Allow me to cut right to the chase: the guy with a white beard on Endor in Return of the Jedi is NOT Captain Rex. Period.
Honestly, I am not sure what else to say about this topic because, on the one hand, it is dumb, while on the other hand, it is dumb. Yeah, you heard me, it is dumb. I tend not to be this blunt when it comes to debates within the Star Wars fandom but on this topic, I have decided that blunt honesty is for the best.
Okay, let me give you some context just to make sure you and I are on the same page. A long time ago, after Captain Rex was re-introduced in Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels, some fans began to speculate that Rex was one of the strike team commandos in Return of the Jedi. The reason why people thought this? Because this older version of the clone captain had a white beard and, oh my gosh, so did one of the Rebel commandos!
A white beard, that was it, that was the connection. Clearly this superficial similarity must mean that the commando and Captain Rex were one-and-the-same! Except, another pretty obvious and glaring problem was hiding in plain sight with this “fan”-tastic theory. Nik Sant, the commando in question, was portrayed in Return of the Jedi by L. Burner who is white. Captain Rex is a clone trooper and his likeness as a clone is based Jango Fett who was portrayed in Attack of the Clones by Temuera Morrison, and he is not white, he is Māori.
Nik Sant, white guy. Captain Rex, not white guy.
Pretty easy and simple to figure out that they are not the same person. Except, for some reason, this “debate” about whether Captain Rex is in Return of the Jedi just loves to pop-up periodically with people teasing the idea that maybe, juuuuuust maybe, it actually is Captain Rex. But it isn’t because, again, Nik Sant is white, and Captain Rex is not white.
“But Imperial Talker, sir, you have to admit it is pretty wild that Nik Sant is an old guy with a white beard AND Captain Rex is also, around that same point in the Star Wars timeline, an old guy with a white beard.”
Yes, how incredible wild! It is as if more than one character in Star Wars can be a guy with a white beard, and not just any white beard, but an immaculately groomed beard.
Here, how about we compromise: rather than continuing to speculate (as this recent Screen Rant article does) about whether Captain Rex is or is not the guy with a white beard on Endor (he isn’t), we instead make it a canonical fact that both Rex and Nik Sant were best beard buddies. Hell, let’s imagine that Nik Sant, having met Captain Rex one day roaming the corridors of Home One, was convinced by his new clone friend to grow and groom his facial hair just like Rex. Thus, their beards can be canonically linked whilst ensuring that Nik Sant and Captain Rex are not only maintained as individual characters but, perhaps most importantly, two silver foxes kicking the shit out of the Empire.
Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. I shared my thoughts on The 10 Sexiest Males in Star Wars in my previous post and it seems only appropriate to present the females I behold as the sexiest in Star Wars as well. I hope you enjoy the list and do leave a comment if you feel so inclined to join the conversation.
10. The Pa’lowick Sy Snootles. This singer exudes sexy in her voice and her movements. How could anyone resist her? Ziro the Hutt certainly couldn’t. Neither can I.
9. The Geonosian Queen Karina the Great. This powerful hottie is surrounded by Geonosian males who do nothing but serve her every need. How lucky are they!?!?!
8. The Gossam Shu Mai, Presidente of the Commerce Guild. You know what’s sexy? Money! And Shu Mai has loads of it.
7. The Tauntaun Luke is riding in The Empire Strikes Back. “Steady girl. Hey, what’s the matter? You smell something,” Luke asks his mount. Yeah, she does smell something, my insatiable desire for her.
6. The Yam’rii Kitik Keed’kak. It was attraction at first sight when I saw this giant, skirt wearing praying mantis in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
5. The Dowutin Ninth Sister, an Imperial Inquisitor. Musicians are sexy. Power is sexy. Money is sexy. And you know what else is sexy? Having a sensitive side where you are good at reading emotions. I just think the Ninth Sister would really get me. Also, she is hot.
4. The Sarlacc. I have a secret desire to be subjected to pain and suffering so how could I resist letting this beautiful girl digest me for 1,000 years?
3. The Thala-siren Luke milks in The Last Jedi. The Greek hero Odysseus had to tie himself to the mast of his ship to resist the sirens on his Odyssey and me thinks he would have to do the same for this sexy siren. She is irresistible.
2. The planet Zonoma Sekot. No offense to Mother Earth but this Rogue Planet just does it for me. I know the Yuuzhan Vong would agree with me. I bet Rick Sanchez would too.
1. The Millennium Falcon. Han tells Luke that, “she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts…” Damn right she does.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of attractive guys in Star Wars, and while there are a lot of lists out there identifying the sexiest male (and sexiest female) characters, there are no lists offered by me. So naturally, I decided I needed to get in on the action and offer my own two cents on the subject. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on the sexiest males in Star Wars.
10. The Toong podracer Ben Quadinaros. Athletes are sexy and Quadinaros is the hottest one in Star Wars.
9. The Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. He should be called Poggle the Sexier because this dude is damn fine.
8. The Twi’lek Senator Orn Free Ta. How could I not put a Twi’lek on the list? The species is so hypersexualized that it would be crazy not to include one!
7. The Wampa. Admittedly, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars film so I am slightly biased here. But come on, look at those muscles!
6. The Shawda Ubb Rappertunie. There was no way I was leaving the Growdi Harmonique player off this listen because musicians are soooooooooo hot!
5. The Imperial Probe Droid. Again, totally biased here. “Probe” is literally in the name. Need I say more?
4. The Skakoan Wat Tambor, Foreman of the Techno Union. A greedy, corporate tycoon he might be, but Tambor has it where it counts: in his bank account.
3. The Parwan Derrown. Cad Bane once said Parwans, “…fill themselves up with some kind of gas and float around grabbing stuff with their tentacles.” And now I can’t stop thinking about all those tentacles and what they could be grabbing!
2. The Hutt Jabba Desilijic Tiure. Sure, he might be a crime boss, but Jabba the Hutt has his own palace and sail barge. A life of luxury with Jabba as my sugar daddy sounds pretty nice to me.
1. The Gungan Jar Jar Binks. Do I even need to justify this one? No, I don’t think I do.
I suppose at the outset I should acknowledge two points that are necessary before proceeding. The first is that this piece contains spoilers from The Book of Boba Fett. Not a lot of spoilers, just a handful of details that help me explain my thought process. Secondly, the more significant point, is that as a Star Wars fan I am genuinely frustrated that I am sitting here writing this piece. This feeling being the motivating factor, rather than beating around the bush building to the big “reveal” about why I am frustrated I will just get right to the point:
Years ago, I wrote a piece in which I explained that Rotta – a character introduced in The Clone Wars movie in 2008 – should take over his father’s nefarious enterprise. In that piece I offered some ideas regarding how Rotta could be utilized, and while I was under no illusion (I never am) that the storytellers at Disney/Lucasfilm would ever come across my posts and use my ideas, I never-the-less was hopeful that Rotta would, eventually, make a future appearance in Star Wars. Or, at the very least, I held out hope that we would find out in some small way, even in a passing statement hidden in a book, where Rotta is or even if he is still alive.
When The Book of Boba Fett was teased in the end credits scene following the season two finale of The Mandalorian my hopes for Rotta’s return were raised. In this short teaser we watch Boba Fett, accompanied by the assasin Fennec Shand, enter Jabba’s throne room and kill Bib Fortuna, the Twi’lek who served as Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo. “Finally,” I thought to myself as I watched this short scene unfold, “Star Wars will address, in some way, what happened to Rotta the Huttlet!” My hope, unfortunately, was misplaced.
I waited to write this post until I watched the finale of The Book of Boba Fett. I wanted to be fair to the show, to the storytellers who put their time and energy into telling Boba’s Fett’s tale once he establishes himself as the daimyo, the self-appointed ruler, of Jabba’s fiefdom. But it became apparent I would write this piece following a moment of exposition at the outset of the show’s third chapter.
Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa begins with Boba Fett seated on the throne listening as a droid describes the areas of Mos Espa, the local metropolis, which were under the protection of Jabba the Hutt. The droid explains that “after the sail barge disaster there was a power vacuum; Bib Fortuna assumed Jabba’s mantle.” The droid then goes on to offer how Fortuna ruled, acknowledging that the Twi’lek did not have the same power as his former Hutt employer.
Now, that Bib Fortuna placed himself on the throne following Jabba’s demise in Return of the Jedi is not entirely surprising even if it is odd that he somehow survived the destruction of the sail barge. It is reasonable enough to think that Jabba’s majordomo would step into the vacuum following the Hutt’s death, knowing as he would how the criminal empire was run. Yet, this only makes sense if we presume that Rotta the Huttlet is somehow out of the picture when Fortuna moves himself onto the throne. Basically, either Rotta needs to have died before the events of Return of the Jedi, he had to die in the sail barge explosion, or Fortuna would need to eliminate him from contention in some other way. Whatever the case may be, there has to be some accounting for Rotta’s absence.
I was hopeful The Book of Boba Fett would address this, that in acknowledging the obvious power vacuum after Jabba’s death there would be some type of explanation about what happened to Rotta. But when, in Chapter 3, the droid explains that Fortuna took over without mentioning Rotta I knew, right then, that this show would not account for Rotta the Huttlet. I wanted to be wrong but intuitively I knew I wouldn’t be. Never-the-less, as I said, I also felt that I needed to be fair to the creators of The Book of Boba Fett, allowing their story to play out, and doing so on the off-chance a reference to Rotta was dropped into the show.
I mentioned earlier in the piece that I have written about Rotta the Huttlet before and back then, just as now, I feel his absence from Star Wars is a massive problem. With a 7-part show dedicated to a new ruler on Jabba’s throne, The Book of Boba Fett was THE place for Star Wars to address, in some way, the fate of Rotta the Huttlet. But it didn’t, and as a result I am left to ask if the erasure of Rotta is intentional. I cannot help but wonder if the creative directors at Disney/Lucasfilm are choosing to ignore the Huttlet who helped introduce us to The Clone Wars animated series? Have they decided that he is just not worth consideration, that it is easier to skip over him because he is an inconvenience to the story they want to tell? Frankly, I don’t have the answer. At this point, I don’t know how to account for Rotta’s continued absence in Star Wars and to be entirely honest I am no longer hopeful his fate will ever be adequately addressed.
I do not want to belabor the point regarding Rotta’s erasure any further. Instead, I will offer my own form of positivity, a hopeful idea to salvage Rotta that the Disney/Lucasfilm creators will neither see nor use. But I offer it anyway because, for my own sanity, I would like to settle the issue. So here is the idea:
Rotta the Huttlet is still alive. He survived the sail barge disaster because he was not on the sail barge. He was captured by a criminal gang known as the Red Key following his father’s death, although the Red Key was unaware they had Jabba’s son. In turn, the Red Key planned to install the Huttlet as their puppet ruler of Mos Pelgo, aka Freetown, but were ultimately thwarted by the town’s new lawman, Cobb Vanth. Placed in the care of Malakili, the former Rancor keeper in Jabba’s palace, the orphaned baby was given the name Borgo. Perhaps Malakili knew he was now the guardian of Jabba’s son, recognizing the child from their time in the palace, or perhaps not. It does not matter. Rotta the Huttlet, the true heir to Jabba’s criminal empire, is alive and he is waiting for the day he can reclaim his rightful throne from the imposter daimyo Boba Fett.
There are times when one comes across a book that is so good that you simply refuse to put it down or stop thinking about it. Sometimes such a book is a Star Wars book, hijacking your imagination and transporting you to the galaxy far, far away. I can say, without a doubt, that Star Wars: Force Collector by author Kevin Shinick is unequivocally NOT one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, Force Collector does take place in the Star Wars galaxy, with familiar places, species, and concepts popping up over and over again. Yet, the novel is otherwise dull and one-dimensional, constantly falling back on a bland formula while simultaneously adding nothing of substance to the Star Wars canon. On the other hand, Force Collector goes out of its way to undermine one of the most important episodes in The Clone Wars with baffling nonchalance. Allow me to explain.
The plot of Force Collector is rather straight-forward: it is about a teenager who wants to learn about the Jedi Order and better understand his own Force abilities. Set prior to the events of The Force Awakens, the teen in question is Karr Nuq Sin who has the gift of psychometry, the Force ability to gain information in the form of sights, sounds, and emotions by touching objects. This is the same power which Jedi Quinlan Vos (The Clone Wars) and Cal Kestis (Jedi: Fallen Order) both harbor, although the stark difference for Karr is that his psychometry ONLY manifests when he touches an object that is associated with the Jedi in some way, shape, or form. This important fact about Karr’s psychometric power, established right out of the gate when Karr buys/wears the helmet of a stormtrooper who once had his mind manipulated by a Jedi, is also a fact that is entirely contrived to drive the plot of the book. Psychometry is a worthy concept for exploration, and that Karr spends a great deal of the story growing to control and accept the intensity of this power makes sense. Yet, the notion that psychometry would awaken in one while simultaneously being limited to Jedi-objects only is absurd. “That’s not how the Force works,” as Han Solo would say.
Then again, without any type of Star Wars group overseeing the possibilities and limitations on Star Wars concepts like psychometry, I suppose the Force can work in whatever way an author/writer might need for the sake of a plot. More and more this seems to be the case in Star Wars, with the Force serving as a convenient plot device to account for the most unlikely of eventualities (such as the time travel in Rebels which ensured Ahsoka Tano would survive her duel with Darth Vader). That Karr can only experience visions associated with Jedi objects is pretty convenient for a book in which the main character wants to become a Jedi and needs to learn more about the Jedi Order. Just give the protagonist a Force ability that is directly tied to this desire and, shazam, you have the magical ability to insert all manner of Jedi-specific objects with Jedi-specific information just waiting to be unlocked and collected.
Unfortunately for Karr, though, he is stuck on the planet Merokia and cannot head off-world to discover the secrets of the long forgotten Jedi. That is, he can not do this until he meets Maize, the new girl in school who is willing to steal her father’s company-provided yacht (the Avadora) to whisk Karr on a galactic scavenger hunt. Who does her dad work for you ask? Oh, just the First Order. But you know, the First Order is pretty chill about one of their ships being stolen because it is clearly the type of organization that just lets things slide.
First Stop: Utapau
So, the grand adventure begins. Karr and Maize, along with Karr’s droid RZ-7, decide their first stop will be Utapau because it was the location of one of the final battles of the Clone Wars. Fair enough, you have to start somewhere and Utapau is as good a place as any. Once there, Karr and company will come upon a junk dealer (the son of a clone trooper) who conveniently owns the staff of Tion Medon, the Pau’an port administrator who meets Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. Karr touches the staff, a flashback to that scene in Episode III ensues, with additional details we don’t see in the film, and Karr has some new information about the Jedi to mull over.
Naturally, there is no better place to mull things over than in a diner. Discussing aspects of the vision with Maize, Karr name drops “Skywalker” – Anakin, mind you, has absolutely no role in Kenobi’s interaction with Medon in Revenge of the Sith, but is added to the vision so the Skywalker name can be mentioned in the diner – and another patron perks upon hearing this name. In turn, the patron points Karr, Maize and RZ-7 to the planet Jakku because, rumor has it, at the Battle of Jakku the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker pulled Imperial ships out of the sky using the Force.
What are the chances that Karr would be on just the right planet, in just the right location, at just the right time, to gather a clue about the next stop on his journey? I mean, those chances would have to be astronomical, so it is reassuring to know that this only happens one time in the book. Except, this happens every time he travels to another world, with a standard formula of convenience really stretching the imagination. Over and over, the ability to suspend one’s disbelief is tested in Force Collector, with Karr arriving at the perfect locations and times for things to fall into place for his journey of Jedi discovery.
Arriving in Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, the group sets out to find more Jedi junk. First, they meet Unkar Platt, the blobfish from The Force Awakens buying salvaged wreckage for food portions. When Platt’s collection ends up being a bust, Karr and company decide to poke around the Outpost. What do they come across? Well, a run-down and grimy Corellian freighter of course! I won’t provide the name, as it isn’t revealed in the novel, but you already know the name...
Boarding the freighter the teens and droid end up finding a curious looking orb, “gray, dotted with silver circles.” Touching the orb, Karr has another vision, this time experiencing a scene from A New Hope. Or rather, the scene is entirely made up, details being filled in prior and up-to the moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi senses the death of millions which is where the vision ends. That details are added is not a problem in and of itself, but what his vision leaves out, which Karr desperately needs on his quest to become a Jedi, is the actual lesson which Luke Skywalker learns in this scene in A New Hope. Instead, the added “backstory” to the scene is meant to do one thing: simultaneously name drop Skywalker and Kenobi, making Karr question how his scattered visions line-up.
Fortified with this new vision, Karr and his pals exit the freighter and run into two First Order stormtroopers. Yikes! Sent by Maize’s father to take her back to Merokia, the stormtroopers leave Karr and RZ-7 alone on Jakku but do not reclaim the Avadora. But they DO let Karr and Maize have a moment to say their goodbyes because First Order stormtroopers are pretty chill.
Remaining on Jakku, Karr goes about searching for more Jedi clues and eventually comes across a Pyke who has information for him about “the crashed ship of a Jedi Master” that went down a long time ago on the desert moon orbiting Oba Diah, the Pyke homeworld. The Pyke also tells Karr that Oba Diah and it’s moon harbor many criminal outposts, warning the teen that if he travels there he may never leave.
From Jakku to Oba Diah
Landing in a canyon on Oba Diah’s desert moon, Karr and RZ-7 head west, towards evidence of a crash which the droid detected. After poking around for an hour, Karr comes across a “drag mark etched into the stone.” Being the “only sign of disruption on this whole eroded planet” – a completely ridiculous and naïve assessment – the two follow the mark and come across the wreckage of a ship!
Is this wreckage the crashed ship of a Jedi Master, a crash that took place a long time ago? Come on, you already know the answer is yes. More importantly, Karr finds a piece of debris with the serial number 775519, and also notes that “a ship crashed here, and somebody took the wreckage away, but they didn’t get everything…” And what, besides the debris, was left? Answer: a storage locker containing a recording of the Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas in the final moments of his life.
Okay, let’s pause for a moment. If you have not figured it out yet, the crashed ship of a Jedi Master which Karr finds himself exploring comes from “The Lost Ones,” a Season 6 episode of The Clone Wars. At the outset of the episode we find Jedi Master Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion on a desert moon searching for the wreckage of a ship that had been in the possession of a Jedi Master killed long ago. When they find it, Plo Koon enters while a clone in the background states, “the scans check out, it’s a T-6 shuttle alright. Serial number 775519.” Finding a lightsaber buried in the sand, Plo Koon immediately turns and says, “I want the entire area cleared. We’re taking everything back to Coruscant.”
“Everything?” a clone inquires.
“Everything,” Plo Koon exclaims.
Did you catch that? Plo Koon wanted the entire area cleared so they could take everything, EVERYTHING, back to Coruscant. Except now, with Karr and RZ-7 searching the exact same crash site, we discover that Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion “didn’t get everything.” Up to this point in the book, I had found myself rolling my eyes at the series of impossibly convenient events playing out. I was at least willing to continue reading, to overlook some of these unlikely moments and just move on. It wasn’t about accepting the way things were unfolding so much as it was to say “okay, whatever, let’s just head to the next stop on the journey.” Yet, when Karr finds the crashed ship of Sifo-Dyas and says that whoever excavated the site “didn’t get everything” I became annoyed, really, really annoyed.
In my opinion “The Lost Ones” is easily one of the best episodes of The Clone Wars and one of the most important. With the discovery of the crash on Oba Diah’s desert moon, the Jedi Order set out to discover the fate of their long-lost friend Sifo-Dyas, attempting to piece together his fate. In doing so, they are led on a journey which takes them to a point they were neither expecting or fully prepared handle: the Clone Wars was secretly orchestrated by the Sith. This revelation is a gut-punch to the Jedi, the Council recognizing that they have been playing by their enemies rules this whole time, and they must continue to play along until they can uncover the deeper layers to this Sith plot.
The opening of the show sets the stage for this stark revelation. With the initial explanation and voiceover, we learn that the Jedi have stumbled upon a clue to an enduring mystery and have dispatched Plo Koon and his clones to investigate. The set up explained, we are then transported to the moon, a raging sandstorm concealing the view of the clone troopers and vehicles scouring the landscape. The sandstorm is an appropriate metaphor, a symbol for the turbulent mystery obscuring the Jedi from discovering a harsh truth. Added to this is the ominous music which captures the foreboding discovery and exploration of the wreckage. This may be the crash they were seeking for more than ten years but the music presents a heavy tone and stark warning: what they have found is also a harbinger of a deeper and darker web which has ensnared the Jedi Order.
“The Lost Ones” is meticulous in peeling back the layers of mystery only to unveil even more nefarious truths lingering below the surface, truths which the Jedi are aware of but can not fully grasp. Force Collector is anything but meticulous, offering nothing more convenient plot so Karr not only discovers the crash site of Sifo-Dyas’ vessel but also wreckage which, as noted, Plo Koon and his soldiers failed to salvage from the site.
For Master Koon to demand “everything” be found, only for fans to later learn that “everything” was not found is ridiculous, a canonical bait-and-switch which makes Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion look inept and undercuts the profound importance of The Clone Wars episode. That even one piece of wreckage remained of Sify-Dyas ship – and a critical piece at that, an actual recording he made prior to his death – is flabbergasting. Nothing in “The Lost Ones” lends itself to this possibility. Absolutely nothing.
Frankly, although I have only presented half of Force Collector’s plot in this review up to this point, I genuinely have nothing left to say about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did finish reading it, and I certainly have opinions about the remained of the story. Yet, the way Force Collector so willfully undermined “The Lost Ones” put such a foul taste in my mouth that I see no reason to elaborate on anything else. The moment Karr stated “they didn’t get everything” my opinion about the novel was made.
In my first issue of Talking Star Wars I mentioned that we had moved into a new house at the end of July and that we were in the process of getting settled in. Well, that process has continued and coupled with my parental responsibilities (like being tackled by an energetic toddler) it all adds up and cuts into the time I dedicate to Star Wars in general and blog writing in particular. Further, my obsession with Doctor Who continues unabated, and I am finding myself not only watching at least one episode of the British show every day but also having some pretty long conversations about it with my friend Mike (aka: My Comic Relief). Still, I did find some time to focus on Star Wars a bit more over the past month, and I ended up publishing two pieces on the site:
Probably the most talked about Star Wars news over the past month has been the trailer for Season 2 of The Mandalorian. I figured I should offer my thoughts on it, if only to jump on the bandwagon and feel included in the hype. Except I haven’t watched the trailer so I really have nothing to offer.
Well, I guess I could explain why I haven’t watched it. That is worth wasting 42 seconds of your time, right? Sure it is!
Here is the thing: I really liked the first season of The Mandalorian. As the first entry into live-action Star Wars shows I thought it was a strong debut, aesthetically and thematically capturing some of the best parts of the franchise. But even though I really enjoyed it, after I finished it and began hearing news about Season 2 my interest began to wane, and when the trailer came out I just wasn’t in the mood to watch it. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure I will still check out Season 2 of The Mandalorian and I am sure it will continue to capture some of the things I really love about Star Wars. Never-the-less, when it was announced that Ahsoka Tano would appear in Season 2 I just threw up my hands and said “Uggggggggggh!!!!!” I don’t hate Ahsoka, although I do think she should have died in the second season of Rebels (that’s a conversation for another time). Rather, what had me excited about The Mandalorian in the very beginning – a story about a loner in a “complicated profession” surviving in the lawless Outer Rim – feels watered-down and overshadowed by Ahsoka’s inclusion. She brings so much backstory and baggage with her that, at this point, it is basically impossible for her NOT to steal the spotlight. Besides, The Child (aka “Baby Yoda”) has already stolen the show, and the last thing The Mandalorian needed was another Force-user to compete with for audience attention.
Watching Star Wars
I did not watch any of the Star Wars films or shows over the past month but I DID watch the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Squadrons video game. The trailer – “Hunted” – is only 7 minutes long but the story it tells about Imperial forces in full retreat after the Battle of Endor, and more specifically a TIE Interceptor being hunted by an X-Wing, has me pretty excited to play the game (once I find some time to indulge in some Star Wars dogfights). If you haven’t watched the trailer yet you should even if you aren’t going to play it. And, because I am so nice, you don’t even need to search for it because I found it for you. No excuses, watch the trailer!
Oh, one more thing about the trailer: when the X-Wing pilot says “War’s over, Imp” I can’t help but hear my friend Mark Lockard. I guess I am just gonna imagine Mark actually is the pilot, and I’ll just believe he ejects before he meets an explosive end. So hooray, Mark lives!
Star Wars Reading List
Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising – Timothy Zahn TIE Fighter (graphic novel) – Jody Houser The Stark Hypserspace War (graphic novel) – John Ostrander Dark Tide II: Ruin – Michael A. Stackpole
At the beginning of September I took a short pause from my re-read of The New Jedi Order to check out Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising. While I noted in Talking Star Wars Issue 001 that the Disney Star Wars canon hasn’t really been appealing to me lately I still wanted to give Zahn’s new entry into the “Thrawnon” the canon of Thrawn, a read. Why? Well, because I am a Thrawn superfan. There was never a doubt I would read this book when it dropped because I live in symbiosis with the blue-skinned, red eyed Chiss. He and I are basically the same person (although I am slightly more attractive).
Did I enjoy the new book in the Thrawnon? Hell yes I did. I dare not spoil it for anyone, but I will say this: the vast majority of this book works with BOTH the Expanded Universe and the Disney canon. I am going to write more about this in a review of the book, though. So just be patient while I put it together…
Before jumping back into The New Jedi Order I also decided to give a couple Star Wars graphic novels a read. I’ve had my eye on the TIE Fighter graphic novel for a while, and the release of the Squadrons trailer convinced me to pick it up. Admittedly, the story wasn’t mind blowing but it was interesting, offering a look at a depleted TIE Fighter Squadron in the days before the Battle of Endor. As well, TIE Fighter is a small tie-in with Alphabet Squadron, with references to Alexander Freed’s series popping up here and there (i.e. – Yrica Quell, the protagonist in the series, makes a cameo).
I also decided to re-read The Stark Hyperspace War for like the 107th time. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little but I really do love this Expanded Universe story and have read it a number of times. It offers a look at a short but vicious war that takes place 12 years before The Phantom Menace, a war which helps set the stage for some of the events in the film. I am considering writing a longer piece about it but what I will say right now is that if you’ve never read it and you are a fan of Jedi Master Plo Koon then you should definitely check it out. In fact, I credit The Stark Hyperspace War with making me a die-hard fan of the Kel Dor.
And, as you can see from my list above, I did make it back to The New Jedi Order, finishing Dark Tide II: Ruin. Honestly, this is one of the more difficult books to read in The New Jedi Order, not because it is boring or drags but because it sucks you in and forces you to really feel the horror of the war the Yuuzhan Vong are waging against the galaxy. For me, this is no more apparent than when the Vong destroy the world of Ithor, the homeworld of the peaceful Ithorian species. What happens to the planet is heartbreaking and offers a stark reminder that war, yes even a star war, is terrible and we should never allow ourselves to think otherwise.
Compassion of the Jedi
Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life.” – Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker (Attack of the Clones)
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Perfect Star Wars Pet: Boglings
Native to Bogano, boglings make their first and only Star Wars appearance in the video game Jedi: Fallen Order.
The 501st Clone Battlion, led by Captain Rex, steel themselves as they prepare to confront and arrest Jedi General Pong Krell. Surely knowing that some of them will die, the clones never-the-less march forward with a stoic resolve to complete their mission and bring Krell to justice.
Three Star Wars Quotes I Really Like
“We must keep our faith in the Republic. The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.” – Queen Jamilla (Attack of the Clones)
“The Emperor who ordered Operation Cinder, who built two Death Stars, who oversaw countless genocides and massacres and created an Empire where torture droids were in common use, was not a man of secret brilliance and foresight. He was a cruel man. Petty and spiteful in the most ordinary ways; and spiteful men do spiteful things.” – Reprogrammed torture droid IT-O speaking to Lieutenant Yrica Quell (Alphabet Squadron)
“Our time has come. For 300 years, we prepared. We grew stronger. While you rested in your cradle of power, believing your people were safe… and protected. You were trusted to lead the Republic—but you were deceived, as our powers over the dark side have blinded you. You assumed no force could challenge you…and now…finally…we have returned.” – Darth Malgus during the attack on the Jedi Temple in 3653 BBY (The Old Republic)
Capital Ship Spotlight: EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate
Ten Random Star Wars Thoughts
I always enjoy the pod race in The Phantom Menace. I think it is the second best part of the film.
Poe Dameron may be one hell of a pilot but Soontir Fel is the best pilot.
I wonder if Wookiees get their hair cut…
Dark Forces is one of my favorite Star Wars computer games but I was never very good at it. In fact, I don’t think I ever beat it.
The cover of the Imperial March by Rage Against the Machine is badass. Listen to it HERE. a. Rage Against the Machine is one of my favorite bands so I am completely biased in liking the cover. Plus, I love the Imperial March, so it all works out. b. I like to imagine Saw Gerrera and his partisans sitting around listening to Guerilla Radio. c. “Lights out, Guerilla Radio, turn that shit up!”
The best part of The Phantom Menace is the duel between the Jedi and Darth Maul.
I have absolutely no interest in going to Galaxy’s Edge. Theme parks just aren’t my thing and I really dislike crowds. If I ever go it will be with my son and only if he wants to go.
If I taught an ethics class I would use Dark Disciple by Christie Golden as one of my required readings. The rationale the Jedi adopt for assassinating Count Dooku is challenging and worthy of deep examination. a. The novel does an incredible job of making the reader question the motives of the Jedi Council, particularly Yoda and Mace Windu.
I can’t help but feel that Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus are being under used in Star Wars storytelling. Were it up to me I would put them in Jedi: Fallen Order 2. I could easily see Cal Kestis traveling to Jedha City and running into them.
If I was asked to write a Star Wars story it would be set in the months after Order 66 and would involve newly minted Inquisitors not only hunting down and killing Jedi but also the extended families of Jedi. a. Maybe I should just write some Star Wars fanfiction about this…
Starbucks coffee is overrated. I drink it if I have to but I prefer not to.
I have found myself thinking quite a bit about Kurt Vonnegut recently. I can’t help but wonder what he would have to say about the current occupant of the White House, the state of our democracy, the Coronavirus pandemic, conspiracy theories, and more. a. Were he still alive I bet he would write an updated version of A Man Without a Country. b. Even though he wrote it in 2005 the book is still very relevant today. I just think he would want to add a little bit to it.
Somehow I accidentally purchased a digital version of the new Bill and Ted movie. Admittedly, this is not the worst thing that could happen since I was going to rent it anyway. I just hope it is worth the $24.99 I paid because that is a Star Wars LEGO set I could have bought! a. “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” b. “Be excellent to each other. c. “Want a Twinkie, Genghis Khan?”
There are benefits and drawbacks to running a 6-2 and a 5-1 in volleyball. In my opinion, you should fit the system to the players you have rather than forcing players to adopt an offense they may not be capable of running. a. If you don’t know anything about volleyball and are confused then just google “volleyball 6-2 vs 5-1”
The most absurd question I ever got from a student in one of my college religion courses was the following: “Where do baby horses come from?” Naturally, I proceeded to explain how horses mate.
One of the most extreme toddler tantrums my son has thrown over the past month was when his banana broke and he couldn’t put it back together. a. Tantrums don’t even bother me anymore because I have transcended to a new state of parenthood where the screaming and crying just blend with the background noise pervading the universe.
I absolutely love composting. It is so satisfying.
I haven’t had as much time to work on The Imperial Talker over the past month. In large part, this is because my wife and I recently bought a new house and, at the end of July, we moved into it. Moving is always a pain, and it is extra difficult when you also have a toddler AND you have a laundry list of new tasks to complete in a home. As a result, cutting the grass and trimming bushes, among other things, has taken priority not only over this blog, but also over my ability to enjoy Star Wars (and other forms of entertainment). Then again, taking a break from over-indulging in anything, even Star Wars, is not only important but also necessary, an opportunity to reset the mind and brainstorm new ideas. While I have been adapting to a new daily routine, I have been conjuring up thoughts about a slew of topics, some of them having to do with Star Wars and this site. And that takes us to this post.
Grandfather and grandson before the move. They wanted one last look outside.
Basically, I had this idea (one that came to me while engaging in the quasi-religious ritual of cutting the grass) where I would provide a little glimpse of what I have been up to as a Star Wars fan each month. As well, I thought it would be fun to get a little random, offering not only a snapshot of my monthly Star Wars activities but also whatever Star Wars things I feel like sharing. And, of course, the open-ended nature of such a post allows me to take things anywhere I want in a looser fashion than some of my more in-depth posts. Admittedly, while I love thinking/writing about Star Wars on this site doing so can at times be a slog because I am a perfectionist. Before I post anything, I need to be sure it is precisely what I want to say. And, as you can imagine, that can be time consuming AND mentally exhausting. I wouldn’t have it any other way, of course, but a little levity in the form of this new monthly series (and my on-going Haikuesday series) offers opportunities for me to take a step back and not worry about ideas/concepts lining up with academic perfection.
That said, I hope you enjoy this new series – Talking Star Wars – and be sure to leave a comment when you are finished reading.
Watching Star Wars
In the past month I have watched no Star Wars. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Instead, I finally caved and began watching Doctor Who. Until the move I never had any real desire to watch Doctor Who. It sounded interesting but I was otherwise indifferent. Then came the move and a new cable package that includes HBO Max. Since the good Doctor is on HBO Max, and seeing as I need to justify spending $15/month on the service, I said “Okay, let’s do this” and, well, the rest is history. I can’t get enough of it. Sorry Star Wars, but you’ll just have to wait until I am done traveling with The Doctor.
Oh, but I should note that while I have not watched Star Wars over the past month, I have discovered quite a few moments in Doctor Who that I am fairly confident influenced The Clone Wars. Watch Doctor Who Season 1, Episode 2 (“The End of the World”) and then watch The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 13 (“Voyage of Temptation”). If I’m wrong then I am wrong. But if I am right then I am a flipping genius!!!
A Star Wars Room is Born
After my wife and I bought our new house I had a mini-panic attack over the most ridiculous first world of problems: where the hell was I going to put all of my Star Wars stuff? To solve this non-crisis of consumerism we had a room converted in the house into a collection room with custom shelving where I could display my objects of Star Wars desire. I am still in the process of working on the room, bringing things together and getting everything set up, but I am pleased with how it is coming along and look forward to sharing its evolution as time goes on.
I am incredibly lucky to have the privilege to worry about where I will put my Star Wars “stuff.” I have done well financially to accumulate the Star Wars things I own AND to dedicate a room in my home to the passion I have had since I was a child. With great privilege comes great responsibility, though, and my Star Wars room serves as a constant reminder that I am called to a more important cause, the cause of creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. I am far from perfect in this, but I am never-the-less dedicated to working on behalf of others who are in distress, be it physical, mental/emotional, financial, etc. Fighting on behalf of others, taking on the unjust and corrupt systems that harm and destroy lives, THAT is just one of the many messages message I learned from Star Wars as a child and which has stuck with me to this day. I am privileged to have a room with my Star Wars collection, but grateful for the constant reminder that I must continue to bring positive, progressive change to the world.
A small glimpse of my Star Wars room. More pictures to come in the future!
Compassion of the Jedi
“Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life.” – Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker (Attack of the Clones)
Please consider donating to Starlight Children’s Foundation, a wonderful organization that specializes in delivering happiness to seriously ill children and their families.
Perfect Star Wars Pet: The Rancor
Star Wars Reading List
Vector Prime – R.A. Salvatore Dark Tide I: Onslaught – Michael A. Stackpole
I began a re-read of The New Jedi Order at the end of July, just before we moved. It has been a while since I read the entire series, primarily because there are A LOT of books in The New Jedi Order. Reading it is a pretty big time commitment but a worthwhile one. Never-the-less, a re-read was long overdue and since I just finished re-reading the X-Wing series I wanted to stick with some more Expanded Universe stories. Besides, the content Disney is putting out right now just isn’t captivating me the way it did a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I am still enjoying some of it here and there, but as a whole I have found it difficult to get excited about the Disney canon. Alternatively, having grown up living and loving the Expanded Universe, jumping back in made perfect sense. I needed to remind myself that there ARE Star Wars stories that have been around for years and continue to speak to me. I am sure I will jump back into the Disney stuff again, but The New Jedi Order is where I will be living for a while.
That said, the series is unlike any other in Star Wars because the villains – the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong – challenge the heroes of Star Wars (Luke, Leia, Han, etc…) and the reader in truly unexpected ways. This is no more apparent than in Vector Prime, the first novel in the series, when Chewbacca heroically dies saving Anakin Solo, the youngest child of Han and Leia (I have a post forthcoming about his death). This event sends emotional shockwaves through the book and hangs over the entire series, a constant reminder of just how dangerous the Yuuzhan Vong truly are and that no one, not even the heroes we grew to love in the Original Trilogy, are safe from death.
The face Admiral Piett makes when the Millennium Falcon escapes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is priceless. With Darth Vader killing Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa earlier in the film, one can certainly understand the look of “Oh shit…” on Piett’s face. That he survives, reappearing in Return of the Jedi and still in command, is quite the surprise!
Three Star Wars Quotes I Really Like
“”He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh, and in his wake life dies… sacrificing itself to his hunger.” – Visas Marr describing Darth Nihilus (Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)
“A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion.” – Sio Bibble to Queen Amidala (The Phantom Menace)
“Your reputation precedes you, General. The reputation of a coward, and a murderer.” – Jedi Master Eeth Koth to General Grievous (The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 9 “Grievous Intrigue”)
Ten Random Star Wars Thoughts
The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie but A New Hope is the best Star Wars movie.
Darth Caedus would beat Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel.
Ahsoka lived but she should have died.
That B’omarr Monk in Return of the Jedi is probably wondering why Jabba the Hutt has not returned to the palace yet. a. Speaking of Jabba the Hutt, what the hell happened to his son Rotta? Are we just ignoring the fact that Rotta exists in Star Wars? I guess so…
The Rise of Skywalker is a cinematic rip-off of Dark Empire, and Dark Empire is better (and the plot actually makes more sense).
Children’s book idea: One Sith, Two Sith, Red Sith, Blue Sith a. “This one has a double-blade, this one took a Jedi braid.” b. “Those Jedi Knights are such a blight, they ramble on about the Light.” c. “The Rule of Two or just The One? Bane and Krayt could duel for fun.” d. I am copywriting this idea 😉
I always screw up the trial on Manaan when I play Knights of the Old Republic even though I have played the game a dozen times.
Zander Freemaker and I have something in common, we both love the N-1 Starfighter.
Whenever I played “Battle of the minefield” in the TIE Fighter computer game I would immediately destroy my wingmen at the outset of the mission before they turned against me. I’d just reduce my speed, line them up in my targeting sights and blast them into oblivion. a. The two wingmen end up turning on you a few minutes into the mission. They are loyal to Admiral Harkov who ends up defecting to the Rebellion in this particular mission.
Shmi Skywalker is the most important Skywalker.
Ten Random Non-Star Wars Thoughts
I blame My Comic Relieffor getting me hooked on Doctor Who. That show is crazy good. Craaaaaaaaaaaazy good. a. Should I just convert The Imperial Talker into The Doctor Talker?
It has been a while since I added a new post to my Protocol Droid series so I thought I would return to it once again. For this piece I decided to highlight another droid from The Clone Wars movie, in large part because the film is often overshadowed by the The Clone Wars animated series. Personally, I have always really liked the film, even believing (rightly, in my humble opinion) that it should be listed/ranked with the other Star Wars films. Just because it is animated does not make it any less of a Star Wars movie, but I will save that conversation for another occasion.
Previously, I brought attention to TC-70, Jabba the Hutt’s protocol droid which plays a small role as a translator in The Clone Wars movie. This time, I wanted to go from the TC-series to an RA-7 series protocol droid that also plays a minor but significant role in the film.
Masquerading as the caretaker protocol droid in the B’omarr Monastery on the planet Teth, 4-A7 is actually a spy working for the Separatist Alliance. When Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his padawan Ahsoka Tano, along with the clone troopers of Torrent Company, defeat the battle droids garrisoned in the monastery 4-A7 greets them with a grateful attitude. “You have liberated me from those dreadful battle bots,” 4-A7 humbly states, deflecting any suspicions that may be raised. With the Jedi inquiring about the location of Jabba the Hutt’s infant son Rotta, 4-A7 points them towards the “detention level” where the child is being held captive by the Separatist droids.
Unbeknownst to Skywalker or Tano, rescuing the child is precisely what the Separatist’s want. With Rotta in the possession of the Jedi, 4-A7 performs his true task: recording the Jedi with the Huttlet so Count Dooku can show Jabba that it was the Jedi Order who kidnapped his son. His act as caretaker completed, 4-A7 plays one final and small part in the film a short time later.
With the Separatists launching an assault on the Monastery, this time to liberate Rotta from the Jedi and the clones, Skywalker and Tano flee with the Hutt to a landing pad on a nearby plateau. There, it is Ahsoka who discovers 4-A7 as she heads towards the nearby ship. “Hey, you’re that caretaker droid, I wondered what happened to you,” she states, the droid clearly caught off-guard by her presence. As the masculine-sounding 4-A7 explains “his” desire to get away from the fight, a few battle droids walk into view and tell the “caretaker” that they are ready to leave. “His” cover blown, 4-A7 orders the battle droids to attack but Ahsoka is up to the challenge, dispatching them with ease. “Don’t you dare,” 4-A7 indignantly declares as the young Jedi turns her green blade towards the droid. But Ahsoka is not swayed. With a swipe of her lightsaber, the disembodied head of 4-A7 bounces and rolls down the ramp of the ship, the phrase “don’t you dare” slowly fading away as the caretaker’s system shuts down.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
The first time I watched Revenge of the Sith, sitting in the darkened theater surrounded by other excited Star Wars fans at the midnight showing, I was left momentarily unsettled by Vader’s immolation. Fire consuming his broken body, the hair on his head burnt away, skin melting and charred, the scene left me feeling uneasy, uncomfortable, and slightly nauseated. Panic stormed through me, a desire to flee from the confines of the theater so I could escape the grotesque image. I was able to hold it together, able to continue sitting in my seat and finish watching the film, but my mind continued replaying the scene, reminding me of what I had witnessed.
Today, I am able to watch Vader burn. I remain bothered by it but I no longer have an impulse to run away when the moment arrives. My anxiety riddled brain can handle it, but I would not call myself desensitized to the horror of seeing someone burn alive. For me, it will always be hard to watch, as it should be.
Stating my unease with the scene is not a criticism of it, though. Rather, I have always appreciated the moment. Disturbing as it may be it is also profoundly important, radiating with meaning. Earlier in the film, for example, Anakin underwent his religious conversion from Jedi to Sith, assuming the title “Darth” and name “Vader” which are bestowed upon him by his new Master, Darth Sidious. Now, the defeated man laying on this small ashen hill side undergoes his baptism. The heat from the river of lava washes over him, igniting fires that consume him. His body is transformed, the physical appearance of the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker stripped, charred, and melted away. He is now unrecognizable, a broken shell of the man and Jedi he once was. His old self burnt away, he will be reborn in a new shell, encased in a suit of armor that sustains his life and represents who he has become.
This outward destruction is symbolic of his inner, spiritual transformation. But the fire, too, radiates with meaning. Just before he catches fire, Vader declares his hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, his former Jedi Master and friend. Laying there on the ashen hillside the dismembered Sith Lord screams “I hate you!” His words are piercing and sulfuric, his eyes bloodshot and the look on his face distorted by the boiling emotion within him. Kenobi responds by declaring his brotherly love for Anakin but the young man is too far gone. It is now, after declaring his hatred, that the flames erupt, the fire raging across Vader’s body a perfect symbol for the hatred raging within him.
It is the hatred swirling within him, consuming him, which also enables Vader to cheat death in this horrifying moment.
In my piece Cheating Death: The Dark, I explain how Darth Maul survived his injury in The Phantom Menace, cut in half at the waist by Obi-Wan Kenobi. In The Clone Wars episode “Revenge”, Maul explains how his intense hatred sustained his life force, enabling him to descend into the abyss of the dark side to cheat bodily death. But this journey into darkness also came with a price, exacting a tole on Maul’s psyche and driving the young Sith Lord mad, turning him into a feral animal until he was discovered and his wounds, in mind and body, were healed.
“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural,” Darth Sidious in the guise of Chancellor Palpatine explains to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. That Darth Maul cheats death is a clear example of this unnatural ability, his narrative return in The Clone Wars confirming the authenticity of Sidious’ dark insights. We can likewise apply Maul’s story of hate-filled survival to Vader as well. Laying upon the ashen hillside, when the heat from the lava ignites the fires on his body it is Vader’s hatred – a hatred we see on his face and hear from his mouth – which takes him into the depths of darkness, enabling him to cheat death.
The fire only consumes him for a few moments but the horrific and disturbing damage is done. Laying there, left for dead by his former Jedi Master, the young Sith Lord uses his mechanical arm to grasp the soil and slowly pull himself up the slope, a visual sign that Vader is barely clinging to life. His new Master will discover him there, traveling to Mustafar when he senses far away on Coruscant that “Lord Vader is in danger.” In film, the time between Sidious sensing Vader’s imminent danger and discovering Darth Vader on Mustafar, “still alive,” is relatively short, a narrative necessity to keep the plot moving forward. In-universe, however, the time it takes for Sidious to travel from Coruscant to Mustafar is significant, which makes Vader’s survival all the more impressive. The Dark Lord must not only survive his agonizing immolation, his body externally and internally decimated by fire, but must also continue laying there on the hillside, by the lava, with the intense heat still washing over him.
That the intense heat continues to flow across his body seems appropriate, another apt metaphor for the hatred flowing within him. Like Maul, Vader will use this hatred to tap into the dark side, enduring agonizing pain and torment to keep his body alive. Yet, his mind does not plunge into madness. While Darth Maul succumbed to the torment of his dark descent, his mind ravaged over the course of years as he continued to rely on his hatred to sustain him, Darth Vader avoids this frightful fate. He must survive for a shorter period of time than Maul, hours or perhaps a day, before Sidious arrives. Once his new Master discovers him, he will no longer need to rely on hatred alone, relieved of the necessity by the medical droids which work to preserve his devastated body within a cybernetic suit of armor and mask.
Then again, the iconic black armor and mask also serve as a representation of Vader’s hatred, a terrifying expression of the dark monster residing within. While he no longer needs to actively use his hatred to tap into the depths of the dark side to maintain his body, his armor and mask never-the-less serve as a reminder, to Darth Vader and to us, that it is his hatred which enables him to continue to cheat death.