Darth Maul: Sympathy for the Devil 

Darth Maul: Sympathy for the Devil 

Warning: Spoilers for Twin Suns 

“The Sith…the Sith took everything from me! Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered my brother, used me as a weapon and then cast me aside! Abandoned me! Once I had power, now I have nothing.” – Maul

I still remember seeing The Phantom Menace all the way back in 1999. One of the characters that really made an impression on the 12-year-old version of me was the tattooed, red and black Zabrak Sith Lord known as Darth Maul.

Maul just oozed awesome from the moment he appeared on screen. Even though he had very limited dialogue, his ferocious looks and double-bladed lightsaber (previously only seen in Legends stories e.g. Exar Kun) more than made up for it. Unfortunately for the Sith apprentice, he soon met his end at the hands of a young Padawan by the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Our poor villain was bisected at the waist and fell into a deep pit in the bowels of Theed Palace.

I vaguely recall thinking that we barely knew anything about this guy before his demise. Kind of a waste to include such a popular villain only to off him after one film.

Well…

Darth Maul | The Clone Wars

You may have forgotten me, but I will never forget you. You cannot imagine the depths I would go to to stay alive, fueled by my singular hatred… for you.
– Maul

I won’t touch on Dave Filoni and George Lucas’s decision to bring back Darth Maul in The Clone Wars too much as I have already covered that aspect of Maul’s vengeful crusade against Kenobi culminating in Duchess Satine’s murder.

What I do want to mention is that Maul’s reentry into the Star Wars mythos started him on a path of meaningful character development and it gave him actual sympathetic qualities. I know I’ve mentioned many times how much I love Dave Filoni for fleshing out events or characters from the films and Maul’s persona is no different.

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Young Maul and Sidious | Son of Dathomir

I know where you’re from, I’ve been to your village. I know the decision to join the dark side wasn’t yours. The Nightsisters made it for you.

– Obi-Wan Kenobi


Although The Clone Wars showed that Maul was more than a blunt instrument and genuinely came close to emulating his former master’s more cruel and cunning ways, the writers also began to drop hints that perhaps Maul wasn’t just a hate-driven tool of the dark side. I’m obviously not excusing all of his obviously evil actions, (i.e. butchering colonists and their children on Raydonia to get the attention of Kenobi) but there was no denying that Maul’s dark persona was at least partially a result of being raised by one of the most sadistic individuals in the galaxy. Maul’s tale could definitely fall into one of those psychological nature vs. nurture debates that are all the rage these days.

By the time Maul reappeared on Rebels, he was a broken soul with nothing but revenge to sustain him. His initial ire and vengeance was targeted at Sidious, but once his plans on the Sith world of Malachor were thwarted he realized just how much he was outmatched by Vader and Palpatine. He then settled on seeking out his old Jedi nemesis on Tatooine.

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Ben Kenobi vs. Maul | Star Wars Rebels

“Look at what has become of you. A rat in the desert.”

“Look at what I have risen above.”

“I have come here to kill you, but perhaps it’s worse to leave you here, festering in your squalor.

If you define yourself by your power to take life, your desire to dominate, to possess, then you have nothing.”

– Maul and Ben Kenobi

Spoiler warning #2. I’m serious.

The decision to have Kenobi end Maul’s life (and swiftly!) was one that I commend the writers for. I know some people complained that they wanted a long, drawn-out duel but honestly that would have been sheer fanservice. Maul was a shattered individual, left a husk by the dark side and I think on some level he wanted to die at the hands of someone who would show him respect. It makes sense on a deeper level too. Maul is what you would call a shadow archetype to Kenobi. Think about it, both of them were skilled warriors who lost people close to them. Both of them lost their apprentices to Sidious (one had a literal death, the other a death of personality.) Maul and Kenobi also watched a woman they loved die in front of them (Mother Talzin/Duchess Satine Kryze)

I could go on, but there’s no denying that despite their diametrically opposed moral alignments, Maul and Kenobi shared more similarities than either of them would care to admit. The key difference is that Kenobi never hated Maul and actually pitied him. One final symbolic gesture from their last meeting is how Kenobi held Maul as he died. It’s near-identical to the way he cradled Qui-Gon at the end of The Phantom Menace.

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Kenobi holds a passing Maul | Star Wars Rebels

“Tell me… is it the Chosen One?”

“He is.”

“He will avenge us…”

As Maul died, I found myself getting misty-eyed. It was at that moment that I stopped and said to myself, “did I really feel sadness over this monster’s death?” The answer to that is yes. Like Kenobi, I felt sympathy for this once-butcher of a Sith Lord. But isn’t that the mark of good writing and character development? The best bad guys aren’t the mustache-twirling, evil for the sake of evil villains, but the ones whose motivations are at least somewhat relatable or sympathetic.

So with Maul’s arc finally done, I just want to say thank you to a few people. Thank you to Dave, George, and the Clone Wars (eventual Rebels) team for bringing this once-wasted character back from the brink of death. I also want to give a huge thank you to the ever-talented Sam Witwer for providing the deliciously evil (and often broken) Maul with his voice. You also do such a fantastic Palpatine and I hope you get many more Star Wars VA gigs.

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Anyway, thank you for reading! I apologize for the huge delay in posting another entry here (June?!) Life has been so busy and I really needed the break in writing to get my motivation back.

May the Force be with you!

 

 

 

Clones: The Forgotten Victims

Clones: The Forgotten Victims

Spoilers, always.

“Clones can think creatively. You will find that they are immensely superior to droids.” – Lama Su

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Clone Troopers | Attack of the Clones

Today I’d like to talk about the clones that comprised the majority of the Grand Army of the Republic. I certainly know how to pick unpopular topics, don’t I? Regardless, I implore you to continue reading. There is much to discuss here.

I understand why people didn’t like the idea of a clone army in the prequels. Really, it was hard to care if nameless face #500 died while fighting generic droid #501. Add in the uncanny valley effect of CGI troops and you can easily see why these guys weren’t very well-received by moviegoers.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but The Clone Wars really fixes or supplements a lot of the deficiencies in the prequel trilogy. One thing the show excelled at was giving the clones humanizing traits like nicknames, unique personalities (major props to voice actor Dee Bradley Baker for this!), or helmets emblazoned with kill counts. Another aspect of the show that I really enjoyed was how it depicted specific Jedi like Yoda, Plo Koon, Anakin, and Obi-Wan valuing and trusting their troops (disregarding Pong Krell, of course.) These Jedi Generals often encouraged individuality and allowed them to think creatively in combat.

Regardless of the character development, the clones’ ultimate purpose was a foregone conclusion. Anyone who’d seen Revenge of the Sith knew that they would someday murder the very Jedi they’d served with in cold blood. Absolutely heinous, right? Well, I’m going to suggest something rather different. I’d like to posit that the clone troopers were just as much victims of Palpatine’s schemes as the Jedi Order was. I’ll elaborate below.

Purge

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Caleb Dume (later Kanan Jarrus) and Depa Billaba | Kanan: The Last Padawan (Marvel)

“It was at the end, the end of the war. Our fellow soldiers, the clones, the ones we Jedi fought side by side with suddenly turned and betrayed us. I watched them kill my Master! She fought beside them for years and they gunned her down in a second! Then they came for me. Later, they said they had chips in their heads that made them do it, that they had no choice.” –Kanan Jarrus

I can’t fault anyone who’s seen Episode III for assuming that the clones were merely Manchurian Agents–trained soldiers set off by a trigger word or secret command. However, the truth is far more sinister. One of the last story arcs in The Clone Wars introduced the concept of an inhibitor chip installed in the brains of every clone embryo produced on Kamino. A clone trooper dubbed “Tup” had his chip prematurely activate in the middle of a battle and he immediately murdered the Jedi General Tiplar. Though the Jedi nearly discovered and unraveled Sidious’ entire plot then and there, it was covered up through the murder of another Clone, Fives. The Kaminoans then spun the story so that the chips were responsible for repressing Jango Fett’s violent nature in each of the clones.

So what are the moral ramifications for these inhibitor chips? Well, these nasty things overrode the will of sentient beings en masse. I would say that makes the clones just as much victims of Order 66 as the Jedi they murdered. Think of it this way–you’ve served with someone for years in a galaxy-wide conflict. One day, you awaken from a daze and discover that not only did you kill someone you respected and cared about, but you can’t really remember doing it. Dave Filoni has mentioned that those who did remember fell into deep depression (or worse.) To make matters worse, because of their rapid aging, the Empire soon decommissioned clones without pay for their service in the Clone Wars and forced them into manual labor. How’s that for gratitude?

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Clones Grey and Styles | Kanan: The Last Padawan (Marvel)

A New Beginning

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Clones Rex, Gregor, and Wolffe | Star Wars Rebels

“I didn’t betray my Jedi. [indicates scar on temple] Wolffe, Gregor, and I all removed our control chips. We all had a choice.” –CT-7567 “Rex”

I still remember the fervor the fandom expressed when Dave revealed the return of Rex in Rebels. Who would have thought that a clone could produce such a passionate response from fans? That is the power of good writing and character development. I was thrilled too and it’s easy to see why this character is so beloved. He’s brave, loyal, and a good friend of another returned favorite–Ahsoka Tano.

Of course, not everyone was thrilled to see the return of clone troopers. Kanan still bore a lot of the childhood trauma of seeing his master gunned down. Rex and his group had removed their chips and had not participated in the Jedi slaughter, but Kanan still had prejudices to work past. I think a lot of the fun of Season 2 was seeing Rex and Kanan work past their differences and Kanan’s abiity to finally forgive the clones.

I really hope to see more of the clones in the upcoming third season of Rebels. It would be even more awesome to see additional disaffected clones defect to the Rebellion like Rex ded. I’d love to learn what happened to Kenobi’s clone, Cody, for instance. A man can dream, can’t he?

Oh! Fun fact for the day. There is exactly one known clone still alive during the time of The Force Awakens. Clone trooper 6116 “Kix” was one of the clones to discover the awful truth behind the inhibitor chips. However, Dooku had this clone kidnapped so that he couldn’t tell anyone the truth about Sidious’ plot. A Republic force attacked the ship Kix was held on before it could reach Dooku. The ship’s droid jumped to a random point in hyperspace and the ship ended up on a desert planet called Ponemah where Kix would remain frozen for 50 years.

Decades later, a pirate named Sidon Ithano was looking for Count Dooku’s treasure (rumored to be stolen kyber crystals) and found the frozen clone trooper. Upon awakening, Kix demanded that he speak to General Anakin Skywalker regarding what he had learned. Whoops. With the Republic and the Clone wars long over, Kix decided to join Sidon and his crew in exchange for information on lost Republic bases.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Rebels Finale: Thoughts

Warning: Spoilers ahead

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“Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him.”
Then I will avenge his death.”

I know, I know. The Season 2 finale for Rebels premiered weeks ago  (March 30th, to be exact.) I am woefully behind in writing about it. That said, I just watched it a second time with my wife and I’m ready to share my thoughts on the things I found noteworthy.

Ahsoka and Vader

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“I won’t leave you! Not this time.

I’ll dive right into the best part of this finale—this gal. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a character go from loathed to almost universally beloved by a fandom like Ahsoka has. Who would have guessed that Anakin’s bratty Padawan teenager would grow up into one of the most confident and powerful Force-users in the series?

Anyway, her reunion with Vader was as emotionally charged as I thought it would be. We kind of knew her efforts to reach her old master were doomed since Luke was ultimately the one to redeem him. Still, it was amazing to see her duel her former mentor.

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“Then you will die.”

Props to the writing team for mixing James Earl Jones’ voice with Matt Lanter’s after she cut part of his helmet away. Equal parts chilling and sad. Also, backing up a bit in the episode, what a badass entrance for our favorite Sith Lord.

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Maul

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“You seek knowledge. Call me Old Master.”

You’d think I would be sick of this guy by now, but Sam Witwer always manages to do such a brilliant job voicing this character. Maul plays a darker, seemingly helpless version of Yoda upon first encountering the young and impressionable Ezra Bridger.

Of course, we all knew it was a ruse. Maul has never forgotten his betrayal at the hands of Sidious. To him, the Jedi on Malachor were nothing but tools (or a potential apprentice in Ezra) in his quest for revenge. I’m curious to see what else the writers have in store for the ever-resilient Dathomiri renegade.

Kanan

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“Kanan, your eyes!”
“Let’s worry about that later. We’ve got to get that holocron out of here.”

Maul burning out one of my favorite character’s eyes with his lightsaber—let’s just say I never saw that coming. It’s sad, but I don’t see it crippling our newly-knighted Jedi one bit. Remember what Obi-Wan said? “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.”

Coincidentally enough, this isn’t the first time a character voiced by Witwer has burned out the eyes of a Jedi. In the now Legends game The Force Unleashed, Vader’s apprentice Starkiller blinded Master Rahm Kota. The similarities between Kanan and Rahm have not gone unnoticed.

Let’s also not forget that in Legends there was a whole species (Miraluka) of blind Force-sensitives. If ever there was a time to recanonize them, it’s now.

Final notes

– The ancient battle between Jedi and Sith on Malachor is something I’m very curious to learn more about.

– Ezra picking up an ancient crossguard lightsaber from the battlefield was a neat touch. Kylo Ren supposedly got his design from the Scourge of Malachor.

– Not a huge fan of the ambiguity surrounding Ahsoka’s fate, but hopefully she’ll get her due later. Filoni has said that her time on Rebels is over.

– I’m totally on board with Ashley Eckstein’s statement regarding the coloring of that Convor bird. It’s similar to Daughter (embodiment of the light side of the Force) from The Clone Wars. I’ve seen people say that Ahsoka is grey since departing the Order, but that’s not true at all. It was the Jedi who forsook the light they were supposed to serve, not her.

– Ezra opened a Sith holocron. That can’t be good.

Anyway, thanks for reading. It was a phenomenal season and I can’t wait to see what the team has in store for us in the third season later this year.

May the Force be with you!

Year Three (Part Two)

Spoilers, natch

 

Hello again!

As I mentioned last week, I felt that my post was getting a bit long-winded. I made the decision to cut this topic in half and save the second part for today. Don’t want my readers getting overwhelmed, right?

In the previous session, I discussed the aspects of the new canon (established April 2014) that I liked best. Today, I’d like to discuss brand new characters that have caught my fancy.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the list.


Rae Sloane 

Appearances: A New Dawn (first appearance), Aftermath, various Insider short stories


“I’m Admiral Rae Sloane. You are under arrest for conspiring against the Galactic Empire, long may it reign.”

I never liked the idea that the Empire didn’t employ women in its ranks. I know the Legends EU solidified this fact by stating the Empire was misogynistic as well as xenophobic, but honestly it struck me as being more along the lines “for the evulz” than anything else. When a woman did appear in the old Legends Empire, it was probably because she slept her way up to that position—as was the case with the erratically-written character Natasi Daala.

Thankfully, the reboot has done us all a favor by introducing female stormtroopers and Imperial officers. Sure, the racism and genocide against non-humans is still there (yay?), but it’s nice to see a bit of diversity with our antagonists.

Anyway, on to the character herself. Sloane was first introduced in A New Dawn as the temporary captain of the Star Destroyer Ultimatum. Her mission was to escort Count Denetrius Vidian to the planet Gorse for his thorilide mining assignment. Captain Sloane made enough of an impression to be put in permanent command of the vessel by the end of the story. Come The Battle of  Endor, she’d been promoted to the rank of Admiral and commanded the Star Destroyer Vigilance. Finally, in Aftermath, she was one of the individuals in the secret Imperial meeting on Akiva following the Empire’s defeat at Endor. Here, she was revealed to be in league with a mysterious Fleet Admiral in the Unknown Regions (probably signifying the beginning of the First Order).

Why I like her:

In a sea of cliché, mustache-twirling male Moffs and Imperial officers, Rae stands out because of her personality and code of honor. She serves a Sith-created, corrupt regime, but that doesn’t automatically make her an evil person.

While Sloane is very much a professional, no-nonsense individual, she is shown to care for the officers under her command. However, she doesn’t let her feelings get in the way of her service. Even if she is occasionally horrified by the unsavory acts her compatriots  commit, her duty to the Empire always comes first.

Kanan Jarrus (Caleb Dume) 

Appearances: A New Dawn (first appearance), Star Wars Rebels, Kanan: The Last Padawan (comic)

 

“… It’s true. I’m not sure of my decision to train Ezra. Not because of him or his abilities… because of me, because of who I am.”

During the last days of the Republic, Caleb Dume was just your average Jedi youngster pining for a Master to choose them as their padawan. Eventually he was paired with the enigmatic, coma-awakened Depa Billaba (they made a Force connection while she was in her bacta tank.)

Everything was going great for our young padawan. He had a Master to teach him, he finally got to fight in the Clone Wars like he wanted, and he had a little-brother-style friendship going on with the clones in his unit. What could possibly go wrong?

Well… those nasty clone brain chips activated at the worst possible moment (thanks, Sheev.) Billaba gave her life defending Caleb from their clone unit and he was forced to learn how to survive on his own as a 14-year-old fugitive bereft of the Order he grew up in.

Taking the name Kanan Jarrus to hide his Jedi past, he took on many unsavory jobs in an effort to keep himself out of the eyes of the Empire. Little did he know, a chance meeting with a certain twi’lek pilot named Hera would change his life forever.

Why I like him:

I’ll be honest; when I was first introduced to Kanan in A New Dawn, I thought he was kind of a jerk. He was constantly punching people who annoyed him and he only seemed to care about getting paid. However, having been introduced to his backstory in the comics, I now see why he was the way he was in the novel. Watching your beloved parental figure get gunned down in front of you will leave some nasty psychological scars.

Since Kanan has embraced his Jedi heritage once again and aligned himself with a rebel cell, he’s certainly begun to show his more caring side. Despite his feelings of inadequacy while training Ezra, he is very much Team Dad to Hera’s Team Mom — the glue that keeps the Ghost crew together. Freddie Prinze Jr has done a great job voicing him in Rebels and Kanan’s snarky humor is a welcome addition to the show.

Oh, bonus points for looking like a samurai.
Ezra Bridger
Appearances: Ezra’s Gamble (first appearance), Star Wars Rebels, various YA novels.

 

 “I was just doing the same thing you were, stealing to survive.”

A young orphan on the Outer Rim world Lothal, Ezra perhaps shares a few parallels with another Disney street rat. Ezra is initially depicted as a young thief who steals from the Empire to ensure his own survival. Kanan takes note of Ezra’s uncanny agility and informs the boy of his latent Force-sensitivity.

Why I like him:

When Ezra was first announced, his character and design got a lot of flak from the fandom. His blue hair, his energy slingshot, and the soreness over the cancellation of The Clone Wars TV show made for a bad combination. There was also the possibility that this “Aladdin-clone” would be a bratty kid and ruin any chance of the show being serious when it needed to be.

Thankfully, like a real person, Ezra has continued to mature. Ezra has gone from a self-centered survivor to a vital member of the Ghost crew. He is compassionate and brave, but he is not without his flaws. Like any teenager, he is often stubborn and takes unnecessary risks (much to Kanan’s chagrin.)

Intriguingly, it’s been hinted that Ezra’s Force potential may be eclipsing Kanan’s. He had his first brush with the dark side in season 1 and the new trailer hints at further danger for the character. Very excited to see what happens!

Doctor Aphra

Appearances: Star Wars: Darth Vader (comic)


“Thank you, Mr. Lord Vader. Sir? Your majesty? Your illustriousness? Honestly, no idea. I’m a rogue archaeologist, not a protocol droid.”

Archaeologist and droid expert Doctor Aphra is one of Vader’s personal agents during the Galactic Civil War. One of the Marvel comics’ more quirky characters, she quickly proved herself to be one of the Sith Lord’s most useful and loyal assets.

Why I like her:

Remember I said she was quirky? I don’t think that even begins to describe her. Aphra is a perky, upbeat woman who idolizes Vader and likes to reactive homicidal droids. She’s well aware of the fact that Vader will put her down when he has no further use for her (“If I get a choice, the lightsaber right through the neck.”) but she does her job anyway.

Oh and props for owning Triple-zero, the most polite and sadistic protocol droid to ever exist.

“I’m 0-0-0 or Triple-Zero, if you prefer. I’m a protocol droid, specialized in etiquette, customs, translation and torture, ma’am.”

 


Ciena Ree/Thane Kyrell

Appearances: Lost Stars

 

(Note: these are not the official character portraits. However, author Claudia Gray mentioned she had Gugu Mbatha-raw and Sam Reid in mind when she wrote them.)

Thane and Ciena were two kids that hailed from the Outer Rim world Jelucan. Thane was from an upper-class family and Ciena came from more homely origins. Their world was never of any significance to galactic events during the Republic until the fateful day the Empire came.

Long story short, the two youngsters enroll as imperial cadets and experience the Imperial military firsthand. Of course, knowing how corrupt the Empire is, these experiences change the two dramatically.

Ciena stays out of a strong sense of honor and Thane defects to the Alliance to Restore the Republic (Rebellion). Problem is, they’re both still very much in love with each other and on opposite sides of the war.

Why I liked them:

Because of its YA label, I wouldn’t blame someone for assuming Lost Stars is Twilight in a galaxy far, far away. It is very much not. Thane and Ciena are believable characters with a lot to like.

I think my favorite part of the novel was seeing how the two justify or condemn the actions of the Empire they served. Alderaan is an especially polarizing point for the two.

I won’t spoil the events of the novel because it really is a lot of fun. Check this one out! Oh, and fun tidbit: the derelict Star Destroyer (the Inflictor) on Jakku in TFA belonged to Ciena at one point.
That’s it for today. Turns out I still went on a bit longer than I thought I would. Wanted to mention a few extra characters I liked, but I’ll give them honorable mention below instead.
Hera and Sabine (Rebels), Mister Bones (Aftermath), Evaan Verlaine (Princess Leia)

Year Three (Part One)

Warning: possible spoilers

“And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of Star Wars storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away…”

– April 2014 announcement, StarWars.com

(Big thank you to Comics Alliance for that canon timeline.)

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope all is well. I apologize for the scarcity of my posts. Life gets busy and sometimes I *gasp* run out of Star Wars topics to write about.

Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on the new canon since we’re almost three years in. I’ll touch on the parts I like best. Since this topic will be broad and because my older posts tended to go on and on without reprieve, I’ll split this post in twain and cover the second half another day.

Cohesion 

As much as I adored the Legends stories I read as a kid/young adult and as much as I respected Leland Chee for keeping the old continuity in order as much as he did,  there is no denying that certain authors may have taken a bit too much liberty with their stories.

For example, Karen Traviss randomly gave mandalorians a godlike superiority over Jedi and Sith. Additionally, she killed off Mara Jade (in a very anticlimactic manner) without informing Zahn which never sat well with me. We also had some early installment weirdness like the interdimensional creature Waru or Jedi being able to pass their spirits into computers. Yeah…

As I said in my earlier Legends post, I’ve seen people say the new canon plays it too much on the safe side. That’s a fair criticism, I suppose. I see it more as a boon, though. I think that the Lucasfilm Story Group exercising more creative control will be beneficial for the universe in terms of consistency.

Will there be occasional continuity errors in the new canon? Of course. The SG and authors are only human. But hopefully we won’t get into a situations like Legends where the first Death Star plans are stolen by a number of different characters in different stories  by different authors. (That plot point will be addressed in current canon by Rogue One later this year.)

Interestingly, I feel that the “safe” approach has also added a bit of mysticism back to the Force. Many of the new stories do not focus on the original power trio and instead put normal, non-Force-sensitive people into the spotlight. So, when Luke, Jedi lore, or the Force do appear, they’re much more special occurrences. This is a stark contrast to Legends stories starting with NJO where Jedi and Force powers were found on nearly every page.

The reboot also had the added benefit of eliminating the convoluted canon tier system (G,T,C,S,N). Everything released now is just as gospel as the films according to Lucasfilm.

Rebels 

 

“Stand up together, because that’s when we’re strongest. As one.” 

Ezra Bridger

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Clone Wars fan. When it was first announced that TCW was being cancelled and a new animated series was taking its place, I was a little skeptical that it could match its predecessor. I was wrong.

Despite Rebels having a smaller budget, it still has Dave Filoni at the helm and it is a true spiritual successor to The Clone Wars. The art style may seem simplistic, but it’s inspired by the designs of the legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie. While the show is aimed at a general audience, it is not afraid to delve into darker territory when it needs to. It also has a habit of recanonizing Legends content which is awesome.

Interdictor ships say hello.


All your hyperspace are belong to us.

Marvel

 

Marvel (now a property of Disney) used to publish comics for Star Wars way back in the 70’s. When they reacquired the license from Dark Horse to begin publishing Star Wars comics, there was some, shall we say, unhappiness within the fandom. DH had been publishing comics for the franchise since the early 90s and as with all changes, some people are bound to be upset.

That being said Marvel has (imho) been absolutely slaying it. Since January 2015, they’ve started eight different comic series (most of them limited runs, some ongoing) with more on the way.

Now, I can’t say that every single issue released has been stellar. However, the artwork and writing have been almost consistently top-notch, unlike many of the Legends DH comics which varied wildly in quality. These Marvel comics feel like genuine Star Wars stories and it’s clear that they understand how special this universe is.

The Star Wars 2015 and Darth Vader comics in particular are notable for finally giving us this piece of information.


That’s right, they were allowed to depict the moment where Vader discovers he has a son. The following flashback scenes are especially awesome but I won’t spoil them for you.

My personal favorites are Shattered Empire, Obi-wan and Anakin, Lando, Darth Vader, and Star Wars 2015-. These stories have been an absolute joy to read and I’m excited to see what 2016 brings for the GFFA.


Novels

 

Unlike the comic universe which changed publishers, Del Rey continues to publish Star Wars novels like it did with the old EU. However, DR is joined by Disney-Lucasfilm Press which also publishes books like Lost Stars. 

So far, I’ve enjoyed the new books. While they haven’t been quite as fun as the TV series or the comics, the majority of them have been entertaining enough (remember what I said about playing it safe?) Fortunately, even the weakest novels in the new canon like Heir to the Jedi are nowhere near as miserable as, say, Crucible. (I’m sorry. I know I pick on that one a lot, but it was just so bad.)

My favorite book so far is the aforementioned Lost Stars, which might seem odd considering it’s classified as YA romance. Don’t let that fool you. Claudia Gray is an excellent writer and her first entry into the SW universe is absolutely worth reading.

Coming in second is the ever-controversial Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. Even if you’re initially put off by the writing style (third person, present tense), I urge you to give it a fair chance. I particularly enjoyed the references to TCW and Rebels. 

Dark Disciple takes its place as my third favorite novel. Adapted from several unfinished Clone Wars episodes, Christie Golden managed to make me feel like I was actually watching the show itself. Plus, it stars Asajj Ventress who became one of my favorite characters throughout the show’s run.

A New Dawn is another favorite of mine. Not only is its name fitting (first books in the new continuity), it offers a look at Kanan and Hera’s early years. It’s a good starting point for the Rebels series.

I’ve also heard that Twilight Company is good and it’s been sitting on my shelf since Christmas, but I haven’t had time to start it. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to reading it.

Finally, the reference books such as Ultimate Star Wars and TFA: Visual Guide are still as top-notch as they’ve ever been. A lot of Legends stuff gets recanonized there.



That’s it for today. I apologize if this entry was a little more vague and unfocused than usual. In part two, I’ll focus on the characters in the new canon that have really resonated with me.

There’s always a bit of truth in legends.” –Ahsoka Tano


Fading Light

Caution: spoilers for The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Tarkin ahead. 
“And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become: an army fighting for the dark side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear.” –Barriss Offee 

The Jedi Order. Peacekeepers and guardians of the Old Republic. For many generations, this monastic group stood as a bastion of hope for myriad sentients throughout the galaxy. However, this time of relative peace and justice was not to last.

In today’s entry, I’d like to discuss the fall of the Jedi Order and the various factors that led to its destruction by the Sith. I’ll try to go into as much depth as possible (hopefully) without scaring off or confusing newer fans.

Reason #1: Sheev Palpatine (Darth Sidious)


There’s no getting around this. Palpatine is pretty much the reason for (nearly) all of the following causes of the Order’s annihilation. Darth Sidious’s existence was the culmination of hundreds of years of Sith planning and it was because of his machinations that he was finally able to take revenge on the Jedi.

The Legends novel Darth Plagueis is no longer considered canon, but it is still an excellent read that shows how the Sith pulled the strings that led to the fall of the Republic and the Jedi. (Note: The canon novel Tarkin by the same author mentions some concepts from the Plagueis novel meaning that at least some of the story is still canon.)

Reason #2: War


Palpatine was smart. He knew the Jedi had been in power for centuries and that the Sith (because of Darth Bane’s Rule of Two) were outnumbered. They would lose badly in open confrontation against ten thousand Jedi. So he set up a Morton’s Fork for them in the shape of a galaxy-spanning war.

The Jedi were presented with two unfavorable choices: A: The Jedi do not get involved in the Clone Wars and let the Republic deal with it. Unfavorable outcome: Millions of innocents die and the public accuses them of not protecting the citizens of the Republic.  B: The Jedi join the war against the Separatists, trading their status as peacekeepers for the mantle of military leadership. Unfavorable outcome: The public grows tired of the extended war and loses faith in the Jedi. Some even accuse the Order of being warmongers.

Ultimately the Jedi chose option B, and sure enough, the public (as seen in TCW) began to distrust the Jedi. In choosing to involve themselves in warfare, the Jedi lost the support of the people who once adored them. Rumors of Jedi corruption began to spread. Palpatine fanned the flames of distrust and more Jedi continued to die in battle.

As death and political corruption began to seep into the fabric of the Republic, the dark side of the Force strengthened.

Reason #3: Jedi repression 


This point is a little more difficult to flesh out because I don’t want to stereotype an entire group made up of different individuals and species (who might have different ideas or beliefs.) Instead I think it’s wiser to turn to the Jedi Council and its teachings for this particular failing.

The Jedi Code forbade attachment. While I understand why they believed it was dangerous (love and passion can lead to other emotions like hatred or anger if not tempered by wisdom), forbidding Jedi from all emotional attachments seems like a very knee-jerk way to prevent your members from falling to the dark side.

One of my favorite quotes about Jedi relationships comes from the Legends video game Knights of the Old Republic: 

“Love doesn’t lead to the dark side. Passion can lead to rage and fear, and can be controlled… but passion is not the same thing as love. Controlling your passions while being in love… that’s what they should teach you to beware. But love itself will save you… not condemn you.” 

Jolee Bindo fell a bit more on the “grey” side of the Jedi moral spectrum, but he was absolutely right. You can’t make human (or any sentient) emotions disappear by endlessly reciting the mantra “there is no emotion. There is peace.”

We don’t have to look much further than Anakin’s example to see how this particular Jedi fallacy worked out.

Reason #4: Jedi arrogance



(I know I warned you about spoilers before, but if you have not seen the fifth season of The Clone Wars, do not read the following segment.)

Do you see those faces? The ones that punch me in the feels every time? The ones that spell “the Jedi Order failed us in a huge way?” This scene proved to me once and for all that an animated work could be just as powerful as a live-action work.

The final three episodes of TCW season five show Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, framed for a crime she did not commit (bombing the Jedi Temple.) The Council refused to believe her, stripped her of her title and military rank, and turned her over to the Republic courts to be tried. If not for Anakin discovering the identity of the one truly responsible (Ahsoka’s friend Barriss Offee) she would have been executed.

Despite committing terrorist acts, Barriss falls squarely into the trope “extremist was right” in her confession speech. Here’s the full quote:

“I did it. Because I’ve come to realize what many people in the Republic have come to realize. That the Jedi are the ones responsible for this War. That we’ve so lost our way that we have become villains in this conflict. That we are the ones that should be put on trial, all of us! And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become. An army fighting for the Dark Side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear. This Republic is failing! It’s only a matter of time.”

That speech still gives me chills when I hear it. It even touched a nerve with Palpatine judging by his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction. She did horrible things and turned to the dark side, but it didn’t change the fact that she was right! 

Afterward, the Council’s apologies to Ahsoka were hollow at best (e.g.”The Force works in mysterious ways. You passed your trials and can become a Knight.”) She rightly refused to return and left the Order, shattering her Master’s faith in the Council forever.

Ironically, this decision saved her life when Order 66 was initiated, but I can’t help but wonder if she’ll blame herself for Anakin’s fall during their inevitable Rebels reunion. Another topic for another post.

Reason #5: Jedi complacency 

The Jedi hadn’t fought a Sith Lord for approximately one thousand years. They wrongly believed their enemies to be extinct and as such, were not truly prepared for their resurgence.

Reason #6: Jedi Temple location 

Another short point. In Tarkin, it’s revealed that the Jedi Temple was erected over the site of an ancient Sith shrine. The Jedi (wrongly) assumed that they’d neutralized this location, but its dark energies continued to seep into the Order, weakening them further.

When the Emperor transformed the Temple into his own Imperial Palace, he often retreated to this shrine to meditate and ponder the nature of the dark side.

Conclusion: There’s absolutely no way I can cover every reason the Order fell, but it did and the repercussions for the galaxy were huge. The Empire expanded unchecked, crime lords exploited innocents, and it was a dangerous time to be born a Force-sensitive.

As we’ve seen in the trailer for Rebels S2, Imperial Inquisitors would descend upon anyone found to have this gift regardless of age. If these “children of the Force” could not be recruited, the Inquisitor’s job was to exterminate them before they could become a threat to the Emperor.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.

If you ever have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!


“Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.” –The Wrong Jedi Episode moral