canon

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?

Would Princess Leia’s “Real Mother” Please Stand Up…(Part 2)

Spoiler Alert: This piece contains information from the Princess Leia comic series.

My wife and I will take the girl. We’ve always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us.” – Bail Organa

In the first part of this two part analysis, I examined the continuity issue between Return of the Jedi, where Leia describes her mother to Luke, and Revenge of the Sith, which shows the death of Leia’s mother when Leia and her brother are only minutes old. I will spare you a full rehashing of the first piece as you can go read it yourself, but I should note that, to date, no fix has come down from the people at Lucasfilm to settle this issue. Given the new commitment to continuity and canon in the form of a Lucasfilm (Star Wars) Story Group, which oversees all aspects of continuity in the Star Wars universe, I feel it is necessary for continuity issues like this be patched up for the sake of minimizing confusion.

That being said, the question then is how can this particular continuity error be fixed? I noted a few solutions in the previous post, but also explained why these knee-jerk fixes would not adequately hold up. For this second piece, then, I want to present a possible solution that I think could work based off of how I personally interpret the scene in Return of the Jedi. Of course, I will hardly suggest that this solution will make everyone happy. Instead, I hope that by presenting it, and those of you who add to it or provide your own solutions in the comment section, will inspire the Story Group to act in the future to reconcile this confusion.

So, without further ado, here is what I propose…

Bail Organa has deceived his adopted daughter for her own safety.

I am led to believe that the woman whom Leia is describing to Luke in Return of the Jedi is a real person Leia actually knew in the flesh. To me, this makes sense given the intimacy of the scene and what Luke is asking of Leia, wanting to know something about the mother they share but whom he never knew. However, if she is describing a real person, then the question becomes who exactly is this woman she is describing? I will come back to this in a moment, but first, let’s talk Revenge of the Sith for a second.

After Luke and Leia are born, and once Padmé dies, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Bail Organa make the decision to split up the twins lest the new Emperor discover them. Ultimately, the danger the twins faced was too great to keep them together.

Baby Luke being given to Aunt Beru Photo Caption - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Baby Luke being given to Aunt Beru
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Luke was taken to Tatooine by Obi-Wan to live with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and Kenobi stays to keep a watchful but distant eye on the boy. In turn, Bail Organa agrees to adopt Leia, noting that he and his wife had considered adopting a baby girl. In one of the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith, the viewer sees Leia being presented to the Bail’s wife Breha, the Queen of Alderaan, who holds the child and then the scene ends. But it is what happens immediately after this scene ends where the lie to protect Leia is instituted.

Immediately after the scene cuts out, an unknown woman enters, walks up to Bail and Breha, and the child is handed to her. This woman is a close and loyal confidant of House Organa, and she will raise the baby for only a short time, until Leia is old enough to form an image of this woman in her mind as her “real mother.” This is precisely what Bail wants and expects to happen, that Leia will believe this woman is her mother. When Leia is still very young, a situation will arise that causes this woman to leave Leia. Perhaps, fully committed to the deception, this woman actually does die. This would line up with what Leia says to Luke. Or, perhaps the woman’s death is a ruse, and instead, the woman goes into exile, far away, into the Outer Rim or even into Wild Space, living in solitude where Leia will never find her or encounter her again. If Obi-Wan Kenobi can hide from Darth Vader, surely this woman can hide from her pretend daughter.

With the woman’s “death,” Bail and Breha Organa step back into the picture, officially adopting the young, orphaned Leia as their own. She will be raised and loved as though she were their daughter. As she grows, the memory of the other woman in will begin to fade, and she will only recall images and feelings. Leia will see herself first and foremost as an Organa, as the Crown Princess of Alderaan, the child of Bail and Breha Organa. Yet, Leia will still know that she was adopted, and that she only knew for a short time was her “real mother,” as she would have no other reason to believe otherwise. Perhaps, even Bail and Breha reinforce this from time to time, speaking about her “real mother,” describing her to the child.

But why is this even necessary, why the lie in the first place? Precisely because Leia is in danger from the moment she is born.

Darth Sidious and Darth Vader would know that Kenobi left Mustafar with Padmé. What they would not know, though, is that Kenobi, Yoda, and Bail Organa were present when Luke AND Leia are born. Recall that the Sith Lords knew Padmé was pregnant, but they did not know that Padmé was pregnant with twins.[i] After the children are born, in order to protect them, the two Jedi and the Alderaanian Senator decide how best to protect each child. What is presented at the end of Revenge of the Sith, then, is an elaborate series of deceptions in order to throw Sidious and Vader off the trail. Whereas Luke is hidden remotely on Tatooine in the Outer Rim far from Coruscant, Leia is essentially hidden in plain view on Alderaan and will become not only the Crown Princess of House Organa but Alderaan’s Senator. What I am suggesting, then, is simply one more layer to the deception, one that Bail Organa concocted as a fail-safe, one that protects Leia even from herself.

Put yourself into Bail Organa’s mind for a second as he traveled with the child back to Alderaan after Padmé’s death. Knowing that he would have to tell the child one day about her mother, Bail knew he could never tell her about Padmé Amidala. If he was to do so, and Leia slipped up and spoke about Padmé publically as her mother, the result could be devastating…Vader could find out. Yet, Bail would also know that he had to ensure no questions would be asked about the child who is suddenly in his care. Remember that Bail was present at the Jedi Temple when the Jedi Purge began, and was also a close confidant of Padmé’s in the Senate. Certainly, the new Empire would be watching him closely and may inquire about the identity of his new daughter who just happened to appear right after the late-Senator Amidala was laid to rest.

To throw them off the trail, then, Bail had to create the ruse to ensure that Leia would never speak of Padmé publicly, and to guarantee that the Empire would not discover Leia’s true origins. This was why the woman was necessary, to act as a temporary buffer against watching eyes, and as a long-term deception to ensure Leia would never be questioned about her ACTUAL mother. In short, what Leia never knew could never hurt her.

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo's former queens, Padme Amidala. Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics - Princess Leia Issue # 002

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo’s former queens, Padmé Amidala.
Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics – Princess Leia Issue # 002

Furthermore, in the second issue of the Princess Leia comic series, Leia arrives on the planet Naboo only days after the destruction of the First Death Star. There, in the streets of the capital city of Theed, she comes across a portrait of Queen Amidala. Viewing the mural, she is taken aback when she thinks the woman in the mural turns and looks at her, though she dismisses this and continues her journey through the city. Leia is completely unaware who this royal figure is/was, none-the-wiser that she was standing in front of a portrait of her ACTUAL mother. Then again, there is also nothing to indicate in this second issue that Leia even knows that her real mother was from the planet Naboo. Why would she? Leia believed her real mother was a beautiful and kind Alderaanian, and that she died when Leia was very young.

A Final Thought

As modern-day myth, Star Wars lends itself to different experiences and interpretations, and that is why I love it. When I watch the movies, read the books or comics, sit down to watch The Clone Wars or Rebels, and play the video games, I engage IN and WITH the myth-making. The way I experience and interpret Star Wars is meaningful to me in a way that, at times, may line up with the way others interpret it and, at other times, will be entirely my own and fundamentally different than others. So, while my experience leads me to believe Leia was discussing a real woman she was led to believe was her real mother for her safety, others might see something different. As one person noted in a comment on the previous post, perhaps Leia had a connection through the Force with her mother, and she is describing the impression of Padmé that was left there by the Force.[ii] Either way, it is a matter of how one wishes to experience and interpret the scene, and since the Story Group has not provided a definitive fix in the new and official canon, one can believe what they wish: that Leia is describing a flesh/blood woman she thought was her “real mother” OR someone she feels connected to through the Force.

One way or another, though, I hope we can all agree that it would be great to see this continuity error get a fix and, while they are at it, maybe we could also get to experience a story in which Luke and Leia finally learn more about Padmé Amidala, their real and actual mother.


[i] Remember how Vader taunts Luke on the Second Death Star: “So, you have a twin sista…your thoughts betray her, too.” This is the moment Vader realizes he has a daughter.

[ii] Go check out the comment thread from Part I. Lots of great thoughts and ideas!

Would Princess Leia’s “Real Mother” Please Stand Up… (Part I)

Princess Leia: Luke, what’s wrong?

Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?

Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young. 

Luke: What do you remember?

Princess Leia: Just… images really. Feelings.

Luke: Tell me.

Princess Leia: She was… very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?

Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.[1]


For the inaugural post on The Imperial Talker, I thought I would dive right in and wrestle with a continuity issue that has bugged me since I first saw Revenge of the Sith – and it relates directly to the exchange between Luke and Leia in Return of the Jedi which I provided above. In fact, as a good Star Wars fan, you probably already know where I am going with this, but for those who are unsure, I will clue you in:

Leia’s (and Luke’s) “real mother,” Padme Amidala, dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith immediately after giving birth to the twins.

Whoops! That is a bit awkward.

Padme dying...how sad :-( Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Padmé dying…how sad 😦
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Things get even more awkward when one remembers that Revenge of the Sith was made 20 years after Return of the Jedi. One would have thought that to make this exchange work, George Lucas would have kept Leia and Padme together long enough for a young Leia to remember her “beautiful,” “kind,” and “sad” mother before she died. But he didn’t, and we are subsequently stuck with a pretty glaring continuity error, one that to my knowledge has yet to be fixed, let alone adequately addressed.

Now, at this point, one might argue that this error doesn’t matter, that the exchange about Leia’s mother is only one detail in the larger exchange between the siblings. On the surface, you wouldn’t be wrong.

As a whole, the entire dialogue between Luke and Leia works very well to establish the two as siblings and is rather moving, particularly when considered in conjunction with a number of other scenes.[2] Yet, the exchange about Leia’s mother begins this exchange and, as such, sets the tone for it. By asking about Leia’s mother, Luke does something that at no other point has he done before: he actually wants to discover something about his mom.

Think about it, when has Luke ever cared to find something out about the woman who gave birth to him? He has obsessed about his father, but his mom has been absent from his conversations with his uncle, his aunt, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda. But here, in this intimate moment with the girl he just recently learned is his sister, he asks a question about his mother, gleaning anything he can from Leia about this woman he never knew.

In turn, Leia provides a glimpse of her mother: that she died when Leia was young; that she can only recall images of her mother; and that her mother was “kind” and “beautiful” but “sad.”

Then, Leia asks a question of Luke: “Why are you asking me this?”

As a viewer, we know why Luke is asking, even though Leia does not: because Leia’s mother is Luke’s mother and we get to learn about this mystery woman along with Luke. It is unfortunate, then, that Luke, along with viewer, has been deceived…

When George Lucas made Revenge of the Sith, and showed Padme Amidala’s death immediately after Luke and Leia were born, this intimate exchange in Return of the Jedi was effectively watered down thanks to the creation of unnecessary confusion. Now, Star Wars fans and casual movie goer were left wondering: How does Leia know anything about her mother since her mother died only moments after Leia was born? Given the that the new and improved Star Wars universe is being carefully created, edited, and maintained by the powers at Lucasfilm/Disney, fixing continuity issues should be just as important as ensuring future continuity. As such, two initial solutions, albeit inadequate ones come to mind immediately:

Inadequate Solution # 1 – As a baby, only minutes old, Leia was able to form a complex physical and emotional understanding of her mother. I feel I do not need to explain why this answer is inadequate in relation to basic issues of early childhood cognitive development. Rather, I would argue that this answer falls flat because if Leia could form these thoughts, why couldn’t Luke?

Inadequate Solution # 2 – Leia is actually talking about her stepmother, Breha Organa. Let’s recall for a moment that Luke asks Leia if she remembers her “real mother” and that Leia explains to Luke that her mother “died when I was very young.” The implication here is that Luke and Leia both know Leia was adopted at a very young age by the Organa’s. Given that Leia was a member of the Imperial Senate and a ranking leader within the Rebellion, it would be unlikely that, all of a sudden, she is mistaking her stepmother as her real mother. In turn, if she were describing Breha Organa, then, this creates a weird contradiction in and of itself: that Breha died when Leia was young, something that the new Princess Leia comic series shows did NOT happen.

Inadequate Solution # 3 – Leia is knowingly lying to Luke. Besides the silliness of this possible answer, this solution falls short because the entirety of the exchange between Luke and Leia does not hint at any possibility of false information being presented. On the contrary, their dialogue is intimate, and as they continue talking – about Vader being Luke’s father, about the Force being strong in Luke’s family, and about Leia being Luke’s sister – they are actually drawn closer as siblings. If Leia is lying, then the scene would be watered down in a different way: by undermining the connection Luke and Leia establish as siblings, which is precisely why I call this solution silly.

Again, these are just initial solutions that pop into mind to make sense out of what Leia says to Luke. I am sure that other inadequate solutions could be thought up pretty easily, but I would rather move on to a more positive look at this topic.

Rather than continue to dwell on the confusing nature of this continuity issue, or the inadequate possibilities to solve it, I want to present my own fix for this continuity issue. So, in Part II, I will do just that – make sure to check back in a few days.

In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this issue and if you have any other continuity issues you would like to see me address in the future.

Thanks for reading and May the Fourth be with you!!!


[1] Dialogue taken from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

[2] Two in particular of note: 1) When Luke discovers Leia is his sister when talking with ghost Kenobi and; 2) When Vader taunts Luke about turning his “sista” to the Dark Side.