'Tales Of The Empire' review: Flits nimbly between light and darkness

'What? No, my name's not Sophon and I didn't come to kill your science. I'm just here to serve my boss, Starchy Smurf.' Photos: Handout

Here's a Star Wars Day gift for you to unwrap: another instalment of the Star Wars Tales animated anthology, this one subtitled Tales Of The Empire.

While the previous Tales Of The Jedi focused on current big deal Ahsoka Tano and pivotal prequel/Clone Wars figure Count Dooku, this one takes a closer look at Nightsister Morgan Elspeth (bringing back the uber-cool Diana Lee Inosanto for voice acting duties) and fallen Jedi Barriss Offee (voiced once more by Meredith Salenger).

Yep, the very one who framed Ahsoka for that bombing of the Jedi Temple hangar back in the Clone Wars.

'For the last time, I have nothing to do with baristas ... or coffee.''For the last time, I have nothing to do with baristas ... or coffee.'

The six bite-size chapters, each a little shorter than your average Star Wars animated series episode, also boast a gallery of recognisable faces and a long list of familiar names in the voice cast (to reveal more would dampen your fun).

They are intriguing stories that deal with "light side", or at least noble-seeming, motivations spiralling into darkness, and the hard climb towards redemption (not saying which applies to whom).

Marshalled by supervising director Dave Filoni (we are not worthy), the cast and crew behind these Tales certainly serve up an entertaining package.

 'Welcome to my compound. My senses tell me you won't be the last undesirable to show up here.''Welcome to my compound. My senses tell me you won't be the last undesirable to show up here.'

There's no shortage of perilous action or surprises, more than a few impalements (what, still too soon after Qui-Gon?), Force battles, and the just-plain-despair of hopelessly outmatched unfortunates being mowed down by powerful, merciless adversaries. (But hey, there's some light at the end of the tunnel, even if you need to check out other Star Wars shows for it.)

Special credit to the Kiners (Kevin, Sean and Deana), too, for the great score and theme that aptly fit the moral murkiness, despair and redemptive developments of the two arcs.

This second batch of Tales, however, isn't quite as impactful as the first, which had the benefit of having more significant principal characters.

Here, it's half great thanks to Morgan Elspeth's current "top-of-mind" status among Star Wars consumers.

On the Barriss Offee front, however, things get kind of creaky thanks to the conflict between the "Star Wars Legends" (Expanded Universe) and "Star Wars Canon" (movie continuity) timelines (curse you, Multiverse!).

Suffice to say that developments here are meant to be Canon, so put Barriss' Clone Wars fate out of your mind when watching this.

Overall, still a neat present for May the Fourth (etc etc). May we have some more every year, please?

All six episodes of Star Wars: Tales Of The Empire are available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar from Saturday, May 4.

7 10


May the 4th be video

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