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)
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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?
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.
In the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, author Donald F. Glut offers a paragraph detailing the bounty hunters Darth Vader assembles to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. Bossk, Zuckuss, Dengar, IG-88, and Boba Fett, each are named and briefly described, with Fett receiving the lions share of the attention. But what really stands out in the description of these “amoral money-grubbers” is that 4-LOM, the bounty hunting protocol droid, is not mentioned. Even though 4-LOM appears in The Empire Strikes Back alongside the other hunters named above, the droid was, for some reason, left out of the novelization.
The absence of 4-LOM from the book is certainly odd but luckily the bounty hunter has received other opportunities to shine, particularly in the Expanded Universe. But rather than list all of those stories, or try to paint some all-encompassing picture of the protocol droid’s endeavors, I thought I would highlight one tale from the Expanded Universe that I have always enjoyed, a tale that is specifically about 4-LOM and his partnership with the Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss.
The cover of Tales of the Bounty Hunters. 4-LOM is in the bottom left-hand corner.
Photo Credit – Random House
“Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM” can be found in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, an anthology offering short stories about the six fortune seekers from The Empire Strikes Back. Written by M. Shayne Bell, “Of Possible Futures” takes place during and immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. It depicts 4-LOM and Zuckuss traveling to meet with Darth Vader and subsequently determining how they will go about capturing Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon.
Now, I do not want to spend the rest of this post detailing everything that happens in the short story, as I would rather encourage you to go (re)read it for yourself. The entire narrative seamlessly fits into the larger context of the film, and even adds a bonus storyline about Toryn Farr (she is the woman from the film who says “Stand by Ion Control…Fire”). But while I absolutely love how the plot unfolds, and the fact that 4-LOM and Zuckuss each receive extended backstories, what I find truly fascinating about the tale is that 4-LOM spends a large chunk of the story attempting to gain intuition.
As a droid, 4-LOM is governed by logic, rationalizing actions and outcomes based on the processes running on his operating system. With his reasoning skills leading him from serving others to the life of a bounty hunter, which his backstory details, we come to learn early in the tale that 4-LOM is studying his partner Zuckuss to discover how to become intuitive. With his Gand partner spending countless hours meditating, “feeling” his way to knowledge, 4-LOM observes, collects and analyzes the raw data to discern how to unlock a process that is beyond reason.
Does this work? Is 4-LOM able to accomplish his goal of gaining intuition? Well, like I said, you will have to (re)read “Of Possible Futures” to find out. Or, perhaps you will just have to wait for me to write a post about “The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM,” something I am considering because it really is a good story with a lot to explore. Instead of telling you what happens, whether 4-LOM figures out how to be intuitive like his partner, I will instead close this piece by offering you these four random facts about the bounty hunting protocol droid:
4-LOM is a LOM-series protocol droid. Produced by Industrial Automaton to serve insectoid species in the Star Wars galaxy, the LOM-series droids are unique for their insect-like head and notable compound eyes.
The ship 4-LOM and Zuckuss own is named the Mist Hunter. It is a modified G-1A starfighter.
4-LOM is included as a minifigure, along with IG-88, Dengar and Bossk, in the LEGO Star Wars set Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack. Sadly, Zuckuss was not included in this set, but the Gand, along with 4-LOM and Boba Fett, are included in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Slave I.
A few years ago I was asked to join a team for a Star Wars trivia night at a local bar and our team name was 4-LOM for the Win. We came in second. I am still bitter.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
Ever since it was published in 2017 I had my sights set on Star Wars: On the Front Lines. I am a sucker for Star Wars reference books, having spent countless hours of my life immersing myself in the minutiae of the Star Wars universe found in these source books. But I did not buy On the Front Lines when it first came out, instead opting to wait to purchase it. Recently, though, the book was gifted to me and needing something new to read I decided to dig in. And, I am happy to report, On the Front Lines definitely did not disappoint.
Primarily detailing battles from The Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, but also one from the Age of Resistance, On the Front Lines takes readers quite literally to the front lines of some of the most important engagements in Star Wars. While author Daniel Wallace limits the number of battles that are explored – a perfectly reasonable decision considering how many battles are in Star Wars – he never-the-less chose one battle to examine from every live-action and animated Star Wars story to date. In fact, the only notable exception is Star Wars: Rebels, with no engagement from that series being discussed. Here is a list of battles that the author examines:
The Battle of Naboo (The Phantom Menace) The Battle of Geonosis (Attack of the Clones) The Battle of Christophsis (The Clone Wars movie) The Battle of Ryloth (The Clone Wars animated show) The Battle of Coruscant (Revenge of the Sith) The Battle of Scarif (Rogue One) The Battle of Yavin (A New Hope) The Battle of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back) The Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi) The Battle of Jakku (Various Sources) The Battle of Starkiller Base (The Force Awakens)
That Wallace chooses well-known battles from the Star Wars saga, battles that we have actually seen in film and on television, makes it easy for both casual and die-hard fans to digest and enjoy this book. Interestingly though, the clash I found myself most interested in reading about was the Battle of Jakku. As you can see from the list above, this is the only engagement discussed in the On the Front Lines that has never been depicted on-screen. Putting his penmanship and imagination to work, Wallace pulls from multiple sources (novels such as Lost Stars and Aftermath: Empire’s End) to piece together details about this relatively unknown fight. In doing so, he presents a vivid picture of the final battle in the Galactic Civil War, a brutal slugfest between the New Republic and Imperial Remnant that leaves wreckage and bodies littering the sandy dunes of the remote world.
Want to know how all those derelict Star Destroyers ended up on the surface of Jakku? On the Front Lines provides some context.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
While I found myself intensely fascinated by Wallace’s presentation of the Battle of Jakku this does not mean I found the other battles any less interesting. Far from it! In every chapter, Wallace draws on the source material available – movies, television shows, books, comics, etc. – to craft a unique and fairly comprehensive picture of each engagement. Granted, there are points where Wallace does leave out information, or gives details only a cursory glance. For example, the space battle which takes place above Naboo in from The Phantom Menace is only briefly mentioned, with the focus instead being entirely on the ground battle between the Gungans and the Trade Federation’s Droid Army. As well, the space battle over Ryloth, depicted in The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 19 (“Storm Over Ryloth”), where Ahsoka Tano uses a Marl Sabl maneuver to defeat the Separatist blockade, is entirely ignored. For some die-hard fans of Star Wars, these and other omissions may prove annoying but for this die-hard fan, I found myself enjoying what was in the book rather than brooding over what was not.
That being said, I can admit that I wish the book had even more in it. This is not a criticism, though. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that I really enjoyed the way each battle is presented, with a combination of big picture information, such as why the confrontation took place and how it unfolds, along with more focused detail on things like armor, weaponry, vehicles and tactics. Every chapter also offers little asides about individuals from each engagement, specific commanders from both sides, and a handful of soldiers and/or pilots who displayed incredible courage during the fight. And, to top it off, every chapter is loaded with captivating and wholly unique images courtesy of four superb illustrators (Adrián Rodriguez, Thomas Wievegg, Aaron Riley, and Fares Maese).
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that On the Front Lines contains a lot of information that I never knew about, or had never even considered,, about each of these Star Wars battles. In closing, then, I thought I would pick just one bit of of insight that I learned from this book. And what comes to mind immediately is a detail about The Battle of Christophsis. Or rather, aftermath of Christophsis. As we see in The Clone Wars movie, towards the end of this fight, Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi tricks the Separatist General Whorm Loathsominto believing that the Jedi intends to conditionally surrender his clone forces. However, this is a ruse, done with the hope of giving Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano more time to deactivate the Separatist deflector shields. Kenobi succeeds in his plan, and actually captures Loathsom moments later, but as Wallace writes,
“General Kenobi’s false surrender at Christophsis was a boon to the Separatist-controlled media, who viewed the incident as clear evidence of the Republic’s duplicity. Almost no conditional surrenders were offered by either side for the remainder of the war” (pg. 31).
Kenobi may have been successful in that moment, but his “false surrender” was not without long-term consequence. As the Clone War intensified, it would be the clones themselves, the actual soldiers doing the fighting on the front lines, who would pay the price for Kenobi’s actions.
In my previous two posts about protocol droids I focused on two from the TC-series of droids:TC-14 and TC-70. In this post, I decided to switch things up once again and go back to the 3PO-series by offering some details about R-3PO, the red protocol droid.
R-3PO, like its counterpartK-3PO, only appears in The Empire Strikes Back. Specifically, the protocol droid can be found in two distinct scenes in the film, both times in the Echo Base hanger. The first scene is in the opening minutes of the film when Han Solo returns from his tauntaun patrol of Hoth. As Solo walks around an X-Wing and heads towards the Millennium Falcon, which is in the background, one will catch a quick glimpse of R-3PO walking by in the foreground. But to see the droid you have to look closely because the foreground is dark and it is slightly difficult to see R-3PO.
Later in the film, when the Rebels are scrambling to evacuate Echo Base, R-3PO shows up once again. Following the death of Admiral Ozzel, and Captain Piett’s promotion to Admiral, the very next scene takes us back to the Echo Base hanger. Now, we see Rebel pilots running to join Princess Leia’s briefing where she is discussing the evacuation and defense of the base. As the pilots run to the assembly of pilots, R-3PO is clearly visible on the right side of the screen, standing near an X-Wing and watching the commotion unfolding around it.
And, yeah, that is it. As I said, R-3PO pops up briefly in two scenes. Ultimately, like so many other droids in the saga, R-3PO’s role in The Empire Strikes Back is straight-forward: populating the background in the Star Wars universe. Never-the-less, even though R-3PO is an extremely minor character doing very little on-screen, it has been given a sliver of backstory. As the canonical reference book Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know notes, R-3PO is a “moody, red protocol droid on the lookout for spies” (pg. 164). This counterespionage role for R-3PO is, in fact, a carry over from the Expanded Universe where R-3PO was first presented as being tasked with weeding out spies among the droid pool in Echo Base. And considering this aspect of R-3PO’s background has been maintained in the Star Wars canon, it is probably safe to assume that the droid was also abandoned by its master, a smuggler who “accidentally” left the moody R-3PO in the hands of the Rebel Alliance.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars: