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Monday, March 19, 2018

'Forces of Destiny' Season 2 Part 1 Review

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is back! Eight new shorts premiered last night, giving us new adventures with Rey, Leia, Ahsoka, Padmé, and other iconic Star Wars characters. We're reviewing each of the episodes:

"Hasty Departure"
Unlike the last Hera/Sabine short, "Crash Course," this one has an original premise and some genuinely exciting action, in mid-air no less. Both rebels get to shine in their own ways, both get heroic moments, and Sabine learns from her mistake. It's another solid adventure for two characters who we won't see again for a while. 

"Unexpected Company"
Forces of Destiny has given us Ahsoka and Anakin and it's given us Ahsoka and Padmé, but all three of them together makes for a great Clone Wars throwback. Each of their individual relationships is developed, and we get another big piece of the everlasting puzzle of whether or not Ahsoka knew about Anakin and Padmé's forbidden love. (Turns out, she probably did—and Padmé, at least, was okay with that.)

"Shuttle Shock"
Take away the giant space jellyfish and this short is pretty boring. It basically just has Finn lazily piloting a shuttle while Rose fixes BB-8 so that he can pull off the difficult(?) maneuver of sending them up and out of nebula instead of, y'know, through it. It doesn't do much to develop Finn and Rose's relationship, either. (And since we saw them travel to Canto Bight through hyperspace in The Last Jedi, why exactly were they just flying through random space, anyway?)

"Jyn's Trade"
This is another annoyingly kid-friendly short, but it sheds some more light on her Kyber crystal necklace and how much it means to her—something that Rogue One didn't touch on too much. Plus, it gives her some cool physical stunts, which is perhaps the one area where she surpasses her fellow Star Wars heroines.

"Run Rey Run"
Forces of Destiny has given us plenty of Rey on Jakku, but this one shifts the location to the neat bowels of the crashed Star Destroyer. The action isn't particularly interesting (you're telling me she couldn't have kicked Teedo's ass the second he lowered his blaster?) but it once again highlights her compassion for all living creatures—even jerks like Teedo who seem to try to rob her on the daily.

"Bounty Hunted"
This isn't just the highlight of this batch of episodes; it might be the best Forces of Destiny short, yet. It goes above and beyond to explain the origins of Leia's seriously underrated Return of the Jedi Boushh disguise (yep, turns out she went toe-to-toe with the bounty hunter himself to get his armor), it sheds more light on Chewie and Maz's romance(?), and most importantly, it establishes Leia and Maz's relationship, something that The Force Awakens barely touched on.

"The Path Ahead"
Is this short interesting? Yes, especially in the ways that Yoda's teachings parallel Luke's in The Last Jedi. Does it add to the Star Wars canon? Sure—or at least, no less than the average Forces of Destiny short. But a short with exactly zero women is a fundamental betrayal of what this series has always been about: spotlighting the heroines of Star Wars and their relationships.

Okay, so maybe when Mark Hamill offers to lend his voice, you go out of your way to write an episode for him. But there's surely opportunity for a short with him and Rey on Ahch-To that would keep with the series' female-centric theme and better suit his 66-year-old voice. (Hell, we got another Luke/Rey moment in a deleted scene just last week.)

"Porg Problems"
Ever wondered how Rey lifted all those rocks at the end of The Last Jedi? Well, turns out she had a bit of practice on Ahch-To, and just like her lightsaber training, it was without Luke's help. The porgs in this short are absolutely adorable, but overall it feels more like a cool Rey moment than a childish story for kids.

The good news? Forces of Destiny has gotten decidedly better with this batch of episodes, even if it faltered from the core premise with "The Path Ahead" and generally didn't do too much to expand the number of characters already used in the series. It's still not a vital part of the canon in the way that The Clone Wars and Rebels are, but it continues to tell exciting, tiny stories that stay true to some of the franchise's best heroes.

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

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