Imperial Interdiction

Two things before the post heats up…

  1. This post is going to have a bit of information from the Star Wars Rebels animated series, and the novels Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi. If you haven’t watched the show or read these novels, then consider this a “spoiler alert.”
  2. This entire post is one very large geek out. As you read, you will understand what I mean.

In a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels (Season 2,  Episode  9 – “Stealth Strike”), the intrepid heroes of the show encounter an Imperial weapon they have never before come across. That weapon is an Imperial Interdictor cruiser, a type of ship that actually made its first appearance in the EU novel Heir to the Empire years ago. I have always had an intense fascination with Interdictors, though this hardly means that other ships interest me less. No, what makes Interdictors so intriguing is that they have the capability of affecting one of the most important concepts in the Star Wars universe: hyperspace travel.

Interdictors work by using gravity-well projectors, devices that can create a gravity field and pull a ship (or ships) out of hyperspace and/or keep ships from entering hyperspace. As hyperspace is the only way to get from one place to another in the Star Wars galaxy, you can see why this sort of technology would be a big deal, especially if you are a Rebel vessel and need to escape a more powerful Imperial ship. If running away isn’t an option, then you’d better have another contingency plan.

In “Stealth Strike,” Ezra Bridger, Commander Jun Sato, and other rebels are traveling through hyperspace when their Corellian Corvette is suddenly ripped from hyperspace by an Interdictor. Unsurprisingly, the rebels are in utter confusion as they attempt to make sense of what happened. As far as the Rebellion against the Empire is concerned, this is the first time that Rebellion encounters this form of technology/weapon. But this shouldn’t be confused as the first canonical appearance of an Interdictor. No, the novel Tarkin was actually the first appearance for Interdictors in the new canon, and Heir to the Jedi closely followed. What is weird, though, is that the Star Wars Databank page for “Imperial Interdictor” doesn’t actually reflect the appearance of Interdictors in Tarkin or Heir to the Jedi. Instead the page makes it seem as though the ship has only appeared in Rebels.

The cover of the novel Star Wars: Tarkin.
Photo Credit – LucasBooks

Further, while the Databank discusses the “Imperial Interdictor,” it should really mention that there is not just one type of Interdictor, there are actually three: the Detainer CC-2200, the CC-7700 Frigate, and the Immobilizer 418. While it’s an Immobilizer that appears in Rebels and Heir to the Jedi, in Tarkin, which is set 5 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, the narrator indicates that it is the latest Interdictor to be constructed for the Deep Core Security Zone. As the novel points out, the Immobilizer arrives for an Imperial operation in the Obroa-Skai system “fresh from deepdock in the Corellia system” having yet to be tested, a clear indication that the other two vessels had, at the very least, been put through testing and/or utilized by the Imperial Navy previously.

Still, the Immobilizer,  which we learn in Tarkin has gravity-well projectors that are far more powerful than its cousins, does go on to become an important part of the Imperial Navy. This doesn’t necessarily mean the other vessels didn’t, but they also have not appeared in any other canonical source to date. The use of the Immobilizer by the Navy is confirmed, though, in Heir to the Jedi, a story which takes place between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. In that novel, Luke Skywalker’s vessel is pulled from hyperspace by an Interdictor in the Daalang system. Luke confirms that the vessel is an Immobilizer, and he explains to an individual traveling with him that “…the Empire has been using them against us [the Rebellion] on our raids.” However, Luke also notes in his inner-dialogue that “the Empire had stopped making these particular Interdictor cruisers because of their vulnerabilities” but “there were still plenty of them out there” even though they are no longer in production. In turn, Luke notes that the Empire had begun installing gravity-well projectors on Star Destroyers. From this statement, we can presume that along with the Immobilizer, the CC-2200 and CC-7700 were no longer in production either.

An Issue with Continuity

The cover for the novel Heir to the Jedi.
Photo Credit – LucasBooks

For an otherwise less-than-stellar novel in the new canon, the scenario Luke and his companions find themselves in when facing the Immobilizer is a good one. In fact, I find it the best engagement that happens  in the book. But hidden within the situation is an otherwise off-the-cuff comment from Luke about the Immobilizer that makes little sense when we bring “Stealth Strike” into the conversation. In describing the Interdictor, Luke explains that “…this is one of the old models.” With the Immobilizer’s first appearance coming in Tarkin, at the very least 15 years (perhaps more) before Heir to the Jedi, then yes, Luke is correct, it is an older model. HOWEVER, “Stealth Strike,” which takes place 4-6 years before Heir to the Jedi, makes it very apparent that the aspiring Rebel cause has never encountered technology of this kind, which means they have never encountered an Immobilizer. To the rebels in the show, this ship and what it can do is entirely new, so how can it be an  “old model”?

Well, there are certainly some ways that we could fix this little continuity issue, but I also think it didn’t need to become an issue in the first place. Frankly, I am of the opinion that the showrunners of Rebels could have done more to connect the appearance of the Immobilizer in “Stealth Strike” to the vessels appearance in Tarkin. Had the rebels, even if briefly at the end of the episode, discussed the ship making its first appearance ten(ish) years before during an incident in the Obroa-Skai system, then Luke’s comment about the “old model” would make a lot more sense. But this isn’t what happens in the show. Instead, when the rebels are discussing this new ship, it is Sabine Wren, the young rebel and former Imperial cadet who states that when she was at the Academy, the Empire was developing gravity-well projectors. Disregarding the fact that the technology in question was highly classified and that a young cadet in an Outer Rim academy shouldn’t have access to that sort of information, the showrunners could have, at the very least, had Sabine mention the Immobilizer along  with the gravity-well technology when she brings it up. Or, she could have personally identified the ship as one of the models she had seen. Either option would have been fine.

Sabine Wren tells Hera Syndulla (foreground) about the gravity-well technology while Kanan Jarrus (background) listen on.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels Season 2, Episode 9: “Stealth Strike”

But don’t take this to mean I dislike the use of the vessel in Rebels. Honestly, I love that it’s the centerpiece of the episode and that we get to see it in action. My point is merely that “Stealth Strike” could have, and should have, been used to create a stronger tie between the appearance of the Immobilizer/the gravity-well in Tarkin, the show itself, and Heir to the Jedi. In fairness, though, the show DOES create a fascinating technical tie with Tarkin, something that I think is worth exploring.

Overcurrent Resistors

In Tarkin, the Interdictors are brought to the Obroa-Skai system as part of an operation to capture a stolen Imperial ship. However, before the  operation gets under way, we learn from Kren Blista-Vanee, a member of the Imperial Ruling Council, that “the ships’ gravity-well projectors have not been tested” in the scenario that Moff Tarkin proposes. In short, the Interdictors have never been used to “yank” a ship out of hyperspace, making the situation all the more ripe for a mistake, particularly since the Obroa-Skai system is heavily trafficked.

And a mistake is precisely what happens.

When the Immobilizer powers up its gravity-well projects, the overcurrent resistors fail, causing the gravity-wells to redline and create an inderdiction field that is much too powerful. With the Immobilizer emitting an overly strong gravitational field,  all the ships in the system, Imperial ships and those being torn out of hyperspace, begin to be pulled inwards toward the Immobilizer. One of those ships is a Mon Calamari passenger liner with 10,000 beings on board and it is pulled directly into the Detainer, causing the passenger ship to break in half and many lives to be lost.  A chapter later, then, we learn that after the incident, the Immobilzer was sent back to Corellia so that the failure of the overcurrent resistors could be remedied.

Ten(ish) years later…

As the rebels in “Stealth Strike,” attempt to get off of the Immobilizer (they are literally on the ship for most of the show), the astromech droid Chopper connects with the ships mainframe and sabotages the gravity-well projectors. When the rebels finally make their get away from the Immobilizer, the commander of the Interdictor has his technicians turn on the gravity-wells to ensure that the rebels cannot escape to hyperspace. But something suddenly goes wrong. The rebel vessel, as well as two Imperial escort ships, begin to be pulled towards the Immobilizer. As the two frigates smashing into the Immobilizer, the rebel vessel is able to speed to safety as all three Imperial ships explode in a blaze of glory.

Immobilizer Destroyed
The rebels look on as a ship crashes into the Immobilizer.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels Season 2, Episode 9: “Stealth Strike”

What did Chopper do to sabotage the ship? Answer: the little astromech messed with the overcurrent resistors, either turning them off or causing them to fail. Without the resistors ensuring that the gravity-wells did not redline, the interdiction field, like it does in Tarkin, becomes too strong and pulls all the vessels towards it causing havoc. A different situation, but an issue with the overcurrent resistors; one time due to malfunction, this time due to sabotage. And while the term “overcurrent resistors” isn’t even used in the show, the issue of ships being pulled towards the Immobilizer is really all the proof that is required for me to argue that Chopper did, in  fact, sabotage the resistors.

Then again, maybe the little droid does explain what he did to sabotage the ship and we just can’t understand what the heck he is saying. I mean, I dunno about you, but I don’t speak astromech….yet.