Endor

Impressed by Paploo

Allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush:

I had just returned home around 8:30pm – I had been at a volleyball game coaching my team to another victory (boo yeah!) – and ended up on the couch flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch. Lo and behold, I came across Return of the Jedi during the speeder bike chase and said to myself “You know, I haven’t watched ‘Jedi’ in a while so I might as well keep watching.” So, there I am, on the couch, watching Return of the Jedi as the film continues. The Rebel heroes meet their soon-to-be Ewok allies, Luke tells Leia they are siblings, Han gets jealous and Leia wants a hug, Vader and Luke end up discussing Vader’s moral compass, the Rebel fleet enters hyperspace, and the Rebels discover, thanks to the Ewoks, that there is a “back-door” to the Imperial facility on Endor. 

Paploo with Wicket

Paploo discusses his plan with Wicket. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Okay, so, the Rebels are led to the back-door by the Ewoks. Unfortunately, as you already know, the entry is guarded by four scout troopers milling about and chatting without a care in the galaxy. As Han Solo and his Rebel pathfinders do not want to alert the Empire to their presence, he and the group discuss their options. As they do so, the highly strung C-3PO learns from an Ewok counterpart that “…our furry companion has gone and done something rather rash.” Telling this to the group, Leia expressing an audible “Oh, no” the group watches as one Ewok moves towards the scout troopers.

Or rather, Paploo, the Ewok in question, moves towards the scout bikes sitting at the end of the clearing. Getting onto one of the bikes, Paploo proceeds to turn it on and zips off into the forest pursued by three of the four scouts. “Not bad for a little furball. There is only one left,” Han professes, obviously impressed by Paploo’s ingenuity. 

Like Han, I too have always been impressed by Paploo’s quick-thinking decision to steal a speeder bike. But what truly impressed me during this particular viewing of Return of the Jedi as I sat on my couch was the fact that Paploo seems to know PRECISELY how to operate the scout bike. This realization had never dawned on me prior to this moment, the fact that this primitive creature with absolutely zero technological understanding knew the exact sequence of buttons and switches that needed to be activated for the bike to work. Impressive, Paploo, most impressive.

Granted, it is entirely possible that Paploo just gets lucky, that he randomly flips the correct switches and the bike ends up working. I’m hardly opposed to this possibility. It is, after all, the most likely way the scene is meant to be viewed. Never-the-less, as I sat on my couch watching Paploo start the bike, for the first time it dawned on me that the Ewok furball knew what to do. And, as a result, a second thought, a question, popped into my mind: how can we explain the primitive Paploo’s expertise in Imperial technology?

Honestly, I think explaining Paploo’s actions as intentional is easy, and actually works in conjunction with the thoughts I laid out about the Ewoks in my piece “Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly” way back in 2015. In that post – which was part of Ewok Week – I made the point that the Ewoks were either preparing to fight the Empire, or they had already started the fight when the Rebels show up. You can go read that post to get a deeper look at these ideas, especially since I believe Paploo’s apptitude with a scout bike can easily be tacked onto them. 

Paploo Speeder
Paploo pilots the stolen speeder.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

If the Ewoks were already fighting the Empire, or just preparing for their war, it would make logical sense that the primitive beings took the time to learn about their foreign invaders. We can assume, then, that Paploo, and perhaps a number of other Ewoks, had already stolen scout bikes in order to learn more about these curious and unfamiliar machine. When he sneaks up on the bikes to steal one in Return of the Jedi, Paploo would already have an understanding, even a basic one, about how the contraption works. Not to mention, he also seems to know how to drive the speeder once it zips off into the forest. The initial acceleration surprises Paploo, but he regains control with relative ease and pilots the bike deeper into the forest with the three Imperial scouts hot on his tail. 

Again, it could just be that Paploo gets lucky. Maybe he did. Honestly though, I find it far more likely, and way more interesting, if he and other Ewoks had taken the time to learn about the bikes as part of an attempt to better understand their enemy. But you can decide for yourself.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about Paploo and his speeder bike excursion!

Haikuesday: Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Hologram of Luke
Speaking to Jabba the Hutt
Bargaining for Han


Token of Goodwill:
C-3PO and R2.
Both have served him well.


Scene: Jabba’s Palace.
Main gate opens, Luke walks in.
Confronted by Guards.

Shrouded in Darkness,
Luke draws on the Force and chokes
the Gamorreans.


Threatening Jabba.
“Master Luke, you’re standing on…”
The floor drops away.


“OH NO! THE RANCOR!”
Once, Luke fought a big Wampa.
Rancors are larger…

The Rancor eats pork.
Then it turns towards Skywalker.
How will Luke survive!?!?!

First – use a large bone.
Next – hit its fingers with rocks.
Last – throw human skull.


The Rancor is dead!
But Luke is still in trouble.
Onto the Sarlacc…


The Pit of Carkoon.
Luke preps for Jabba’s justice…
…then springs to action!


A green lightsaber!
Luke built a Jedi weapon!
How’d he manage that?


Slashing and blasting.
A chaotic desert scene.
And Luke’s hand is shot!


What are your thoughts when
Luke blows up Jabba’s sail barge?
Kinda messed up, right?


Back to Dagobah:
Skywalker returns so he
can finish training.


Yoda, very frail.
Tries to avoid Luke’s question:
“…is Vader my dad?”


Obi-Wan Appears!
“From a certain point of view…”
Luke learns a lesson.


Spoiler Alert!
The Princess is Luke’s sister!
O-M-G!!! THEY KISSED!!!!!


Scene: Sullust System.
The Rebel Fleet amasses.
Luke decides to join.


Passing the “Super,”
Luke can sense a dark presence…
“Vader’s on that ship.”


Endor Excursion.
Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Droids.
And Rebel Soldiers.


Chasing Scout Troopers
through a Forest on Endor.
Team Luke and Leia.


Captured by Ewoks.
Luke will be a main course in
3PO’s honor.


Emotional Talk.
Luke reveals truth to Leia:
Brother and Sister


Taken to Vader – 
“I know there is good in you.”
“I feel the conflict…”


Before Palpatine –
“I have been expecting you.”
Verbal sparring match.


Battle commences:
Rebels caught in an Imp trap
fight for survival.


Watching the battle
Luke is tormented by the
unfolding drama.

“You want this, don’t you?”
Luke looks at his lightsaber.
“Strike me down with it.”

Haiku Addendum:
Palpatine’s “Trap” was always
for Luke Skywalker.

“My young apprentice…”
Luke watches as the Death Star
fires on the fleet.

Filling with anger,
He can no longer resist –
Luke takes his weapon.


Red and Green Collide.
Father and Son engage in
a duel of the fates.


“Twin sister…if you
will not turn to the dark side,
then perhaps she will.”


A rage-filled assault.
Consumed by the darkness, Luke
presses his attack.


“…take your father’s place.”
The hero arrives at his
most critical point.


A farewell to arms.
Luke declares who he shall be:
“I am a Jedi.”


Baptized by Lightning.
The Son pleads to the Father.
The Father responds.


Vader is no more.
Luke burns his father’s body.
Now, the Last Jedi.


Joyful reunion.
Luke celebrates with his friends.
Saga is complete.


This post is Part 3 of 3 in a special three-week version of Haikuesday exploring Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Check out the other two posts below!

Luke Skywalker (ANH)
Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Generational Echoes in the Star Wars Saga

Guest Talker: Andrew

A few weeks ago while watching Return of the Jedi, I was struck by a particular scene. In fact not a scene per se but a small section of a scene that lasts for just over ten seconds in total. It occurs in the middle of the film just after Luke Skywalker contemplates his father (now Darth Vader, formerly Anakin Skywalker) and pronounces, “then my father is truly dead“. Luke is led away by Imperial Stormtroopers and as the doors shut one senses a distinct lapse in Vader’s demeanour as he places his black gloved hand on a steel girder in the corridor where the scene takes place. Although Vader is masked, one is left with little doubt as to the turmoil boiling within him which his son has sensed only moments before being escorted away.

CapturedLuke
Captured, Luke stands before his father.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This is a scene that I am extremely familiar with and it’s no exaggeration to say that I have viewed it hundreds of times at this point. Many of you reading this will be in the same position. An interesting point of note however, is that as time progresses in Lucasfilm’s new canon, layer upon layer of light and shade is gradually being cast onto erstwhile familiar scenes. What made this particular scene reverberate once again for me was both the advent of a sequel within the cinematic saga – namely,  The Force Awakens, and the work on Anakin/Vader’s back story that we are now aware of from the new canon (the novel Lords of the Sith, and television series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels).

Now I’m no neuroscientist, but I’m in no doubt that some neural connection (figuratively or otherwise) fired within me during my recent viewing of this “Vader scene” in Return of the Jedi. I think that having been shown evil and vulnerability co-existing so obviously on screen in the character of Kylo Ren, I may now have increased sensitivity towards those traits within Vader. One can’t help but note the incongruity of Kylo Ren seeking strength in Vader’s artifact (his Mask), when Return of the Jedi shows us, particularly in its last scenes, that Vader himself obviously harbored tensions between internal light and shade. Indeed, those tensions within Vader would have occurred not just in that scene but presumably at other points that George Lucas did not show us. Our insight into Kylo Ren has shown us that witnessing a character purveying violence and atrocities, does not mean that they aren’t conflicted. We know that Ren seeks strength from his Sith relics, erroneously viewing Vader as a pillar of pure, un-tempered dark power.

KyloRenVaderHelmet
Kylo Ren sits with and speaks to his most precious artifact – the mask of Darth Vader.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Ironically it is actually Ren’s insecurities that heighten his ability to strike fear in the viewer. Vader’s representation of ultimate martial strength may have been underpinned by the portrayal Lucas chose to focus upon in episodes III, IV, V and VI. Importantly though Lucas also spoke of the need to use Vader sparingly so as not to dilute his impact on the viewer.

Consider for a moment your perception if all you had seen of Kylo Ren was the Battle of Jakku, the interrogation of Poe Daemeron, and the killing of his father Han Solo. You would in all likelihood take the view that Ren demonstrated darkness and nihilism on par with Vader. As it is, due to the different approach to character portrayal within Episode VII, we have been given an insight with a wider focus as plot device. In turn that insight sends us back to what we have seen before and makes us wonder if the same kind of internal conflict occurred in Vader’s early years, only to be buried deep before ultimately being released by his son Luke in advance of his final hours at Endor.

In The Force Awakens itself we see Kylo Ren, formerly Ben Solo, also struggle with a pull towards the light, the draw of his family, and the effects of surprise dissent and challenge. Vader’s struggle, although less obvious, is sensed by Luke and is driven by his son’s appeal to the traces of the Anakin Skywalker that his father once was. What adds a further dimension to the scene in question from Return of the Jedi, and shades of gray to Vader’s portrayal in the overall saga, is the fact that we now know so much more about Anakin than we once did.

It’s worth noting in this context that I write this article after the broadcast one of the most heart-rending moments in the Star Wars canon, the confrontation between Vader and his former Padwan learner Ahsoka Tano. Forged in The Clone Wars series, their relationship as Anakin and Ahsoka reached its cessation (for the time being) in the Rebels Season 2 Finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice.” Like the scenes within that finale, this scene in Return of the Jedi is rendered so powerful through a contextual knowledge of the Star Wars saga. We now watch such scenes while projecting both forwards and backwards in our Star Wars knowledge. This isn’t compulsory for viewer enjoyment, but it will significantly enhance it.

VaderAhsoka
Ahsoka Tano receives a Force vision that reveals the truth – her former master, Anakin Skywalker, is Darth Vader.

Photo Credit: Star Wars Rebels Season 2, Episode 18 – “Shroud of Darkness”

Unlike a viewer of the Return of the Jedi scene in 1983 we are now aware of a cinematic portrayal of Anakin Skywalker, the innocent young boy from Tatooine, and his desire to assist the stranded Qui-Gon Jinn and Padmé, we are aware of his later awkwardness as a teenager, and his ultimate seduction by Palpatine towards the ways of the Sith immediately in advance of Mustafar. We know of the Shakespearean tragedy of Anakin’s fall in Episode III Revenge of the Sith, and his becoming the symbol of terror known as Darth Vader. Likewise, we know that those events occurred due to a desire to save and preserve family, and in some respects as a response to loss of family, both his mother Simi and his wife Padmé, and his unborn child (in fact his unborn twins although he didn’t know this).

Now we see Vader facing his only son, a son who senses a residual light within Vader through the Force. Luke is certain that there is good left in him. Let’s watch the scene in question, paying close attention as the scene builds towards its conclusion:

The scene begins with an exchange where Luke acknowledges his father and Vader notes his acceptance of the familial relationships. Luke qualifies this however. His first move in this meeting of minds is to state “I have accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker…”. Note how quickly Vader interjects, instantly snapping that, “that name no longer has any meaning for me!”. The reaction of Vader is instinctive; Luke has sparked a reflex triggered by Vader’s most private of ruminations. Luke persists however stating that, “It is the name of your true self you have only forgotten” and concludes “that’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now.” Watch Vader closely in the background behind Luke. He marginally but notably withdraws. Crucially there is no sense of aggression or loss of control.  Instead Vader’s eyes, or at least his direction of vision indicated by the direction of his Mask, turns towards Luke’s new lightsaber. One senses an indication of remorse, regret, or contemplation.  The crisp ‘snap-hiss’ of the lightsaber igniting then throws us, and immediately breaks any sense the viewer has that Vader doubts his position in any way. The noise, one of the many unique sounds in the Star Wars universe, snaps the viewer back into focus on the peril Luke is facing.

Vader says to Luke “your skills are complete – indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.” In doing so he brings the conversation back to Luke as the focus. Luke in turn again  attempts to persuade and this time we start to anticipate a much more noticeable thaw within Vader. Crucially we are given our first verbal indication of the doubt conveyed earlier only by discrete body language. Vader speaks to Luke and states “Obi Wan once thought as you did…”and the soundtrack theme softens. The viewer is now thinking of the brothers in arms that Anakin and Obi Wan once were. Luke tries to persuade but Vader eventually concedes, “it is too late for me Son“. There is a marked sincerity in Vader’s voice and as he utters the words “The Emperor will show you the true meaning of the Force – he is your master now” one is left wondering if the warped mind of what once was Anakin Skywalker now actually believes that Palpatine will do the best for his son, and the best for the galaxy.  

Then comes the highlight of the scene. Luke responds with the words “then my father is truly dead.”  Luke’s tone highlights his disappointment but also his courage given what lies in wait for him. It shows the strength of Luke that he is not cowed in this situation. He is confident that his path lies in his Jedi teaching, and his compassion towards his father.

FatherisDead
“Then my father is truly dead.”

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Vader tracks Luke’s withdrawal with the Stormtroopers and this to me is critical. At 3:19 on the video, watch Vader and wonder what is going on behind that Mask, knowing as we now do that Luke was right. What are the thought processes that occur? The door of the elevation capsule closes, and Vader turns and looks out the window of the corridor, there are almost ten seconds that pass while the viewer listens to Vader’s mechanical breathing apparatus and looks into the depths of his blank stare.

Projecting forward, and as noted above, we are at the time of writing exploring the legacy of this scene and the events immediately thereafter. The Knights of Ren in the new sequel era have a false understanding of both this event and those immediately surrounding it. They view Vader as a quasi-Divine figure. We are not quite sure of their relationship with the Sith at this point. What is certain, however, is that Ren seeks strength from the ultimate in Vader artifacts, his Mask, indeed literally Vader’s death Mask. Ren seeks strength to overcome the same emotions that trouble Vader in the scene we are contemplating, and then tragically uses the inspiration obtained from that relic to do what Luke refuses to do: kill his own father, Han Solo.

The reason that I now view this section of Return of the Jedi as one of the critical scenes in the saga is because from it we see the linkages that span from the opening scenes in The Phantom Menace and trace the repercussions those events still have around 70 years later. We see how Luke’s relationship with his father is having a direct effect in the sequel era on a misguided Ren’s relationship with his own father. We see the death of one of the saga’s most beloved characters and the hero of the New Republic slaughtered because of a false impression of strength that has cascaded from the myth of the grandfather to the reality of the grandson. We see Luke’s beliefs and Luke’s obvious failure to impart his own beliefs, and their wisdom, to his nephew who has become corrupted.

This is what is beautiful about these films and why the latest developments in the saga and new canon have enriched and embellished films that we have known and loved for nearly 40 years. With the developments in the beautiful animation found in The Clone Wars and now in Rebels, and the love and passion brought to such works by people like Dave Filoni, we can probably look forward to another 40 years of thoughtful and inspired mythology.


Writer’s note: I know that others will have different takes on these cinematic events and portrayals. As always this is part of the enjoyment of these films and I look forward to exchanges with fellow fans on these issues. Find me on Twitter @PartisanCantina and check out my site (Partisan Cantina).

The Scout

The sound of the speeder bike came to an abrupt end as he cut the engine, the echo steadily dying until he was left sitting on the bike in silence of the forest around him.

Parked at the edge of a clearing in the dense woods, he looked around the dimly lit area scanning for movement. Though he had not come across any of the primitives yet, he was sure they were out there somewhere.

But the Ewoks, as they were called, were not his primary concern. He and the other scout troopers in the battalion were tasked with protecting the perimeter of their sector, pushing out into the dense forest to look for unusual activity. A rumor had been floating around the battalion for weeks that the Rebels were planning an assault on the installation. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the Rebellion actually going on the offensive for once.

Dismounting, he pulled his sidearm out of its holster and made sure that the energy cell inside was fully charged. Satisfied, he returned it to his hip and removed his helmet, placing it on the bike’s seat.

Walking slowly, he made his way towards the center of the small, quiet clearing.

It was uncommon, he thought to himself as he turned and observed his surroundings, to come across such a pristine spot during this war, and even less common to have a chance to enjoy these types of moments. Before going back to war, he would just allow himself to take it all in, enjoying a moment of peace.

The solace of the moment was cut short by a sound of the underbrush moving on his right, opposite the direction of his bike. Without moving his body, he tilted his head in the direction from which the sound and movement came. He was sure that whatever made the sound could not be large, but he needed to be cautious. Turning, he took slow steps towards the spot and froze as he came upon it. He couldn’t help but feel that he was being watched. Slowly, he placed his right hand on the pistol in his holster, ready to draw his weapon. Bending down, he put his left arm out and slowly moved the underbrush out of the way.

There was nothing there.

He let the brush whip back to where it had been and took a step backwards. It was out of the corner of his left eye that he saw it: a gray creature, no more than a meter tall and wearing a crude hood, was staring at him.

Held upright in the creature’s right hand was a primitive spear. It did not flinch as the scout turned towards it, content to stand and observe the white uniformed man.

This was, he knew, one of the primitives he had been briefed on when he first arrived on the moon. Though he had not participated in the massacre, troops had begun killing the primitives even before construction of the shield generator or Death Star began. The slaughter had been so swift, command felt there was no need to worry about the presence of these creatures. They had learned their lesson and would leave the Empire alone. Curious, he thought, that he should run into one of these creatures so close to the installation.

As the two stood, staring at one another other, the Scout couldn’t help but consider how innocent the Ewok looked. There was something about it that was disarming. A small pang of guilt percolated inside him for intruding on this creature’s home world and what had been done to its kind. Still, once the battle station was finished, he reckoned the Empire would leave Endor and the Ewoks could just have it back.

Taking a step towards the Ewok, the furry little being held its ground as the soldier approached. Having taken his hand off the pistol, he reached into his belt and pulled out a small piece of food and held it out in his right hand.

This got an immediate reaction. Tilting its chubby gray head, the Ewok considered the food being offered, clearly considering whether it was safe to take the morsel. Slowly, it took a step towards the trooper and stuck out its left hand to take the food.

But it was also the opportunity the Ewok was waiting to exploit. With the trooper’s eyes on the hand reaching for the food, the Scout had taken his eyes off the creature and its spear. Grabbing the food, the Ewok swiftly jabbed the crude weapon into the soldiers exposed neck.

Staggering backwards, the Scout’s hands instantly went to his neck, blood already streaming down his pristine white armor. Turning towards his bike, he tried moving but dizziness from the loss of blood was already taking over.

Taking only a few steps, his legs gave out and the ground rushed to meet him.

Lying there, vision fading to black, he could make out the form of the Ewok walking by his prostrate body, moving towards the bike, eating the food it had been given.

Silently, without looking back, the Ewok moved past the bike and disappeared into the underbrush beyond, leaving the Scout to die in the peace of the forest clearing.


Check out these other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

Ewoks Battling for Endor

Special Announcement: Ewok Week Coming Later This Summer

September 14-18, 2015

When I began this blog, I knew that every now and again I would want to change things up and do something different. Well, that is going to happen later this summer when I spend an entire week devoted to the Ewoks, those furry little creatures from the Sanctuary Moon. I have lots of exciting posts about Ewoks already in the works, from an exploration of Ewok Religion, to an original piece of fan fiction, and a look at one of the most ridiculous (but oddly entertaining) made-for-TV movies ever – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (haven’t seen it? No worries, I got ya covered – Go HERE and watch it now!!!)

Wicket! Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the JEdi

Wicket!
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

BUT, to pull this off, and make Ewok Week a success, I will need your help!!! I am looking for:

  • Original Ewok Fan Art that I can reveal that week on the Site
  • Ewok Haiku – Write an original Ewok related haiku and email it to me to post!
  • Write a short paragraph about how you feel about Ewoks. Do you love them, hate them, feel neutral towards them?
  • Do you have an idea that YOU want to write about? Let me know and we can chat logistics!
  • Have a suggestion to help me make Ewok Week a success? Fill me in! I am open to any and all ideas.

Ultimately, I want Ewok Week to be not about me, but about you, the fan of The Imperial Talker, enjoying a week of fun devoted to a species in the Star Wars galaxy. AND, at the end of the week, I will be asking for your suggestions about the NEXT species I will devote an entire week too on the site.

Get ready for some adorable fun coming soon! And in the meantime, start sending me your Ewok art, ideas, and more!

Email: imperialtalker@gmail.com (or go to the Contact Page)

Facebook: The Imperial Talker

Twitter: @imperialtalker