Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Clone Wars: Wookiee Hunt

Being a review of the second part of the season finale. 

The Trandoshans have great, expressive, Jurassic Park-raptor faces. The first scene in which one chases Ahsoka down made me almost forget that they were sentient, until another pulled up in a warpainted hover platform and started talking to him. The fact that the platform had eyes and pointed teeth of its own painted on the front seemed a commentary on how appearance doesn’t actually match the nature of the thing behind it; the hover platform looks like an animal and isn’t; the Trandoshans sound like animals and aren’t.
The fights in both episodes of the finale are also very animalistic, without lightsabers and with a lot of tackling and crawling. Face-grabbing is a repeated theme. I’d suggest it was part of Ahsoka’s Togruta heritage getting her in tune with the jungle, but the other Jedi display it too. Anyway it was interestingly different. Ahsoka using the Force to make the Trandoshan pilot’s shots go wide was an inventive use of the Force that was also distinctly elegant and “human”, involving the hands and technology instead of the entire body. 
There were a couple great shots here, one of the Cerean’s eyes widening as he’s about to get kicked off the side of a ship, and another of that same ship crashing into the beach, the entire forward section swinging around like a boom and displaying the ship’s name (in Aurebesh) before it slams into the sand.
The appearance of Chewbacca is of course a Big Deal and probably discussed elsewhere on the internet. For me, the Wookiee’s undeniable appeal is a little less undeniable. He just seemed to me to symbolize the presence of the OT in TCW, as did the scene immediately after his rescue when the Trandoshans are “combing the desert” stormtrooper-style outside the crashed ship. Chewie as a character just always flew under the radar for me. Let’s see if this episode changes that. 
(Ahsoka, how do you speak Shryiiwook? How?! Someone please tell me this is explained somewhere. I thought Han and Revan were among the only humans to be able to pick it up. Wookieepedia tells me that there are in fact about thirty recorded individuals who speak it, and that it is a trade language, so they might have learned it in the Jedi Temple. Nevertheless I’m annoyed. I say that gives 'Soka another Sue point.The other lost Padawans can’t speak it...) 
I like the little interludes with the creatures outside the base. Some of them parallel the stuff going on with the Padawans, which is interesting storytelling without words. 
Apparently, if a mindtrick doesn’t work, smacking the guy on the head will make the next one go a little easier. That was amusing. 
I didn’t see the episodes that introduced Sugi, but seeing her charge to the rescue with a cadre of Wookiees was pretty cool.
The Trandoshan’s trophies were nicely gristly; I saw an Ithorian head, and lekku, as well as...was that the Crystal Skull? And a KotOR-era Mandalorian helmet? 
Ahsoka has some shamelessly cool kung fu poses in this fight.
The Trandoshan leader has one goal in mind; to avenge the death of his son. Ahsoka takes no responsibility for killing him, instead blaming “your own actions”-- the hunt itself. I’m not sure I agree with that logic. She seems to have this pathological inability to feel (or show) guilt about anything. She encourages Anakin not to blame himself for his actions either.
There’s a lot of Master-Padawan bonding in the scenes with Anakin. When Ahsoka says she survived because she remembered Anakin’s training, I thought that was nice but wished they had shown a hint of it during the fights themselves. Even if she had mentioned Anakin once it would have deepened the emotional aspect of the whole thing instead of making it seem like he was the only one worried. Yoda seems happy enough about the end result, though. 
We don’t get to see what happens to Chewie after the episode, and we don’t get to see whether this is the alliance he and Yoda mention in episode III. Am I disappointed in the lack of references to other parts of the canon? Yes. Should I be surprised? No. 
I also watched the trailer(s) for season four, which are available on YouTube last time I checked.  And what do we see there?
1.) Ahsoka falling into an ocean, maybe on purpose.
2.) Gungans (who thought that was a good idea?) including Captain Tarpals. If any of them can be cool, I guess it’s him.
3.) Suggestions of episode three. The music is there, and one of the clones intones, “Someday, this war will end.” I wonder if we’re getting closer to the dark times of RotS. 
4.) Clones being displayed like character selection options on Battlefront, showing off new armor. 
5.) Kit Fisto a la Tartakovsky, which I can’t say I’m not happy about. 
6.)A Besalisk (Dexter Jettster style) Jedi with two double-bladed lightsabers. I’ve expressed before that I think that’s a ridiculous concept for a fighting style, but TCW does tend to impress in regards to fights, and, well, the guy has four arms. 
The Cartoon Network announcer triumphantly declares, “It’s Star Wars...what else do we need to say?” I think I could write a paper on that line alone. 
1.) Does that imply that quality can fly out the window as long as it’s got the franchise name? 
2.) Well...doesn’t it? I’m still watching the stuff. They win. 
3.) The use of “we” might be common in Cartoon Network voiceovers, I’m not sure, but here it seems to imply a pre-existing audience of fans and overseer-creators, all backing this project and encouraging others to back it too. 
So, sometime this fall I’ll have a Clone Wars to talk about again. Until then, it’s back to writing fanfic about Savage. Have you enjoyed the season? It seems like such a long time since the people at Celebration were eagerly anticipating the episodes to come in January.

11 comments:

  1. Trandoshans sound so funny. "Warssh kaloof asshkanapoo". Okay, maybe not... but you get my point, right? Right?

    What is "Kit Fisto a la Tartakovsky"? I am curious. It sounds pretty cool, and if it involves Kit... it must be.

    The Cartoon Network announcer is DERP. 'nuff said.

    ("I have said enough for the time being.")

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  2. Also, DAMN! How come Ahsoka can speak Shryiiwook? What. The. Crap?

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  3. I have to admit, as much as the art style of TCW fails in making pretty much every humanoid face even remotely aesthetically pleasing, it really does non-humanoid faces well.

    Wut, Marysoka, Shryiiwook?! As much as I'd like to believe this was more for viewer convenience than anything else ("It's a Wookiee! I have no idea what he's saying!!"), my prior disappointments with Miss Capability 2011 are telling me otherwise.

    Also ewwww lack of guilt. That seems to me to be more modern social commentary than anything, the writers trying to reassure the viewers (and themselves) that it's okay to never blame yourself for anything. Way to promote moral responsibility, guys. (I miss the OT.)

    I do think Tarpals was quite cool (as far as Gungans go). If I ever make another SWRPG character I might make them a Gungan just for fun. And to see how many people facepalm.

    I've always wanted to explore the venues of four-armed fighting styles. Although I do admit that two double-blades would probably be unwieldy, I'm sure there's a way to pull it off. (But I say that about everything and we've already had this conversation.)

    Your entire second-to-last paragraph amused me. I hope the franchise isn't trying to rest on its own laurels like that; it's rather smug and I'm tired of smugness in general. Also throwing quality out the window is always terrible. Always.

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  4. @ Xephinetsa: Kit appeared at the Battle of Mon Calamari in the original Clone Wars cartoons by Genndy Tartakovsky. A similar scene in the new season features Kit with a costume change . Here's a picture. Apologies for the long URL but it is a convenient still.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=198402523532828&set=a.198402273532853.43146.107795539260194&theater

    So, fangirl moment for me!

    @ Misao: I'm with you on Miss Capability. I know they could have made it where Chewie communicated without words. I've written aliens like that. It's not impossible.

    Lack of guilt as social commentary, very interesting. You could be right. And is raising people without guilt necessarily a bad thing? I think there needs to be a proper balance of it. Ahsoka doesn't have enough.

    There wasn't all that much guilt in the OT either, was there? The only time Luke is every guilty about his crimes on the Death Star is in fan fiction. He looks guilty over Vader's death but there is little to no dialogue about it.

    Gungan characters specifically to go against the grain are always fun.

    I think franchises in general do tend to throw quality out ( are not able to recognize it). I'm so curious about how the process to choose EU authors actually works. Hopefully one day I'll know.

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  5. You know, the first time I've ever heard the term Mary Sue, was from you and your description of her character. I'm still not sure what exactly is a Mary Sue, but I can already guess that they are not at all beloved by most fans.

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  6. It's a fanfic term from the Star Trek zines. You can Google it if you want clarification, but basically it's a female character who's there just to look pretty and kick butt and doesn't have any flaws, or at least none that have any bearing on the characters or events around her. She tags along with the main characters and steals the show, and is usually an avatar of the author.

    I like Ahsoka--I really do. I just don't think she's written to her potential.

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  7. Yeah, I think there does need to be a balance there (and I think children are born with a reasonably healthy sense of guilt for things they know they've done wrong, but through the negligence of caretakers it can either be quashed or exacerbated to unrealistic levels, but this is a literary blog not a child psychology blog).

    Okay, okay, the OT was a bad example. I'm just an OT bigot. Actually I think Star Wars and the action-adventure genre in general is just plain really bad at owning up to people dying and things exploding and whatnot. But there's a difference between ignoring that for the sake of narrative/tone, and essentially actively promoting a guilt-free attitude. (Not that I am overly fond of either, but I see the former as the lesser of two not-niceties).

    I hope you get to find out, too. And I hope you're allowed to reverse that trend.

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  8. It could be a child psychology blog. It's not a literature blog anyway, more like a nerdraeg blog... I don't really know. I've seen some pretty vindictive children.

    You're right, though, that almost all sci-fi/fantasy/action skips over that stuff. At least, all of my fandoms do. It's one of the reason I write pairings and ensemble stories for Reach and Mass Effect- to inject some emotion into an awesome but rather emotionless universe. Sometimes it's necessary for narrative, but I don't think TCW thinks that hard. XD (lol the lesser of two not-niceties.)

    I was thinking about this this afternoon--whether radical ideas like "There should be a female main character who doesn't have a love interest, or has a cyborg limb", or "there should be more emotion" will ever fly when I'm on a team of writers. XD (Actually, now that I think about it I think there was a Star Wars handheld game that met those first two criteria...I should look into that.)

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  9. Well, yeah, but I don't like public tangents mostly. I mean, it would be different if it were just you and I talking about stuff (and we do get very tangential elsewhere), but when it's in a place where anyone and everyone could see it and reply and I end up caught up in a discussion with a random stranger who may or may not be interested in respecting my views, and...I'm just not very confrontational/competitive, Nem.

    I think that's one of the many reasons why I like your writing so much, because you often delve rather deeply into the emotional side of things that so often gets left behind in the flashiness of stuff exploding. (And yeah, sometimes things just doesn't think that hard. I've come not to expect much emotional depth from TCW.) And it's that emotional side that makes the characters more real and tangible and identifiable to me.

    Franchise writing needs more radical ideas, quite frankly. (And oh yes, there was, a PSP game that came out a few years back. Not owning a PSP, I don't know much about it. But still.)

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  10. I see. Feel free to send a dA note or something. I like talking to you tangentially. I doubt someone'll cut in here; usually in my experience that happens less than the amount of time I fear it. Did that sentence make sense?

    Thank you. I also like stuff exploding.

    Likewise, with the PSP. And the radical ideas.

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  11. If I want to get tangential, I just might. I will keep that in mind. I like talking to you tangentially too! The sentence makes less sense the more I read it but that happens to me with math too so it's okay. Yeah, I think I'm just paranoid mostly.

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