S03E15-17 - Mortis arc - Objectionable (but bear with me)
I’m sorry guys, I’ve got a real problem with the Mortis arc, I really don’t think it fits with Star Wars.
You’ve got this huge space diamond that connects to a force conduit containing a magic planet full of extremely powerful entities with unique powers (teleportation, shapeshifting, and literally changing the timeline) who are directly representative/manifestations of the light and dark sides and must be literally kept in balance.
It’s just too much! It’s overwrought and ham fisted, and its imagery and attempt to be metaphorical are just way too on the nose. CHOOSE BETWEEN ANGEL BIRD AND DEMON BAT!.. YOU HAVE DEFEATED THEM BOTH!.. TAKE THE BLADE WHICH LETS YOU CONTROL THE LITERAL PERSONIFICATION OF THE DARK SIDE! THE LITERAL LIGHT SIDE HAS JUST SACRIFICED HERSELF TO STOP THE LITERAL DARK SIDE FROM KILLING THE LITERAL BALANCE! -Ouch. Imagine Luke playing out this plotline in Return of the Jedi.
That said, I’m aware I’ve said we should lean into the Nightsister uniqueness, and I know the series does get a little more mystical, and Rebels also introduces new mythology which is quite radical for Star Wars. However, here’s the key argument: There’s no emotional value to Mortis. Without it, you wouldn’t notice a character behaviour shift. Nothing emotionally meaningful happens within it.
There’s also a scene where Anakin sees his future evils, including the Vader mask, and then actively gets dark side eyes and attacks Obi-Wan, recognising that “the Jedi will stand in the way of peace”. We like our future hints, but again, this is just extremely overt and on the nose, and really just amounts to notifying the audience that Revenge of the Sith will happen. It also just kind of fades out with a free memory wipe resolution from the Father character.
I have to call this episode objectionable in its current form. It’s present if people want to watch it, but a part of this full-series “edit” is about presentation and recommendation. I can’t in good faith recommend it to our hypothetical first time viewer who’s coming to Clone Wars from other SW media.
It’s great to see Qui-Gon (especially voiced by Liam Neeson), and he hints at his life after death angle. Anakin gets a good vision of Shmi, though why he’s happily just gone to bed in a weird monastery on magic planet is weird. She also mentions “Nobody really dies”, which evokes TROS’ “No-one’s ever really gone”. Ahsoka’s vision is less interesting but it’s fine. Qui-Gon also appears in the third episode to guide Anakin, which could be trimmed into more of a vision.
I think, if this episode is to be preserved in any way, it would be just the nice visions, somehow intercut into other episodes. I’d also probably put them later in the series, as the focus begins to shift to the mysteries.