Empire

Imperial Profile: Moff Ssaria

Making her only canonical appearance in the first issue of the Lando comic series, Moff Ssaria, Imperial Governor of the Castell sector, is nothing more than a minor character who helps (re)establish Lando Calrissian as the scoundrel we know him to be. When the issue begins, Calrissian is standing in Ssaria’s bedroom admiring a valuable piece of art. Intent on stealing the item from Ssaria, Calrissian instead uses his infamous smooth-talking flattery, admitting his intentions to the Moff and then talking his way out of being shot when she pulls a blaster on him. Showing his remorse, acknowledging that things got “complicated” with her and that he couldn’t just take the item and leave her, Calrissian appeals to Ssaria’s humanity to save his skin and, more importantly, convince her to give him the priceless art.

And the gamble pays off. Only a few short pages later, we find Lando explaining his actions to his close confidant Lobot, the art in hand to help payoff their debts. Pressed by Lobot about the risks he took to retrieve the art, that he could have taken it from Ssaria and left, Calrissian acknowledges the reason for his drawn-out relationship with the Moff: because of her reputation as the “Fiend of Castell.”

It is actually during his earlier exchange with Ssaria, as she lies half-naked in bed, when Calrissian uses the term “Fiend of Castell.” As he notes, it is a term “they” – the population she governs – use to describe her. He also states that she is called “The Burning Moff” and mentions that she is “brutal in your [her] response to even the slightest challenge to the Empire’s authority.” Given Ssaria’s penchant for swift, violent reprisal, it is little wonder Calrissian played a long-con, intent on securing the work of art by appealing to her humanity – stating that he knows the “real her” – to ensure that he would not have the so-called “Burning Moff” hunting him down. 

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Lando and Ssaria discuss her reputation as the “Fiend of Castell.”
Photo Credit – Star Wars: Lando, Part I

Fortunately, while we the reader are introduced to her reputation by Lando, we are also privy to a small inkling of the way Ssaria views herself. Or, more specifically, the way she views her authoritative position within the Imperial hierarchy. In response to what “they” say about her, Ssaria states that she is but “an extension of the Emperor’s will. My actions here simply execute his directives.”Indeed, as the Imperial Governor of the Castell sector, Moff Ssaria carries out the wishes and desires of the Emperor whom she serves, her orders and commands a reflection of the greater cause of Empire. In this regard, Ssaria is no different than Grand Moff Tarkin, Grand Admiral Thrawn, or Darth Vader, executing Imperial justice on behalf of the Emperor to whom they have sworn allegiance.

Continuing the theme of service to the Empire, Ssaria re-frames her violent reputation in a fascinating way, stating that “the Emperor is the mind. I am his tool. Is a tool responsible if it is used to kill someone?” With this play on words, Ssaria jettisons any moral culpability in the death of innocents, placing all the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Emperor. In turn, her “mind-tool” metaphor also implies that the population she governs – and by extension the entire population of the Empire – is to be shaped and molded by the Emperor’s tools in order to fully manifest his vision of Empire. Or, to be more blunt, in the cause of Empire there are never innocents, and the death (or enslavement, or oppression) of the people in the name of Empire is always justified. In this sense, the question Ssaria asks about her moral culpability is not only irrelevant but meaningless, the only morality that matters is the morality of the Emperor. 

This being the case, it is little surprise that Ssaria states that the answer to the question “doesn’t matter.” The question was always rhetorical. “I care little for my reputation in the streets,” the Moff pointedly admits, hardly a surprise or even a necessary statement. Obviously she doesn’t care about her reputation in the streets. Moff Ssaria doesn’t serve the people, and she certainly doesn’t answer to them. 

The Audacity of Solo

I’ve been thinking a lot about Han Solo lately. No, not the Han Solo movie, but the man we first meet in A New Hope. From his first appearance in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Han Solo is established as a cocksure, braggadocious, greedy, self-involved, loner whose only priority in life is himself. After all, from a purely symbolical angle, there is a reason his last name is “Solo” and it is hardly coincidental that a bounty hunter named “Greedo” confronts the Captain. Time and again throughout A New Hope, these qualities are reinforced, Solo’s words and actions proving that his instinct for self-preservation can only be superseded by the desire for a little extra money. As we know, the only reason Solo agrees to help free Princess Leia from the clutches of the Empire is because she is rich. 

I could, of course, go on and list every moment Captain Solo acts self-involved and greedy in A New Hope but I really don’t need to. You’ve all watched the film enough to know that, at his core, Han Solo embodies all of these qualities. But what makes these qualities stand out even more is the backdrop of A New Hope, the overarching story about a small band of Rebels struggling to free the galaxy from tyranny and oppression. From the very start of the movie, we know what these Rebels are up against: a massive, technologically powerful Empire that will stop at nothing to maintain complete control over the galaxy. The juxtaposition between Rebellion and Empire is clear and obvious as A New Hope unfolds, and is made all the more poignant when we see the size of the Empire’s Death Star battle station and its planet destroying capability. 

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Solo, speaking with Luke Skywalker, loads his reward while the Rebels prepare for battle.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

When the narrative-arc of A New Hope finally leads the audience to the Rebel’s hidden base – which the Empire has been  searching for – setting up the battle that will determine the fate of the galaxy, Han Solo wants nothing to do with the Rebels or the mammoth task that awaits. But this is hardly a surprise, he had only ever been in it for the money. In fact, it is fitting that while the Rebels scramble around a hanger, preparing to fight for their survival and for the fate of the galaxy, Han Solo is standing in plain sight with the money he was promised. Approaching Solo, Luke Skywalker implores the smuggler to join the Rebel cause, to lend his skills as a pilot to the fight that is about to begin. Solo’s reply fits his character perfectly:”What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station is not my idea of courage. It’s more like, suicide.” In a sense, this single line encapsulates the greed and self-preservation of Han Solo, his need to take care of himself. Implored by the hero of the story to join the Rebels, Han Solo flatly rebukes Skywalker, proof that he values himself and his money more than the lives of others, even those he would call friends. 

So, the climactic engagement begins, the Rebel allies fighting against all odds to destroy the Empire’s planet-busting battle station. As one would expect, the Rebels fail time and again to destroy the station, leading to the final “attack run” led by the young Skywalker. A wing-man killed, another abandoning the attack due to damage on his fighter, and his droid partner destroyed, Skywalker finds himself alone as he speeds down a Death Star trench to deliver his payload of torpedoes. Just as Skywalker is about to be destroyed by the villain, Darth Vader, a shot rings out that destroys one of Vader’s own wing-men, a shot fired by Han Solo who comes flying in from above. Solo’s sudden presence disorients Vader’s other wing-man, the pilot slamming into his leader and causing the Dark Lord of the Sith to careen off into space. The path cleared by Solo, the young Skywalker fires the heroic shot that, only moments later, causes the battle station to explode. 

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Han Solo comes to the rescue, guns a blazin’ as he excitedly announces his arrival.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I have often thought about the fact that Solo – cocksure, braggadocious, greedy, selfish – arrives at just the right moment to help Skywalker defeat the Empire. Narratively it makes perfect sense, just the right amount of tension building until, out of nowhere, the suave smuggler – whom we thought had given up on the Rebels – swoops in to assist the film’s young hero. But what we don’t get in the story is the reason for Han Solo’s change of heart, his internal thoughts about why he puts himself at great risk – something so counter to his life philosophy – to help Luke and the Rebels. Then again, I think it better that Solo’s change of heart not be over-explained. In a way, it is far more powerful to imagine what Han might have been thinking, for each audience member to fill in the gaps for her/himself. 

But what we should not lose sight of in our personal speculating is the reality that in choosing to help Luke and the Rebels, Han Solo acted selflessly. Putting aside his penchant for self-preservation and ignoring the reward he was given, Solo had the audacity to give his life to a cause greater than himself. In doing so, Han Solo became a hero. 

And so, as I think about Han Solo, I cannot help but consider the lesson we can learn from his act of selflessness. After all, as a form of modern-day myth, it is not enough for Star Wars to just entertain us. Rather, as myth, it is necessary for Star Wars to show us how we must live as part of a community and world, as part of something greater than ourselves. And what Han Solo teaches us is exceedingly necessary, especially in our consumer-driven and selfie-obsessed culture. Just as Han has a change of heart – putting his riches and life aside for the sake of others – so too must we do the same in our daily lives when the opportunities arise. We can, each one of us, be a hero, going beyond ourselves to assist our local communities, our nations, and our world. It is not enough to just sit back and enjoy the spoils of life and only look out for ourselves. No, like Han we are called to use our individual skills and join the cause of destroying the “Death Stars” of our time: homelessness, poverty, hunger, oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, warfare, genocide, nuclear proliferation, and more. 

Trooping Through the Snow

This month’s Star Wars ComLINKS topic is Favorite Trooper and I have to say, when it was announced I got really excited but also knew that it was gonna end up being hard to narrow down which type of trooper I love. In fact, right after I read the topic on Anakin and His Angel, I jokingly told Jenmarie (who runs the site) that my choice was “all of them.” For a hot minute, I actually thought about writing about all of the troopers in Star Wars, explaining my love for each one, but I decided to nix that idea because 1) I don’t have the time and 2) the topic is singular, not plural. So, I buckled down and spent some time doing reflecting and it hit me:

My Favorite Trooper in Star Wars is the Cold Weather Assault Stormtrooper, otherwise known as the Imperial Snowtrooper.

I feel like I have said this about a hundred thousand times in other posts, but my favorite Star Wars movie has always been The Empire Strikes Back. A while ago, I wrote about how my favorite creature, the Wampa, is introduced in the film, and I have also written posts on my love of the Imperial Walkers and another on my fascination with General Veers. It should really come as no surprise, then, that my favorite type of trooper in Star Wars are the unique-looking soldiers who storm into the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. That said, I should note that my fascination with the Snowtrooper is not superficial, a mere by-product of my enduring love of The Empire Strikes Back. Rather, it is really the other way around – the various facets that make up the film provide all of the reasons I love it, especially those facets dealing with the Empire. 

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A Snowtrooper fires at the Millenium Falcon.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

You see, like Senator Ransolm Casterfo in Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline, I too have always had a fascination with the Empire. This is not to suggest I support or admire the unjust, dictatorial and genocidal tendencies of Imperial rule, but rather that I have always found myself wanting to know more about the “bad guys” in Star Wars in hopes of coming to a deeper understanding of how it operates on every level. In this regard, I have always felt that of all three films in the Original Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back provides the most fascinating look at the Empire, although this hardly means I dislike what we learn in the other two films. Rather, The Empire Strikes Back takes the monolithic Empire from A New Hope and adds a dynamic new way of thinking about it while also maintaining its terrifying essence.

The most obvious way the film does this (though not the only way) is by utilizing elements of the Imperial military first introduced in A New Hope – Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters, and Stormtroopers – while also adding to the Empire’s arsenal of soldiers and weapons. Thus, we are introduced to a handful of new military assets in the film: Probe Droids, a Super Star Destroyer, TIE Bombers, All-Terrain Armored Transports (AT-AT), All-Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST), and of course, the Snowtrooper. On the surface, these new elements visually represent the breadth of the Imperial military, showing that the Empire has far more at its disposal than previously thought. However, these assets also add incredible depth to Imperial power, depth that I continue to uncover in new ways each time I watch The Empire Strikes Back.

At this point, I could very well go into detail about the depth I am speaking of as it relates to each military asset introduced in the film. However, since the focus of this piece is my favorite trooper in Star Wars, I will end with some thoughts on the introduction of the Snowtrooper in The Empire Strikes Back and how, as a kid, their appearance added a dynamic dimension to my understanding of the Empire.

Into the Cold

The first thing that should be said about the Snowtroopers is perhaps the most obvious: their appearance in The Empire Strikes Back is very brief. The first Snowtrooper we meet is in a short scene with General Veers, the Imperial officer leading the assault on Hoth in an AT-AT. Speaking to the soldier – presumably a commander of some type – Veers states that “All troops will debark for ground assault.” Otherwise, the bulk of scenes involving the Snowtroopers take place inside the Rebel Base, the men and women racing through the halls along with Darth Vader. In turn, as the Millenium Falcon attempts to escape, we see the troopers set up their weapons and begin firing at the ship, with return fire from the Falcon killing a handful of the white clad soldiers.

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A screenshot of a Snowtrooper in Star Wars Battlefront.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Battlefront (EA Dice)

Like I said, their appearance in the film is very brief. And yet, even in their brevity, the Snowtroopers left an indelible mark on me, an enduring fascination that I have never been able to shake (not that I want to). On the surface, this mark is purely aesthetic, an interest in the outfit these soldiers wear into battle. In all honesty, I have always felt that the Snowtrooper uniform is quite beautiful, an admittedly odd sentiment but one I can no more explain than the beauty I see in a flower.

But passing beyond the aesthetic, what the Snowtrooper taught me about the Empire is something far more pointed. It showed me that the Empire utilizes Stormtrooper units that are trained and equipped for certain contingencies, in this case warfare on a icy planets. Granted, we do see different types of Stormtroopers in A New Hope – Sandtroopers and Spacetroopers – but these are all variations on the standard armor that most of these soldiers wear. The Snowtrooper, on the other hand, stands out because its armor is fundamentally different from these other Stormtrooper units. And it is this very reason, this difference in armor, that helped pry open the door to the my Imperial imagination and made me realize these were not just ordinary Stormtroopers with different armor, but an elite type of Stormtrooper with a singular military purpose.

And with that said, I leave you with a thought that has rattled around in my brain for as long as I can remember: while I absolutely love the Imperial Walkers introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, a small part of me wishes, instead, that we could have witnessed the specially trained Snowtroopers methodically capturing the Rebel trenches on Hoth as a blizzard rages around them…that would have been a hell of a sight.


This post is part of the Star Wars ComLINKS series. Check out more Star Wars ComLINKS over at Anakin and His Angel.

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Imperial Profile: General Veers

“Com-Scan has detected an energy field protecting an area of the sixth planet of the Hoth system. The field is strong enough to deflect any bombardment.” – General Veers

While he only appears in a handful of scenes in The Empire Strikes Back (ESB), General Maximilian Veers has always been one of those peripheral Star Wars characters who absolutely fascinates me. In fairness, I have a Star Warsie fascination with all of the characters in the franchise, but there are some who really stand out and captivate me, and Veers is definitely one of them. 

So what exactly is the reason for my interest in the character that Julian Glover brought to life in ESB? Well, much of it boils down to the scene in which Veers informs Lord Vader that the fleet has moved out of lightspeed. Standing before Darth Vader, General Veers exudes the poise and self-confidence one would expect from an Imperial officer.  There is no hesitation in his voice as he provides Vader with a situational report, his articulation crisp as he describes the “energy field protecting an area of the sixth planet of the Hoth system.” While he is caught off-guard by Vader’s criticism of Admiral Ozzel, there is no sense of fear as he explains Ozzel’s decision to “surprise” the Rebels. When Veers is ordered to prepare his men for a surface attack, he acknowledges Lord Vader as any commander would his/her superior. In short, what this exchange says about General Veers is clear: he is a clear cut example of military professionalism.  And this professionalism is on display as he leads his elite Blizzard Force into battle of the icy planet.

As I noted in a previous post – Imperial Walkers on the North Ridge – General Veers opts to march his forces across an open tundra in a frontal assault, doing so without any aerial or artillery bombardment of the entrenched Rebel enemy. While this tactical decision may very well defy the logic of warfare, I’ve never felt that Veers actions in the battle are brash or ill-conceived. Rather, I imagine General Veers meticulously planning the battle beforehand, choosing his strategy with care and the input of his commanders. In turn, leading from the front in his Imperial Walker – Blizzard One – he can react much more quickly to the ways in which the battle might change. True, leading from the front is also a great way to get yourself killed, and we see his Walker hit by enemy fire during the fight. Yet, in the scenes where we actually see him throughout the Battle of Hoth, his commanding presence is apparent, a stern determination plastered on his face. This is a man, a General, who knows precisely what he is doing and will see things through to the very end. 

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General Veers commands the ground assault against the Rebel base.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Seeing things through is precisely what General Veers does, storming across the enemy positions and finally destroying the generator that powers the shield protecting the Rebel base. Of course, the moment Veers destroyed the  power generator is also the final moment we see him in The Empire Strikes Back and the Star Wars canon. Naturally, given my fascination, I am left wondering what became of General Veers in the wake of the battle. Surely reports of the Empire’s masterful victory over the Rebellion would quickly spread across the galaxy, ensuring that Rebel sympathizers would be disheartened and Imperial loyalists emboldened. I can imagine the general being lauded for his brilliant, tactical victory and valiant “lead from the front” style of command. Granted, this may not have been the first time General Veers received sweeping, public notoriety for his actions, but a victory like the one on Hoth would most definitely elevate his name among the Imperial populace and position within the ranks of the Empire. 

Still, I highly doubt General Veers would allow the public spotlight  to go to his head. No, the man we meet in The Empire Strikes Back does not lend himself to personal aggrandizing and building his public image. Certainly other Imperial officers and officials were the type to do just that, reveling in their accomplishments and pining for the favor of the Emperor and his Ruling Council. But Veers just feels different, and I can’t believe he would be anything but a soldier who is committed to his position and duty, not his personal gain. 

While it is interesting to ponder the sort of notoriety General Veers received after his victory on the icy plains of Hoth, my larger question remains: what happened to him after his brief appearance in The Empire Strikes Back? Well, if the novelization of the movie is to believed, any honors he may have received for his actions were posthumous since he died during the battle when a Rebel pilot crashed into the command module of his Imperial Walker. But, since the novelization doesn’t count as canon we can toss his “death” out the window.

Veers in Dark Empire II
Captain Veers contacts his superiors prior to the Battle of Balmorra.
Photo Credit – Dark Empire II, Issue #1 (“Operation Shadow Hand”)

In a bit of twist, that “death” was also thrown out in the Expanded Universe (EU). Veers makes a handful of appearances in the EU, ultimately being demoted to the rank of Captain and meeting his demise during the Battle of Balmorra (found in the Dark Empire II series). However, in the new canon his post-Hoth story has yet to unfold. Then again, we also know next to nothing about the General in his pre-Battle of Hoth days. Veers does make a small appearance in the Star Wars: Commander mobile game, and we also know from a handful of other sources that he is from the planet Denon, is a husband and father, and had some early military successes on the planets Zaloriis and Culroon III. I should note, though, that these last three points about Veers were originally established in the EU and carried over to the new canon.

Other than these few details about him, the pre- and post-Hoth story about General Veers is just waiting to be told, and I really hope there is a plan to tell it. In fairness, I would be equally pleased if other Imperial officers had their stories expanded, but I am entirely biased in my wish to know more about General Veers. Left to me, Veers would receive a full-fledged novel that, at the very least, would dig into his early military career serving in the Clone Wars, his rise through Imperial ranks, and explain what happened to him not only after Hoth, but once the Empire fell. Plus, a book dedicated to Veers could be similar in many ways to the novel Tarkin, providing not only deep insight into the General’s motivations, but also a more thorough understanding of the inner-workings of the Imperial military. 

But since it isn’t up to me, the best I can do for now is remain hopeful that Maximilian Veers will make some further appearances in the Star Wars canon. Until that happens, I will just continue enjoying his handful of scenes in The Empire Strikes Back

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

“Yub Yub”

As a little kid, I loved the Ewoks. My reason for loving them, simple! The Ewoks were adorable. Okay, well that and they acted silly and funny. Sure, as an adult I may not laugh out loud at the funny things the Ewoks do or say, but I definitely did as a child and I can still appreciate the silliness as an adult.

Leia begins to remove her helmet as Wicket munches on a snack. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Leia begins to remove her helmet as Wicket munches on a snack.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Take Wicket as an example, the Ewok who pokes Princess Leia awake with his spear. Wicket curious but hesitant as he interacts with her at first, but when Leia takes off her helmet Wicket leaps up, readying his spear and preparing for the worst. All of this because she took off a helmet! Why would he be afraid of a helmet!?!?! Ha! How ridiculous!

Granted, I couldn’t appreciate as a child that maybe Wicket had never seen a helmet before, or perhaps he was just startled by her action. But who cares, little kid me didn’t need to think that hard about the scene. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy, which I still do even if I am not in tears from laughter.

Well, I DO still laugh when Wicket lassos himself with a sling during the battle of Endor. Silly Wicket…

Another example of Ewok hilarity: they bow down and worship the whiny, always complaining C-3PO as a god. C-3PO of all characters! Even Han is taken-aback by “goldenrods” newly christened divine status.

And then there is the moment when the Ewok’s prepare to make Han and Luke the main course in a feast honoring their new god though, as a kid, I never worried that Han or Luke would be consumed(though it would have been a heck of a plot twist in the film if Lucas HAD gone down that road). Naw, what made that scene so great, and what still makes it one of my favorites, is just how absurd the entire situation is – the Ewoks sing a little tune while they stack logs for the feast. Han tries blowing out a torch. Luke makes 3PO “fly” which terrifies the Ewoks and sends them running in all directions. The whole scene is just as hilariously silly!!!

Han attempts to blow out the torch. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Han attempts to blow out the torch.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Well, hilariously silly but also REALLY messed up. The Ewoks were going to EAT Han and Luke. Wait, sorry, they were going to BURN THEM ALIVE AND EAT THEM. Let that sink in for a second…

This isn’t to say that the scene isn’t meant to be funny. Rather, when the layers of silliness and humor are stripped away in this and other scenes, the Ewoks turn out to be different than we first thought.

In fact, let’s chat about their tactics in the Battle of Endor.

Cuddly but Deadly

Consider this: the Ewoks bludgeon A LOT of Imperial soldiers to death with clubs and spears. Remember when those two Ewoks take control of the AT-ST with Chewie? While our favorite Wookie pulls one of the pilots out of the cockpit, tossing him over the side, the two Ewoks jump in and beat the hell out of the other pilot.

And that is only two Ewoks out of…hundreds? Thousands? Here is a list of things that other Ewoks do during the Battle of Endor:

  • Ewoks swing from vines, throwing two Stormtroopers down a hill where they are then pounced on by other Ewoks who start clubbing them.
  • One Ewok slings a Stormtrooper around the neck, an act that presumably causes the trooper to suffocate.
  • A group sneaks up on Stormtroopers firing at Han and Leia, beating them with clubs and spears (see the featured image at the top of the post).
  • Other Ewoks lasso a speeder bike with rope, sending the bike and its pilot spinning around, and eventually crashing into, a tree. You can hear him scream the entire way to his fiery death.
  • Still others “clothes-line” the pilot of another bike with a rope suspended between two trees – there is no way that trooper’s neck was not instantaneously snapped.
  • A handful of Ewoks standing on a massive log drop rocks on Stormtroopers below them.
  • They send massive logs swinging into the cockpit of an AT-ST, crushing the two soldiers inside.
Ewoks throw rocks onto Stormtroopers. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Ewoks throw rocks onto Stormtroopers.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

What’s my point? Well, the Ewoks are certainly adorable and silly, but they are also incredibly dangerous and deadly. Primitive they might be, but they are clearly effective warriors, so skilled in the art of war that they can take on a technologically advanced foe in a head-to-head fight.

So, with this thought in mind, I am gonna just come right out and say this: the Ewoks were planning on fighting a war against the Empire before Han and his strike team arrived. Or, perhaps they had already started the fight, and the Rebels just showed up in the middle of it.

Seriously, think about it. Haven’t you ever wondered how the Ewoks were able to prepare for the battle so quickly? It isn’t like they started stacking those massive logs twenty minutes before the battle began, or built catapults right before they launched their attack. To be fair, some of those logs and catapults were surely built and perhaps in place already to deal with an occasional Gorax threat, but as a whole, in my mind, the Ewoks were preparing for a while, waiting for the moment to strike by strategically placing their weapons near and around the bunker. Maybe that day on Endor was not the day they had been planning to launch an all-out war, but the day found them.

But that didn’t really matter because they were clearly ready for it. The battle begins when they decide it is time. The trumpets sound and the Ewoks emerge from their hiding places to shoot arrows and throw spears at Imperial soldiers. As the battle progresses, there are other Ewoks in trees spotting and signaling their comrades, while others lead Imperial troops into ambushes.

Romba mourns the death of Nanta Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Romba mourns the death of Nanta
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Logistically, strategically, tactically, the Ewoks were the superior foe in this fight. Sure, some Ewoks die in the fight, like poor Nanta who is mourned in the moment by his comrade Romba. But as warriors they know the risk and are prepared for what awaits them in battle.

But hold on a second, if they are such skilled warriors, then there is a very good possibility that Ewok tribes on Endor have gone to war with one another countless times. They had to learn the art of war somehow, right? Setting traps for Gorax, and occasionally killing one, would hardly be enough to train them in the ways of warfare. Just picture that – two Ewok tribes fighting a forest battle. It would be the most adorably bloody battle ever!

Oh, and chances are the victors eat their dead enemies, be them Ewok or Imperial. I just hope the Ewoks of Bright Tree Village didn’t feed any dead Stormtroopers to the Rebels after the big win.

Then again, Chewie probably wouldn’t mind. He is always thinking with his stomach.


Leave a comment and check out other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

Ewoks Battling for Endor

The Scout

White Uniform Guy with a Mustache

“Of all the Jedi, why did I have to end up with Skywalker?” – Admiral Yularen 

Of all the iconic scenes in Star Wars: A New Hope, one that truly stands out to me is when Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti due to Motti’s “lack of faith.” With an upraised hand, Vader begins to slowly crush Motti’s windpipe while the other Imperial officers at the table sit by and watch. Revealing that Vader has supernatural powers, and that he is even willing to turn these powers against his allies, this scene goes a long way towards bolstering Darth Vader’s status as an iconic villain.

But this post is not going to be about Vader. There will be plenty of those posts in the future. Rather, who I really want to focus on is the White Uniform Guy with a Mustache sitting to the right of Admiral Motti.

Admiral Motti in the foreground; Colonel/Deputy Director Yularen in the Background Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Admiral Motti in the foreground; White Uniform Guy in the background
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Mostly expressionless throughout the scene, his biggest reaction to what is happening comes when the choking takes place. However, this is not White Uniform Guy’s only scene in the film, as he also walks past Han, Luke, and Chewie when they are waiting for an elevator.

Two scenes, that is it. Who is this White Uniform Guy with a Mustache? What is his story?

Some May Know Him, Others May Not

Recently, I received a couple of new Lego Star Wars sets in the mail that I bought during the Lego May the Fourth sales event. During this event, Lego offers an exclusive promotional mini-figure if you spend a certain, not insignificant amount of money. I am not going to tell you how much I spent, but let’s just say I received the mini-figure and we will leave it at that, okay? Great!

Here is a picture I took of my new, totally sweet mini-figure:

LEGO Colonel (or Admiral) Wullf Yularen Photo Credit: The Imperial Talker

OH MY GOSH, IT’S WHITE UNIFORM GUY WITH A MUSTACHE! You had to see that coming…

Okay, so White Uniform Guy with a Mustache is actually a character by the name of Wulff Yularen. You would be hard-pressed to find Yularen by name in the film credits of A New Hope, though, because he isn’t actually there.

Portrayed by B-list actor Robert Clarke in the film, Mr. Clarke did not receive a film credit for his role as Yularen for, so far as I can tell at least, two reasons. The first is because a lot of extras in the film went uncredited. In fact, even James Earl Jones, the iconic voice of Darth Vader, did not receive a credit in the film.[i]

Colonel (or Admiral) Wullf Yularen  Photo Credit - Star Wars: A New Hope

Colonel/Deputy Director Wullf Yularen
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Secondly, the character Mr. Clarke was portraying was an unnamed background character at the time of filming. It would not be until the release of the Star Wars: Customizable Card Game (circa 1995) that the character Mr. Clarke portrayed would officially receive the name Wulff Yularen, as well as a very tiny snippet of back story as a Colonel in the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB).[ii] Though the Card Game no longer counts as part of the “official” Disney canon, Yularen and his back story have been maintained and even expanded.

From the Clone Wars to the Death Star

Wulff Yularen appears for his second stint in the Star Wars universe in The Clone Wars animated movie which was released before the first season of The Clone Wars animated series. Voiced by Tom Kane, Yularen, a Republic Admiral, is one of the first characters to debut in the film.

Admiral Yularen with Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. Photo Credit - Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Season 2 Episode 16

Admiral Yularen with Jedi General Anakin Skywalker.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Season 2 Episode 16

Following the movie, Yularen would also appear in a number of episodes of the animated series itself, and new details about him would begin to emerge.

Throughout the Clone Wars, Admiral Yularen commanded Jedi General Anakin Skywalker’s flagship the Resolute. However, Yularen was not always thrilled to be working with the reckless, young Jedi (see the quote provided at the beginning of the post). None-the-less, Yularen would participate in a number of engagements in the war, including (to name a few): Christophsis, Quell, Ryloth, and Second Geonosis.

Though The Clone Wars animated series has ended, Yularen’s back story garnered a bit more development in the novel Tarkin from author James Luceno. In Tarkin, which takes place 5 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, the reader discovers that after the Clone Wars ended, Yularen resigned his naval commission for the rank of Colonel in the ISB, and served as a liaison between the Bureau and Military Intelligence. In turn, at the end of the book, Yularen is promoted to Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, a subset of Military Intelligence. As well, Colonel Yularen has also played critical roles in Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn, being a close confidant of the rising, Chiss officer, and also appears in an episode of Star Wars Rebels (Season 3, Episode 17 – “Through Imperial Eyes”). 

In A New Hope, then, Colonel/Deputy Director Yularen is an important intelligence figure serving aboard the Death Star. At this point, no official story has been established that explains his placement on the battle station, though one can imagine a number of reasons for the distinguished, albeit fateful posting.

Storytelling and Star Wars

Though on the surface of things his presence at the conference table on the Death Star still does not add a great deal of weight to the scene itself, Wulff Yularen’s backstory does contribute an additional dimension to the scene which did not originally exist. He may not participate in the dialogue itself, but he is now much more than the unnamed background character he used to be.

In a sense, Wulff Yularen’s character development points at the exciting intricacies of storytelling in the Star Wars universe. The fact that an unnamed background character can emerge from the shadows and be propelled into relevance is one of the many reasons that I continue to love Star Wars. Discovering something new about a character, particularly an unknown background character, and their connection to other individuals and events, is just one of the many reasons Star Wars remains so captivating. And perhaps even more importantly, this also creates different avenues for the imagination, as one is able to engage with and experience the stories in new and dynamic ways. Just think about all the other characters out there, new and old, who are waiting for their time to shine: to receive a name, a back story, the chance to be a promotional Lego mini-figure, and the ability to impact the way you and I experience Star Wars.

Of course, at least in my case, with new developments in Star Wars also come new thoughts and questions.

In the case of Wulff Yularen, I am left pondering a question that, without any of his added back story, would have never otherwise crossed my mind. In short, should I feel bad that he died on the Death Star? Knowing what I do about his background as a Republic officer, but also his loyalty to the Empire, how am I supposed to react to his death? Should I even care that he dies? Is it wrong for me to feel remorse for the death of a loyal follower of the Emperor? Or, did he get what he deserved when Luke’s proton torpedoes hit the main reactor?

Frankly, I am not really sure how to answer these questions.


[i] This was actually Mr. Jones own decision as he felt David Prowse, the actor inside the Vader costume, deserved all the attention.

[ii] I bet a number of you still have these cards from this card game! In fact, I know one friend of mine who had a ton of them…he knows who he is.