I haven’t had as much time to work on The Imperial Talker over the past month. In large part, this is because my wife and I recently bought a new house and, at the end of July, we moved into it. Moving is always a pain, and it is extra difficult when you also have a toddler AND you have a laundry list of new tasks to complete in a home. As a result, cutting the grass and trimming bushes, among other things, has taken priority not only over this blog, but also over my ability to enjoy Star Wars (and other forms of entertainment). Then again, taking a break from over-indulging in anything, even Star Wars, is not only important but also necessary, an opportunity to reset the mind and brainstorm new ideas. While I have been adapting to a new daily routine, I have been conjuring up thoughts about a slew of topics, some of them having to do with Star Wars and this site. And that takes us to this post.
Grandfather and grandson before the move. They wanted one last look outside.
Basically, I had this idea (one that came to me while engaging in the quasi-religious ritual of cutting the grass) where I would provide a little glimpse of what I have been up to as a Star Wars fan each month. As well, I thought it would be fun to get a little random, offering not only a snapshot of my monthly Star Wars activities but also whatever Star Wars things I feel like sharing. And, of course, the open-ended nature of such a post allows me to take things anywhere I want in a looser fashion than some of my more in-depth posts. Admittedly, while I love thinking/writing about Star Wars on this site doing so can at times be a slog because I am a perfectionist. Before I post anything, I need to be sure it is precisely what I want to say. And, as you can imagine, that can be time consuming AND mentally exhausting. I wouldn’t have it any other way, of course, but a little levity in the form of this new monthly series (and my on-going Haikuesday series) offers opportunities for me to take a step back and not worry about ideas/concepts lining up with academic perfection.
That said, I hope you enjoy this new series – Talking Star Wars – and be sure to leave a comment when you are finished reading.
Watching Star Wars
In the past month I have watched no Star Wars. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Instead, I finally caved and began watching Doctor Who. Until the move I never had any real desire to watch Doctor Who. It sounded interesting but I was otherwise indifferent. Then came the move and a new cable package that includes HBO Max. Since the good Doctor is on HBO Max, and seeing as I need to justify spending $15/month on the service, I said “Okay, let’s do this” and, well, the rest is history. I can’t get enough of it. Sorry Star Wars, but you’ll just have to wait until I am done traveling with The Doctor.
Oh, but I should note that while I have not watched Star Wars over the past month, I have discovered quite a few moments in Doctor Who that I am fairly confident influenced The Clone Wars. Watch Doctor Who Season 1, Episode 2 (“The End of the World”) and then watch The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 13 (“Voyage of Temptation”). If I’m wrong then I am wrong. But if I am right then I am a flipping genius!!!
A Star Wars Room is Born
After my wife and I bought our new house I had a mini-panic attack over the most ridiculous first world of problems: where the hell was I going to put all of my Star Wars stuff? To solve this non-crisis of consumerism we had a room converted in the house into a collection room with custom shelving where I could display my objects of Star Wars desire. I am still in the process of working on the room, bringing things together and getting everything set up, but I am pleased with how it is coming along and look forward to sharing its evolution as time goes on.
I am incredibly lucky to have the privilege to worry about where I will put my Star Wars “stuff.” I have done well financially to accumulate the Star Wars things I own AND to dedicate a room in my home to the passion I have had since I was a child. With great privilege comes great responsibility, though, and my Star Wars room serves as a constant reminder that I am called to a more important cause, the cause of creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. I am far from perfect in this, but I am never-the-less dedicated to working on behalf of others who are in distress, be it physical, mental/emotional, financial, etc. Fighting on behalf of others, taking on the unjust and corrupt systems that harm and destroy lives, THAT is just one of the many messages message I learned from Star Wars as a child and which has stuck with me to this day. I am privileged to have a room with my Star Wars collection, but grateful for the constant reminder that I must continue to bring positive, progressive change to the world.
A small glimpse of my Star Wars room. More pictures to come in the future!
Compassion of the Jedi
“Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life.” – Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker (Attack of the Clones)
Please consider donating to Starlight Children’s Foundation, a wonderful organization that specializes in delivering happiness to seriously ill children and their families.
Perfect Star Wars Pet: The Rancor
Star Wars Reading List
Vector Prime – R.A. Salvatore Dark Tide I: Onslaught – Michael A. Stackpole
I began a re-read of The New Jedi Order at the end of July, just before we moved. It has been a while since I read the entire series, primarily because there are A LOT of books in The New Jedi Order. Reading it is a pretty big time commitment but a worthwhile one. Never-the-less, a re-read was long overdue and since I just finished re-reading the X-Wing series I wanted to stick with some more Expanded Universe stories. Besides, the content Disney is putting out right now just isn’t captivating me the way it did a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I am still enjoying some of it here and there, but as a whole I have found it difficult to get excited about the Disney canon. Alternatively, having grown up living and loving the Expanded Universe, jumping back in made perfect sense. I needed to remind myself that there ARE Star Wars stories that have been around for years and continue to speak to me. I am sure I will jump back into the Disney stuff again, but The New Jedi Order is where I will be living for a while.
That said, the series is unlike any other in Star Wars because the villains – the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong – challenge the heroes of Star Wars (Luke, Leia, Han, etc…) and the reader in truly unexpected ways. This is no more apparent than in Vector Prime, the first novel in the series, when Chewbacca heroically dies saving Anakin Solo, the youngest child of Han and Leia (I have a post forthcoming about his death). This event sends emotional shockwaves through the book and hangs over the entire series, a constant reminder of just how dangerous the Yuuzhan Vong truly are and that no one, not even the heroes we grew to love in the Original Trilogy, are safe from death.
The face Admiral Piett makes when the Millennium Falcon escapes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is priceless. With Darth Vader killing Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa earlier in the film, one can certainly understand the look of “Oh shit…” on Piett’s face. That he survives, reappearing in Return of the Jedi and still in command, is quite the surprise!
Three Star Wars Quotes I Really Like
“”He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh, and in his wake life dies… sacrificing itself to his hunger.” – Visas Marr describing Darth Nihilus (Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)
“A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion.” – Sio Bibble to Queen Amidala (The Phantom Menace)
“Your reputation precedes you, General. The reputation of a coward, and a murderer.” – Jedi Master Eeth Koth to General Grievous (The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 9 “Grievous Intrigue”)
Ten Random Star Wars Thoughts
The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie but A New Hope is the best Star Wars movie.
Darth Caedus would beat Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel.
Ahsoka lived but she should have died.
That B’omarr Monk in Return of the Jedi is probably wondering why Jabba the Hutt has not returned to the palace yet. a. Speaking of Jabba the Hutt, what the hell happened to his son Rotta? Are we just ignoring the fact that Rotta exists in Star Wars? I guess so…
The Rise of Skywalker is a cinematic rip-off of Dark Empire, and Dark Empire is better (and the plot actually makes more sense).
Children’s book idea: One Sith, Two Sith, Red Sith, Blue Sith a. “This one has a double-blade, this one took a Jedi braid.” b. “Those Jedi Knights are such a blight, they ramble on about the Light.” c. “The Rule of Two or just The One? Bane and Krayt could duel for fun.” d. I am copywriting this idea 😉
I always screw up the trial on Manaan when I play Knights of the Old Republic even though I have played the game a dozen times.
Zander Freemaker and I have something in common, we both love the N-1 Starfighter.
Whenever I played “Battle of the minefield” in the TIE Fighter computer game I would immediately destroy my wingmen at the outset of the mission before they turned against me. I’d just reduce my speed, line them up in my targeting sights and blast them into oblivion. a. The two wingmen end up turning on you a few minutes into the mission. They are loyal to Admiral Harkov who ends up defecting to the Rebellion in this particular mission.
Shmi Skywalker is the most important Skywalker.
Ten Random Non-Star Wars Thoughts
I blame My Comic Relieffor getting me hooked on Doctor Who. That show is crazy good. Craaaaaaaaaaaazy good. a. Should I just convert The Imperial Talker into The Doctor Talker?
“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.
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.
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.
With the one year anniversary of The Imperial Talker coming up, I thought it’d be appropriate to do a post on Imperial Walkers (I think you know why). What follows are some general thoughts and impressions on the use of the Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back.
“Echo Station 3-T-8. We have spotted Imperial walkers.” – Rebel soldier
A few minutes before the Imperial Walkers make their first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, we watch as Rebel infantry prepare for the oncoming ground assault. The musical score that plays hints at the tension these soldiers are feeling as they make their preparations and scan the distant horizon for Imperial forces. But all that can be seen in the distance are cloudy billows of snow, made, we can presume, by Imperial ships landing forces on the glacial Moorsh Moraine.
When the enemy is spotted minutes later, shortly after the first transport safely evacuates Echo Base, the tension is cut for viewer and soldier alike. Now, as we look off at the horizon, small black objects can be seen, and a strange mechanical sound, albeit faint, can be heard. In a flash, the infantry prepare their weapons, taking aim while one soldier, a sergeant, places electrobinoculars up to his eyes. Transported into his eye’s, we now get our first glimpse of an Imperial Walker…or rather, of a Walker’s massive foot slamming down to the ground.
The foot of an Imperial Walker slams to the ground. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
I have always loved this shot, the fact that the first time we see the All-Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) – the technical name for the Imperial Walker – we only see a solitary foot. To me, this shot of an Imperial Walker’s foot is one of the most brilliant shots in all of Star Wars. The image serves as a momentary metaphor, a visual statement informing us of what the Empire plans to do to the Rebels on Hoth: crush them.
Having zoomed in too closely, the Rebel soldier begins to zoom out and pan up, giving us a full profile of the towering war machine the foot belongs too. In turn, as he continues to zoom out, two more Imperial Walkers come into view. Just from looking at them, one can easily tell that these massive, mechanical beasts are perfectly Imperial, each one serving as a visual reminder of the power the Empire possesses, even after the loss of the Death Star.
The Rebel soldier zooms out and a number of Imperial Walkers come into view.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Added to this visual reminder of the Empire’s power, though, is also the fact that these slow, cumbersome war machines are marching across an open and barren tundra. In short, General Veers, the commander of the Imperial ground assault, has opted for a frontal assault against a well-fortified position, a position that has received no aerial or artillery bombardment. Logic would suggest that the Imperial force will be cut to shreds, and yet, that is far from what happens…
As the battle opens, it quickly becomes apparent the AT-AT is formidable beyond compare. As Rebel soldiers fire weapons of all types at the advancing machines, nothing happens. Luke Skywalker himself, leading a squadron of T-47 Airspeeders in the battle, exclaims the obvious early in the battle: the armor on the Walkers is too strong for blasters. Some other tactic must be used to slow the advance of these mechanical beasts.
Well, another tactic does work when the Airspeeder flown by Wedge Antilles and his gunner Wes Janson, trip a Walker with a tow cable. However, it is also the ONLY time this particular tactic will work. Surely, other Airspeeder pilots and gunners followed suit and attempted to destroy the Walkers with tow cables, but it is clear that none were successful. And so, the Walkers continue their march towards the Rebel position, and in the process even knock Skywalker out of the fight when his Airspeeder is hit and crashes. It certainly is telling that the hero of the Rebellion, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, is shot down during the Battle of Hoth, a clear indication that even he cannot defeat the Empire alone.
What his crash also signifies, though, is the turning point in the Battle of Hoth. Even if his crash is not the tactical turning point, the collapse of Rebel defenses, in the film at least, begins after Luke is knocked out of the fight. We witness this collapse first-hand as the Rebel infantry, whom we earlier watched preparing for battle, now flee their trenches, shouts of “retreat” and “fall back” echoing down the line. In what I would consider to be one of the most iconic shots in all of Star Wars, we see the Imperial Walkers in the background towering over the panicked Rebel soldiers who are in the foreground (the picture is below). The image helps to give us a clear understanding of just how massive these Walkers are compared to the average human, another visual reminder of the size and power of the Empire, and a clear sign that the Rebellion is much smaller and far weaker than its enemy. In a sense, we already know this to be true, but it is fascinating, and chilling, to see it expressed so poignantly in this particular scene.
An iconic Star Wars image: Imperial Walkers tower over the retreating Rebel infantry. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Interestingly, immediately following this iconic scene, Luke Skywalker reappears and uses some creative heroics to destroy another Imperial Walker. While his action is not enough to stem the tide of the Imperial assault, we can certainly assume that some of the retreating Rebels would have been emboldened by the sudden destruction of an AT-AT. Still, the deed is far too little, too late. Only after Luke’s small victory, General Veers, commanding the attack from his own Walker, will destroy the shield generator that protects the Rebel base, and the Battle of Hoth comes to an end.