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Tales of the Jedi

Devoted / Realization / The Way Out (Tales of the Empire - S02E04, E05, E06) - Animated Series

Series: Tales of the Empire

Title: Devoted / Realization / The Way Out

Season: Two

Episode: 4, 5 & 6

Original Air Date: May 4th, 2024

Runtime: 41 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"It seems fear is not your ally, but your master!" SPOILERS.

He has no dialogue

Tales of the Empire is basically the second season of Tales of the Jedi, same format, same general idea, just that this time we follow characters associated with the dark side (you could argue Dooku was basically a Tale of the Empire as well), if this "Tales" format is supposed to be a thing maybe they better just retitle it into "Star Wars Tales" or something like that. Anyway, I was no big fan of Tales of the Jedi, the very short, 10-15 minute long, episodes offered brief glimpses into more or less pivotal moments of the lives of the main characters, moving rapidly forward on the timeline. I had originally not intended to review Tales of the Empire, but since Barriss Offee is a better known character and some certainly are interested in her fate (I certainly was) post The Clone Wars I wanted to offer my take on things.

The women and children too!

To put it bluntly... I greatly disliked the three Barriss episodes. It's all style and virtually no substance. There are nonsensical character arcs, made nonsensical because certain twists and turns happen so quickly, without any actual character development because the format doesn't allow for that, that you just shake your head as you see events unfold. Also, Dave Filoni, who wrote the story, used the broadest brush strokes known to mankind. I actually have huge misgivings about that movie of his after seeing his work on Ahsoka and now this. That man cannot really write good stories it seems, all of his stories have good ideas.... but the execution is severely lacking.     

10 minutes later she will be a good person..... without any foreshadowing or character development

In theory Barriss' story could have been interesting. To briefly recap the story: Barriss is in prison, because, as you may remember, she orchestrated the bombing of the Jedi Temple, had no issues framing Ahsoka, her friend, and all this because she had grown disillusioned about the Jedi and felt they had lost their way. We once again get a brief glimpse at Order 66, this time from afar, when Barriss sees the temple burning through the window of her cell and shortly thereafter the Fourth Sister we have met before in Obi-Wan Kenobi (the least ridiculous Inquisitor in that series, in my opinion, and the only one I liked) recruits her for the Inquisitors, that is, their training programme. The fortress is in early stages of construction but already has a few facilities. Barriss meets a few other former Jedi, one tries to flee and gets killed, in the end Bariss and one other former Jedi remain and the Inquistor has them fight to the death for the single slot that is available. In true Dr Evil style they fight a death match in an energy cage with shrinking death walls and in the center of the arena is a bottomless pit. You cannot make this up. Barriss wins of course. In the next episode Barriss and the Fourth Sister are chasing a Jedi, they have a clue, get to a village where the Fourth Sister asks for the whereabouts... and the episode makes it super obvious that Barriss may now be an Inquisitor but that her heart is not in it really. Anyway. Barriss manages to get a child to talk with her charm and friendliness, whereas the other villagers denied any knowledge of the Jedi. As a consequence the Fourth Sister slaughters them all, but not the child. Barriss is shocked... they eventually find the runaway Jedi, someone who uses "they/them" pronouns everyone knows about, even the villagers, whatever, and Barriss once again manages to talk the Jedi down and to surrender, but the Fourth Sister uses this to stab the Jedi in the back. Barriss has had enough and of course she then fights the Fourth Sister and quickly ends things by pushing her over a cliff and the Fourth Sister falls to her apparent death (spoiler: she doesn't die). The Jedi apparently survives but this is not really addressed, because the episode ends right there and then. 

Barely an inconvenience?

In the final vignette Barriss is now a "wise mother" (with no kids or partner of course) in Space Tibet. She now also looks 50 years old when she can at best be 35, maybe Miralans just age badly. Two parents bring their child to her tent in the frozen wilderness. the Empire had blood samples taken from all the kids in the village and found something. Barriss tells them it means in former times their child would have become a Jedi, but now it means they have to escape. However, the Fourth Sister who of course survived her fall (and still looks as fresh and youthful and now much younger than Barriss even if she's older), has tracked down the kid and is a bit surprised to find Barriss. The two fight for a bit and it seems Lucasfilm really wants to make unarmed combat a thing now because for the second time in this arc Barriss doesn't even need a lightsaber to ward off the Fourth Sister's attacks (in the first episode the Inquisitor used the same combat style in a training duel with Barriss). But the Fourth Sister has no time for Barriss really, and she hurries after the family with the child, eager to kill them. She walks into a labyrinthine cave system that must have psychotropic spores or so in it because in the cave system the Fourth Sister gets all confused and sees reflections of herself in the icy walls, stabs at them and after a while Barriss calls out to her and the Fourth Sister renounces evil and turns to the good side... just like that.... but not before accidentally stabbing Barriss through the chest. Oopsie! The Fourth Sister, now Lyn again, no longer an Inquisitor (don't ask), wants to save Barriss and carries her out of the cave. The episode leaves it open whether or not Barriss makes it or dies from her wound. I suppose she got better 10 minutes later and that only Qui-Gon was such a weakling that he actually died from the same wound, see also "Sabine". Really, Lucasfilm should stop characters from getting pierced by lightsabers, only to walk away from it... let's see... the Inquisitor... Reva... Sabine... and now almost certainly Barriss. If we also add "falls into an abyss or from a great height" you wonder if Han Solo with robo legs will be a thing in some upcoming movie. It's ridiculous.

Spot the difference!

There was a good story here somewhere, but the rushed nature of the short vignettes prevents any character development. And from the very start the entire arc made it pretty obvious that Barriss is not truly subscribed to the ideals of the Inquisitors, yet for some reason no one apparently sensed the doubt in her, not even Vader, who at least briefly meets her once. How likely is that??? Whatever. The Inquisitors are comically evil, the whole initiation rite with the death match was silly, I get the general idea, but did the cage fight with death walls need to have the bottomless pit at the center? Also, I find the morale and ethics of the entire arc to be quite dubious, but that is a problem that also existed in the Original Trilogy where an evil mass murderer is forgiven all and he even joins the Jedi afterlife as a happy shiny ghost. Barriss is/was a terrorist and while redemption should always be an option, Barriss' redemption feels hollow and undeserved. Her bombing of the temple is never addressed, there is no internal struggle really for Barriss, a proper mini series with six 30 minute episodes or so could have explored her inner struggles. Also, and I am actually surprised Filoni did NOT include this... a meeting with Ahsoka could have been really interesting. But the entire "Tales" format focuses on short moments spread years apart and foregoes any true character development, it all happens offscreen between episodes. Anyway, while the episodes made it super apparent that Barriss is not really into the whole emo "die die die" thing, her redemption feels unearned and it is never explained why she is not really into the philosophy of the Inquisitors, when she bombed the Jedi Temple and had no qualms about Ahsoka taking the blame. But suddenly Barriss is this gentle, moral character again. However, Lyn's aka the Fourth Sister's redemption is the most nonsensical twist in this story. It literally comes out of nowhere. She goes from "I need to kill this child and the parents" to "I am now a good girl again" in the span of 10 minutes, and all that because the icy caves mess with her mind or so? What was Filoni thinking here? And what is the message?

The three episodes are all style... it all looks fantastic, but even if you are a huge Barriss fan you must feel let down, because her story explains literally nothing, Barriss' redemption is telegraphed with a sledgehammer and Lyn's redemption comes out of nowhere instead and makes no sense, not the way it is shown here. In my opinion the three episodes are a colossal waste of time and truly make me wonder if Filoni should ever write anything again, because after Ahsoka this is yet another story by him that is pretty weak and where characters are forgiven for even pretty serious things just like "that". I mean, even if The Fourth Sister came to regret her ways, she still murdered countless civilians, kids too and you don't just walk away from that. And that the episodes never even remotely dealt with Barriss' past is just another symptom of a weak story that never even bothers to explain the basic motivations of characters or their inner struggles. Barriss' story should have had a psychological angle. Instead we get the most clichéd "she's now a healer" nonsense. And the ONE time the inclusion of Ahsoka really would have made sense... she is absent.

Finally, I want to mention something... and I debated whether or not to include this at all... but I wonder what the true motivations were here... because Barriss' character model was changed quite a bit since The Clone Wars. Sure, this is a much more sophisticated and much prettier version of the original The Clone Wars animated style, but it is nonetheless just an iteration, an improvement, not something radically new. Yet I wonder why Barriss in The Clone Wars had very distinctive female features (aka curves and breasts) ... and in Tales of the Empire they gave her the body of a man or at least of a woman without distinctive female features, when she had them in TCW. This must have been deliberate. I just wonder why. They did update Ahsoka's character model for the last Clone Wars season and Tales of the Jedi, because she is a bit older now of course, but they did not get rid of her female features... yet for Barriss they decided to basically give her the body of a man or at least a very androgynous body, when she very definitely did not have a body like this in The Clone Wars. Just look at the screenshot, where you see Barriss from the TCW episode "Brain Invaders" compared to what she looks like now. So someone at Lucasfilm (or Filoni himself even) must have decided for Barriss to look like this now, when she looked very different before. And I wonder what the thought process here was. This must be intentional. And I truly wonder why someone felt they need to change Barriss like that. It seems very deliberate... and very odd.

Anyway, so if you are the most diehard fan of Barriss Offee you may derive some fun and entertainment from this. The vignettes themselves are not "boring" as such, it all looks pretty too, but truth be told it lacks substance, it lacks a proper character arc, it lacks basically anything that makes a story actually "good". This feels like pointless filler. I really wonder what the purpose of these "Tales" is supposed to be? Because in the first season the Count Dooku arc suffered from the same problems, it had good ideas here and there... never explored. And the most crucial part of Dooku's journey happened offscreen, his actual turn to the dark side, because in the final episode he was already all evil and murdered Yaddel. Ultimately I feel the "Tales" are a waste of time and resources. If given more time any of the stories could be turned into something worth your time... but as it is it's shallow, empty, all glitter with literally no substance. And I say this as someone who liked Barriss and I had at least a faint hope her episodes may be interesting... but they were not. And let's not even talk about Lyn, the Fourth Sister... if you want to redeem her you can't do it like that. What even was her reason to see the light? An LSD cave with reflections of her? Really now? Which is also sad, because I actually found Lyn aka the Fourth Sister to be the only good Inquisitor character from the Kenobi series and I would have liked to learn more about her... especially when she is such a big focus here, besides Barriss... yet you learn nothing and her change of heart is just a miracle from heaven apparently. One moment she's comically evil... the other she is now good again. Who writes stuff like this? If this is the quality we can expect from Dave Filoni going forward I fear for the worst. And sure, he didn't write the actual scripts, but he is credited with the story for all three episodes. Maybe he should let other people write the stories again. He may know Star Wars, he may even understand Star Wars, but he is a lousy story teller. And the Barriss "Tale" sadly proves this once again, after Ahsoka already made me question his talent as a writer.

So my advice is... unless you are desperate for more Barriss content skip this. It is not worth your time and much more infuriating than fun, infuriating because you can glimpse the kernel of a good story here, but fully unrealized because of the format. This is a textbook example of "wasted potential". Dave Filoni should be paired with a competent co-writer for any future projects he's involved with or I fear for the worst. He needs someone who can turn his ideas into stories that make sense. I do not think I will bother reviewing the Morgan Elsbeth arc, if you really want me to talk about that you can tell me in the comments and I may reconsider. I haven't watched the episodes yet though, as I have better things to do with my time... especially when people say the Barriss arc was actually better than Elsbeth's... I give Barriss Offee's story half a holocron because it at least looks all very pretty. The story deserves zero holocrons the way it is presented here.

Added: May 8, 2024
Category: Tales of the Jedi
Reviewer: Thomas
Score:
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