Wednesday, November 1, 2017

'Forces of Destiny' Season 1 Part 3 Review

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is continuing this week, following the four episodes released at the beginning of the month. We're reviewing each of the new episodes as they're released on YouTube.

"Accidental Allies"

We're back on Garel City for the fourth time. Sabine is running across rooftops with stormtroopers hot on her trail. She calls Hera for an extraction. Her holoprojector falls off her belt and lands on the ground, where none other than Jyn Erso picks it up and views the secret Imperial map that it contains, attracting the stormtroopers' attention.
Jyn runs from the troopers, kicking two to the curb. She reaches a dead end in an alley but Sabine saves her, shooting down a large crate to hide her from the troopers. Sabine drops to the street and asks for the projector; Jyn resists but Sabine reasons with her, admitting that she, too, used to be a loner but now people are counting on her for this intel. Jyn gives her the projector and wishes her luck, and the two part ways.

The Garel City setting really is getting boring (with Forces of Destiny's limited budget, it must be easier to reuse locations than animate new ones) but this was still a pretty interesting short that gave both Sabine and Jyn some interesting action sequences.
Sabine and Jyn's meeting is obviously the highlight of this short, and it feels surprisingly true to both of their characters. Jyn's abandonment by Saw Gerrera has left her abrasive and unsympathetic, and Sabine can relate to her on some level, but she's not about to let down her team. Rather than generically pair up and become instant friends, the two rebels develop a more genuine respect for each other.

"An Imperial Feast"

On Endor following the Rebel victory, Han and Chewie look on with amusement as the Ewoks prepare to eat their stormtrooper captives. A frustrated Leia insists that the Ewoks treat their prisoners fairly, to no avail. She asks Han and Chewie to retrieve ration sticks from General Syndulla's camp to satisfy their appetites.
Hera agrees to give them the rations...if Han says that the Ghost is superior to the Millennium Falcon. He reluctantly agrees and admits it. He and Chewie bring the rations back to the Ewok village, where the creatures feast on the newly-provided food. Leia remarks that she'll have to thank Hera, but the Falcon is obviously better than the Ghost.

The coolest thing about this short is that it takes place (very shortly) after the events of Return of the Jedi, meaning that it's our first (and, quite possibly, last) look at how Hera fits into the Rebellion after the end of Rebels. Add that to the surprisingly dark plot point of the Ewoks cooking stormtroopers alive, and you've got an episode that feels like a worthy addition to the canon.
And while it may seem like a missed opportunity that Hera and Leia don't interact directly (considering how much Forces of Destiny cares about uniting female heroes), they did already meet in the Rebels episode "A Princess on Lothal," and Han and Hera's relationship as talented-but-proud pilots is a more valuable one to establish. Plus, Leia still gets to shine as the sole voice of reason among her laser brain friends.

"The Happabore Hazard"

Rey arrives at Niima Outpost and offers to haul a scrap heap back to Unkar Plutt's shop in exchange for 10 portions. Plutt doesn't believe she can do it, and Rey wants to prove him wrong. They agree that if she can do it, she gets 20 portions; if not, he gets her speeder. She goes to the scrap heap, only to find a happabore blocking her way.
After failing to push it away, Rey figures out that it can't breathe. She tries to pull a piece of metal out of its nostril and the creature sneezes, dislodging the scrap. She hooks her speeder up to the scrap and when it won't start, the happabore gives her the nudge she needs. Rey returns to Niima Outpost, wowing Plutt, and demands that he pay up.

This is a pretty typical story with Rey facing classic sexism from a gross, overweight man ("You're just a girl, you're weak and incompetent!" he might as well have said) and making friends with another friendly Jakku creature. It doesn't really add to her character that much, nor does it demonstrate any of her skills besides basic piloting, looking into gooey nostrils, and then reaching into those same nostrils.
Fans right now are waiting for Rey to embrace her Force sensitivity, kick ass with a lightsaber, and discover both her past and her destiny in The Last Jedi; Force-less, Jakku-era Rey just isn't very interesting, especially in animated form. This short would have been infinitely more valuable if it had starred a more underappreciated heroine like Padmé (or the dozens of Star Wars women yet to appear in Forces of Destiny) instead.

"Crash Course"

On Garel City, Sabine finishes up her paint job on her speeder. She and Hera race to the rendezvous point and Ketsu arrives in style, jumping off her bike before it crashes. Hera gives Ketsu a data tape to give to her informant and Sabine prepares to give her a ride, but Ketsu's required to come alone. She takes Sabine's bike and blasts off.
Later, Ketsu returns to Hera and an anxious Sabine, sheepishly offering the remains of her now-destroyed bike. Hera warns Sabine to check her emotions and she forgives Ketsu: "I'm just glad you're okay." But Sabine still wants to teach Ketsu how to repair it, and Ketsu agrees.

Perhaps the best word to describe this short would be "weird," and not in a good way. To call the Garel City setting stale at this point would be a gross understatement, and unlike other Forces of Destiny shorts, this one doesn't even attempt to give us an actual conflict with stakes. Why couldn't those five seconds of speeder bike action have been 30 seconds or more? It's almost insulting how they allude to Ketsu's dangerous mission without giving us a single glimpse of it.
And while Sabine teaches us an important lesson about forgiveness and valuing friends over material possessions, it's not like that bike was ever shown to be especially important to Sabine in Rebels, so it has no business being the episode's central plot point. Other shorts have done a much better job of finding a balance between action and developing relationships, so it's a pity that this one falls so flat.

Which of these shorts is your favorite? Who do you hope shows up in Forces of Destiny in the future? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

1 comment:

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