Last week, online Star Wars fandom went into a brief tizzy over Padmé Didn’t Die of a Broken Heart, an essay by Joseph Tavano for his blog RetroZap!. While I see things somewhat differently from Joseph, his piece stirred up enough thoughts in me that I thought a response was warranted. I’ll summarize his point briefly in the next paragraph, but as these comments stem almost entirely from that piece, I strongly recommend reading it first if you haven’t already—and maybe bookmark RetroZap! while you’re at it; who knows what he might have to say in the future.
Okay? Let’s do this. The primary assertions here are that 1) per the title, a “broken heart” had no role in Padmé’s death, 2) Palpatine used his influence over midi-chlorians to drain the life from her and into Anakin during his transformation into Darth Vader, and 3) this is “irrefutably” proven by Palpatine’s immediate knowledge of Padmé’s death, which would only have been possible if he’d orchestrated it.
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The Inquisitor. The first Star Wars Rebels character the audience ever saw teased. The new bad guy in the building. The nameless Inquisitor appears as a merciless Jedi hunter on His Imperial Majesty’s service, wielding both considerable political power and a ridiculously kickass lightsaber and getting his orders straight from Lord Vader. The Inquisitor was actually the first new character in the new Star Wars canon, at least from a certain point of view. But this formidable darksider didn’t appear out of thin air: he’s actually an updated version of a very old Expanded Universe concept, of an old Expanded Universe character, even. So, where does he really come from? The concept of an Imperial Inquisition started as a completely unrelated one-off reference that over time would slowly morph from a sort of political police into a true army of the Emperor’s dark minions, not unlike the Knights of the Sith from the early Star Wars drafts.
The Imperial Inquisitors first appeared on the old West End Games roleplaying game, like most good things with the Expanded Universe (I’m just kidding –okay, I’m not). The first time we heard anything about Inquisitors was in the pages of one of the first books to try to describe the galaxy’s minutiae, The Star Wars Sourcebook (1987), and not even in a “Powerful Darksiders of the Empire” section or anything memorable like that. No, it was under “Assassin Droid”, where we can read an apparently random anecdote about an assassin droid that crashed a shuttle against the Imperial palace of Weerden, killing someone called “Lord Torbin, the Grand Inquisitor”. This character, later given the full name of Laddinare Torbin, was indeed our first Imperial Inquisitor, but the way the sourcebooks described him didn’t have much to do with the creepy dark side enforcer of Star Wars Rebels fame. » Read more..
“I am here because you are here.” – Qui-Gon Jinn, “Overlords”
The release in March 2014 of The Clone Wars’ “Lost Missions” was seen at the time as a generous gift to the loyal but disappointed fans of the powerful and popular Star Wars serial. Abandoned story arcs would be resolved, secrets uncoiled, and, best of all, it would all be streaming on Netflix.
Almost a year later, it’s become clear that the “Lost Missions” were not just a gift to fans, but also a necessary statement at a critical time for the Star Wars universe; the prequel mysteries of the clones, Order 66, and the fate of Master Sifo-Dyas were solved. More importantly, the triumphant Yoda arc explored deeply the mythos of the Force and the secret of how some Jedi are able to maintain their identity after death. » Read more..
Bringing an established character into a show has a twofold benefit: first, and foremost, is to give the show extra publicity, but second is to shine a new light on characters from the show’s ongoing cast by having them interact with a more well-known or famous entity. In the case of Rebels, in the first season to this point, we have appearances by Darth Vader (in Spark of Rebellion’s primetime cut), C-3PO and R2-D2, Bail Organa, Luminara Unduli (of a sort), Yoda and, in this week’s episode, the one and only Lando Calrissian.
As with Frank Oz’s return to his role as Yoda, having Billy Dee Williams back to play his most memorable role is a treat. But how much is too much? How many appearances from elsewhere can Rebels sustain before it becomes more about what guest will show up next than about the characters who are ostensibly the main cast? Just how far will suspension of disbelief stretch that all of these characters we already know just happen to have run-ins with the crew of the Ghost at some point? » Read more..
Probably the main reason my friend Pearlann, she of the numerous Expanded Universe Explains questions, never really got too into the EU herself was because she agreed with George Lucas on one key point: after Return of the Jedi, she felt, the story was over. She was never quite a movie purist; she’s read Dark Lord and Kenobi, for example, and even now is eagerly awaiting Heir to the Jedi—but she never had any problem with the notion that the Empire basically collapsed after Endor and all was right with the galaxy from then on.
While Lucas’ lack on involvement in EU plotting was a major factor for many, that’s probably as close as you could’ve come to an absolute dividing line between pro- and anti-EU fans back in the old days—whether one felt there was anything left to do with the characters after Jedi. In Mike Klimo’s Star Wars Ring Theory essay, which I’ve discussed previously, he details how the six films exist not just chronologically, but as a circle—how the two trilogies both parallel and mirror each other, and the extent to which Jedi even “links up” with The Phantom Menace to create a unified body of themes that begin in one place, evolve either positively or negatively, then return to where they began.
While the essay is very convincing, one can debate just how much of this detail was completely intentional on Lucas’ part—but what can’t be debated is that viewing the films through this lens as opposed to a strictly chronological one doesn’t really lend itself to the whole “expanded universe” thing. To a ring theorist, Star Wars is not unlike a clock; removing a piece would harm the entire structure, and adding extraneous bits and bobs would, too. What was Obi-Wan doing on Tatooine for nineteen years? How did Leia get her bounty hunter disguise? What happened in that nest of gundarks? None of that is relevant, and constructing explanations for them is superfluous at best, because that information isn’t in service to the clock. » Read more..