Friday, April 24, 2020

A Few Words About Old Joe

First of all, evidently, the term "Old Joe" is slang for... all kinds of things, none of them Joe Biden. However, "Old Joe Biden" does seem to be a nickname-ish for Biden. I suppose there are so many Old Joes out there that you have to add Biden to specify which Old Joe is meant. So, yes, I am indeed talking about Joe Biden.

I don't like him.

Not that I don't like him. He seems like a perfectly affable fellow and completely likable. He was a fine Vice President. Or fine enough, anyway.
But he's way past his expiration date.

And I don't just mean that he's old. He is old (and, god, I am so tired of old, white men in government), but it's that his ideas are old. His ideas are old, but he's still treating them as if they are as new as they were in the 90s. We're past all that, Joe. Get your foot off the step of the progressive bus if you're not going to get on. The rest of us have places to go.

Needless to say, I am unhappy that Joe is who we are left with as the presumptive Democrat nominee. Is this really the best we can do?

No, not really, but "we" forced all of the better candidates out of the race.

This may all sound like I'm a Sanders supporter, but, no, he, too, is way past his expiration date. Sure, I would take Sanders in a heartbeat over Biden, but why is it that old, white farts are what we seem to get stuck with way too often?

And, now, let me return to my initial thought that spawned this post, rather than go off in the myriad directions I'm tempted to go in.
Joe Biden is the fear choice. He's like... I don't know, a safety word. Everyone is convinced that if he had just run in 2016 that we wouldn't have ended up with the orange carrot shit of a #fakepresident that we currently have. [Look, my dog likes carrots. When she eats a lot of them, like she did a few days ago, she gets the carrot shits. They make me think of Trump.] I'm not convinced of that, but I'm not not convinced of that, either. But it doesn't matter.

Look, we are way past making the safe choice. We are in... oh, trouble doesn't cover it. The carrot shit "president" has created global crises in so many areas, and all we have left to fix all of this are bold moves, especially in regards to the environment. And healthcare. And immigration. Fuck, so many things. Biden is not a bold choice. He's the choice that will quit making things worse but won't do anything to make things better. He's the status quo choice. And not even the return to the previous status quo choice, because he's so milk toast that he won't fight the GOP to even get things back to the way they were. He'll try to work with them and compromise based on how things are now, and we'll sit in stasis for at least another four years.

Evidently, we are going to have to be at the actual edge of environmental collapse before people wake the fuck up and realize that everything is about to collapse. Not that we are not already there, but it really has to be slapping people in the face, hard, before they are willing to look at it. The last time we made any significant changes in our approach to the environment happened when there was actual acid coming out of the sky. The ice caps melting is just too far away for people to take it seriously. Maybe when New Orleans and Miami and New York are under water.

Will I vote for Biden? Of course, I will vote for Biden. If he's the option that is not Trump (#fakepresident), I will go with that, because the Democrats don't have an option that dips down into the sewer where the GOP seems to live. And the GOP had to reach into the depths to come up with Trump. What I'm saying is that I can't visually a Democrat option worse than Trump.

Will I be happy to vote for Biden? Only in relation to that he is the better option than Trump. But I won't really be happy. It makes me sad and angry that Biden seems to be what we're going to be stuck with. We really have to do better! But we also have to get Trump out of office and we have to vote out as many Republicans as possible. So it makes me more mad to see people who say they are against Trump talking about how they won't vote for Biden if he's the nominee. I'm sorry, we're way past that. Your protest abstention is how we make Trump a two-term destroyer of the US Constitution.

So man the fuck up and determine to vote for whoever the Democrat nominee is. It's more important to get Trump (#fakepresident) out of the White House than it is for you to hold onto some false moral imperative to only vote for the "progressive" candidate. You do what you can do without whining about what you want to do instead. If you're starving, you don't whine about not getting cake, you ate the fucking stale bread that you're given. Right now, we're all starving. Biden is the stale bread choice, but he's better than nothing.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Art of Scapegoating and of Being Scapegoated

Image by Heidelbergerin from Pixabay

I'm assuming most of you know what a scapegoat is, even if you don't know the origin of the term. That's not really important, and you can look it up if you want to know.
Also, before I go on, I want to call your attention back to this post from something like six years. It's both relevant and important.
[If you went and read that old post, I'm sure you can see how it's relevant to our current political crisis. I want to reiterate that I wrote that well before 2016.]

Let's just assume that you didn't go back and read the post about "The Boss" (since I feel fairly certain that most of you did not) and I'll give a very brief introduction. Very.

There are certain personality types that want to be in charge, completely in charge, with no cost. By "no cost," I mean they don't want any of the responsibility that goes along with being the boss. They just want to be followed blindly and never carry the burden of any mistakes they make. In fact, they are so self-assured of their own "rightness" that they believe they cannot make mistakes and, therefore, if something goes wrong, it must be the fault of someone else. These people are in constant need of scapegoats.

But let me be clear, this is not because there is some conscious thought process that says, "I messed up, but I don't want anyone else to know, so I need to find someone else to blame." It's not like that at all because it never occurs to "the boss" that any mistake may have been his. He just looks for someone who must be at fault because, clearly, someone messed up.

I grew up with one of these types of people, my stepfather, so I am very familiar with how this works. I was, of course, the scapegoat in my house. It was even more fun because the blamelessness extended to my brother, who was his biological son, so any time my brother messed up it was somehow my fault. Here's my favorite story:

I had a mostly unsupervised childhood and I roamed pretty much freely all the time. As long as I was home by dark, no one really questioned where I was or what I was doing. However, on this particular day, I had been to a friend's house and, for whatever reason, I'd actually asked permission to go there. Possibly, it was farther away than I usually went; I don't know. But I had asked my mother if I could go and had permission to make the walk, because I walked everywhere or, later, when I had one, road my bike.

At any rate, when I arrived home, I found that I was in trouble, in trouble for somehow breaking a lamp while I wasn't home. I, of course, responded to the accusation from my father with, "I didn't break it. I wasn't even home." He then accused me of being gone without permission.

And this is where it gets tricky. See, my father knew that my brother had broken the lamp and, yet, he accused me of having done it as soon as I walked in the door. You have to try to follow the process of how this played out.

I said I did have permission because Mom had said I could go.
But that didn't matter because he hadn't said I could go so, therefore, I had not had permission.
It was my fault the lamp had been broken because, if I had been at home, I could have stopped my brother from doing it. Thus, I broke the lamp.
I want to point out that my "father" had been sitting in the chair next to the lamp when it happened.
But, see, it somehow was not my father's responsibility to be keeping an eye on my brother. That was, evidently, my job, a job I had failed to do because I wasn't home. I wasn't more than 10.

This was the way things were during my childhood, and there's not much you can do about it when you're in an insulated situation like that, which is what most households are, insulated little kingdoms.

Don't worry, it gets even more weird.

When I was a teenager, my dad was on of the van drivers at my church. He mostly didn't do any driving for the youth group but, on some trip or other, the guy who usually drove us wasn't available, so my dad was driving. It was a full van of middle and high schoolers all doing what teenagers do when they are in a group together, meaning they were being goofy and making a lot of noise.

Except me. Because that's not what I did. I had a book and was sitting against the window reading and ignoring what was going on. That was my normal.

Maybe this was why my dad never drove the teenagers; he didn't like the noise.
So we're driving along and I suddenly hear my name being yelled angrily. I look up to see my "dad" staring venom and hatred at me through the rear view mirror. Evidently, he had had to yell my name three or four times to get my attention and the only reason it had worked was because everyone else shut up after the second time. Look, I said I was reading, didn't I? And I was focusing really hard on it because of all of the noise and commotion. I don't remember the exact words my "father" used, but it amounted to "Shut the fuck up." No, he didn't curse. We were on a church van, but that's what came through.

Everyone stared at me.
Everyone knew that I hadn't been making any noise.
Not thinking clearly about what was happening, I opened my mouth, "I was rea..."
"I said shut up!"
Everyone looked at my "dad" then looked back at me.
I went back to my book.

Before that happened, everyone had liked my dad and wondered why I didn't care for him. Yeah, that's really about how I felt about him, like he was a type of cookie on a plate of cookies and my response was something like, "No, thank you, I don't care for that one." That's how disassociated I had become from him by the time I was in high school. I mostly just ignored his existence.
Except for those occasions, like this one on the van, where I was forced to acknowledge him in some way.

What I'm saying is that some people have to have someone to blame for their inability to handle situations, whatever those situations are. And I want to be explicitly clear, Trump (#fakepresident) is not ever thinking to himself, "Man, I screwed this up, but I can cover it up by blaming someone else." I think that's what people think about the way he deals with stuff, that his blaming of... whoever... is some sort of conscious deflection. It is not. He just knows that there must be someone to blame and has no concept whatsoever that that someone might be him.

And that, really, is the best way to scapegoat someone. Total belief that the person you are scapegoating must really be at fault. After all, when the Jews sent the scapegoat out into the wilderness, they believed that goat was carrying their sins with it.

When Trump blames WHO for the current state of affairs in regard to the pandemic, he believes WHO is at fault. They must be. Who else it could it be? Oh, China. It's also China. And the media.

These are not lies. Well, they are, but they are not the kind of lies someone makes up in order to change the narrative. It's all self-deception because Trump (#fakepresident) is incapable of looking at the truth. He's actually not smart enough to lie.
It's just like my dad believed it was my fault that my brother broke that lamp. With every fiber of his being, he believed that.

I don't want to say that the pandemic is a good thing in any way, because it's not. People are dying. Lots of people are dying. None of the numbers, especially in the United States, are accurate because there isn't enough testing being done (okay, South Korea's numbers are probably accurate). Why? Because the "president" has been a roadblock to any kind of appropriate response to what is happening. BUT!

But it is good that people -- governors, specifically -- are beginning to ignore Trump (#fakepresident) in order to do what needs to be done. Ignoring these kinds of people, these "bosses," is often the only way to accomplish anything. Or to live peacefully. Or whatever.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Deal No Deal" (Ep. 7.06)

-- Mistakes are valuable lessons often learned too late.

Ahsoka and her new friends get mixed up in some spice trading. This seems to be a not good thing. I think I would like to talk more about spice but, honestly, I don't really understand "spice" so have no coherent thoughts on it. It's pretty clear that the idea of "spice" started out as a drug reference or something pretty close to that. It's also pretty clear that Lucas "borrowed" the term from Dune. The fact that you mine spice, though, seems to have complicated everything about it as the Star Wars universe evolved. What is clear, though, is that there are two sides to the spice trade: the legit side... and the other one. Ahsoka and friends end up on the other one.

And I'm not going to go into that other than to say that Ahsoka is still trying to hide her Jedi-ness.

Kessel is more interesting and also seems to have suffered from the same issues that spice did during the evolution of the Star Wars universe. The spice mines, according to C-3PO, are a horrible place that no droid wants to be sent to. I have vague memories of the depiction of Kessel in one of the Han Solo novels I read when I was a kid, and my memories are not much like how the spice mines are depicted in Solo. But Clone Wars chooses to give us a broader view of the planet and reveals that the planet isn't all spice mine.

What's my takeaway from all of this? I can't really tell you.
Kessel has become something not quite as foreboding as how I thought of it as a kid. Or as foreboding as that book made it out to be (Where I think there were monsters that lived in the rocks? I don't really remember, but it seems like there was some monster thing that came out of the physical walls of the mine and tried to get Han. Look, it's been 40 years since I read that; I have other things in my brain now). Which is the problem, of course, with going back and giving any mystery an origin. [Like Marvel should never have gone back and given Wolverine a concrete origin. Biggest mistake Marvel ever made.]

Mostly, I'm not really getting into this arc. I appreciate the focus on Ahsoka, but I feel like they should have offered a more meaningful story. Or maybe it will turn out to be more meaningful; there's at least one more episode to go. At the moment, though, I would put this in the "throwaway story" bucket. The arc is giving us some interesting glimpses of things in the wider SWU, but the story itself is a little lacking.

"You got any skills?"

"You ever thought you might be the trouble she needs to stay away from?"

Monday, April 13, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Gone with a Trace" (Ep. 7.05)

-- If there is no path before you, create your own.

All right, a new episode!
Meaning there will be no referring back to anything.

Ahsoka pretty much dropped off the map after she left the Jedi. I think that was at the end of season five, but I could be mis-remembering. At any rate, she was pretty much never mentioned again after she left, which was more than a little disappointing. She was the heart of the show in many ways, and definitely the lens through which we viewed Anakin. She's back in this episode and it seems that it picks up not long after her departure.

Let's talk about something else for a moment.
The last game project under development from LucasArts before Disney pulled the plug on them was something called 1313. There was a lot of excitement over this game because it was going to take Star Wars gaming in a whole new direction. 1313 referred to a level of Coruscant, or something like that, which was a bad place to be. We were going to get to see the underworld, or underbelly, of the capitol of the Galaxy, and it was going to be a big deal.
Because, and I still really don't understand this, Disney shut LucasArts down when they bought the franchise. Not just that game, the whole company. But whatever, I guess; it's not like I'm really a video gamer at this point in my life. I mean, I'm about to be the only person in my family not playing Animal Crossing.

So Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order and where does she end up? Down on 1313, of course.

And, really, that's all there is to say about the episode. Ahsoka meets a friend and hi-jinks ensue. Her friend, as all of the residents of 1313, don't think much of the Jedi. Mostly because the Jedi don't think much about them, as in the Jedi don't think of them at all. 1313ers consider themselves forgotten. Needless to say, Ahsoka doesn't let on about her ties to the Jedi.

"I don't have much in the way of credits."
"Don't worry. Down here, no one does."

"I don't know where you're from but, down here, everything has a price."

"I can only take so many punches to my head and still be considered a pilot."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Clone Wars -- "Unfinished Business" (Ep. 9.04)

-- Trust placed in another is trust earned.

First of all, "Unfinished Business" is an excellent title for... well, all of season seven, actually, and this episode originally was the final episode released when the episodes themselves were unfinished, so it's especially apt.
Not to mention Admiral Trench who has been his own piece of unfinished business for a long time.
Looking down at what I wrote last time I watched this episode, I see that I used that thought before.

I also touched, last time, on the quote I've closed this post with, which is just part of the "speech" Windu gives to the battle droids. It's interesting, though, because after he explains how many of them he's destroyed, he goes on to give them the choice to surrender. They do have free will, after all. The response? "Blast them!"

However, the episode is really about Echo and whether he can still be trusted after being held by the Techno Union for so long.

Oh, and there's a thing with Anakin that I think is very important. In short, he proclaims that he's not like other Jedi.
Which is true.

Well, here we are... at the end. End of the arc. End of the season. End of the show.
End of line.

Oh, wait, wrong movie. That's some other Disney franchise.

All of this started with Admiral Trench -- not the show, just this arc -- and we return to Trench's attack on the Republic's shipyards to finish up this bit of unfinished business, not that Trench isn't another piece of unfinished business.

One of the greatest moments in the series happens in this episode. It's a bit understated, but it's pretty awesome. Let's just say it this way: Mace Windu gives a speech.
To battle droids.
In front of Obi-Wan.

This is a good solid arc. The Bad Batch is an interesting idea, though a bit like the X-Clones (if I didn't say that before). Their introduction was obviously not intended as the series-ending arc it turned out to be. There's a lot left to be explored here, not least of which is whether there are more clones like the Bad Batch.

And, then, there's Echo, because it's clear from "Unfinished Business" that his story line was just beginning. It makes me hope he shows up in Rebels. Yes, I know I could check, but I'd rather be surprised.

Anyway... It was not a bad arc to end the series on, though I rather wish they'd been able to craft a story that would have felt like a story that was bringing the series to a close. In most respects, with Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order, season five has much more the feel of the series coming to an end. It certainly feels as if they were working up to... something, and I really wish Disney had allowed the series to continue. There's no real reason why Clone Wars and Rebels couldn't have run concurrently.

Oh, well...

"My name is General Mace Windu of the Jedi Order. At this point of the Clone War, I have dismantled and destroyed over 100,000 of you type-one battle droids."

Monday, April 6, 2020

Clone Wars -- "On the Wings of Keeradaks" (Ep. 7.03)

-- Survival is one step on the path to living.

Oh, right! Those funky droids from last episode can fly! The extra gun arms are actually wings and, when they're in the air, they look like pteranodons or something. Very fast, jet fighter-like pteranodons. I suppose having something battle droid sized is good for having droids that can move around inside of buildings when they're not flying, unlike vulture droids. Of course, those are really made for space combat, and these new droids are atmospheric fighters.

Also, I just had a realization with this episode -- maybe I'm a little (lot) late to this -- the Techno Union is the techno union because they're cyborgs! D'oh!

What struck me about this episode on this viewing is that it's about people as property. Wat Tambor is upset that Rex and the gang have come for Echo, because, in his mind, Echo is his property. They are stealing from him!
Which, again, raises the whole question of the clone army and the clones as property of the Jedi. They never talk about it as such, and, to be fair, the Jedi were not actually the ones who purchased the clone army, but they were purchased and do belong to the Jedi and to the Republic. I feel like this is a whole avenue of exploration that would make an excellent season eight.

Hear me, Disney? Do season eight!
Come on; you know you want to. Or someone does.
Dave Filoni and Kilian Plunkett, I bet.
Make it happen, guys!

And here are my thoughts from my previous viewing:
Decimate is one of those words I can't stand to hear used, not because I have anything against the word itself but because no one uses it correctly. As someone who values language and the meaning of words, it's a little more than annoying. Imagine my reaction to the "organic decimator" device. Really? Because that's gross. Not to mention the part where "organic" is used as a substitute for... I don't even know, because, of course, this is a weapon designed for use against the clones, so Wat Tambor seems to be able to stand by while it's used without any care at all.

So, sure, I get that organic decimator sounds (sort of) cool, but, really? Be more on point with your terminology.

Anyway, as it turns out, Echo was still alive. Or being kept alive. It's not clear how much of what's left of Echo is still Echo, but they have to get him out of the hands of the Techno Union to stop the stream of tactics and information they've been streaming out of Echo's head.

Oh, and it turns out those creepy new battle droids are a bit like flying monkey droids. I really wish they'd made it into the series.

"I'm guessing no one wants to hear the odds of us making it across here... alive?"
It seems I'm not the only one who didn't like "organic decimator" as a name for the weapon as it was only referred to as a decimator this time around. Which is better. "Decimator" is still problematic, but it's better than "organic decimator."

And I guess that's it for this episode.
See you next time.
Or something. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Women of the Copper Country (a book review post)

As I've mentioned many, many times before, Mary Doria Russell is one of my favorite authors. I've read every book she's written and am fully invested in reading anything she publishes. In fact, her book, The Sparrow, is one of the three books I think everyone should read. And you should read it. Make it next on your list. Seriously.
Just be ready to cry.

All of that said, I had a really difficult time with this book, and I'm not really sure why. Well, as with most things, it was probably a multitude of reasons, the primary being that, when I first started it, I wasn't really having much time to read, so I was reading something like two to three pages every three or four days. That can make it really difficult to find your place in a book, but there wasn't really anything there driving me to get back into it, either.

Maybe it's that it resonates so much with things going on today, which may or may not have to do with why she chose to write this book at this particular time. You can look up a synopsis but, in brief, it's about a labor strike at a copper mine in the early 1900s. As with all of Russell's historical fiction, the book is extensively researched and as close to fact as you can expect to get in a work of fiction. She even tells you where she bent the facts to fit into a novel structure so that you can avoid presenting the novel as literal truth.

Being about a labor strike, there's not much positive going on in the book for the protagonist and her friends, especially in the time period that this happened. At the time, labor unions had no legal protections and, well, all sorts of stuff that I don't want to spend time writing about. It's all history, and you can look it up. At any rate, it resonates very strongly with our current political climate, one in which labor unions have the least power that they've had in almost a century and workers are constantly exploited. In fact, my wife was listening to something from a law firm just this morning where the lawyer was talking about how they hire virtual workers in other countries because they only have to pay them about a third as much and don't have to pay for health care and all sorts of other things for employees they have in other countries. It was very sad to me to listen to her go on and on about the benefits of exploiting workers simply because they don't live in the United States.

So, yeah, exploitation by the rich. The whole thing is depressing, and it really made much of the book difficult to get through. For me, anyway. My wife had much less of a problem with the book.

It does pick up... hmm... I don't know, somewhere past the halfway mark. Not that it gets better for the characters, but the pace of the book picks up, and it became a more compelling read.

I guess the real question, then, is whether I think you should the book, and my answer is yes. Absolutely yes.
Just because it's difficult doesn't mean you shouldn't read it. It's a very timely book and should be read. Just be prepared to struggle with it. And to struggle with the ending. I can't promise any good times from this one.
But, you know, maybe it will inspire some action.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Clone Wars -- "A Distant Echo" (Ep. 7.02)

-- The search for truth begins with belief.

As we discovered last episode, Rex believes that Echo is still alive. He believes that the Separatists have been using him to predict the clone's battle tactics. No one really believes him. But the clones of the Bad Batch don't really care one way or the other as long as they're going to get to take out some clankers. Yes, all of this means a rescue mission.

Well, okay, it's only a rescue mission to Rex. Everyone else is just following the signal from last episode back to its origin point so that they can figure out how it is the Separatists are so accurately predicting their moves.

There are some interesting new droids introduced in this episode, but I don't know what they're called. Kind of weird and cool looking.

And... looking back at what I wrote about this episode when it was released in its incomplete form, they made several key changes to this episode. Here's what I wrote last time:
Padme is sexy nose art on the Bad Batch's spacecraft, and Anakin is not pleased. Ah, the amusing things this show throws in and just another reason I'm still sad it ended.

Rex believes Echo is still alive and mounts a covert operation to rescue him, so covert even the Jedi Council doesn't know about it... because, well, they said "no" to the idea of the mission in the first place. And, of course, if there's something going on that the Council has said no to, it's a safe bet to assume that Anakin's involved, which he is. It's also a safe bet to assume that Obi-Wan knows about it but is standing the side. I just realized I don't know what I think about that.

Basically, Obi-Wan, by repeatedly allowing Anakin to disobey the Jedi Council without consequences, has completely undermined the authority of the Council, at least in regards to Anakin. Maybe it's no wonder things turned out the way they did?

But I digress...

Though there's not much left to say about the episode other than that it looks as if it was introducing a creepy new type of battle droid. It's too bad those didn't make it into a final version.

Oh, and Rex gets into it with one of the members of the Bad Batch.

Good stuff.

"Hope nobody's scared of heights."
"Well, I'm not scared of nuthin'. I just... When I'm up real high, I got a problem with gravity."
They took out the part with Padme as nose art. That makes me kind of sad. It was an amusing gag that revealed a bit more of the wider universe and reinforced some more of Anakin's lack of control over his emotions.

They also took out the explicit "no" from the Jedi council. At least, I think they did. I'm assuming, based on what I wrote, there was an explicit "no" attached to this, but I don't really remember. This time around, though, any "no" was only implied. Obi-Wan never actually tells Anakin the answer because Anakin sort of bulldozes over what Obi-Wan is trying to say and takes off with Rex to go on the mission.

But we do find out this time around that Obi-Wan knows that Anakin has been talking to Padme on the sly.

Mostly, I feel like they took out some of the nuance this episode originally held, which is really too bad, and it makes me wonder what other kinds of things like this never made it into other final episodes. I like nuance.
Maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Clone Wars -- "The Bad Batch" (Ep. 7.01)

-- Embrace others for their differences, for that makes you whole.

Despite being called The Clone Wars, the series doesn't much deal with the clones. Sure, they are in most of the episodes, but the clones are generally supporting characters for the Jedi, especially Anakin and Obi-Wan. Don't get me wrong, this is not something that I mind. The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan is central to, basically, all of Star Wars, and I have enjoyed immensely the more detailed exploration of that relationship. However, the occasional episodes that focus specifically on the clones, in which the Jedi are mostly absent, are also nice, and this is one of the best of those episodes.

"The Bad Batch" introduces us to four new clones: Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Tech; clones which are not quite "right." As we saw somewhat early on in Clone Wars, the clones sometimes suffer mutations. Generally speaking, those clones are kept around in menial position, like janitor, or scrapped completely; however, there are sometimes "positive mutations" which makes those clones valuable assets, thus the Bad Batch.

I'm going to say that I enjoyed these four much more this time than when I watched this episode in its unfinished form. At the time, I felt like this was dangerously close to being nothing more than an X-Men knockoff, a way of adding some variety to the very static clones, but I think, now, that it's a little more than that. Not to mention that it allows them to tell this story about the clones without the need of including any Jedi in it. On the surface, there's this idea of accepting those who are different in some way, but I think the actual thrust here is being accepting of those around us whom we deem "normal." Or, maybe, that's just me, but I know I have my issues in dealing with Regs, so that's what struck me about this episode this time around.

And, now, my thoughts back when I watched it the first time, more than two years ago:
It's been a while since we've had Cody and Rex together in an episode. Thinking back on it, it seems that it's been that Cody has been missing for a while. Or not mentioned. Rex pops up here and there, but I can't remember the last episode with Commander Cody. Sure, yeah, I could go look it up, but it's not that big a deal, just an idle curiosity now that they're teamed together again.

Against our old pal Admiral Trench... who just keeps coming back. He's worse than Grievous.

They're joined by a squad of defective clones, Clone Force 99. If you remember way back to season three, you might remember clone 99, for whom the squad is named. These are clones who didn't turn out quite right but who have beneficial, let's say, mutations. Sort of like the X-Men of clones. Basically, they have a special mission, and they need a group that is a bit... unconventional. You can't get more unconventional than Clone Force 99.

Of course, things go to hell almost immediately.

And then we have an echo of an old character long thought dead...

That's all I'm going to give you. The hint should be enough.

"It's not that they win, it's how they win that worries me."