I recently came across two Star Wars…articles?…on cbr.com that left me genuinely dumbfounded. One is titled “10 Characters Obi-Wan Never Interacts With” and the other is “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With.” As the titles both imply, each goes on to list a variety of characters in Star Wars whom Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, respectively, never encounter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely opposed to pointing the obvious at times, particularly when presented in relation to a genuine question such as “did Obi-Wan Kenobi interact with Watto in The Phantom Menace?” Given the relative proximity to one another in the same film, both being in/around Mos Espa at the same time, it is a worthwhile question that one may ask and that can easily be answered with a resolute “No” followed by a short description. That in and of itself is fine, I have no problem with that.
What is NOT worthwhile and is, in fact, a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time is a list of random Star Wars characters from across the spectrum of films that one can easily say “never interacted” with literally any character an author chooses. In the list of “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With” the author…no, sorry, the “lister”…states that another character who “didn’t get a chance to met [their typo, not mine] Darth Vader is Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Well, yeah, of course they didn’t “met” because Darth Vader isn’t even in the damn film and it is the ONLY film Qi’ra appears in. So why even put Qi’ra in the list!?!?!
Maybe if the lists were more focused, more directed towards a single Star Wars film that considered the major/minor characters Obi-Wan or Vader, respectively, never cross paths with, maybe that could be worthwhile. Perhaps then such a list could then be beneficial, at least adding something semi-interesting to a conversation about Star Wars. But that is not what these lists are for. No, the randomness of the lists belie their true purpose: both are just mundane filler with “Star Wars” in the title for another run-of-the-mill comic book site.
And so, to highlight how utterly pointless such drivel is I happily and annoyingly present to you “10 Characters Dathcha Never Interacts With.” Feel free to skip the list and go do something else. Like, literally anything else. You do not have to keep reading because nothing I present below will be worth your time. That is, unless, you are a fan of really bad jokes.
10/10 Dathcha Never Interacts with Director Orson Krennic
Why the hell would they interact? Dathcha is the Jawa who shoots R2-D2 on Tatooine in A New Hope while Orson Krennic is the Imperial Director of Advanced Weapons Research in Rogue One.
9/10 Wat Tambor and Dathcha Don’t Met One Another
Of course they don’t met! Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and Wat Tambor he is the Skakoan leader of the Techno Union who signs Count Dooku’s treaty in Attack of the Clones. Wait, did the Jawas also sign the treaty? I’ll be back, I need to go suffer through the bad CGI and bland dialogue in Attack of the Clones to find out if Dathcha was one of the original Separatist leaders.
8/10 We never see Dathcha with Princess Leia
Now, let’s be clear…and this is REALLY important… both ARE in A New Hope. But no, they never cross paths, probably because Leia never actually goes Tatooine in the film. She just sends R2-D2 instead.
But hey, I guess that is something, right!?! Like, wow, Character A (Leia) interacts with Character B (R2-D2) who then interacts with Character C (Dathcha). That is wild! So Character A never meets Character C, but they have a connection through Character B!!!! Does that ever happen in other stories?
7/10 Dathcha and General Hux Don’t Have Team-Up to Solve Crimes
I was hoping to find a connection here but to no avail. This is probably because Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and General Hux is a First Order officer who appears in the Sequel Trilogy. But I do think it is worth Lucasfilm giving these two a series on Disney+ where they team-up and solve crimes. It could be called “Jawa and First Order.” Give it a second and you’ll get the joke. Or not. Whatever.
6/10 Ahsoka Tano and Dathcha Haven’t Interacted…
…although, I have to be honest, they may have at this point. I don’t really know because I can’t keep track of Ahsoka Tano anymore. She seems to be everywhere in Star Wars all at once so at this point she and Dathcha could be best friends.
5/10 Dathcha and Darth Sidious Never Discuss the Dark Side of the Force
This one is just so obvious I’m not even gonna write anything else. Moving on…
4/10 Millard Fillmore and DathchaNever Interact
Last I knew, the 13th President of the United States was not in A New Hope. Then again, maybe he was thrown into the film in one of the special editions of the Original Trilogy. I will have to go back and look more closely because maybe, just maybe, President Fillmore and Dathcha do interact and I have missed it. I will update this if I find anything…
3/10 Dathcha Doesn’t Fly with Gold Leader in the Battle of Yavin
Unfortunately, our brown robed Jawa friend never has the privilege of joining Jon Vander, aka Gold Leader, in the final battle of A New Hope. But it is a neat thought, right? Like, what IF Dathcha somehow survived the faux Tusken slaughter, stowed away on the Millennium Falcon, made his way to Yavin and jumped in the Y-Wing with Gold Leader!?! That would have made for an amazing and completely unnecessary Star Wars twist!
Actually, come to think of it, that might already be one of the short stories in “From a Certain Point of View.” I wouldn’t know, though, because I never read the anthology.
2/10 Datcha Didn’t Participate in the Immaculate Reception
Dathcha was not playing for either the Oakland Raiders or Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs. So there was really no way for him to be part of one of the greatest plays in American Football history. Although I wonder if George Lucas was watching and the play inspired him to create the Jawas! Now that is a really REALLY dumb thought but I am gonna hold out hope that it might be true.
1/10 Finally, Dathcha never interacts with Obi-Wan Kenobi OR Darth Vader…
…OR DOES HE!?!?!?!
No, no he doesn’t.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed what you read and do be sure to check back in for my next post: 10 Star Wars Characters the Rancor Never Eats
There are times when one comes across a book that is so good that you simply refuse to put it down or stop thinking about it. Sometimes such a book is a Star Wars book, hijacking your imagination and transporting you to the galaxy far, far away. I can say, without a doubt, that Star Wars: Force Collector by author Kevin Shinick is unequivocally NOT one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, Force Collector does take place in the Star Wars galaxy, with familiar places, species, and concepts popping up over and over again. Yet, the novel is otherwise dull and one-dimensional, constantly falling back on a bland formula while simultaneously adding nothing of substance to the Star Wars canon. On the other hand, Force Collector goes out of its way to undermine one of the most important episodes in The Clone Wars with baffling nonchalance. Allow me to explain.
The plot of Force Collector is rather straight-forward: it is about a teenager who wants to learn about the Jedi Order and better understand his own Force abilities. Set prior to the events of The Force Awakens, the teen in question is Karr Nuq Sin who has the gift of psychometry, the Force ability to gain information in the form of sights, sounds, and emotions by touching objects. This is the same power which Jedi Quinlan Vos (The Clone Wars) and Cal Kestis (Jedi: Fallen Order) both harbor, although the stark difference for Karr is that his psychometry ONLY manifests when he touches an object that is associated with the Jedi in some way, shape, or form. This important fact about Karr’s psychometric power, established right out of the gate when Karr buys/wears the helmet of a stormtrooper who once had his mind manipulated by a Jedi, is also a fact that is entirely contrived to drive the plot of the book. Psychometry is a worthy concept for exploration, and that Karr spends a great deal of the story growing to control and accept the intensity of this power makes sense. Yet, the notion that psychometry would awaken in one while simultaneously being limited to Jedi-objects only is absurd. “That’s not how the Force works,” as Han Solo would say.
Then again, without any type of Star Wars group overseeing the possibilities and limitations on Star Wars concepts like psychometry, I suppose the Force can work in whatever way an author/writer might need for the sake of a plot. More and more this seems to be the case in Star Wars, with the Force serving as a convenient plot device to account for the most unlikely of eventualities (such as the time travel in Rebels which ensured Ahsoka Tano would survive her duel with Darth Vader). That Karr can only experience visions associated with Jedi objects is pretty convenient for a book in which the main character wants to become a Jedi and needs to learn more about the Jedi Order. Just give the protagonist a Force ability that is directly tied to this desire and, shazam, you have the magical ability to insert all manner of Jedi-specific objects with Jedi-specific information just waiting to be unlocked and collected.
Unfortunately for Karr, though, he is stuck on the planet Merokia and cannot head off-world to discover the secrets of the long forgotten Jedi. That is, he can not do this until he meets Maize, the new girl in school who is willing to steal her father’s company-provided yacht (the Avadora) to whisk Karr on a galactic scavenger hunt. Who does her dad work for you ask? Oh, just the First Order. But you know, the First Order is pretty chill about one of their ships being stolen because it is clearly the type of organization that just lets things slide.
First Stop: Utapau
So, the grand adventure begins. Karr and Maize, along with Karr’s droid RZ-7, decide their first stop will be Utapau because it was the location of one of the final battles of the Clone Wars. Fair enough, you have to start somewhere and Utapau is as good a place as any. Once there, Karr and company will come upon a junk dealer (the son of a clone trooper) who conveniently owns the staff of Tion Medon, the Pau’an port administrator who meets Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. Karr touches the staff, a flashback to that scene in Episode III ensues, with additional details we don’t see in the film, and Karr has some new information about the Jedi to mull over.
Naturally, there is no better place to mull things over than in a diner. Discussing aspects of the vision with Maize, Karr name drops “Skywalker” – Anakin, mind you, has absolutely no role in Kenobi’s interaction with Medon in Revenge of the Sith, but is added to the vision so the Skywalker name can be mentioned in the diner – and another patron perks upon hearing this name. In turn, the patron points Karr, Maize and RZ-7 to the planet Jakku because, rumor has it, at the Battle of Jakku the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker pulled Imperial ships out of the sky using the Force.
What are the chances that Karr would be on just the right planet, in just the right location, at just the right time, to gather a clue about the next stop on his journey? I mean, those chances would have to be astronomical, so it is reassuring to know that this only happens one time in the book. Except, this happens every time he travels to another world, with a standard formula of convenience really stretching the imagination. Over and over, the ability to suspend one’s disbelief is tested in Force Collector, with Karr arriving at the perfect locations and times for things to fall into place for his journey of Jedi discovery.
Arriving in Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, the group sets out to find more Jedi junk. First, they meet Unkar Platt, the blobfish from The Force Awakens buying salvaged wreckage for food portions. When Platt’s collection ends up being a bust, Karr and company decide to poke around the Outpost. What do they come across? Well, a run-down and grimy Corellian freighter of course! I won’t provide the name, as it isn’t revealed in the novel, but you already know the name...
Boarding the freighter the teens and droid end up finding a curious looking orb, “gray, dotted with silver circles.” Touching the orb, Karr has another vision, this time experiencing a scene from A New Hope. Or rather, the scene is entirely made up, details being filled in prior and up-to the moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi senses the death of millions which is where the vision ends. That details are added is not a problem in and of itself, but what his vision leaves out, which Karr desperately needs on his quest to become a Jedi, is the actual lesson which Luke Skywalker learns in this scene in A New Hope. Instead, the added “backstory” to the scene is meant to do one thing: simultaneously name drop Skywalker and Kenobi, making Karr question how his scattered visions line-up.
Fortified with this new vision, Karr and his pals exit the freighter and run into two First Order stormtroopers. Yikes! Sent by Maize’s father to take her back to Merokia, the stormtroopers leave Karr and RZ-7 alone on Jakku but do not reclaim the Avadora. But they DO let Karr and Maize have a moment to say their goodbyes because First Order stormtroopers are pretty chill.
Remaining on Jakku, Karr goes about searching for more Jedi clues and eventually comes across a Pyke who has information for him about “the crashed ship of a Jedi Master” that went down a long time ago on the desert moon orbiting Oba Diah, the Pyke homeworld. The Pyke also tells Karr that Oba Diah and it’s moon harbor many criminal outposts, warning the teen that if he travels there he may never leave.
From Jakku to Oba Diah
Landing in a canyon on Oba Diah’s desert moon, Karr and RZ-7 head west, towards evidence of a crash which the droid detected. After poking around for an hour, Karr comes across a “drag mark etched into the stone.” Being the “only sign of disruption on this whole eroded planet” – a completely ridiculous and naïve assessment – the two follow the mark and come across the wreckage of a ship!
Is this wreckage the crashed ship of a Jedi Master, a crash that took place a long time ago? Come on, you already know the answer is yes. More importantly, Karr finds a piece of debris with the serial number 775519, and also notes that “a ship crashed here, and somebody took the wreckage away, but they didn’t get everything…” And what, besides the debris, was left? Answer: a storage locker containing a recording of the Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas in the final moments of his life.
Okay, let’s pause for a moment. If you have not figured it out yet, the crashed ship of a Jedi Master which Karr finds himself exploring comes from “The Lost Ones,” a Season 6 episode of The Clone Wars. At the outset of the episode we find Jedi Master Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion on a desert moon searching for the wreckage of a ship that had been in the possession of a Jedi Master killed long ago. When they find it, Plo Koon enters while a clone in the background states, “the scans check out, it’s a T-6 shuttle alright. Serial number 775519.” Finding a lightsaber buried in the sand, Plo Koon immediately turns and says, “I want the entire area cleared. We’re taking everything back to Coruscant.”
“Everything?” a clone inquires.
“Everything,” Plo Koon exclaims.
Did you catch that? Plo Koon wanted the entire area cleared so they could take everything, EVERYTHING, back to Coruscant. Except now, with Karr and RZ-7 searching the exact same crash site, we discover that Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion “didn’t get everything.” Up to this point in the book, I had found myself rolling my eyes at the series of impossibly convenient events playing out. I was at least willing to continue reading, to overlook some of these unlikely moments and just move on. It wasn’t about accepting the way things were unfolding so much as it was to say “okay, whatever, let’s just head to the next stop on the journey.” Yet, when Karr finds the crashed ship of Sifo-Dyas and says that whoever excavated the site “didn’t get everything” I became annoyed, really, really annoyed.
In my opinion “The Lost Ones” is easily one of the best episodes of The Clone Wars and one of the most important. With the discovery of the crash on Oba Diah’s desert moon, the Jedi Order set out to discover the fate of their long-lost friend Sifo-Dyas, attempting to piece together his fate. In doing so, they are led on a journey which takes them to a point they were neither expecting or fully prepared handle: the Clone Wars was secretly orchestrated by the Sith. This revelation is a gut-punch to the Jedi, the Council recognizing that they have been playing by their enemies rules this whole time, and they must continue to play along until they can uncover the deeper layers to this Sith plot.
The opening of the show sets the stage for this stark revelation. With the initial explanation and voiceover, we learn that the Jedi have stumbled upon a clue to an enduring mystery and have dispatched Plo Koon and his clones to investigate. The set up explained, we are then transported to the moon, a raging sandstorm concealing the view of the clone troopers and vehicles scouring the landscape. The sandstorm is an appropriate metaphor, a symbol for the turbulent mystery obscuring the Jedi from discovering a harsh truth. Added to this is the ominous music which captures the foreboding discovery and exploration of the wreckage. This may be the crash they were seeking for more than ten years but the music presents a heavy tone and stark warning: what they have found is also a harbinger of a deeper and darker web which has ensnared the Jedi Order.
“The Lost Ones” is meticulous in peeling back the layers of mystery only to unveil even more nefarious truths lingering below the surface, truths which the Jedi are aware of but can not fully grasp. Force Collector is anything but meticulous, offering nothing more convenient plot so Karr not only discovers the crash site of Sifo-Dyas’ vessel but also wreckage which, as noted, Plo Koon and his soldiers failed to salvage from the site.
For Master Koon to demand “everything” be found, only for fans to later learn that “everything” was not found is ridiculous, a canonical bait-and-switch which makes Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion look inept and undercuts the profound importance of The Clone Wars episode. That even one piece of wreckage remained of Sify-Dyas ship – and a critical piece at that, an actual recording he made prior to his death – is flabbergasting. Nothing in “The Lost Ones” lends itself to this possibility. Absolutely nothing.
Frankly, although I have only presented half of Force Collector’s plot in this review up to this point, I genuinely have nothing left to say about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did finish reading it, and I certainly have opinions about the remained of the story. Yet, the way Force Collector so willfully undermined “The Lost Ones” put such a foul taste in my mouth that I see no reason to elaborate on anything else. The moment Karr stated “they didn’t get everything” my opinion about the novel was made.
Making its only appearance in “Brain Invaders,” a Season Two episode of The Clone Wars, TC-326 is the military protocol droid which assists Anakin Skywalker when the Jedi interrogates the Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. Demanding to know how to stop an infestation of parasitic brain worms on-board his Padawan’s starship, Anakin relies on the TC-series protocol droid with masculine programing to translate what Poggle says. His attempt at a mind probe of the Archduke failing, Anakin then turns to violence and torture, Force choking the Geonosian while TC-326 stands in the corner.
TC-326 Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 8: “Brain Invaders”
Truthfully, there is not a great deal more to say about TC-326 beyond just a handful of points. The protocol droid never shows up in another episode of The Clone Wars so far as I can tell, and even in “Brain Invaders” it only appears in the scene described above and, briefly, in an earlier scene at the beginning of the episode. What I can offer, though, is a question I have often wondered regarding the protocol droids involvement in the interrogation of Poggle: did Anakin wipe TC-326’s memory?
Moments after Anakin tortures the Archduke, we see him explain to the other Jedi present on the Venator-class Star Destroyer that he was able to extract the information from Poggle they needed. Surprised, the gathered Jedi Masters – Luminara Unduli, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi – question how he was able to do this, wanting to know how he was able to get Poggle to cooperate. Unsurprisingly, Anakin ignores their questions, instead declaring that “there wasn’t time to get the rest of you” and “all that matters is he [Poggle] told me how to stop the worms.”
While this exchange is brief, with Anakin otherwise blowing off their inquiries, there is also an obvious concern among the Jedi Masters, particularly Unduli and Mundi. They know something is amiss and one can easily presume their concern was heightened by Anakin’s dismissive tone. This, then, is why I have oftened wondered whether Skywalker wiped TC-326’s memory, to ensure that the protocol droid could not be interrogated by the other Jedi about the technique(s) he used to extract information from Poggle.
This is not to suggest an answer needs to be provided regarding the memory wipe, or whether the Jedi Master’s ever investigated the matter. Some things are better left to the imagination, not needing any type of “official” explanation. For my part, I like to imagine that Anakin did not wipe TC-326’s memory. Instead, so caught up in trying to save Ahsoka Tano, his Padawan, as she fought the brain worms lightyears away, the Jedi Knight simply forgot. In turn, I also like to imagine that Unduli and Mundi did investigate, wanting to know precisely how Anakin convinced Poggle to assist them. And since TC-326 was the only witness available to them, I like to imagine TC-326 describing Skywalker’s dark actions with an emotional less, matter-of-fact tone as the two Jedi Masters listen in silent horror.
What happened after that? Well, I will leave that to your imagination.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
Given the ubiquity of droids in the Star Wars universe it should come as no surprise that some of these robots would be members of notable pirate gangs. An RA-7 series protocol droid with distinct green and white plating, 4A-R2 has the esteemed distinction of belonging to the infamous Ohnaka Gang.
Led by the fan-favorite Hondo Ohnaka, the Ohnaka Gang was first introduced along with its namesake Captain in the The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 11: “Dooku Captured.” When we first meet Ohnaka and his predominately Weequay crew they are rummaging through the wreckage of two ships on the planet Vanqor. Count Dooku, having slipped past his Jedi pursuers, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, happens upon the pirates as they plunder his crashed solar sailer and the shuttle which the Jedi had piloted. Seeing Count Dooku approaching, Hondo is surrounded by a handful of Weequay pirates. But look even more closely and you will notice that a droid is also present when Hondo and Dooku begin speaking (see featured image).
Admittedly, it was a number of years after “Dooku Captured” originally aired that I even noticed this pirate protocol droid, 4A-R2, standing with the group. Intrigued, I scoured the remainder of the episode for signs of this green and white plated droid but could not find it hiding in the background of anymore scenes. Nor, to my knowledge, does 4A-R2 appear in the next episode, “The Gungan General,” which continues the story of Ohnaka’s gang at their base of operations on the planet Floruum.
4A-R2: pirate protocol droid and dog walker. Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 22: “Lethal Trackdown”
In fact, it is not until the final episode in the second season of The Clone Wars, “Lethal Trackdown,” that this protocol droid appears again and, so far as I can tell, for the final time. Late in the episode, Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano runs by Hondo and a handful of his gang as she chases the bounty hunter Aurra Sing. As Ahsoka passes the group, one of the Weequay pirates raises a rifle to shoot at her but Hondo intervenes, forcing the weapon to be lowered. With this action being the focus of the scene it is easy to miss 4A-R2 standing on the edge of the group. Look closely, though, and you may notice that the protocol droid is also passively active in the scene, holding the leash that is attached to one of Ohnaka’s pet massifs.
And yeah, that is it. 4A-R2 appears in The Clone Wars on two separate and equally brief occasions. Is it possible that this pirate protocol droid is hidden somewhere else in the The Clone Wars and I just haven’t found it? Perhaps. I suppose I will just have to keep re-watching episodes of the show Hondo and his gang to see if 4A-R2 is up to some really important pirate stuff like pillaging and/or dog walking.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.
“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.
“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.
To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.
But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.
This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.
Stepping forward, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.
The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.
Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.
Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:
“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.
“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”
“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.
“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.
The “handmaiden” remains silent while Captain Panaka and Qui-Gon Jinn discuss whether she should join the group.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.
Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.
The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.
Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?
For starters, we can think about whyshe is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.
Padmé meets Anakin Skywalker and learns a harsh truth: he is a slave.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.
Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie ofJust Dread-full, Rob ofMy Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike ofMy Comic Relief. Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:
Ever since it was published in 2017 I had my sights set on Star Wars: On the Front Lines. I am a sucker for Star Wars reference books, having spent countless hours of my life immersing myself in the minutiae of the Star Wars universe found in these source books. But I did not buy On the Front Lines when it first came out, instead opting to wait to purchase it. Recently, though, the book was gifted to me and needing something new to read I decided to dig in. And, I am happy to report, On the Front Lines definitely did not disappoint.
Primarily detailing battles from The Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, but also one from the Age of Resistance, On the Front Lines takes readers quite literally to the front lines of some of the most important engagements in Star Wars. While author Daniel Wallace limits the number of battles that are explored – a perfectly reasonable decision considering how many battles are in Star Wars – he never-the-less chose one battle to examine from every live-action and animated Star Wars story to date. In fact, the only notable exception is Star Wars: Rebels, with no engagement from that series being discussed. Here is a list of battles that the author examines:
The Battle of Naboo (The Phantom Menace) The Battle of Geonosis (Attack of the Clones) The Battle of Christophsis (The Clone Wars movie) The Battle of Ryloth (The Clone Wars animated show) The Battle of Coruscant (Revenge of the Sith) The Battle of Scarif (Rogue One) The Battle of Yavin (A New Hope) The Battle of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back) The Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi) The Battle of Jakku (Various Sources) The Battle of Starkiller Base (The Force Awakens)
That Wallace chooses well-known battles from the Star Wars saga, battles that we have actually seen in film and on television, makes it easy for both casual and die-hard fans to digest and enjoy this book. Interestingly though, the clash I found myself most interested in reading about was the Battle of Jakku. As you can see from the list above, this is the only engagement discussed in the On the Front Lines that has never been depicted on-screen. Putting his penmanship and imagination to work, Wallace pulls from multiple sources (novels such as Lost Stars and Aftermath: Empire’s End) to piece together details about this relatively unknown fight. In doing so, he presents a vivid picture of the final battle in the Galactic Civil War, a brutal slugfest between the New Republic and Imperial Remnant that leaves wreckage and bodies littering the sandy dunes of the remote world.
Want to know how all those derelict Star Destroyers ended up on the surface of Jakku? On the Front Lines provides some context.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
While I found myself intensely fascinated by Wallace’s presentation of the Battle of Jakku this does not mean I found the other battles any less interesting. Far from it! In every chapter, Wallace draws on the source material available – movies, television shows, books, comics, etc. – to craft a unique and fairly comprehensive picture of each engagement. Granted, there are points where Wallace does leave out information, or gives details only a cursory glance. For example, the space battle which takes place above Naboo in from The Phantom Menace is only briefly mentioned, with the focus instead being entirely on the ground battle between the Gungans and the Trade Federation’s Droid Army. As well, the space battle over Ryloth, depicted in The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 19 (“Storm Over Ryloth”), where Ahsoka Tano uses a Marl Sabl maneuver to defeat the Separatist blockade, is entirely ignored. For some die-hard fans of Star Wars, these and other omissions may prove annoying but for this die-hard fan, I found myself enjoying what was in the book rather than brooding over what was not.
That being said, I can admit that I wish the book had even more in it. This is not a criticism, though. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that I really enjoyed the way each battle is presented, with a combination of big picture information, such as why the confrontation took place and how it unfolds, along with more focused detail on things like armor, weaponry, vehicles and tactics. Every chapter also offers little asides about individuals from each engagement, specific commanders from both sides, and a handful of soldiers and/or pilots who displayed incredible courage during the fight. And, to top it off, every chapter is loaded with captivating and wholly unique images courtesy of four superb illustrators (Adrián Rodriguez, Thomas Wievegg, Aaron Riley, and Fares Maese).
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that On the Front Lines contains a lot of information that I never knew about, or had never even considered,, about each of these Star Wars battles. In closing, then, I thought I would pick just one bit of of insight that I learned from this book. And what comes to mind immediately is a detail about The Battle of Christophsis. Or rather, aftermath of Christophsis. As we see in The Clone Wars movie, towards the end of this fight, Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi tricks the Separatist General Whorm Loathsominto believing that the Jedi intends to conditionally surrender his clone forces. However, this is a ruse, done with the hope of giving Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano more time to deactivate the Separatist deflector shields. Kenobi succeeds in his plan, and actually captures Loathsom moments later, but as Wallace writes,
“General Kenobi’s false surrender at Christophsis was a boon to the Separatist-controlled media, who viewed the incident as clear evidence of the Republic’s duplicity. Almost no conditional surrenders were offered by either side for the remainder of the war” (pg. 31).
Kenobi may have been successful in that moment, but his “false surrender” was not without long-term consequence. As the Clone War intensified, it would be the clones themselves, the actual soldiers doing the fighting on the front lines, who would pay the price for Kenobi’s actions.
While the 3PO-series protocol droid is the most common and recognizable protocol droid in Star Wars, thanks in no small part to C-3PO, other series of protocol droids do exist. The TC-series protocol droid is one such example, although you would be forgiven if you confused a TC unit with a 3PO unit because they look nearly identical. Having the same manufacturer, Cybot Galactica, the TC-series can basically be thought of as an upgraded version of the 3PO-series.
We meet a TC-series protocol droid for the first time in The Phantom Menace. A Trade Federation protocol droid with silver plating and feminine programing serving aboard the Lucrehulk-cargo freighterSaak’ak, TC-14 greets Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi when the two Jedi arrive to negotiate with the Federation. Leading them to a conference room, TC-14 promptly leaves to inform Viceroy Nute Gunray, leader of the Trade Federation, that the two Republic ambassadors are Jedi Knights. Shocked by this news, Gunray and the captain of the Saak’ak, Daultay Dofine, decide to send TC-14 back into the room with refreshments while they figure out what to do. Moments later, after the conference room is filled with dioxin gas, TC-14 will walk out of the room and encounter waiting battle droids, “excusing” itself and exiting before the two Jedi go on the offensive.
And, yeah, that is it. TC-14 is only on-screen for a handful of moments at the outset of Episode I. What happens to “her” after leaving the conference room is a mystery, your guess being as good as mine (although she isn’t destroyed during the Battle of Naboo as the Saak’ak is NOT the Droid Control Ship). Never-the-less, TC-14’s introduction and brief role in The Phantom Menace set the stage for more TC-series protocol droids to appear in other Star Wars stories, and I will discuss some of those droids in future posts.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
There is a line in Star Wars: A New Hope which often gets lost in the greater scope of the film, a quote which points to the toughness of the movie’s lone female protagonist, Princess Leia. It comes when Darth Vader, the movie’s villain, speaks to Grand Moff Tarkin, the secondary villain in the film. Pacing back and forth as if annoyed, Vader admits that, “Her [Leia’s] resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract any information from her.” Prior to this admission, we saw Vader enter Princess Leia’s prison cell with an interrogation droid floating behind him, a needle protruding from the droid and Leia’s face giving off subtle apprehension. Now, Vader states that it was for not, that the Princess has resisted this “mind probe” and that breaking her will take more time.
I have always loved this line; it has always resonated with me because it points directly to the fearless resolve which resides in the heart of Princess Leia. Even before Vader utters these words, we know that Leia is a force to be reckoned with, a whirlwind of confidence capable of holding her own. After all, it is Leia who was leading the mission to Tatooine to find Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi at the film’s outset. When the ship fell under attack, Leia created a new plan to secure Kenobi’s help EVEN AS IMPERIAL SOLDIERS STORMED THE VESSLE! Dispatching the droid R2-D2 to Tatooine’s surface, Leia awaited her inevitable capture, and even shoots/kills an Imperial stormtrooper before she is apprehended.
Leia confronts Darth Vader after her ship is attacked and she is captured.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Captured by the Empire’s white-armored soldiers, Princess Leia is escorted before Darth Vader, the nefarious and imposing villain we were JUST formally introduced to as he lifted a man by the neck and crushed his windpipe. The black-clad Vader towers above the petite, white dressed Princess, an obvious visual meant to represent the power of the evil Empire towering over the small, fledgling Rebellion. But Leia is far from intimidated. Oh no, not only does she stand tall next to this masked monster, she speaks first AND is the one who chastises him with palpable disdain!!!
In just a few frames, Leia presents herself as competent and fearless, especially under pressure. Rather than quivering and backing down, she boldy stands her ground against imposing odds. It is no wonder then that later, when Darth Vader assaults Leia, probing her mind for the “location of the Rebel base”, her resistance is “considerable.” Princess Leia is the embodiment of fearless resolve, the very heart and soul of the small Rebellion against an Empire which spans a galaxy. There was never a chance the mind probe would work, it was always going to be an act of futility on the part of Vader.
An Alternative Form of Persuasion
It is Grand Moff Tarkin who chooses a new tactic to extract the information they seek following the failure of the mind-probe. Rather than probing her mind, Tarkin gives Leia a choice: give up the location of the Rebel base OR watch as her home planet of Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star superweapon. It is a brilliant move on Tarkin’s part, one that catches Leia off-guard. Pleading with him, the Princess turns into a supplicant as she tells the Grand Moff her planet is “peaceful” and has “no weapons.” Tarkin, of course, does not care and, presenting the question again, demands to know where the Rebel base is located. It is now that Leia gives in: “Dantooine. They’re on Dantooine.”
Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin square-off.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
That Leia gives in to Tarkin is shocking, but all the more painful as Leia must continue to stand and watch as Alderaan is destroyed. This is an unsurprising move on Tarkin’s part, an obvious example being made to the whole galaxy (and the Princess) that no one, not even “peaceful” worlds, are safe from Imperial military might. Now, the fearless young woman who stood her ground at the film’s opening, who chastised Vader and resisted his mind probe must steel herself as she watches her home world and her family perish in a ball of fire.
And yet, what we do not realize in this moment is that Leia has tricked Tarkin. Presented with the choice of Alderaan being destroyed OR the Rebellion being destroyed, the quick-thinking Princess chose a different route: an open-ended lie. We do not discover this right away, not until an Imperial officer informs Tarkin that scout ships discovered a deserted Rebel base on Dantooine. Furious, but more importantly humiliated, the Grand Moff orders the immediate execution of the Princess.
That Leia lies about the location of the Rebel base is brilliant, a narrative misdirect that leads Tarkin and the audience alike to THINK this strong-willed woman has caved under pressure. It is easy to forget this, as later we DO discover the real location of the Rebel base. But in this instance, we are led to believe Leia has given it up, that Dantooine is, in fact, the location. Instead, what we discover a few scenes later is that Princess Leia was in control the entire time, and while her plea to the Grand Moff that “Alderaan is peaceful” is certainly genuine, it, too, was also part of her quick thinking plan to save both Alderaan AND the Rebellion.
Awaiting Tarkin’s Fury
Knowing she has lied to Grand Moff, we can surmise that after being returned to her cell that the Princess sat and waited for Tarkin’s fury. Surely, too, she sat there in mourning, the loss of her world and family weighing heavily on her heart. One could hardly criticize the fearless female if she did break down and cry, although it is hardly necessary to know whether she did. The imagination is enough in this case.
Regardless, when we next see Leia she is reclining on the hard bench in her detention cell. Luke Skywalker, wearing stormtrooper armor, barges in to the rescue and, without missing a beat, the reclined Princess – certainly suspecting Tarkin’s fury has arrived – directs a shot of insulting sarcasm at the soldier: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” While Vader’s comment about her resistance to the mind-probe directly points to Leia’s strong-willed personality, this shot of sarcasm – coupled with the sarcasm she throws at Tarkin earlier (see video clip) – highlights her constant disposition towards her Imperial foes. Basically, Leia is always ready to level an attack against the Empire, even if that attack is in the form of words alone.
But she is also more than happy to criticize her own allies, in this case her rescuers: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. Cornered by Imperial soldiers in the detention center, the Princess chastises the films heroic men, noting that it “Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route.” What makes this all the better is that the quick-thinking Princess – who, we should remember, was not anticipating a rescue – immediately comes up with a plan and puts it into action. Taking the blaster from Skywalker, Leia blasts open the wall across from her and demands that everyone jump into the garbage chute. Before objections can be raised, Leia is already on her way into the depths of a Death Star trash compactor.
To be perfectly honest, this has always been my favorite “Leia Moment” in A New Hope. On one hand, her action makes the film’s heroes – Luke and Han – look incredibly foolish for not actually thinking about HOW they should go about completing their rescue mission. On the other hand, and more importantly, this moment demonstrates a clear reversal in fortune for the Princess. When the film begins, and her ship falls under attack, the protocol droid C-3PO tells R2-D2, “There will be no escape for the Princess this time.” True in that moment, C-3PO is ultimately proven wrong as Leia not only escapes, but does so by taking control of her own rescue when she and her allies are quite literally backed into a corner.
“Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” – Princess Leia
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
But there is an additional element of control which Leia brings to her escape: her decision to travel directly to the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. Why, if Leia knew the Millennium Falcon was being tracked, would she willingly lead the Empire to the Rebel Base, the location she resisted sharing with Vader and Tarkin? For some time, I felt this was a curious move on her part, a clear flaw in her thinking. Yet, the deeper I have considered it, the more I have realized that it is the safest choice given the stakes. With Alderaan destroyed and Obi-Wan Kenobi dead, Princess Leia is left with the only choice that makes any sense: getting the Death Star schematics stored in R2-D2 to the Rebel High Command as quickly as possible. A detour to another world, or a stop to acquire a new ship, runs the risk of Imperial capture, while traveling directly to the Rebellion ensures that the Death Star information (not to mention her own life) is protected. Besides, the sooner the schematics are delivered, the sooner the Rebellion can craft a plan of attack to destroy the planet-killing superweapon.
A Beacon of Hope
Once Leia and company arrive at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4 her role in the film becomes primarily observational. While Luke Skywalker will jump into an X-Wing to participate in the impending engagement, and Han Solo will get a reward and leave before the fight begins, Leia will stand in the Rebel Command Center watching the battle unfold on display screens. Admittedly, it is a bit odd that with the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy the Rebel Base, Leia (along with others) choose to stand-around watching rather than evacuating. On some level, this sorta gives away what we know the inevitable outcome of the battle will be: the Rebels will win and the Death Star will be destroyed.
On another level, though, that Leia remains in the Command Center puts the final stamp of bravery on her fearless nature. With the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy Yavin 4, it is conceivable that the Princess was asked (perhaps even ordered!) to evacuate before the battle begins, her safety and importance to the Rebellion being tantamount. Instead, by remaining, Princess Leia reveals once more that she is the very heart of the Rebel cause, a beacon of hope for the Rebel soldiers fighting the Imperial war machine. She may not be in an X-Wing or Y-Wing fighting the battle, nor giving orders as a General, but Leia’s stoic presence in the face of imminent death testifies not only to her personal resolve, but also the resolve of the Rebel Alliance.
Given her status and importance to the Rebellion, it is unsurprising that Princess Leia is the one to bestow medallions upon Luke Skywalker and Han Solo following the Battle of Yavin. With the Death Star destroyed, the two men (accompanied by Chewbacca) will march down the center of a great hall, flanked on both sides by the entire assembly of Rebels on Yavin 4. Arriving at the bottom of a staircase, the trio ascend the steps until they are standing before, albeit slightly below, the magnificently dressed Leia. This is the only point in the film in which Leia has changed clothing, and she is now without the iconic hair “buns.” Wearing a gown, with her hair in a braided updo and jewlery drapping her neck, Leia now, officially and formally, looks like a Princess. Never-the-less, while she is resplendent in her royal attire, we also know that there is far more to her than meets the eye, and that what makes Princess Leia truly regal is her considerable fearlessness and capacity for hope in the face of overwhelming odds.
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
I’ve joined forces with some other exciting bloggers and YouTubers – Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief and Green Onion of The Green Onion Blog – for a little salute to “Fiction’s Fearless Females.” Starting on International Women’s Day and going forward over the next couple months, a different contributor will offer their take on a favorite female who harbors a fearless spirit. Click on the links below to read about the other women being profiled.
What Luke Skywalker accomplishes in the climactic final Act of Star Wars: A New Hope is nothing short of miraculous. Tasked with the responsibility of destroying the Empire’s planet killing Death Star, to succeed and win the day Skywalker unexpectedly gives himself over to the mystical energy field known as the Force. Doing so at the behest of the recently “deceased” Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, young Luke puts his faith in something greater than his available technology (or luck, or logic and reason), allowing the sacred and mysterious energy to guide his actions. In doing so, Skywalker not only saves the galaxy by destroying the Death Star, but also takes a giant leap of faith into a realm of wondrous possibility. As Skywalker speeds back to the Rebel base after the battle station explodes, Kenobi speaks to the young pilot from “the beyond”, reminding Luke that “the Force will be with you, always.” Luke Skywalker, farmer-turned Rebel pilot-turned galactic hero, will always have the Force as his ally.
Yet, when we once again meet Luke in The Empire Strikes Back three years after his leap of faith and heroic deed, the young man has all but forgotten the Force is with him.
After putting his faith in the Force in A New Hope, one would anticipate that when we meet Skywalker again that he will have started to more fully develop his understanding of, and connection to, the Force. This, however, is not the case, and is actually hinted at early in The Empire Strikes Back as Luke hangs upside down in the Wampa’s lair (having been ambushed and knocked unconscious by Hoth’s apex predator). His lightsaber protruding from the snow a few feet away, Luke’s initial instinct is to desperately grab for his weapon, and only concentrates on using the Force to bring the weapon to him once he recognizes the blade is out of reach.
Luke hangs upside down in the Wampa’s lair. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Luke’s use of the Force in this instance reminds the audience of his connection to the energy field while likewise foreshadowing the lessons he will learn when he makes his way to Dagobah in the film’s second act. After all, in the Wampa’s lair we see for the very first time that one can move objects using the Force. Later in the film, this reality will be expanded, with Luke moving boulders and the ancient Jedi Master Yoda using the Force to move Luke’s X-Wing Starfighter.
The episode in the Wampa’s lair likewise foreshadows the doubt and disconnect Luke will display, with respect to the Force, when he travels to the Dagobah system to learn from Yoda. The Force is certainly with him, but at the outset of The Empire Strikes Back it is a curious afterthought, a seemingly forgotten aspect of his being. Even after bringing the lightsaber to him in the lair, the Force seems to fade away as panic sets in, Luke maiming the Wampa and anxiously fleeing the snowy cave.
At the end of A New Hope, Luke was the victorious hero who we last saw receiving a medal for destroying the dreaded Death Star. Now, only a short way into The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker stumbles out of the Wampa’s lair, his flight response fully in control. Unsurprisingly, Luke will succumb to the harsh elements on Hoth, collapsing into the snowy Tundra. Face down in the snow (see featured image above), his body surely experiencing the effects of hypothermia, it is here and now that Obi-Wan Kenobi curiously chooses to re-appear. Calling to the (freezing) young man, Kenobi appears in astral form and commands Luke to “go to the Dagobah system” where he will learn the ways of the Force from Yoda.
Crashing into a Swamp
It is Luke’s journey to Dagobah that serves as the surest example of his mystical disconnect. Consider that as Luke flies his X-Wing into the planet’s atmosphere – the very same X-Wing he piloted to destroy the Death Star! – he relies entirely on the starfighter’s technology to guide him to the planet’s surface. “All the scopes are dead. I can’t see a thing…” he exclaims as he descends into the thick, dense atmosphere/fog covering the planet. The technology at his disposal fails him, and [a panicked] Luke does not call upon the Force to serve as his guide. It is no wonder he crashes into the swamp.
Luke stands on the nose of his X-Wing after crashing in the swamp on Dagobah. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
In turn, what makes this scenario all the more fascinating is that Dagobah is teeming with life, and as Yoda will explain to Luke, it is life which makes the Force grow. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter,” the elderly Master will note once young Skywalker has started his rigorous Jedi training. Luke, we know from his actions in A New Hope, already has a special connection to the Force, an ability to destroy a planet killing superweapon thanks to faith alone. Never-the-less, piloting his X-Wing to Dagobah, Luke Skywalker is incapable of navigating his way to the surface of a planet glowing with the radiance of the Force.
In the three years between the end of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker has chosen to ignore, or has simply forgotten, his connection to the Force. Or, perhaps over time he began to doubt the mysterious energy field, placing more trust in technology than on the mystical source of his power. Indeed, Luke express such doubt to Yoda – “you ask the impossible”, the young man will exclaim when given a Force-specific task – and Yoda will note that it is Luke’s doubt, his inability to believe in the possibility of the impossible, which makes him fail.
Whatever the reason for Luke’s disconnect with the Force – be it doubt, forgetfulness, ignorance, or something else entirely – from a narrative perspective it is a profound way of highlighting that even after becoming a hero one can still face incredible challenges. Luke may have relied on the Force to destroy the Death Star, but he must also face great external/internal struggle to ascend beyond a singular act of heroism to become truly heroic. In fact, The Empire Strikes Back goes to great lengths to show Luke stumbling, being knocked down, and crashing time and time again as he embarks on this new path of ascendance, towards becoming a Jedi Knight. Consider the following:
Luke is knocked off his Tauntaun when the Wampa attacks.
He falls from the ceiling of the Wampa’s lair.
He stumbles over a snow drift as he escapes the lair, and later falls to the ground as he walks across Hoth’s desolate tundra.
His Snowspeeder crashes when it is struck by a laser blast.
After destroying an AT-AT using his lightsaber and a thermal detonator, he unhooks his harness and falls far to the ground below.
Piloting his X-Wing, he crashes into the swamp on Dagobah.
Exiting his X-Wing, he jumps into the swampy marsh and must crawl up the muddy embankment.
When he is doing his first handstand during his Jedi training, moving large rocks while Yoda sits on his feet, Luke becomes distracted and falls.
Later, doing another handstand, suspending a number of containers and his droid R2-D2 in the air, he again becomes distracted once again.
As he battles Darth Vader he is knocked into the carbon-freezing chamber; he is blasted out of a window; stumbles to the ground and barely escapes Vader’s next attack; and falls, by choice, into the great abyss at the center of Cloud City after learning he is Vader’s son (presumably choosing death rather than continuing to face his father).
After falling into the abyss on Cloud City, Luke ends up literally hanging below the city on a weather vane, grasping desperately with his one hand (the other had been cut off, along with his lightsaber, by his father) for the door above him. Even here, in this desperate situation, the literal and metaphorical lowest point in his life, Luke forgets his connection to the Force, instead trying to climb to safety with his single hand. Unsurprisingly, Luke once again slips and begins to fall, this time only being saved by his legs (which catch the weather vane). Just as he was hanging upside down in the Wampa’s lair at the beginning of the film, at the end of the film Luke is once again in a desperate situation hanging upside down.
Luke hangs upside down from a weathervane below Cloud City. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
In a sense, this is the most appropriate metaphor for the existential situation Luke Skywalker finds himself in throughout The Empire Strikes Back – his heroic journey has quite literally been turned upside down. Where he gave himself willingly to the Force in A New Hope, placing his faith in something greater, in The Empire Strikes Back he stumbles and falls as he attempts to rekindle, and grow, in his understanding of and relationship with the Force. Eager to learn about the sacred energy field in A New Hope, Luke’s forgetfulness and doubt are why he crashes and fails in The Empire Strikes Back.