Listener Mailbag: March 31, 2012
Posted by Eric on March 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM CST:
In this week's mailbag: lots of TCW
talk, a TOR
testimonial, and a wrestling fan weighs in (pun intended).
*******Meeting "The Man"
University of Southern California faculty member and ForceCast listener Laird Malamed sent in this photo of him meeting George Lucas at an event inaugurating USC's new interactive building.
*******Thoughts on The Clone Wars Season 4
To the Force Cast,
What a Season we have had this year! Here's what I think about it: Despite what a lot of people have said, I believe that the first half of the season was a huge success, despite the two-episode droid arc that
I and many other people did not like. The 3-part arc at the beginning of the season on the underwater world of Dac was amazing! I still remember that when I saw the episode Water War for the first time, I noticed the huge jump in special effects by Dave and the crew! The battles were extremely epic, Tamson
was ruthless and terrifying, and so was his death in the end of the episode arc. The Heroes' Journey was a huge theme in the arc with the journey of Prince Lee Char as he rises to manhood to become the king
of Mon Calamari. Ahsoka kicked ass in this episode, both in fighting the droids and also guiding the Prince on his path. It was great to see Anakin and Padme exchange a lot of witty banter in the episodes, as well as Anakin's care for her when he was helpless to protect her from Tamson and his torture. Kit Fisto had a great cameo in the arc as well. His smile near the end of Water War reminded me of his famous smile in Attack of the Clones.
The Shadow Warrior episode was great. I agree with you guys that it was a little short and could have been lengthened into a two-parter episode arc, but just as itself, it was great, especially in its special effects as well as its references to Episode I Phantom Menace: Seeing the return of Padme's queen outfit from Phantom Menace, the Bongos, musical themes that were in The Phantom Menace
score, and other stuff. The Gungans taking down Grievous was exceptionally done with the rain and the death of General Tarpals. The duel between Anakin and Dooku was also great.
Out of the first half of the Season, to me, the Droid Arc was rather dull, though I could hold through several parts, including watching the clones back in their Phase II armor, including Commander Wolffe,
as well as cameos of the 91st recon corps clones who followed Adi Gallia in the Nomad Droids episode if you noticed them. In the Mercy Mission episode, I liked the way Wolffe and the rest of the clones disliked 3PO while respecting R2. It was very interesting and similar to the way that Han Solo often told 3PO to shut up in The Empire Strikes Back.
Praise to Dee Bradley Baker! After the two droid arcs that were two of my least favorite episodes in the entire series, the Umbara arc came in and is now one of my favorite episode arcs of the entire series. To
me, clones are part of the core group of characters in Star Wars now. Darkness on Umbara was so cool in terms of battle tactics and landing assaults, reminding me of Landing at Point Rain, though it was not as vast. However, the landing operation was much more realistic and epic in terms of casualties, explosions and shouting. The music of the episode was similarly great, especially during the landing attack, as well as the eery track when the clones were advancing on the capital. About Krell: In this episode I had different feelings about him than other people. I thought it was natural for him to be the way he was, since generals in real life are extremely disciplined and strict, though it was extremely un-Jedi-like. Instead of using that to bring down the end grade for the episode, I decided to wait and see what Dave and the crew would reveal to us in the end of the arc.
The General is one of my favorite episodes of Season 4 by far, showing the clones fighting against impossible odds and dying in droves. Some of the best war footage in the history of the Clone Wars! Again, there was great music as well. Rex was great in this episode, as he commanded his men and talked to his brothers, like Fives. The clones' brotherhood in this arc was extremely important for me and this episode was no exception, from the clones' banter between troopers like Fives and Hardcase, to deep talk between Rex and Fives: "More troopers have died under his command than anyone else." "That's the price of war, Fives. We're soldiers. We have a duty to follow orders and if we must, lay down our lives for victory." "Do you believe that? Or is that what you were engineered to think?" "I follow my code. That's what I believe."
The Plan of Dissent episode was also another great spin-off in my opinion. The troopers' determination to do what they felt was right was extremely well-done, as seen in Fives', Hardcase's and Jesse's plan to destroy the Umbaran supply ship. This conversation between Fives and Rex was extremely important: "I'm sorry, but I can't follow orders when I know they're wrong, especially when lives are at stake." "You will, if you support the system we fight for!" "I do support it. I do! But I'm not just another number! None of us are!" The death of Hardcase was really stirring for me and gave me a feeling that we would be getting even more deaths in the future.
Carnage of Krell is one of my favorite episodes of the entire Season. It was extremely dark, from the clones of the 212th and the 501st fighting each other to the death of such a favorite clone as Waxer (really sad death, by the way), to the clones’ march on the air base tower (this reminded me of Order 66), to Krell's revelation of his machinations. Dee Bradley Baker did a great job with Fives’ opening monologue and the scene in the brig where Rex was talking to a locked-up Krell. All in all, the Umbaran Arc is nothing like we have ever seen before and I hope to see more 4-parter arcs that are rich in stories about the clones.
The Zygerrian Slaver arc was pretty good in terms of plot and was an excellent adaptation of the comics by Henry Gilroy. However, they were not my top favorites for several reasons.
The second half of The Clone Wars Season 4 was just as good as the first half, showing the return of Death Watch, the continuing relationship between Ahsoka and Lux, Obi-Wan going on a secret mission, and finally the season finale arc with the return of Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress, and Darth Maul.
In a nutshell, I believe that Season 4 has been the best of the entire series and I’m eagerly anticipating what we will see in Season 5.
D. Abraham Chen
*******The Clone Wars Brings Back a Lapsed Fan
I wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying the show. As a podcaster myself (of the currently on-hiatus Geek Tragedy Podcast), I really appreciate the work you put into a show that has some great
guests and really high production values. And, of course, just covering The Clone Wars at all is something I appreciate.
I bet not many people can say this, but Star Wars is literally my first memory, ever. I was born in 1973, and my first memory is from what had to be 1977, of my dad taking me to a drive-in theater to go see Star Wars. We sat on the hood of his old Opel, with a blanket around both of us. What I remember distinctly was the scene where the door of the Tantive IV blows out and Vader walks through –– the first
time the audience ever sees him. My dad, always a sarcastic sort, took one look at Vader in that menacing black armor, turned to me, and said: "So... ya think that's the bad guy?"
I think I missed Empire in the theaters, but I saw Jedi a personal-record 13 times in my local movie house (16 if you count going to the Special Edition three times in 1997). I was living overseas (in Japan) when Phantom Menace came out, so I didn't get to see it for a while, but... that's where the bad news comes in. I'm one of those who’s … well, not a "prequel hater," but maybe a "prequel doubter". Sadly, I left them with a bad taste in my mouth that led to me dropping out of a fandom I'd been a part of for as long as I could remember. I liked the Genndy Tartakovsky miniseries a fair bit, but didn't care for The Clone Wars CGI movie, for reasons I think I understand now better than I did at the time (and I think I'd like it much better now). So I drifted away from Star Wars...
Until someone I trusted told me that The Clone Wars series was getting really good, and finally convinced me to watch. At her recommendation, I stated with Season 3 Episode 10, "Heroes On Both Sides". That was enough to get me to fire up iTunes and start downloading episodes, and now I can solidly say: I love this show, and it is singlehandedly responsible for bringing me back to Star Wars. I even went out and bought my first piece of Star Wars merchandise since 1983 - the Revell 1/72nd scale model of the LAAT/i. I can't say that I look at Star Wars with the same uncritical eye that I did in earlier years, and yes, the series can be a little uneven sometimes, but I'm a Star Wars fan again, and I have this show to thank for it.
Anyhow, I love your show, and if you ever need a fourth wheel, I'd be happy to sit in. There's a lot to say about this show.
*******Star Wars and Wrestling
First, I just discovered your podcast and I love it. It gives me a chance to listen to in-depth Star Wars discussion which, at my age, doesn't happen very much. I won't say how old I am, but I was alive when A New Hope first debuted and was just known as Star Wars. Okay, I'm 37.
Anyway, down to the matter at hand. I've been listening to the 'cast while out jogging, and loved the discussion about the future of Ventress. At the end of Bounty when she says that she isn't like the other bounty hunters, I don't believe that she was giving up the business. In fact, we see it in Revenge. What I think she meant was that she isn't like the others for one reason: dependence. It was your discussion that brought me to that conclusion. I’ve been reviewing her life and how all the people she cared about either betrayed or were taken away from her. Unlike the hunters who work in a group, she proved to herself that she didn't need anyone.
Seeing Asajj with the other female hunter (whose name escapes me) is nothing more than a girl’s night out, so to speak. At any rate, while I was listening, I wished it was a live call-in show so I could be part of the conversation. If you have read this far, then I feel like I am and I thank you sincerely for it.
As for the Maul story arc, I have a question for the Roundtable. I realize this may never see the light of day on your show, but why do you think Darth Maul did not go right back to his master after being healed in order to get help getting revenge?
I am a wrestling fan (been a SW fan waaaay longer), am part of a wrestling roundtable of sorts at www.ringsideacademy.com, and loved the wrestling comparison. Is Ventress heel, face, or tweener? I certainly agree with tweener. Well done lads!
From this old fan, thank you very much for keeping the child-like interest in our beloved Star Wars. Thanks to you guys, the galaxy far, far away doesn't seem so much so.
Mark from Kingston, Ontario, Canada, a.k.a. Mean Mark (had to throw one more wrestling reference in there).
*******The Old Republic
Hey Jason & Jimmy!
Just thought I'd snap off a quick picture of my level 50 (highest level you can reach in the game) Jedi Knight named Qynn! You can see the number 50 in the lower left corner. He's standing outside the boarding ramp of my starship, the Jedi Defender.
I hit level 50 a few weeks back but I have not yet finished the story component of the game. Once I do I'll have to call in with my thoughts on this "massively" multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG).
This game is indeed massive! I've been playing nearly every day since December 13 and I'm only now reaching the end of the story component – and that’s only the beginning. There's still lots more to do once you reach level 50! This is really the next evolution of Star Wars fandom! I keep comparing it to watching an episode of The Clone Wars, only you're in the episode and the story revolves entirely around you!
Imagine sitting down every day (or night) and getting to visit the galaxy far far, away! Visiting seedy cantinas, traveling on speeder bikes, dealing with slimy Hutts, flirting with Twi’lek dancers, making Dark Side or Light Side choices that affect everything around you, upgrading your astromech droid, talking to the Jedi Council, dueling in epic lightsaber battles, and being in the middle of giant dogfights and space battles!
This game really has it all! If you haven't played yet...do it! :)
P.S.: I loved the "massive" TOR bit on this week’s ForceCast. :) More TOR, I say!
Keep up the fantastic work you do!
Your friend in the force,William Melay
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
*******Darth Maul Art & Season Finale Thoughts
First, some Darth Maul art for your viewing pleasure...
I had some thoughts I wanted to share about the last couple of episodes, particularly Darth Maul's survival and his spider body. I originally thought that Maul initially had help surviving and getting from Naboo to Lotho Minor, but after reading and listening to some interviews, I've changed my mind. I do believe it is possible for Maul to have survived on his own. The Sith way, as stated in the Sith Code, is all about achieving victory, whether it be over your fears, your enemies, or death itself. The Force is simply a means to an end, and in this case, Maul used it to stay alive, because to die would mean that he had accepted defeat. He's so arrogant (as all Sith are) that he can't believe that a Jedi defeated him. It just doesn’t seem feasible to him (honestly, Maul strikes me as a perfectionist). So he fought to stay alive to prove that Obi-Wan's "victory" was just a fluke. In other words, Obi-Wan may have won the battle, but he didn't win the war. And to be honest, I don't think this cheapens Obi-Wan's "victory" in any way. Even if he didn't kill Maul, he removed him from the picture for a very long time, and in doing so he helped liberate Naboo.
I honestly don't think it's a stretch of the imagination at all. If the Jedi can use the Force to preserve themselves after death, it is completely possible that the Sith could use it to cheat death. It is accepting the inevitable vs. prolonging the inevitable. Like Sidious said, "The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural." I should clarify that not any Sith could pull this off. Only a true Sith could, and I'm pretty sure you would still have to have your head in order for it to work. So, tough luck for Dooku. And it's not like it was easy for Maul to accomplish; I think just being so deeply immersed in the Dark Side for so long drove him mad and poisoned what was left of his body more so than living all alone in such horrible conditions did.
As for the spider body, I do believe it is something that the Dark Side manifested around Maul's body the deeper he submersed himself in the Dark Side to survive. Sam Witwer said in the interview with you guys that it is a physical representation of his mental state. Darth Maul's mind has become very chaotic, which is clearly echoed in the construction of the spider. It is a complete mess of twisted, disjointed metal, and looks like it's barely being held together by some unseen force. So why would the Dark Side choose the form of a spider? I believe that not only is the metal body a physical representation of his mental state, but also a physical representation of what he perceives himself to be: Hunter and Fear, just as he kept repeating to himself over and over again. Large spiders, such as tarantulas and wolf spiders, are hunters and stalk their prey, and spiders instill fear in many people (myself included). It could also be the Dark Side's way of providing defense for him since he was so helpless. If you think about it, would you be more likely to steer clear of what looked like a giant spider or what looked like a guy with some robot legs? And if you still have trouble accepting the spider butt, think of it as being used for balance. Otherwise he'd be falling over on his face all the time.
A quick note about Mother Talzin: I don't think she's more powerful than the Jedi or the Sith. She is very powerful, but she isn't a warrior, and the only way she was able to harm Dooku was because she had some of his hair. In a straight-on battle, he would easily slay her. That's why she chooses to attack from afar or let someone else fight for her. I mean, she fled from Grievous for crying out loud, and he doesn't even have the Force!
All in all, this was everything I wanted and even more from these episodes. Revenge is my favorite episode of the season, and definitely resides in my top ten of the series. The only bad thing about it was that it ended. I wanted more Maul! He was so MESMERIZING. Hats off to the crew in bringing this iconic character back in such a great way! I can't wait for Season 5, and I am looking forward to more Roundtables!Jessica A.
Thanks to all of this week's mailbag contributors! Keep your emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
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