Someone on capslock_cw (NSFW or kids) probably best described the plot of “Overlords” thusly:
THEY WENT TO PANDORA, SAW SOME FLOATING MOUNTAINS, THEN PLAYED SOME TRON AND ANAKIN BECAME A DRAGON LORD FORCE ANIMAL-PEOPLE LORD THING.
Though Mortis also sort of reminded me of popular ’90s PC game Myst.
I could also note at the top the breathtakingly beautiful animation and fine performances.
With that out of the way, I can get into the episode’s implications and what they all mean.
It’s rare that George Lucas really gets into the underlying mythology in Star Wars, especially what the Force is and what it’s all about. The movies touch upon it when they need to and Lucas talks about it every now and then in various interviews over the years. But the beauty of Clone Wars is that he finally has the time to reveal more about the mysterious Force. And as per usual, there are more questions than answers!
I had to watch “Overlords” twice before writing about it because there was so much going on. At first, the concept felt a little Star Trekish to me (with a slight dash of “2001”) but this was an opportunity to explain what Anakin is and what it truly meant to bring balance to the Force. If you haven’t seen Dave Filoni’s commentary on starwars.com, do so now. This all came from Lucas’s noggin.
What we have here is Luke’s trip into the cave on Dagobah but on a much, MUCH bigger scale.
I doubt Mortis is a real physical place like Coruscant or Tatooine. It’s a metaphysical locus for the Force and it’s interesting to note that the only people we see entering here are powerfully gifted in the Force: Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka. The guys on the battleship have no idea that there’s even anything there.
Here, in this place beyond the physical GFFA, these manifestations of the dark side (“Son”) and and the light side (“Daughter”) are kept from tearing the universe apart by an aging being simply called “Father.” Who is “Father?” A god of sorts? A manifestation of the slipping cosmic balance that we know will empower the Dark Side? One of the things with this episode is that it establishes Lucas’s ideas about light and dark tack Eastward, with maybe some cologne splashes of Gnosticism or Mormonism. When Anakin is brought to the arena, it has a big yin-yang symbol on the floor. Throwing in the astrological-type signs around it was a nice touch. Anakin at the center is able to tame both the gargoyle manifestation of the dark and the glowing griffin manifestation of the light, the cosmos surrounding him. That’s his destiny all right! Lucas’s predilection for Eastern religion and philosophies has been known to all and sundry for years. But for the first time, this sets into stone that what causes evil is giving the dark too much power but the dark itself is as much a necessary part of existence as the good. I do have to wonder what would happen if there was too much “light,” from Lucas’s perspective. From my Catholic standpoint, if you end up in Heaven, it’s all light for all eternity. That’s the whole point. Once Satan is defeated as is predicted in the Book of Revelations, it’s all light everywhere for all eternity.
As an Anakin fangirl, I’ve read many a discussion about demigod!Anakin, since he is a human who was conceived by the Force. “Overlords” reveals from a Star Wars standpoint, that’s precisely what Anakin is. More than a Jedi, as Father put it, and really no different from these other manifestations. We can see that as his voice becomes like theirs as he tames both the light and dark.
IGN’s review notes that there is no “Mother” among this crew and it posits whether it’s Mother Talzin, who also has that unusual vibrato in her voice. Could it explain the vision of Maul she offered to Savage Opress? After all, the gang on Mortis get visits from various apparitions of dead characters from TPM.
Obviously, Shmi was a manifestation of the Son. Anakin immediately distrusts this vision but it’s interesting to note how he does open up to “her,” especially when “she” mentions the guilt tearing at Anakin (Father also picks up on it). When Anakin reveals he has a wife and she is everything to him, Son drops the ruse and warns him that Padmé is a “poisoner.” (Or as Bel Biv Devoe put it back in the day, “That girl is poi-son!”)
Was Ahsoka’s fully-grown self a manifestation of the Daughter or a Fig Newton of Ahsoka’s own subconscious doubts about Anakin? The flames reflected in Ahsoka’s eyes not only represent Anakin as a fire spirit, they also resemble the glowing yellow-red eyes of the Sith. The sad part is, we all know Ahsoka is in danger one way or another the longer she hangs around the future Darth Vader. It’s fitting her vision ends in fire.
However, I think what Obi-Wan saw was truly Qui-Gon. Remember, at this point, Obi-Wan did not know Qui-Gon was able to live on beyond death or that it was possible for anyone to do so. Obi-Wan was only able to see him because he happened to be on Mortis and at that, not for very long. Obi-Wan hadn’t learned to commune with the dead on his own yet.
It’s interesting to note that all three of them react to the apparitions with aggression, just as Luke did when confronted with Darth Vader in the cave. It’s also interesting to note that the Daughter, the light, brings Obi-Wan to the arena, but the Son brings Ahsoka. Are the seeds of the Dark Side planted in Ahsoka as the vision claimed? Or does it represent that attachment to a female is what lures Anakin to the Dark Side? A little bit of both? Someone on a CW discussion thread at TFN noted that it was Obi-Wan who urges Anakin to kill him to save Ahsoka during the Father’s Sophie’s Choice dilemma, but Ahsoka doesn’t say anything (other than to not listen to Father).
I’ve noticed a few comments saying that Anakin goes the old superhero route by “saving them both” to avoid the Sophie’s Choice, but I think that was what Father was expecting Anakin to do. The question was whether Anakin could save them both.
Father tells Anakin that he had to stay in order to fulfill his destiny and we all know that Father was right. Had Anakin chosen to remain, he would have balanced light and dark away from Palpatine’s manipulations, the Jedi Order’s agenda, and fears over losing Padmé. The problem is Anakin’s attachment to mortal things: to his duties, to his men, to Ahsoka, to Obi-Wan, and most importantly/most obviously, to Padmé. We know he would never leave them behind even if we didn’t know what happens in the rest of the saga. “The Imperial March” plays in the background to drive the point home. It’s as though the Force was giving him one big chance to fulfill his destiny in the easiest, most painless way possible and he turns it down. Ah, poor entirely-too human Anakin. There’s more to come on Mortis, of course, but we know that ultimately Anakin will leave and I wonder if it will end with Father pondering a Plan B. And Anakin knocks up Padmé shortly thereafter.
Another interesting note: Anakin initially dismisses the Chosen One prophecy as a myth. Why? Was it because he didn’t think he was powerful enough? Was it because he didn’t want that mantle? One thing’s for sure, he DEFINITELY knows it now and leaving Mortis with that knowledge has powerful consequences. I can see why knowing just how much power you have–that you’re a demigod–and you can’t access it fast enough to save your beloved would make you crazy.
I have to wonder as well if Obi-Wan and Ahsoka’s memories of Mortis will be erased. Here, they are learning FAR more the Force than any Jedi has ever known, even Yoda. They can’t walk out of there knowing so much. Anakin though, will know everything.
Next week: Ahsoka goes dark! Eeeek!