Star Wars: The Clone Wars recap: Ahsoka Embraces Her Dark Side
“…Or so they think.”
Isn’t that the best type of foreshadowing? It’s the kind that only an omniscient narrator can give, and it was how Tom Kane, our disembodied chronicler of that Galaxy Far, Far Away, ended his especially bombastic intro to “Altar of Mortis” last night. That’s right, folks. Just as Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka thought they were out, Mortis pulled them back in.
And it all began with a dream. Like in Luke’s vision in that mythically creepy cave on Dagobah, Anakin was confronted with… himself. Of course, his alter ego soon transformed into the Son, the Force-wielder who embodies the Dark Side on Mortis. Apparently, the Son felt that Anakin could most easily be seduced to the Dark Side in his dreams, a kind of Force-assisted inception, if you will.
Last week, I suggested that Mortis may be a symbolic battleground. If the Son were to upset the balance of power and gain control on Mortis, then the Dark Side would reign throughout the galaxy and the Sith would be ascendant. If there’s any one person in the galaxy to whom the Son corresponds, it’s obviously Darth Sidious, Palpatine himself. Writer Christian “Awesome Name” Taylor peppered the Son’s dialogue with lines that Palpatine has previously used. He attempted to seduce Anakin in his dream by saying, “Join me and together we will change the balance of the universe, my friend.” Sound familiar? He’d go on to suggest that balance could be achieved only by destroying the Sith… and the Jedi.
Is this ultimately how Anakin is the Chosen One? To be honest, I always thought it was because he was destined to destroy the Emperor, to know how to defeat evil by becoming it. Admittedly, the Dark Empire comic books, which saw Palpatine resurrected by having his spirit transferred to a fresh clone body, rather undercut that reading of the Chosen One prophecy — unless, like Mara Jade, you don’t believe that that really was Old Yellow Eyes. I suppose another reading of the Chosen One prophecy is that Anakin brought about balance by destroying the rigid, literal-minded practitioners of both the Dark Side and Light. In a sense, he does destroy both the Jedi and the Sith, leaving… Luke, his son, “last of the old, first of the new,” who would a build a new, more free-spirited Jedi Order.
NEXT: Has Scotty left the Federation and moved to that Galaxy Far, Far Away?Anyway, Anakin awoke from his dream, only to discover the Son standing before him above an open hatchway, clutching dear little Ahsoka in his pasty paws. He jumped out, Padawan in hand, a kind of HALO dive before turning into his cherished hell-bat form. But how did he get inside their shuttle in the first place? Teleportation? Scotty’s toiling away in a Jeffries tube in another galaxy. But that said, teleportation has popped up in Star Wars before, as practiced by the Aing-Tii, who use a very Dune-ian Force-powered space folding technique to instantly travel between two places. Clearly, the Son can do the same.
Anakin gave pursuit, flying his shuttle through a seemingly bottomless canyon, full of jagged outcroppings and whiplash-inducing hairpin turns. But if the Son can teleport, why didn’t he just beam away? Because he was luring Anakin to his lair, his glowing, green tower, Mortis’ Barad-dûr. Actually, Mortis at night really does look quite a bit like Mordor, mist rising off the ground, lava trickling up through the earth. Obi-Wan and Anakin, as always, couldn’t agree on the best response to Ahsoka’s abduction, so Ani went charging off to the Son’s fortress, while Kenobi decided to consult the Father.
Meanwhile, deep in the Son’s tower, Ahsoka found herself talking to a wrinkled, little elfin creature, sort of a cross between a house elf and Gollum. Of course, it was really one of the Son’s other forms, and I adored the strange inflection Sam Witwer added to lines like “Jedi… huh… But so young? Where… is your master?” The little elf climbed up the wall and got all up in Ahsoka’s face, but what mythical creature doesn’t have boundary issues? He freed her from her shackles, gently took her hand… then bit her arm! Apparently, that turned Ahsoka to the Dark Side. Who knew that the way of the Sith could be communicated like rabies? The Son couldn’t be more pleased. Still in elfin form, he paused a moment to clap his hands in triumph, then reverted to his more customary humanoid visage.
NEXT: Ahsoka comes down with malaria, possibly contracted from that island on Lost. Just look at her eyes!Clearly, the folks at Lucasfilm decided to add a little Greek tragedy to their tried-and-true Joseph Campbell recipe, because this battle to restore balance to the Force played out like something out of Sophocles, or at least a 911 domestic disturbance call. Back at the family monastery, the Father scolded the Son for choosing the Dark Side, so Jr. shot a blast of fuchsia-colored lightning his way, incapacitating him. The Daughter sided with her Father, of course, and, like Jedi healers Barriss Offee and Cilghal, used her Light Side power to revive him.
Last week, I suggested that “Overlords” had a number of parallels with Lost’s myth-heavy final season. I felt the same about “Altar of Mortis,” especially when the Daughter led Obi-Wan to that glowing green cave where he found the blade he could use to defeat the Son. It reminded me of how Dogen gave Sayid a mystical dagger with which to stab Smokey the Monster. Apparently, like Smokey, the Son wanted to escape from the prison that had held his power in check. For the monster, that prison was the island, and for the Son, it was Mortis, the implication being that if either were to escape and run free throughout the world/galaxy, they would unleash great evil. Like Jacob, it was the Daughter’s mission to keep her evil sibling contained.
To distract the Jedi from his true goals, the Son unleashed upon them the new Dark Side Ahsoka, eyes yellow like a malaria patient. “Are you proud of me, master?” she sneered, lip curled. Ashley Eckstein’s gleeful take on the Dark Side was to make Ahsoka a coy, flirty brat, the Sith according to Nabokov. Ahsoka attacked her master with an unaccustomed ferocity, even going so far as to declare, “And now the student will kill the master!” Considering that my favorite line from A New Hope is Darth Vader’s declaration to Obi-Wan “When we last met I was but the learner, now I am the master,” this bit of role reversal particularly resonated.
NEXT: Ahsoka becomes One with the Force.The Daughter noticed that the Son drew strength from the battle between Ahsoka and Anakin, so finally she intervened. There’s a lot of talk in this weekly recap about what defines the Dark and Light sides of the Force, but in “Altar of Mortis,” the animators gave us a brilliant illustration of what distinguishes both through the respective fighting styles of the Son and Daughter during their inevitable fisticuffs. The Son, bristling with Dark Side energy, seeks to impose his will on the Force, so he fought very aggressively with Force Lightning attacks. The Daughter, on the other hand, merely redirected the energy that was aimed at her back at her brother. Unfortunately, bratty Dark Side Ahsoka got ahold of Obi-Wan’s blade and handed it to the Son herself. Her purpose fulfilled, the Son promptly brushed a finger upon her forehead and snuffed the life out of her.
Wait. Come again?
Yes, Ahsoka died. If her demise comes abruptly here in this recap, it’s because it happened so unexpectedly quickly in the episode. Of course, we knew that she wouldn’t stay dead. Still, if she had really become One with the Force for good, and her death had arrived so suddenly, it could have been a powerful statement about the fragility of life. The Son raised the mystical blade to deliver a killing blow to his Father, but Daughter stepped in and gave up her life instead. She then used her last bit of strength to give life back to poor Ahsoka, with Anakin acting as a conduit between them, doing for his Padawan what he’d later hope to do for Padmé, even if it would mean becoming Darth Vader to accomplish it.
So, it seems like next week we’re going to have ourselves a showdown on Mortis. How do you think the Son can be stopped? Did you like Ahsoka’s brush with the Dark Side? Did her brief demise prepare you for the prospect that her next trip to the Netherworld of the Force might be for good?
Also, thanks to those of you seconding the motion to have me named “Doc” Blauvelt. But “pastafarian” may have said it best when he mentioned that sounds a tad too much like a Bond villain. (It took me years to be convinced that Blofeld wasn’t named Blauvelt.) And to be honest, there’s only room at EW for one “Doc”: Mr. Jeff Jensen. I will instead adopt Brendan’s so-obvious-I-can’t-believe-I-didn’t-think-of-it-myself suggestion of going by “Darth Blauvelt.” That said, to paraphrase the great Michael A. Stackpole, I am neither a Gand nor a presidential candidate, so I do not find it necessary to refer to myself in the third person. But if you wish to refer to me as such in the comments, I will not object. Until next week, this is your Dark Lord of the Recaps, signing off.
Before the Dark Times, before the Empire, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker fight to restore peace and justice to a galaxy far, far away…