Anakin Skywalker

Love for the Lucrehulk

I have said it once and I will say it again: my love of Star Wars – especially my love of specific elements within Star Wars – is based in large part on my experiences with the franchise as a kid. That very obvious and totally unnecessary first sentence out of the way, I’m just gonna get straight to the point:

I absolutely love the Lucrehulk-class Battleship.

Growing up, I always had a deep fascination for capital ships in Star Wars, with the Star Destroyer taking the obvious top spot in my list of favorites. While the iconic backbone of the Imperial fleet gets the gold medal from me, other capital ships have never-the-less stolen my heart. And that is precisely the case with the Lucrehulk.

Introduced in The Phantom Menace, the Lucrehulk-class Battleship is the backbone of the Trade Federation fleet. As a 14-year-old Star Wars fan watching Episode I in 1999, seeing the Lucrehulk blew my mind to pieces. Blockading the planet Naboo, the fleet of Federation battleships instantly captivated me and my imagination. Up to that point, at least on the big screen, we had only ever seen two types of Star Wars fleets: the Imperial Fleet and the Rebel Fleet. But this changed in the opening scene of The Phantom Menance with the introduction of the Trade Federation and their own capital ships. Now, a third fleet of ships existed, a fleet that could hold a world hostage over something as trivial as “taxation of trade routes.”

Ever since that first viewing of The Phantom Menace, ever since I encountered the Lucrehulk in the opening of the film, these battleships have held a special place in my Star Wars heart. Aesthetically these vessels were unique, neither having the angular form of the Star Destroyers or the obvious length of ships like Home One (the Rebel Flagship) or the Nebulon-B Frigate (the Medical frigate). Instead, the battleship is massive while also being compact, its circular outer body used for cargo, broken at the front, surrounding a bulbous core. Looking so fundamentally different from other Star Wars capital ships, the Lucrehulk, it’s curious but intriguing design, invaded my mind like the Federation invading Naboo, taking over without any resistance.

On a rational level, there is no reason the Lucrehulk should captivate me in the way it does. There are other ships that one could argue deserve more attention, and perhaps they are right. But then again, I’m not arguing from a place of rationality. My love for the Lucrehulk is entirely nostalgic, going back (at this point) 19 years to a formative moment in my youth. This is precisely why, while I DO have rational reasons for some aspects of Star Wars I love, and those that I don’t, I would never impose my rationality on the formative nostalgia of others. Someone very well might hate the Lucrehulk. They might hate the design, hate the Trade Federation, even hate The Phantom Menace. I won’t argue with them because I flipping love the Lucrehulk and that is all that matters to me.

And so, to articulate in some other way just how profound my feelings are when it comes to this vessel, consider this: I have watched and rewatched The Clone Wars episode “Storm over Ryloth” an absurd number of times because a Lucrehulk is the center piece of the Confederate blockade of Ryloth in that episode. This isn’t to say the battleship is the only reason I enjoy this episode of The Clone Wars animated show, but I constantly drawn back to “Storm over Ryloth,” at least in part, by the imposing circular giant in orbit over the Twi’lek home world. Besides, it looks really REALLY cool when Anakin crashes his Jedi Cruiser into the battleship.

Battle of Ryloth
A burning Jedi Cruiser (foreground) speeds towards the flagship of the Confederate blockade over Ryloth, a Lucrehulk-class Battleship (distant).

Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 1, Episode 19), “Storm over Ryloth”

Haikuesday: The Battle of Umbara

Expansion Region;
Ghost Nebula; Umbara;
Confederate World


CIS Blockade
Tano and Offee attack
with Z-95s


The southern campaign:
Kenobi, Krell, and Tinn move
on the capital.

The northern campaign:
Skywalker engages their
foe’s reinforcements.


Umbaran forces,
technologically fierce.
Do they use clones too?

Haiku Addendum:
All Umbaran fighters look
exactly the same.

If I had to guess
I’d say yes, the Umbaran
militia are clones.


The 501st
lands in the north and a dark,
deadly fight begins.


A counterattack
catches Sky Guy’s troops off-guard.
Strategic retreat.

Abandoning ridge,
the 501st waits for
Odd Ball’s bombs to drop.


Anakin relieved,
ordered back to Coruscant.
Pong Krell takes over.


Pong Krell’s Strategy:
frontal assaults against the
dug-in Umbarans.


Key to invasion!!!
Krell scolds the 501st.
“Krell is such an ass.”


Into a minefield,
the clones march forward but are
ambushed and outgunned.


Umbaran airbase
supplying the capital.
The next objective.

With Rex in the lead,
half the battalion enters
a valley of death.

Caterpillar Tanks
greet the unsuspecting clones.
Casualties will mount.

Rockets do the trick,
the creepy crawlers destroyed.
Another threat looms.

Umbarans send in
their Mobile Heavy Cannons.
The clones are so screwed.

Dangerous mission:
Fives and Hardcase infiltrate
the Umbaran base.

Hijacking fighters,
Fives and Hardcase save the day!
MHCs destroyed.

Airfield is captured!
But another threat still looms:
A droid supply ship.


Atmospheric fight.
Separatist fleet battles
a Republic force.


Umbaran missles.
100 megaton yield.
Krell just doesn’t care.

I have to be frank:
100 megaton yield
IS NOT accurate.

The explosions
would be catastrophic and
utterly massive.


Protected droid ship
resupplies the capital.
But Fives has a plan.

Hijacking fighters,
Fives, Hardcase, and Jesse fly
into supply ship.

Hardcase shows courage.
“Live to fight another day…”
Hard-earned sacrifice.


Insubordinate.
Fives and Jesse found guilty.
Ready…Aim…FIRE!!!!!!!!


Umbaran advance.
Disguised in clone trooper gear.
Brothers should beware.


Ambushed by their own.
Brothers battling brothers.
Carnage of Pong Krell.

Deception revealed.
Every clone prepares to fight.
Fives and Rex in charge.

General scorn.
He won’t go down easily.
Irate, Krell attacks.

Jedi on the run.
Kix and other clones pursue.
Lured into a trap.

Many dead brothers.
Nevertheless, they persist.
Outraged for justice.

Pong Krell lies in wait.
Quietly prepares…attacks!!!
Rex rallies the clones.

Sabers ballet death.
Tup with a plan, his own trap.
Unaware, Krell strikes.

Victorious clones.
Waxer’s justice will be swift.
Xenos Krell shot dead.


Who pulled the trigger?
Not throwin away his shot:
the loyal Dogma.


The 501st.
The Battle of Umbara.
Dark, Deadly Triumph.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

General Grievous (October 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

The Prayer of Kylo Ren

“Forgive me. I feel it again. The pull to the light. Supreme  Leader senses it. Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way. Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started.” – The Prayer of Kylo Ren

It is a scene in The Force Awakens in which the audience is invited to witness a small, sacred act – the prayer of an individual seeking forgiveness from, and offering continued devotion to, the object of his worship. Sitting before an altar, an altar which bears a cherished relic – the burnt helmet of Darth Vader – Kylo Ren, the film’s primary antagonist, invokes the strength and guidance of the deceased Sith Lord, his grandfather. The words spoken by the young Knight of Ren, brief as they are, offer a glimpse into the soul of a young and clearly tormented man, a man seeking respite and aid from his divine ancestor.

One can certainly imagine that this is not the first time Kylo Ren has offered a prayer to his grandfather, nor will it be his last. In turn, there are any number of things – thoughts and questions – that this scene, and this prayer, leaves open to the imagination. For example, while his prayer is offered to the burnt shell of Vader’s helmet, a narrative indication that he self-identifies with the Sith Lord, I have often wondered what Ren knows or understands about the man Vader once was – Anakin Skywalker. In turn, as Ren states “I will finish what you started” it is left open-ended as to what he means by this phrase. Is Kylo Ren referring to the destruction of the Jedi Order? The conquest of the galaxy? The continuation of the Sith Order? Or, perhaps, if he is thinking of his grandfather as the “Chosen One” who, according to prophecy, would bring balance to the Force, does Kylo Ren believe it is his responsibility to “finish” the balancing act? And if so, does Kylo view the “balance to the Force” as being not about equal sides, Light and Dark, but rather about completely extinguishing the Light altogether?

These and other thoughts/questions percolate in my mind each time I watch this scene (and even when I am not watching, like right now), and to be entirely frank I do not find any easy or quick answers. Which actually begs an entirely different question altogether:

Is it even necessary to interpret Kylo Ren’s prayer beyond what it is – a prayer?

Asking this hardly means we Star Wars fans need not, or even should not, consider what Kylo Ren says, using his words to further our conceptual understanding of the Force, the Jedi, the Sith, the Prophecy, etc. Rather, it is simply a question, nay a suggestion, that Kylo Ren’s prayer serves as a very direct reminder that within the Star Wars galaxy matters of the Force are matters of religious belief for many characters. It is easy to forget this, to become so focused on piecing together every last detail of Star Wars, obsessing over how “A connects to B” and “B connects to C” that we (myself included) can at times lose sight of the reality that Star Wars serves as a mirror which reflects our own concepts of the Sacred and religion. And, in the case of this particular scene, it is a reflection of devotion and supplication. Instead of contemplating the near infinite “meanings” of the words Kylo Ren directs towards his grandfather we should instead sit back and ponder, with open hearts and minds, how this scene serves another important purpose: as a reminder that prayer is a powerful tool/act which religious persons engage in as they seek connection and guidance from the Sacred.

Beyond that, we really do not have to dig any deeper.

Haikuesday: Ahsoka Tano

I have to be frank:
When Young Snips was introduced
I did not like her.

Haiku Addendum:
Regarding the last poem,
I’m now fond of her.


Ahsoka Tano
was basically Padmé and
Ani’s first child.


Scene: on Christophsis;
A youngling is sent to war
by Jedi Masters.


Does anyone know
why Ahsoka went off to
fight without armor?


Jedi Commander
Outranking Clone Captain Rex
Both child soldiers.


The Battle of Teth:
Tano fights for access to
Hutt hyperspace routes.


The Malevolence
destroys Master Plo Koon’s fleet.
Tano will save him.


In Resolute bay,
Ahsoka complains about
being a gunner.


“I feel it,” she says.
“A disturbance in the Force.”
Pellaeon listens.


A duel with Grievous
unfolds in Ruusan moon’s sky.
Snips barely escapes.


Blue Shadow Virus!
Ahsoka is infected!
Oh no, Padmé too!


Scene: over Ryloth;
Tano uses Marg Sabl
in battle with Seps.


Ignoring commands,
rash Ahsoka continues
fight for Felucia. 


Ahsoka Tano,
Jedi Padawan and the
best library guard.


Held hostage by Bane,
Anakin must choose how to 
save his padawan.


Ani and Tano
bicker while battle rages.
“Another fine mess…”


Noble sacrifice;
Tano and Offee “die” so 
that others can live.


“Kill me” pleads Barris,
brain worms infecting her mind.
Can Snips kill her friend?


Maurya Ruler,
Conqueror of Kalinga.
Whoops! That’s Ashoka.


Tera Sinube
helps Ahsoka look for her
misplaced lightsaber.


Mon Gazza podrace,
Ahsoka gets a “Crash Course” 
in high speed flying.


Two Jedi track Fett
from Coruscant to Florrum.
Will they find the boy?


I have to be frank:
Pics of sexy Ahsoka
are really creepy.

Haiku Addendum:
Seriously, she’s a kid,
not a sex object.


Tano with Chuchi;
Just two friends hiding on a
Federation ship.


Padmé in danger!
Ahsoka senses a threat,
but could she be wrong…?


Scene: on Mandalore;
Ahsoka helps some kiddos
tackle corruption


Young Ahsoka speaks
with her older self in the
complex Mortis-arc.


With his dying breath,
Piell imparts Nexus Route
upon young Tano.


Trandoshans capture
Ahsoka and use her as 
prey to be hunted.


I can’t figure out
why Ahsoka came with the
Lego MHC…

Haiku Addendum:
Ahsoka was not in the
Umbaran stories.


Battle in the deep.
Ahsoka protects Lee-Char,
King of Mon Cala.


Ahsoka and Lux,
sitting in a tree, K-I-
S-S-I-N-G!!!!


Tano is all like
cray jelly that dreamy Lux
likes that chick Steela.


A padawan framed!
Ahsoka flees into the
deadly underworld.


“I’m not coming back.”
Ahsoka Tano leaves an
Order in chaos.


I have to be frank:
I don’t like that she leaves but
sees Ani again.


Siege of Mandalore.
Tano duels a tattooed foe.
Rex will spring the trap.


Ahsoka novel
Review: started strong but the
climax was just meh.


Scene: moon called Raada;
A mechanic named Ashla
lends aid to farmers.


Snips turned fifteen on
September 22nd
1955

Haiku Addendum:
Hidalgo figured this out
so go talk to him.


Mystery figure.
Aiding the Lothal Rebels.
Who is this Fulcrum?


Rex and Ahsoka
are finally reunited.
Memories abound.


It’s pretty damn cool
when Ahsoka schools the two
inquisitive sibs.


“You abandoned me!”
“Do you know what I’ve become?”
“No. No!” she cries out.


Scene: on Malachor;
“I am no Jedi,” she tells
her former Master.


Did Ahsoka live?
Or did she die in the duel?
There’s no wrong answer.

Haiku Addendum:
Ahsoka theories don’t suck,
nor do Snoke theories


If left up to me,
in The Last Jedi I’d have
Luke chat with Tano.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

A Stirring in the Force

In one of the Interlude chapters in the novel Aftermath: Life Debt, author Chuck Wendig takes the reader back to Maz Kanata’s castle on the verdant world of Takodana. While Kanata and her castle/world have appeared in a spattering of stories since she was first introduced in The Force Awakens, she has otherwise not received greater treatment in the Star Wars canon. Her unmistakable absence has left me disappointed since what we learn about Kanata and her connection to the Force in The Force Awakens is incredibly fascinating. Still, I know that her story will eventually receive a much larger treatment – I shared my own idea for a story that would suite her in a previous post– and in the meantime smaller stories like the Interlude in Life Debt satisfy my need to know more about her. 

LifeDebt
The cover of Life Debt.
Photo Credit – Del Rey Books

Now, while I am happy that we are given this glimpse of Kanata in Life Debt, the Interlude also includes a rather peculiar remark which Kanata voices about the state of the Force. It is an otherwise subtle comment, coming on the last page of the chapter after she handles a minor situation that unfolds in the fortress she calls home. Standing on a parapet of the ancient castle, she is approached by the droid 8D9 who tells Kanata that “Peace has returned to the Castle.” In turn, Maz states the following:

“Good, good, good. Still. Peace has not returned to my heart. Something is off balance. Some stirring in the Force has made the water turbid. Hard to see. But I think it best we be prepared.”

What is so strange about this comment, what made me immediately stop reading the novel and left me in deep contemplation, is the phrase “Something is off balance.” Given that she follows this by saying there is “some stirring in the Force,” it is obvious that Kanata is referring to the Force being off balance. But what makes this so odd is the timing of her statement, coming only a handful of months after Anakin Skywalker – redeemed by his son Luke – fulfilled his prophetic destiny as the one who would bring balance to the Force. The entire trajectory of Anakin’s life, guided at times by the Force and at other times by his own feelings and actions, led him to that moment aboard Death Star II where the balancing act would finally be completed. It was not the first action towards fulfilling the prophecy, but it was, so far as Star Wars lore is concerned, the last.

Again, this is what makes Kanata’s statement so strange. How can it be that the Force is already stirring, that Maz Kanata can sense that the Force is off balance when the Chosen One literally just completed the balancing act? This question has bugged me ever since my first reading of Life Debt, and while a handful of explanations/ideas have been floating around in my mind, some way of reconciling what she says with the reality of Anakin’s actions has eluded me. For the life of me I just can’t figure it out, at least not in any crystal clear way. Of course, it would be simple enough to just ask Chuck Wendig for an explanation, but going to the author for answers isn’t how I tend to roll. Besides, I am sure Wendig is a busy guy, and he surely has better things to do than answer every question/comment a reader throws his way. But I digress…

mazkanata
Kanata sits at a table in her castle.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Basically, I think the simplest explanation is the one that probably makes the most sense: Kanata’s senses are correct, the Force feels off balance to her because it is off balance, a result of whatever is “stirring” within the mystical energy field. But beyond Kanata telling the truth, we really cannot extrapolate a great deal, there is just not enough information to help us understand the relationship between Anakin’s balancing act and the Force being off balance once again. While we cannot understand that relationship we can, however, acknowledge that if Kanata is correct then Anakin being the Chosen One and balancing the Force is called into question. Is it possible, we must ask, that Anakin did not actually balance the Force in Return of the Jedi? Or, if he truly did balance the Force, what could have caused the Force to be off balance right after he had fulfilled his prophetic destiny? And on this point, are we as fans okay with this new imbalance to the Force knowing that it runs the risk of undermining the fundamental lore at the very heart of the six Star Wars films George Lucas created? Or, is there potential for this new imbalance to add to that lore in a way that honors and expands, but does not detract from, Lucas’ original vision and story?

The Death of Padmé Amidala

A friend recently shared an article with me which speculates on why Padmé Amidala dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith. In this article, author Joseph Tavano goes to great lengths to argue that Padmé did not die from a “broken heart.” Instead, Tavano presents the thesis that the reason for Padmé’s death is that Darth Sidious was quite literally ripping the Living Force from her. For the sake of brevity, and because I do not want to take it upon myself to rehash the entire article, I suggest you read the piece for yourself to have a fuller appreciation for Mr. Tavano idea. You can find the article here: Padmé Didn’t Die of a Broken Heart. And, in case you want to re-watch the scene in which Padmé dies, here it is:

When my friend – Michael Miller from the blog My Comic Relief – shared the article with me, it was actually the second (or third, or fourth) time I had been presented with this particular answer to Padmé’s curious death at the end of Revenge of the Sith. In fact, I had already read this particular article before and had also engaged in similar conversations about this possibility in the past with other friends. Still, even though I had already read the piece and reflected on this possibility, since Michael was sharing the article with me, I thought I would re-read it and give him my thoughts. And, because I love talking Star Wars (I am the Imperial Talker after all), I figured I would share these same thoughts with y’all.

As I told Miller, I really have no problem with this particular theory regarding Padmé’s death. In fact, I find it entirely plausible and perhaps likely. The thought that Darth Sidious – a powerful Sith Lord with arcane abilities that go beyond reason – could, from a galactic distance, siphon the Force from a living being is a tantalizing thought. After all, in The Clone Wars episode “The Lost One” Sidious is able to Force choke his apprentice, Darth Tyrannus, although they are separated by many light-years. In turn, when one also throws into the conversation the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise- the Dark Lord of the Sith who we know was Sidious’ Master – and Plagueis’ ability to manipulate the Force to keep individuals from dying, the possibility that Sidious did the same with thing with Vader, at Padmé’s expense, grows stronger. It is true, of course, that Sidious tells Anakin Skywalker (after the young Jedi pledges allegiance to the Sith Lord) that “to cheat death is a power only one [Plagueis] has achieved.” However, it is also perfectly reasonable that this is yet another moment in which Sidious manipulates Anakin, withholding the truth that Sidious, having learned from his own Master, already knows how to keep individuals alive. In this vein, while on the surface Sidious purports to be ignorant of the ability, this would merely serve as misdirection, pointing blame for Padmé’s death away from Sidious and placing it squarely on Anakin/Vader’s shoulders. Sidious does, after all, tell the newly minted Sith Lord that “in your [Vader’s] anger, you killed her,” yet another possible example of Sidious toying with the mind of the already tormented man.

youkilledher
Sidious looks at Vader after telling the new Sith Lord that Vader’s anger killed Padmé.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I would suggest, though, that alternative possibilities exist regarding Padme’s death, possibilities that stray from Mr. Tavano’s piece. For example, while Tavano adamantly opposes the notion that Padmé died from a broken heart, I actually have no personal qualms with it. Broken heart syndrome is a real medical issue, and while it is often not fatal, it can in some instances lead to complications which might result in death. This is not to suggest that Padmé actually died from broken heart syndrome, merely that it is a possibility I am not opposed to entertaining.

Further, I have also wondered whether Padmé died as a result of her connection with Anakin through the Force, a connection built upon the love the two shared. This is not to suggest Anakin-turned-Vader willingly or knowingly killed Padmé, but instead that as Anakin was on the cusp of death, the Living Force in Padmé flowed away from her to her beloved. While Padmé may not be a “Force-user” in the way Anakin is, she is never-the-less intrinsically connected to the mystical energy field; she is, as Yoda would say, a “luminous being.” And so, I cannot help but wonder if the reason Padmé lost the will to live, as the medical droid explains in the scene, was because in her final moments she was quite literally willing Anakin to live, intentionally passing the Living Force within her to him. In this way, it was Padmé – and not some outside presence like Sidious – who chose to sacrifice herself to sustain Anakin. Like I said, it’s an idea that I have considered, and perhaps it’ll be one I develop as a post down the road. 

In the end, when it comes to Padmé’s death, I am perfectly fine with no official or objective explanation ever being given. While I am sure there is some very clear “Star Warsie” reason for her dying, I find it personally unnecessary to know with any certainty why she died. Honestly, I think it is better this way. Leaving her death unresolved opens the door for the imagination to fill in the gaps, allowing individuals like Tavano – and you and I – to come up ideas and theories about why Padmé died. That being said, leave a comment and tell me what idea(s) and theories you have about Padmé’s curious death in Revenge of the Sith


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

Star Wars: Padmé

The Power to Cheat Death

When we first watched The Phantom Menace and witnessed Darth Maul being sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was safe to assume that the young Dark Lord had been killed. Yet, as we discovered in The Clone Wars animated series, Maul miraculously survived his horrific bifurcation. Confiding in his training and anger, Maul drew upon the Dark Side of the Force to preserve what remained of him. Though his injuries took a physical and mental toll on him, he was able to cling to life and eventually found himself on the junk world of Lotho Minor. It was on the trash-filled planet where his brother, Savage Oppress, would re-discover Darth Maul. Taking the disheveled and mentally unstable Zabrak with him, Oppress returned Maul to Mother Talzin, a Dathomiri Witch who is, we discover much later, Maul’s mother. In turn, using her dark magic, Mother Talzin restored the one-time Dark Lord to his terrifying form, healing his mental anguish and providing him with new, mechanical legs.

Darth Maul’s return in The Clone Wars opened up a rich avenue of story-telling that has since extended into comic-book form (Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir), another animated series (Star Wars Rebels), and a new novel (Ahsoka). But his return also created intriguing ways of thinking about some of the lore and themes in Star Wars. For example, in a previous post from many moons ago – The Last Sith Lord – I speculated on the possibility that it is Maul, and not Vader or Sidious, who is the very last Dark Lord of the Sith (you can read that piece to see what I had to say). And in this post, I wanted to do something similar, this time considering how Maul’s re-emergence in The Clone Wars forces us to think more deeply about the concept of “cheating death,” a critical theme in Revenge of the Sith and the Prequel Trilogy.

For me, one of the most fascinating bits of lore added in Revenge of the Sith is the Tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise. Recounting the tale to Anakin Skywalker, Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) explains that,”Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” Of course, Palpatine also points out that Plagueis’ apprentice (surprise, it was Sidious!) killed the powerful Sith Lord in his sleep, noting the irony that “He could save others from death, but not himself.”

tale-of-darth-plagueis
Chancellor Palpatine recounts the Tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

With the Tale planted in Skywalker’s mind, it is little surprise that later in the film, when Anakin pledges himself to the teachings of Darth Sidious, he begs the Dark Lord of the Sith to help him save Padmé’s life. One will recall that young Skywalker was having premonitions about his wife’s impending death, visions of her suffering as she dies in child birth. And, in response to Anakin’s plea, Sidious remarks that “To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but, if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.”

Now, it’s obvious that Sidious’ statement – “to cheat death is a power only one has achieved” –  is a reference to Darth Plagueis. However, it’s also true that Darth Maul was able to cheat death. Plagueis could keep others from dying, Maul was able to keep himself from dying. This being the case, it begs the question: is it possible to reinterpret Sidious’ statement to suggest he was talking about Darth Maul and not Darth Plagueis?

This question has rattled around in my brain for some time, although truthfully it is a difficult one to answer in the affirmative. Sidious’ intention when he says this line is pretty straight-forward: to manipulate Anakin into accepting Sidious as his new Master. Since Sidious seems interested in helping Anakin discover the power to cheat death – all for the sake of saving Padmé – it makes sense that young Skywalker would pledge himself to the Dark Lord. Along these lines, it is also worth remembering that after Anakin lost his mother in Attack of the Clones, he vehemently declares that he will become so powerful he will “learn how to stop people from dying.” Given Skywalker’s intense desire to keep his loved ones from death, it is no wonder that 1) Palpatine told Anakin the Tale of Darth Plagueis and; 2) that he offered to help the young man discover the secret to cheating death.

pledge-to-sidious
Anakin pledges himself to Darth Sidious.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

None of this is to suggest, of course, that Darth Sidious and Anakin were ignorant that Darth Maul cheated death; both are well-aware the Sith survived his injuries and is still very much alive. But due to the context of this scene – embedded, as it is, in the Revenge of the Sith and the Prequel Trilogy – I find it unlikely that Sidious was referring to Darth Maul and not Darth Plagueis. Because Skywalker’s motivation is to save others from death – a power he was told Plagueis possessed – there is really no reason to imagine Darth Maul is at the forefront of his mind (or Sidious’) in the scene.

Nevertheless, I am still open to and intrigued by the possibility that Sidious was thinking of/referring to Darth Maul when he says “to cheat death is a power only one has achieved.” But I am not going to force the issue, in part because I have a lot of other things to say about cheating death and will be doing more posts on the topic. If, someday, a light turns on in my head and I figure out a way to make it work then I will be sure to share it with y’all. Otherwise, perhaps one of you will find a way to work it out in the meantime. 


More posts on the topic of cheating death:

Cheating Death: The Dark

Transcending Death: The Light

Doing What Must Be Done

While short, the scene in Revenge of the Sith is intensely powerful. Jedi younglings, hiding in the Jedi Council Chamber from attacking Clone Troopers, emerge from their concealment when a familiar figure enters the room: Anakin Skywalker. Unbeknownst to the young Jedi children, Skywalker is no longer the Knight they have all come to love and respect. Instead, he is Darth Vader, and he is the one leading the Clone Troopers in the attack against the Jedi Temple.

As the younglings emerge, one young boy steps forward and in a calm but obviously scared voice asks, “Master Skywalker, there are too many of them, what are we going to do?” Immediately, the camera shot changes from the innocence of the boy’s face to the malice of Vader’s. Reacting with only the slow downward nod of his head, Vader stares at the child who has addressed him.

The shot changes again and we now see the child in the center of the shot with other younglings to his sides and behind him. Vader’s body is cut off, and all that is visible of him is his left hand and the lightsaber he holds within it. His hand moving, Vader ignites the saber into a brilliant blue beam. At this, the child jolts, takes a step back, and the scene ends.

Anakin
A Sith Lord and a Jedi youngling.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I can still remember sitting in the theater watching Revenge of the Sith the night it opened and being absolutely shocked by this scene. We all knew going into the film that Anakin Skywalker would fall to the Dark Side, that he would become Darth Vader. Hell, we even knew he would end up leading an attack on the Jedi, beginning the purge that would whip out the vast majority of the ancient Light Side order. But what I wasn’t prepared for were these few seconds where young Jedi children, innocent, adorable, and hiding from the Temple attackers would come face-to-face with Vader.

While it hurts to watch the systematic destruction of the Order as Jedi Generals are killed by their Clone Troopers, it was at least bearable since those Jedi were adults. Children though, that’s tough. We may not see Vader do the deed, but we all know, when the lightsaber is ignited, what’s about to happen. Our imaginations are strong enough to put the pieces together.

The thing is – and I admit this is a weirdly absurd thing to say – he is fully justified in killing the younglings. I’m not suggesting I like that the younglings die, but within the context of the story that is Star Wars, their murder makes perfect sense. After all, the person we see enter the Council Chamber is not Anakin Skywalker but a newly minted Dark Lord of the Sith – Vader.

Before attacking the Temple, Vader’s new Master, Darth Sidious, gave him strict instructions to “Do what must be done.” He told Vader “not to hesitate” and to “show no mercy” to the Jedi he would encounter. Is what happened to those children heinous and cruel? Of course, but why should a Sith care? Those children weren’t just any children, they were Jedi younglings. Their collective death is justified by virtue of their being members of the ancient, mortal enemy of the Sith. Should a Sith be blamed for acting like a Sith? I don’t think so.

Besides, would we be as shocked if the Sith doing the killing wasn’t Vader? Say it was Darth Maul, or Darth Tyrannus,  or even Darth Sidious – what then? They, too, would be justified in killing Jedi younglings, and we can easily imagine a scenario in which any one of these Sith Lords would kill any Jedi, young or old, if given the chance.

But this scene needs Vader to make it work. The dramatic effect in the scene hinges on “Master Skywalker” being the would be savior of these children. Like I said above, the youngling who is speaking is unaware that Skywalker is no more, and the person standing before him is a Sith Lord. But WE are aware, and with this knowledge we’re trapped inside the room with those children, unable to escape from the reality of what Anakin-turned-Vader does to the younglings. Again, we don’t see him do the deed, thus we don’t know precisely how Vader goes about killing each child. Perhaps he cuts them all down with his blade or uses a Force choke on a few of them. Luckily, we are sparred from having to watch the dark deed but part of me wishes we had been forced to watch, if only to cement in our minds how twisted Anakin had become and how ruthless Darth Vader really is.

Star Wars: Padmé

Since writing my post on The Funeral of Padmé Amidala a while back, Padmé has continued to pop into my brain from time to time. But recently, it has been more than sporadic episodes – I’ve just not been able to stop thinking about her. This hardly means I haven’t been contemplating other awesome Star Warsie things, but for some reason my brain would just loop things back to her. Admittedly, it was a bit perplexing, but don’t take that to mean I dislike thinking about Padmé because I think she totally rocks. It’s just that lately she has been taking over my brain waves more than usual and I couldn’t figure out why.

Well, I couldn’t figure out why until just the other day when I was sitting on the couch and realized that Padmé is nowhere to be found these days. Sure, she lives on vicariously through Leia (and perhaps Rey?), but otherwise, Padmé feels like a distant memory, having been relegated to the sidelines of the Star Wars universe. In fact, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I have come to realize that Padmé is getting shafted. Consider this  – as of right now, the stories of the main characters from both the Original and Prequel Trilogies are being continued with the obvious exclusion of Padmé.

What gives? Are Anakin, Obi-Wan, Leia, Han, and Luke just more interesting than Padmé? Is Padmé just unworthy of having her story continued in a meaningful way? I certainly grant that the stories of all characters must, at some point, come to an end but there is no way her story is finished, right? There is so much we don’t know about Padmé, so many questions that need to be answered! Here are a handful that come to mind:

  • How and why did she become the Queen of Naboo at such a young age?
  • As the Queen of Naboo, how did she handle the aftermath of the Trade Federation’s invasion? Did she have regrets about how she had handled the crisis, about trying and failing to keep Naboo out of a war?
  • What was her relationship like with Palpatine in the years between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones?
  • Were there other attempts on her life, similar to the one we see at the beginning of Attack of the Clones?
  • How did she and Anakin navigate their secret marriage, particularly early on in the weeks after they wed? Did she ever confide in anyone close to her (like Dormé) that she was married to Anakin?
  • Besides the adventures we see her go on in The Clone Wars, did she have any others?
  • What was her feelings/reaction to the discovery that she was pregnant? How did she explain her pregnancy to the people around her (i.e. – other Senators, her family)?
    Padme and Dorme
    Padmé sits with her handmaiden Dormé.
    Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Like I said, these are just a handful of questions that come to mind as I think about Padmé. And while I accept that not all of them will be answered, I certainly hope and anticipate that some, heck even just one, eventually will be. Which brings me to this thought:

At the very least, Padmé deserves her own Five-Part Comic Series.

While I would absolutely love to see Natalie Portman reprise her role as Padmé on the big screen, I am also realistic in knowing she most likely never will unless it is a very minor cameo. In lieu of a film, I really believe Padmé would be a great character for a comic series, even a short one. This is precisely what we saw with the Princess Leia comic, a short, five-part series that allowed us to view Leia in her element, being a leader who isn’t afraid to make decisions and put her life in danger for the greater good. I see no reason why the same couldn’t also be true of Padmé. Heck, it already is true of Padmé, as we’ve seen her time and again step up as a leader, taking charge of situations, putting her life on the line, and doing her duty for the benefit of others. A comic series would be a way to not only add a new layer to Padmé’s story, but could serve as a way to dynamically expand upon her great qualities.  

But one of the other important things about the Princess Leia comic is that while we see Leia take the mantle of leadership, we do so while also getting into her mind. This was particularly important for the series as it takes place in the days/weeks after the destruction of Alderaan and the events of A New Hope. As such, we see first hand that she is struggling with the destruction of her homeworld and family, all of which helped to motivate Leia, as the last royal of her planet, to track down and safeguard any remaining Alderaanians.

Padme2
Padmé tells Anakin that she is pregnant. I wonder what she was thinking before/during/after she told him?
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I believe the same mix of external and internal would be perfect for Padmé as well. Depending on when/where it took place, the series could serve as a way for us to enter into Padmé’s mind, to really experience her motivations, feelings, and struggles. Padmé would certainly get to shine as the story unfolds, and I hardly think the series should be a case study in the psychology of Padme Amidala, but it would be fascinating to get a more personal glimpse of her thoughts. But only a glimpse – even fictional characters should be allowed their privacy.

Lastly, as a final thought, I should mention that I think Padmé deserves to be the center of attention for a rather simple reason – there are far too many male characters dominating the Star Wars landscape. While I love that there’s an Obi-Wan & Anakin comic series, and that Poe Dameron will be the center of attention in an upcoming series, I can’t help but wonder why Princess Leia is the only female character who has received her own  comic run. Well, that could easily be changed with a step in the right direction if Padmé Amidala were given a chance to standout in a series of her own.


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

The Death of Padmé Amidala

From Padawan to Knight

“You are on the council, but we do not grant you the rank of master.” – Mace Windu

“What? How can you do this? This is outrageous, it’s unfair.” – Anakin Skywalker

Remember that moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin is given a seat on the Jedi Council but Mace Windu tells him he IS NOT granted the rank of Master? Young Skywalker is pretty ticked about not being elevated to Master, and voices his disgust vehemently only to be chastised for his outburst. Anakin takes his seat and the scene moves along.

Anakin learns that he has been placed on the Council but was not promoted to the rank of Master. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Anakin learns that he has been placed on the Council but was not promoted to the rank of Master.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I can’t really argue one way or the other if it was the right decision for the Council to deny Anakin a promotion. I could, of course, spend this entire post dissecting the decision of the Jedi Council, and Anakin’s reaction, but my interest in doing so isn’t very high, at least not at the moment. Instead, I want to spend my time in this post wrestling with a different moment, or rather, a different transition point, in Anakin’s life as a Jedi. Basically, I want to know when and why he was promoted from Padawan to Knight because there is no canonical reference to it and, frankly, I want to know what the event/moment was like for Anakin.

Honestly, I think it is curious that we have never witnessed, nor read, anything about this very central moment in Skywalker’s life.[1] And, my curiosity is only amplified when we realize that we DO get to witness other significant points in Anakin’s life, all of which affect him in profound ways. Here is a brief list of some of these moments:

  • As a 9-year-old, Anakin is freed from slavery and leaves his mother on Tatooine (The Phantom Menace)
  • Anakin becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Padawan (The Phantom Menace)
  • Young Skywalker has doubts about training to become a Jedi and considers leaving the Order (Obi-Wan and Anakin)
  • He is given his first, independent assignment as a Jedi guarding Senator Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
  • Anakin witnesses his mother’s death, and slaughters a tribe of Tusken Raiders (Attack of the Clones)
  • He secretly marries Padmé Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
  • Anakin takes on a Padawan of his own, Ahsoka Tano (The Clone Wars movie)
  • Anakin watches as Ahsoka walks away from the Jedi Order (The Clone Wars)
  • He learns that he is going to be a father (Revenge of the Sith)
  • He is appointed to the Jedi Council (Revenge of the Sith)
  • Anakin cuts off the arm of Mace Windu, turning to the Dark Side, and becomes Darth Vader (Revenge of the Sith)

While this list could definitely be expanded, again, what has no possibility of being added right now is the moment Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight. Of course, some might suggest that this event needn’t be developed, that we get to see him as a Knight in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Anakin with his Padawan Ahsoka Tano Photo Credit - Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

Anakin with his Padawan Ahsoka Tano
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

Well, this is true. But we should also keep in mind that becoming a Jedi Knight is not a trivial thing. A Padawan must go through the “Trials,” the ritual process within the Order whereby a Padawan becomes a Knight. While there are a number of significant moments for a Jedi youngling in their training, from the creation to their lightsaber to their being apprenticed to a Jedi Knight or Master, the “Trials” are THE most significant rite of passage one will ever undertake within the Order because it is what makes one a full- fledged Jedi. While the responsibility of the Padawan is to learn the tenants of the Order, to learn how to follow the Jedi Code, this responsibility flips when one becomes a Knight. The Jedi Knight is a full Jedi because they are no longer tasked with learning, but with practicing and implementing the Code. In turn, the Knight will also take on a Padawan of their own, teaching the beliefs and duties of the Order to a young, up and coming Jedi.

But it is also worth noting that it is the Jedi Council which decides when a Padawan is ready for the “Trials,” and also determines when/if the Padawan has passed. Only then, if they have passed, will the Council confer the rank of Knight upon the Padawan.

Anakin’s Trials

In my mind, this is an event in Anakin’s life that is not simply about his taking and passing a test. Or, to say it another way, I am not interested in this particular story just to be able to say Anakin’s “Trials” were X, Y, and Z. Oh no, I want this story because it opens up a wealth of possibilities to get into Anakin’s head, to see how, during this immensely important period of his life, he viewed himself and his relationship to those around him.

Now, it is worth nothing the possibility that Anakin was granted his Knighthood immediately following the events depicted in Attack of the Clones. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is promoted to Knight after his own Master dies, and he defeats Darth Maul in battle. Perhaps the Jedi Council felt that young Skywalker’s actions, such as protecting Padmé, trying to rescue Obi-Wan, and facing Count Dooku, were ample reason to promote him to Jedi Knight. If this is the case, that is all well and good, but I also think it would be a mistake to think the Council promoted Anakin in the wake of all of these deeds.

Here is why: after going through everything we see him go through in Attack of the Clones, Anakin would have believed he had faced his “Trials” and should receive his Knighthood. Imagine, then, how royally pissed off he would be if, after everything he went through, he was still a Padawan as the Clone Wars began!!! You and I both know that HE would believe he had faced his “Trials” in the past few weeks, particularly after taking on a Sith Lord. Instead, upon returning from Naboo, he discovers that he is STILL Obi-Wan’s Padawan. If I was writing the book on Anakin’s “Trials,” I think the Prologue would need to have a scene in which he bursts into the Council Chamber demanding to know why he was not promoted to Jedi Knight…

Anakin and Count Dooku engage in combat Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Anakin and Count Dooku engage in combat
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The way I see it, if Anakin is elevated to Knight immediately after, and as a result of, his actions in Attack of the Clones, this shuts the door on Anakin having one more reason to be mad at the Jedi Council, one more reason to complain to Padmé, one more reason for Palpatine to plant the seed of Jedi greatness into his young mind. Of course Anakin would eventually end up facing the “Trials,” but there would be an underlying and persistent resentment, a boiling anger directed towards the Council, and even Obi-Wan, for holding him back yet again, a disgust for being treated like all of the other Padawan’s when he is convinced he exceeds them and most other Jedi.

And added to this resentment and disgust would be the ultimate Anakin paradox: that in feeling he should be promoted to full-fledged Jedi Knight, Anakin would also be wrestling with all the ways he has broken the Jedi Code – from killing an entire tribe of Tusken Raiders out of anger to secretly marrying Padmé Amidala. In other words, this story should not be told just so we can see Anakin get upset and pissy once again, but rather to dig into Anakin’s inner-self at a deeper level, to better understand how he reconciles his actions, thoughts, and beliefs with the Jedi Order he is sworn to serve.

Besides, it is in the heart and mind of a Jedi where the “Trials” truly take place and, well, after the things he says and does in Attack of the Clones, I want a front row seat to Anakin’s psychological and emotional turmoil as he transitions from Padawan to Knight. Plus, as a side show to the Anakin’s inner action, the story would also give us insight into the way(s) the Jedi Council view Anakin, allowing us to see their hesitation in promoting him and, perhaps, even the decision to provide him with a Padawan after he has become a Knight.

Oh, and as a final thought, just imagine who would be there to help Anakin through the “Trials,” who his closest confidant would end up being. It is hardly a stretch to imagine Chancellor Palpatine taking the time to work with young Skywalker through this period, a closer bond being forged between the two. And when Anakin did finally receive his Knighthood, Palpatine would be right there, off to the side, just watching and smiling…

I really do hope we get this type of story someday.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Do you agree there should be a story that looks at Anakin’s “Trials” and, if so, what sort of thing(s) would you want to see in it???


[1] We DO get to see Anakin face the Trials, and receive his promotion, in the non-canonical Clone Wars series from the early 2000s.