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Stories of Light and Dark: Is There Merit in a Clone Wars Adaptation?

The merits of page-to-screen adaptations are an endless discussion, and “The Book Is Always Better” seems to be an adage that will never die. However, between my middle school years and now, it seems that people are more willing to make allowances for the differences in medium. You can’t tell a story through film the same way it was told on the page. Different tools are required to tell the same story, and usually there’s a time constraint, which causes certain elements to be cut.

Less frequently discussed is the reverse: the screen-to-page adaptations. The various novelizations of film and TV. What is the merit of books like The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark?

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Memories From the Menu of Dex’s Diner

Cooking is supposed to help your mental health in these quarantined times. Unfortunately, peeling out laughter because a splatter of chicken gore hit your face is the opposite of helping. In fact, every step of making Aunt Lilja’s Liver Pancakes was tinged with horrified regret. Though the end result was an anticlimactic set of normal(ish) sausage(esque) patties, this is a journey I don’t aim to repeat. At least not with the liver pancakes.

See, my regret was premeditated. After all, one simply doesn’t purchase chicken livers on a whim (chicken gizzards, on the other hand, is a different story). This deliberate decision was driven by an unearned confidence from The Galaxy’s Edge Cookbook, a perfectly healthy fascination with Dexter Jettster, and a Finnish family tree.

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“Die Well, Mandalorian” – The Chance of Escape That Maul Didn’t Take

If there is one thing that Maul cannot shut up about, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. If there are two things that Maul cannot shut up about, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul’s abandonment by Darth Sidious.

It was one of the first things he discussed upon regaining lucidity, “…such is how you found me, brother. Discarded! Forgotten!” And it’s the story he draws from to gain Ezra’s trust on Malachor:

The Sith took everything from me. Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered my brother, used me as a weapon, and then cast me aside. Abandoned me! Once I had power, now I have nothing…nothing…

Maul, “Twilight of the Apprentice”

He snarls at Sidious directly for it in the Son of Dathomir comic, and in the latest episode of The Clone Wars, “The Phantom Apprentice”, Maul makes sure to work it into his monologues, both overtly and as subtext. He will bring it up to anyone who will listen – and those who won’t, he will make listen.

Beyond his ongoing monologues on the subject, we do see that abandonment is a constant theme in Maul’s arc, and I appreciate what “The Phantom Apprentice” adds. It makes explicit Maul’s complicity in the cycle of his own abandonment.

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Clone Wars Celebration: Siege of Mandalore Kicks Off

The Clone Wars starts the Siege of Mandalore by throwing itself a party.

Ahsoka’s theme plays over a retro-styled Lucasfilm logo. The John Williams fanfare blares over a screaming red logo of The Clone Wars, calling back to Maul’s return. The fortune cookie is replaced by a declaration of “Part I – Old Friends Not Forgotten” in the same font as the Lucasfilm logo, calling back to the serials that had inspired the original Star Wars in 1977.

The visuals of Season Seven – already leaps beyond the Lost Missions of Season Six – are left in the dust. The shot with Aayla and Bly passed before my brain registered that it wasn’t live action. The cinematography of Cody’s assault on the bridge had me alternately on the floor and leaping atop the couch to pump a fist into the air.

“Old Friends Not Forgotten” was a celebration of everything that The Clone Wars had become. Look at us! We finally made it! Look at how far we’ve come in our animation! In our writing! In the Star Wars canon – why, we’re in the Revenge of the Sith timeline!

But what I think I love most about this party is that The Clone Wars makes no attempts to apologize for where it started: a weird little movie released in 2008 to poor reception from critics and audiences alike.

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May The Force Be With You (And With Your Spirit) – When Religion Fails the People it’s Meant to Help

For those of us who grew up in the church and those of us who are a part of it now, it’s incredible how much Christianese can bypass our filters as being normal, everyday terms. I like to think I’m fairly good at not dropping lines like “let’s fellowship with each other”, or “called to [insert ministry here]”, but just the other day, I had a friend stop me with a “wait, what’s a spiritual gift?” Whoops.

There is a very distinct subculture of American Christianity (with its own sub-sub-subcultures) where this Christianese language lives, and much of it is intended to be something good. “Fellowship” is meant to be about deep community. Being “called to” a ministry is about seeing God’s heart for a particular need. But when you live in an echo chamber of this language without grasping its heart, it can devolve into empty platitudes.

It can become Luminara Unduli’s words to Rafa Martez.

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