Star Wars Ph.D.: Every week, Jon Davis will take a look at the new, expanded Star Wars universe and discuss which Star Wars projects are worthy of our attention.
As we all know, George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney in 2012. He wanted to move on and, after the prequels, I think a lot of fans wanted him to move on. But George Lucas is a visionary and he deserves lots and lots of credit for trying to do something different with each of the Star Wars movies. Unfortunately, people preferred the swashbuckling, comedy-action tone of the originals, not the plodding politics of the first three episodes.
Still, George Lucas wasn't quite done with Star Wars after Revenge of the Sith. He went to create the Clone Wars animated TV series for Cartoon Network. We know he was heavily involved in the beginning and then slowly stepped away. It's pretty clear that by the fourth season that George was no longer a major creative presence on the show.
But in the third season, in 2011, a year before he sold Lucasfilm, there was a very odd trilogy of episodes called the “Mortis Trilogy.” As Clone Wars director Dave Filoni describes it in the DVD extras, “George laid out these episodes, and the writers were in awe.” They also didn't know what to make of it. It fell on Filoni and writer Christian Taylor to tell George's story, and they wanted to get it right, as it was full of new information about how The Force worked.
In the “Mortis Trilogy,” Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano are mysteriously drawn to the mystical planet of Mortis. It's occupied by The Father, Son, and Daughter (I wonder where George got that idea from), otherwise known as Force Wielders. The Father is the one keeping balance to the force as the Son and Daughter battle it out between evil and good. Before The Father dies, he asks Anakin to take his place, so someone can continue to bring balance to The Force. But Anakin is having none of it.
The story is weird. Really weird. There are things in this story you never see in Star Wars. There are angels, demons, magical daggers made of mist, griffins, and gargoyles. Yes, gargoyles. There are lots of pretty impressive cameos by many historical Star Wars figures, including Master Qui-Jon Ginn (voiced by special guest star Liam Neeson!) The creatives threw their backs into this, even if the whole thing is hard to follow and is nothing like the rest of the Clone Wars series.
I saw it a few months ago, and it's not an easy story to make sense of. But there's a big stand out scene that's one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable scene in the Clone Wars series. Anakin Skywalker is shown his future. He's forced to take in the fact that he turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Young(ish) Anakin is completely devastated and buckles under the intensity of the revelation. Of course, his mind is wiped of this knowledge afterward, but it's interesting to watch Anakin confront who he will become. It's worth it just for that.
As Dave Filoni tells us in the DVD extras, he and writer Christian Taylor had trouble at first reconciling this supernatural story with the rest of the Star Wars universe that George Lucas created. They decided that they couldn't. As Filoni describes it: “You have to think of this as the three entire episodes taking placing in the tree when Luke was on Dagobah.” In fact, the whole thing is a metaphor. Everything in the story is symbolic of “everything that takes place in all six Star Wars films.” And so, I truly believe it stands as George Lucas's goodbye story.
Is it canon? Yes. Well, sort of. It's a metaphor.
Is it any good? I would say it's interesting.