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Star Wars: The Clone Wars recap: Nightsisters of the Living Dead

Asajj Ventress and the Nightsisters defend Dathomir with everything they’ve got when Grievous comes seeking revenge. 

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Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Current Status:
99 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Anthony Daniels
Dave Filoni
Warner Bros.
George Lucas
Animation, ActionAdventure

Thankfully none of the Nightsisters shouted “This is our land!” à la Braveheart or Avatar when General Grievous invaded their planet. But they easily could have. The episode title said it all: “Massacre.” This was a vision of death and desolation that we’ve almost never seen before from the Star Wars saga. This is a franchise where even the destruction of a whole world is quick and painless. Yes, when the Death Star fired upon Alderaan “millions of voices cried out,” but almost immediately they “were silenced.” Generally, I’m okay with that. Star Wars has always presented a Hawksian worldview in which the greatest traumas can still be faced and overcome with a stiff upper lip. Maybe it requires you to “bury your feelings” like Obi-Wan told Luke in Return of the Jedi, but, hey, you do what you have to do to survive.

Asajj Ventress has certainly done what she’s had to do to survive. But I now feel that, short of Anakin Skywalker himself, she may be one of the great tragic characters of that Galaxy Far, Far Away. Someone who’s been repeatedly abandoned and betrayed throughout her whole life and now, even more horrifically, finds herself the cause of her new family’s destruction on Dathomir. It’s easy to blame others for your heartbreak, but much harder to blame yourself.

That’s why I thought the opening moral of “Massacre,” “One must let go of the past to hold on to the future” was particularly poignant. I think that when Ventress, still nursing her physical and psychic wounds over being betrayed by Dooku and then her own apprentice Savage Opress, flew back to Dathomir and found herself welcomed once more as a Nightsister, she really was willing to leave her past behind. She was willing to abandon the pursuit of glory as a substitute for familial fulfillment, to relinquish the goal of galactic conquest in favor of protecting her new Sisters. There was a moment after Mother Talzin told Ventress that “You have your breath, your skill, and your Sisters. You have everything you need to survive,” that the battle-scarred assassin seemed to experience a twinge of loss, as if she would indeed miss her pursuit of power. But with hindsight I really think that glimmer of sadness that came across Ventress’ face — a moment beautifully and subtly realized in the animation, as always — was because of the time she now realizes she’s missed being with this family she always had but never recognized.

NEXT: Grievous abandons his pursuit of Jedi scum for witch scum. He will crush them and make them suffer!

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