Season three ended on such a big cliff-hanger, I’m kind of shocked it took us to the final four episodes of season four to actually return to that story thread. These first two episodes begin the slow and surprising redemption of Asajj Ventress, something I never knew I really wanted until it started happening.
I’ve said before, I love a good redemption story. And this story is as ripe for pushing those buttons as a good guy turn could ever be.
Season 4, Episode 19: Massacre
I’m not sure I was expecting whatever this episode ended up being. As The Clone Wars goes on, it seems to be getting progressively more mature and dark in how it represents the stories it tells. It feels like an age since we last saw Asajj Ventress, but this episode opens with her returning to Dathomir and forsaking the ways of the Sith, fully embracing the ways of the Night Sisters.
Whatever new life she may have hoped for though is very short-lived, as Dooku very quickly seems to realise Ventress is back on the playing board, whether she wants to be or not. So he sends Grievous her way to take her and Mother Talzin out for good. The rest of the episode details the battle between the droid army and the sisters of Darthomir, supported by the dark magics that raise an army of the dead to support them.
Going into this one, it seemed like Ventress was being painted as the lesser of the two evils in this story, and yet when I see an army of zombies being raised from to fight alongside her and voodoo magic being used to torture Count Dooku to death, I kind of wonder if that’s the case. You’d think a bunch of half-decayed corpses wouldn’t be of much use against an army made of metal. But nope.
After what Ventress has been through, it seems like the writers are bent on continuing the tragedy that is her life. While the sisterhood are a gathering of dark force users, the show goes out of its way to introduce a few characters who seem to have some genuine affection for Ventress, and vice versa. Then they die, almost as if that was the sole purpose of their introduction.
By the end of the battle, Ventress ends up duelling Grievous one on one, and while it appears she does manage to have him beat, the cyborg has no qualms about ordering his army to fire on her as soon as possible. Cackling all the while. When Ventress takes a blaster bolt to the shoulder, it takes her out of the fight. Leaving her helpless to watch her sisters all die at the hands of the droid army.
Including, seemingly, her brood mother. Who narrowly avoids being decapitated by Grievous by turning into a cloud of smoke. It makes me wonder if this was a homage to Obi-Wan becoming one with the Force at the end of a New Hope. As she reappears before Ventress for a moment before fading away once again, encouraging her to follow her own path.
Leaving the former assassin abandoned once again.
Season 4, Episode 20: Bounty
In this, the second part of the Anthology Adventures of Asajj Ventress, we cut to some time later. Ventress is on Tatooine, drifting from place to place. Doing what she can to survive. Although, not trying to lay particularly low considering she murders a guy who starts hitting on her. As a consiquence she is roped into a Bounty Hunter crew to replace the man she put a hole in.
It turns out Boba Fett and Bossk are out of prison, and Boba is the one running this crew, which includes familiar faces like Dengar as well as some new ones like Latts Razzi and the droid C-21 Highsinger. It makes me wonder where Aurra Sing might be. But considering her and Ventress are cut from very similar cloth in terms of their design and general attitude, that would probably be the reason she never really shows up again.
Also, Ventress is putting on this weird affected accent the whole time she’s talking to them. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but it kind of just goes away partway through the episode. It’s weird. And honestly, this is a weird episode, the crew are tasked with protecting “precious cargo” aboard a train.
It’s a setup that makes me think of the anime Akudama Drive, which has an almost identical setup and payoff to this. Although that has nothing to do with anything, I just felt the need to bring it up before the Mortal Kombat ninja show up on their giant centipedes. The bulk of the episode from here is a pretty cool battle between the bounty hunters and these ninjas, who all feel like they’re out of a different show entirely.
One by one the hunters fall from the train, leaving just Ventress and Boba to realise that the cargo is the sister of the head Mortal Kombat ninja. Now, I love a good redemption story, this is obviously what we’re getting here. Ventress is a fascinating presence in this story because honestly, I could see her going either way after we learn the truth of the matter.
While I don’t think Ventress is going to become a good person necessarily, she certainly has enough empathy to connect with someone who has suffered in the same ways she has. And learning that the girl was being ripped away from her family was enough for her double-cross both Boba and the client. But at the same time, she has no qualms about still murdering everyone to get what she wants.
Plus, while I get the impression she would have let the girl go either way, she still gets paid by the Shirai Ryu to hand her over as well. I love following Ventress in these episodes. I’ve always found her an interesting character, but this unconnected story of a morally grey individual going around and occasionally doing some good feels incredibly like the western/samurai stories that spawned this entire franchise.
It’s strange. When the Legends continuity was going strong and we were getting all these side stories, it felt like there was this inclination on the writer’s part to tie their stories up in a neat little bow. To introduce these characters and then decisively sweep them under a rug, so there’s never any danger of people wondering why they never showed up in the mainline series entries. At the time, I was pretty upset that all this lore, as tenuous as it ended up being was getting reset when Disney took over.
Looking back in hindsight, Disney ended up leaning much farther into the shared universe aspect of the Star Wars lore than the old Expanded Universe ever did. Shown by the characters such as Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano showing up in the second season of the Mandalorian. At this point it feels like nothing is off the table, in fact, it seems like these character from the clone wars are more likely to be the future of the franchise than anyone from the new trilogy could hope to be.
Obviously, I don’t know what kind of fate Asajj Ventress eventually befalls in this new canon, but if she survives the Clone Wars, I wouldn’t be shocked if she were to show up again eventually in some live action from in the future. Ventress as this chaotic neutral force in the universe is something I never realised I wanted, but her presence as a force of both good and bad is a fascinating one, and one I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future.
I just love the fact that any given character in this franchise is interesting enough to carry their own storylines without the need to introduce the good guys as a factor whatsoever.
Next time: I look into the final two episodes of season four and the hotly anticipated return of Darth Maul into the series.
- Season 4, Episode 21: Brothers
- Season 4, Episode 22: Revenge