For a geek who’s down in the dumps, there are two words that are guaranteed to be a pick-me-up: David Tennant. The British actor has an unimpeachable record with crazed fans across multiple franchises: Harry Potter, because of his turn as Barty Crouch, Jr. in Goblet of Fire, and, especially, Doctor Who, where he served as the series' second Time Lord following its 2005 relaunch. So the news that Tennant would be taking a trip to that Galaxy Far, Far Away and voicing a droid was geek catnip. Better yet, he’d be an ancient lightsaber-building droid in the employ of the Jedi Order. And if that wasn’t cool enough, his droid even does his own Monty Python and the Holy Grail-style severed limb routine!
Okay, calm down. Clone Wars’ installment this weekend, “A Test of Strength,” was a polished, engaging follow-up to last week’s “The Gathering,” and a promising indication of where the “Young Jedi” arc is heading. “The Gathering” set up our sextet of Force-sensitive younglings extremely well, so it was fun now to see them in action unfettered by loads of exposition. All that said, “A Test of Strength” also made very little sense, particularly as far as the motivations of one Hondo Ohnaka were concerned.
After gathering their lightsaber crystals in the ice caves of Ilum, younglings Petro, Katooni, Genodi, Zatt, Byph, and Gungi reconvened aboard a Jedi training ship to build their weapons. The thing is…these weren’t just any ordinary crystals. These were kaiburr crystals, capable of magnifying the Force around a Jedi, making the lightsaber and its wielder one. Not all lightsabers are built with kaiburr crystals, so these younglings are extremely lucky. It’s fascinating to see this mentioned in The Clone Wars, because kaiburr crystals have long been a part of Star Wars lore, if an obscure one. They were first mentioned in George Lucas’s third draft for Episode IV way back in 1975, then titled The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. At that time, Lucas’s concept was that the kaiburr crystals represented a Jedi’s connection to the Force—that they couldn’t access the energy field which surrounds all things without them. He quickly abandoned that idea because he felt that the ability to tap into the Force should be latent. But the concept of the kaiburr crystal survived and popped up in the very first Star Wars spin-off novel, Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Taking place shortly after A New Hope, an untrained Luke Skywalker fights a lightsaber duel against Darth Vader when the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi takes possession of his body via a kaiburr crystal that Luke found. From that point on, they’ve barely been mentioned. Until The Clone Wars, that is!
The person who would help the younglings construct their lightsabers wasn’t a Jedi at all, but rather a droid named Huyang. The most badass droids of all always get proper names—none of this C-3PO and R2-D2 stuff. (IG-88 excluded.) Little Rodian Genodi scoffed at the idea of learning lightsaber construction from a droid. I half expected Huyang to fire right back with Anakin Skywalker’s trademark line from Phantom Menace, “My name is Huyang, and I’m a person!” But he’s voiced by David Tennant, so he’s way too cool for that. Yes, I know last week I not only declared but titled my recap ”No Mr. Ollivander for the Jedi." Now you’ll probably say that Huyang is the Jedi’s Ollivander and that I must have been high on glitterstim. Far from it! Though, like Ollivander, he's helping the younglings choose a weapon that’s simpatico with them, the fact that he actually has to help them build it and the fact that these are blades that can cut off people’s limbs makes him have much more in common, rather, with Kill Bill’s swordmaster, Hattori Hanzo. I’ll repeat what I said before about Huyang: badass.