Go/No-Go: Ahsoka

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Star Wars: Ahsoka.  Lucasfilm Press has been killing it with their middle grade/Young Adult novels and there’s definitely a lot of anticipation for this particular book.  How does E.K. Johnston handle the crazy task of filling in the blanks about such a beloved character?  To mission control for the verdict!

Continue reading

Rebels Review: 3.03 – The Antilles Extraction

Sabine sent undercover to extract Wedge Antilles and Hobbie Klivian from the Imperial equivalent of Top Gun? Yes please I will take a dozen episodes just like this one.

The Antilles Extraction starts with a Rebel relief supply mission getting jumped by an Imperial carrier and blown to bits. Of note here are the first appearance of TIE Interceptors in the show, and did you notice those red stripes on the panel tips? Perhaps the 181st? Oh we can only hope. Back at the Rebel base, the Ghost crew and Rebel command staff are debriefed over the disastrous mission failure and note that they lost six A-wing pilots, and from the sounds of it, pilots are increasingly hard to come by.

Commander Sato mentions that he’s heard from Fulcrum of a small handful of top Imperial pilots needing help defecting from the Empire. Now, Fulcrum is either dead or trapped on Malachor, you say. Well you’re half right. Fulcrum is apparently a shared moniker used by numerous agents throughout the Galaxy helping Rebel cells, a concept created by Ahsoka. That little bit of heartbreak out of the way, Hera says that they are sending Sabine undercover to extract these pilots. Ezra gets angry that it’s Sabine going in and not him, because in his mind he’s the most qualified as he’s gone undercover before. Hera and Sabine shoot Ezra down by pointing out Sabine has actually been enrolled in Imperial academies and that Ezra is too well known now. Unsaid is that Ezra screwed things up so spectacularly two episodes earlier but we’ll gloss over that.

And then Sabine gets sent undercover and the best episode of Rebels ever happens. Listen, I had so much fun watching this I can’t put coherent words together. So I’m stealing Bria’s dot gif review format for the rest of this. To the jump!

Continue reading


Teacups & 1UPs: The Banner Saga

Welcome to the first installment of Teacups & 1UPs, a (hopefully) fortnightly column in which I will talk about games both indie, AAA, and in-between! These may not entirely be reviews, and they won’t always be the same format, but one thing’s for sure: I’m going to pair a tea with each and every game.

Why tea? Because I love tea. Next question.

The first game I’m going to be tackling is The Banner Saga, which a Steam review accurately renamed “Tactical Starvation: The Game“. It’s not a new game, so warning for potential minor spoilers as I pick apart the good, the bad, and the fantasy misogyny. Buckle up, I definitely have Some Thoughts about this game.


You wouldn’t think such a pretty game could be so cruel.

Continue reading

ThrawnCast 1.4: He Asked Stupidly



This week on the ThrawnCast, we dive into Heir to the Empire chapters 12-16!

The ThrawnCast is a part of the Tosche Station Radio network. Be sure to subscribe to the ThrawnCast on iTunes or Google Play. You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed in iTunes or  Google Play for more great shows from our podcast network. 

This podcast was brought to you by Her Universe and your support on Patreon.

Rebels Review: Holocrons of Fate

rebels logoLast week Rebels came back with a vengeance, aka the canon reintroduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This week the threat took on a decidedly more dark side tone in the form of Maul. Last time we saw him, he was escaping Malachor. Now he’s back and on the hunt for Kanan and Ezra, but mostly the Sith holocron. He takes the Ghost crew captive in order to persuade Kanan and Ezra to give him not just the Sith holocron, but Kanan’s Jedi holocron as well. Apparently, combining the two will provide seeeekrits. After a “fun” quest in which Kanan and Ezra have to learn to work together again in order to reclaim the Sith holocron from Bendu, they rendezvous with Maul, combine the holocrons, and all hell breaks loose.

Let’s talk about those secrets, shall we? This episode gives us Bendu’s awesome line from the Season 3 trailer: “Once a secret is known, it cannot be unknown.” In this case, both Maul and Ezra want the Sith holocron because they want to learn the key to destroying the Sith, but for very different reasons. Maul wants revenge. Ezra wants to protect his found family. (He seems to be making a turn away from the dark side already, which I’m kind of disappointed about. I hope we see more of him using the holocron.) They both see different things: Ezra sees planets, and then exclaims “twin suns”; Maul escapes the base muttering over and over, “he lives!”

I didn’t think I’d have many feelings about this episode. I wasn’t a big fan of the way The Clone Wars treated Force mysticism, although I’m glad to say I like Rebels’ take a lot more. The character of Bendu, delightfully voiced by Tom Baker, made what could have been an eye-rolling episode a lot more palatable. I like when the Force is a mystery, a riddle, a puzzle, and it definitely is that way with Bendu around. I also liked that this episode continued to explore the repercussions of what happened on Malachor, both with simple things like Ezra explaining to Kanan what he’s seeing and more complicated matters like the two of them learning to work together again. Not only that, but Maul is free and continuing his mission to wreak havoc in the galaxy.

But the real meat of the episode comes at the end, in which a shrug-worthy story (for me) becomes Super Important. Ezra sees twin suns, but doesn’t understand what it means. We all know, of course: the key to destroying the Sith is safely hidden on Tatooine in the form of Luke Skywalker. It seems like Maul’s vision was a lot more specific, because his exclamation of “he lives” can really only refer to one person: his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I admit, I’m excited for the implications. While I never read “Old Wounds,” I love the idea of that story. And if they had to bring back Maul (grumble mutter forever about how I like his story arc in TCW and Rebels, I just wish Lucas hadn’t CUT HIM IN HALF specifically so he couldn’t come back in the future, but then he changed his mind and we still don’t know how Maul survived a bisection, but I digress), the least they could do is give us one final Obi-Wan and Maul showdown on Tatooine.

Of course, there is one other option. Maul wants to destroy the Sith. The holocron showed him Obi-Wan, who has defeated a Sith in combat. Instead of wanting revenge on Obi-Wan, what if Maul goes to him with a proposal: help me destroy Vader and the Emperor, and I won’t kill you.

Obi-Wan, of course, is not stupid. Unlike Ezra, he wouldn’t take Maul’s word at face value. He knows Maul cannot be trusted. Once Obi-Wan refuses Maul’s offer, knowing he has to stay on Tatooine to protect Luke, then Maul’s vengeance would take over and we might see a that final showdown.

Or I could be wrong about all this and Rebels takes the straightforward revenge route from the beginning. Or perhaps we won’t see this story in Rebels at all because this show is about the Ghost crew.  Could we get a Maul/Obi-Wan rematch in a book? Or, dare we hope…a standalone movie? When it comes down to it, the only way I’ll forgive Robo-Maul is if that arcs ends with a rematch.

Whatever happens, Rebels continues to deliver solid storytelling. I just hope this particular ball isn’t dropped.

ThrawnCast 1.3: Fake Falcon Syndrome



This week on the ThrawnCast, we dive into Heir to the Empire chapters 9-12!

The ThrawnCast is a part of the Tosche Station Radio network. Be sure to subscribe to the ThrawnCast on iTunes or Google Play. You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed in iTunes or  Google Play for more great shows from our podcast network. 

This podcast was brought to you by Her Universe and your support on Patreon.

Western Reaches #14

western reaches header


This week we finally got our Destiny episode with special guest Tom! We talk about Life is Strange, Halo, and a mishmash of sci-fi books, with our big topic of Destiny and its new expansion, Rise of Iron.
  • Life is Strange
  • Batman the Telltale Series 
  • Halo: Fractures
  • Speak – Louisa Hall
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
  • Radiance – Catherynne M. Valente
You can find Megan on Twitter with the handle @blogfullofwords and you can find Saf with @Wanderlustin. Be sure to subscribe to Western Reaches on iTunes/Google Play and subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed for more great shows, discussion, and commentary. This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!

Review: Star Wars #23

Did you know that it’s possible for a comic to be cute, very shippy, have the characters feel slightly off, and yet still be rather delightful? Jason Aaron and Jorge Molina do just that in today’s Star Wars #23. As one might guess from the adorable cover, this issue definitely dives into the Han and Leia dynamic that comes to the forefront in Empire Strikes Back. The Rebels have stolen a Star Destroyer to try and break through a blockade and Leia and Han strongly disagree which one of them should be acting Captain while they wait for a Rebellion Admiral to rendezvous with them. Because they’re Han and Leia.

In all honesty, I think that the race through the Star Destroyer to the bridge is far too immature for Leia to actually take part in. Han I could buy but Leia? Not so much. Regardless, I still found myself giggling as I read their bickering and then drastic steps to one-up each other and make it to the bridge first. Meanwhile Sana speaks for all of us as she shakes her head at them.

Speaking of Sana, I continue to be delighted that she gets to play such a distinct role in this book and didn’t just disappear after that initial arc. Her chat with Luke when they’re in the TIE fighters is neat to read and lets us get to know both of them just a little bit better. I’m interested to see whether she ends up becoming a believer in the Rebel Alliance’s cause too or if she stays detached.

The short version? This issue feels somewhat out of character but it’s so damn cute and fun that I don’t care that much.

Oh and that last page? Yeah. Stuff is gonna go DOWN next issue and I can’t wait to read it.  

Star Wars #22: Jason Aaron/Writer, Jorge Molina/Artist, Matt Milla/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor


REVIEW: Star Wars Rebels: complete season two Blu-ray set

It’s safe to say season one of Rebels was a success, though it was criticized by many as being too small scale and low stakes. Season one certainly had a limited scope — by design, and, in my opinion, smartly so — though the three-part season finale, which reintroduced Grand Moff Tarkin, included a spectacular battle in orbit of Mustafar, and teased us with the arrival of both Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano, hinted at a somewhat wider scope and scale for season two. Did season two build on what season one laid down in a logical and satisfying way? Was the show able to continue to develop its characters while achieving a larger scale? And is the recently released Blu-ray set of season two worth picking up, even if you’ve already seen all the episodes? That, my friends, is what I’m here to tell you.


The second season set of Star Wars: Rebels looks and feels a great deal like the season one set. As before, the video is 1080p, presented in the show’s original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. English, French, and German audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1, while Spanish-speaking fans will have to be satisfied with a 2.0 mix. The season’s 22 episodes are spread out across 3 discs, along with each episode’s corresponding installment of Rebels Recon, the YouTube after-show hosted by Andi Gutierrez, StarWars.com’s social media correspondent. Disc three also includes two short featurettes, “Connecting the Galaxy,” and “From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka,” both of which I’ll discuss below.


If you read my review of season one, you’ll know I enjoyed the show quite a bit (with some reservations here and there). As I mentioned above, I think keeping the scale and the stakes relatively low for season one was the right choice, as it gave the characters a chance to be established on their own terms before thrusting them into the wider Star Wars universe. That said, I’m immensely pleased season two opens things up a bit. Apart from Vader and Ahsoka, we are also introduced to two new Inquisitors, each vying for the position opened up by the Grand Inquisitor’s death in season one. We also meet some of Zeb’s people, an old friend-turned-enemy-turned-friend-again-maybe of Sabine’s, a heretofore unseen commander of the Rebellion, and even a new droid friend for Chopper. We are also reintroduced to Captain Rex, Hondo Ohnaka, and Cham Syndulla (Hera’s father!) of The Clone Wars fame, not to mention a certain teenage princess of Alderaan. And of course the season culminates in the return of Darth Maul and the final(?) confrontation between Ahsoka and her old master, Anakin Skywalker. For the most part, these guest appearances all feel organic and not like a ratings stunt; the show justifies everyone’s presence quite well, in my mind, and works them into the story in a satisfying way.


Season two of Rebels is a more fast-paced and confident show than it was in season one. Having established its world and its characters, the show now feels justified in bringing in old favorite characters from The Clone Wars (to say nothing of Leia and Darth Vader), as well as widening the scope and giving us a look at one cell of the nascent Rebel Alliance. The show mostly does well with the broader scope, though it still feels committed to episodic storytelling (as opposed to the longer arcs we got in The Clone Wars, as well as most television being made today) in a way that hurts the show. The episodes still feel contiguous and part of a whole, but the season doesn’t do a great job building towards the conclusion — when the Vader/Ahsoka duel finally happens, it feels less like something the show itself was ramping up towards, and more like something the fans were ramping themselves up for. The creators stated a number of times that this wasn’t Ahsoka’s show, that the focus was still on Kanan and Hera and the rest, and that’s fine, but either tell Ahsoka’s story here or don’t. It feels like we’re only getting snippets of her arc, and that’s frustrating.


It’s not just limited to Ahsoka, either. I complained last season that Ezra’s entire character arc takes place over the course of the pilot, rather than the season or even the show as a whole, and that continues to be a problem here. Zeb has what should be a season-long character arc in a single 20-minute episode, and while we were promised big things for Sabine, her episodes felt phoned in in a way that didn’t give me much insight into her character at all. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the season’s strongest episodes — “The Siege of Lothal,” “The Lost Commanders” / “Relics of the Old Republic,” and “Twilight of the Apprentice,” were all two-parters. 22 minutes just isn’t long enough to tell the kind of rich and ambitious stories the writers are very clearly trying to tell. I don’t know if scaling back the longer story arcs was a creative decision, or one handed down from above to try and make the show more kid-friendly, but it’s hurting the writing either way. Ideally the show would be 10-15 hourlong episodes, rather than 22 half-hour ones, but failing that, the writers and producers should really commit to longer arcs.


And as far as Ezra goes, I remain frustrated at how good he is at … everything. The show strongly suggests — and this is backed up by the interviews in Rebels Recon — that Ezra’s “speciality” is connecting with other lifeforms through the Force. Which is great and interesting, but he also displays an insane level of combat skill which seems disproportionate to his age and training. Telling us his speciality is connection while also making him an infallible warrior seems a contradiction, and I wish they’d address it (or at least dial back the lightsaber flips a little).


One final note on this season: the score is incredible. Season one felt like the music was mostly just sampled from John Williams’ movie scores, but composer Kevin Kiner really steps things up for season two. There’s a sequence in “The Lost Commanders” that feels like something John Williams would have scored for that scene, but didn’t actually sound like any existing score from the films. And there are a couple really beautiful, epic moments — specifically, in “Legends of the Lasat” and “Twilight of the Apprentice” — which don’t necessarily sound Star Wars-ey in and of themselves, but are absolutely gorgeous pieces of music which fit the moment wonderfully.


As with season one’s set, the video here is basically flawless. Blacks are black, colors are bright, lines are clean. The detail is extraordinary; the character design may be simple, but the textures are marvelous and a joy to behold on Blu-ray. Not to jump ahead, but the excellent video quality is pretty much the reason to buy this set — if you’ve only seen Rebels streaming, or over broadcast HD, you haven’t seen how good this show can look.


Audio is likewise impressive; the 5.1 mix isn’t too aggressive or gimmicky in the rear channels, but used to nice atmospheric effect (with the occasional ship swoop or laser blast thrown in for good measure). It’s not as immersive, or used as well as a storytelling tool, as the mix on The Force Awakens, but that’s to be expected for something made on a television show’s schedule and budget, as opposed to a (rabidly anticipated) feature film. Dialogue is always clear and crisp, with no muddiness to be found. As with the video, the quality here is top-notch.

The menu design is just as minimalist and frustrating as the season one discs. Rather than give us a list of episodes on a single screen, we’re forced to scroll through a horizontal menu at the bottom of the screen, which often fits only two episodes on it at a time. This can make picking the episode you want to watch a bit challenging, since you’re often not sure which of the two episodes you have selected! Also as with season one’s set, there’s no option for auto-playing an episode’s corresponding Rebels Recon when the episode proper has finished. Instead, you have to go hunting through the special features menu, which is just as frustrating to navigate as the episode list. It’s even more irritating on disc three, where you have to go two menus deep to reach the Rebels Recon episodes. This is extremely poor menu design; there’s no reason not to have the entire disc’s worth of episodes listed on a single screen, and there’s no reason not to have a “play with Rebels Recon” option.


The special features, I’m sorry to say, are even more anemic than what we got with season one. No episode promos, not even a season three promo, no in-depth making-of documentary, no cast or crew commentaries. Just the requisite Rebels Recon episodes (which I’m happy to have on the discs, don’t get me wrong) and two very brief featurettes. The first one, “Connecting the Galaxy,” they needn’t have bothered with, frankly: it’s five or so minutes of an overly goofy narrator describing references and easter eggs to the larger Star Wars universe. Some are so blindingly obvious (did you know the crossguard lightsaber Ezra picks up on Malachor was a reference to The Force Awakens??!?!?) you wonder why they bothered, and some are so strained and ridiculous (the name of character pleading for food in “Wings of the Master” is ‘hunger’ spelt backwards or some nonsense) … you still wonder why they bothered. “From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka” is a little more interesting; narrated by Dave Filoni, he goes into some of his thoughts and design process for the lightsaber battle between Vader and Ahsoka. He doesn’t really cover any ground not already covered in Recon, but we do get a nice look at some of his storyboard and concept art. The lack of any substantial special features — beyond Recon, which I do enjoy — continues to be a thorn in my side with these sets, and I’ve almost given up hope they’ll step up to the plate and give us a full-featured set for season three.


Lastly, the packaging itself is honestly appalling. At first glance it seems fine: standard Blu-ray keep case with a cardboard sleeve (though I’m not sure when and why cardboard sleeves became standard for Blu-rays; seems like a waste of paper to me). When you open it up, however, you see that disc one is on the spindle to the left, while discs two and three are on a single spindle to the right. I refuse to believe that Disney’s profit margins on these discs is so low that they can’t include a spindle in the middle. Putting two discs on a single spindle isn’t how discs should be packaged — it’s something you yell at your roommate for doing when they can’t find the proper keep case for a movie. Granted, Blu-rays are a lot less prone to scratches than DVDs were, but this is still unprofessional and cheap as hell. Also — and this is a minor annoyance — there’s no episode list in the case itself; just an ad for Disney XD.

My review of the season two Blu-ray set of Star Wars: Rebels boils down largely to what my review of the season one set was: good show, could be better; excellent video and sound; appalling menu design; anemic special features. Worth the purchase for the upgraded video and sound quality … but probably only at a discount. Do better, Disney. I know you’ve got it in you.

Rebels Review: Steps Into Shadow

rebels logoStar Wars Rebels is back and so are we with our reviews!  Premieres are always a special occasion and since we couldn’t do our usual live chat transcript, (hey, you got an in person podcast instead!) we’re going around the virtual table to see what everyone thought about the episode!

Bria: I really enjoyed the episode!  It didn’t have the same punch as Siege of Lothal or Twilight of the Apprentice but I thought it was a good way to start things out.  The careful use of Thrawn was a good way to introduce the character (I flailed a lot) and also a good way to tease him as being the new Big Bad for the season.  Kanan’s now started on his path towards mentally healing from his injuries and Ezra’s definitely sliding further and further towards the dark side even if his holocron is gone.  (I, for one, welcome the arrival of Darth Blueberry.)  Also I am 100% here for 300% Over This Crap Sabine Wren.  Someone put that girl in charge!  Overall, a really solid start to the season and I’m looking forward to see what happens in this wider galaxy and, obviously, what Grand Admiral Thrawn gets up to.

Matthew: I liked it! It was nice to see Ezra finally taken down a peg, and to not be an infallible Jedi genius for once. Kanan recovering from his wounds was nice to see as well — though I hope they continue to explore that throughout the season. Rebels has an unfortunate tendency to wrap up what should be a season-long character arc in the span of a single episode, and I hope that’s not the case here. Thrawn I’m mixed on; I think his appearance, bearing, and voice are spot-on, but there’s a reference to his last operation involving huge numbers of civilian casualties, which seems … messy. And if Thrawn is one thing, it’s precise. We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out; otherwise, it was as if he’d walked out of the pages of Zahn’s books and onto the screen.

Oh, and I like Sabine’s new hair. Here’s hoping she gets more to do this season than she did in season two …

Brian: I think it’s easy to be bummed out that this episode didn’t have the sheer holy crap factor of the season two premiere, but that’s definitely by design and a good choice to kick off this season. From all of the discussion provided by Filoni and company, season three feels like it’s kind of a soft reboot for the series. A jump forward in time brings with it a new focus: the military might of the Empire and Rebellion. I think this episode did a great job setting the table and introducing the threads that are going to carry through the next 22 episodes. 

Now as for the details of the episode? I enjoyed it a bunch. Sabine was the under-the-radar hero, Tom Baker’s voice work was incredible, and Thrawn and Pryce. THRAWN AND PRYCE. I mean I’m pumped for Thrawn but I am so, so here for HBIC Governor Pryce. Ezra actually suffering some consequences for being impulsive was nice to see. Overall, I’m pleased with the episode, and I’m thrilled it’s setting up a season I’ve been hoping to get from the beginning. 

Nanci: THRAWN. Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system I’ll talk about the actual episode. I liked it! I am really excited to see the larger Rebellion as the series moves closer to the A New Hope time frame. The reference to “General Dodonna’s fleet” made me flail super hard. I wouldn’t mind seeing some familiar pilots fly with that group! I also like the implication that the Ghost crew don’t know they’re part of a larger Rebellion. Thrawn being brought in because he sees the “bigger picture” fits his character perfectly, and it makes sense that he let the Ghost get away in order to set a trap for the larger Rebellion. I can’t wait to see how that unfolds over the season. Also, please give us more lady Imperials like Governor Pryce! Also more female rebel pilots and soldiers. Kthnx.