Sunday, April 24, 2011

Season 3, Episode 15, 16, 17 - Overlords Trilogy

If Luke Skywalker's journey is the classic hero myth, then what does that make Anakin's. At once the hero and villain of the Star Wars mythology, Anakin's journey spans what are essentially two life-times, two selves. In The Overlords Trilogy ("Overlords," "Altar of Mortis" and "Ghosts of Mortis") the meta-narrative of the Star Wars series is transformed into an allegorical showdown.

Here, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano are drawn to a mysterious, uncharted planet that appears populated only by three Force-Wielders: Father, Daughter and Son. These spirits represent the Light Side, the Dark Side and a sort of parent/cop that keeps the two sides in check.

Clearly, the creative team of The Clone Wars threw everything but the kitchen sink at these episodes. For that reason, there are great pleasures for fans to be found in these episodes, such as the voices of Pernilla August and Liam Neeson, as well as images re-rendered from the films. There's an operatic sensibility at play here in the best tradition of Star Wars. I'm sure that this trilogy, for some, will mark the high point of the Clone Wars series. They're gorgeous, intense, and creative.

If I have reservations about these episodes, then, it's simply that the show is speaking it's subtext out loud. In short: to display struggles between the Light Side as a glowing woman and the Dark Side as a Sith-ish angry's all a bit too literal, even for a series that isn't hiding it's influences. For all the beauty and grandeur of the Overlords Trilogy, and all the intriguing additions to the mythology of the series... it really never tells us anything we don't know. In fact, it expressly tells us everything we would pick up simply by watching the films, and thinking about what they mean.

I also am perpetually skeptical of erasing the memories of characters in order to avoid continuity issues. It ranks right up there with "It was all a dream" for storytelling cop-outs. If you can't fit what you're doing into the existing mythology without cheating, maybe a few storytelling tweaks are in order. For example: what if Ahsoka saw Anakin's future, instead of Anakin himself? Wouldn't that fuel the existing series without complicating or challenging the character arcs of the films?

Obviously, the above aren't small problems with the storytelling, but they're not deal breakers either. Any Star Wars fan would be foolish to let those quibble overwhelm the exceptional animation, character moments and drama of the Overlords Trilogy. A terrific and exciting part of Star Wars, built to be controversial for sure, but also with a keen eye on pleasing fans and enriching the mythology.

Rating (out of five): ****

Note: Yes, I realize the season finale has come and gone as of this posting! I'm catching up. My apologies!


Daniel F said...

Yay you are back~!~

Megan said...

Glad to see you back! I think you showed the pros and cons of these episodes succinctly. And Ahsoka seeing Anakin's future would have made it all many times more interesting.

smith said...

Thanks for sharing this post with us. I watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episodes online. And I like this show very much.

Philosoph said...

After seeing such epicness and great power in the Overlord trilogy (overall and in Anakin), the moment when Anakin fulfills his destiny and brings back the balance to the force (meaning: SW E:VI end-scene) appeals now as very banal and unspectacular. So I am not sure, what to think of these episodes. They make the old movie trilogy look... well weak. I don't know if that should be done to these movies. But on the other hand, I really like this epicness, so maybe they should remake IV-VI (maybe in CGI to keep a certain distance) and bringt it logically back to the Power and Force level that SW is on now. (I know, quite a tabu... haha) But right know it leaves a bad feeling in my stomach as it just doesn't feel right.

I'm curious to know what you think.
And please excuse my english, as you might be able to tell, I'm not a native speaker at all... haha ;)

semi234 said...

I really detested the Overlords trilogy for different reasons.

It tries to explain the nature of the Force. Whenever they do that (like the metacholorines), its like they get wishy-washy at detracts from its own appeal. Its like whenever Hollywood makes a book into a movie, I want to leave some stuff in my head.