Prequel Trilogy

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Queen Amidala

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.

Amidala's Reveal
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.

Padme joins the Group
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 why she 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.

Padme and Anakin
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 of Just Dread-full, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike of My 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:

The Doctor

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)

Dani from Midsommar

Sarah Connor

Star Wars: On the Front Lines (Review)

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.

Jakku-Starship_Graveyard-The_Force_Awakens_(2015)
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 Loathsom into 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.

Haikuesday: Star Wars Aliens

Desert Scavengers
Brown-robed, yellow-eyed Jawas
Utini,” they say.


Homeworld: Kubindi.
Kubaz with snout-like trunks speak
using vibrations.


Called “Squid Heads” by some,
the Quarren of Mon Cala
are a proud species.


Key trait: cone-shaped horns.
Gotal abilities are
extrasensory.


“Hard to meet a myth.”
Sentient, shapeshifting plants.
Neti from Myrkr.


Keeping to themselves,
the Kaminoans live out
past the Rishi Maze.


Breathing ammonia,
insectoid Gand are hidden
by respirators.


Exoskeletons.
Mathematical species.
Givin from Yag’Dhul.


Force technology.
An Infinite Empire.
Ancient Rakata.


Hailing from Toola.
Tusks protruding from their jaws.
Ferocious Whipids.

Haiku Addendum:
pronounce “Whipid” like Stewie
pronounces “Cool Whip”


Thisspiasian.
Serpentine body and a
very hairy face.


Malastare’s Natives.
Vicious Dugs walk on their arms
and use feet as hands.


Colonizing Gran
take control of Malastare.
The Dugs – furious.


A long-lived species.
Shi’ido first appeared in
Galaxy of Fear.


Short, Green, Pointed Ears.
Vandar, Yaddle, and Yoda.
Species’ Name Unknown.


Cycloptic biped.
Hailing from the planet Byss.
Green-skinned Abyssin.


Cremlevian War –
A galaxy ruined by
war-like Yuuzhan Vong.


The “friend from afar.”
The “stranger to be trusted.”
The Caamasi.


Fur-covered, wolf like.
The Shistavanen are a
rare sight in Star Wars.


Fur-covered, wolf-like.
Is that a Shistavanen?
Nope, it’s a Defel.


Water-based mammals.
A blowhole atop their heads.
The massive Herglic.


Ben Quadinaros.
The famous Toong podracer.
His engines explode.

I have a theory:
Han named Ben after the Toong.
I’m dead serious.


Neimodians.
Related to the Duros.
The latter came first.


Rodent-like beings.
Big ears and very dark eyes.
Chadra-Fan from Chad.


Saurian species.
Invasion of Bakura.
Bipedal Ssi-Ruuk.


Devilish mammal.
Males have horns, females do not.
Devaronians.


Mud as camouflage.
Red-skinned Mimbanese soldiers
ambush Stormtroopers.


Did you know that in
The Phantom Menace you can
see E.T.’s species?

Name: Asogians.
Homeworld: Brodo Asogi.
Lucas. Spielberg. Pals.


Hailing from Tibrin.
Amphibians with eye stalks.
The green Ishi Tib.


Insect-like Yam’rii.
Look for the praying mantis
in the Cantina.


Twelve-eyed insectoid.
A Vuvrian purchases
Skywalker’s speeder.


Eyes a glowing red.
Blue-skin and glint blue-black hair.
They are called the Chiss.


From the planet Merj.
Morseerians breath methane.
And have big cone heads.


I’m absolutely
positive I could outrun
a Gamorrean.


Wookiee. Gungan. Talz.
Trandoshan. Geonosian.
Sullustan. Lasat.


Rodian. Bothan.
Abednedo. Barabel.
Lamproid. Elomin.


Ewok. Dulok. Teek.
Sanyassan. Skandit. Yuzzum.
Jinda. Gupin. Gorph.


I could spend a day
listing Star Wars aliens.
There are so many!


It’s Star Wars quiz time!
Shistavanen or Defel
in the featured pic?


Check out these other Haikuesday 2.0 posts:

Imperial Atrocities

Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Dark Lords of the Sith

Star Wars Planets

The Great Jedi Purge

 

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

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 freighter Saak’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:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

Haikuesday: The Great Jedi Purge

A Fallen Order.
The Jedi succumb to the
Revenge of the Sith.

There were four who fell.
Victims of Darth Sidious.
And more would follow.

The first Jedi death:
The Zabrak Agen Kolar.
Stabbed through the belly.

Next was Master Tiin.
The Iktochi was to slow,
and the red-blade struck.

Master Kit Fisto
parried the Sith Lord’s attacks
but then he went down.

Windu held his own.
He almost finished his foe.
But he was betrayed.

Dark Lords of the Sith.
Order 66 is sent.
The Great Purge begins.

Turning on Jedi.
“Good soldiers follow orders.”
Massacres ensue.

Planet: Mygeeto.
Master Mundi is gunned down
by once loyal troops.

Aayla Secura,
surrounded by her soldiers
and shot in the back.

In his starfighter,
Plo Koon meets his demise when
Jag opens fire.

The planet Zeffo.
Master Chiata dies first,
her Padawan next.

On Saleucami,
Stass Allie’s body is thrown
from a speeder bike.

“Run,” Billaba tells
her padawan, Caleb Dume.
She does not survive.

On a Venator,
Jaro Tapal’s sacrifice.
Cal Kestis will live.

Bound for Rodia.
Huulik dies in his starship.
His wounds were to great.

Vader with his clones.
Operation: Nightfall strikes
the Jedi Temple.

“Do what must be done.”
Darth Vader leads the way by
slaughtering younglings.

Master Cin Drallig
The Jedi Battlemaster.
No match for Vader.

Malreaux and Bene
fight alongside Cin Drallig.
They go down as well.

As she meditates,
a Dark figure approaches
and butchers Shaak Ti.

Attempting to flee,
Zett Jukasa kills troopers.
But then he is hit.

“…too many of them!”
“What are we going to do?”
Bandeam’s final words.

The Great Jedi Purge
Thousands are executed
in a single day.

Jedi Survivors.
Hiding in the galaxy.
Many will be found.

The Moon Al’doleem.
Vader discards Infil’a
in a drowned city.

Chief Librarian.
A prize for Darth Sidious.
Vader takes Nu’s life.

Agents of the Sith:
Inquisitors, once Jedi,
hunt their former kin.

An execution.
The Grand Inquisitor kills
Master Unduli.

Tracked to Anoat,
Mususiel is slain by
Imperial troops.

The planet Mataou.
Zubain Ankonori takes
his last breath of life.

An Inquisitor
tracks Khandra and Nuhj to the
world of Burnin Konn.

Advising Lee-Char.
Padawan Ferren Barr’s life
ends on Mon Cala.

Victim of Vader.
Eeth Koth suffers a Dark death.
His newborn, kidnapped.

Former Padawan.
Caleb Dume – Kanan Jarrus.
Consumed by fire.

Aboard the Death Star,
Kenobi confronts Vader
and then transcends death. 


Check out these other Haikuesday 2.0 posts:

Imperial Atrocities

Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Dark Lords of the Sith

Star Wars Planets

Star Wars Aliens

Haikuesday: Star Wars Planets

First Star Wars Planet
The desert world Tatooine
Home to a hero.

Peaceful Alderaan
Destroyed by the Empire
just to make a point.

Gas-giant Yavin:
On its fourth moon the Rebels
plot their strategy.

A cold, snowy world.
Rebels hide, Empire Strikes
The ice planet Hoth.

Swampy and humid.
Like something found in a dream.
The world: Dagobah.

City in the clouds.
High in Bespin’s atmosphere
Vader lays a trap.

The third gas-giant.
A forest moon in orbit.
The planet: Endor.

Found in the Mid Rim,
Naboo is home to Gungans
and also humans.

Core World: Coruscant.
The Republic capital
is one big city.

South of Rishi Maze,
aquatic Kamino is
a grand army’s home.

Clone Wars first conflict.
Droids and clones clash on the plains
of Geonosis.

A home to giants.
Wroshyr Trees and the Wookiees
The planet Kashyyyk.

Rocky and remote.
In the distant Outer Rim
you’ll find Utapau.

Anakin descends
into the fiery depths
of hell – Mustafar.

Crystalline Planet.
Christophsis invaded by
the Separatists.

Jabba’s son Rotta,
kidnapped and taken to Teth,
out in Wild Space.

“Why does everyone
want to go back to Jakku?”
A valid question.

Jedi world: Ilum.
Transformed by the First Order.
Now: Starkiller Base.

Lush forests, small lakes.
On Takodana you’ll find
Kanata’s Castle.

First Order Attack.
Hosnian Cataclysm.
Prime planet destroyed.

Verdant world: D’Qar.
Organa’s Resistance hides
in the Outer Rim.

Uncharted, unknown.
The birthplace of the Jedi.
Watery Ahch-To.

Agrarian world.
On ringed Lah’mu, Jyn Erso
hides with her parents.

Temperate planet.
Imperial labor camp.
The world: Wobani.

The cold, pilgrim moon.
Jedha orbits NaJedha,
pink and crystalline.

Rugged, mountainous
Eadu hosts a kyber lab
and Galen’s research.

Tropical Planet.
Scarif is the site of the
Rebellion’s first win.

Corporate Sector.
Desolate Cantonica
overflows with wealth.

A mineral world.
An old Rebellion outpost.
Blood-red crystal – Crait.

Han Solo’s home world.
Corellia is known for
its impressive ships.

Site of trench warfare.
Violent, bloody fight in
the mud of Mimban.

The wild frontier.
Vandor’s snow-capped peaks are a
climber’s paradise.

Spice Mines on Kessel.
Controlled by Pyke Syndicate…
…but that won’t stop Han.

Savareen Stand-off.
Enfys tracks her prey to the
sandy, ocean world.

In the jungles of
Numidian Prime, Solo
wins his greatest prize.

An ancient redoubt.
Fanatics worship the Sith
on dark Exegol.

Verdant Ajan Kloss.
A reborn Resistance hides
amongst its jungles.

Expansion Region.
Deserts but not desolate.
Vibrant Pasaana.

Occupied Planet.
Stormtroopers kidnap children
from Kijimi’s homes.

Watery Kef Bir.
The ocean moon of Endor.
Littered with debris.


Check out these other Haikuesday 2.0 posts:

Imperial Atrocities

Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Dark Lords of the Sith

The Trials of Nute Gunray

It is, for all intents and purposes, a statement in Attack of the Clones that is meant to inform and nothing more. Speaking with Senator Padmé Amidala (the former Queen of Naboo) and Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker, Governor Sio Bibble of Naboo expresses his annoyance that “…after four trials in the Supreme Court, Nute Gunray is still the Viceroy of the Trade Federation.” As a viewer, we know why the Neimodian Viceroy was put on trial: for blockading and invading the planet Naboo. Yet, ten years following the Naboo Crisis depicted in The Phantom Menace, Bibble’s remark gives us a brief and to the point reason for Gunray’s freedom.

While the quote ensures that we have information about Nute Gunray as Attack of the Clones continues – a helpful bit of insight given that Gunray re-emerges later in the film as part of the Separatist cause – I often find myself wondering why, when Bibble references the four trials, that the Viceroy was able to avoid punishment for his crimes. In fact, this curiosity was was amplified recently when I read E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow, a novel which explores Padmé Amidala’s transition from Queen of Naboo to Senator. In the book, the trials are mentioned but details about the proceedings are scarce. Just as Attack of the Clones leaves us wondering what transpired during the court proceedings, Queen’s Shadow does the same, forcing us to fill in the blanks ourselves.

If, then, we put our minds to work filling in those blanks, we can certainly imagine, and even assume, that it was Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), working behind the scenes, who manipulated the trials to ensure Gunray’s liberty. After all, it was Sidious who held influence over Gunray, convincing the Neimodian to attack Naboo and assuring the Viceroy, when questioned about the invasion’s legality, that he would “make it legal.” Never-the-less, even working under the assumption that Gunray received aid from his Sith benefactor, I cannot help but desire a story – probably in novel form, but I would even take a short-story  – which would highlight how the trials unfolded and the way(s) Palpatine manipulated the outcome of each proceeding to make the invasion “legal.” Additionally, such a story would have the added benefit of exploring the relationship between Palpatine and Gunray prior to The Phantom Menace, offering insight into why the Sith Lord chose the Viceroy and his Trade Federation as a tool in his galactic scheme.

Gunray and Sidious
Nute Gunray speaks to Darth Sidious.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

In turn, we can add another layer to Palpatine’s machinations by including Count Dooku. Becoming Sidious’ new apprentice following Darth Maul’s “death” in The Phantom Menace, Dooku (aka Darth Tyranus) acknowledges in Attack of the Clones that Nute Gunray came to him for help following the Naboo Crisis. Thus, we can assume that Dooku, working in tandem with his Sith Master, participated in the defense of Gunray as the four trials unfolded, offering support both openly and behind-the-scenes. But what Dooku’s support looked like is, again, another reason that the trials of Nute Gunray are worthy of narrative exploration.

At this juncture, I will readily admit that I am probably one of the few Star Wars fans who would be interested in a story of any type about Nute Gunray in general, and his trials specifically. Gunray is not a “sexy” Star Wars character, and is otherwise a pretty straight-forward villain. Never-the-less, as I have noted, I believe there is value in a story about Gunray’s trials, offering perspective and background on his relationship with Palpatine and Dooku, respectively. More importantly, what such a story could offer is insight into an element of Star Wars that is rarely explored with any real depth: the legal  and judicial system of the Old Republic.

While legal and judicial elements are mentioned at times throughout Star Wars stories (such as in Attack of the Clones and Queen’s Shadow) these and related elements are rarely developed with any meaningful depth. As a result, while fans have some basic understanding about laws, courts, judges, etc. in Star Wars, this information tends to be shallow and underdeveloped. For example, we know there was a Supreme Court thanks to Bibble’s comment about Gunray’s trials, but how many justices sit on the Supreme Court, and how they are nominated/confirmed, remains a mystery. In turn, while we know there were four trials in total, we do not know what charges were brought against Gunray, a point worthy of exploration that could shed light on whether the Republic had laws governing double jeopardy.

These are but a few thoughts which come to mind when I personally think about the legal and judicial system of the Old Republic. And, again, I believe a story about Gunray’s trials could shed light on a wide-range of topics regarding that system. Even more critically, though, shedding light on the ins-and-outs of the Republic’s legal system is necessary in further understanding why the Galactic Republic ultimately collapsed. While we know Palpatine ascended to the mantle of Supreme Chancellor, and was subsequently given emergency powers by the Senate at the outbreak of the Clone War – powers which gave him far-reaching control over the Republic and its bureaucracy – what we also know is that Palpatine was able to gain control over the courts. It is Jedi Master Mace Windu who tells us as much when, speaking to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, he exclaims that Palpatine “…has control over the Senate and the courts!”

Star Wars has, for the most part, done a good job of showing how Palpatine controlled the Senate as Supreme Chancellor, using his authority and powers to erode the institution. Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars animated series, countless books/comics, and more have tackled this topic from multiple angles, showcasing Palpatine’s tyrannical takeover of the Republic’s governing body. However, what Star Wars has not done very well is show exactly how he came to control the courts, using the authority and powers of his Chancellorship to dominate the legal/judicial system of the Republic. This is precisely where a story about Nute Gunray’s trials before the Supreme Court become a necessity. Such a tale would lay out critical details not only about the Republic’s legal system (i.e. – the number of justices on the Supreme Court) but would also show how, as he methodically took control over the levers of power in the legislative branch, Palpatine used the trials of Nute Gunray as a stepping stone towards his insidious transformation of the judicial branch to fit his evil agenda.

Haikuesday: Dark Lords of the Sith

Hundred-Year Darkness:
Jedi exiles become
Jen’ari, Dark Lords

The Left-Handed God:
Dark Jedi Ajunta Pall
First Lord of the Sith

Greatest of his Age
A fierce Sith-human hybrid
Lord Marka Ragnos

Great Hyperspace War:
Naga Sadow’s Empire
invades Republic.

On a Deep Core World
Darth Andeddu rules as an
Immortal God-King.

Sadow’s apprentice:
Fallen Jedi, Freedon Nadd.
Onderon entombed.

“I was the greatest
Dark Lord of the Sith,” he states.
“I am Exar Kun.”

Haiku Addendum:
Exar Kun is a badass!
You should check him out.

Reviled, Dreaded.
A Jedi leaves, Sith returns.
He is Darth Revan.

A Sith Apprentice.
Darth Malak betrays Revan
and becomes Master.

Malak’s Shadow Hand:
Darth Bandon, former Jedi.
Vanquished by Revan.

Sith Triumvirate:
Darth Traya suffers betrayal
by Hunger and Pain

The Lord of Hunger.
Draining the Force of all Life.
Dark Lord Nihilus.

Sion, Lord of Pain.
Body fractured and rotting.
And yet, immortal.

“For three hundred years,
we prepared, we grew stronger.”
Malgus leads the charge.

Immortality:
Darth Scabrous’s dream results
in the walking dead.

“The Last Survivor”
Darth Bane, the architect of
the Sith Rule of Two.

A child named “Rain”
sent to war by the Jedi
becomes Darth Zannah.

Iktotchi Huntress
Gifted in divination
The Dark Lord Cognus

Three-eyed mutant Sith
Apprenticed to Darth Cognus –
Darth Millennial

Haiku Addendum:
Darth Millennial enjoys
avocado toast.

Starship Designer
but really, he’s Tenebrous
Dark Lord of the Sith

Darth Plagueis the Wise
Murdered by his apprentice
while he was asleep.

The first Emperor,
a galactic Empire.
Dark Lord Sidious

Devilish Sith Lord
Double-bladed lightsaber.
The Zabrak named Maul.

Elegant Evil.
Former Jedi: Count Dooku.
Dark Lord Tyrannus

Once known as “Anni”
He spirals to the Dark Side
and becomes Vader.

A Son of Solo.
Jacen Solo, Darth Caedus.
Killed by his sister.

Born A’Sharad Hett
Founder of a new Sith Cult:
Darth Krayt’s Rule of One

Anointed by Krayt.
Body covered by tattoos.
Twi’lek Darth Talon.

What about Kylo?
Well, this is awkward because
he is not a Sith.

Haiku Addendum:
Kylo Ren verses Caedus?
Darth Caedus would win.


Check out these other Haikuesday Posts!

Imperial Atrocities

Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Separatist Profile: Whorm Loathsom

I have never really spent a great deal of time discussing the Confederacy of Independent Systems on this site. While the Separatist Alliance has popped up here and there, I’ve otherwise never discussed them at length. This surprises me because I have always had a deep fascination with the Confederacy. Since encountering the organization in Attack of the Clones, my interest in the Separatists has never really ceased to expand. True, they are the “bad guys” in the Clone Wars, their droid armies – led by the vicious General Grievous  – reaping havoc across the galaxy. But while the evil machinations of Grievous, Count Dooku and Darth Sidious, not to mention others like Nute Gunray and Poggle the Lesser, drive the deadly war effort for the Separatists, it is easy to forget that they do not represent the motivations of every member of the Alliance. This is no more apparent than with Mina Bonteri of Onderon, a former Republic Senator turned Separatist Senator who was introduced in The Clone Wars episode “Heroes on Both Sides.” In the episode, Bonteri – whose husband died a year prior during a clone assault on a Separatist military installation – presents herself as an individual who has legitimate feelings of discontent with the Republic. While she is friendly with Republic Senator Padme Amidala, both of whom agree that the war should come to an end, Mina Bonteri is never-the-less fully committed to the Separatist cause of independence from the Republic.

As a result of Bonteri’s views and choices to support the Separatist cause, I am left wondering why others chose to ally themselves with the Confederacy and join the war against the Republic. This is not to suggest answers can easily be found, or even at all. Unlike Bonteri, other Separatist figures are rarely given the chance to express their deeply held or personal views regarding the Republic or even the war. Moreover, the motivations of Separatist figures, especially in The Clone Wars animated show, are often one-dimensional, tending to present Separatists as entirely “evil.”

Consider how in the first act of The Clone Wars movie – an act which introduces the effervescent Ahsoka Tano  – we are also introduced to the Whorm Loathsom, the Separatist general leading the war effort on the planet Christophsis. While his name invites us to quite literally loathe him – why would we willingly side with someone named “Whorm Loathsom”? – he is “loathsome” precisely because he is battling the forces of dynamic duo of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Moreover, he has pushed Kenobi and Skywalker to the breaking point, their forces having been backed into a corner and barely holding on thanks to a battery of artillery holding Loathsom’s tanks at bay. When Ahsoka Tano arrives on the battlefield, she does so during a short lull in the fight, a lull brought on by Loathsom when he chooses to disengage his tank forces to keep them out of range of the cannons. 

With the story focused entirely on the three Jedi, their bleak situation, and the cunning plan they conjure to combat the renewed Separatist assault, we are never given the chance to view Loathsom as anything but a bad guy facing off against the good guys. Now, I am not going to go out of my way to suggest that Star Wars fans should be cheering for the Separatists at the beginning of The Clone Wars film. Nor will I try to persuade you that the film should have given us more of Loathsom’s backstory. But what I will offer is a two-fold suggestion:

  1. General Whorm Loathsom is clearly a much more gifted commander than either Kenobi or Skywalker.
  2. It is worth asking why Loathsom chose to join the Separatist cause, wanting to know more about his backstory so as to better understand what led him to the point of commanding the Separatist forces during the Battle of Christophsis.

In regards to the first point, it is worth reiterating what I already said: at the outset of the film, the clone battalion which Kenobi and Skywalker command have been backed into a corner by Loathsom. For all intents and purposes, the outcome of the Battle of Christophsis is already decided, with Loathsom having effectively won the tactical engagement. Pulling his forces back because of the Republic cannons, Loathsom chooses a new strategy: advancing his forces while under the protection of a shield generator. It is a brilliant decision that immediately neutralizes the Republic artillery fire. Without any conventional answers available Kenobi, Skywalker (and Tano) must enact an unconventional plan to stop Loathsom. With some cunning and deception the Jedi and their clone forces are able to come out victorious, but not because Anakin and Ahsoka end up destroying the shield generator. This is certainly an important part of the Republic victory but it is not, in my assessment, the reason the Republic wins. Rather, it is because Kenobi is able to capture Loathsom that the battle is concluded. Even with the shield generator destroyed, had Loathsom not been captured he could have simply disengaged his forces once again and developed a new strategy.

Kenobi captures Loathsom
Obi-Wan captures General Loathsom.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

But underneath Loathsom’s prowess as a field commander is a deeper question: why is Whorm Loathsom a Separatist general? His backstory resides entirely in shadow, although a small nugget lurks within The Clone Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi, using flattery, tells Loathsom, “…you’re a legend throughout the Inner Core.” There is no reason to assume Obi-Wan is lying and, as such, Loathsom’s “legend” as a general is a tantalizing morsel. For myself, the desire to know more about his legend burns bright, wanting to discover what sort of military campaigns he previous led. While it is unlikely his legend as a general will ever receive any serious treatment I can, never-the-less, hold out hope that it will be (maybe I will just fill in the gaps by writing some Whorm Loathsom fan fiction…). Moreover, the question regarding his decision to take up arms against the Republic, his personal motivations for doing so, persist. For whatever reason, he chose to bring his military prowess, his “legend,” to the Confederacy and, until we are given even one line (even in a reference book!) answering “why” he did so we will be left in the dark. 

This is really too bad because without a motivation for joining the Separatists, Whorm Loathsom is just another “bad guy.” Perhaps his reason for joining is actually a nefarious one and he truly is just a bad guy with bad intentions. That is certainly one option but the possibility also exists that he, like so many others, viewed the Republic as corrupt and felt compelled to act to create a more just galaxy. Or, maybe his homeworld of Kerkoidia chose to secede from the Republic and he was honor-bound to defend the planet.

But these are just guesses and, well, your guess is as good as mine.