Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7: Episode 10: “Phantom Apprentice”

It’s kind of crazy how sometimes two things I’m working on can dovetail nicely, or maybe it’s just my liberal arts brain trying to make less reading for myself that connects things that way, but the fact that this episode aired the same week that I was reading Erik Larson’s truly brilliant history book In The Garden Of Beasts, about the American Ambassador to Berlin during the years leading up to World War II, William Dodd.

The book is mostly about how Dodd kept saying, “HEY HITLER IS DANGEROUS AND WE CAN’T TRUST THE NAZIS,” and everyone in the American state department and establishment kept saying, “ehh, Dodd’s overreacting, I’m sure it will be fine.” (Narrator: It was not fine)

How does this connect to “Phantom Apprentice,” you might ask?

This is all about how Darth Maul has been shouting that, “HEY I KNOW WHO DARTH SIDIOUS IS AND YOU’RE ALL JUST PAWNS!” and everyone reacts by saying, “Boy, that Darth Maul sure is crazy, huh? Anyway,” and moves on. It’s even more present in this episode, where he and Ahsoka have several beautifully animated confrontations and he tries to convince her to join him and stop Sidious, because he knows this is all about to fall down on their heads.

What’s really fascinating in this run of episodes is that they are running parallel to Revenge Of The Sith, and that’s all the more chilling. Everytime Ahsoka checks in with Obi-Wan and Anakin we know exactly what’s going on with them and how horrible the next steps are. I keep holding my breath waiting for the moment that the clones turn on her. We know Rex helped get her out, but Order 66 has broken my heart every single time I’ve watched the movie, all the way back to high school when I first watched it. I don’t think whenever this hits in the next two weeks will be different.

The real showcase of this episode were those fights between Maul and Ahsoka, and frankly, they were some of the most stunning visual moments the show has ever had. Ray Park, who played Maul originally did the motion capture for them, so the physicality is perfect, and while the fight is exceptional there are also a pair of excellent performances from Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein here. Ashley has done incredible work all season showing Ahsoka’s growth and Witwer is always a joy, but this particular “We’re not so different, you and I,” “I’m nothing like you!” back and forth was a true joy to hear. (Granted, I’m a sucker for the trope)

This was my favorite episode of the season so far and I can’t believe we’re only two out from the finale. I’m going to miss this show so much. (Although, let’s face it, I’ll probably just watch ROTS and then Rebels again as soon as it ends.)

Magical Movies Tour The Sword In The Stone

I’m reasonably sure that this was one that I never watched before. I’m not sure how, given how much I’ve always loved Camelot stories and my serious love for Disney Animation, but sometimes things slip through the cracks.

I was unbearably delighted by this movie. I think this is my favorite era so far. I love the quirky animation, the silly characters and top notch gag comedy. Merlin is so much fun here and my favorite versions of Arthur are when he’s good hearted and tries his best (even when he falls up short) and the boy Wort here is certainly that. Merlin is determined to make him thoughtful and compassionate, all things that will serve him well when he becomes king.

Each of Merlin’s lessons, an adventure where they turn into animals and see a different point of view is a great deal of fun. (The squirrels being particularly prophetic, “That’s not the last time you’ll have trouble with women, boy.” No, no it will not be.) And Arthur’s step family could give the Tremaine’s a run for their money with their abuse, but like Cinderella he remains optimistic and kind. He wants to be a knight, but knows with his unknown birth he has to work twice as hard. Merlin urges him to look beyond that ambition, to use his mind and imagination.

It’s unclear whether Merlin knows Arthur is the Once And Future King here, he knows that boy is someone special, but who and what exactly that means is murky, and that does make the story a lot more fun. Merlin knows he’s doing this for a reason but he has no idea what that reason is. And it just makes everything fun.

Next week we’ll talk about The Jungle Book another one that I have some crazy childhood nostalgia for. We watched this one a lot as kids and I’m looking forward to it.


Prince Harran

So, Annalise is trying to forget herself for a minute and also, she’s really horny.

I’m actually really proud of this chapter, and Harran is a character I can’t wait for you all to hang out with a bit. (In my brain, he’s Chris Hemsworth.)

The Marina Chronicle

Prince Harran of the Borderlands had been spending most of his time around the barracks. It made sense, the Border Tribes were less formal than us, and Harran had been chafing at court.

I’d forgotten how much I’d liked him when he visited us at Pantona, with his easy manners and laugh. He was tall with light hair and eyes, and he was tall and strongly built.

“Your majesty,” he said, seeing me approach. He was sharpening a knife.

“Your Highness,” I said and sat down with him. He laughed and pulled his flask from his belt. “Thank you.”

“Tell me Lisette,” he said, “where have you been of late?” I frowned. “You haven’t been here with us.”

“No,” I said softly and took a drink. “Do you think I can still out drink you, Your Highness.” He laughed and shook his head.

“Perhaps,” he said, taking the flask back…

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Nerd Homework: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I started Star Trek: Deep Space Nine almost immediately after I finished Star Trek: The Next Generation almost two years ago. But I had a lot of trouble getting into it. I decided after Picard to push through, give it until season 3, (where the hive mind claims it comes into it’s own.) and see if I liked it.

I do like Deep Space Nine, not nearly as much as I like TNG but I fell hard and fast for TNG, which is much more up my alley than anything else. I’ve started joking that why I like it so much is because almost no one on Picard’s Enterprise crew would feel out of place in the Bartlett White House. In fact I think that Riker and Josh Lyman would be very good friends, not to mention Worf and Toby, but that’s another story for another day.

Divorced from my absolute love for it’s immediate predecessory, I like DS9 just fine. I like the cast, though I really, really don’t like The Ferengi, and they are around a lot, I like the quiet build to the Dominion War and the way it shapes the story when it finally hits, I like the Cardassians, especially the wicked but complicated Gal Dukat. I like Commander/Captain Ben Sisko, I like that he’s a father and that he feels less cut off from the rest of humanity than Picard and Kirk, it’s a fun take on the position. I love Commander Kira Narees and Jadzia Dax, and Miles O’Brien and Julian Bashir.

But the show itself feels too, heavy? I don’t mind heavier sci fi, I love Battlestar Galactica and the Ender series, but I feels odd for Star Trek to be so heavy. I like the show when it’s a little bit lighter, a little bit silly and full of optimism. DS9 is really short on optimism, I get that they’re telling the story of a war it’s just bleaker, but the blend of tones, traditional Trek type optimism and ideals against the bleak war, didn’t quite work for me here. (It only barely worked for me in Picard, and that’s just because I was getting time with some characters I love.)

Anyway, I’ve moved right on to Star Trek: Voyager now and I’m about 7 episodes in as of this writing and I love everything about this one. We shall check back in, in a few weeks.

The Series Series: The Shadow And Bone Trilogy By Leigh Bardugo

You know how sometimes you read a book and you realize that it’s the perfect book that you needed in that moment and also that it takes all the things you like and wraps them up nicely? That’s what happened to me with Leigh Bardugo’s faboulous Shadow And Bone trilogy.

Sure it’s a pretty basic YA Magical Chosen One story but instead of your usual medieval Western European setting Bardugo made her aesthetic choices that of Imperial Feudal Russia.

And man am I ever a sucker for that.


The Books

Shadow And Bone

Siege And Storm

Ruin And Rising

The Author

Leigh Bardugo writes books about magic. She also sings a band. She got her start on Tumblr which explains why everything in these books appeals so deeply to me. She lives in LA. Seriously, I think she might be my hero.

Series Structure

There are three books, all told in first person by our main character Alina Starkov, who learns late in her teens that she is a mystical “sun summoner” meant to free her country, Ravka for a dangerous dark “Unsea” at it’s center. She is trained by other Grisha, lead by a mysterious young man, The Darkling. Turns out he’s the bad guy and with the help of her childhood love, a young exiled prince and some other friends and allies, she searches for three mysterious objects that will amplify her power and end The Darkling.


While I read these books two quotes kept rushing through my head, “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, giants, chases escape, true love…” from The Princess Bride and “But it’s my favorite!  Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spell, a prince in disguise!” from Beauty And The Beast both of which I think sum up the story very well.

There’s also a lot of talk about humanity, greed, power, politics, religion and the way stories about them by the powerful shape the minds and lives of common people.

And that’s all well and good, but this series is not a heady contemplation of much of anything. It’s pretty straightforward. There’s also no less than three dreamy boys for you to ship Alina with. One of whom is the Darkling

After reading this series I definitely understand Reylo much more.

Favorite Book

Siege And Storm is at the front of the pack because this is where we meet Prince Nikolai, but it’s also simply the best of the three, not something I usually say about middle chapters, but I really liked this one.

Least Favorite Book

I guess Ruin and Rising, but I loved the whole series. Endings are hard and Bardugo mostly sticks the landing even if the happily ever after isn’t the one I was writing for.

Favorite Character

You guys, Nikolai Lanstov is a sarcastic pirate prince who’s described as handsome, arrogant, and infuriating. He runs around wearing disguises and quipping and about a page into meeting him I thought, “Wow, George Lucas and Harrison Ford sure did a number on us all culturally, because I would follow this guy into hell.”

Reread Possibilities

Ohhhh, yes. I plan to reread this often. I haven’t fallen so deeply into a series in a long time, I want every part of it all the time. Luckily there are a bunch of ancillary stories and two follow up series, which I am currently waiting for at the library (well, virtually at least)

I’m not 100% sure what’s next. I have some book club stuff I need to get covered (I’ve joined 2 virtual book clubs) and I’m waiting on a few series to come avaiable on the library kindle app.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 9 “Old Friends Not Forgotten”

This is going to be a very difficult month when it comes to Clone Wars (and you know, other things too…)

But man, the reunion of Ahsoka, Rex, Anakin and Obi-Wan was wrenching. Not to mention Boe Kattan bringing Satine up every five seconds and pointing fingers at Obi-Wan about her death.

What is nice is that even after having seen how she’s grown and changed how quickly old rhythms established themselves. Anakin finding a middle path between his master and apprentice, the great politician, Obi-Wan trying to hew to ideals that are clearly dying, Ahsoka embracing a new ideal. The Clones establishing their own loyalty rallying beside their old commander.

And then there’s the moment where Anakin returns Ahsoka’s sabers to her. It killed me. Anyway, after Anakin and Obi-Wan find a loophole compromise (divide the 501st) that allows Ahsoka a command, Ahsoka and Bo head to Mandalore with Rex to catch Darth Maul. Obi-Wan warns them that capturing him is a better plan than trying to kill him because he’s hard to kill. (I’LL SAY!)

While laying siege to, Bo goes after the Prime Minister and Ahsoka and Rex hunt Maul. They find him, and he’s waiting, but not for Ahsoka, she’s the wrong Jedi. He wanted Obi-Wan (I mean, obviously.)

It was all building the this, the previous two arcs were meant to remind us who Rex and Ahsoka were, what they’re made of, why they fight, and show us how far they’ve come in the past few years.

It’s going to be quite a ride.


Magical Movies Tour: 101 Dalmatians

A few months ago on their podcast, “We Got This With Mark & Hal” Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin chose “The Best Disney Movie While Walt Disney Was Alive” and Mark described 101 Dalmatians as super hip.

I didn’t remember it that way, but I hadn’t watched it since some time in the mid 90s, so I really couldn’t say and after watching it again, I agree with Mark. This is a cool movie, and so very contemporary to the time it was made. Everything about the movie is terrifically 60s in the Mad Men sense. The drawing style, the music, the way the characters interact, all of it. It’s a complete delight.

The characters are amazing too. I think I could write an entire book on Cruella DeVille and on Pongo, everyone else is a bit of a thin sketch but they’re strong enough to make up for it. And the system of the Twilight Bark and the network of animals that help Pongo and Perdita find their puppies (and the 86 others) is a pure delight.

But back to Cruella, who is a brilliant villain and my favorite so far that we’ve encountered, and that includes Maleficent who I also like a lot. But Cruella is so much fun and a complete sociopath. The woman genuinely doesn’t understand why people aren’t cool with her making a puppy skin coat. She gets that they are, but the emotion of this eludes her. It’s fascinating and great.

Pongo, our hero, is also incredible, placing the psychology of a London Bachelor from 1962 in a dalmatian is such a wonderful conceit, that he finds Anita for Roger it’s mostly about himself finding Perdita, and the opening scene where he watches the women and dogs of London walk past their apartment is very fun, and the perfect window into who this dog is.

I didn’t love this as much as Lady And The Tramp, which I also watched a few extra times during COVID-19 panic because I loved it so much, but I did like it a whole lot.

Next week we get into some magical mischief with The Sword And The Stone


When you realize two of you major characters haven’t interacted much at all.

Also, Annalise is crazy horny. But more on that next week.

The Marina Chronicle

Marina was studying, or working on the faire or something. Tristan was in the market, with Athena, probably preparing for his departure.

We still didn’t talk about it. Ever. It hurt us both too much. I found myself longing for Aaron. I’d been so caught up in things with Eric and Tristan and my more recent dreams that I hadn’t let myself miss him.

But I wanted to talk to him about everything, about seeing Caleb in the Realm of The Dead, about watching Marina grow happier and healthier as she fell in love with Lefty, about my own swirl of thoughts and feelings with Eric.

We’d slowed things down, after that night on the couch, even the small casual touches had stopped. I didn’t miss it, because he still laughed and smiled and flirted, and I had my nights with Tristan which had only become more intense.

“Your Majesty?”…

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episodes 7 & 8 “Dangerous Debt” and “Together Again”

Sorry I missed last week y’all, I went down a Downton Abbey and The Crown Hole so there was no way I was going to be able to analyze the end of Ahsoka’s return to the world.

So after taking the week off, let’s talk about “Dangerous Debt” and “Together Again.” Raffa and Trace and Ahsoka are trying to break away from the gangsters that they don’t have Spice to deliver to. Also, Raffa still does not trust Ahsoka, and Trace reveals that they lost their parents during a Jedi mission a few years ago and Luminara was, uh, let’s go with less than compassionate about the situation.

So they hate the Jedi, and Ahsoka decides, not just for her safety from the gangs chasing them but for the sake of her relationship with Raffa and Trace she can’t tell them the truth. But they do need to get out of this. After being captured Ahsoka bluffs through a confrontation with the leader to get Trace and Raffa off world, which finally wins Raffa’s trust and they go back for her.

Of course, this episode is called “Together Again,” which lead me to believe almost from jump that we were going to see Maul again. And AH HA! Turns out the gangsters our girls are entangled with are under the command of Crimson Dawn. So he’s there, all hologrammy and sneering and I was so happy.

After Raffa and Trace get Ahsoka out, she tells them the truth about who she is, was, and while they didn’t know that you could stop being a Jedi, and that they think she still acts like what they thought the Jedi were before they lost their parents.

Just as the three new friends are about to head home, Ahsoka is confronted by Pri Vyszla, who asks for her help, and as she said in “Dangerous Debt,” “In my world, when people need your help, you help them. No matter what.”

So Ahsoka is off to Mandalore, to help. The siege begins next week and I for one am very excited.

Also, while I’ve enjoyed our four weeks of Ahsoka, I miss the Jedi.

Magical Movies Tour: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty makes some cool decisions when it comes to interpreting a fairytale. The first is to move the focus almost entirely away from it’s heroine. Aurora is very thinly drawn as a character in a way that the two previous princesses, Snow White and Cinderella simply aren’t. I mean, they’re not super strong characters either but they’re definitely more than Aurora.

The second is the use of Tsaicovsky’s ballet music as the basis for the songs, the choice makes the film feel elegant in an almost ineffable way. The art aids this too, everything looks like stained glass and tapestry come to life. It leans into the medieval setting, in a truly glorious way.

And finally, there’s the actual main characters of this film, the Fairies. Aurora is really more of a rope in the tug of war between Flora, Fauna and Merriweather and Maleficent. Philip gets stuck in the middle too, but the best set piece in the film, which is when he escapes from Maleficent’s castle shows this perfectly.  Every evil thing thrown at him is transformed to something beautiful and feminine and it is BADASS and RULES. Arrows become flowers, flames become glitter. I am ON BOARD for this thing I never noticed in a sequence I’ve watched a thousand times.

There are other things in the movie that I really like, the drinking song by the two fathers has been a long term favorite, and I’ve tried my best to get into Aurora (she’s Kristi favorite) but I just don’t see much appeal, beyond “Once Upon A Dream,” which is a beautiful song.

This is the last time we’re in Princess-ville for quite a while, there won’t be another until Ariel. From my many many watches of the wonderful documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty since getting Disney+, I understand that this is because after Walt’s death no one knew what they were doing for a little while. I do like the run we have coming up though.

Next week, MORE PUPPIES!!!!! So many puppies, you guys, we’re talking about 101 Dalmatians.