|Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress (I know, it's a little heavy-handed for a name, but it surprisingly fits) from Star Wars: The Clone Wars|
You'll have to excuse me, because I'm about to go full-on Fangirl here, but seriously, The Clone Wars is brilliant in their approach and execution. It makes me wish that they'd had their hands on the prequel trilogy. I mean, I think that literally anyone else could have done better with the prequels than old Georgie did***, but I digress. They delve into the worlds of less well-known characters, like the individual clones (Rex, Fives, Tup, etc. - Fives is my favorite, in case you were wondering), Jedi Masters Plo Kloon and Aayla Secura, pirates and criminal organizations (Black Sun, represent!), Asajj Ventress, and scores more. Even though the series still deals with sadly canon premises, like midichlorians (blech) and the existence of Jar Jar (who oddly enough is not so bad in this iteration, except in his final episodes where he is inexplicably the lover of a queen of a neutral world?? Yeah, I don't know, either.), it still valiantly tries to give those a little bit of substance. I have to give them mad props.
By the time we got to the last few episodes of the series, I had a revelation: the entire thing was about fear and how it changes and affects you, a fairly appropriate topic given the last few months. You can definitely see Anakin's steady descent into the Dark Side - less of a, "Oh, I just killed Master Windu, I guess I'm evil now," and more of a slow, insidious process in which he lets his own fears dictate his actions. He's frightened of both his own powers and his lack of power, and even admits to Ahsoka Tano, his padawan, that he has considered leaving the Jedi Order. The clones all fear that they are simply a number, a tool to be used by whomever is in power. Ahsoka feels that she has no control over her fate but often buckles under pressure when she is in command. Padme watches her husband grow stronger and more "evil" and second-guesses her choice to marry him. Barriss Offee, another padawan, is angry that the Jedi have lost their way and predicts that this war will be their downfall, and that of the galaxy. All of the Jedi sense the growing negativity around them but have no idea what to do about it, or even if they could. Palpatine, as Three put it, is the embodiment of the idea, weaseling around behind the scenes and controlling his own rise to power, from which he will inevitably fall. The theme of fear permeates every single episode, almost as a separate character in and of itself.
And that brings me to one of my favorite episodes, in which fear indeed becomes a singular entity. One of the final episodes of the sixth season has Yoda in search of further training, leading him to the planet where the Force began. He meets five priestesses, all of whom represent emotions (Joy, Anger, Confusion, Sadness, and Serenity) of one consciousness. In one of the most poignant scenes, Yoda is fighting his own shadow self, what Yoda could be if he succumbed to the Dark Side; even as he battles it, rejecting its existence, it grows more powerful and violent. It isn't until Yoda recognizes his shadow as part of himself that he is able to defeat it. Dammit, if that isn't profound, I don't fucking know what is.
It gets me thinking of my own shadow self, the one that is ruled by the fear of failure, of losing loved ones, of not knowing what I'm truly here on this earth to do. For so long, that part of me has existed in the back of my mind, often using the voice of my parents****, and it is exactly what has me in a state of limbo, which for me, is the worst place I could possibly be. I thrive in scenes of action. It's why I get antsy when I'm in the middle of knowing what I need to do and being able to do it. And when I'm there, I'm incredibly snarky and cruel, dismissive and idle, itching for something to do but not having the attention to do anything. But I have to face that version of me and integrate it. Knowing that it is there isn't enough; I still have a certain disdain for myself when I'm operating in that vein. How can I embrace that part of me and make it useful to me?
Well, it looks like my own fears and I have some Jedi training to do.
* I finally convinced him to watch the woefully historically inaccurate Anastasia with me and was thrilled when he actually enjoyed it. He even quotes the little bat Bartok from time to time. "And I kick her, sir."
** He had me watch 1993's Falling Down with Michael Douglas, under the pretense that it was a, and I quote, "happy movie." Spoiler alert: out of options and feeling completely abandoned, Michael Douglas' character fucking dies at the end. Three's response? "But he didn't kill his family!" Said with such positivism that I nearly felt bad about growling at him and not talking to him for about ten minutes. Nearly.
*** If you haven't already watched Belated Media's take on the prequels, you totally should. I was shouting, "OMG YES," almost orgasmically, at all of their solutions. They haven't done Ep. 3 yet, but I am eagerly awaiting their take on it.
**** My parents are wonderful people, I will say. But they simply have a different way of looking at life that does not jive with mine at all.