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Cheating Death: Vader’s Hatred

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.

Vader declares his hatred for Kenobi.
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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.

Vader’s mask is lowered.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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.

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

Making its only appearance in “Brain Invaders,” a Season Two episode of The Clone Wars, TC-326 is the military protocol droid which assists Anakin Skywalker when the Jedi interrogates the Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. Demanding to know how to stop an infestation of parasitic brain worms on-board his Padawan’s starship, Anakin relies on the TC-series protocol droid with masculine programing to translate what Poggle says. His attempt at a mind probe of the Archduke failing, Anakin then turns to violence and torture, Force choking the Geonosian while TC-326 stands in the corner.

TC-326
TC-326
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 8: “Brain Invaders”

Truthfully, there is not a great deal more to say about TC-326 beyond just a handful of points. The protocol droid never shows up in another episode of The Clone Wars so far as I can tell, and even in “Brain Invaders” it only appears in the scene described above and, briefly, in an earlier scene at the beginning of the episode. What I can offer, though, is a question I have often wondered regarding the protocol droids involvement in the interrogation of Poggle: did Anakin wipe TC-326’s memory?

Moments after Anakin tortures the Archduke, we see him explain to the other Jedi present on the Venator-class Star Destroyer that he was able to extract the information from Poggle they needed. Surprised, the gathered Jedi Masters – Luminara Unduli, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi – question how he was able to do this, wanting to know how he was able to get Poggle to cooperate. Unsurprisingly, Anakin ignores their questions, instead declaring that “there wasn’t time to get the rest of you” and “all that matters is he [Poggle] told me how to stop the worms.”

While this exchange is brief, with Anakin otherwise blowing off their inquiries, there is also an obvious concern among the Jedi Masters, particularly Unduli and Mundi. They know something is amiss and one can easily presume their concern was heightened by Anakin’s dismissive tone. This, then, is why I have oftened wondered whether Skywalker wiped TC-326’s memory, to ensure that the protocol droid could not be interrogated by the other Jedi about the technique(s) he used to extract information from Poggle.

This is not to suggest an answer needs to be provided regarding the memory wipe, or whether the Jedi Master’s ever investigated the matter. Some things are better left to the imagination, not needing any type of “official” explanation. For my part, I like to imagine that Anakin did not wipe TC-326’s memory. Instead, so caught up in trying to save Ahsoka Tano, his Padawan, as she fought the brain worms lightyears away, the Jedi Knight simply forgot. In turn, I also like to imagine that Unduli and Mundi did investigate, wanting to know precisely how Anakin convinced Poggle to assist them. And since TC-326 was the only witness available to them, I like to imagine TC-326 describing Skywalker’s dark actions with an emotional less, matter-of-fact tone as the two Jedi Masters listen in silent horror.

What happened after that? Well, I will leave that to your imagination.


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-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

Padmé’s Pregnancy: A Private Matter

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.

Clovis and Padme
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.

Queen's Shadow
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 she did 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

Death on Naboo
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.

Anakin is the father (2)
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. 

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

In the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, author Donald F. Glut offers a paragraph detailing the bounty hunters Darth Vader assembles to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. Bossk, Zuckuss, Dengar, IG-88, and Boba Fett, each are named and briefly described, with Fett receiving the lions share of the attention. But what really stands out in the description of these “amoral money-grubbers” is that 4-LOM, the bounty hunting protocol droid, is not mentioned. Even though 4-LOM appears in The Empire Strikes Back alongside the other hunters named above, the droid was, for some reason, left out of the novelization.

The absence of 4-LOM from the book is certainly odd but luckily the bounty hunter has received other opportunities to shine, particularly in the Expanded Universe. But rather than list all of those stories, or try to paint some all-encompassing picture of the protocol droid’s endeavors, I thought I would highlight one tale from the Expanded Universe that I have always enjoyed, a tale that is specifically about 4-LOM and his partnership with the Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss.

Tales of the Bounty Hunters
The cover of Tales of the Bounty Hunters. 4-LOM is in the bottom left-hand corner.
Photo Credit – Random House

“Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM” can be found in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, an anthology offering short stories about the six fortune seekers from The Empire Strikes Back. Written by M. Shayne Bell, “Of Possible Futures” takes place during and immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. It depicts 4-LOM and Zuckuss traveling to meet with Darth Vader and subsequently determining how they will go about capturing Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon.

Now, I do not want to spend the rest of this post detailing everything that happens in the short story, as I would rather encourage you to go (re)read it for yourself. The entire narrative seamlessly fits into the larger context of the film, and even adds a bonus storyline about Toryn Farr (she is the woman from the film who says “Stand by Ion Control…Fire”). But while I absolutely love how the plot unfolds, and the fact that 4-LOM and Zuckuss each receive extended backstories, what I find truly fascinating about the tale is that 4-LOM spends a large chunk of the story attempting to gain intuition.

As a droid, 4-LOM is governed by logic, rationalizing actions and outcomes based on the processes running on his operating system. With his reasoning skills leading him from serving others to the life of a bounty hunter, which his backstory details, we come to learn early in the tale that 4-LOM is studying his partner Zuckuss to discover how to become intuitive. With his Gand partner spending countless hours meditating, “feeling” his way to knowledge, 4-LOM observes, collects and analyzes the raw data to discern how to unlock a process that is beyond reason.

Does this work? Is 4-LOM able to accomplish his goal of gaining intuition? Well, like I said, you will have to (re)read “Of Possible Futures” to find out. Or, perhaps you will just have to wait for me to write a post about “The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM,” something I am considering because it really is a good story with a lot to explore. Instead of telling you what happens, whether 4-LOM figures out how to be intuitive like his partner, I will instead close this piece by offering you these four random facts about the bounty hunting protocol droid:

  1. 4-LOM is a LOM-series protocol droid. Produced by Industrial Automaton to serve insectoid species in the Star Wars galaxy, the LOM-series droids are unique for their insect-like head and notable compound eyes.
  2. The ship 4-LOM and Zuckuss own is named the Mist Hunter. It is a modified G-1A starfighter.
  3.  4-LOM is included as a minifigure, along with IG-88, Dengar and Bossk, in the LEGO Star Wars set Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack. Sadly, Zuckuss was not included in this set, but the Gand, along with 4-LOM and Boba Fett, are included in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Slave I. 
  4. A few years ago I was asked to join a team for a Star Wars trivia night at a local bar and our team name was 4-LOM for the Win. We came in second. I am still bitter.

Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

The Sacrifice of Paige Tico

Caught in the open during the evacuation of their base on D’Qar, the Resistance confronts an existential moment of crisis as it stares down the barrel of two orbital autocannons, affixed to a First Order Dreadnaught, targeting their base and fleet. With only seconds to spare, the final Resistance transports flee the surface of D’Qar as the autocannons obliterate the now empty base. With personnel and equipment safely aboard the vessels of the Resistance fleet, General Leia Organa orders her forces to disengage but Poe Dameron has a different idea. Having taken out the surface cannons on the Dreadnought, Dameron ignores his commanding officer, switching off his communications, intent on scoring a victory against the First Order by taking out the “fleet-killer.”

One can easily criticize Dameron for his actions; and he is criticized, even demoted, when the Resistance makes its orbital exit from the D’Qar system following the battle. In this moment, though, the impetuous Commander gives the order to attack. Protected by X-Wings and A-Wings in the Resistance starfighter fleet, massive B/SF-17 heavy bombers “in tight formation” slowly move towards the Dreadnought preparing to unleash their payload of proton bombs to destroy the terrifying Man-of-war.

Although it’s surface cannons were knocked out by Dameron’s lone assault, the Dreadnought is not defenseless. TIE Fighter Squadrons throw themselves against the Resistance attackers, intent on destroying the bombers. A fierce dogfight commences. Starfighters on both sides are vaporized. A B/SF-17 is blasted apart by the green lasers of an attacking TIE. But the Resistance does not let up, and the Bombers close the distance with the imposing First Order capital ship which is now aiming its massive autocannons at the Resistance fleet. Bombardiers ready their payloads, opening bay doors and arming bombs as the vessels inch closer to “the sweet spot” where they will inflict maximum destruction.

Suddenly, a damaged TIE Fighter crashes into one of the Bombers, unleashing hell. Shredded from the inside, massive detonations hurtle debris into two other B/SF-17s which also erupt into flame. Watching from the ball turret at the base of her Bomber, a Resistance gunner witnesses the destruction. Removing her mask and breathing heavy, her wide-eyes reveal her shock and disbelief.

Paige Shocked
Paige Tico’s expression when she sees the other Resistance Bombers exploding.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Now, this gunner’s Bomber is the only one that remains. Suspended above the massive First Order ship, it is the last hope for the small Resistance fleet. The situation is perilous and the tension is amplified when Dameron frantically contacts the gunner:

“Paige, come in, we’re over the target. Why aren’t your bay doors open? You’re the only bomber left, it’s all down to you!”

This gunner, Paige, springs into action. Exiting the ball turret at the bottom of the weapons bay, she opens the bay doors and calls to the bombardier up above. 

“Nix!,” she yells, but there is no reply, only the distinct beeping of the weapons release on the grated floor far above.

“Paige, drop the payload, now!,” Dameron frantically exclaims. Determination on her face, she frantically climbs the ladder, past the armed bombs in their racks, emerging at the top to find the bombardier, Nix, dead on the floor. Paige reaches for the beeping, blinking weapons trigger laying nearby but as she does, a TIE Fighter blasts the cockpit of the Bomber, killing the pilot and sending fire and shock waves through the cabin. Losing her grip, Paige falls, landing heavy on the floor at the bottom of the weapons bay.

Momentarily unconscious, Tico opens her eyes. The trigger, still beeping, is far above, now dangling on the edge of the opening at the top of the ladder. Paige kicks the ladder but it does not fall to her. Again, she kicks, even harder, but it still does not fall. The Bomber continues forward, now moving over the “sweet spot” of the Dreadnought. The music laid over the scene adds to the tension, and we see Poe Dameron soundless but clearly screaming for the bombs to be dropped. Again, and again, Paige kicks the ladder but still the device does not fall to her.

Tico Kick
Determination on her face, Paige kicks the ladder a final time. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Autocannons glowing red as they prepare to fire, General Organa sensing the impending doom of her forces, now Tico closes her eyes and clutches a half-crescent medallion on her necklace. Opening her eyes once more, a clear sense of determination painted on her face, Paige kicks the ladder with all her strength. Finally, the trigger tips over the edge and falls. Everything goes silent, the lone exception the sound of the remote clanking against a bomb rack on its way down. Laying there in the silence, Tico exhales as she watches the still beeping, blinking device go by her.

The camera view is now on the falling remote. Suddenly, the music begins to build and a hand reaches out, grasping it from the air. Paige is now laying face down, the item in her left hand. She presses the blinking red button and the bombs begin to drop on the Dreadnought, unleashing incendiary death.

Still laying there, Tico puts her hand once more to her medallion, touching it with a few fingers. We see her face, looking down through the grated floor, fire spreading down towards her through the now empty bomb bay. Resigned to her fate, a stoic expression upon her face, Paige Tico closes her eyes and is bathed in the flames of her dying craft as it crashes into the inferno ripping through the Dreadnought.


To say that Paige Tico (Veronica Ngo) is a minor character in The Last Jedi is neither controversial nor surprising. Two minutes after meeting her as she watches the other Resistance Bombers perish, she too is gone, vaporized in a massive explosion. But while her screen time is brief, her actions are exceedingly important, not only saving the Resistance but also, we learn soon after, the life of her sister Rose.

I have never been shy with my thoughts about The Last Jedi, disliking a number of things about the movie. I highlight as much in my piece Reflections on the Last Jedi, but my intention here is not to dwell on the negative. Instead, I mention that post to note that while I find The Last Jedi lacking in some specific ways, there are scenes and characters that I really did enjoy and could appreciate in the film. And at the top of that list is Paige Tico.

The first time I saw The Last Jedi I was absolutely mesmerized by the two minutes this Resistance gunner, Paige, is in the movie. In general, I find the opening of the film quite good, hitting all of the right notes as the small Resistance, caught in the midst of their evacuation, confronts the First Order. But Paige truly stands out, the opening sequence reaching a tension-filled crescendo with her heroism and ultimate sacrifice.

Honestly, this is my favorite moment in the entire Sequel Trilogy. I very well might be the only one who feels this way, or perhaps I am one of just a few. It’s the truth, though. The entire sequence doesn’t just captivate me, it affects me at my core. Frankly, this is why I have never written about the sacrifice of Paige Tico, at least not until now. I have never been able to find the words to express just how much this scene, Tico’s actions/death, speaks to me. The fact is that it just done, plain and simple. But if I have to put it into words, expressing some reason that accounts for my feelings, I would say this: it is because Paige’s sacrifice is incredibly personal.

As an audience, we are the only ones who know what Paige Tico does to save the Resistance fleet, who actually witness her actions and her death. Later, when meet Rose Tico mourning her sister, her own crescent-shaped medallion in hand, Rose can only imagine what happened in the final moments of Paige’s life. We are burdened with knowledge that Rose can not and will never know. To me, this is what makes the two minutes we spend with Paige Tico so intimate, so personal, so damn powerful. 

We see Paige react to the destruction of the Bombers, shock and disbelief on her face.
We see Paige climb out of her ball turret, call to Nix, and climb the ladder.
We see Paige fall when the cockpit of her Bomber is destroyed.
We see Paige, on her back, desperately kicking the ladder to get the trigger to fall to her.
We see Paige close her eyes and grasp the medallion around her neck.
We see Paige kick the ladder one final time, knocking the trigger off the ledge above.
We see Paige grab the trigger out of the air as it falls past her, releasing the bombs.
We see Paige touch her medallion a final time, close her eyes and die.

We alone see the final two minutes of her life; we see the sacrifice of Paige Tico.

Paige Tico's Death
The Sacrifice of Paige Tico
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

 

 

Haikuesday: Clone Troopers

The Muunilist 10
Advanced Recon Commandos
Captain Fordo’s squad


Clone Wars – Chapter 8
Kenobi strikes with a clone
Lancer Battalion.


Boss, Fixer, Sev, Scorch
From Republic Commando.
It’s a damn fun game.


Four Clone Commandos –
Niner, Fi, Atin, Darman
They show True Colors.


A different Niner
was killed on Vassek’s third moon
hunting down Gunray.


The best of the best.
Captain Rex is loyal to
his men and Sky Guy.


Commander Cody.
Leading the 7th Sky Corps
through numerous fights.


The Gauntlet of Death.
Clone sniper Cooker targets
power cells of droids.


Hevy’s sacrifice.
Kamino is protected
thanks to his actions.


Clone Captain Keeli
spends his last moments standing
with Ima-Gun Di.


Clone Commander Bly.
Secura’s loyal trooper.
He helps to kill her.


Fodder for the plot.
Cameron, Lucky, and Flash
are expendable.


The Clone Wars series
is really good at killing
lots of unnamed clones.


Duplicitous clone!
Sergeant Slick betrays his men
at First Christophsis.


Storm over Ryloth.
Clone Pilot Axe dies in his
V-19 Torrent.


“I guess we’re the best.”
Two clones scout a Twi’lek town.
Waxer and Boil.


Boil’s Fu Manchu
is absolutely stunning.
You can’t deny it.


The Battle of Khorm.
Wolffe loses his right eye in
a fight with Ventress.


Name is Cut Lawquane.
Deserted the army but
found a family.


Clone Commander Ponds.
Executed on Slave I
after his capture.


Landmine explosion.
“Oz is down. So is Ringo.”
Umbaran Darkness.


Hyper-active clone.
Hardcase is just a bit off.
It makes him unique.


Battle of Sarrish.
Gregor missing in action.
Found on Abafar.


Clone Commander Doom.
Designed as an homage to
Marvel’s Doctor Doom.


Turning on Tiplar.
“Good soldiers follow orders.”
Tup’s bio-chip fails.


ARC Trooper named Fives
discovers bio-chip truth:
To kill the Jedi.


Clone Medic Kix was
captured, frozen in stasis 
for next fifty years.


Clone Force 99.
Also known as the “Bad Batch.”
“they’re defective clones.”


ARC Trooper Echo.
Believed to be KIA.
But he was captured.


13th Battalion.
Led by Master Tapal and
Padawan Kestis.


“Time for you to leave,”
Appo tells Bail Organa.
Then wounded by Zett.


Clone Commander Gree.
Yoda cuts off the clone’s head.
Then makes his escape.


The Coruscant Guard.
Led by Clone Commander Fox.
Darth Vader kills him.


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

Star Wars Aliens

 

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

Given the ubiquity of droids in the Star Wars universe it should come as no surprise that some of these robots would be members of notable pirate gangs. An RA-7 series protocol droid with distinct green and white plating, 4A-R2 has the esteemed distinction of belonging to the infamous Ohnaka Gang.

Led by the fan-favorite Hondo Ohnaka, the Ohnaka Gang was first introduced along with its namesake Captain in the The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 11: “Dooku Captured.” When we first meet Ohnaka and his predominately Weequay crew they are rummaging through the wreckage of two ships on the planet Vanqor. Count Dooku, having slipped past his Jedi pursuers, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, happens upon the pirates as they plunder his crashed solar sailer and the shuttle which the Jedi had piloted. Seeing Count Dooku approaching, Hondo is surrounded by a handful of Weequay pirates. But look even more closely and you will notice that a droid is also present when Hondo and Dooku begin speaking (see featured image).

Admittedly, it was a number of years after “Dooku Captured” originally aired that I even noticed this pirate protocol droid, 4A-R2, standing with the group. Intrigued, I scoured the remainder of the episode for signs of this green and white plated droid but could not find it hiding in the background of anymore scenes. Nor, to my knowledge, does 4A-R2 appear in the next episode, “The Gungan General,” which continues the story of Ohnaka’s gang at their base of operations on the planet Floruum.

Ohnaka with his Gang
4A-R2: pirate protocol droid and dog walker. Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 22: “Lethal Trackdown”

In fact, it is not until the final episode in the second season of The Clone Wars, “Lethal Trackdown,” that this protocol droid appears again and, so far as I can tell, for the final time. Late in the episode, Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano runs by Hondo and a handful of his gang as she chases the bounty hunter Aurra Sing. As Ahsoka passes the group, one of the Weequay pirates raises a rifle to shoot at her but Hondo intervenes, forcing the weapon to be lowered. With this action being the focus of the scene it is easy to miss 4A-R2 standing on the edge of the group. Look closely, though, and you may notice that the protocol droid is also passively active in the scene, holding the leash that is attached to one of Ohnaka’s pet massifs.

And yeah, that is it. 4A-R2 appears in The Clone Wars on two separate and equally brief occasions. Is it possible that this pirate protocol droid is hidden somewhere else in the The Clone Wars and I just haven’t found it? Perhaps. I suppose I will just have to keep re-watching episodes of the show Hondo and his gang to see if 4A-R2 is up to some really important pirate stuff like pillaging and/or dog walking.


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-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

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

5 Fearless Cartoon Females of the 80s

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

An RA-7 Series Protocol Droid drifts through the vast darkness of space, unafraid but “strangely calm” in “the silence” and “solitude.” Overcome by the euphoria of be-ing in this moment, “in a world all my own,” the droid, AP-5, begins to sing. As he does, a herd of baby neebray flock surround him. With their vibrant colors and dancelike movement, the neebray accentuate AP-5’s song, adding to the tranquility of the moment.

Admittedly, this scene from “Double Agent Droid, the 19th episode of Star Wars: Rebels third season, is entirely unexpected. With the obvious exception of those characters who are already musicians, it is strange for anyone in Star Wars to break into song. What makes this even more random is that the character doing the singing is AP-5, a protocol droid with the same languid tone and delivery as the late Alan Rickman. Coupled with the droids grumpy personality and dry sense of humor, that AP-5 is the one to sing about the beauty and wonder of the universe is an absurd juxtaposition that immediately catches one off-guard.

For many, the song was undoubtedly funny, a moment of welcome levity in an episode of Rebels. After-all, as showrunner Dave Filoni points out, the intention of the song, random as it may be, was meant to inject humor into the seriousness of show. For some, the song may have been off-putting, an absurdity that is annoying, adding nothing but pointless filler to the animated show. And still for others, the song very well may have been forgettable, overshadowed by the more exciting bits of the episode in particular and the series in general.

What did I think of it? Well, the fact that the languid and grumpy AP-5 is caught-up in the moment, singing how he “finds it easy to see” that he “fits into” beauty surrounding him, is certainly funny. But while I can appreciate the levity, I would also describe the song, and the scene as a whole, as utterly delightful. In a way, it serves as a reminder that every character, even those playing a minor or background role, belongs in the Star Wars universe. Facing his own mortality, AP-5 recognizes and affirms that there is no reason to be afraid as he drifts through space precisely because his existence has always had meaning. He has always fit into, and helped make, this universe more spectacular, more beautiful, more wonderful.

And the same is true for each one of us. Like AP-5 and all of the characters in the Star Wars universe, you and I perfectly fit into this universe. Honestly, what better way to capture this euphoric sense of belonging than through song?


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-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

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.