back for something involving one of the other characters, perhaps even the Darth Vader miniseries that some have been buzzing about, I might be game for that. But more Obi-Wan? Nah, I think I’m good.

Then again, they can always change my mind with the right story…

In the opening minutes of the episode, we see Darth Vader in his…rejuvenation tank? Is that what it is? Is there bacta in there?

I had a thought about Darth Vader earlier this week: I’m not sure I’m a fan of Obi-Wan Kenobi showing us Anakin’s face. The unmasking of Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi is such a pivotal moment. Arguably the moment the entire original trilogy built to. Showing us Anakin’s face here waters that down a little bit, doesn’t it?

That was one of the few things I liked about Rogue One. They gave us Darth Vader in the tank, but didn’t show us his face.

Then again, Mrs. Primary Ignition had a good counterpoint to that argument: Who’s watching Obi-Wan Kenobi before they finish the original trilogy? In the modern era, that number is about as minuscule as it’ll ever be. Future generations might be another story, I suppose…

Bacta tank, Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan came out of his bacta tank before his wounds could fully heal. Does that mean he has burn scars on his body? That feels appropriate. And of course, we never saw Alec Guinness with his shirt off in the original trilogy. So there’s nothing to contradict it. Nice touch.

The planet name Jabiim rang a bell for me. In the Legends continuity, i.e. the old Star Wars publishing canon, is was the site of one of the most brutal and bloody battles of the Clone Wars. So brutal and bloody, in fact, that if I’m not mistaken there was only one survivor: Anakin Skywalker.

Indira Varma plays Tala. Mrs. Primary Ignition tells me she and The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal played husband and wife on Game of Thrones. I must confess, I’m not a big enough Game of Thrones fan to remember that. I do, however, remember Pascal’s character having a pretty gruesome death scene, with his eyes being pushed back into his skull. Because that’s just how they rolled on Game of Thrones.

So that big fortress we see the Inquisitors is actually called Fortress Inquisitorius? That’s kinda lame. Then again, when you’re that sadistic and evil, I guess you can call your base whatever you want, and dare anybody to laugh at you…

I was taken aback, mostly in a good way, by how scary certain parts of this episode were. Leia being strapped into a torture contraption. The Jedi tomb with all those dead faces staring out, one of which being a child. I actually had to pause the episode at one point because my two-year-old daughter walked into the room. Powerful stuff, man.

Reva, sky, Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi

I can’t believe that Vivien Lyra Blair wasn’t even 10 years old when they shot this. Imagine being that age and performing intense scenes like this, while also feeling the pressure of playing a character like Princess Leia. She’s young, but she’s got my respect.

It bears repeating James Earl Jones really has mounted a comeback with his performance here as the voice of Darth Vader. After Rogue One and Rebels I had my doubts. But even at over 90 years old, the man has still got it.

Leia reaching out and holding Obi-Wan’s hand was a nice way to close out the episode. A great little display of humanity.

Question: Is Obi-Wan Kenobi wasting Hayden Christensen? We’re four episodes in, and his work has been mostly confined to the Darth Vader costume, with some shots of him the rejuvenation tank thrown in there. There’s nothing wrong with that, strictly speaking. But when they announced him for this show, I naturally assumed we were going to be getting flashback sequences. Something perhaps set during the events of The Clone Wars cartoon show, with Obi-Wan and Anakin in corresponding costumes. Maybe even a Rosario Dawson cameo as Ahsoka.

Is that asking too much? Maybe. Maybe not. And granted, we still have two episodes left. But all these years after his performances in the prequels were ridiculed, I think Christensen deserves to flex his acting chops a little bit. I can’t help but want that for him.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Legacy of Terror”

***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:
S2:E7 – “Legacy of Terror”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Olivia d’Abo, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George
WRITER:
Eoghan Mahony
DIRECTOR:
Steward Lee
PREMIERE DATE:
November 20, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
On a rescue mission, Anakin and Obi-Wan face a hive of undead Geonosians. 

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode is about zombie space bugs. That’s pretty awesome. Also awesome? It’s not totally stupid. So I tip my hat to director Steward Lee, writer Eoghan Mahoney, and everybody else on the creative team for taking a concept that could easily have gone south and making it work.

I wonder how difficult it is to animate a sandstorm like the one we see in this episode. What’s more, to make it look as good as it does. I can’t imagine it’s easy…

These last few episodes, the show has done a superb job playing up the creep factor of these giant bugs. The idea of brain-invading worms are enough to really make your skin crawl. And that’s before factoring in the whole zombie thing.

Dee Bradley Baker, who also voices the clones, plays the Geonosian hive queen (shown above). That’s a hell of a range on display there. A legitimately creepy voice too.

This episode comes something of an abrupt end. All things considered though, there are worst mistakes to make. Better a quality episode that ends quickly than a mediocre episode that drags…

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Weapons Factory”

***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:
S2:E6 – “Weapons Factory”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Meredith Salenger, Olivia d’Abo, Dee Bradley Baker
WRITER:
Brian Larsen
DIRECTOR:
Giancarlo Volpe
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
Anakin’s trust in Ahsoka is tested in battle.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“Weapons Factory” isn’t much of an inspiring or intriguing name. “Assault on Point Rain” seems much more dramatic, and much more Star Wars.

Name notwithstanding, “Weapons Factory” gave me what I was looking for in “Landing at Point Rain.” More of a personal story told against the backdrop of a big battle on Geonosis. Anakin’s relationship with Ahsoka is put through a test, as the story places it next to Luminara Unduli’s relationship with her apprentice, Barriss Offee. More specifically, we see Anakin’s refusal of the prospect of letting Ahsoka die compared to Luminara’s more passive attitude about losing Barriss. The latter, of course, is the outlook Jedi are theoretically supposed to have.

The tactical droid that assists Poggle the Lesser is voiced by Tom Kane. Kane, of course, also voices both Yoda and the series narrator.  This droid sounds like a more monotone version of the narrator. It’s fun to listen to in that sense.

Luminara Unduli (shown above) made her debut as a background character during Attack of the Clones. She might be the best designed of the Jedi created for that movie. The black and green make for a nice contrast. But the headdress is what really makes her look. Without that headdress she wouldn’t have nearly as much going for her from a visual standpoint.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Landing at Point Rain”

***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:
S2:E5 – “Landing at Point Rain”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Matt Lanter, Brian George, Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor
WRITER:
Brian Larsen
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
November 4, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
The Jedi lead an attack on the Separatist droid factory on Geonosis.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I initially wrinkled my nose at Anakin and Ahsoka gloating about their respective kill counts. But then it occurred to me: The Separatists use robots. So they weren’t actually “killing” anyone.

Our big bad guy at the droid factory is named Poggle the Lesser. We also saw him in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. But question: Does his name mean anything? I mean…lesser what? What does that word mean in this context? That one’s a head-scratcher for me.

Here’s an odd complaint to have about a war show: This episode felt really loud to me. Lots of explosions and spaceship sounds and pew pew pews. I guess that’s how you know I’m not a young fanboy anymore…

There’s a moment in this episode where a Clone Trooper gets blasted into the air and takes a hard landing on the ground. Another clone then shouts, “Man down!” That was funny to me. When you go down like that, “Man down!” is pretty much adding insult to injury, isn’t it?

This episode really didn’t do much for me. This, despite it being on various “Best of” lists as it relates to The Clone Wars. It’s a great example of how well the show can do the big Star Wars battle sequences. And it’s got a cute little moment between Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Ki-Adi Mundi at the end. But other than that…

My guess? Because it’s part of a multi-part story arc, “Landing at Point Rain” simply isn’t intended to stand on its own as much as a typical episode. I can only assume it’s meant to set the table for better things to come.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Rookies”

***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.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, image 1SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S1:E5 – “Rookies”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor, Matthew Wood, Tom Kane, Matt Lanter
WRITER:
Steven Melching
DIRECTOR:
Justin Ridge
PREMIERE DATE:
October 24, 2008
SYNOPSIS: 
A group of rookie clones unite prevent a Separatist droid invasion.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We start the episode off with what looks like a hologram version of a radio broadcast. That’s a cool little world-building (or in this case, universe-building) element to throw in.

Almost all the characters on The Clone Wars, especially this early in the show, always wear the same outfits. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s case, it can be distracting as he’s wearing battle armor. It looks out of place in scenes like the one on the bridge of the starship. In hindsight, I might have put him in something that looked a little less battle-ready.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, Image 2

When I looked at “Ambush,” I noted how I’m not a fan of the battle droids being overly goofy. These stealth droid commandos, on the other hand, are right up my alley. They give off just the vibe you’d expect an evil robot army to have. They’re cold, efficient, merciless, and scary.

It took me a minute to realize that Echo, one of the clones we see in this episode, is also one of the main characters in The Bad Batch. I can only assume we’ll be seeing more of him and his evolution as we move through The Clone Wars and into The Bad Batch. That’s always a cool thing to see.

And of course, we have Rex and Cody in this episode. We know they’ll both play notable roles as time goes on.

“Big gun doesn’t make a big man.” That’s a good line. The kind that should be repeated often in certain parts of America…

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “Ambush”

***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:
S1:E1 – “Ambush”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George, Corey Burton, Nika Futterman
WRITER:
Steven Melching
DIRECTOR:
Dave Bullock
PREMIERE DATE:
October 3, 2008
SYNOPSIS:
Yoda is lured into a trap by Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My research for this episode was my first exposure to how wonky the Clone Wars episode chronology can be. I invite you to check out Lucasfilm’s chronological episode order to see what I mean. But apparently, if one were to watch all the episodes in chronological order, “Ambush” would be the show’s fifth episode, rather than the first.

If nothing else, I guess it’s consistent with the Star Wars brand. This is, after all, the movie franchise that started with Episode IV.

Chronological issues notwithstanding, this was a good episode to start with. Everybody knows Yoda, so that was a nice hook for viewers who weren’t as familiar with Star Wars. It also establishes some of the main villains, who the good guy and bad guy troops are, the nature of the war itself, etc.

I’ve never like when the battle droids are overly jokey. That started in Revenge of the Sith, and continued here. It was the only thing in the episode that grated on me.

For whatever reason the Toydarians, King Katuunko in particular, don’t look as richly detailed as the other characters. First episode stumbles, maybe?

Obviously, the highlight of this episode is Yoda having the clones take their helmets off and then addressing them as individuals. The best line in his little speech? “Deceive you, eyes can. In the Force, very different each one of you are.” That’s a great Yoda line. 

On the subject of Yoda, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Tom Kane to voice that character. At this point, he’d already played the character for the Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts that aired between 2003 and 2005. But this was obviously of a much larger scale. The character was, and still is, so closely identified with Frank Oz. But to his credit, Kane managed to make the character his own. He’s not as vocally flamboyant with Yoda as Oz was. But I might argue Kane gives the character a little more grit, which isn’t uncalled for in a show like The Clone Wars.

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

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: From Animation to Live Action

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2:E3. “Chapter 11: The Heiress.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Katee Sackhoff, Mercedes Varnado
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2020
SYNOPSIS: 
Mando meets a trio of his own kind, and winds up taking on the Empire once again.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode requires a decent amount of exposition, only some of which we actually got. Katee Sackhoff’s character is Bo-Katan Kryze. Long story short, her sister was the duchess of Mandalore. Thus, her trying to get the Darksaber. 

“The Purge,” meanwhile, was when the Empire killed most of the Mandalorian people, forcing the survivors into hiding. All this stuff was covered between the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows.

I’m fairly certain this is the first time we’ve seen an ocean dock in live-action Star WarsIt makes for a different vibe. I like it. That’s one of the things that’s been so great about The Mandalorian. It shows us the Star Wars universe from different angles.

When Bo-Katan dropped out of the sky, Mrs. Primary Ignition exclaimed: “It’s a lady Mandalorian!” I’m hoping there were a lot of little girls in the audience saying the same thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about what a “true” Mandalorian is. We know Jango Fett and Boba Fett weren’t. And now we get talk that Din Djarin isn’t. Can we maybe get some clarification on this issue? I’m a Star Wars geek, and even I’m confused….

I was curious to see how they’d credit WWE’s Sasha Banks, who plays Koska Reeves. They used her real name, Mercedes Varnado. Which makes sense, of course. I’m not the world’s biggest Sasha Banks fan. But I was proud of her for this. She even got a decent number of lines and wasn’t just a muscular body in the background.

Even after all this time, I’m still getting used to Star Wars music that isn’t a classical score. Case in point, the sort of industrial-style beat they had going during the action sequence aboard the Imperial ship. It works. It’s just not traditional Star Wars.

Hey! Stormtrooper! When you see a grenade rolling toward you, maybe…I’unno…kick the damn thing away instead of staring down at it like a friggin’ nincompoop!!!

And there it is. Destination: Ahsoka Tano. Here’s my question: Katee Sackhoff voiced Bo-Katan Kryze for the cartoons, and now she’s playing the role live. Did they even ask Ashley Eckstein if she wanted to play Ahsoka? Nothing against Rosario Dawson, of course. But it seemed like Eckstein was up for it. Yes, Dawson is a renowned on-camera actress, as opposed to Eckstein who’s more famous for voice acting. But Eckstein had a hand in the creation of the character. She should have had the chance to play Ahsoka if she wanted it.

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

Astonishing Art: Star Wars and Marvel by Melissa Thomas

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Awhile back, I stumbled on to the artwork of Melissa Thomas. I really wish I remembered how I found her. Then maybe I could do it again, and with any luck find more art that’s this much fun!

Thomas’ work is clearly inspired by some of the classic Disney animated films. You can easily see one of her characters walking out of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, or Mulan. Thus, it’s fitting that she so often uses it to depict characters from the Star Wars and Marvel universe.

Below are a few of my favorites among Thomas’ work. For more, I would encourage you to check her out on Behance, Instagram, and Twitter. She also has a store over at Society6.

Visit one of Thomas’ pages, and you’ll see she’s a big fan of The Clone Wars. Her Anakin Skywalker is particularly strong. The above sketches were my first exposure to her work. I wasn’t the only one to appreciate it, as the official Star Wars Instagram account re-posted it. Talk about reaching your target audience…

Obviously this one is much more refined. We have a filter over an actual still from Attack of the Clones, with Thomas giving us her take on Anakin and Padme. For yours truly, the sharper angles in the facial structure evoke some of the newer movies, as opposed to some of the classics. Anakin is giving me bit of a John Smith from Pocahontas vibe. That Disney romance charm is definitely there, though. She the refined product of royalty, and he the boyish charmer. If only Hayden Christensen had been allowed to be this likeable.

The premise of this one is interesting to me. Rey and Finn in an office setting. Two Star Wars characters in a setting that’s not at all like Star Wars. We’re almost journeying into alternate universe territory. This one actually reminds me of Paperman, the black and white short they put in theaters with Wreck-It-Ralph. Paperman is in black and white. But go watch it, and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

We’re venturing into Marvel territory here, as Thomas captures the heart-wrenching goodbye we saw from Peter Parker in Infinity War. The big, tear-filled “Disney eyes” literally make the whole image. Thomas gives the piece just the right amount of emotional gravitas, without going too far. Peter is going away, but he doesn’t necessarily have the time to really process it. And just as he starts to process it, he fades away. Beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last one is a simple sketch. An older one, at that. It’s based on a famous promotional shot of Harrison Ford for the original Star Wars.

I’m comparing the live image to the sketch because the latter is a perfect illustration (no pun intended) of how Thomas captures a character’s essence, while still maintaining her own style. In the photograph, Ford is playing it cool. He’s emotionally inaccessible. Thomas, on the other hand, gives Han a little smile. He’s every bit the charming rogue he should be. But the smile gives it that touch of Disney magic that Thomas is going for. So simple, yet so effective.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.