Thursday, September 21, 2017

Clone Wars -- Season Six: The Lost Missions

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I've arrived once again at the end of The Clone Wars. I'm not going to go back through all of the stuff I've previously said about the abrupt ending of the series... even though I want to. But that's a rant I've already been on, probably more than once, and you can go back and find those posts if you want to.

The real question is whether you should take the time to watch "The Lost Missions," especially considering they didn't actually air on the Cartoon Network along with the rest of the series. Can they be that important?

In a word? Yes.

I think there are four "must see" arcs in The Clone Wars for any Star Wars fan who is interested in going beyond the movies. Two of those arcs are in season six, the first being the opening arc of the season dealing with Order 66 and the second being the two-part Yoda story that ended the season. Even if you don't watch any of the rest of Clone Wars, you can probably get enough out of these two stories to make them worth watching on their own. You won't regret it.
Unless you make the mistake of watching the Jar Jar arc, then you might regret it.
Unless you appreciate that story for the Indiana Jones nods.
Or if you like Jar Jar, which I do.
But I still found that particular story trying. Except for the Indiana Jones stuff.

Overall, The Clone Wars is a really excellent series. There are some episodes and arcs that are... less good, but, on the whole, other than the stumble with season four, it's worth your time if you like Star Wars. Or, really, even if you don't. Despite being animated and despite airing on Cartoon Network, it's not some kids' cartoon. It deals with mature issues, and it's one of the best animated series I've ever watched. You should check it out.

There are a few more episodes that were never finished (due to cancellation!), but they're available on  the Star Wars website in their unfinished form, and I'm going to check those out. At some point, I'll have an update on those.
And I'm going to get back to Rebels. Not that I meant to get away from Rebels, but time has been limited. I'll pick back up on reviews for those soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Sacrifice" (Ep. 6.13)

-- Facing all that you fear will free you from yourself.

[Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on this, the LAST, episode.]

A bit of foreshadowing for your final episode? Yes, please.
This, the final released episode of The Clone Wars, doesn't exactly have what one would call "closure." In fact, it might ask more questions than any other Star Wars anything. Maybe, it's hard to tell. And there will be spoilers here so, if you think you might possibly watch this episode, you should stop reading now.

First, Darth Bane. That's really all I'm going to say about that since I'm only bringing him up because Mark Hamill voiced him.

Then all the other stuff...

Yoda is faced with one of those "would you kill Hitler as a baby" kind of questions, except it's not Hitler, it's Anakin. During a confrontation with Darth Sidious, Sidious tells Yoda he can spare the galaxy from what it's going to face if he will just allow Anakin to die. Of course, it would be Yoda's first step onto the path of the Dark Side to do so... I want to leave it at that, but I'm sure you all know which way that went since we already know Yoda didn't go to the Dark Side, and we all know that Sidious and Vader conquered the galaxy.

During the episode, Yoda is told, "There is another Skywalker." Now, here's the thing: The Clone Wars is canon. That means it's Star Wars fact. Which begs the question: What does that mean, there's another Skywalker. Is it a glimpse of  the future when Yoda will tell that to Luke and it will mean something real? Does it mean there will be another Skywalker and that it's referring to Luke? Or does it mean there is another Skywalker at that very moment? In which case, is it referring to Padme or to some other unknown Skywalker?

We don't get an answer!

And with the series cancelled... Well, this episode in particular makes me wish Clone Wars had kept going. As I've said before, Rebels just isn't the same.

With that, I would say that this two-parter is definitely top five for story arcs. One of the top four, actually.

"We have failed to break Master Yoda."

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Comfort of Lies

Remember The Matrix? Great film, right? Well, it is as long as you pretend the two followups don't exist. Once you embrace the entire trilogy as one story, it kinda sucks. Okay, more than kinda. But, you know, it's okay to pretend; it's only a movie.

But let's explore that idea a little more.
And, you know, if you haven't seen The Matrix... Well, you'll just have to try and keep up, because I'm not explaining the movie in this post.

As you know, Neo has to make a choice, the choice between Reality and the fabricated world of the Matrix. One is real; one is a lie. The choice is symbolized by the two pills pictured above, the red pill or the blue pill. Of course, we all know which choice Neo is going to make, because the movie would be over if he were to choose to stay in the Matrix. Besides, it's the choice we all tell ourselves that we would make. Of course we would choose to forsake the lie!

But, man, Reality really sucks. (Much like the reality of the subsequent two films.)

Which brings us to Cypher. Cypher, having lived in the real world for quite a while, decides he doesn't like it. He decides he would rather live in a comfortable lie than continue to struggle through Reality. Remember, Reality sucks.

So Cypher cuts a deal with the machines and betrays his friends so that he can re-enter the lie, the Matrix.

The general reaction from the audience at the time was one of bafflement. How could he choose to go back into the Matrix knowing it was a lie? How could he?! But, you know, he tells us all the reasons as he's making the deal. He misses the... comfort... of it. The taste of food (rather than protein mush), the feel of the sun and the wind (rather than the blotted out sky), the ease of living as opposed to the constant life-threatening struggle that was Reality.

And, man, I empathize. Reality sucks, especially this current reality where we (in the United States) live on the teetering edge of authoritarianism and fascism. I get why so many people are choosing to believe the lies Trump pushes. It gives them comfort. It's their blue pill. If they can just believe in Trump enough, they can pretend he's not a racist douche bag and, if he's not a racist douche bag, then they, also, are not racist douche bags. And no one wants to be a racist douche bag. I mean, heck, even the white supremacist Nazi assholes try to pretend that they're not racist douche bags; that's why they go with all the "white pride" shit instead. But they're only fooling themselves.

To be fair, it's not like those on the Left aren't sucking on their own blue pills by continually talking about how we've forgotten the "white working class." This, also, is an appeal to racism and white supremacy. "C'mon white people, we're on your side." Seriously, no one forgot the white working class. In all seriousness, the white working class is doing just fine. The white working class, no matter how they feel about it, is still doing better than people of color. Any color. We need to stop talking about the "white working class" and how they feel left behind or whatever bullshit they want to call their racism. All they're really saying is, "We're worried our superior position is in jeopardy." And everyone else is trying to make them feel better about it while people of color are still getting the shit end of the stick.

Let me give you a practical example of the systemic racism in the system:
As I'm writing this, hurricane Irma is losing power, but the damage has already been done. There are about 45 known deaths to the storm and much of Florida is without power at the moment. Of course, just prior to Irma was Harvey. Harvey is responsible for 70 deaths and major flooding in Texas. These two storms caused huge amounts of destruction and have dominated the news for weeks.

However, in the midst of this, Mexico suffered the worst earthquake its had in a century, leaving around 100 dead. The media barely mentioned it and isn't talking about it anymore. And the news hasn't even mentioned that 2017 has been a harsh year for monsoons (hurricanes) in south Asia. The worst year in decades. So far, there have been almost 1300 confirmed deaths due to these storms and over 40 million people affected, including the destruction of more than 700,000 homes and a massive loss of crops due to flooding which is likely to cause food shortages. But, hey, they're not white, so, you know, big deal.


Look, I'm not diminishing what's happened to people in Houston and in Florida and in the Caribbean. What has happened has been horrible, but it doesn't make it less horrible to remember that other people are suffering, too. Except that, for some people, it does make it less horrible, because, to them, having bought into the Lie, they believe it's Us against Them, anything that happens to Them is okay because they deserve it. Or, maybe, not quite deserve it, but they don't deserve the special protection that white people ought to have from these kinds of events so, somehow, when it happens to white people, it's more tragic. Like when the Greeks only wrote tragedies about nobility because it wasn't tragedy if it happened to the common man.

But we're all common men.

The Lie is that we're not. The Lie is that it's Us (whites) against them (people of any other skin color).

Let me put it another way, to paraphrase Yoda:
My ally is the Truth, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, binds. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Truth flow around you. Here, between you, me, the brown person, and the black, yes, even between all others and the white.
The Truth, what Reality really is, is the we are all us.

We are all us.

(And I didn't even mention the blue pill of climate change denial.)