I recently came across two Star Wars…articles?…on cbr.com that left me genuinely dumbfounded. One is titled “10 Characters Obi-Wan Never Interacts With” and the other is “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With.” As the titles both imply, each goes on to list a variety of characters in Star Wars whom Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, respectively, never encounter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely opposed to pointing the obvious at times, particularly when presented in relation to a genuine question such as “did Obi-Wan Kenobi interact with Watto in The Phantom Menace?” Given the relative proximity to one another in the same film, both being in/around Mos Espa at the same time, it is a worthwhile question that one may ask and that can easily be answered with a resolute “No” followed by a short description. That in and of itself is fine, I have no problem with that.
What is NOT worthwhile and is, in fact, a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time is a list of random Star Wars characters from across the spectrum of films that one can easily say “never interacted” with literally any character an author chooses. In the list of “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With” the author…no, sorry, the “lister”…states that another character who “didn’t get a chance to met [their typo, not mine] Darth Vader is Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Well, yeah, of course they didn’t “met” because Darth Vader isn’t even in the damn film and it is the ONLY film Qi’ra appears in. So why even put Qi’ra in the list!?!?!
Maybe if the lists were more focused, more directed towards a single Star Wars film that considered the major/minor characters Obi-Wan or Vader, respectively, never cross paths with, maybe that could be worthwhile. Perhaps then such a list could then be beneficial, at least adding something semi-interesting to a conversation about Star Wars. But that is not what these lists are for. No, the randomness of the lists belie their true purpose: both are just mundane filler with “Star Wars” in the title for another run-of-the-mill comic book site.
And so, to highlight how utterly pointless such drivel is I happily and annoyingly present to you “10 Characters Dathcha Never Interacts With.” Feel free to skip the list and go do something else. Like, literally anything else. You do not have to keep reading because nothing I present below will be worth your time. That is, unless, you are a fan of really bad jokes.
10/10 Dathcha Never Interacts with Director Orson Krennic
Why the hell would they interact? Dathcha is the Jawa who shoots R2-D2 on Tatooine in A New Hope while Orson Krennic is the Imperial Director of Advanced Weapons Research in Rogue One.
9/10 Wat Tambor and Dathcha Don’t Met One Another
Of course they don’t met! Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and Wat Tambor he is the Skakoan leader of the Techno Union who signs Count Dooku’s treaty in Attack of the Clones. Wait, did the Jawas also sign the treaty? I’ll be back, I need to go suffer through the bad CGI and bland dialogue in Attack of the Clones to find out if Dathcha was one of the original Separatist leaders.
8/10 We never see Dathcha with Princess Leia
Now, let’s be clear…and this is REALLY important… both ARE in A New Hope. But no, they never cross paths, probably because Leia never actually goes Tatooine in the film. She just sends R2-D2 instead.
But hey, I guess that is something, right!?! Like, wow, Character A (Leia) interacts with Character B (R2-D2) who then interacts with Character C (Dathcha). That is wild! So Character A never meets Character C, but they have a connection through Character B!!!! Does that ever happen in other stories?
7/10 Dathcha and General Hux Don’t Have Team-Up to Solve Crimes
I was hoping to find a connection here but to no avail. This is probably because Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and General Hux is a First Order officer who appears in the Sequel Trilogy. But I do think it is worth Lucasfilm giving these two a series on Disney+ where they team-up and solve crimes. It could be called “Jawa and First Order.” Give it a second and you’ll get the joke. Or not. Whatever.
6/10 Ahsoka Tano and Dathcha Haven’t Interacted…
…although, I have to be honest, they may have at this point. I don’t really know because I can’t keep track of Ahsoka Tano anymore. She seems to be everywhere in Star Wars all at once so at this point she and Dathcha could be best friends.
5/10 Dathcha and Darth Sidious Never Discuss the Dark Side of the Force
This one is just so obvious I’m not even gonna write anything else. Moving on…
4/10 Millard Fillmore and DathchaNever Interact
Last I knew, the 13th President of the United States was not in A New Hope. Then again, maybe he was thrown into the film in one of the special editions of the Original Trilogy. I will have to go back and look more closely because maybe, just maybe, President Fillmore and Dathcha do interact and I have missed it. I will update this if I find anything…
3/10 Dathcha Doesn’t Fly with Gold Leader in the Battle of Yavin
Unfortunately, our brown robed Jawa friend never has the privilege of joining Jon Vander, aka Gold Leader, in the final battle of A New Hope. But it is a neat thought, right? Like, what IF Dathcha somehow survived the faux Tusken slaughter, stowed away on the Millennium Falcon, made his way to Yavin and jumped in the Y-Wing with Gold Leader!?! That would have made for an amazing and completely unnecessary Star Wars twist!
Actually, come to think of it, that might already be one of the short stories in “From a Certain Point of View.” I wouldn’t know, though, because I never read the anthology.
2/10 Datcha Didn’t Participate in the Immaculate Reception
Dathcha was not playing for either the Oakland Raiders or Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs. So there was really no way for him to be part of one of the greatest plays in American Football history. Although I wonder if George Lucas was watching and the play inspired him to create the Jawas! Now that is a really REALLY dumb thought but I am gonna hold out hope that it might be true.
1/10 Finally, Dathcha never interacts with Obi-Wan Kenobi OR Darth Vader…
…OR DOES HE!?!?!?!
No, no he doesn’t.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed what you read and do be sure to check back in for my next post: 10 Star Wars Characters the Rancor Never Eats
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.
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.
Recently, I came across an article on SyFyWire with a title that caught my attention – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Explains Why Padmé’s Pregnancy Wasn’t a Galactic Scandal. In the article, author Bryan Young goes about answering a rather straight-forward question: “When you watch Revenge of the Sith, does anyone else find it curious that no one around Padmé Amidala…seemed to wonder who fathered her child?” Admittedly, this is not a question I have never thought about, in part because I have always figured people around Padmé were just minding their own business, but also because Padmé interacts with so few people in Revenge of the Sith. Why would I be curious about this when her contact with others is so limited? Regardless, I decided to give Young the benefit of the doubt and see what he had to say on the topic.
Immediately after presenting his question Young lands on his thesis, identifying what he believes to be “the only solution.” His solution is this: “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father.” Acknowledging that the Senator from Scipio who was first introduced in The Clone Wars episode “Senate Spy” is not a “household name,” Young provides a little bit of context on Clovis before launching into the meat of his solution.
Amidala and Clovis reconnect over dinner. Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 4, “Senate Spy”
For the sake of brevity, I won’t spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. You can and should read Young’s piece to see why he identifies Rush Clovis as the assumed father, taking into consideration the evidence he puts forth. For my part, I will offer the cliff notes version:
Since Rush Clovis and Padmé used to have a relationship, long before she was secretly married to Anakin Skywalker, people assumed that he was the father because she rekindled her romance with Clovis, on the planet Scipio, around the time she became pregnant. Translation: Amidala rekindled things with her “old flame” and hooked up. Since Clovis also died on Scipio on this same trip, Padmé could lean into the rumors that Clovis was the father, allowing people to believe it and, therefore, deflect attention from her and Anakin. Except, no one talked openly about it out of respect for Padmé who was, undoubtedly, upset over Clovis’ passing.
Again, you should check out what Young writes to gain a fuller picture but I think I capture the gist of his argument. One can certainly imagine people in the Star Wars universe making assumptions Rush Clovis was the father of Padmé’s child since, long before, the two had been an item AND they had been together around the time she would have become pregnant. Or, as Young puts it, “the timeline matches up pretty well, and their prior relationship was common knowledge.” He is correct, the timeline does match up reasonably well, and Young likewise makes a strong case for when the conception probably happened (when Anakin and Padmé travel to Batuu in the novel Thrawn: Alliances). Yet, while the timeline fits, the suggestion that “their prior relationship was common knowledge” does not. On this point, Young overlooks an important fact about the “prior relationship” which we learn in the novel Queen’s Shadow, an omission I found rather odd considering the research he admits putting into the article.
The Relationship: Amidala and Clovis
As Young explains it, in The Clone Wars episode “Senate Spy” Clovis is revealed as “an old flame of Padme’s” with Anakin being “shocked to learn that Padmé and Clovis had been in a relationship together before their marriage.” However, the episode does not offer any of the juicy details about their past relationship, only cryptically referring to the two as “close.” Instead, things are intentionally left to the imagination, allowing the audience and, more importantly, Anakin to fill in the gaps. The novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston DOES fill in those gaps, though, offering a rather clear portrait of the “prior relationship” first described in “Senate Spy.” And what do we learn it Queen’s Shadow? Namely, they didn’t actually have a romantic relationship.
If you enjoy stories about Padmé and her handmaidens, then you should definitely read Queen’s Shadow. Photo Credit – Disney Lucasfilm Press
I do not want to spoil Queen’s Shadow for those who have not read it, but I will say this: when Senator Clovis abruptly kisses Senator Amidala, she is not happy. Actually, she is furious, like really furious. Telling him “No” three times, Amidala forcefully reminds Clovis that they are colleagues and nothing more. While “Senate Spy” rightly suggests that they were close, a fact even the Jedi Council is aware of when asking Padmé to spy on Senator Clovis, Queen’s Shadow otherwise shatters the notion that Clovis was an “old flame.”
The suggestion, then, that people would “assume” Amidala and Clovis rekindled their past relationship years later, resulting in a pregnancy, just doesn’t hold up. Unless, that is, we are to ignore Padmé’s emphatic rejection of Senator Clovis in Queen’s Shadow, stripping away the strength she displays when Clovis makes his unwelcome move. For my part, I am unwilling to do that and believe it would be a disservice to Padmé Amidala. Instead, I find it necessary and important to lean into her actions and the conviction that shedid not view or interpret their “closeness” as romantic. Their relationship was that of two colleagues who were also friends. If Padmé did not view this close partnership as romantic then I am not willing to pretend that everyone around her – Senators and Jedi alike – viewed it as romantic.
Furthermore, while Queen’s Shadow eliminates the notion that the two were rekindling an “old flame,” it is important to note that when Senator Amidala travels to Scipio years later, her disdain for Clovis is palpable precisely because of his actions in “Senate Spy.” While using her past “close” relationship with Clovis in “Senate Spy” to uncover his dealings with the Separatist Alliance – he is helping to fund a new droid factory on Geonosis – Padme is poisoned. Almost dying because of Clovis’ actions, and disgusted by his work with the Separatists, it is hard to imagine she had kind words to say about Rush Clovis in the intervening years given her reaction to him when she arrives on Scipio in the Season Five episode of The Clone Wars: “An Old Friend.”
Based on the available evidence I simply find it hard to believe or even imagine a scenario in which people assumed Rush Clovis was the father. In fact, I find it far more likely that when Padmé openly revealed her pregnancy people did not assume Clovis was the father. And, if any did, it would have been only a handful at best.
If this is the case, and we are to move past the notion that “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father,” then how can we solve the question which Young presents? How do we account for the lack of curiosity in Revenge of the Sith, the disinterest in her pregnancy? Well, I have a another possible solution, one that is rooted in the customs of Naboo.
A Private Matter
The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo offers some fascinating insight into the culture of Naboo.
Photo Credit – Scholastic
The basis for my solution comes from Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo by author Jude Watson. I will withhold all of the plot details, but in this 2006 middle-grade reader one discovers a number of things about customs of Naboo, with very specific information being shared regarding customs governing pregnancy and paternity. Seeking information about Padmé following her death, the Inquisitor in the novel, Malorum, is stymied time and again, running up against customs and the people of Naboo who are holding firm to those customs. At one point, as he is digging into the mystery of who fathered Padmé’s child, he discovers that “Naboo customs precluded any questions about the possible father of her [Padmé’s] child.” In turn, this custom is reinforced in his conversation with Padmé’s maternal grandmother, Ryoo Thule. Tracking her down, Malorum presses Ryoo to reveal what she knows about the identity of the father of Padmé’s dead child. To this, Ryoo responds, “Padmé did not share with us the father’s name…We didn’t ask. Such things are private matters on Naboo.” Even if she was curious about the child’s father, perhaps even having thoughts about who it might be, Ryoo Thule did not press her granddaughter on the matter, instead opting to respect a well-known custom among the Naboo which safeguards the privacy of expecting mothers.
As I said at the beginning of this post, one reason I had never considered the question which Young presents is because, in part, I have always figured people around Padme were just minding their own business. Essentially, “minding your own business” is what this custom from Naboo is all about as it ensures that the women of Naboo can have a baby without being harassed for information, even from their own family. If a woman chooses to share any details about the pregnancy with others, that is their right. And if a woman chooses not to share anything, they are shown respect and the matter is left alone.
While this custom was introduced in a 2006 Expanded Universe novel, I see no reason it should not continue to be part of the fabric of Naboo’s society in the Disney canon. With this being the case, we can easily use this custom to account for the lack of interest in the father of Padmé’s child. My solution is simple:
As a Senator from a planet where it is customary to respect fatherhood as a private matter, it is reasonable to presume that some, if not many, of the individuals she knew and worked with – other Senators, Jedi, business leaders, etc. – would have been aware of this custom and acted accordingly. They would neither inquire about the father nor would they discuss the matter behind Padmé’s back as a further sign of cultural respect. And, for those who were not aware of the custom, well, this is precisely why protocol droids are abundant in Star Wars. These droids exist to bridge the cultural divide between species and planets, ensuring that one will engage with members of an unfamiliar society or species by using the appropriate etiquette to ensure cordial relations. It is relatively easy, at least for me, to imagine a protocol droid reminding its master, before meeting with the pregnant Senator from Naboo, that it would be considered rude to inquire about the pregnancy.
We can re-interpret this question as Obi-Wan intentionally breaking the custom due to the gravity of the moment. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
None of this is to suggest, though, that people did not personally wonder who the father may have been. Surely, it crossed many minds, just as it crossed Ryoo Thule’s mind. Nothing about the custom removes this possibility, it cannot govern one’s personal thoughts. But it does account for the lack of open curiosity regarding the father of Padmé’s child and for our sake, that is the only thing that matters.
A Final Thought
While I may not agree with Bryan Young that “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father,” I am also not naïve enough to suggest my solution is the only one that works. Other solutions to this question can and do exist. For example, a case could be made that no one discussed the pregnancy because Padmé hid the pregnancy with the assistance of her loyal handmaidens. It could also be argued that the father of her child was an open secret, and rather than assuming the father was Rush Clovis, everyone assumed it was Anakin Skywalker.
These are only a couple of other possibilities I have considered, but I do not mention them with the intentions of starting down another pathway. Instead, I do so only to suggest that, in the end, you needn’t agree with me. Other solutions are possible and, if you have one, I welcome the chance to hear it.
For now, in my own head canon, I will continue to believe that the individuals with whom Padmé Amidala was interacting were not pressing her on the issue of paternity precisely because they were respecting a well-known custom among the Naboo, a custom which protected pregnancy as a private matter.
Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.
“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.
“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.
To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.
But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.
This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.
Stepping forward, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.
The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.
Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.
Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:
“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.
“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”
“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.
“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.
The “handmaiden” remains silent while Captain Panaka and Qui-Gon Jinn discuss whether she should join the group.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.
Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.
The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.
Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?
For starters, we can think about whyshe is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.
Padmé meets Anakin Skywalker and learns a harsh truth: he is a slave.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.
Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie ofJust Dread-full, Rob ofMy Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike ofMy Comic Relief. Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:
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.
While the 3PO-series protocol droid is the most common and recognizable protocol droid in Star Wars, thanks in no small part to C-3PO, other series of protocol droids do exist. The TC-series protocol droid is one such example, although you would be forgiven if you confused a TC unit with a 3PO unit because they look nearly identical. Having the same manufacturer, Cybot Galactica, the TC-series can basically be thought of as an upgraded version of the 3PO-series.
We meet a TC-series protocol droid for the first time in The Phantom Menace. A Trade Federation protocol droid with silver plating and feminine programing serving aboard the Lucrehulk-cargo freighterSaak’ak, TC-14 greets Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi when the two Jedi arrive to negotiate with the Federation. Leading them to a conference room, TC-14 promptly leaves to inform Viceroy Nute Gunray, leader of the Trade Federation, that the two Republic ambassadors are Jedi Knights. Shocked by this news, Gunray and the captain of the Saak’ak, Daultay Dofine, decide to send TC-14 back into the room with refreshments while they figure out what to do. Moments later, after the conference room is filled with dioxin gas, TC-14 will walk out of the room and encounter waiting battle droids, “excusing” itself and exiting before the two Jedi go on the offensive.
And, yeah, that is it. TC-14 is only on-screen for a handful of moments at the outset of Episode I. What happens to “her” after leaving the conference room is a mystery, your guess being as good as mine (although she isn’t destroyed during the Battle of Naboo as the Saak’ak is NOT the Droid Control Ship). Never-the-less, TC-14’s introduction and brief role in The Phantom Menace set the stage for more TC-series protocol droids to appear in other Star Wars stories, and I will discuss some of those droids in future posts.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars: