Star Wars Forces of Destiny season 2 premiered Monday on the Disney YouTube channel, and the first half of the season delivers a perfect mix of old and new, both revisiting the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy while still checking in with our new friends in the sequel trilogy. While season 1 was fantastic as well, season 2 feels like the show is comfortable in it’s own skin, and confident in it’s quality. I whole-heatedly agree.
As someone who’s had a tumultuous relationship with Star Wars animation, Forces of Destiny has been a breath of much needed fresh air for this fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of some of Star Wars animation. I still love the now Legends The Clone Wars microseries, and through the 6 season run of Star Wars: The Clone Wars I was frequently blown away by the stories it told. Star Wars:The Clone Wars went to places I never thought I even cared to know about and did in the most awe inspiring animation style. The show became something that I hold dear as a piece of the Star Wars story I know and love. Star Wars Rebels unfortunately didn’t hit all the right notes for me and seemed to collapse under it’s own weight at moments trying to exist in the same world that is The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi. Forces of Destiny is in no danger of getting too big for its britches. It manages to give me that same blown away feeling that Star Wars: The Clone Wars did while not having to delve deeply into The Force or establish fully realized and interesting new characters.
Forces of Destiny is the Star Wars children’s animation perfectly fit for the new Star Wars film and television universe. FOD gets all the elements right. Gorgeous 2D animation, great voice acting, characters that are heroic and inspiring while still being relateable, and stories that don’t insert themselves into canon in ways that feel forced, uncomfortable or silly. It may seem easy to use already established great characters, but I’ve seen plenty of bad writing for characters like Leia and Ahsoka, and head writer Jen Muro has written these characters close to my heart beautifully.
Star Wars animation is a tricky space. Current shows must be incredibly limited in the stories they can tell in the shadow of major trilogies and countless books on the horizon. Not every effort has successfully paid off. While I absolutely adored the Alec Guinness version of Obi-Wan in Star Wars Rebels (voiced superbly by Stephen Stanton), I felt the culmination of the Obi-Wan/Maul story deserved much more screen time. Many fans loved the duel but I wish the story had been saved for a bigger space. Forces of Destiny will never steer too close to “big” story moments like that.
While FOD’s short stories have consistently been as entertaining as they are harmless, there also exists a ton of opportunity in that format. In season 2 we’ve already seen two moments that take place during The Last Jedi, and returned to Dagobah during The Empire Strikes Back, and in season 1 we got episodes on Endor and Hoth as well. Who’d have though we’d be getting more Empire Strikes Back?! Muro knows exactly what fans want and perfectly how to execute those desires within a children’s animated show. My favorite episode in season 2 is when Leia gets her Boushh armor before heading to Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi to rescue Han. It’s a great little interlude I never thought I needed but it doesn’t step on the toes of anything else and only adds another element to the overall story.
Forces of Destiny succeeds because it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. It’s a great show about already fantastic characters, beautifully designed and executed and it appeals to all. My kids are 4 and 3, and as they watch it now, I can see them enjoying this series well into their teens. And Jason and I enjoy watching it simply because it’s got characters we like doing fun things. Forces of Destiny seems perfectly poised to position itself as a staple in many Star Wars fans’ homes and as a fun companion to the future of untold numbers of new films and television series. I’m grateful that we have Jen Muro and Forces of Destiny and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.