Speeder Bike

Impressed by Paploo

Allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush:

I had just returned home around 8:30pm – I had been at a volleyball game coaching my team to another victory (boo yeah!) – and ended up on the couch flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch. Lo and behold, I came across Return of the Jedi during the speeder bike chase and said to myself “You know, I haven’t watched ‘Jedi’ in a while so I might as well keep watching.” So, there I am, on the couch, watching Return of the Jedi as the film continues. The Rebel heroes meet their soon-to-be Ewok allies, Luke tells Leia they are siblings, Han gets jealous and Leia wants a hug, Vader and Luke end up discussing Vader’s moral compass, the Rebel fleet enters hyperspace, and the Rebels discover, thanks to the Ewoks, that there is a “back-door” to the Imperial facility on Endor. 

Paploo with Wicket

Paploo discusses his plan with Wicket. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Okay, so, the Rebels are led to the back-door by the Ewoks. Unfortunately, as you already know, the entry is guarded by four scout troopers milling about and chatting without a care in the galaxy. As Han Solo and his Rebel pathfinders do not want to alert the Empire to their presence, he and the group discuss their options. As they do so, the highly strung C-3PO learns from an Ewok counterpart that “…our furry companion has gone and done something rather rash.” Telling this to the group, Leia expressing an audible “Oh, no” the group watches as one Ewok moves towards the scout troopers.

Or rather, Paploo, the Ewok in question, moves towards the scout bikes sitting at the end of the clearing. Getting onto one of the bikes, Paploo proceeds to turn it on and zips off into the forest pursued by three of the four scouts. “Not bad for a little furball. There is only one left,” Han professes, obviously impressed by Paploo’s ingenuity. 

Like Han, I too have always been impressed by Paploo’s quick-thinking decision to steal a speeder bike. But what truly impressed me during this particular viewing of Return of the Jedi as I sat on my couch was the fact that Paploo seems to know PRECISELY how to operate the scout bike. This realization had never dawned on me prior to this moment, the fact that this primitive creature with absolutely zero technological understanding knew the exact sequence of buttons and switches that needed to be activated for the bike to work. Impressive, Paploo, most impressive.

Granted, it is entirely possible that Paploo just gets lucky, that he randomly flips the correct switches and the bike ends up working. I’m hardly opposed to this possibility. It is, after all, the most likely way the scene is meant to be viewed. Never-the-less, as I sat on my couch watching Paploo start the bike, for the first time it dawned on me that the Ewok furball knew what to do. And, as a result, a second thought, a question, popped into my mind: how can we explain the primitive Paploo’s expertise in Imperial technology?

Honestly, I think explaining Paploo’s actions as intentional is easy, and actually works in conjunction with the thoughts I laid out about the Ewoks in my piece “Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly” way back in 2015. In that post – which was part of Ewok Week – I made the point that the Ewoks were either preparing to fight the Empire, or they had already started the fight when the Rebels show up. You can go read that post to get a deeper look at these ideas, especially since I believe Paploo’s apptitude with a scout bike can easily be tacked onto them. 

Paploo Speeder
Paploo pilots the stolen speeder.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

If the Ewoks were already fighting the Empire, or just preparing for their war, it would make logical sense that the primitive beings took the time to learn about their foreign invaders. We can assume, then, that Paploo, and perhaps a number of other Ewoks, had already stolen scout bikes in order to learn more about these curious and unfamiliar machine. When he sneaks up on the bikes to steal one in Return of the Jedi, Paploo would already have an understanding, even a basic one, about how the contraption works. Not to mention, he also seems to know how to drive the speeder once it zips off into the forest. The initial acceleration surprises Paploo, but he regains control with relative ease and pilots the bike deeper into the forest with the three Imperial scouts hot on his tail. 

Again, it could just be that Paploo gets lucky. Maybe he did. Honestly though, I find it far more likely, and way more interesting, if he and other Ewoks had taken the time to learn about the bikes as part of an attempt to better understand their enemy. But you can decide for yourself.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about Paploo and his speeder bike excursion!

The Scout

The sound of the speeder bike came to an abrupt end as he cut the engine, the echo steadily dying until he was left sitting on the bike in silence of the forest around him.

Parked at the edge of a clearing in the dense woods, he looked around the dimly lit area scanning for movement. Though he had not come across any of the primitives yet, he was sure they were out there somewhere.

But the Ewoks, as they were called, were not his primary concern. He and the other scout troopers in the battalion were tasked with protecting the perimeter of their sector, pushing out into the dense forest to look for unusual activity. A rumor had been floating around the battalion for weeks that the Rebels were planning an assault on the installation. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the Rebellion actually going on the offensive for once.

Dismounting, he pulled his sidearm out of its holster and made sure that the energy cell inside was fully charged. Satisfied, he returned it to his hip and removed his helmet, placing it on the bike’s seat.

Walking slowly, he made his way towards the center of the small, quiet clearing.

It was uncommon, he thought to himself as he turned and observed his surroundings, to come across such a pristine spot during this war, and even less common to have a chance to enjoy these types of moments. Before going back to war, he would just allow himself to take it all in, enjoying a moment of peace.

The solace of the moment was cut short by a sound of the underbrush moving on his right, opposite the direction of his bike. Without moving his body, he tilted his head in the direction from which the sound and movement came. He was sure that whatever made the sound could not be large, but he needed to be cautious. Turning, he took slow steps towards the spot and froze as he came upon it. He couldn’t help but feel that he was being watched. Slowly, he placed his right hand on the pistol in his holster, ready to draw his weapon. Bending down, he put his left arm out and slowly moved the underbrush out of the way.

There was nothing there.

He let the brush whip back to where it had been and took a step backwards. It was out of the corner of his left eye that he saw it: a gray creature, no more than a meter tall and wearing a crude hood, was staring at him.

Held upright in the creature’s right hand was a primitive spear. It did not flinch as the scout turned towards it, content to stand and observe the white uniformed man.

This was, he knew, one of the primitives he had been briefed on when he first arrived on the moon. Though he had not participated in the massacre, troops had begun killing the primitives even before construction of the shield generator or Death Star began. The slaughter had been so swift, command felt there was no need to worry about the presence of these creatures. They had learned their lesson and would leave the Empire alone. Curious, he thought, that he should run into one of these creatures so close to the installation.

As the two stood, staring at one another other, the Scout couldn’t help but consider how innocent the Ewok looked. There was something about it that was disarming. A small pang of guilt percolated inside him for intruding on this creature’s home world and what had been done to its kind. Still, once the battle station was finished, he reckoned the Empire would leave Endor and the Ewoks could just have it back.

Taking a step towards the Ewok, the furry little being held its ground as the soldier approached. Having taken his hand off the pistol, he reached into his belt and pulled out a small piece of food and held it out in his right hand.

This got an immediate reaction. Tilting its chubby gray head, the Ewok considered the food being offered, clearly considering whether it was safe to take the morsel. Slowly, it took a step towards the trooper and stuck out its left hand to take the food.

But it was also the opportunity the Ewok was waiting to exploit. With the trooper’s eyes on the hand reaching for the food, the Scout had taken his eyes off the creature and its spear. Grabbing the food, the Ewok swiftly jabbed the crude weapon into the soldiers exposed neck.

Staggering backwards, the Scout’s hands instantly went to his neck, blood already streaming down his pristine white armor. Turning towards his bike, he tried moving but dizziness from the loss of blood was already taking over.

Taking only a few steps, his legs gave out and the ground rushed to meet him.

Lying there, vision fading to black, he could make out the form of the Ewok walking by his prostrate body, moving towards the bike, eating the food it had been given.

Silently, without looking back, the Ewok moved past the bike and disappeared into the underbrush beyond, leaving the Scout to die in the peace of the forest clearing.

Check out these other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

Ewoks Battling for Endor