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Review: Star Wars Clone Wars: Onderon Liberation Arc

November 20, 2012

Overview (from Wookieepedia):

During the Clone Wars, Onderon joined the Confederacy of Independent Systems. It was represented in the Separatist Parliament by Senator Mina Bonteri, and later her son, Lux Bonteri. Around 20 BBY, king Ramsis Dendup was overthrown by one of Count Dooku’s supporters, Sanjay Rash. To that end, a rebellion was formed to restore Dendup’s rule and to rid Onderon of the Droid Army. Jedi Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and clone captain Rex answered a call for help from Onderonian rebel Saw Gerrera and Lux Bonteri, who joined the rebellion to defeat the CIS. The Jedi trained the rebels at their base camp set up in the jungles of Onderon, which was soon located by the Droid Army via Probe Droids. Luckily, the rebels survived and defeated the droids. They continued their acts of defiance to Sanjay’s rule throughout the city of Iziz. King Dendup was eventually rescued, and the rebels retreated to the highlands to prevent so many casualties in Iziz.

RUN!

With the new Droid Gunships, the rebels were forced to pull back, but they defeated the entire droid army and the gunships with rocket launchers, courtesy of Weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka and his band. Though victorious, the rebels lost their leader, Steela Gerrera during the conflict. After the battle, Onderon joined the Republic. Dendup’s reign as king was restored, Lux chose to represent Onderon in the Galactic Senate, and the droids retreated by order of Dooku, who also ordered the super-tactical droid general Kalani to kill Sanjay Rash.

The latest Star Wars Clone Wars arc proves that the series itself is really growing up and has really stepped away from the kid-friendly beginning of the series.

Now you may ask what is different about Onderon in the Clone Wars? Well, unlike many other planets shown in the series, Onderon’s leaders actually choose to align with the Separatists. This may not seem like a huge difference to everyone but to the Jedi it means an enormous amount.

The Jedi may act as the Republic’s generals but they realize Onderon’s leader made a choice to align with the Separatists, and wasn’t forced into such an arrangement. The leader’s right to choose a side has been made, and the Jedi feel uncomfortable forcing the Republic’s, and by extension, their will on the inhabitants of Onderon. All this leads to the moment when the Jedi decide to reluctantly back a group of dissident Onderon rebels. These rebels fight to secure freedom from the newly appointed King Sanjay Rash, and reinstate the removed King Ramsis Dendup, who had campaigned for an alliance with the Republic.

It’s interesting seeing the Jedi reluctant to involve themselves, as they regard helping a rebel group as an act of terrorism against a sovereign Nation. It puts a nice little twist on the idea of the Clone Wars: it wasn’t all black and white with the Separatist Parliament as inherently evil and the Republic the exemplar of good. The Clone Wars, like many others, is down to a difference in ideologies, and that’s the Jedi respect: the matter of choice and freedom. This idea that the politicians behind the Separatists aren’t bad was played with in season three, where Ahsoka met an old friend of Padme’s: Mina Bonteri and her son Lux Bonteri. The series seems to be pushing aside the Star Wars convention that one side is evil and the other is good. It’s all about a certain point of view, which for a diehard fan is really refreshing.

Ahsoka and the Rebels discuss their options.

Obi Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka and Captain Rex are ordered by the Jedi Council to aid the rebels in the fight, but not to become directly involved. Rather, they are to train and aid them in an advisory position, but they are in no way allowed to join the rebels in their cause. We are introduced to the rugged Saw Gerrera and Steela Gerrera (an odd mirror of Luke and Leia’s iffy relationship is played out between these two until the end of the second episode in the arc, where Steela reveals Saw as her brother. Why they play on this really dubious plot point from the movies is beyond me). Both are head-strong and believe that, with the Jedi’s help, Onderon can be theirs again, well until they hear the bad news that the Jedi will remain only in an advisory position. This is a position all the Jedi are happy with, even the loose cannon known as Anakin Skywalker. There is however one big spanner in the works, and his name is Lux Bonteri.

Lux and Ahsoka’s relationship has been heavily played, but in only a few episodes really. Since having to share a kiss to convince the Death-Watch that Ahsoka was only Lux’s financé instead of a powerful Jedi Knight, nothing more was alluded to about Ashoka’s feelings towards Lux. This is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this story Arc: would Ahsoka (who had been behind left with the Rebels) be able to maintain her Jedi composure and stand aside while someone she obviously has strong feelings toward throws himself into danger that he is definitely not cut out for? Ahsoka almost goes as far as telling Obi Wan and Anakin this through a holo-communication. Ahsoka has grown a lot but, like her Master, you have the feeling she is as much ruled by her heart as everyone else. Ahsoka’s Jedi composure can only hide her hurt for so long while she watches Lux and Steela grow closer together, and her commitment to her duty of remaining outside of the conflict is almost pushed to the brink when Lux is about to be executed in front of a rebellious crowd.

Lux and Ahsoka. How important will their feelings become in later episodes?

WHAT I LIKED

  • Ahsoka coming into her own and acting more like a mature Jedi Padawan.
  • Lux and Ahsoka’s will-they-won’t-they relationship and all the possible complications it could cause.
  • Having the Jedi stand on the side-lines for once.
  • Lux’s character development, going from a Separatist supporter, to Separatist Dissident (when his mother was assassinated by Count Dooku for her anti-war sentiments), to Republic Senator has seemed justified.

Once again the animation and action set-pieces can’t be faulted and really live up to the action set by the Star Wars movies.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • A lack of Obi Wan. I would have liked to see Obi Wan’s reaction to standing on the side-lines as the Rebel cause almost crumbles.
  • Liberating Onderon felt less like a Rebel victory because the Separatists just decide it’s too much trouble and pull out of Onderon and kill their puppet King Sanjay Rash.
  • The unnecessary love-triangle between Lux, Saw and Steela (especially since Saw and Steela are siblings!)
  • Hondo Ohnaka’s inclusion in the arc. Although logical, it seems like he is becoming heavily used in scripts.

The Onderon Liberation Arc (which I am calling it) was really well written and it showed how brave the writers are getting, putting harder and harder questions into the minds of the series’ characters and viewers. The story of a people fighting for their home, no matter what the cost, is always appealing and the action is well presented and is happening on a much larger scale as the series gets bolder. I’m loving the fact that the Clone Wars has started to hit it’s stride. It’s a series I had defended through the tough, uneasy start and now the trust I put into it is being rewarded.

Image Links: roqoodepot.com, toonbarn.com, tv.com, starwarsclonewars.net, wookieepedia.com

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