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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Top 10 'Clone Wars' Episode Arcs

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a beloved show that both improved upon the lesser qualities of the Prequel Trilogy and expanded upon the whole Star Wars universe. In 2013, the series was canceled in favor of Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD (as part of Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm). 13 episodes dubbed "The Lost Missions" were released on Netflix a year later, and a handful of unfinished story reels were later made available on StarWars.com.
On March 7, The Clone Wars is scheduled to leave Netflix after exactly three years on the streaming service. We're taking a look at the 10 best episode arcs (groups of multiple episodes with shared storylines) that every Clone Wars fan – and every Star Wars fan in general, really – should try to rewatch in the next week.

10. Onderon rebels
Season: 5
Episodes: "A War on Two Fronts," "Front Runners," "The Soft War," "Tipping Points"

For most of its duration, The Clone Wars is about a full-on war between two factions of roughly equal strength. When Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Rex travel to Onderon to teach a group of freedom fighters how to effectively win back control of their planet from the Separatists, we get something closer to the Rebels-vs-Empire conflict seen in Star Wars Rebels and the entire Original Trilogy.
In many ways, the Onderon rebels are the first seeds of the resistance movement that would span the decades following the Clone Wars. The guerrilla warfare tactics that they employ are more similar to those seen in Rebels and Rogue One than in other episodes of the series. These tough men and women are seemingly outmatched and outgunned, but with courage and hope – as well as some serious Jedi help – they succeed in restoring peace to their home. Sounds familiar, right?
This arc also marks the debut of Saw Gerrera, and although he doesn't appear in any future episodes, and it's his sister Steela who ends up leading the rebels (and dies in combat in "Tipping Points"), Saw would become the first and only original Clone Wars character to appear on the big screen, with a major role played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One.

9. Obi-Wan and Satine
Season: 2
Episodes: "The Mandalore Plot," "Voyage of Temptation," "Duchess of Mandalore"

In this episode arc, The Clone Wars introduces both the new, peaceful Mandalore – led by Duchess Satine Kryze, Obi-Wan's former lover – and the violent, Fett-like Mandalorians that we all know and love, in the form of the Death Watch warriors.
"Voyage of Temptation," the best of the three episodes, takes inspiration from two classic movies as Obi-Wan and Anakin escort Satine to Coruscant aboard her starship, the Coronet. The luxurious upper levels are reminiscent of Titanic, while the dark cargo hold calls Alien to mind, with terrifying, spider-like assassin droids that cause all kinds of trouble. 
Giving Obi-Wan a love interest is a good idea simply because it shows that Anakin isn't the only Jedi who struggles with the whole "no attachments" rule. And Satine is by no means just a love interest, frequently arguing with Obi-Wan and proving that, like Padmé, she's a determined politician who stays true to her principles and can also handle herself in dangerous situations.

8. Boba's revenge
Season: 2
Episodes: "Death Trap," "R2 Come Home," "Lethal Trackdown"

The Clone Wars brings back Boba Fett for a story that needed to be told: his assassination attempt on Mace Windu, who killed Jango and left Boba orphaned back in Attack of the Clones. But this isn't the cool, confident Boba that we first met in The Empire Strikes Back; in this arc, he's barely a teenager and under the poor influence of the merciless Aurra Sing and classic bounty hunter Bossk.
"Death Trap" has Boba posing as a clone cadet (he is technically a clone himself, after all) aboard a Jedi cruiser and sabotaging the vessel (and eventually crashing it) in an attempt to kill Mace. "R2 Come Home" proves how loyal and underrated R2-D2 really is; the astromech holds his own in a dogfight with the bounty hunters and gets help from the Jedi Temple when Anakin and Mace are trapped under debris. 
With Anakin and Mace still recovering from their injuries, "Lethal Trackdown" sees the unusual pairing of Ahsoka and Plo Koon (who's known Ahsoka since he first brought her to the Jedi Temple as an infant) as they go after Boba, Aurra, and Bossk. After a tense, Western-style confrontation in a saloon, Boba and Bossk are arrested while Aurra is presumed dead after crashing Boba's iconic Slave I starfighter.

The premise of this storyline is a great one for the Season 2 finale. When Boba decides to help Plo rescue the hostages they had taken captive, we get to see a softer, more sympathetic side to him. Boba even gets a few words with Mace before heading off to jail, bringing some closure to his old grudge while also making it clear that the young Fett still has some anger issues.
7. Obi-Wan undercover
Season: 4
Episodes: "Deception," "Friends and Enemies," "The Box," "Crisis on Naboo"

This arc sees Obi-Wan faking his death and disguising himself as assassin Rako Hardeen in order to infiltrate Count Dooku's plot to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. Tensions are high as Obi-Wan struggles to maintain his identity among the various dangerous and deceitful criminals hired by Dooku, including fan-favorite bounty hunter Cad Bane.
"The Box" is an undeniably fun (if not slightly ridiculous) episode that takes a colorful group of bounty hunters and puts them in a huge, cube-shaped simulator in Dooku's palace designed to thin out the herd and determine which of them are skilled enough to be participate in the mission. Filled with countless deadly traps, the Box makes for some great entertainment, even if it's impractical.
"Crisis on Naboo" is a fairly standard wrap-up to the arc, with Obi-Wan and the Jedi successfully thwarting the plot...until Dooku ambushes the Chancellor towards the end of the episode, revealing that he knew about Kenobi's true identity all along. The twist injects sudden action into the last few minutes as Anakin furiously duels Dooku while Palpatine looks on, visibly delighted by the thought of his future apprentice killing his current one.

Perhaps the main purpose of this arc is to sew the seeds of Anakin's distrust of the Jedi Council that we see in Revenge of the Sith. They intentionally don't tell Anakin that Obi-Wan's death is a ruse, and he's not too happy when he finds out. One can infer that Palpatine (as Dooku's secret master, of course) arranged the whole thing because he knew that Anakin's frustration and anger would bring him closer to the Dark Side.
6. Yoda's final journey
Season: 6
Episodes: "Voices," "Destiny," "Sacrifice"

The final episodes of "The Lost Missions" (and the last completed episodes of the series) heavily foreshadow Revenge of the Sith, with Yoda on a spiritual journey to discover the secret of retaining his consciousness as a Force ghost after death. Like the Mortis arc, it includes intriguing Force visions, details on the origins of the Force, and Liam Neeson returning to voice Qui-Gon Jinn's ghost.
In "Voices," Qui-Gon's disembodied voice guides Yoda to Dagobah for the first time, where he encounters a harrowing vision of Order 66 and the rise of the Sith. "Destiny" takes him to the foundation of the Force – and life itself – in the galaxy, where he meets the enigmatic Force priestesses and faces his (literal) inner demons.
In "Sacrifice," Yoda makes his final stop on Moraband, the ancient Sith homeworld, to learn more about the longtime enemy of the Jedi Order. Darth Bane (voiced by Mark Hamill himself) officially enters the Star Wars canon as an apparition in the Sith temple. The climax of the episode is Yoda's exciting duel with Darth Sidious himself in a Force illusion.
Although this arc isn't the series finale that the show deserved (more on that later), it still ends on a pretty satisfying note. Yoda returns to the Jedi Temple and accepts that even though the Order might face unspeakable horror in the near future, there's still hope for the Light Side to prevail in the long run. 

5. Mortis
Season: 3
Episodes: "Overlords," "Altar of Mortis," "Ghosts of Mortis"

One of the most surreal Clone Wars arcs explores the nature of the Force itself when Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan are unwillingly transported to the ancient realm of Mortis, inhabited by three incredibly powerful beings: the angelic Daughter on the Light Side of the Force, the sinister Son on the Dark Side, and the wise, neutral Father.
Simply put, nothing on Mortis is as it seems. In "Overlords" alone, Obi-Wan sees the ghost of his old master, Qui-Gon; Anakin briefly reunites with his late mother, Shmi Skywalker, which turns out to be a trick from the Son; and Ahsoka is approached by her future self, who warns of the darkness inside her master. 
What becomes clear in this arc is that Anakin is the Chosen One, and that's precisely why they the Jedi have been brought to this world. In an effort to force Anakin to join him, the Son captures and corrupts Ahsoka in "Altar of Mortis." She duels the reluctant Jedi while the Son and Daughter clash, bringing "sibling rivalry" to a whole new level. The Son attempts to kill the Father but accidentally strikes down his sister, who uses her last energy to save Ahsoka.
Yes, the inhabitants of Mortis carry on the Star Wars tradition of extremely dysfunctional families. "Ghosts of Mortis" sees Anakin struggle with his own destiny and briefly join the Son after witnessing a horrific vision of the events of Revenge of the Sith and the coldhearted Sith Lord that he's doomed to become. The Father ultimately clears Anakin's mind of these memories and then kills himself, which drains the Son's power and restores balance to the realm. 
Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka wake up in their ship with no record of their time in Mortis. Although "dreamlike" is perhaps the best word to describe Mortis, we can be sure that it does exist. It makes for one of the most unique and memorable Clone Wars arcs, and its status as a legendary realm and conduit of the Force means that it could – and really should – return in a Star Wars story in the future, no matter the time period.

4. Ventress and the Nightsisters
Season: 3
Episodes: "Nightsisters," "Monster," "Witches of the Mist"

After two and a half seasons as a playful recurring villain, Asajj Ventress transforms into a sympathetic antihero in this episode arc. Under orders from Lord Sidious, Count Dooku betrays Ventress at the beginning of "Nightsisters" and believes her to be dead. Wounded and with nowhere else to go, she heads to her place of birth: the Nightsisters village on Dathomir.
We're introduced to this clan of women that double as fierce warriors and mystical witches, along with their leader, the enigmatic Mother Talzin. They agree to help Ventress and through a series of flashbacks, we learn of her incredibly tragic past. She wants vengeance on Dooku, and they're going to help her.

When an assassination attempt fails, Talzin hatches a new plan: they're going to hand Dooku a new, powerful servant who will gain his trust and then help Ventress destroy him. In "Monster," Ventress selects Savage Opress after a deadly contest to determine the best warrior from the Nighbrothers clan. Molded into a hulking menace by Nightsister magic, Opress joins Dooku and proves his strength.
"Witches of the Mist" sees this plot come together. With Anakin and Obi-Wan hot on Savage's trail, Ventress is forced to strike Dooku sooner than expected. She and Savage face the Sith Lord together, but Savage is too weak and ends up turning against both of them. Dooku survives, Ventress escapes, and a wounded Savage returns to Talzin, who points him in the direction of his long-lost brother: Darth Maul. 
This arc succeeds in cementing Ventress as both a relatable woman who's just trying to find peace and a family in a cruel galaxy, and a cunning, ruthless warrior who can hold her own against the most powerful Jedi and Sith of the Star Wars universe. Savage debuts as a growling, cool-looking substitute for Maul (with a similar double-sided lightsaber), but would mainly serve to facilitate his older brother's return in future episodes.

3. War on Umbara
Season: 4
Episodes: "Darkness on Umbara," "The General," "Plan of Dissent," "Carnage of Krell"

The most warlike episode arc of The Clone Wars focuses on a battalion of troops on a long, miserable trudge through dangerous, perpetually murky enemy terrain. It puts the spotlight on the clones – specifically, Captain Rex and the rest of the 501st Legion – when Anakin is called back to Coruscant and Jedi general Pong Krell is placed in command.
Krell is a reckless strategist with no regard for the clones' lives, forcing them to push on against the technologically superior Umbarans. For Rex and his troops, this arc teaches them a valuable lesson about the line between a good soldier and a blind follower; as the Captain says himself, "We’re not droids. We’re not programmed. You have to learn to make your own decisions."
When it becomes clear that the general is actively trying to kill the clones and sabotage their war efforts, Rex leads a mutiny in "Carnage of Krell," ultimately capturing Krell and executing him after a bloody struggle. They had witnessed that even the Jedi were vulnerable to the corruption of the Clone Wars.
Aside from the musings about the nature of war itself, the alien terrain of Umbara makes for harsh, realistic battles between the clones and the Separatists. The native Umbarans have a host of sleek, advanced technology that the concept artists clearly had a field day with. Whether you're interested in seeing the clones' perspective of the Clone Wars or just want to watch cool stuff blow up, this arc is a must-see.

2. Ahsoka the fugitive
Season: 5
Episodes: "Sabotage," "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much," "To Catch a Jedi," "The Wrong Jedi"

By the end of Season 5, Ahsoka Tano had established herself as one of the show's most popular characters and a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe overall. The season's final episodes (each named after a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie) present her with her greatest challenge yet, with an emotional conclusion that forever changes her destiny and the course of the series moving forward.
In "Sabotage," a terrorist attack in the Jedi Temple brings Anakin and Ahsoka back to Coruscant, where they eventually find and arrest the perpetrator. Case closed, right? Wrong. In "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much," Ahsoka is framed for the murder of the bomber while visiting her in jail, making it look as though she was connected to the incident.

Rather than let the tedious judicial system sort it out, Ahsoka chooses to go on the run in the Coruscant underworld and solve the mystery herself. She uses her impressive skills to avoid the authorities and even forms an unlikely pairing with Ventress, who's had similar experiences of abandonment and betrayal in her past.
Ultimately, Ahsoka's close friend Barriss Offee confesses to the bombing (thanks to some serious persuasion from Anakin) after Ahsoka's already been expelled from the Jedi Order and facing a grand Republic trial. The Jedi Council apologizes to her and invites her back into the Order, but having seen just how little faith they have in her, Ahsoka refuses. 

The ending scene of "The Wrong Jedi," with Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Temple forever while an upset and confused Anakin looks on, makes for the series' most heartbreaking moment and a truly memorable season finale. It wasn't the last time we'd see Ahsoka, but nothing would ever be the same again.
This arc also serves to disillusion both Anakin and the audience of the supposedly righteous, noble Jedi Council. Not only did they turn their backs on our beloved padawan, but Barriss' justification for her attack on the Temple – that the war had essentially corrupted the Jedi into "an army fighting for the Dark Side" – is completely true (especially considering that the Republic is secretly led by a Sith Lord).

1. Maul on Mandalore
Season: 5
Episodes: "Eminence," "Shades of Reason," "The Lawless"

What happens when Darth Maul and his ferocious brother team up with the Death Watch? The short answer: lots and lots of violence. This arc brings together the newly-restored, vengeance-seeking Sith Lord and the awesome Mandalorian warriors in extraordinary fashion, with an ending that's satisfying on every level.
"Eminence" begins with Pre Vizsla and his troops happening upon the wounded, near-frozen bodies of Maul and Savage in an escape pod. Alliances are soon formed and they spend the rest of the episode forming Maul's proposed Shadow Collective of crime organizations by means of murder and threats. It's a fun episode for anyone who just wants to watch Maul, Savage, and the Death Watch kick ass together.

Of course, both Vizsla and Maul have plans to betray each other. In "Shades of Reason," they succeed in usurping Duchess Satine and taking over Mandalore with help from the crime lords. Maul challenges Vizsla to a traditional duel to decide the commander of the Death Watch; after a terrific fight, Maul decapitates Vizsla, assumes command of his troops, and takes the throne as ruler of Mandalore.
"The Lawless" is simply the best episode of the whole series. It's emotional, visually stunning, and just awesome in every way, despite featuring zero clones or battle droids. It kicks off with Obi-Wan coming to Mandalore to rescue Satine, only to fall right into Maul's hands. Maul stabs her through the heart in front of Kenobi, finally achieving the vengeance he's been after for so long.
Obi-Wan is rescued by Bo-Katan, Vizsla's former right hand woman and a deadly warrior who earns a fan-favorite status in this arc. (She's also revealed to be Satine's sister later in this episode.) In the most beautiful shot of the series, Obi-Wan witnesses the chaotic civil war between the Death Watch loyalists and Maul's super commandos, before he escapes Mandalore at Bo-Katan's behest. 
But the real highlight of the episode comes when Darth Sidious himself makes his in-person debut (he had previously only appeared as a hologram) to deal with the growing threat of Maul and Savage. Whipping out two red lightsabers, Sidious duels the brothers with surprising agility and strength, toying with them and killing Savage without breaking a sweat. He easily defeats Maul and tortures him with Force lightning, vowing to keep him alive for other purposes.
"The Lawless" in particular is the greatest indication of how amazing "The Siege of Mandalore" (the planned series finale that was scrapped when the show got cancelled) would have been. It would have had many of the best elements of "The Lawless" – Maul, Bo-Katan, war on Mandalore, etc. – plus Ahsoka, Rex, and the clone army on a mission to restore peace to the planet and bring Maul to justice.

Not only would the episode (or more likely, multi-episode arc) have seen Ahsoka reuniting with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Rex, but it would have actually paralleled the events of Revenge of the Sith, with the infamous Order 66 playing a key role in the climax. Out of all the promising Clone Wars stories that never made it to our screens, "The Siege of Mandalore" most deserves to be released in some format in the future.
Official "Siege of Mandalore" sketches
The best apart about these arcs is that, to quote Han Solo, "It's true. All of it." The Clone Wars was the only part of the franchise besides the six core movies that remained canon in 2014 after Disney bought Lucasfilm. Every single episode of the series really happened in the Star Wars universe, meaning that any of these characters could be seen again on the big screen.

Which episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is your favorite? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

'Han Solo' Begins Production

Lucasfilm have officially announced that the untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story began production yesterday. The official announcement on StarWars.com also confirmed the principal cast, which includes: 
  • Alden Ehrenreich as the title character.
  • Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. The film will most likely show us how Lando and Han originally met. 
  • Emilia Clarke in a yet-unknown role. If she's half as authoritative and badass as Clarke's Game of Thrones character, Daenerys Targaryen, then she'll prove to be a handful for Han and Chewie.
  • Woody Harrelson in a yet-unknown role. He's rumored to be playing Han Solo's mentor. 
  • Thandie Newton in a yet-unknown role. Although she's been starring in movies for two decades now, Newton most recently won critical acclaim for her role in Westworld as no-nonsense android Maeve.
  • Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge in a yet-unknown role. Variety reported earlier this month that she was in talks for a "CGI-driven performance," meaning that she would be playing an alien or perhaps the franchise's first major female droid.
  • Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. The towering basketball player and actor previously played Chewbacca's (Peter Mayhew) body double in The Force Awakens and will reprise the role in The Last Jedi. We can assume that Mayhew himself will have some kind of input onto the character he's been playing since 1977.
The announcement also confirms the release date of May 25, 2018. This means that Han Solo will break the streak of December releases for Star Wars movies, and it'll be only five months after The Last Jedi. The film's official title has yet to be announced, suggesting that it's something more creative than Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.
What do you think of the Han Solo cast? What ideas do you have for the title? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

First Look at Rey, Finn, and Poe in Force Friday II Announcement

As part of their announcement of Force Friday II (the day when The Last Jedi toys and other products hit shelves), which will will be on September 1, Lucasfilm has released an image of the basic packaging for the merchandise, providing us with our first official look at three of our favorite heroes in The Last Jedi.
Finn and Poe Dameron both seem to have slightly different costumes, but – as usual – Rey steals the show, looking as fierce as ever and sporting a new, longer hairdo. She's wielding Anakin and Luke Skywalker's old lightsaber once again, suggesting that in the first scenes of the movie, Luke refuses to accept her offering and instead tells her to keep the weapon for herself and continue to use it under his tutelage.

Obviously this is a very small reveal that doesn't provide any real plot details, but it's still exciting to see the three young heroes of The Force Awakens again. This promo art is just the latest step of Lucasfilm's slow-build marketing campaign, which will hopefully reach new heights in April with a teaser trailer (and a behind-the-scenes reel around that time as well).

What do you think of this promo art? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The 20 Best 'Star Wars' Tracks

Star Wars is known for many things – lightsaber duels, giant round superweapons, complex parent-child relationships, etc. – but its most enduring achievement has always been its music. The franchise has fluctuated in terms of acting quality and basic format (animated versus live-action) in the past 40 years, but the music has always been strong. 

Legendary composer John Williams can be thanked for this. He scored the Original Trilogy, the Prequel Trilogy, and The Force Awakens, earning him four of his 50 total Oscar nominations. He's turning 85 today and is still hard at work on the soundtrack for The Last Jedi. His music has been defining and redefining Star Wars since 1977. 
In honor of Williams' birthday today, we're ranking the 20 best pieces of music (so far) from the entire Star Wars franchise. These include both tracks by Williams himself and those that clearly took inspiration from his superb work. 

20. "A New Hope and End Credits" (Revenge of the Sith)

Revenge of the Sith was intended (or at least, believed by most) to be the conclusion of the Star Wars saga. The music that plays during the end credits blends together some of John Williams' best work from both the Prequels and the Original Trilogy to create an exceptional finale for one of the greatest film series of all time. 
The first minute or so of the track samples "Princess Leia's Theme" and "Binary Sunset" as the two Skywalker newborns are shown with their new, adoptive parents. The "End Credits" portion starts off with the usual Star Wars theme, then transitions into an extended repeat of "Princess Leia's Theme," followed by "Battle of the Heroes," "The Throne Room" from the end of A New Hope, and other classics.
While containing very little original content, "A New Hope and End Credits" is still an extremely nostalgic and celebratory track made for the few diehard fans who sat in the theater for 10 minutes after Revenge of the Sith ended. During the last few seconds of fanfare, you get the feeling that Williams himself was tearing up a bit, thinking that this was his last contribution to Star Wars. (We're all very glad that it wasn't.)

19. "Hope" (Rogue One

Taking its name from the final word spoken in Rogue One, this track kicks off with an awesome and horrifying rendition of "The Imperial March" as Darth Vader confronts a corridor of unlucky Rebel troops. Using a loud choir backed by strings and brass, it makes Vader's ensuing slaughter even more glorious. 
Composer Michael Giacchino finishes this sequence with a brief sample of the traditional "Imperial March" theme as Vader watches the Tantive IV slip through his grasp. The music quiets down aboard the ship, save for some teasing (and quite appropriate) notes from "Rebel Blockade Runner" in the background. "Binary Sunset" tops it all off as Princess Leia receives the Death Star plans, declaring them a new "hope" for the Rebel Alliance.
"Binary Sunset" isn't an especially creative choice to end the movie; both Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens use it as an easy way to lead into the end credits. The first half of "Hope" is really what makes it so great. Giacchino does what every Star Wars composer should do: he takes a classic Williams theme and puts his own spin on it.

18. "It's Over Now" (Rebels)

"Twilight of the Apprentice," Rebels' Season 2 finale, didn't exactly have a happy ending. By the time the credits rolled, Darth Maul was once again on the loose, Jedi Kanan Jarrus had been rendered permanently blind, padawan Ezra Bridger was slipping to the Dark Side, and Ahsoka Tano's long-awaited reunion with her former master, Darth Vader, had descended into an emotional battle to the death that left her fate unclear.
And yet, Kevin Kiner's track that closes out the episode isn't the soft, somber music that you would expect from such a harrowing 44 minutes. "It's Over Now" is loud, epic, and strangely triumphant. It's a proud victory march paired with a bleak finishing montage that presents nothing but devastating loss and even more trouble down the road for the heroes. 
Perhaps the reason "It's Over Now" works so well is that it's the antidote to an absolutely depressing season finale. The brass, strings, percussion, and background choir fit together seamlessly in a theme that inspires action and hope. It literally ends the episode on a high note.

17. "Luke and Leia" (Return of the Jedi)

This track signals the moment that Luke reveals to Leia that she's his sister – and a member of the Skywalker family – in the Ewok village. It's the final stage of the evolution of Leia's music throughout the Original Trilogy; from "Princess Leia's Theme" to "Han Solo and the Princess," and now "Luke and Leia."
The beautiful, sweeping notes are far less vulnerable than Leia's previous themes. Despite its title, this track is more about Leia's newfound strength and confidence than her relationship with Luke, as she realizes that she has a natural, powerful connection to the Force.
This music has a fairly limited presence after being introduced, since its titular characters don't have many more scenes together in Return of the Jedi. More than any other track on this list, we can hope that the "Luke and Leia" motif will return in The Last Jedi, simply because it would mean the heartwarming reunion of the Skywalker twins. 

16. "Ahsoka Leaves" (The Clone Wars)

This strings-heavy track by Kiner accompanies The Clone Wars' most heartbreaking scene: Ahsoka's dramatic walk out of the Jedi Temple as she chooses to leave the Order – despite the pleas of her beloved master, Anakin – in the Season 5 finale, "The Wrong Jedi."
A beautiful, tragic rendition of "Binary Sunset" plays during the first 20 seconds, but it's not until 1:19 that the emotion really starts pouring in. The ascending string notes finish Season 5 (and the last episode of the series to be aired on television) with a tone that could only be described as bittersweet. It was the end of an era, but not the end of The Clone Wars, nor Ahsoka herself.
The haunting woodwind notes at the end of the track, paired with the episode's end credits, are actually a much softer version of the principal theme from "It's Over Now." It's as if Kiner was already planning his score for the next major Anakin/Ahsoka episode. 

15. "The Emperor Arrives" (Return of the Jedi)

Unlike Darth Vader, the Emperor doesn't have a single ounce of good within him. He's the most diabolical and wretched character in all of Star Wars, so it's fitting that his personal theme, which starts at 1:05 in this track, is somehow even more sinister than Vader's. It features an all-male choir (the first choir ever used in Star Wars music, in fact) and lots of low, low notes that ooze with the Dark Side. 
This motif reappears several times in the Prequels and serves as the inspiration for Supreme Leader Snoke's theme, but perhaps its most ominous use is at the end of The Phantom Menace. The parade music on Naboo sung by a chorus of innocent children is actually a variation of the Emperor's theme in major key, hinting at his insidious plot that loomed over the celebration. 


14. "Princess Leia's Theme" (A New Hope)

As the title would suggest, this iconic track is synonymous with Leia Organa. Its soft and beautiful notes are used as a musical cue throughout the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens, popping up whenever she does. 
The major flaw with this track is that it portrays Leia as gentle and subdued – a "typical princess," if you will. In reality, we all know that she's a strong leader, a capable warrior, and a pretty rude and outspoken woman in general. "Princess Leia's Theme" isn't bad music, but it fails to actually capture the essence of the character it's named after.


13. "The Asteroid Field" (The Empire Strikes Back)

The Millennium Falcon's frantic chase from persistent TIE fighters is paired with a track that just doesn't slow down. "The Asteroid Field" is a roller coaster the whole way through. From the sinister "Imperial March" samples at the beginning to the quick "Han Solo and the Princess" notes at 3:25, it brings you to the edge of your seat. 
The best part of "The Asteroid Field" is unquestionably the brass explosion at 2:17. No other chase music from Star Wars – including the fantastic "Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant" from Attack of the Clones and "The Falcon" from The Force Awakens – manages to capture the same thrill of those notes, and it's a shame that they haven't reappeared since. 

12. "The Jedi Steps and Finale" (The Force Awakens)

The cliffhanger at the end of The Force Awakens is unlike the ending of any Star Wars film before it, and the music that plays during it is equally unique, combining Rey and Luke Skywalker's respective theme as the two Force users come face to face. 
As Rey ascends the titular stone steps on the island on the planet Ahch-To, these mysterious and intriguing notes play, reaching a wondrous crescendo when she finally lays eyes upon a hooded Luke. Rey pulls out Luke's old lightsaber, offers it to him, and the music swells with "Binary Sunset," which leads right into the usual end-credits theme.
The "Finale" part of this track isn't recognized nearly as much (because everyone was leaving the theater while it played), but it does a great job of representing each of the film's characters, transitioning from "Rey's Theme" to Kylo Ren, Finn, and Poe Dameron's unofficial themes as well.


11. "Yoda's Theme" (The Empire Strikes Back)

This track is pure tranquility and positivity. Its gradually-rising, sweeping notes are a reflection of Yoda's own mellow demeanor at this point in his life. It totally embodies the Light Side of the Force; there's not a hint of conflict or evil to be found. 
You can hear this piece during the last moments of The Clone Wars' series finale (or at least, the last completed episode), "Sacrifice," paving the way for the resurgence of the Light Side – and a calmer, less troubled Yoda – in the distant future. 

10. "The Battle Of Endor II - Medley" (Return of the Jedi)

Williams' phenomenal score from the showdown in the Emperor's throne room is found in this 10-minute medley. When Vader threatens to turn Leia to the Dark Side, Luke lunges at him with a rage that can truly be felt in the sorrowful music that starts at 5:00 in the track below. 
Independently known as "A Jedi's Fury," this part of the track is a more layered version of the Emperor's theme. It's much more poignant than the typical exciting, inspiring Star Wars music you would expect in a scene where the hero is winning, because there's nothing inspiring about watching a son give in to his anger and furiously attack his weakened father to the point of cutting off his hand. 
At 8:19, the Emperor's theme comes in louder than ever before (or since) as the old man mercilessly tortures Luke with his Force lightning. Adding in a creepy, rising choir, it's at its most terrifying when Palpatine is moments away from electrocuting Luke to death...until "Binary Sunset" bursts in at 9:08, signaling Vader's redemption and return to the Light Side as he throws his master down the Death Star's reactor shaft.

9. "Your Father Would Be Proud" (Rogue One)

Named after the final words that Cassian speaks to Jyn as they prepare to be vaporized by the Death Star on the Scarif beach, "Your Father Would Be Proud" tackles the bittersweet conclusion of Rogue One. It manages to find an excellent balance between mourning the loss of the central Rebel team and celebrating their accomplishment.This is where Giacchino really sets himself apart from Williams and brings his own sound to the Star Wars saga. The first few minutes of the track have the same calmness of "Yoda's Theme" with some strong, tragic undertones. It's also reminiscent of the composer's previous work on Lost, which makes sense given that the show also took place on a tropical, paradisal beach terrain that held nefarious secrets.
The latter portion of the track, starting at 2:48, is a fitting tribute to Jyn in the form of her personal theme. Like Jyn herself, it's sad yet forceful, emotional yet powerful. It's the perfect way of acknowledging this heroine who doesn't get a whiff of recognition from the Rebellion that she died for. 


8. "Battle of the Heroes" (Revenge of the Sith)

This awesome, tragic track is more than worthy of accompanying the climax of the Prequel Trilogy: Anakin and Obi-Wan's duel on Mustafar. Between its choir and punctuating brass notes, you can tell that Williams sat down and really tried his hardest to make the most epic music possible for one of the franchise's most memorable moments.
"Battle of the Heroes" would be higher on this list if it wasn't so heavily inspired by "Duel of the Fates" from The Phantom Menace. "Battle of the Heroes" is more polished in some ways and certainly accompanies a more important moment in the Star Wars chronology, but it loses a few points from a lack of creativity. 
7. "Rey's Theme" (The Force Awakens)

It's appropriate that The Force Awakens' breakout character also receives the film's best piece of music. Rey's personal theme perfectly encapsulates all of her great qualities: her optimism, innocence, independence, sense of adventure, and the mystery surrounding her. Much like "Binary Sunset" and "Princess Leia's Theme," we can assume that "Rey's Theme" will recur throughout the Sequel Trilogy, albeit in evolved forms to accommodate Rey's own evolution. A remixed version has also been adopted as the unofficial theme for "The Star Wars Show," used in the intro sequence in each episode.
6. "Across the Stars" (Attack of the Clones)

Anakin and Padmé's romance is both the heart of Attack of the Clones and one of the worst parts of it, thanks to the famously wooden acting displayed in their scenes together. But "Across the Stars" is the opposite; it's bursting with (almost) enough emotion and angst to compensate for the clunky dialogue.
It's simply a great love theme for this pair of melodramatic twentysomethings. Unlike the more rational Han and Leia, every moment spent apart is agony for Anakin and Padmé. Their forbidden, "star-crossed" love is doomed from the start, and the sweeping intensity of "Across the Stars" really evokes this tone.
5. "Han Solo and the Princess" (The Empire Strikes Back)

Nothing beats the original Star Wars romance. Han and Leia's love was more developed and realistic than any other found in the franchise. "Han Solo and the Princess" is their iconic theme, representing both the tenderness of their feelings and the strength that they gave each other. Its gentleness in comparison to "Across the Stars" is precisely why it's so superior.
Much like Han and Leia's love, this track has weathered the years. A nostalgia-inducing sample of it was heard in the The Force Awakenstrailer, as well as in the film's own track commemorating the couple, "Han and Leia."
Half of this beloved duo died in The Force Awakens, but that doesn't mean that this track can't reappear. The Last Jedi will surely include a scene of Leia reflecting on her lost love, making a great opportunity for "Han Solo and the Princess" to briefly return. 

4. "Duel of the Fates" (The Phantom Menace)

Regarded by many as the single best piece of music from the Prequels, "Duel of the Fates" plays during Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's climactic duel against Darth Maul in the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo. A relentless choir punctuates the epic and adrenaline-pumping notes as three warriors face off in a battle that only one of them will survive.
Part of what makes this track is good is that it's different from anything that the Original Trilogy offered. As the inspiration for "Battle of the Heroes," it marks an era of elaborate and tightly-choreographed lightsaber duels in the Star Wars saga, duels that need rapid-fire tracks to accompany them.
3. "The Imperial March" (The Empire Strikes Back)

Darth Vader's theme is nearly as famous as the Sith Lord himself. It's incredibly simple in comparison to some of Williams' other work, with a rhythm made for an authoritarian regime like the Galactic Empire. It's not nearly as dark as the Emperor's theme, but it still makes it clear that Vader isn't someone to be messed with. "The Imperial March" follows Vader's evolution. It's heard subtly during Anakin's darker moments in the Prequels. The theme is loudest and scariest in "Hope" in Rogue One, when Vader is at the height of his strength and brutality. During his death scene in Return of the Jedi, it's played on a quiet harp, indicating the end of his story. And of course, a few notes are heard when Kylo Ren confers with Vader's damaged helmet in The Force Awakens.
Vader and "The Imperial March" go hand in hand. Never has there been such an iconic and popular villain, and never has a villain had such a recognizable theme.

2. "Main Title" (A New Hope)

It doesn't get more Star Wars than this. This is the theme that starts and ends every single movie in the saga, erupting with the opening crawl and cueing in the end credits. Even The Clone Wars and Rebels use original (but recognizable) variations of "Main Title" in their intros. The only exception is Rogue One, which had an unconventional, crawl-less opening but still used this theme in its end credits.
For a Star Wars fan, there's no better sound than the first few notes of "Main Title." Whether you're hearing it in the movie theater on opening night or at the beginning of an in-home marathon, it means that you're about to watch something spectacular. 

1. "Binary Sunset" (A New Hope)

First heard during the iconic scene of Luke staring out at the binary sunset over Tatooine, this track isn't as recognizable as "Main Title," but its sad-yet-hopeful tone is more true to the core of Star Wars. It's appeared many times in every Star Wars movie and cartoon, representing both Luke and the Force itself. (It's alternatively known as "The Force Theme.")
"Binary Sunset" is the common thread that links all of the greatest Force-related moments. Aside from its first appearance, it can be heard when Leia senses a desperate Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back; when Obi-Wan grabs his master's lightsaber to slay Darth Maul at the climax of The Phantom Menace; and when Rey summons Luke's lightsaber in The Force Awakens, as well as later in the duel, when she remembers her newfound power and uses it to turn the tables on Kylo Ren.
Above all, "Binary Sunset" is an inherently nostalgic piece of music. That's precisely why most of the trailers for The Force Awakens and Rogue One used it in some form or another; the first few notes instantly tell the audience that this is Star Wars, even before they see the blasters and spaceships and stormtroopers.

To be clear, there are very few "bad" Star Wars tracks; almost every single one elevates the thrill and/or emotion of the accompanying footage to some extent. It's only when they experiment with diegetic music (heard by the characters in the film) that the results can be disastrous, like the infamous "Jedi Rocks" and "Yub Nub" from Return of the Jedi.

What's your favorite Star Wars track? What hopes do you have for the future of Star Wars music? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.