Tatooine

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Queen Amidala

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.

Amidala's Reveal
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.

Padme joins the Group
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 why she 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.

Padme and Anakin
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 of Just Dread-full, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike of My 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:

The Doctor

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)

Dani from Midsommar

Sarah Connor

5 Fearless Cartoon Females of the 80s

The Child’s Prayer

The Child,
Who art on Disney,
Baby Yoda be thy name;
Thy Funko come;
Thy story not yet done,
on The Mandalorian.

Give us this day more viral memes
and forgive us our lack of merchandise
as we forgive those not craving your merchandise.

And give us not only more cute GIFs,
but deliver us expensive items with your likeness
preferably in two-days courtesy of Amazon Prime.

For thine is the adorably big-eyed
holding a cup of soup

for ever and ever.

May the Force
be with
You.

 

Haikuesday: Star Wars Planets

First Star Wars Planet
The desert world Tatooine
Home to a hero.

Peaceful Alderaan
Destroyed by the Empire
just to make a point.

Gas-giant Yavin:
On its fourth moon the Rebels
plot their strategy.

A cold, snowy world.
Rebels hide, Empire Strikes
The ice planet Hoth.

Swampy and humid.
Like something found in a dream.
The world: Dagobah.

City in the clouds.
High in Bespin’s atmosphere
Vader lays a trap.

The third gas-giant.
A forest moon in orbit.
The planet: Endor.

Found in the Mid Rim,
Naboo is home to Gungans
and also humans.

Core World: Coruscant.
The Republic capital
is one big city.

South of Rishi Maze,
aquatic Kamino is
a grand army’s home.

Clone Wars first conflict.
Droids and clones clash on the plains
of Geonosis.

A home to giants.
Wroshyr Trees and the Wookiees
The planet Kashyyyk.

Rocky and remote.
In the distant Outer Rim
you’ll find Utapau.

Anakin descends
into the fiery depths
of hell – Mustafar.

Crystalline Planet.
Christophsis invaded by
the Separatists.

Jabba’s son Rotta,
kidnapped and taken to Teth,
out in Wild Space.

“Why does everyone
want to go back to Jakku?”
A valid question.

Jedi world: Ilum.
Transformed by the First Order.
Now: Starkiller Base.

Lush forests, small lakes.
On Takodana you’ll find
Kanata’s Castle.

First Order Attack.
Hosnian Cataclysm.
Prime planet destroyed.

Verdant world: D’Qar.
Organa’s Resistance hides
in the Outer Rim.

Uncharted, unknown.
The birthplace of the Jedi.
Watery Ahch-To.

Agrarian world.
On ringed Lah’mu, Jyn Erso
hides with her parents.

Temperate planet.
Imperial labor camp.
The world: Wobani.

The cold, pilgrim moon.
Jedha orbits NaJedha,
pink and crystalline.

Rugged, mountainous
Eadu hosts a kyber lab
and Galen’s research.

Tropical Planet.
Scarif is the site of the
Rebellion’s first win.

Corporate Sector.
Desolate Cantonica
overflows with wealth.

A mineral world.
An old Rebellion outpost.
Blood-red crystal – Crait.

Han Solo’s home world.
Corellia is known for
its impressive ships.

Site of trench warfare.
Violent, bloody fight in
the mud of Mimban.

The wild frontier.
Vandor’s snow-capped peaks are a
climber’s paradise.

Spice Mines on Kessel.
Controlled by Pyke Syndicate…
…but that won’t stop Han.

Savareen Stand-off.
Enfys tracks her prey to the
sandy, ocean world.

In the jungles of
Numidian Prime, Solo
wins his greatest prize.

An ancient redoubt.
Fanatics worship the Sith
on dark Exegol.

Verdant Ajan Kloss.
A reborn Resistance hides
amongst its jungles.

Expansion Region.
Deserts but not desolate.
Vibrant Pasaana.

Occupied Planet.
Stormtroopers kidnap children
from Kijimi’s homes.

Watery Kef Bir.
The ocean moon of Endor.
Littered with debris.


Check out these other Haikuesday 2.0 posts:

Imperial Atrocities

Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Dark Lords of the Sith

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

Knowing that I am fanatical in my love of Star Wars, a friend recently asked me a pretty unsurprising question about A New Hope. The question was this:

“What’s the name of the other protocol droid following R2-D2 and C-3PO at the beginning of A New Hope?”

Answer: U-3PO.

My friend then followed-up with a pretty obvious second question:

“What happened to U-3PO?”

Answer: Hell if I know.

Seriously, I have absolutely no idea. All I can tell you about the silver plated U-3PO beyond it’s name – which it officially received in the 1995 Star Wars Customizable Card Game – is that U-3PO follows the other two droids down a corridor in the Tantive IV before turning off into a different room. Then again, you could have figured that out yourself. What happened to U-3PO once it disappeared from view is a mystery. Admittedly, it is a mystery that has periodically popped into my mind. And if I had to take a guess, I would assume U-3PO was either “…sent to the spice mines of Kessel or smashed into who knows what!” Why? Well, honestly, if I have to explain it I’ll be taking the fun out of allowing you to figure it out for yourself (just re-watch the opening of A New Hope).

So the point is this: U-3PO is just the other protocol droid aboard the Tantive IV and has absolutely no bearing on the events of A New Hope. And yet, I will admit that I have always been intrigued that U-3PO is present in the film for those few brief seconds. It is certainly interesting to think about what happened to the protocol droid, and I hardly think some “canonical” answer is necessary. In this regard, the imagination is good enough for me.

But in closing, I will also say this: I find it equally interesting to imagine what role U-3PO could have played in the events of the film if it had stuck with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Who knows, maybe things would have been incredibly different if there had been three droids, and not two, wandering the barren wastelands of Tatooine. 

Haikuesday: Luke Skywalker (ANH)

Tatooine farm boy.
Dreaming of a greater life.
Craving adventure.


Bad motivator.
3PO suggests R2.
“What about that one?”


As he cleans R2,
Luke stumbles on a message:
“You’re my only hope.”


Binary Sunset.
A New Hope baptized by Light.
Arise, Skywalker.


“I wish I’d known him.”
Star pilot. Warrior. Friend.
Tales of a Father.


Jawa Massacre.
Imperial Stormtroopers.
A burning homestead.


Stopped by Stormtroopers.
“Not the droids you’re looking for.”
A Jedi mind-trick.


Crossing the threshold.
The Mos Eisley Cantina.
A hero’s journey.


Baba. Evazan.
They don’t like Luke very much.
Old Ben saves the day.


With the blast-shield down
Luke is blinded by his doubts
but takes his first steps.


“The Princess? She’s here?”
“What are you talking about?”
“We’ve got to help her.”


Luke has an idea.
Han thinks it’s a bad idea.
Chewie is just mad.


“I’m Luke Skywalker.”
The hero to the rescue!
Leia is just chill.


Death Star Compactor.
A one-eyed beast tries to eat
the youthful hero.


Chased by Stormtroopers,
a hero swings a Princess
across a chasm.

Haiku Addendum:
 Princess Leia could have done
all the heroics.

Haiku Addendum:
Leia was just letting Luke
play the hero part.


Red and Blue collide.
The sacrifice of Old Ben.
“Run Luke, Run!” Ben’s voice.


A mentor is mourned.
Skywalker struggles with loss.
“Can’t believe he’s gone.”


“Got him, I got him!”
“Great kid, don’t get cocky,” the
smuggler declares.


Pleading with Solo,
Luke learns some are driven by
self-preservation.


Childhood friend: Biggs.
Skywalker and Darklighter.
X-Wing Red Squadron.


“Red Five Standing By.”
He wanted more out of life.
Well, he got his wish…


Running the gauntlet.
Protected by Biggs and Wedge.
Going full throttle.


Biggs dead. Wedge knocked out.
Luke is pursued by Vader,
his father’s killer.


“Use the Force…Let go.”
From the beyond, Old Ben speaks.
Faith in something Great.


Han Solo Returns!
“Let’s blow this thing and go home.”
Torpedoes away.


The Death Star destroyed.
Luke and his friends celebrate.
The Force is with him.


Good news! This post is Part 1 of 3 of a special three-week version of Haikuesday exploring Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Be on the lookout next Tuesday for haiku about Luke in The Empire Strikes Back!

Check Out Other Haikuesday 2.0 Posts Below:

Imperial Atrocities

A Star Wars Celebration

My twelfth birthday party was a Star Wars celebration. Just ten days before I turned the big “one-two” (March 24, 1997) the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi was released in movie theaters. So on the Sunday before my birthday, a handful of friends and I were dropped off at the local theater to see Episode VI/

While there are plenty of gripes to be had with the Star Wars Special Edition – George Lucas’ re-mastered/edited Original Trilogy – as a kid I really had no issue with them. At the time, what got me excited was seeing Star Wars on a big screen, plain and simple. Besides, the Original Trilogy Special Edition were not just another set of films. Oh no, they were the pinnacle of cinematic brilliance in my young mind, a new way of experiencing Star Wars in a shape and form I had never imagined possible. Coupled with the knowledge that Lucas was, at the time, working on a new Star Wars trilogy, the Special Edition was, in many respects, my first step into a fundamentally different way of being a Star Wars fan.

I am unable to remember every detail about my twelfth birthday. Today, twenty-two years removed, many of the details are a blur. I can recall which friends I went with, but I do not remember what we talked about as we sat and waited for Return of the Jedi to begin. I am sure our conversation was brilliantly nerdy and immaculately adolescent. I would expect nothing less from almost 12-year-old me. Likewise, my memory of watching the film on that Sunday afternoon is spotty, and I am just not able to bring forth the emotions/feelings I had as the movie played.

Except, that is not entirely true. While memories fade as time moves on, I CAN recall precisely how I felt at the end of the film. Etched into my mind is the sheer joy, hope, and wonder of seeing the various celebrations which took place across the Star Wars galaxy following the Battle of Endor. While the original cut of Return of the Jedi ONLY included the Rebels celebrating with the Ewoks after the battle, in this new Special Edition of the film George Lucas inserted brief shots of galactic citizens flooding streets and celebrating together. As I sat there watching these Star Wars celebrations unfolding on Bespin, Tatooine, Naboo, and Coruscant, I was left feeling dizzy with excitement. Even now, as I think of that moment in the theater, the memory is visceral, I am still dizzy and overwhelmed.

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But why? Why, after watching two hours of Return of the Jedi, would the end, and the inclusion of these celebrations, resonate with me so deeply? Honestly, the answer is so dang obvious that it is almost underwhelming: it’s because humans and aliens across the galaxy were coming together to celebrate the downfall of the Galactic Empire.

I always enjoyed the original celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi, where the Ewoks and Rebels are dancing/singing together (and Lando is awkwardly clapping along to the “Ewok beat”) following their victory at Endor. But this Star Wars celebration was always small scale and localized, it was JUST the participants from the battle who were rejoicing. In the Special Edition, what we end up seeing is the news of the Endor victory cascading across the galaxy: another Death Star destroyed, the Imperial fleet in tatters, and most importantly, the Emperor dead. On Coruscant, in the heart of the Imperial capital, fireworks were launched and statues torn down. On Naboo, Gungans danced and shouted “Wesa free!” Seeing these celebrations taking place on different planets expanded the impact of what the Rebellion had accomplished not for themselves, but for the galaxy writ-large. In that moment, as I sat transfixed by the sights and sounds of these Star Wars celebrations, I was transported across the vast expanse of the Star Wars galaxy and was given the chance to truly experience just how important the Rebel cause, and victory, was for average people. 

George Lucas gets a lot of flak for choices he made with the Special Edition but to this day I am incredibly grateful – as a Star Wars fan and a person – for the addition of these celebrations at the end of Return of the Jedi. On a day I was having a Star Wars celebration of my own, getting to witness the joy of individuals within Star Wars celebrating the defeat of the Empire was truly special. 

Luke Skywalker: The Loss of Innocence

Frantic to return to his homestead to warn his family about an impending Imperial raid, Luke arrives too late. Slowing down in his landspeeder, the young man leaps out and calls to his uncle Owen and aunt Beru as black smoke billows from his burning home. Scanning the destruction, Luke locks eyes on the smoldering carcasses of his guardians. Not only was he too late, but the extermination was absolute. Luke may have expected, as he sped closer to home and could see the smoke on the distant horizon, that he would find the limp bodies of Owen and Beru. But he surely did not expect such an abhorrent scene – the grotesque, distorted skeletons of his loving uncle and aunt. One cannot help but wonder -and certainly the thought must go through Luke’s mind – if his uncle and aunt suffered in their final moments of life, tortured by the pain of being burned alive.

Grotesque
The grotesque corpses of Owen and Beru.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

This short but disturbing moment in A New Hope is one that never fails to move and pain me. Admittedly, the event is a narrative necessity, albeit a disturbing one, a way of jettisoning Luke from the confines of his childhood connections into a larger world. Seeking adventure and desiring to leave home, even petitioning his defiant Uncle at dinner the night before to allow him to leave, Luke’s adolescent dreams can not be fulfilled. There is no longer any resistance standing in his way and he can join Obi-Wan Kenobi on his valiant quest to defeat the Empire.

And yet, as the scene concludes with Luke standing there in the quiet desolation of his childhood as the smoke billows and the carcasses continue to smolder, I have always wondered: what did Luke do next?

Skywalker Alone
What did Luke do after this moment?

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

This is not a question that demands a definitive answer. In fact, I would be furious if the Lucasfilm Story Group was to provide an “official” or “canonical” account regarding Luke’s actions (or his thoughts/feelings) when the scene concludes. On one level, this is because this scene in A New Hope, which we can link with Luke’s sad return to Obi-Wan and his admission that he can now join the Jedi Master’s journey, work with seamless fluidity even though they are separated. We do not need to be told what Luke did in the interval because the narrative intention in A New Hope is to move Luke from one stage of life to the next. The innocence of his childhood is literally destroyed and he will now venture forth into the responsibilities of adulthood.

On another level, any “official” explanation would usurp the imaginative faculties of fans, taking away the opportunity for one to insert their own thoughts and feelings into the heart-wrenching moments before, during, and after Luke arrives. Not knowing what Luke does, or the emotional turmoil he experiences, is in many respects what makes the death of Owen and Beru so powerful. Without explanation, other than the pained look on young Skywalker’s face as he views the carnage of his familiar surroundings, we are left to fill in the gaps, all of which enables our own, individualized connections with Luke, and the film, to flourish.

And so, the question – what did Luke do next? – percolates in my mind precisely because my imaginative faculties, aided by the emotion which the scene evokes inside of me, consistently arrives at a number of possible explanations. Just as I can believe Luke simply turned around, walked back to his speeder and left his home, I can just as easily imagine that Luke feel to the ground and broke down in tears. Or maybe Luke dropped to his knees and screamed, bellowing out the agony and guilt of not being there to protect his loving family.

Perhaps Luke sprung into stoic action, choosing to carefully bury the bodies as he internally contemplated the loss of his innocent and simple life. Digging graves next to those of his great uncle Cliegg and great aunt Shmi, Luke placed the wrapped bodies of uncle Owen and aunt Beru in graves he methodically dug. The burial complete, Luke returned to his land speeder and drove off into the Tatooine desert, taking nothing but the memories of his family, his home, and his youth with him.

Ben Kenobi: Desert Father

Theory: Rey is the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Since The Force Awakens hit theaters, the idea that Rey is related to Obi-Wan  has picked up quite a bit of steam among pockets of Star Wars fans. I’ve not only seen this theory show up across the interwebs, but I have a handful of close friends who are pretty adamant that Rey is directly related to Kenobi. On the surface of things, I’m really not surprised by this theory. If one doesn’t believe Rey is a Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi does feel like he should be the next likely choice. Plus, it is a rather easy leap to go from Skywalker to Kenobi, particularly since Kenobi makes an auditory appearance during Rey’s Force Vision sequence in The Force Awakens. At one point during the Vision, we hear Kenobi say “Rey” while, at the end of the Vision, Kenobi can be heard saying “These are your first steps.”

What could Kenobi’s words to Rey mean!?!?! What do they imply about his relationship with this curious orphan from Jakku? Only time will tell, but for some people his words to Rey are at least partial proof that she is directly related to the former Master of Anakin Skywalker and guardian of Luke Skywalker.

But here’s the thing: I don’t buy it. Actually, not only don’t I buy it, I think it would be a massive mistake for Obi-Wan to be Rey’s grandfather. Do you hear me Lucasfilm – IT WOULD BE A MASSIVE MISTAKE!!! 

Listen, I’m fine with all types of speculation and theories, and say more power to ya if you believe Rey is directly related to Obi-Wan. But keep this in mind: if Kenobi has a granddaughter, that means he had a son or daughter of his own, which means he had sex. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time believing Obi-Wan Kenobi, during his nineteen years in exile on Tatooine, took the time to flirt with someone, let alone have sex with anyone. A relationship of any kind, be it a committed affair or a one-night stand just doesn’t fit who Kenobi is – a Jedi Master, sworn member of his Order and devoted follower of the Light Side of the Force, with a moral obligation to protect the child of his former padawan at all costs.

In fact, in those moments when he was not actively watching over or protecting Luke, Kenobi-in-exile on the desert world of Tatooine should always be viewed as a hermit.

Granted, it is easy to overlook Kenobi’s religious isolation since his early life was massively expanded by the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series. The Obi-Wan who comes to mind for many a Star Wars fans is undoubtedly the younger, more active (and attractive) Jedi Knight/Master who battled Darth Maul and fought in the Clone Wars, not the wizened old man living a life of poverty and spiritual contemplation as he watches over a young boy. Yet, it is important to remember that it is the older Kenobi that informs all of his other iterations. While the stories about his younger life provide interesting and exciting depth to his character, it is his introduction in A New Hope that sets the tone for how we are to view him, and at least in part, how we should view the Jedi Order. 

When the mysterious old “wizard” named Ben first appears in A New Hope, elements of hermitic life bleed off of him. He wears simple and unassuming robes, lives in solitude on the edge of Tatooine’s Western Dune Sea, and he speaks about his devotion to the mystical and mysterious energy field known as “the Force.” For all intents and purposes, Kenobi is meant to be a pop culture re-imagining of a Desert Father.

Beginning their religious practices in the late 3rd Century CE, the Desert Fathers (and Mothers) of Early Christianity were ascetics who lived in seclusion – some as hermits, others in small communities – primarily in the deserts of Egypt. Believing it necessary to withdraw from society, these monastics lived austere lives, believing the harsh desert environment would teach them to eschew the need for material possession and tame their ego. As well, the Desert Fathers engaged in numerous spiritual practices – to name a few: recitation of scripture, interior silence and prayer, kindness and hospitality – all with the hope of becoming closer to and united with God.

Menas

Now in the Louvre, this icon of Jesus (right) with St. Menas (left) is from the sixth century and is one of the oldest in existence. That Ben Kenobi happens to look a bit like this depiction of Menas, a desert father, is coincidental, though the resemblance is striking.

Now, it is absolutely worth pointing out that the above paragraph only scratches the surface of the Desert Fathers and their place in Early Christianity. Then again, my intention is not to write an academic treatise on them and the way they influenced Christian monasticism (here is a link to book if you are interested in learning more about them). Rather, my brief description of these ascetics is to highlight the obvious: Obi-Wan Kenobi shares a number of similarities with them, similarities that are clearly present in George Lucas’ seminal film. Again, that Kenobi lives on a desert world is one thing, but that he is also a hermit, a member of once grand religious order, lives an austere life, and is devoted to his “god” (the Force) is reason enough to view him as the Star Wars equivalent of a Desert Father. And, as such, it is imperative that this fact not be undercut by Kenobi’s going off and having “relations” that would take him away from his moral duty of safeguarding Luke Skywalker and, as was added in the 2005 film Revenge of the Sith, his spiritual aspiration of learning to preserve his life force upon physical death. Both are religious commitments which Kenobi is wedded to on Tatooine, duties that he, as a character, would not shun out of a desire for companionship or sexual enjoyment.

The First Droids

When this month’s Star Wars ComLINKS topic – Favorite Droid – was announced over at Anakin and His Angel, my mind initially went blank…for days. As I thought about the topic, about what droid in Star Wars is my favorite, I just couldn’t come up with an answer. I really wanted to contribute to the topic, to give my two cents on which droid I love the most, but the harder I thought about it, the more difficult it actually became to settle on one.

This difficulty really boiled down to a rather basic dilemma. Basically, I have never given the topic of “favorite droid” much thought before writing this piece. While droids are an indelible part of the Star Wars universe, my personal enjoyment of droids has rarely gone deeper than surface level appreciation. This isn’t to suggest I never engage in any thoughtful contemplation of droids and their role(s) in the canon of Star Wars stories. Nor am I suggesting that I don’t have any especially fond appreciation for individual droids. As a matter of fact, I really love Chopper’s attitude, the absurdity of WAC-47, the adorableness of BB-8, would be thrilled to have my own battalion of battle droids, and am particularly fond of HK-47 and his penchant to”burn holes through meatbags…”  Rather, all I am saying is that I don’t get as excited about droids as other fans of the franchise (check out The Astromech Journal to see what I mean), and because that’s the case, no one droid really stands out above any other.

Nevertheless, there is a caveat: R2-D2 and C-3PO occupy their own, special status in my personal “droidom.” While I could have chosen them as my favorite droids, for me these two transcend the confines of mere favoritism. Artoo and Threepio will always and forever occupy the pinnacle of my fascination with Star Wars droids, a pinnacle that no other droid can ever hope to reach. And the reason for this is obvious; Artoo and Threepio were the first droids we ever met in the franchise, setting the bar high for all other droids  (especially those with independent personalities like BB-8 and Chopper). But there is more to this fascination and love. Brought to life in A New Hope by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and the late Kenny Baker (R2-D2), these two droid companions are also the very first characters we meet in all of Star Wars, a fact that often feels overshadowed by the endless cacophony of Star Wars stories. For the greater part of A New Hope‘s opening act, Artoo and Threepio drive the film forward, they are the main characters and are, at times, the only “beings” present on screen. Taking us on a journey that begins in space and descends to a desolate, wind and sand-swept planet, the two droids – who add a bit of humor through their bickering –  will only pass off the “main character torch” when they arrive at a lone homestead where a young man named Luke lives with his Aunt and Uncle. And, well, from there you know the rest.

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R2-D2 and C-3PO stranded on a desolate world.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The first droids we ever meet in Star Wars, the first characters we ever meet in Star Wars. And yet, what truly stands out about Artoo and Threepio, what cemented these two in my heart and mind as a young Star Wars fan, is that until we finally meet Luke Skywalker these two droids are the hope represented in the film’s title. Again, with the cacophony of Star Wars stories in circulation, this is easy to overlook  but necessary to remember. For the better part of A New Hope‘s first act, R2-D2 and C-3PO are the “only hope” for a galaxy terrorized by a galactic empire. While it is obvious that the young Skywalker is the hero of the film, the “new hope” for the galaxy, so too are all those who willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, work for the common goal of destroying the Empire’s Death Star. In this way, A New Hope is not a film solely about one young man who will become a hero, but is a collection of individuals – humans, aliens, and yes, even droids – who through their actions radiate a message of hope not only to the galaxy, but more importantly, to you and I. 


This post is part of the Star Wars ComLINKS series. Check out more Star Wars ComLINKS over at Anakin and His Angel.

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Hutt Profile: Gardulla

The very first time we “meet” Gardulla the Hutt is when she is referenced by Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menance. Specifically, the young slave boy explains to Padmé Amidala that he and his mother were originally owned by the female Hutt, but that Gardulla had lost them in a bet to their current owner, Watto. From there, the scene moves on and Gardulla’s small shout-out fads into the background of the film. That is, of course, until she actually appears next to Jabba the Hutt just before the Boonta Eve Classic gets under way!!! While the race announcers proclaim the arrival of Jabba, unfortunately they do not announce that Gardulla is also with him. In fairness, it makes sense that the  Jabba’s  entrance is announced since he is hosting the Classic. Plus, giving Jabba the Hutt a brief cameo in The Phantom Menance was, realistically, the point to this scene.

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Gardulla the Hutt

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

However, since the announcers don’t mention Gardulla’s presence at the Classic, I spent a long time after the release of The Phantom Menance having no idea who the mysterious, female Hutt actually was. It wasn’t until a handful of years later, at some point in the early 2000s, that I finally learned that the unknown Hutt was Gardulla, the former owner of Shmi and Anakin Skywalker. While this small fact didn’t dramatically change the way I view/experience The  Phantom Menace, it was pretty cool finding out the identity of the mysterious Hutt. And it does, at the very least, add an interesting layer to the Boonta Eve Classic, the fact that young Skywalker’s former master was present to watch him win the race. Well, that is if she didn’t fall asleep like Jabba.

Following the release of The Phantom Menace, Gardulla went on to make several appearances in the Expanded Universe (EU). While I won’t recap all of her stories from the EU, it is worth mentioning that in the Star Wars: Bounty Hunter video game, Gardulla is shoved into the arena that houses her pet krayt dragon and is subsequently eaten. However, Gardulla survived “the swallowing” because the krayt dragon – according to Story Group member Leeland Chee – found her indigestible.

Otherwise, with the EU no more, Gardulla’s only appearances  in Star Wars (not counting reference books) have come in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars Season 3 episode “Hunt for Ziro.” In this episode, the Hutt Council – the body that governs the Hutt Clan – convenes in Gardulla’s palace on Nal Hutta, the Hutt homeworld. While Gardulla is not one of the five Hutts on the Council (the Databank wrongly states she is), she none-the-less presides over the meeting, acting/speaking on behalf of the absent Jabba. For this reason, I think it is safe to say that Gardulla is the Council’s “sixth Hutt,” having just as much (if not more) wealth and power than some of the other Hutts on the Council.

Still, it is disappointing that Gardulla is not an official member of the Hutt Council for one very specific: –  Gardulla is a female Hutt, one of the only female Hutts in the canon. She is a Hutt with incredible influence, a crime lord whose reach most certainly spreads far beyond her palace on Nal Hutta or her dealings on Tatooine. True, she may not be on par with Jabba, but Jabba clearly trusts her to represent his interests on the Council. Most importantly, what this shows is that Gardulla has worked her way into the upper echelon of the Hutt Clan, an upper echelon that is dominated by male Hutts.

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Gardulla’s Palace on Nal Hutta

Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3, Episode 9 – “Hunt for Ziro”

And yet, she is not a formal member of the Hutt Council because…well, in all honesty, the show runners of The Clone Wars didn’t make her one. Still, I am glad she was included in “Hunt  for Ziro,” and that her dominating presence is felt, albeit briefly, in the episode. Moreover, Gardulla could easily be elevated to full-member given the events of The Clone Wars episode “Eminence.” In the episode, Sith apprentice Savage Opress creates an opening on the Council when he kills Oruba the Hutt, and there is no Hutt more deserving than Gardulla to take Oruba’s place. Granted, another member of Oruba’s family should technicaly take the deceased Hutt’s place on the Council, but I have a feeling Jabba could use his influence to secure the spot for Gardulla.

Regardless, Gardulla is also deserving of far more attention in the Star Wars canon, and  I want to know what happened to her after we see her in “Hunt for Ziro.” Her elevation to Council Member after Oruba’s death is one way to do this, but I’m also interested in knowing, if nothing else, how she reacted to the death of Jabba. The novel Aftermath establishes that the Hutt Council, months after his death, had not yet filled the seat on the governing body left vacant by Jabba’s demise, and I can definitely picture a scenario in which Gardulla would jockey to be the leader of the body. This doesn’t mean, though, that I think she would also maneuver to steal away the power and wealth Jabba left behind. While I have no doubt a number of Hutts would try to soak up what was left behind by the late crime lord, Gardulla just feels like the type who would be far more interested in ensuring the Hutt Clan survived their leaders death. Besides, given her close ties to Jabba, I can also imagine Gardulla watching over and mentoring the rightful heir to the the late Hutt’s criminal empire – Jabba’s son, Rotta.

My general musings aside, I really would be thrilled to see Gardulla the Hutt make some more appearances in the Star Wars universe, whatever that may entail, and I don’t think I am alone in this wish. At least, I don’t think I am, right? Would you like to see more of Gardulla Besadii the Elder in the Star Wars canon? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about Gardulla. 


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion