Editor's note: While all four of our writers have watched and are watching other Star Wars media in addition to the chunks they're writing about, they were all assigned their pieces prior to the site going live. In the following piece, Bethany refers to forcing herself to watch portions of “The Clone Wars,” and the reason is that she was scheduled to write about Season 3.
It's been very difficult for me to write about the third season of "The Clone Wars."
First of all, I had such an affinity for the original, Tartakovsky version of "Clone Wars" that even starting this series in the first place was a challenge. And while I won't go into why I liked that too much (since you can read a whole post about it here), its subdued nature, calculated and methodical pace, and focus on characters made me feel like it was a breath of fresh air after the prequels. It was hard to move on from that feeling.
The second difficulty came from my initial inability to separate this season from especially the "Clone Wars" movie, but also from the previous seasons. I started out with good intentions of watching the all six seasons of “The Clone Wars,” but watching the first season was an exercise in self-discipline more than anything else. "Just one more episode," I kept saying. "It'll get better, it just has to." But it didn't.
I finished the first season with a sigh of relief and started the second with that same feeling you get on a Monday morning when you don't want to go to work but somehow, by sheer force of will, manage to drag yourself there anyway. I wanted to be dedicated to this series, to stick it through. But life is short and the rule-following nature of my adolescence is quickly being replaced by a new, life-is-short-enjoy-it-while-you-can nature of a quarter-life crisis (or whatever it's called when you're almost 30). I couldn't see a reason to torture myself further and skipped my way through Season Two, stopping just long enough to check in and learn that, yep, it's still terrible.
I had no desire to watch Season Three.
With all of that context aside, I'm going to do my best to focus on my feelings about this season in particular, but if that context told you anything, it's this: Strap in; this is going to be a bumpy ride.
I've never liked Ahsoka. I want to like Ahsoka, and in theory, what's not to like? Strong female character with a spunky, no-nonsense attitude. I hated her original introduction in the "Clone Wars" movie (I literally said "ugh" out loud when she and Anakin first met). But even as the seasons have progressed, her character hasn't changed all that much. She still talks back to authority, has an entitlement attitude, and still wears that stupid bra.
She has gained some more experience by Season Three, so at least when she has the same kinds of "I know everything even though I'm young" ideas she had early on, I can buy that there's now knowledge backing that up. But in "The Academy," where she tells everyone she feels overqualified to teach on Mandalore? You've been working with the Jedi for a short time and are still an apprentice, yet you feel overqualified to teach the most basic Jedi principles to kids not even half your age? YOUR LIFE MUST BE SO DIFFICULT AHSOKA. And her brilliant tactics to use a decoy to help Padme in "Assassin?" Good thinking, Ahsoka, you're so brilliant OH WAIT THAT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE. HAVE AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT, AHSOKA. What about her using Interrogation 101 tactics on Ziro by telling him the bounty hunter told them everything? Ahsoka, you're so impressive and smart; Anakin is so impressed. BEING ABLE TO TRICK ZIRO IS NOT A DIFFICULT TASK, YOU'RE THE WORST AHSOKA.
And don't even get me started on more Ziro storylines. At least he's dead now, and Sy Snootles has laid the mystery of his sexuality to rest.
This whole season seems really scattered, story-wise. I had to be told the first part of the season skips around in chronology, which only slightly increased my understanding of what was going on. I know it's a time of war, which in this series means a lot of stories of saving people, but every episode just seems the same. Let's go over here and save these people we're being told to care about. Now let's go over to that other system and help those other people you're supposed to care about without ever having met them before. It got a little old being told to care about characters just because.
The stakes of this season, and really the series as a whole, don't seem that high. I know some disagree, but the battle sequences are just kind of there. From a more technical perspective, the moves these characters perform don't feel grounded in reality. I get this is a cartoon, and I understand these are trained Jedi/Sith/whatever, but the characters don't feel like they have any weight to them, and they can just flip and jump around from a standing position with ease. Also, everyone in this world has some secret power fueling them, whether it's the force, whatever Ventress and her Nightsisters have, or the dudes on Dathomir and their super strength. To quote “The Incredibles, when everyone is super, no one is.
I do like a few of the new characters and some of the character development introduced in this season. Cad Bane is an interesting character visually, even if he is extremely predictable.
The Anakin I see in this series is better than the one(s) in the prequels. He's multi-faceted and not quite as angsty. I like that we dive a little into Asajj Ventress' history in "Nightsisters." My love for her is rooted in her appearance in Tartakovsky "Clone Wars," but she can be compelling here as well. Overall, the most engaging parts of this season were when they took a look at the bad guys. Savage Opress and his arc through "Monster" is super dark and really deep for a cartoon. Maybe I'm just like Kylo Ren; deep down I'm good, but I want to be evil.
And just when I was about to give up hope on this season, just when I was about to cut my losses and quit, like a cool rain in a desert summer, I came to the "Overlords" episode. Finally. This is what I've been waiting for. Qui-Gon Jinn actually voiced by Liam Neeson! Story arcs that fit in with the fuller Star Wars saga! Intrigue! Mystery! This and the two following episodes ("Altar of Mortis" and "Ghosts of Mortis") are worth the price of admission. It's a literal battle between good and evil, in the most fantastic way. I couldn't believe I was watching the same show.
In watching this trilogy of episodes, I realized my issue with this whole series is that I keep thinking about how it fits into the larger picture of the Star Wars saga. If I was able to take it as a separate story altogether, it might be more digestible. But every time I watch, it feels like I'm having to try to shove a puzzle piece into a space where it doesn't quite fit. Sure, it's similar in color and has some of the same patterns, but at the end of the day, the puzzle still looks wrong. That's why I like these three episodes so much. They fit into the overall story we know while expanding the universe we're currently in. You get older Ahsoka warning younger Ahsoka about Anakin. The aforementioned visions of Qui-Gon Jinn. The appearance of Anakin's mother, and Anakin's subsequent internal battle to come to grips with all he's done. It's all done with the artful explanation of the balance to the Force that is being sought and some delectable foreshadowing of future events. All of this helps tie this series to the the more well known Star Wars we've come to know. It finally feels like it's part of the same story.
And just like that, it's over, and we're back to wacky adventures with annoying Ahsoka stowing away on a mission she's not supposed to be on, getting captured again, and suddenly having to join The Hunger Games. And don't try to make it up to me, Season 3, by introducing Chewbacca. It's not going to work. Especially when Ahsoka can suddenly speak Shyiiwook. Why not, nothing else in this series makes sense.
For everyone who has enjoyed “The Clone Wars” series thus far, you're bound to like Season Three. It's more of the same. For those who, like me, find very little enjoyment in seeing these same characters get into the same situations over and over again, I encourage you to watch "Overlords," "Altar of Mortis," and "Ghosts of Mortis." See if it doesn't get you excited again, I dare you. It's a shame they pulled a “Back to the Future Part 3” and told us that everything we just saw doesn't matter because they're going to make all of it irrelevant now, but still, seeing that Vader mask and hearing hints of the classic breathing and “The Imperial March”? It does this jaded heart good.
Maybe I really am like Kylo Ren.