General Hux

Continuity Confusion in The Last Jedi

The overarching plot to The Last Jedi is pretty straight-forward:

Fleeing their hidden base on D’Qar just as a First Order fleet shows up, the four vessels in the Resistance fleet zips into hyperspace following a deadly battle. However, when they exit hyperspace, the First Order fleet also re-appears and it quickly dawns on General Leia Organa that the enemy has tracked them through hyperspace, a concept thought to be impossible! Having only enough fuel for one more hyperspace jump, and knowing that the First Order will just track them through hyperspace once more, the Resistance fleet simply maintains a steady pace, chased by the Star Destroyers of the First Order but staying out of distance from their heavy guns.

With the First Order fleet chasing the Resistance fleet, writer/director Rian Johnson proceeds to tack subplots onto the pursuit. The first is Poe Dameron’s annoyance with Vice Admiral Holdo after she takes over for General Organa, an annoyance steming from being kept out of the loop regarding Holdo’s plan to escape the First Order. In turn, his annoyance will eventually lead to outright mutiny on the part of Dameron and a handful of co-conspirators. The second subplot, which is tied directly to the fleet pursuit AND Dameron’s annoyance, is the side-journey Finn and Rose take to Canto Bight in order to find a code-breaker who can disable the First Order’s hyperspace tracker.

There are, of course, other aspects to the plot of The Last Jedi which primarily revolve around Rey, Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, and Supreme Leader Snoke. For the sake of this post, though, I am uninterested in analyzing these other plot elements. This is not to suggest they are unworthy of consideration. Far from it. In fact, I do look at these other plot points in a prior piece titled “Reflections on The Last Jedi.” Here, though, I want to focus solely on the plot as described above, namely the fact that the movie centers on the First Order fleet chasing the Resistance fleet. And, in doing so, I wish to highlight two points of continuity confusion which I find rather apparent in this plotline.

Points of Continuity Confusion

An Imperial research initivative first teased in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which Jyn Erso comes across as she searches the Scariff database for the Death Star plans, hyperspace tracking resurfaces in The Last Jedi as the critical piece of technology which the First Order uses to follow the Resistance fleet. Without it, the First Order would have been incapable of pursuing the General Organa’s forces after the evacuation and battle of D’Qar. The Resistance, obviously surprised by the First Order’s capability to track them through hyperspace, must then turn to a different plan to escape their adversary.

Supremacy's_hyperspace_tracker
The First Order’s hyperspace tracker.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

That hyperspace tracking is mentioned in Rogue One and is then used as a critical plot device in The Last Jedi is, in and of itself, a worthwhile and interesting point of Star Wars continuity. Never-the-less, I cannot help but be confused by the use of hyperspace tracking in the The Last Jedi in one very specific way:

If the First Order can track the Resistance through hyperspace, then how come they didn’t exit hyperspace slightly ahead, and not directly behind, the Resistance fleet?

This is a question that I have struggled to fully grasp ever since watching The Last Jedi. While I certainly understand, and can appreciate, that the fleet chase is what provides the movie a core part of its narrative, it seems rather silly that the First Order would willingly exit hyperspace at a point that is not advantageous to their primary cause: destroying the Resistance. One would presume that hyperspace tracking enables the First Order to exit lightspeed behind AND ahead of the Resistance, thus ensuring that they are trapped and destroyed.

Yet, exciting lightspeed directly behind the Resistance fleet is what the First Order chooses to do. Okay then, fair enough. But this is also where ANOTHER piece of continuity confusion comes into play – the “Microjump.” In brief, the concept of the microjump is one that has only been used a handful of times in the Star Wars Canon, but it is, never-the-less, a critical and intriguing capability. Essentially, it is the ability to make a tactical jump into hyperspace and travel a very short, precise distance. In effect, a ship enters and then immediately exits lightspeed.

Canonically, the microjump is used for the first time in The Clone Wars Season Two episode “Grievous Intrigue” when Anakin Skywalker makes a tactical hyperspace jump into the middle of the Battle of Saleucami. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Millennium Falcon performs a microjump as it is traversing The Channel through the Akkadese Maelstrom towards the planet Kessel. As well, microjumps are also used in three Star Wars novels: Tarkin, Thrawn: Alliances, and Thrawn: Treason. Admittedly, the microjump is a concept that is not widely used by Star Wars storytellers and prior to the release of The Last Jedi, only The Clone Wars and Tarkin provided examples as Solo: A Star Wars Story and the two Thrawn novels were released after The Last Jedi. Then again, prior to The Last Jedi, the concept of hyperspace tracking had only ever been mentioned, and never before used, in any Star Wars tales. And so, this leads me to another, pretty obvious question:

After exiting hyperspace behind the Resistance, why didn’t the First Order fleet – even just one Star Destroyer in the fleet – perform a microjump to get ahead of the Resistance fleet?

Again, I am confused that a fleet chase is even necessary in The Last Jedi considering that the very concept of the microjump provides an easily accessible maneuver for the First Order to trap their enemy. In fact, multiple Star Destroyers could jump in multiple directions, creating a web to ensure that every direction in which the enemy chooses to travel is covered. And yet, for whatever reason, the First Order chooses to just slowly and methodically chase their enemy, simply waiting for the Resistance ships to run out of fuel…

Okay, fine. I will begrudgingly accept that for whatever reason the First Order leadership, obsessed as it is with destroying the Resistance, chooses not to take advantage of the ability to easily get ahead of the Resistance fleet using a microjump. But the thing is, this is only one side of the coin. You see, even if we presume that the First Order just chooses NOT to perform a microjump, the Resistance leadership – namely General Organa and Vice Admiral Holdo – have no way of knowing if any First Order Star Destroyers are already ahead of their fleet.

Seriously, just think about it for a second. This aspect of the plot of The Last Jedi is premised on the notion that the First Order can, and has, tracked the Resistance through hyperspace. Even in figuring this out, the Resistance has absolutely no way of knowing if any First Order Star Destroyers jumped PAST them and are lying in wait. Further, Organa and Holdo have no way of knowing if, at any moment, the First Order will perform a microjump to get ahead of their fleet. In other words, the actions of the Resistance leadership really make no sense given that they should be able to deduce the possibility that there might be now, or will be very soon, First Order ships directly ahead of them.

The Raddus
The Raddus
Photo Credit: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

And this is even more confusing when we consider that the Resistance plan is quite literally straight-forward: traveling in a line which will take them past the planet Crait where they will secretly slip away in transports while their main cruiser – the Raddus – continues traveling in that straight-line. Seriously, that is the plan. Go in a straight-line past the ONLY planet they can possibly escape to while ignoring the fact that the First Order could just microjump to Crait before they even arrive.

Yet, the thing is, The Last Jedi completely and utterly ignores this possibility which is precisely why I am confused by the fleet chase. It isn’t that a fleet chase is an implausible plotline, or something that has never happened in Star Wars (see: The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 2 “Destroy Malevolence”). Rather, it’s the basic fact that the film fails to account for the canonical concepts- hyperspace tracking and microjumping – which render the purpose of the entire chase unnecessary in the first place. At the very least, The Last Jedi should have included a few lines of dialogue on the part of the First Order and the Resistance stating WHY the First Order fleet did not exit hyperspace ahead of the Resistance and why the First Order fleet will not microjump ahead of the Resistance fleet. 

That’s it, that is ALL the film needed to account for these possibilities. Just a few lines of extra dialogue about hyperspace tracking, and some brief explanation of microjumps, would have sufficed.  Except that would have required a little extra work on the part of Rian Johnson and the Lucasfilm Story Group, but let’s be honest, they were too busy acting self-satisfied about The Last Jedi on Twitter. 

I have the time, though, so here are some possible exchanges that could have been added to the film. Enjoy (and leave a comment below):

[Scene: Bridge of Star Destroyer Finalizer after exiting hyperspace behind Resistance]

General Hux: “Our tracker worked perfectly. The Resistance fleet is doomed!”

Captain Peavey: “Genera Hux, the captain of the Harbinger is requesting permission to perform a microjump ahead of the Resistance fleet.”

General Hux: “Permission denied. Organa and her scum will not escape us.”

 

[Scene: Secondary Battle Bridge of the Raddus]

Poe Dameron: “Vice Admiral, Commander Dameron. With our current fuel consumption there’s a very limited amount of time we can stay out of range of those Star Destroyers.”

Vice Admiral Holdo: “Very kind of you to make me aware.”

Dameron: “We also don’t know if the First Order jumped out ahead of us and I’d like to not walk into a trap.”

Holdo: “That is certainly a possibility, although I think you give General…Hugs…too much tactical credit.”

Dameron: “Okkkkkay, so, what we are gonna do to shake them? What’s our plan?”

 

[Scene: Medical Bay in the Raddus]

Finn: “So the First Order is only tracking us from one Destroyer, the lead one.”

Rose: “It tracked us to the exact spot we left hyperspace, which must mean the tracker entirely controls the navicomputer once it is turned on. The First Order couldn’t jump past us because the tracker is locked once the jump to lightspeed takes place.”

Poe: “They could only exit hyperspace behind us…but they could still perform a microjump and get ahead of us now.”

Finn: “Right.”

Poe: “Okay, I think I get it….so we blow up the lead Destroyer and zip away before we run into any other Destroyers that are waiting for us.”

The (Mis)Use of Captain Phasma

So this post has spoilers from The Last Jedi but you probably guessed that already…

Following the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015, I was perplexed and annoyed by how small Captain Phasma’s role had actually been in the film. The marketing for The Force Awakens had led me to believe that Phasma, the villainous First Order stormtrooper wearing chrome armor and a cape, would play a larger part in the movie. However, that wasn’t the case, and I was left grasping for understanding about why Captain Phasma was underused. 

In a previous post – Star Wars: Phasma – I highlighted this disappointment, noting in that piece that “I was pretty shocked by how little she factored into the movie.” As well, I also noted my conviction that Captain Phasma would undoubtedly be a greater factor in Episode VIII. In fact, I wrote as much, stating that,

“…I can’t imagine a scenario in which Captain Phasma doesn’t play a larger role. It would be silly for writer/director Rian Johnson not to utilize Phasma in a more direct way, particularly now that Starkiller Base is gone and, presumably, First Order and Resistance forces will be fighting a dirty and gritty war. Besides, with many fans expressing disappointment over how little she appears in The Force Awakens, it would make practical sense just to give us more of her.” 

Well, Captain Phasma certainly shows up in The Last Jedi, but her appearance was woefully underwhelming, even more so than her brief appearances in The Force Awakens. Rather than “more of her” we actually get less, and while we do see her fire her blaster and watch as she battles Finn (one of her former stormtroopers) this hardly makes up for the brevity of her screen-time, not to mention the fact that she dies only a short while after she finally shows up. To say that I was left stunned by Phasma’s (mis)use is an understatement, and while my expectations were admittedly high and could partially be to blame for how I feel, it is never-the-less perplexing that this mysterious villain would be so quickly laid to rest in Episode VIII without her doing anything of significance in the developing war against the Resistance which would serve the First Order’s interests. In fact…

…I find it most perplexing that Phasma died right BEFORE the climactic ground battle the First Order launches on the planet Crait. With Resistance fighters staging a last ditched effort to hold off the First Order, this would have been a perfect and brilliant moment to see Captain Phasma in her prime, leading soldiers fearlessly into battle (*What could have been an engagement that echoed Rogue One’s gritty Battle of Scarif was more of an aesthetic homage to the film at large with the bright red mineral dust of Crait overwhelming the battlefield*). Captain Phasma charging into a battle against the Resistance, that was what I was hoping for, that was the expectation I had anticipated when Phasma was first introduced in the lead up to The Force Awakens. The set up was there, the pieces in place for the Captain to lead her soldiers into a deadly battle, and yet…

…what we get is Captain Phasma falling to a fiery death on a burning First Order ship after being struck by Finn. Talk about disappointing.

FinnBattlesPhasma
Captain Phasma battles Finn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The thing is, this disappointment is amplified by the fact that two stories about Phasma were released in the lead up to The Last Jedi. The novel Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson and Marvel’s Captain Phasma comic series offer readers a deep and intriguing look at the woman inside the chrome armor. In particular, we learn in these stories is that Phasma is a survivor, that she will literally go out of her way to stay alive. Having discovered that survival at all costs is her modus operandi, it feels out of place that Captain Phasma would purposefully put herself in harms way by engaging Finn in a fight while the ship around her breaks apart and burns. As well, that she lets her guard down once she believes she has beaten Finn is equally confusing, something she never would have done in her earlier life on the planet Parnassus. 

In laying out my disappointment, and my belief that she was misused in The Last Jedi, I will readily admit that a small sliver of my brain believes Captain Phasma survived her fall. Given all of the unexpected turns that happen in The Last Jedi it wouldn’t be surprising if Captain Phasma survived her fiery flirtation with death, and Phasma is certainly the type who could do so. If so, this could create a very interesting plot-line in Episode IX, with Finn realizing that Phasma is still alive, and a badly injured Phasma holding a blistering grudge against him for besting her. In fact, I am just going to go on record and say this:

I think we will see Captain Phasma again in Episode IX. 

If I am right, I hope Captain Phasma and her re-emergence is treated with incredible care, and that she isn’t misused once again. An opportunity exists to not only show audiences that Phasma is a survivor, but for her to use her survival as a means of rising within the ranks of the First Order, to challenge General Hux for the #2 spot behind the newly minted Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. In fact, I think it is safe to say that IF Captain Phasma survived, Kylo Ren will be pretty damn impressed she did. And I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Phasma were to execute General Hux with Kylo Ren’s blessing…

But if I am wrong, if we won’t be seeing her again in Episode IX, then so be it. While I believe she deserved far more treatment and was misused in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I am otherwise left with the worry that watching her fall to her doom was a cheap trick, a “gotcha” moment where she will return in IX just to be dispatched once again. At this point, while I have yearned for more of Captain Phasma on the big screen, and grew even more fond of her through the novel and comic series, I am otherwise just flat out tired of investing the time and emotional energy into this character….and I guess I will just leave it at that.

Your Snoke Theory Doesn’t Suck

“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.”  Gautama Buddha

Ever since The Force Awakens hit theaters in 2015 there has been a lot of speculation about the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. To be fair, questions about Snoke’s identity began even before the film came out, but in the wake of the movie’s release the conversations about the First Order’s mysterious, Force-sensitive leader exploded. Just doing a simple Google search of “Snoke” will result in a trove of articles, videos, and podcasts attempting to identify/explain who Snoke may or may not be. With the next film, The Last Jedi, only months away, conjecture about Snoke will undoubtedly ramp up, and if his identity remains a secret beyond Episode VIII the cavalcade of Snoke theories will continue to pour onto the interwebs until Episode IX arrives.

Like others I too have my own theories and hypotheses about Supreme Leader Snoke, and while I won’t be putting each and every one to paper in any elaborate form, I never-the-less find myself constantly drawn back to my Snokie thoughts. Honestly, I just can’t help myself. Mystery breeds curiosity, it attracts me like a moth to a light, drawing me in and igniting my imagination. From there my imagination runs wild, my brain using the information available to me – information from the Star Wars movies, novels, comics, games, etc. – in hopes of figuring out something about Snoke’s mysterious identity. At times I return to the same theories my mind has conjured up, at other times I head down a different path, a new thought leading me on an imaginative journey which may center on Snoke’s disfigured face, or perhaps his connection to Kylo Ren, or his relationship with General Hux, or his statements about the Force/Jedi, and so forth.

snoke-2
Kylo Ren stands before Supreme Leader Snoke.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Mystery breeds curiosity, and as the trove of Snoke-related articles/podcasts/videos prove, the mystery surrounding Supreme Leader Snoke has captivated Star Wars fans of all types. While I certainly haven’t sifted through every Snoke theory or hypothesis, I have dabbled in a handful that have crossed my path. Some theories have left me really intrigued, and I have incorporated ideas from these theories into my own musings. At other times I have found theories uninteresting or based on questionable Star Wars logic. Still, even in moments where I am not captivated or believe a Star Wars-related flaw exists in the theory, I can still appreciate that the theory means something to that person, that they put the time and effort into its construction. After all, it is hardly my place to trash someone for engaging in space fantasy inspired speculation, to tell someone their Snokie ideas suck simply because I might not agree or because I have my own theories. 

Yet, there has been a proclivity within elements of the Star Wars fan base to do just that, to tell people that their Snoke theories suck. The phrase “Your Snoke Theory Sucks” has become a spontaneous, uncritical and churlish way to throw shade on any theory that explores Snoke’s mysterious identity. Well, I am here to tell you this: if you have a Snoke theory, it absolutely does not suck. Is it possible that when Snoke’s history, background and identity are finally revealed that your theories, or my theories, end up being incorrect? Absolutely! The potential to be wrong is omnipresent, a reality that always exists when one engages in contemplative and abstract thought. But here is a little secret: when it comes to Star Wars, I don’t theorize because I think I am 100% right, I theorize because it is fun. And if you have fun theorizing about Snoke, or anything else in Star Wars, then I say keep it up. We all might end up being wrong, in fact we probably will be wrong, but who the hell cares? 


Check out this piece by Michael from My Comic Relief for an expanded take on the topic:

Really, Your Snoke Theory Doesn’t Suck

Bow to the First Order

I could talk at length about a number of scenes in The Force Awakens, but one scene that really stood out to me in my first viewing of the film is when General Hux, played by Domhnall Gleeson, addresses an assembly of First Order soldiers and officers on Starkiller Base. With a massive First Order flag behind him and a sea of white armor and black uniforms spread out below him, General Hux delivers a charismatic speech lambasting the Republic and “loathsome” Resistance.  I was immediately captivated by what Hux was preaching, drawn in by the raw hatred bleeding off of every perfectly annunciated word as he railed against a Republic “regime” that “acquiesces to disorder.” I could easily imagine the soldiers and officers in attendance feeling empowered by their commanding General, their resolve to make the galaxy “bow to the First Order” strengthened.

It hardly needs to be said but this scene gives off some pretty intense Nazi-esque vibes, the setting visually reminiscent of a Nazi Party rally with General Hux playing the role of Adolf Hitler. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Domhnall Gleeson prepared for this particular scene by watching videos of Adolf Hitler speaking, given how closely Hux imitates Hitler in demeanor and oration.

Salute
General Hux (foreground) receives a very Nazi-esque salute from his soldiers, left arm raised with a fist, once his speech concludes.  
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Hux isn’t just mimicking Hitler, though. Oh no, he is also mimicking another Chancellor we are all familiar with: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Recall the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Palpatine gives an impassioned and empowering speech to the Senate about the “Jedi rebellion” and the physical scars he received from the Jedi. He then follows this with a chilling declaration:

In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be re-organized into the First Galactic Empire!

While the context of General Hux’s speech is different than Palpatine’s, both none-the-less mirror each other in an important way: by calling for the end of the Republic. Using his authority as Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine proclaims the formation of the Empire, washing away the Republic even though he does not, at that point, disband the Senate. On the other hand, Hux vehemently and viciously exclaims more than once that the end of the Republic is nigh, which comes to fruition when Starkiller  Base is used to destroy Hosnian Prime, the planet hosting the current session of the Republic Senate.

Two charismatic and authoritative figures declaring and then executing, in their own ways, the same outcome – the death of liberty and democracy.

But while Hux parallels Palpatine in declaring an end to the Republic, this shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that the two individuals are exactly the same, or that the organizations they represent are perfectly comparable. Frankly, even though the First Order was born from the remnants of its Imperial predecessor, they are not the same thing. Both share some obvious similarities, like the use of Stormtroopers, Star Destroyers, and TIE Fighters, but the two entities have much different motivations and goals. And this is precisely  why this short scene is so critical to the film – Hux might be inspiring his soldiers with his harsh words, but he is also speaking to you and I, giving us direct insight into the First Order and how it stands apart from the Galactic Empire.

Honestly, what better way for the film to teach us about this mysterious organization, the new villains in the Star Wars universe, than by allowing us all to participate in a secret gathering on their secret base?

So, what did YOU think about this scene? About General Hux? About the First Order?  


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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