Episode LXII: Legends

Episode LXII: Legends
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Episode LXII: Legends

Recorded 4/27/14

Mike, Bryan, and Bobby discuss all the latest news in the Star Wars universe, particularly the announcements about the future of the Expanded Universe and the new alternate timeline, dubbed “Legends.” After the EU discussion, the boys turn the discussion back to “The Clone Wars” with the latest installment of “Late to the Party.”

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One comment

  1. Adjua Adama

    Hey,

    When you all last discussed CW with Bobby, he felt the Mortis trilogy was “weird.” I, personally, felt at the time – and still believe this today – that this was one of biggest events to affect the Star Wars mythology since the opening of the original movie. I recently came across an analysis I wrote of the first episode, right after it originally aired, that was posted on the Rebel Scum message boards. Perhaps it will shed some light on what was seen, from a cultural/religious point of view:

    My thoughts on Overlords…

    What a deep episode! Where to begin with the opening 22 minutes of what should become a fantastic exploration of the Force…

    The Anthropomorphic Moral Dilemma

    There’s been considerable speculation concerning the exploration of the Force, brought forth by George Lucas within the vehicle of the Clone Wars, and audiences have arrived at a story that could largely pay homage to the advertising moniker for this season. Within the films, Star Wars has given audiences the Force, the mysterious energy field that binds all living things together. Those who can tap into that energy field either serve benevolent purposes, the Jedi, or they embody the selfish and destructive evil of the dark side; the Sith. From the original film, it appears that the goal of those who follow the light endeavor to destroy the darkness, thus achieving peace in the galaxy. It seems a rather simple conceit, until the proverbial waters are muddied, as the audience finds out the driving-force for what is good in our protagonist, Luke, is also the face of evil – Darth Vader.

    Overlords is a story in which the anti-hero in question, Anakin Skywalker, may learn that maintaining the muddiness of those waters is essential to preventing the galaxy from ripping itself apart, rather than engaging in a sojourn of purification. Lucas continues to draw upon the mythology of Earth civilizations to forge that galaxy far, far away. In an effort to explain the great campaign between good and evil, every culture, every civilization, every religion known to man has documented the concept anthropomorphically, the essence of each personified in corporeal form – be it human or animal. For Lucas, the nature of the good side is embodied by the Daughter, the first of the entities exhibited on the strange interior of Mortis’ octahedronous form. The dark side later materializes as the Son, the crimson-eyed, clean-shaven, ancient Sith-looking being who causes great danger for the trio.

    Later, Anakin finds their father, the Star Wars equivalent of Tehuti, the Kemetic deity responsible for maintaining Ma’at, the principle of balance and reciprocity – often symbolized by a scale throughout the temples and pyramids of Northeastern Africa. Sitting upon a throne that balances the manifestations of the light side and the dark side of the force, the Father declares his neutrality in this epic struggle, perennially maintaining a firm hand on the leash that separates the two warring siblings, and begs Anakin to replace him in this task upon his death. As the two discuss the prophesy of the “Chosen One,” Obi-Wan and Ahsoka witness first-hand the continuing titanic skirmish. Even the world itself appears to play a role in the cyclic nature of this war, as the day brings forth rebirth and light, while the night signifies death and dangerous storms. If it is permissible to use the Nile Valley story of Ausar (whom the Greeks called Osiris), and given the Father might represent Tehuti, then the Daughter denotes Heru, the symbol of good, while the Son could signify Set, the symbol of evil and jealousy. Indeed, people of the Nile often used the diurnal movement of the sun as an allegory for the constant clash between good and evil, the cyclical nature of life and death. When Heru would win, the day came. Once Set regained the upper hand, night would fall. It is no coincidence, then, that the Jedi arrive in the day to the greeting of the Daughter, yet only spot the Son after the darkness prevails.

    Concerning Animals

    At the end of the Nightsisters screenings, and a number of weeks afterwards, Clone Wars fans were treated to an extended trailer – apparently covering the narrative of the Mortis story. Overlords finally uncovers the mystery surrounding the metamorphic characteristics of a Star Wars character. Both the Son and the Daughter undergo a deliberate permutation, in the story, to that of a gargoyle and a griffin respectively – effigies of each appear to the left and right of the father’s throne in equal proportions. It’s rather interesting that Lucas, and the Clone Wars creative team, chose these two representations to typify the extremes of the Force. The griffin, half eagle, half lion, often are essential creatures in the mythic struggle of good and evil throughout human civilizations. In The Griffin, an article which appeared in The World & I, author Rachel Hajar writes that these creatures were, “…fabled to be the offspring of the lion and the eagle…,” the ultimate royalty of the animal kingdom. Throughout the ages, both animals have come to represent universal principles of royalty, strength, honor, bravery, ferocity, and valor. Their marriage represents the best of both worlds, and often, “…because of its ferocity, the griffin was also used as a talisman to ward off evil.” “As a guardian beast,” Hajar writes, “it protected sacred or symbolic objects by frightening those who would steal or desecrate them.” Some griffins, however, could also come to embody “fear and evil,” and many Mesopotamian societies would symbolize the victory over bestial forces as a humanoid god standing between two griffins – essentially acting as the, “Master of the Griffins.” The Daughter, who takes the form of the griffin, does essentially protect what is good about the Force from those who might corrupt its power. She continually battles her sibling for hegemony over its celestial powers, and she even appeals to Ahsoka to forgo her training under Anakin’s tutelage – in an effort to quell the tumult manifesting within her. She also demonstrates her frightening power in the kidnapping and restraint of Obi-Wan within the arena.

    The Son transforms into the gargoyle, a rather curious choice for Lucas. Obviously, the crimson-eyed creature successfully characterizes the consuming darkness that befalls one who turns to the dark side of the Force – outwardly. This gargoyle, however, closely resembles the form of a bat – a rather controversial symbol for humanity, as its inherent nature meanders from that of good fortune to demonic witch familiar the further one travels. It is true that Western culture discerns the bat with satanic regard – consorted with witches and demons. Often, as angelic figures are afforded the wings of birds, demons take up the wings of bats within the void of night. Among Native Americans, in contrast, the bat is often depicted as the icon of rebirth, swarming out of the dark caves of Mother Earth, to live again among the creatures of the surface.

    Though sometimes frightening creatures, gargoyles are not meant to signify evil. According to The Mysterious World of Gargoyles, found in a 1999 issue of Renaissance, author Cristina Pelayo writes that, “the word ‘gargole’ from the French ‘gargouille’, meaning throat, seems to reproduce the gurgling sound of water and air passing through the throat and, not surprisingly, it was used to refer to the sculptures affixed to rooftop drains and gutters.” One can often find many of these beastly manifestations adorning the great cathedrals and religious centers of Western Christianity, continuing to act as the “givers of water.” One can dig further into French mythology and find the medieval tale of La Gargouille, the fearsome dragon which emerged from the River Seine to spread its waters across the countryside, causing destructive floods.

    Water is a universal symbol of life – without it, nothing exists as we currently know it. How curious, given that every discussion of physical life in Star Wars, the selfish protection of it, the creation of it through the manipulation of midi-chlorians or magic or cloning, the prevention of death, the rebirth, seems to revolve around the dark side, and the Sith. How curious that the anthropomorphic dark side recomposes into such a creature!

    The Prophesy of the Chosen One

    Between each stands the Chosen One, bound by prophesy, in a world made from the nature of the Force itself, capable of taming each of these creatures, as with the Mesopotamian “master of the griffins.”

    Indeed, Anakin’s destiny does stand between the Jedi and the Sith. As both seek to utilize and manipulate his power, Anakin has a hand in destroying both. Apparently, the Father understands the wisdom of hiding his power from the galaxy’s population. He tells Anakin, “There are some who would like to exploit our power; the Sith are but one. Too much dark or light would be the undoing of life as you understand it.” This man engenders enough wisdom to understand that the Jedi would be just as guilty of exploiting their power to eradicate evil, as the Sith would be in cleansing the galaxy of good. Either tipping of the scale would spell doom for all who inhabit the world of Star Wars. The next question that must be addressed in the coming episodes is whether the prophesy of the Chosen One actually leads specifically to the Mortis throne of the Father, which Anakin does not choose. Does the choice to leave the dying Father lead to his eventual downfall, the destruction of the Jedi, and the rise of the Empire? Or is he already fulfilling his path to the prophesy by leaving Mortis behind?

    Within the totality of Anakin’s life, he has spent equal time in both spheres of the Force. From birth to the events of ROTS, he has drawn upon the light side of the Force, and everything that is good within him. He is able to use that time to disrupt what is good in the universe, from within. He spends an equal amount of time as Darth Vader, assisting the Emperor in the suppression of what is good in the universe, which also allows him to get close enough to destroy evil. By the time Anakin’s journey is complete, the corruption within the Jedi, within the Republic, and the control of the Sith, have been effectively eradicated – thus the galaxy is temporarily brought back into balance once again.

    A Quick Note on Qui-Gon

    Though it was quite clear that the Son took the form of Shmi Skywalker, brilliantly played by the return of Pernilla August, and the Daughter took the form of older Ahsoka (which was wonderful to see, given the fact that we probably won’t be privy to the adult she could become), Qui-Gon was real. Of the three, he was the only apparition who exhibited an objective point of view, including the realization that Anakin staying on Mortis would present dire circumstances, whether he was the “Chosen One,” or not.

    Those of us who are worried about continuity with Episode III, however, shouldn’t be – in my view. The key line that Obi-Wan delivers at the beginning is that they should all, “…be wary” of this place. As a supercharged nexus of the Force, and provided the warring siblings can admittedly take the shape of any emotional baggage brought into their realm, I doubt that Obi-Wan will believe he was actually talking to his old master in that cave, when this is through.

    Even Down To The Star Trek Pings…

    One can gather a ton of genre inferences, drawn from various science fiction and mythically-based sources, by previewing just about every second of this episode – not to the detriment of the Clone Wars writing and production staff, to be sure. Indeed, all of us are aware of the myriad of influences that brought about A New Hope’s meteoric rise: Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, The Wizard of Oz, old TV westerns, even gun camera footage from World War II can be found in its imagery. The gift of Star Wars is to take those familiar references, from, both, ancient and modern sources, and retool them into an interpretation that is unique to the mythology of this universe, as derived from George Lucas’ imagination.

    It was mentioned by Kyle Newman, during the last roundtable discussion, that this episode might be a bit Star Trekesque. In fact, the revelation, and the entry into Mortis, seen in previews online, gave it a feeling of the Enterprise – Dapproaching the Dyson’s Sphere, from the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series. Apparently, the comparison was not lost on the producers of the Clone Wars either, as one can hear the familiar “pings” of those 1960s iconic bridge computers on the Jedi shuttle, subsequent to the power shutdown, and just before entering the octahedronous interface.

    The idea of entering a new realm, inhabited by otherworldly and omnipotent beings, has also been explored by the writers of Star Trek as well, throughout their generations. In reference to the underpinnings of Overlords, two distinct episodes come to mind: Who Mourns For Adonais? and The Enemy Within.

    Concerning The Enemy Within, a story that follows Captain Kirk’s own internal confrontation with good and bad disposition personified, a transporter accident – due to an alien magnetic ore found on the surface of a recently explored world – causes a dichotomous materialization of life forms, in which both their purely good and evil natures exist separately. The polite and honorable version of Kirk soon realizes that, without his “evil” essence, he cannot make the tough decisions necessary to be the captain of a ship that daily walks the line of life and death. His evil incarnation commits unspeakable acts of violence against crew members, including the attempted assault on Yeoman Janice Rand – none of which befits the whims of a competent Captain Kirk. Ultimately, he comes to the understanding that, inherent in the human psyche, is not the total elimination of evil, but the quest for balance between the benevolent and the execrable. Venerable attributes alone cannot hope to save the crew on the planet, who suffer on a world that manifests a similar duology exhibited on the days and nights of Mortis. Courageous choices have to be made, as Anakin does in the final act of Overlords, which illustrate this exploration into moral polarity. (1/30/2011)

    Adjua Z.M. Adama

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