The Phantom Menace

Haikuesday: Queen Amidala

Unique Politics:
Young, female monarch and an
old, male Senator.


Queen Amidala.
Elected at age fourteen.
Leader of Naboo.


Her first name: Padmé.
Comes from Sanskrit origin.
Its meaning: lotus.

Hindu Religion –
Padma, the sacred lotus,
symbol of beauty.

Vibrant and lovely,
rich with color, the flower
and Queen Padmé’s gowns.

“Queenliest flower”
wrote poet Toru Dutt in
Sonnet: The Lotus.

Growing in ponds, lakes.
Untouched by water or mud.
The lotus is pure.

We literally watch
Padmé blossom as Queen in
The Phantom Menace.

Goddess Shri-Lakshmi,
depicted with the lotus.
Shri-Lakshmi…shmi…shmi.

I’m not gonna lie:
teaching Hinduism in
haiku form is tough.


Trade Federation.
Blockade of peaceful Naboo.
Iron-willed Padmé.


Not wanting a war
but war is forced on the world.
What will the Queen do?


Inquisitive Queen.
“You’re a Gungan…” she asks Binks.
She’s never met one?

Haiku Addendum:
One would think that Naboo’s Queen
has met with Gungans.


Bodyguards, decoys.
Like their highness, they are brave.
The Queen’s handmaidens.


A clever disguise!
The Queen dresses as one of
her own handmaidens.


Sandy, sun scorched world.
The Queen wishes to learn more…
…by sending herself.

I have to be frank:
I’m sure Qui-Gon Jinn knew that 
Padmé was the Queen.


“You’re a slave,” she asks.
“I’m a person,” he declares.
Someday they will kiss.


Fate in a boy’s hands.
Handmaiden Queen admits that
she does not approve.


Jedi are reckless,
the handy Queen tells Qui-Gon.
Yeah, sometimes they are.


Boonta Eve Podrace.
Fly real fast, go left sometimes.
She cheers for Ani.


The Queen is worried.
Her people are suffering.
Will the Senate help?


Speaking to Senate,
Queen Amidala calls for
no confidence vote.


Begging for their help,
Amidala bows to the
greatness of Gungans.


Queen of the Naboo.
Military strategist.
Fourteen but gifted.


Leading from the front,
Amidala risks her life
to save her people.


Viceroy Nute Gunray
deceived by Keira Knightley!
Decoy “Queen” Sabé


Here is a fun fact:
I am two days older than
Ms. Keira Knightley.


The Royal Decoy
orders the real Queen to clean
astromech R2.

Haiku Addendum:
I can’t help but wonder if
that made Padmé mad.


At last, there is peace!
Amidala and Boss Nass
commit to friendship.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Ryloth (July 2017)

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia (An Imperial Talker Review)

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia, co-authored by Tricia Barr, Adam Bray, and Cole Horton, is at one and the same time intensely fascinating and slightly overwhelming. This latest addition to the catalog of Star Wars reference books contains a veritable mountain of images and information broken into five distinct chapters, each chapter having a handful of subsections. The breadth and depth of Star Wars knowledge in this book will certainly keep the more “die-hard” fan occupied for long periods of time, but might also leave the more casual fan feeling somewhat dizzy by the scope of what Star Wars has to offer. Even as a self-proclaimed die-hard fan, I readily admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed at times by all The Visual Encyclopedia has to offer. Still, this was and is hardly a reason not to explore the book. In fact, I encourage Star Wars fans of all types to do so, patiently and methodically working through the book so as to savor the journey to the summit of the Star Wars mountain.

So what exactly does this particular mountain of Star Wars knowledge contain? In the book’s foreword, Dennis Muren (Senior Creative Director, Industrial Light & Magic) notes that, “In this title you’ll see firsthand the thousands of objects that are inspired by our world, but are uniquely Star Wars.” And right he is, as this reference source presents through countless images and bits of information how the galaxy far, far away is derived from concepts and ideas that we are all familiar with on some level. Identifying specific categories of inquiry, the authors, as I already mentioned, organize the the Encyclopedia into five chapters: Geography, Nature, History, Culture, and Science and Technology. In this way, the book’s organization invites readers to begin in a chapter of their own choosing, beginning an exploration based on one’s personal interests in the real-world or Star Wars universe. Of course, one can also start on page one and simply go from page-to-page, but know that this isn’t required to grasp all the Encyclopedia since it is not set-up in narrative form.

Mustafar
Southern and Northern Mustafarians.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

For me, going through the book page-by-page, skimming through the images and info, gave me my initial bearings before really digging into anything concrete. From there, I worked through the book in non-linear fashion, very slowly jumping to different pages based on momentary interests and personal inquiry. During one reading I found myself enamored by the chapter on Nature, discovering new things about the various creatures and alien-species in Star Wars. I never knew, for example, that two types Mustafarians existed, Southerners being stocky while their Northerner counterparts are tall and thin (see image above). In turn, as I explored the chapter on Culture, I was struck by the vast array of royal outfits that Queen Padmé Amidala of the Naboo wore in The Phantom Menace. Fashion in Star Wars has never been a personal point of interest for me (I don’t do any form of cosplay) but the images of Amidala’s outfits, and the explanation that her “elaborate gowns reflect their [Naboo’s] culture,” left me intrigued and reflecting upon other forms of royal and political attire in Star Wars.

To this point about personal interest, the majority of my time spent in The Visual Encyclopedia thus far has centered on the Science and Technology chapter. Of the five, it is the longest chapter, having the most subsections arranged into categories ranging from binoculars, equipment, and medical technology to blasters, warships, all forms of land vehicles, plus a whole lot more. For the sake of brevity I won’t go into detail about everything I found so fascinating about this chapter, but I will note that I was particularly happy to encounter two specific land vehicles that I have always desired to see more of in Star Wars: the UT-AT “Trident” tank and the AT-OT Walker. While the Encyclopedia only has a picture of these two war machines accompanied by their respective names, it is never-the-less reassuring to know that there are Star Wars writers/authors keeping the lesser known vehicles (among other things) in mind.

The Star Wars universe is exceedingly vast and The Visual Encyclopedia does a nice job of covering a great deal of the expanse, the UT-AT and AT-OT being a clear example of just that. Still, the reference book does have its limitations, hardly a shock since Star Wars is far too great to be encapsulated in only 199 pages. Since the Encyclopedia is rooted primarily to the Star Wars movies and television shows, one will be disappointed if they enter the book hoping to encounter a wealth of information and images from the array of Star Wars novels, comics, and games. Further, the book does contain a handful of notable absences. While he is quoted, and his unique shuttle Delta-class shuttle is depicted, there is no image of Director Orson Krennic, the antagonist in Rogue One. One will find Rogue One protagonist Jyn Erso in the book, but her father Galen Erso, who developed the Death Star’s planet-killing weapon, and her mother Lyra are no where to be found. And speaking of parents, perhaps the most disappointing absence is that Anakin’s mother, Shmi Skywalker, does not receive an image in the Encyclopedia, just another reminder that she continues to be an unfortunate afterthought in the Star Wars canon.

Limitations and curious absences aside, Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia is never-the-less an enjoyable reference book that will leave an interested Star Wars fan occupied for quite a while. Try to take in all it offers in a single sitting and one very well might abandon the effort with feelings of being overwhelmed. But fortified with the patience of a Jedi Master and an eager willingness to savor the journey, and one will surely end up expanding their personal knowledge and understanding of the Star Wars universe.


Thanks to DK Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

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.

Gardula the Hutt
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.

GardullaPalace
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

Hutt Haiku Poems

I hope you enjoy these Hutt Haiku Poems created by fans of Star Wars/The Imperial Talker and by yours truly! Feel free to email your own Hutt-related haiku if you would like to add to the page!


Damn, Jabba the Hutt
At it again with the tongue
“Bo shuda” he said

That’s Uncle Ziro
Is he Truman Capote?
I think he might be

Submitted by: John S.


Jabba, great crime slug
your best friend is a muppet
crawl on, m’boogie

Submitted by: Derek W.


Jabba no botha
Said the Twilek with red eyes
Luke did not listen

Solo is frozen
A Huttese decoration
His debt is now paid

Submitted by: Cameron C.


Loved Clone Wars, I did,
but nearly ruined, it was,
by Ziro the Hutt.

Submitted by: Brian L.


Eye for an Eye

Submitted by: Andrew (@AndrewinBelfast)


Dearest Mister Hutt,
I have a question for you
…from where do you poo?

Submitted by: Andykin


You were quite surprised
A princess slave seductress
Binded with your doom.

Eat eat eat those frogs. 
Twi’leks are my favorite. 
Pod racing is blah.

Submitted by: Violet


Jabba no bother
Lives thug life like  no other
Eyes like big brother

Submitted by: David M.


THE INCOMPARABLE LAMENTATIONS OF THE LATE ZIRO DESILIJIC TIURE

“Alas! What a fate!
I was sooo misunderstood…
People were unfair.

In spite of praising
My dazzling sense of fashion
They just misjudged me

Me! the devoted
Champion of betterment
Of my fellow Hutts!

They had no idea,
The great unspeakable things
I was able of!…

The horrors…”

SHUT UP spoiled son!
Who are you trying to fool?
Momma is not proud!

Love-sick purple Hutt!
Getting yourself shot like that!
Sy Snootles? Really?!”

(The incomparable answer of his formidable mother)

Submitted by: Léa Yumekawa


Tow’ring Empire
Wide in size and influence
Pizza or Jabba?

Fickle mood, quick rage
Bad news for interpreters
And also smugglers

That Hutt, the Jabba
He likes haiku, do you too?
Otherwise, Sarlacc…

Trap door in the floor
Hungry Rancor needs to eat;
dancer and not pie?

Slipp’ry and slimy
Bad breath behind that big tongue
Who will love that Hutt?

A Hutt’s heart is sad
Keeping the world so distant
Afraid of slug jokes

Submitted by: Michael M.


I chose not to learn
Huttese because I really
wanted a girlfriend.

Does every Hutt burp
like Nashi, creating a
cloud that smells of meat?

Rotta the Huttlet
Kidnapped by Ventress, Rescued
by Sky Guy and Snips

If not much trouble,
Could someone ask Hidalgo
how Hutt lovers mate?

Pedunkee Mufkin,
Rotta the Huttlet, young son
of vile Jabba.

“Righteous are the Hutts!”
“HA!!! Tell that to Kanjiklub
and you will be killed!”

Great Boonta, Hutt god
on high, does our podracer
Classic delight you?

The Hutt-Xim Conflict,
thousands of years in the past;
no longer canon 😦

Does anyone know
how I can get a meeting
with Voras the Hutt?

Thick bogs, greasy rains,
dragonsnake infested world.
Nal Hutta sounds great!

Do Jedi not care
that slavery is thriving
on Hutt controlled worlds?

Slave Leia no more;
Now she is the Huttslayer,
killer of Jabba.

Submitted by: Jeffrey A. Cagle (The Imperial Talker)


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)

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Star Wars: Padmé

Since writing my post on The Funeral of Padmé Amidala a while back, Padmé has continued to pop into my brain from time to time. But recently, it has been more than sporadic episodes – I’ve just not been able to stop thinking about her. This hardly means I haven’t been contemplating other awesome Star Warsie things, but for some reason my brain would just loop things back to her. Admittedly, it was a bit perplexing, but don’t take that to mean I dislike thinking about Padmé because I think she totally rocks. It’s just that lately she has been taking over my brain waves more than usual and I couldn’t figure out why.

Well, I couldn’t figure out why until just the other day when I was sitting on the couch and realized that Padmé is nowhere to be found these days. Sure, she lives on vicariously through Leia (and perhaps Rey?), but otherwise, Padmé feels like a distant memory, having been relegated to the sidelines of the Star Wars universe. In fact, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I have come to realize that Padmé is getting shafted. Consider this  – as of right now, the stories of the main characters from both the Original and Prequel Trilogies are being continued with the obvious exclusion of Padmé.

What gives? Are Anakin, Obi-Wan, Leia, Han, and Luke just more interesting than Padmé? Is Padmé just unworthy of having her story continued in a meaningful way? I certainly grant that the stories of all characters must, at some point, come to an end but there is no way her story is finished, right? There is so much we don’t know about Padmé, so many questions that need to be answered! Here are a handful that come to mind:

  • How and why did she become the Queen of Naboo at such a young age?
  • As the Queen of Naboo, how did she handle the aftermath of the Trade Federation’s invasion? Did she have regrets about how she had handled the crisis, about trying and failing to keep Naboo out of a war?
  • What was her relationship like with Palpatine in the years between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones?
  • Were there other attempts on her life, similar to the one we see at the beginning of Attack of the Clones?
  • How did she and Anakin navigate their secret marriage, particularly early on in the weeks after they wed? Did she ever confide in anyone close to her (like Dormé) that she was married to Anakin?
  • Besides the adventures we see her go on in The Clone Wars, did she have any others?
  • What was her feelings/reaction to the discovery that she was pregnant? How did she explain her pregnancy to the people around her (i.e. – other Senators, her family)?
    Padme and Dorme
    Padmé sits with her handmaiden Dormé.
    Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Like I said, these are just a handful of questions that come to mind as I think about Padmé. And while I accept that not all of them will be answered, I certainly hope and anticipate that some, heck even just one, eventually will be. Which brings me to this thought:

At the very least, Padmé deserves her own Five-Part Comic Series.

While I would absolutely love to see Natalie Portman reprise her role as Padmé on the big screen, I am also realistic in knowing she most likely never will unless it is a very minor cameo. In lieu of a film, I really believe Padmé would be a great character for a comic series, even a short one. This is precisely what we saw with the Princess Leia comic, a short, five-part series that allowed us to view Leia in her element, being a leader who isn’t afraid to make decisions and put her life in danger for the greater good. I see no reason why the same couldn’t also be true of Padmé. Heck, it already is true of Padmé, as we’ve seen her time and again step up as a leader, taking charge of situations, putting her life on the line, and doing her duty for the benefit of others. A comic series would be a way to not only add a new layer to Padmé’s story, but could serve as a way to dynamically expand upon her great qualities.  

But one of the other important things about the Princess Leia comic is that while we see Leia take the mantle of leadership, we do so while also getting into her mind. This was particularly important for the series as it takes place in the days/weeks after the destruction of Alderaan and the events of A New Hope. As such, we see first hand that she is struggling with the destruction of her homeworld and family, all of which helped to motivate Leia, as the last royal of her planet, to track down and safeguard any remaining Alderaanians.

Padme2
Padmé tells Anakin that she is pregnant. I wonder what she was thinking before/during/after she told him?
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I believe the same mix of external and internal would be perfect for Padmé as well. Depending on when/where it took place, the series could serve as a way for us to enter into Padmé’s mind, to really experience her motivations, feelings, and struggles. Padmé would certainly get to shine as the story unfolds, and I hardly think the series should be a case study in the psychology of Padme Amidala, but it would be fascinating to get a more personal glimpse of her thoughts. But only a glimpse – even fictional characters should be allowed their privacy.

Lastly, as a final thought, I should mention that I think Padmé deserves to be the center of attention for a rather simple reason – there are far too many male characters dominating the Star Wars landscape. While I love that there’s an Obi-Wan & Anakin comic series, and that Poe Dameron will be the center of attention in an upcoming series, I can’t help but wonder why Princess Leia is the only female character who has received her own  comic run. Well, that could easily be changed with a step in the right direction if Padmé Amidala were given a chance to standout in a series of her own.


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

The Death of Padmé Amidala

The Rank Lists Awaken

This is the first of MANY pieces I have coming on The Force Awakens. Those other posts will start digging into the content of the film, but for now, I wanted to think about The Force Awakens in relation to the Star Wars canon in general, and the other six live-action films specifically.


Almost immediately after seeing The Force Awakens, one of the first questions I was asked about the film had nothing to do with anything that happens in it. Oh no, the question I got was very specific and not at all surprising – where would I rank The Force Awakens in relation to the other Star Wars films. Frankly, the question left me a little dumbfounded.  I was, at this point, less than 12 hours removed from seeing the movie for the first time and had not fully digested what I had watched. I might be a die-hard Star Wars fan but after one viewing of the film there was just no reasonable way for me to rank The Force Awakens with the other films. So, I politely deflected the question and didn’t answer it.

Empire
Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

Yet, the question won’t leave me alone. It has popped up in a few other conversations I’ve had about The Force Awakens and I have seen some people post their own updated rankings of the Star Wars films on Facebook,  Twitter, in articles,  etc. Now, to be fair, none of this is surprising. Since a new movie has been added to the list of Star Wars films, it was only a matter of time before conversations started circulating about where The Force Awakens should be ranked in that list. I just didn’t anticipate getting the question immediately after seeing it for the first time, though the person who asked it certainly meant well (as do those who continue asking me).

Here’s the funny thing, though – I don’t have a rank list of the Star Wars films. While The Empire Strikes Back has always been my favorite, I have never taken the time to analyze the others and come up with some definitive list for second, third, fourth, etc. In fact, while “Empire” is my favorite, it’s probably not the one I have even watched the most. I have seen all six films so many times that I have lost count, so I really just don’t know which one tops the viewing chart. Then again, that doesn’t matter. At this point, all six are so engrained in my brain that they are, quite frankly, part of who I am, part of my self-identity.

But the more I have thought about ranking the films, the more various angles and questions began popping into my brain.

Anakin and Ahsoka
Ahsoka Tano sits and talks with her Master, Anakin Skywalker, after the Battle of Christophsis. 
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

For starters, when I see fans ranking the films, I can’t help but ask: why aren’t they including The Clone Wars movie? Sure, it isn’t a live-action  film, but it did premier in theaters in 2008. Plus, it  introduced Star Wars fans to Ahsoka Tano, THE most popular character in the Star Wars canon who has never appeared in live-action form. All I’m saying is that if one is going to rank Star Wars films, don’t leave this one off the list just because it’s animated.

In turn, this opens the door to a larger question: why not just rank The Force Awakens with ALL of the Star Wars canon? I’m talking movies, books, comics, video games, etc. Since the Expanded Universe was disbanded by Disney/Lucasfilm, everything going forward is on equal footing as being canonical and relevant. So I have to ask: Is The Force Awakens better than Christie Golden’s novel Dark Disciple, Claudia Gray’s young adult novel Lost Stars, or the Shattered Empire comic series? Perhaps one would rank Ryder Wyndham’s junior novel, Ezra’s Gamble, above The Force Awakens but below the Season 3 episode of The Clone Wars entitled  “Witches of the Mist.” Or maybe someone enjoys The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary MORE than the movie itself and have decided to place it above the film in their list. That might seem counterintuitive to some but to that particular person the decision would make perfect sense.

Realistically, of course, it is difficult to rank the entire Star Wars canon, even for someone like me who is, more often than not, submerged in the Star Wars universe in some way, shape, or form. While everything added to the canon has equal authority, how does one even begin to compare junior novels to the films, or comics to video  games, and so on? There are certainly some stories that I have enjoyed more than others, and there are others that I am more critical of, feeling they fall flat for various reasons. And even if I were to rank the entire canon what would that accomplish? My canonical ranking would look different than someone else’s ranking, and I really have no interest in sitting here trying to argue that mine is the right one.

Theatrical Trailer

Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

But like I said, the vast majority of people aren’t like me or other die-hard Star Wars fans. For the average moviegoer, The Force Awaken is the newest installment of Star Wars, period. My uncle, for example, has seen all six previous live-action films in the theater, but he certainly didn’t go and see The Clone Wars movie, nor does he read any of the books, comics, etc. AND this takes me back to what I said earlier: I’m not surprised that The Force Awakens is being compared to/ranked with the other live-action Star Wars films. Most people only have the original six films as their points of reference, so I can’t really expect them to include The Clone Wars movie (among other things) in their rank  list.

So, seeing as I’m back where I started,  where do I go from here? Well, the original question is still relevant: where should one rank The Force Awakens in relation to the other six live-action films? I already noted that I don’t have my own rank list and I’m not interested in starting one. However, if you’re planning on creating/updating a rank list, or have already done so, I would suggest you take the following question into consideration:

Is it fair to place The Force Awakens (or Rogue One) higher in a rank list than any of the original Star Wars films?

Attack
Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

Now, I am purposefully using the word “original” here to refer to both trilogies for a very specific reason: Episodes I-VI are the films that Star Wars creator George Lucas wrote, the comprehensive story he wanted to tell. Those six films are, in every sense of the word, the original Star Wars stories. So, we can reframe the above question in a different way, coming at it from a slightly different angle: Can a new  Star Wars movie like “The Force Awakens” (or Rogue One), a movie NOT written by George Lucas, be a better Star Wars story than Lucas told in the original films?

Don’t presume, though, that I’m suggesting The Force Awakens is not worthy of carrying the banner of Star Wars. On the contrary, I personally enjoyed the film and believe it’s as much a part of Star Wars as Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Attack of the Clones, etc. Rather, what I’m asking is whether its possible that The Force Awakens – or Rogue One – is, a more compelling, a more complete, an all-around better Star Wars story than anything Lucas gave us?

Really, I can’t decide this for you. Whether you’re a “rank list” kind of person or not, you’ll just have to figure it out and articulate the answer for yourself.

The Last Sith Lord

First things first, if you have never watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars, do not read a lot of Star Wars comics, or have not followed news about The Force Awakens, then this post contains some spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Second, I am going to come right out and say that in this post I am pushing some of the limits. I know that some of you will push back against what I say, and I am perfectly fine with that. Do it! Just be nice about it when you do.

Alright, let’s begin…


Anakin Skywalker lifts Sidious, preparing to hurl him into the depths of the Death Star. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Anakin Skywalker lifts Sidious, preparing to hurl him into the depths of the Death Star.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Watching as his pleading son is electrocuted by Darth Sidious, Darth Vader chooses to intervene on his son’s behalf. Vader, or rather, the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, lifts Sidious and plunges him into the bowels of the Death Star. Keeping in line with Sith philosophy dating back to the ancient Sith Darth Bane, by killing Sidious it is then Vader/Skywalker’s right to assume the role of Sith Master and take an apprentice of his own.

HOWEVER, the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, having shed himself of his Sith title, does not take up the mantle of Master. While Vader was interested in taking Luke as an apprentice, Anakin Skywalker has no intentions of doing so since he has shed himself of his Dark title and returned to the Light Side. With Sidious dead, and Vader no longer a Sith, the Order came to a sudden and dramatic end.

Or did it?

“There has been an awakening, have you felt it…?”

A dark robed figure walking through a wintry, wooded area suddenly stops and ignites a crackling red lightsaber, two shorter blades extending to form a cross guard. When the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens landed, speculation immediately began about whether this mysterious individual, this Kylo Ren, was a Sith.

Kylo Ren ignites his lightsaber. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Kylo Ren ignites his lightsaber.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Questioning whether this figure was a Sith was natural. At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi. If Luke went on to rebuild the Jedi Order in the days, months, and years following the Battle of Endor, perhaps another figure had decided to rebuild the Sith Order as well. Besides, it would make sense that if the Jedi were restored that their ancient and mortal enemies would be as well, right?

But just recently, J.J. Abrams, director and co-writer of The Force Awakens, dropped two important nuggets about Kylo Ren. Just as “Darth” is a shortened form for “Dark Lord of the Sith,” Kylo Ren, as Abrams pointed out in an article in Entertainment Weekly, belongs to a group called the Knights of Ren. Presumably, “Ren” is a title.

Secondly, Abrams also confirmed in an article in Empire magazine that Kylo Ren is NOT a Sith, though he does work for First Order Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke, as Abrams notes, is a powerful Dark Side user but there is no indication that he is a Sith. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on the latter.

Alright, brief recap before continuing:

Anakin Skywalker killed Darth Sidious but did not continue the Sith line. Kylo Ren is a user of the Dark Side who works for another powerful user of the Dark Side. But Kylo Ren IS NOT a Sith, and he is a member of a group called the Knights of Ren, so we can probably bet that there are a handful of other “Ren-ites” out there.

Darth Bane Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

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

Having arrived at this point my question is this: who exactly can we say is the LAST Sith in the line that extends back to Darth Bane? Remember, it is Darth Bane, the ancient Sith Lord who, after surviving the destruction of the Sith millennia ago, re-created the Sith in a new image. You can think of him sort of as the hinge that connects all who came before him and those who came after him. And so, given all that we know, WHO is the Last Sith Lord?

Well, logic dictates that it be either Darth Vader or Darth Sidious. As the Master-Apprentice duo at the end of Return of the Jedi, one should get the technical distinction of being the absolute final Sith Lord. Wellllll, this is the point where you all start groaning at me so let’s just get it over with…

The last Sith is not Darth Vader OR Darth Sidious. The last Sith Lord is Darth Maul.

Darth Maul

I know, I KNOW, I’m as surprised as all of you! I never saw that coming either!

Well, okay, I did see it coming, but whatever. Honestly, my rationale behind this is pretty simple: at the end of the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic series, Darth Maul is still alive. With the help of a few Mandalorian commandos, Maul escapes from the grasp of Darth Sidious, Darth Tyrannus, and General Grievous.

The cover of Star Wars Darth Maul Son of Dathomir: Issue # 1 Photo Credit - Lucasbooks

The cover of Darth Maul Son of Dathomir: Issue 1
Photo Credit – Lucasbooks

Like I said, it is all pretty simple. As it stands right now, at this very moment, Darth Maul is still hanging around the galaxy far, far away. And the thing is, we can’t just presume he died before the events of Return of the Jedi. Maybe he did, but, then again, we all THOUGHT he had died once before because we actually saw him get cleaved in half. From May 19, 1999-January 21, 2011 Darth Maul WAS dead. But then, when The Clone Wars Season 3 episode “Witches of the Mist” aired, we all learned that HE WAS STILL ALIVE!!!

Bringing Darth Maul back into the fold not only forever altered the way we watch The Phantom Menace, but also how we are to think about Darth Maul. No longer was he the quiet but vicious junior Sith Lord who killed Qui-Gon Jinn then was subsequently killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Oh no, this menacing Zabrak is VERY STRONG in the Dark Side of the Force, so strong that he relied on the Dark Side to stay alive even though he was cut in half. Cut. IN. HAAAALF. Yeah, there is no way I am going to sit here and pretend Darth Maul just happened to grow old and die. At this point, if you want to convince me that Darth Maul is really, REALLY dead, then he better be ripped apart atom-by-atom.

But Darth Maul still being alive is only half of the issue. On the flip side, we also need to ask a pretty obvious question: since Sidious took on a new apprentice, is Darth Maul technically still a Sith Lord?

Once a Sith, Always a Sith?

In The Clone Wars Season 5 episode entitled “The Lawless,” Darth Sidious senses a tremor in the Force and goes to the planet Mandalore to confront Darth Maul and his brother/apprentice Savage Oppress. Interestingly, it is not until Sidious senses this tremor that he recognizes Maul has become a threat, although he was made aware of Maul’s existence in an earlier episode. When the two encounter each other, Sidious states that he is impressed that Maul survived his injuries. However, only a moment later, Sidious calls Maul out as a rival. This is, of course, true — in a previous episode, Maul declares that he and Oppress are Sith, the “true Lords of the Sith.”

Maul and Oppress - the

Maul and Oppress – the “true Lords of the Sith.”
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 5, Episode 14), “Eminence”

Now, this is where things get complicated. See, in “The Lawless,” Sidious will ALSO remind Maul (after Sidious kills Oppress) of “the first and only reality of the Sith: there can only be two. And you are no longer my apprentice. You have been replaced!” Well, this is quite true, Maul WAS replaced… but then again, Maul was also not dead.

And that right there is the key – since Maul did not die in The Phantom Menace, neither did his title as Dark Lord of the Sith. Sure, Sidious replaced Maul with Tyrannus, but he did so under the assumption that Maul was dead. As the Sith Master, Sidious should have been more careful, but he wasn’t. Instead, Sidious moved forward with his plans while Maul survived, albeit mentally and physically scarred, on the junk world of Lotho Minor.

But not confirming Darth Maul was dead was Sidious’ first mistake, but not his last.

Although Darth Sidious defeats Maul in lightsaber combat in “The Lawless,” he does not kill him. Instead, in an elaborate ploy (one that plays out in the Son of Dathomir comics), Sidious uses Maul as bait to draw out and destroy Mother Talzin, the powerful Nightsister. With assistance from Darth Tyrannus and General Grievous, Sidious will succeed in destroying Talzin, However, as I already noted, at the end of the four-part comic series Maul is able to survive. While Sidious exclaims at the very end that “Maul’s future has been erased” this does not mean Darth Maul has been erased. This is the second mistake Sidious makes, believing Maul is no longer a threat and choosing to let Maul flee instead of doing the obvious – just killing him.

A Final Thought

Movie Title Idea - Darth Maul: Sith Bad-Ass Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Movie Title Idea – Darth Maul: Sith Bad-Ass
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I really have no doubt that the people at Lucasfilm have a plan for Darth Maul. The fact that he does escape with his life is reason enough to think that this mysterious and vicious Sith Lord will receive further treatment at some point down the line. In fact, given that actor Ray Park has said he would love to reprise the role, I really hope we end up seeing a live-action Maul once again.

Of course, when Darth Maul does decide to reappear, I hope his reemergence is handled with care. I do not want him to be brought back just so he can “officially” be killed off. No, at this point Maul deserves to much respect for a cheap, quick death. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Darth Maul eventually dying, I just want it to be done in a way that does him justice. And while his story may very well come to a close before the events of Return of the Jedi, I am not going to sit here and just pretend it does.

So, for right now, I am going to hold on to the idea that Darth Maul is the last Sith Lord.

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.

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 3)

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

“The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed.” – Darth Bane in “Sacrifices”

In Part 1 of this series, I began with a simple question: How is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two when the Sith have been extinct for a millennia? In answering this question, I stuck with information found in The Phantom Menace and, in the process, ran into some pretty convoluted problems.

However, The Clone Wars episode “Sacrifices” provides more context about the Rule of Two. In it, Yoda travels to Moraband, ancient homeworld of the Sith, and encounters an illusion of the ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane, the progenitor of the Rule. You can go re-watch the scene HERE. In Part 2, then, I used the information from the Yoda-Bane encounter to, again, address our initial question.

But in doing so, a new problem popped up.

Darth Bane Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

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

It is a portion of this conversation between Yoda and Bane that left things in a bit of a kerfuffle when Darth Bane says “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor.” Though this is what the ancient Sith states in the episode, the Darth Bane page in the Star Wars Databank says something different about the destruction of the Sith: “After the Sith were decimated by the Jedi Knights of a thousand years ago, Bane enacted the Sith rule of two…”

So, at the end of Part 2 I left readers with a choice about the way we could interpret what Bane says. On the one hand, we could take his statement as factually true, that the Sith literally killed each other, victims of their own selfish ways.

Or, on the other hand, we could interpret Bane’s statement as metaphor, and argue that he is using figurative language to describe the Sith destruction, which allows us to link what Bane says with the Databank.

After receiving a number of comments, it became pretty apparent that the majority of readers wanted me to play with BOTH approaches.

So, that is what I have done. I pushed forward with both approaches and what follows is where I ended up with each.

Metaphorical Approach to Bane’s Statement

Approaching Bane’s statement as a metaphor makes sense if we want to link what he says with the Databank. As a reminder, it states that the Jedi decimated the Sith 1,000 years ago [prior to the events of The Phantom Menace.]

When Bane says to Yoda that “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed” he is being figurative, implying that the Sith caused their own downfall because of their incessant in-fighting. Constantly at odds, the Sith were unable to put up a united front against the Jedi Order which was easily able to defeat the dis-unified Dark Lords.

Or, put in simpler terms, Bane is saying that the Sith had no one to blame but themselves for their defeat.

From the “ashes of destruction,” the sole survivor of the decimation, Darth Bane, changed the Sith forever. Understanding that the Sith had caused their own defeat, Bane instituted the Rule of Two. In doing so, he ensured the self-preservation of the Sith. No longer would there be thousands (or more) of Sith Lords vying for power with one another, but instead, only two would exist to vie with one another: Master and Apprentice.

Alright, so far so good…but there is something else we need to deal with: Yoda is speaking to Darth Bane in the dead Sith’s tomb. Plus, there is a giant statue of Bane standing behind the sarcophagus of the entombed Dark Lord. Where did this tomb and the statue come from, and how did Bane’s body come to be interred inside the tomb?

Darth Bane's Tomb - sarcophagus and statue at the far end. Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Darth Bane’s Tomb (click on the pic for a better view)
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

How about this: let’s say Bane’s tomb on Moraband was built PRIOR the Sith destruction. Certainly, as a Dark Lord, Bane would be allowed to have his final resting place constructed before he died, like the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, along with a magnificent statue built to stand guard over his sarcophagus.

But that still does not account for how Bane’s body came to be interred in the sarcophagus…

Hold up, after killing Bane and taking the mantle of Dark Lord for him/herself, Bane’s Apprentice-turned-Master placed Bane’s body in its finally resting place on Moraband. It was the least s/he could do for the final survivor of the “old” Sith, the one who had changed the Sith forever going forward.

Totally makes sense! Darth Bane dead, body interred in his tombbbbb wait, the tomb is located on Moraband, the ancient homeworld of the Sith. And the Jedi decimated the Sith, believing them to be extinct. So for this to work, after the Sith “extinction,” the Jedi had to not only believe the Sith to be fully eradicated, but ALSO had to stop paying attention to Moraband altogether. They had to be so convinced the Sith would never again be a problem EVER AGAIN that they literally just left Moraband alone.

Question: Are you okay with the Jedi being THAT inept? The Sith were their mortal enemies and in the wake of the Sith defeat, the Jedi just ignore the Sith home world so completely that a Sith Lord is interred on the planet.

Okay, maybe the Jedi Order IS that inept. Perhaps the Jedi were so utterly convinced that they had exterminated the Sith threat once and for all that they didn’t believe they needed to lock-down Moraband. Something about that just doesn’t feel right, but I will just roll with it for now.

Hokay, Sith decimated, Bane enacts Rule, Bane killed by Apprentice, Apprentice-turned-Master inters Bane’s body on Moraband (Jedi not watching), and Yoda knows of the Rule of Two in Episode I, how?

Once again, we have run into the very same issue we started with. The Metaphorical Approach allows us to line up Bane’s statement with the Star Wars Databank, but it does not provide any help answering that damn question about Yoda knowing about the Rule of Two. All it does it lead right back to it, and in doing so, also returns us to the initial problems we ran into in Part 1.

Problems which, you will recall, launched us on this exploration into the tomb of Darth Bane. Basically, the Metaphorical Approach pushes us back to where we started in Part 1.

Factual Approach to Bane’s Statement

Alright, no more metaphor, no more figurative speech, just pure, unadulterated truth: when Bane says the Sith killed each other, he means that they literally annihilated themselves. That would make for one hell of a movie: lots of red lightsabers, Sith lightning, Force choking, black capes, scary masks, etc. And, at the end of the final Sith showdown, literally walking through the “ashes of destruction,” Darth Bane would emerge the victor. Epic!

Now, like in the Metaphorical Approach, seeing that the greed of the Sith caused their own demise, Bane took it upon himself to alter the philosophy of the Order. But instead of re-creating the Sith in the same way, which would ultimately result in the same outcome (the Sith constantly being at odds) there would only be two Dark Lords from now on: Master and Apprentice.

Basically, both approaches come to the same point from different angles: Darth Bane and the Rule of Two.

Moraband (ancient Sith structures in background) Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Moraband (ancient Sith structures in background)
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

And what about Bane’s tomb on Moraband? Easy – same solution as before. His tomb on Moraband was built BEFORE the Sith extinction, and once he was killed, his Apprentice-turned-Master interred the body in the sarcophagus.

But at this point, we begin running into the same problems as before, starting with the ineptitude of the Jedi. Again, as I already noted in the Metaphorical Approach, how do we deal with the Jedi allowing a deceased Sith to be buried on Moraband? I am still not really sure how I feel about this, but like before, we will just go with it.

Okay, so, Sith destroy each other, Bane survives, Bane institutes Rule of Two, Apprentice kills Bane, Apprentice-turned-Master inters Bane in pre-built tomb on Moraband (Jedi not watching), and Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, how?

Just as before, the Factual Approach takes us right back to where we started. We can account for what Bane says, for his tomb, for his body being interred, but we have no way of neatly answering how Master Yoda knows about the philosophy Bane instituted.

And with that said, I have to bring out conversation to a screeching halt because there really isn’t much more to say…

…except for one thing: What if we just stop assuming that everything happened 1,000 years ago? As I noted in Part 2, we have been working under the assumption that Bane lived 1,000 years ago, but what happens if we move his life back in time further?

What I will present in the Final Part of this series is this alternate approach to the way we have been thinking, an approach that will provide an otherwise simple answer to the “How does Yoda know” question.

However, it also means we will have to change how we think about ancient history in the Star Wars universe and, for some fans, particularly those who really love the Expanded Universe, this shift may not sit well with them.

Part 4, THE FINALE, will be here soon.

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 2)

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

In Part 1 of this series, we began with a question which will continue to be the focus of this discussion. That question was: how is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two if the Sith have been extinct for a millennia?

Specifically, this question comes from facts that are presented in The Phantom Menace. In the film, Master Yoda is aware of the Sith Rule of Two, the notion that there are only ever two Sith at a time, Master and Apprentice. However, we also learn in the movie that the Sith have been extinct for a millennia. As I explained, the assumption we were working under was that the Rule was instituted AFTER the Sith “extinction.”

Working with the information available in Episode I, possible answers are present, but these answers also create some rather convoluted problems that begin undercutting Star Wars lore. For the sake of brevity, I will let you go back and refresh your memory on these answers and the problems they cause.

In Part 1, I purposefully chose to stick only with information from The Phantom Menace. Now, moving forward, it is necessary to add more pieces to the puzzle. To do this, we need to consider an episode of The Clone Wars.

Yoda Travels to Moraband

Yoda on Moraband Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Yoda on Moraband
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

In the very last episode of The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13) entitled “Sacrifices,” Yoda travels to the ancient homeworld of the Sith: Moraband.[i] This journey occurs around 13 years after the events of The Phantom Menance.

Walking across the deserted wasteland of Moraband, a planet long abandoned because of countless wars, Yoda is accosted by apparitions of the ancient Sith, but these spirits do not stop his journey. Eventually, the elder Jedi makes his way to a large tomb located in a large valley. Entering the tomb, the Jedi Master is confronted by an illusion of an ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane, who manifests from the sarcophagus inside the tomb.

Here is part of the dialogue between Master Yoda and Darth Bane that is relevant to our discussion…

Darth Bane: Why do you come to my tomb, Jedi?

Yoda: To learn.

Darth Bane: Do you know who I am?

Yoda: Yes. Darth Bane, the ancient Sith Lord you are.

Darth Bane: And know why I am not forgotten?

Yoda: Created the rule of two, you did.

Darth Bane: The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor. I chose to pass my knowledge onto only one, I created a legacy so resilient, that now you come before me. Have you come to be my apprentice? You must kill me to gain my place.[ii]

Master Yoda and Darth Bane, face-to-face Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

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

From this short exchange, we can glean a lot of information, some of which we will carefully work through as it relates to our topic.

In The Phantom Menace, Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, but here, we find that 1) Yoda knows he is speaking to Darth Bane and 2) Bane was the Sith Lord who instituted the Rule of Two. This is rather curious and leads to another question: when did Yoda discover that Bane was the originator of the Rule?

My immediate assumption was that Yoda learned about the Rule of Two and Darth Bane in the same instance prior to The Phantom Menace. This would make sense since Bane and the Rule are intimately linked. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Yoda could have known about the Rule prior to the events of Episode I, and then learned about Darth Bane afterwards.

Moving forward, then, there is other information in this scene that needs to be addressed which comes directly from Darth Bane. What the Sith Lord presents may or may not already be known to Yoda, but we viewers are certainly unaware of it.

Specifically, Darth Bane explains that “the Sith killed each other” due to their greed, and that he “was the last survivor” of the Sith destruction. Furthermore, we learn that Bane decided to pass his “knowledge onto only one [apprentice]”, and that the apprentice must kill his/her Master in order to take the mantle of Master as their own.

This is a rather short statement from Bane, but we gain a lot of insight into the Sith Order from it.

Ashes of Destruction

The point Darth Bane makes about the Sith killing each other, and that Bane was the last survivor of the Sith destruction, is the most important piece of information that we need to address at this point. Why? Because what Darth Bane says gives rise to an entirely new question:

Is the Sith destruction Bane speaks of the same “extinction” event that Ki-Adi Mundi suggests in The Phantom Menace?

As I already pointed out, the assumption we have been working under has centered on how Yoda learned about the Rule of Two AFTER the Sith “extinction.” And, as I noted in Part 1, this raises a cacophony of answers/problems.

This new question, though, raises an entirely new possibility: that in describing the self-inflicted destruction of the Sith, Darth Bane is talking about an event that happened long before the Sith “extinction” to which Ki-Adi Mundi alludes.

If this is the case, that we are actually discussing two separate historical events, then the examination at hand can effectively be ended.

TIME OUT! I just checked the Darth Bane page on the Star Wars Databank on StarWars.com and THIS is what it says over there: “After the Sith were decimated by the Jedi Knights of a thousand years ago, Bane enacted the Sith rule of two…”[iii] But this is not what Darth Bane says to Yoda. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT DARTH BANE SAYS TO YODA! He said that the Sith were the ones who destroyed each other, and that he instituted the Rule in the wake of their self-inflicted destruction. You know, “out of the ashes of destruction” and all. He never mentions anything about the Jedi decimating the Sith.

So what in the heck is the Databank talking about?

Darth Bane Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

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

At this point, in this very moment, there is one, singular instance of Darth Bane appearing in the Star Wars canon…and we have been talking about it this entire time. There is LITERALLY no other information out in the canon, at this stage, that lends itself to what the Databank says.

Soooooo we have two options to make sense of this snafu.

Option one is that Bane is be speaking metaphorically about the destruction of the Sith, arguing that their downfall at the hands of the Jedi was actually the fault of the Sith Lords and their greed. In essence, the Sith were flawed, could not put up a united defense against the Jedi of old, were subsequently decimated a millennia ago, and as a result Darth Bane changed the Sith forever.

On the other hand, option two is that the Databank is wrong. This is not to say that the Databank is useless as a tool for understanding Star Wars, but rather, that the Databank should align factually with what is presented in the Star Wars canon. In the case of “Sacrifices,” what Darth Bane says is clear: the Sith destroyed each other, and from the ashes of their self-inflicted destruction, he fundamentally changed the Sith forever. If the Jedi had decimated the Sith, Darth Bane would have said as much.

Further, under this option, the Sith destruction could have been a millennia ago, or Bane could be describing a much more ancient event as I previously laid out.

And with all of that said we are, once again, at an impasse. We began with a question concerning how Yoda knows about the Sith Rule of Two, and now we are trying to figure out if an ancient Dark Lord was speaking metaphorically or factually. OI VEY!

Ultimately, the answer to HOW Bane is speaking really comes down to personal preference. Some might like the idea that he is speaking metaphorically about the downfall of the Sith, while others might see him speaking in a matter-of-fact manner about the Sith killing each other. Either way, both options, taken to their logical ends, will affect the way one thinks about a number of elements within Star Wars.

So, here is what I propose: I am going to let you choose the direction we head in. Think of it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” All you need to do is leave a comment down below, on Facebook, or on Twitter that says “Metaphor,” “Fact,” or, if you really want to make me work, you can ask for “Both.” Also, feel free to provide some thoughts/feedback on your choice if you feel so inclined. Whichever preference wins out, that is the direction I will head in in Part 3…so, for the sake of moving things along, give me your choice in the next few days.

The sarcophagus of Darth Bane on Moraband Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

The sarcophagus of Darth Bane
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

But before we end, there is one tinnnnnny little question that I want you to think about in relation to everything else I have discussed, and which could impact the choice you make. It is this:

How was it possible for Darth Bane to be buried on Moraband and who built the giant statue of Bane that stands behind his sarcophagus?

I will address this in Part 3.


[i] Some of you might know the planet as Korriban, the name used in the Expanded Universe (Legends). I am not going to get into a debate about the name. Call it what you want, it is the same place in my mind.

[ii] Dialogue taken from Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 6, Episode 13 “Sacrifices”

[iii] Star Wars Databank