Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 3

It turns out I’d watched more of Season 3 than I thought. Mostly because I remembered everyone buzzing about Saw Guerrera being in Rogue One and the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s not as strong a season, though Ezra has a fly new haircut, and Bendu the middle way Force-beast is badass. Plus Admiral Thrawn. (Though Thrawn’s inclusion is really just another thing for Fanboy Types to get yelly about, and insist that Mara Jade be a thing. Look, we have a new side female character we want in everything now, and it’s Ahsoka.)

Speaking of. She dead.

I don’t like it. But functionally I get it. It’s a deeply important story decision, and she needed closure to her arc.

Oh and Kenobi. Ezra chases a vision of Maul to Tatooine and getting lost in the desert, he is saved by Kenobi, who basically tells him he’s in the wrong story. (This is ridiculous, what am I doing here?) It’s a nice way to put up boundaries between Ezra and Luke, who by all reasonable metrics are peers. Ezra leaves to return to his family, the crew of the ghost. Maul finds Obi-Wan, they duel and Maul dies. (Probably. I’ll never count Maul out for Filoni. If he pops up in Resistance I’ll note that it tracks.)

That was the last episode of Rebels that I watched. And there was plenty this season that I didn’t have much memory of. Kallus taking over as Fulcrum is cool, and Sabine taking her place in Mandalorian politics, while wielding the dark saber is also neat. Hera coming to terms with her father.

But for the most part, I prefer season 2. Ezra’s growing up is a relief and his excised angst makes him more watchable but also a lot less distinct. His competence is cool but without that edge he just becomes Luke, with different hair. We already have Luke, a different take on the Jedi trainee would have been welcome.

Maybe that’s why the fandom latched on to Ahsoka. She’s different, she’s new.

Or maybe I’m projecting. I don’t know. I’m enjoying watching the show, and it’s doing what I want for this project, which is get me excited to watch and think about Star Wars again. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I’d lost my enthusiasm for this world and that made me sad. With The Skywalker saga ending I wanted to at least be excited.

And I am excited about Star Wars again. And Clone Wars and Rebels helped get me there. (Though it was mostly Solo if I’m honest.) Anyway, next week, we’ll talk Season 4, which I have not watched any of. (I don’t think.) Hopefully the show pulls off a cool ending.

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 2

Ahsoka’s great right? Like she’s really great. I feel like I could write this whole essay about her. (Except I already wrote that essay back the first time I watched this season.)  

So instead we’re going to focus on something else this season.

We’re going to focus on Kanan Jarrus: Mediocre Jedi Knight.

Kanan’s a pretty shitty Jedi. But he’s a great character. Freddie Prinze Jr. does excellent work too. But Kanan is a different kind of character for Star Wars which is after all, the joy of both Clone Wars and Rebels, and, at least on paper the Story series, exploring different corners of that galaxy, far far away. Kanan isn’t a hero. He’s not a great warrior like Anakin. Or the best teacher ever like Obi-Wan. Or a wise sage like Yoda. He’s not the savior like Luke. Or power awaking anew like Rey. He’s just, a guy, who got lucky one time, and has been surviving on his wits since then.

He’s got his issues, (guilt mostly) but he’s in love, he’s doing his best to make the galaxy a better place, and he doesn’t really think he has what it takes to whip this kid into shape but he’s giving it his all anyway.

You wanna know who else comes back this season? (Besides Ahsoka? And again, she’s great.) Rex. Rex is great too. Kanan doesn’t care for him. (The thing about seeing everyone you care about getting murdered, it does a number on you and when a guy with the same face as the murderers shows up, you might not love having him around.) Ezra likes him though. Ezra is still super annoying. I forgot about the internet calling him Space Aladdin, but he is that. Also, back? Darth Maul. Dave Filoni loves bringing back Darth Maul so much he wants to take the concept out behind the middle school and get it pregnant, but he’s good here too, since his appearance at a Sith Temple eventually leads to that most devestating of showdowns. (That had me sitting on my couch rocking back and forth with tear streaming down my cheeks.)

That brings us to our villains! Hooray! Kallus is still around and still kind of a shit. But mostly this season is centered around The Seventh Sister, a new inquisitors who answers directly to Vader, who is also around. The Seventh Sister is eery and bad ass and, BEST OF ALL, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Listening to Sarah and Freddie fight/flirt is super cute and also, there’s the whole Buffy factor adding to her badassery. And Vader being more directly involved so that he can kill Ahsoka is a necessity.

The moment where Ahsoka shouts, “I am no Jedi,” and declares her refusal to leave Anakin behind again is stunning. Ashley Eckstein is really wonderful. And knowing Ashley a little bit, I’m even more impressed by latter day Ahsoka, as she’s so straightforward and badass and Ashley is so giggly and bubbly and huggy. (Seriously I’ve met the woman four times and she always greets me with a “Reenie! IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN! OMG YOU LOOK GREAT! HOW ARE YOU?” and a giant hug. She’s amazing. I would follow her into battle.)

Next week we’ll deal with season 3, which will be fun, because I remember watching a few episodes, but little about them.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 1

Remember all those weeks ago when I started Clone Wars and I mentioned that I really didn’t care for the animation style, but the writing and characters made up for it? I don’t know if it’s the jump in tech, or that sweet sweet Disney money, or what, but even though it’s the same character types it’s smoother, the colors are brighter, and it’s more fun to watch.

That said, while Rebels is the prettier show, the whole, “writing and characters” thing is not as strong, but as I realized putting my notes together, unlike Clone Wars which had some built in foundations for it’s leads (except Ahsoka), here we’re starting from scratch, we don’t know any of these people.

The crew of the Ghost, Captain Hera (QUEEN), Jedi Knight Kanan Jaras (FREDDIE PRINZE JR!), monster type Zeb, and Sabine Wren (BEST!) pick up orphan force sensitive whiny teen Ezra (meh.) and zip around the outer rim taking lightly criminal jobs and fighting the empire.

It’s Firefly you guys. They made an officially Star Wars cartoon version of Firefly. And that’s great. It’s very good. We also have a guy who used to be a screw up trying to redeem himself as a teacher and some truly chilling imperials and easily my favorite cliffhanger in any cartoon I’ve watched.

Let’s talk about our bad guys? Agent Callas and The Inquisitor play a B-Team Tarkin and Vader well enough. (Until Tarkin and Vader show up in the last few episodes) but it’s also just eerie, to watch the way a generation has wiped things away. It’s a nice warning, frankly. But let’s not get political.

See, the season of vaguely getting to know the team, and Ezra building his light saber gun. (Seriously. I’m not a huge Ezra fan, but that is awesome) and them teaming up with Lando. (LANDO) Hera reveals to the rest of the team that they’re not on their own, they’re a cell in the rebel alliance under the command of Bail Organa. Oh, and the agent who’s been feeding them missions, the mysterious “Fulcrum?”

IT’S AHSOKA! I remember watching the episode and freaking the frak out at that. Remember, none of us really knew what her fate was, after she’d walked away from the Jedi order. She was just, you know, gone. Did she survive Order 66? Escape into the outer rim? What? (There has since been a novel explaining that whole situation. It’s pretty good. You should read it.)

Anyway, next week we’ll get into season 2, which if I recall is a little bit stronger than one. But I don’t love Rebels like I do Clone Wars, even though, you know, Sabine.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Solo: A Star Wars Story

I really love Solo, as I noted in my review of the movie. It has a lot of things I like in a movie generally, cover up in neat Star Wars wrapping paper, so there’s a lot to love. I get into internet arguments about this movie a lot, because I think it’s wonderful and I know a lot of people think it sucks. But those people are wrong because it’s great.

I’ve watched it several times now, and each time I am delighted. The action is clean, the characters are clear, the performances are wonderful. Do I wonder what it would have been like in it’s initial incarnation, sure, do I like Paul Bettany fine, but wonder if Michael K. William’s version of Dryden Voss was more interesting (it probably wasn’t, they’re both great actors, with similar placid with darkness boiling under the surface energy. But the representation boost would have been great, and I love Williams.)

I have to be honest though, I came to this movie for one thing and that thing delivered. From the moment of this movie’s conception I was saying I didn’t care what went on around it, I wanted Lando in this movie, and I wanted Donald Glover to play him and I would accept nothing else. As I’ve watched and rewatched Star Wars since things got moving again in the past few years Lando has become my OT favorite. (Obi-Wan is my prequel and overall story fave, Poe is my NT fave) I’m thrilled that Billy Dee Williams is reprising his role in The Rise of Skywalker. 

Donald Glover was the only choice for Lando and Lando’s role in this screen play was perfect. Or whoever shot whatever got shot. Part of the tragedy of the internet (which I mostly love, because I wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t an internet) is that this movie got so burried. In an earlier time where only weirdos like my parents knew that Larry David was no longer running Seinfeld, (this is real. My parents were incensed when David left. They came around on the later seasons because they featured George and Elaine better and Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss are brilliant, but it took time. Again, I come by my shit naturally) it wouldn’t have been turned over that and over that Lord and Miller were fired off the movie.

There’s a subtle sexism to the way this decision is talked about on the internet. As if it was a capricious and unnecessary decision on Kathleen Kennedy’s part. As if she isn’t a savvy, experienced producer who know what she wants. As if by clashing with the anarchic genius of these two men, she is somehow wrong, the thief of art.

There’s truth there, but it’s not a narrative attached to say, Joss Whedon’s departure from The MCU after clashing with Kevin Fiege. No, that was two visionaries with contrasting views of a film.

I told myself this post wasn’t going to be about the metanarrative and yet here we are. (To be fair, I couldn’t rightly spill 500 words on what I like about the movie, since part of what I like is how light and kind of shallow and silly it is.)

Next week we get into Rebels, with season 1. Rebels has grown on me as a show in general. It’s not as good as Clone Wars, but you will see this journey in Real Time.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

It was kind of a relief to fall into one of the Star Wars movies even if it was one that’s kind of garbage but that I also love a lot.

Unlike when I watched Episode II nearly a month ago, where I had to really zero in on the elements of the movie that I liked because I love so many things about Episode III, it’s a mess of a film but it’s a damn fun mess, and it’s my mess, and I love it very much and will defend it until I die.

It’s overwrought, poorly plotted and for the most part indifferently acted. Though Ian McDirmind and Ewan McGregor excepted, they are both CHEWING SCENERY UP RIGHT AND LEFT and that makes the whole thing a worthy endeavor to me. But especially McGregor who has to sell the breaking of a man as his world comes crashing around him.

Coming to this so soon after finishing Clone Wars also adds a lot of Pathos to Yoda’s stuff too. I mentioned how what’s interesting about the last arc there is it lends a sadness and resignation to his plot. He knows the Jedi have to fall, but he’s also not ready to let the Sith take over. There’s a lot more weight to his decisions when you know that he knows they’re inevitable.

What strikes me everytime I watch this movie though is how quickly it moves. It’s not short. It’s not like MCU long either, but it’s not short. It does move though, and I really love all of the action sequences. If the acting were better and someone fixed the horrible, horrible George Lucas dialog, it would be a really really good movie. Instead it’s kind of a trash fire but I love it so, so so much.

Next week we talk about Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is an actually good movie that people think is a bad one and I want to fight those people.

In Other Star Wars News: 

There wasn’t a lot of Star Wars stuff out of San Deigo at least not that tracked with me. But Natalie Portman’s back in Thor: Love And Thunder, and Jane’s picking up the hammer like she did in the comics, so that’ll be fun.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions

The Clone Wars’ belated final season, released on Netflix, rather than the series original home of Cartoon Network is kind of an odd duck. It’s painfully brief. (13 episodes) It only covers 4 stories (though they’re all pretty strong) and resolves nothing.

To be fair, it’s hard to offer resolution in Clone Wars it’s meant to be a bridge, the resolution comes in Revenge Of The Sith, but there are seeds planted here that don’t even reach full fruit until The Last Jedi, whether that was “that plan,” (I doubt it, Kathy Kennedy, for all her brilliance is not Kevin Feige, she’s more adaptable than he.) or just some thematic resonance that makes sense because narrative is inherently structured no matter how hard you try to deconstruct it Rian Johnson, (I have many many critical thoughts about The Last Jedi, but we’re still a few months away from that discussion!) I’m interested in the question.

The first arc revolves around Tup and Fives discovering that there’s extra programming in the clones, that could make them turn on their commanders. Their advanced knowledge of Order 66 gets them killed, and leads to Rex deprogramming himself. (We don’t know this yet, of course.)

The second is Padme discovering that her shitty ex boyfriend is playing both sides because he’s shitty. Also she and Anakin discuss divorce. I don’t really care for this arc, but that’s because I have limited emotional investment in Padme and Anakin’s relationship and even less in her ambivalence to her shitty ex boyfriend.

The third arc involves Jar-Jar and Mace Windu fighting an evil force cult and it’s awesome which you would never expect to say about a Jar-Jar arc, but it explores the nature of the force and what it means to those again, outside The Jedi/Sith binary. I can’t believe how central this idea has become to the franchise but I sort of love the work out it gets in this series.

The final arc was the one I remembered, which is Yoda talks to ghosts. This is the one that I think really comes through in Last Jedi. After learning that Jedi Master Sipho Dios isn’t dead, or is he? Yoda goes on a vision quest to learn how to commune with the dead. He does so by talking to some embodiments of emotions in kabuki masks and Darth Bane, the first Sith, voiced by Mark Hamill. Hearing Hamill bring the menace he’s perfected in his voice over the years to an argument with Frank Oz’s Yoda is delightful.

But overall, it becomes clear that Yoda knows the order has lost it’s way. That he continues to fight is out of habit, he knows he has to destroy the Sith, but the old was have to go with that destruction. It’s resignation.

I’m glad I rewatched Clone Wars even if it felt overwhelming at times. Revisiting isn’t a think I do as much lately (the point of Nerd Homework after all was to break me out of the cycle of rewatching I’d found) especially not critically, and I was glad to do it here. The show is a wonder of writing and action. (Even if the animation is not to my taste, exactly) It deepens the lore and scope of this world, and, probably, as I watch Revenge Of The Sith later, it will make me feel deeper about that movie too.

Next week we’ll talk about Revenge Of The Sith, yes, we’re back to movies at least for a few weeks. Which is a relief for the rest of my watch schedule to be frank.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5

I have to admit I put off watching this season for a few reasons but mainly because I didn’t want to go through it’s ending. But the other arcs leading up the devastation are good too, so let’s talk about them first!

Ahsoka and Yoda and a Droid voiced by David Tennant teach a bunch of adorable Younglings to build lightsabers. Also Hondo is there and there’s a circus? I dunno, the Younglings are real cute though.

Maul and Savage team up with Death Watch to take over Mandalore, which is great on a few levels, because it gives Sam Witwer a lot to do, and isn’t he just the best? (We’ll talk even more about Witwer tomorrow friends, don’t you worry!) There’s also the small matter of Satine, and Maul’s vendetta against Obi-Wan, which of course, ends in the Duchess’s death. (The woman I love…)

The next step comes when a suicide bomber goes after the Jedi temple and Anakin and Ahsoka investigate the crime. Once the case is solved, Ahsoka gets wrapped up in the conspiracy and winds up thrown out of the Jedi order, and even when her name’s been cleared she decides to walk away.

That walking away is the fulcrum (HAH GET IT) of Ahsoka’s character. My favorite thing in all of clone wars is the way it plays with the people around Anakin being presented with similar situations to him, emotionally and choosing the more ethical and healthy paths. Obi-Wan chooses the order and his vows and commitment over Satine, Ahsoka leaves the Jedi behind rather than compromise her ideals. Anakin can’t do either of those things. He’s limited by his attachments, and can’t see beyond them.

I know this post was late, but I really was just not up for the emotions of Ahsoka’s walking away from Anakin, especially knowing what comes for them.

Next week we’ll cover “The Lost Missions,” which if I remember is mostly Yoda talking to ghosts? I mean, that’s super rad, so I’m looking forward to it.