New Forces of Destiny shorts feature some cool and significant Star Wars scenes

Lucasfilm animation does some terrific work, as we’ve seen by the incredibly successful The Clone Wars and Rebels television shows.  Though those two shows have both wrapped up, and while there will be a future project(s) for Dave Filoni to focus on, Lucasfilm is currently producing short videos in the Forces of Destiny series.

These shorts are just a couple minutes each and focus primarily on the women of Star Wars, and one of the coolest aspects of the shorts is the voice acting talent, as several beloved figures return to lend their voices to their characters – including Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, Ashley Eckstein, Tiya Sircar, Vanessa Marshall, Matt Lanter, Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, and in the latest batch of episodes, even Mark Hamill himself.

The latest batch of episodes were released online yesterday, and in my opinion season two is far better than season one (which was fine).  The shorts are entertaining, but they also give us some really significant moments within the Star Wars saga (as they are canon).

We’ll go through all eight of the episodes from season two that were released (you can watch them all here), and we’ll look at some of the significant revelations and moments featured therein.

S2E1: Hasty Departure

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In this episode, we see Hera, Sabine, and Chopper infiltrating an Imperial base to steal supplies, but Hera and Sabine mistakingly steal the wrong shuttle – with stormtroopers on board!  Chopper stole the correct one, however, so the heroes make a mid-air jump to the right ship as they escape with the cargo.

Though there’s not a ton that’s significant here, it’s nonetheless cool to see Hera, Sabine, and Chopper once again on a mission for the rebellion, and there are some fun moments (like when Sabine discovers the stormtroopers or when Chopper arrives in the right shuttle).

My grade: 7/10

S2E2: Unexpected Company

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In the midst of the Clone Wars Anakin and Padme finally get a chance to get away alone together in secret… until Ahsoka shows up for the mission, assigned by Obi-Wan.  Having altered the route on a more direct path with Ahsoka along, Anakin pilots the ship right into a Separatist fleet.  Padme and Ahsoka man the guns while Anakin navigates through the fleet, but when a blast hits the ship Anakin rushes to make sure Padme is ok, while Ahsoka finishes flying.

First of all, it’s a lot of fun to get some Clone Wars action again, as we have Anakin, Padme, and Ahsoka all together once again for this short mission.  So that’s really cool to see.  But the real significance of this episode is that it confirms something that many suspected: Ahsoka knows about Anakin and Padme.  At the end of the episode, Padme tells Ahsoka that she and Anakin make a good pair, and Ahsoka replies, “I could say the same about the two of you” before exchanging a knowing look with Padme.  Many speculated and assumed that Ahsoka had figured it out based on her interaction with Anakin upon leaving the Jedi Order, and now that it’s pretty much confirmed it adds more weight to that encounter.  As Ahsoka says that she’s leaving the Jedi Order, Anakin responds, “I understand.  More than you realize, I understand wanting to walk away from the Order.”  Ahsoka’s reply: “I know.”  She knows about Anakin and Padme, making her one of very few (along with Obi-Wan) who at some point figure it out – and it adds to her understanding of why Anakin might want to walk away from the Order that tells him such a relationship is prohibited.

My grade: 10/10

S2E3: Shuttle Shock

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On a mission to find the master codebreaker on Canto Bight, Finn, Rose, and BB-8 encounter a massive jellyfish-like creature in open space, which shocks the ship and fries BB-8.  So Finn has to pilot through a number of the dangerous creatures while Rose uses her electro-shock pod to get BB-8 working again so that he can help them escape.

This mini-adventure takes place while Finn and Rose are en route to Canto Bight, which places it during the timeline of The Last Jedi.  And one thing that it does is establish something that both the Visual Dictionary and official novelization for The Last Jedi pick up on: Finn isn’t that great of a pilot and doesn’t have much experience.  We didn’t really see that in the film as much, but this short shows it a bit.  Ultimately, though, while Finn, Rose, and BB-8 are great characters, it seems like there could have been something better for them to do rather than encountering space jellyfish while on an incredibly important and time-sensitive mission as shown in The Last Jedi.

My grade: 6/10

S2E4: Jyn’s Trade

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A young child looking for food is denied by a street vendor, but Jyn Erso purchases a fruit.  The vendor wants Jyn’s kyber crystal necklace but Jyn refuses to part with it, but the young child snatches the necklace and makes off with it.  Jyn chases him and eventually catches up, taking back the necklace.  Realizing that all the child wanted was some food, however, Jyn offers him the fruit she had purchased.

The cool part about this episode is that it centers around Jyn’s necklace, which in Rogue One we see was gifted to her by her mother, and which later on is what leads her to encounter Chirrut Imwe.  That’s a cool touch, but otherwise this episode was a lot like the previous one: it’s fun and has a cool character, but there’s only so much excitement that one can muster over a ‘mission’ like this one.

My grade: 6/10

S2E5: Rey Run

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While scavenging in a Star Destroyer in the Jakku desert, Rey finds an intriguing piece (one that would surely net a nice sum from Unkar Plutt), but she realizes that if she removes the piece part of the ship would collapse.  She doesn’t test it, but then Teedo arrives and wants the part for himself.  Rey warns him, but he does it anyway – and sure enough, part of the ship starts collapsing.  Rey begins to run, but decides to rescue Teedo and escape with him, saving his life.

There’s not really anything of significance about this episode, but it does show Rey where we find her at the beginning of The Force Awakens: scavenging on Jakku to survive.  Once again this is a fun episode, and what it does is help our imaginations about what Rey was up to in the time before TFA.

My grade: 7/10

S2E6: Bounty Hunted

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Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 are on a mission to meet up with a friend of Han Solo’s: Maz Kanata.  They need Maz’s help, because Han has been frozen in carbonite.  Maz says that a solution will present itself, and suddenly the gang encounters the bounty hunter Boushh.  Leia and Chewie return fire while R2 utilizes a nearby machine to defeat the bounty hunter – and when he pulls out a thermal detonator, Maz sneaks up from behind and knocks him out.  Leia puts on Boushh’s outfit and the group departs on the Millennium Falcon.

When it comes to significance in one of these Forces of Destiny shorts, this episode is hard to top: it shows how Leia got the bounty hunter outfit that she wears at the beginning of Return of the Jedi.  We now know that it was Maz Kanata who helped them get the outfit, and that it was Leia, Chewie, and R2 who defeated him in combat so that Leia could take his armor (and thermal detonator).  So this episode not only is a cool one featuring beloved characters, it also fills in the gap of the films.  That’s exactly what I think these shorts can and should do.

My grade: 10/10

S2E7: Path Ahead

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On Dagobah, Luke Skywalker has trouble maneuvering through the trees as part of his training while Yoda and R2-D2 watch, as Luke falls to the ground.  Yoda says that this time he will go with Luke, being carried on the young boy’s back.  Once up in the branches, Yoda tells Luke to run.  He almost falls but catches himself, at which point Yoda tells him: “Close your eyes.  Close them.  Concern yourself not with what you see.  Feel the force around you.  See inside the land, the trees, the branches.  Feel the air.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Good.  Now run.”  At that point, with Yoda covering Luke’s eyes, he is able to maneuver through the branches expertly, leading to another lesson from the wise Master: “Trust what you see, not what you think you see.”

For nostalgic Star Wars fans, this episode is truly special, as it shows us Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah during the events of The Empire Strikes Back (and is made even better by the fact that familiar musical themes are played and that Mark Hamill returns to voice Luke).  Yoda continues teaching Luke and we see how he wound up on Skywalker’s back, and Yoda’s lessons to Luke seem similar to the ones that Luke would teach Rey years later.  This episode is pretty much perfect.

My grade: 10/10

S2E8: Porg Problems

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On Ahch-To, Rey practices lifting rocks, but a group of curious porgs steal her lightsaber.  Rey chases after them (past Chewbacca and R2-D2 by the Millennium Falcon), and they begin jumping into the sea – but before the porg with the lightsaber can dive in, Rey uses the force to keep it floating in the air, to the awe of the other porgs.  Rey brings the porg to herself and takes the lightsaber back, and the curious porgs then surround her.

Any episode with porgs has to be great, right?  In all seriousness, this is a really cool episode, as it’s a fun sequence between Rey and the porgs on Ahch-To, but also gives us a chance to see Rey practicing her force skills.  She’s lifting rocks at the beginning of the episodes, which as we know is much of what Rey knows about the force upon arriving on the planet and is what she practices in order to save the Resistance at the end of The Last Jedi.  And we also see Rey use the force to keep the porg in the air and then bring it to herself.  So it’s cool to get an episode of Rey’s ongoing training in the force while on Ahch-To – and hopefully at some point in this series we maybe could get a scene of her training with Luke, too.

My grade: 10/10

 

 

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