Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Clone Wars: Ghosts of Mortis

My friends and I are watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Every Tuesday, we will be featuring an episode from the series which began in 2008 (as opposed to the one that started in 2003).  All are welcome to join us for all or parts of the fun.

Episode: "Ghosts of Mortis"
Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 3, Episode 17
Original Air Date: February 11, 2011
via Wookieepedia
The Mortis story arc concludes with this week's episode.  A quick catch up on our tale: Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka are embroiled in what amounts to a trans-dimensional morality play.  The Father is the mediator in the struggle between his Daughter (champion of the light side of the Force) and Son (dark side).  He wants Anakin to take his place.  Anakin resists.  Last week, the Son gained the upper hand by inadvertently killing his sister.  Now the dark is in ascendance.  The Son now turns his full attention to the matter of converting Anakin to the dark side.  So as to avoid spoiling the story for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, I move that we now enter what amounts to a bloggers' executive session...


Now, the entire drama has played out.  The Son's advantage is temporary.  He converts Anakin, though not permanently.  The Father sacrifices himself in order to prevent the Son's domination.  Anakin kills the Son and thus balance is achieved.  He is the Chosen One after all.  The Mortis arc is, essentially, the entire Anakin story played out in miniature.

Following Star Wars in episode order, the prophecy regarding Anakin is made in Phantom Menace, he is converted to the dark side in Revenge of the Sith and he destroys the Sith from within in Return of the Jedi.  In so doing, he brings balance to the Force and fulfills the prophecy.  As the audience, we were fed this story in a frustrating, disjointed order but it does all fit together nicely in the end.

All of this is easy enough to follow in the Mortis arc.  The more subtle side of the story is that of the Daughter.  In the movies, too, the rise and fall of the dark side is obvious.  The path of the light is quieter.  Yoda assures Luke - and us - the dark is not stronger but it's difficult to believe most of the time.  The dark wields its power through fear.  It feeds off of anger, greed and jealousy.  None is ever in short supply.  How does the light manage to hold its own?  When Obi-Wan duels Vader in A New Hope, he says "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."  It's a badass thing to say but what does it mean?  Surely, it must mean more than becoming a ghost in order to play Jiminy Cricket to Luke's Pinnochio.

Mortis offers clues.  All seems lost when the Daughter is killed.  With no one to counter the rise of the dark, what hope is left for the galaxy?  But has the Daughter's power actually diminished with her death?  Perhaps her martyrdom only strengthens her symbolic significance.  There are obvious real world parallels, after all.  Even the Son mourns her: "you were the only one I ever truly loved," he says.  The Father is finally able to defeat the Son through his own self-sacrifice. 

Thus the conflict between dark and light is reduced to that between the selfish and the selfless.  The battle is waged across the galaxy and within the heart and mind of each character.  It is the story of Star Wars and perhaps that of our own world, too.


Last week, I criticized the story for its too explicit connection to the broader Star Wars saga.  Now that it's over and the relationship between events on Mortis and the rest of the galaxy is less clear, I'm more comfortable.

via Wookieepedia
The Force spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn appears to both Obi-Wan and Anakin during the Mortis arc.  We first met Jinn in Phantom Menace as Obi-Wan's Jedi Master.  It was Jinn who first identified Anakin as the Chosen One.  In the Mortis arc, Qui-Gon Jinn is voiced by Liam Neeson, the actor who played him in Phantom Menace.

Liam Neeson was born June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.  He was a gifted athlete in his youth, an accomplished boxer and football (soccer) player.  He dropped out of university to work as a fork-lift operator for the Guinness Brewery.  As is the case with so many Hollywood A-listers, his acting career began on the stage, joining the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast in 1976.  Film work came in the '80s: Excalibur, The Bounty and The Mission among others.  Of course, the big break came when Steven Spielberg offered him the lead role in 1993's Schindler's List, for which he received his first and so far only Oscar nomination.  In 1997, Empire magazine included Neeson on its list of the top 100 movie stars in history.

If you would care to join us for all or part of our travels, sign on to the list below.  Please visit the other participants today.  Next week: "The Citadel."



  1. I first took note of Neeson in Darkman, in which I thought he was great. Definitely an under appreciated movie.

    I'm wondering in what ways these episodes relate to The Force Awakens. Are the three really dead? There's a lot of metaphysics involved in this story, so it's hard to know what actually happened.

    1. There's a third vector in the Star Wars galaxy: the Jabba vector. In addition to the simple good/bad tension, there is another morality, or perhaps amorality that isn't quite aligned with either. We often see the underworld as pure evil but we are also reminded that they have no permanent allegiance with the Sith. There is no ethereal Force involved. Just good old-fashioned greed.

      I think it's interesting that in Jedi, all three points of the triangle die: Jabba, Yoda and Palpatine. As the title of episode 7 says, the Force itself most certainly did not die. It was merely dormant. As we rejoin the story, the new triangle is taking shape: Luke is now the light, Snoke apparently the dark. We don't have a new point guard for the Jabba vector yet but I hope we will soon.

    2. I think of it less like a triangle, even though that's how it's commonly talked about, and more like a continuum with the light on one end and the dark on the other. Everything else is between those two points. Jabba, I think, leaned more toward the Dark.

    3. I can appreciate that point of view. But I don't want the story to lose its earthier tones. Team Jabba is important.

    4. Yeah, the Underworld (there's a name that's used that I'm not remembering, right now) is very important in many of the games and is used as the third option, like your triangle, for how to play.

    5. It could just as easily be described as the Han Solo vector, I suppose, at least initially. It's also the human(oid) side of the equation, the Force civilians in a sense. They bring a lot of color to the galaxy, often literally.

  2. Sorry I can't join you, but time is so limited since hubs got ill. I enjoyed the post, as I'm a Star Wars fan. Phantom Menace was one of the movies I liked the least (only Liam saved it). For now, I'll lurk and comment when I can.

    1. I welcome and encourage your lurking. I'm sorry to hear about your husband. Best wishes.