The Clone Wars

So…probably my most egregious sin as a Star Wars fan is not having watched the Dave Filoni version of The Clone Wars. (I HAVE seen the Genndy Tartakovsky version, and it is amazing.) Well, apparently even the Apocalypse has its upside…I recently settled down in front of Disney+ and started watching.

Now, I’m a busy guy, even when I’m unemployed. I have a lot of casual gaming to do, which I break up with mad stretches of writing, working franchise admin, and applying for (copy)writing gigs. So I can’t just sit and binge-watch ANYTHING. I’m not quite halfway through the first season, but that’s enough, I think, to justify some comments.

First off, it’s almost NOTHING like the Tartakovsky version of The Clone Wars. Beyond the obvious dissimilarity of 3D CG animation vs traditional 2D work, the original stuff was pretty much just balls to the wall action…and did I mention that it was AMAZING? The Filoni version is not as amazing…but it is in many ways better.

The most important difference, even more than the looks of the shows, is the addition of Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan/apprentice. Ahsoka is important not only because she provides an important counter to her master, who we know is destined to fall to the dark side, but because she is the first time that we’ve ever seen a girl be the hero with a lightsaber in her hand. As much as we all love Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, the sad truth is that she was as much a damsel in distress as she was an ass-kicker. She was a tough damsel in distress, but she got rescued A LOT.

Ahsoka is not that. Ahsoka is a Jedi. I mean, she’s still at the very beginning of her journey at this point in the series, and I have seen some of the middle because I watched Rebels, so she makes mistakes…sometimes egregious ones…but she also gets herself out of tight spots. I mean, she’s already taken on General Grievous one on one, and managed not to die. The episode makes it clear that she’s outmatched, but it also makes it clear that she’s unafraid, and that lack of fear allows her to escape…and even win the day, if not the fight. Most importantly, her scrap with Grievous doesn’t diminish him as a villain. She’s not a Mary Sue (which is a term I despise)…SHE’S A JEDI.

A whole lot of my writing career has been about writing female leads, so Ahsoka hits me where I live. Almost everything she does warms my heart.

The real danger of The Clone Wars is the fact that I already know the ending. I’ve seen Revenge of the Sith, plenty of times. I know how things play out between Anakin and Obi-Wan and Padmé. In a situation like that, it’s easy for these stories not to matter. (I heard that comment about Rogue One more than once.) But introducing and investing us in characters like Ahsoka and Rex the clone trooper WORKS. It creates questions…if this is canon (and it very much is), where IS Ahsoka in ROTS? Why is she not at her master’s side? Could she not have prevented his turn?

This show has STAKES, which are so very important in big fiction. I’m only nine episodes in, but I’ve seen A LOT of clones die. (Alas, poor Heavy. I knew him, Horatio.) I’ve seen Grievous kill someone by stabbing them in the back with a lightsaber. This isn’t just kiddie fare, the Jar Jar Binks episode notwithstanding. I am often amazed by how brutal this cartoon can be…but I’m pleased that it’s never gratuitous. It is Star WARS, after all.

I regret not watching this before. I’m definitely enjoying it now.

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