I finished marathoning Star Wars: The Clone Wars
on Netflix (five full seasons and an incomplete sixth one – because by the time of the sixth season, Disney was buying LucasFilm and promptly cancelled the show) and am consequently in a curious mood, somewhere between narratively satisfied (Ashoka’s arc!) and despondent - no more Clone Wars, and yes, I know Ashoka is also an occasional guest star on Rebels
, but this is as good a place as any to explain why as opposed to Disney, Abrams and most of the fandom I’m not interested
in more of the set up that makes the OT, and now the new movie, i.e. brave rebels versus evil Empire.
Because, you see: one of the things I dig about the Prequels is that they don’t do that and go for a far more interesting (to me) and difficult emotional scenario. The Evil Empire in the OT is, well, evil. Unrelentingly so. The rebels are good, fighting for freedom, their cause is completely right, no question about it, and everyone on their side is good. The Empire is also OTHER, consisting of faceless stormtroopers, some bureaucrafts played by British actors, a faceless cyborg in black whose human face (in both senses) we don’t see until the trilogy is nearly over, and an evil witch king who looks like a grotesque walking corpse. What the Empire, Vader/Anakin revelation notwithstanding, most definitely is not is something related to the audience, or what the audience reality could turn into.
Meanwhile, the Republic of the Prequel era? Is not conquered by the Empire, as fans pre- prequels probably assumed. Instead, it over the course of three movies becomes
the Empire. And not just because Anakin Skywalker turns in the third movie. (If he had died instead, it still would have happened.) Because of inherent flaws of its leaders, skilled manipulation that ensures that because of an ongoing (self produced) war, more and more rights are abandoned and the militarized state becomes the status quo. I don’t know about you, but that sounds awfully familiar to me. ( Ramblings about the Prequel premise, relevance and implications ensues )
After this lengthy preamble: of course, The Clone Wars
provides its share of boo-hiss, uniformly bad Separatist villains which can easily compete in one dimensionality with the Imperials (or for that matter the First Order). It’s not until the third season that we meet well intentioned Separatist leaders (political, not military). However, Chancellor Palpatine is a regular and an ongoing reminder that the Republic is led by the most evil overlord of them all who keeps orchestrating a galactic wide war. And the question of how the Jedi can in any sense still claim to be Peacekeepers when they are part of one of the armies conducting said war is raised by more and more characters through the show.
Not to give you the wrong impression: this isn’t Battlestar Galactica
. But for a show aimed at a younger/family audience, it tackles amazingly dark themes at times. And not just by the implication of the premise: since it’s set between Attack of the Clones
and Revenge of the Sith
, most of the cast is doomed by movie plot. Most, but not all.
While I appreciate the fleshing out /giving personality to the Jedi we see otherwise in mostly silent roles through the prequels (Luminara Unduli, Plo Koon, Adi Gallia, etc., almost all, as I mentioned in an earlier post, non-humans, which pleases the alien lover in me), the standout narrative arcs to me were those given to the Clones on the one hand and Ashoka Tano on the other. ( Spoilers for the show beneath the cut )
In conclusion: this show, you must watch. There is no try.