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.

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 4)

“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Master Yoda on the Sith

How is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two when the Sith have been extinct for a millennia?

In Part 1 of this series, I began with the question above. As you may recall from that first post, the question came to me from one of the fans of this blog. Naturally, I was happy to indulge and jumped into it with a full-head of steam.

But as I wrestled with the question in my head, I ran into more problems than I had anticipated, and slowly got bogged down by the extra baggage, all of which I played out in the previous Parts.

At last, though, we have arrived at the Finale and it is time to take the deep dive into my answer to the question.

The Answer

My idea is actually a rather simple one: Rather than having Darth Bane live/enact the Rule of Two 1,000 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, we move his life back in time, essentially making him MORE ancient.

Now, before going any further, I should note that we can do this because there is literally NO ancient history to contend with in the Star Wars canon. Sure, the Expanded Universe (EU), which many of you undoubtedly love and still enjoy, did establish a very detailed history for the era of the Old Republic, including various wars between the Jedi and Sith.

But the EU, while flipping awesome, is not part of the official Star Wars canon, and because it isn’t, we can rearrange things however we want, no longer beholden to those EU stories – including the Darth Bane novels.

The 1st novel in the EU Darth Bane Trilogy Photo Credit - LucasBooks

The 1st novel in the (EU) Darth Bane Trilogy
Photo Credit – LucasBooks

So we push canonical Darth Bane farther into the past. This opens new avenues for storytelling and creates a much clearer picture for the sake of canonical continuity, one that does not put Yoda in the awkward spot of knowing something about the Sith that he shouldn’t be able to know.

Alright, let’s explore the rationale for this and how it plays out.

The Rationale

First off, let’s back up and think about what Yoda says at the end of Episode I about the Rule of Two. He states, “Always two there are, no more, no less. A Master and an Apprentice.”

The fact that Yoda says the word “Always” should tip us off to something – that this is how the Sith have worked for a VERY LONG TIME. Think about it – if Darth Bane lived/enacted the rule 1,000 years ago, and the Sith have been in hiding for those 1,000 years, it would be INCREDIBLY awkward from a continuity/canonical perspective for Yoda to know that this is ALWAYS how the Sith have functioned. How in the hell would he possibly know this if the Sith went extinct 1,000 years ago?

Besides, when Yoda says this statement to Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace, Windu’s reaction is not “Dude, how do you know that!?!” but is rather “But which one was killed, the Master or the Apprentice?” What Yoda says is something Mace Windu already knows.

Also, keep in mind that if we are working within the 1,000 year time frame, the last knowledge the Jedi would have about the Sith is that the Sith Order was massive before it went kaput. Yoda should have said “Always a shit ton of Sith there are!”

Oh, and one other thing – Is Yoda really so accepting that he would actually believe there are only two Sith? The way of the Dark Side is one of lying, deceit, and mistrust, and if Yoda had discovered this new shift in Sith philosophy, he should be the last one to believe this is how the Sith now operate. Then again, that is hardly the point because THE SITH ARE IN HIDING AND THE JEDI BELIEVE THE SITH ARE EXTINCT!!!

Darth Bane speaks to Yoda Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), "Sacrifices"

Darth Bane speaks to Yoda
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

To me, the only conclusion that makes sense is that the Rule of Two was around far longer than 1,000 years ago, so long in fact that the Jedi Order is no longer concerned with thousands of Sith presenting a problem – they are only concerned with two Sith at a given time.

Now, let’s add Darth Bane to the picture.

As I have already quoted and explored in Part 2 and Part 3, Darth Bane states that “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed” in The Clone Wars episode “Sacrifices.” Obviously, the implication of this statement is that BEFORE Darth Bane changed Sith philosophy, the Sith were legion. However, what is also implied is that the Sith Order collapsed in on itself. The Dark Side breeds conflict and the Sith focused their fighting on each other rather than their TRUE enemy – the Jedi.

From the “ashes of destruction,” Bane, the last survivor and the most powerful of the old Sith reinvented the Sith Order, declaring that there would be only two Sith Lords.

2,500 years ago. 5,000 years ago. 10,000 years ago. It doesn’t matter when Bane did this, as long as it is at a point longer than 1,000 years ago AND far enough in the past to justify Yoda saying there are “Always” two Sith.

Plus, pushing Bane into the distant past opens up more storytelling possibilities, with two separate eras of the ancient Sith to work with:

1) The Pre-Bane Sith – Story ideas could involve the birth/rise of the ancient Sith Order on Moraband; the constant infighting between Sith Lords; the shaky alliances between Sith in wars against the Jedi Order; a final showdown between the last of the Sith with Darth Bane coming out the victor.

The Inquisitor from Rebels Season 1 speaks with Darth Vader Photo Credit - Star Wars Rebels: Season 1, Episode 1 - "Spark of Rebellion"

The Inquisitor from Rebels Season 1 speaks with Darth Vader
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels: Season 1, Episode 1 – “Spark of Rebellion”

2) The Post-Darth Bane/Rule of Two Sith – Stories about two Sith Lords acting at any given time, but with the Apprentice vying with the Master; Master-Apprentice working together to bring about the defeat of the Jedi Order; the relationship between the two Sith and other (non-Sith) Dark Side users (like, for example, the Inquisitors who appear in Star Wars Rebels)

But what of the Sith “extinction” which Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi refers to in The Phantom Menace?

At the 1,000 year mark, the point Master Mundi is referring too, this is when the Sith are finally “defeated” by the Jedi Order. I will let your imagination work to think about what that moment would look like, but the end result is the same: the Jedi are convinced they have finally defeated their arch nemesis.

Battered but not extinct, the Sith would go into hiding, taking a new approach to bringing down the Jedi Order through subtlety, cunning, and intrigue, culminating in Darth Sidious’ victory over the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith.

A Final Thought

Ultimately, I believe this approach, placing Darth Bane/the introduction of the Rule of Two further in the Star Wars past would protect the continuity of the canon while also opening it to new and dynamic story possibilities.

But doing this is not just important for the sake of clarifying how Yoda knows about the Rule of Two in The Phantom Menace, or what Darth Bane is talking about in “Sacrifices.” It is important because as fans, we should expect elements within Star Wars to line up and make sense. That is the entire point of continuity.

Plus, this is even more relevant now that EVERYTHING has the same weight, the same status as being canonical. Whether it is a comic book, video game, television show, a children’s book, or a movie, each of these pieces are on the exact same level. And this necessitates delicacy, attention to detail, and patience to ensure that ALL story-elements in the ENTIRE canon function together and do not create significant points of confusion or contradiction.

But don’t get me wrong, I know incongruities will persist, they just shouldn’t be so massive, so glaring that they chew into a fan’s enjoyment of the galaxy far, far away.