The Bantha in the Fridge: Our Reactions to Heir to the Jedi and You-Know-What

nakariIf you’re new-ish to Eleven-ThirtyEight, this may be your first exposure to Aggressive Negotiations, our occasional chat-session format. Aggressive Negotiations are just that; fast-paced, live discussions among members of the ETE staff (and others), often focused on hot-button topics like the earliest previews of Star Wars Rebels or Dark Horse Comics losing the Star Wars license. This time around the gang got together to dish on Heir to the Jedi, in particular the big spoiler at the end of the book—so consider this your warning on that score. Remember, this format is about fandom at its most raw; no censorship, no second-guessing, and a bare minimum of copy-editing. Cheers! – Mike

*     *     *     *     *

Jay: hello folks

Lisa: hey

Jay: I can’t stay too long, so hopefully Ben arrives shortly

Lisa: he’s got 10 minutes

Lisa: :p

Jay: yeah

David: here i am as well

David: all fresh and clean

Lisa: so fresh and so clean

Lisa: Did you like the book?

Lisa: I think we need Ben cuz I’m pretty sure he hated it

Jay: eh. It was a real struggle to even read it

Lisa: really? That’s interesting

David: I actually hated it, so I might fill that role :p

Lisa: perfect

David: I thought a couple of things worked against it

David: first, without any doubt, the obvious rewrites to make it fit the new timeline

David: and second, the choice of Luke as a first person POV

Lisa: yeah Luke as a first person POV was the weakest part of the book imo

Ben: For me, neither of those things really affected it much.

David: Luke is (let’s face it) kind of a blank slate, especially at this point

Jay: I did have to laugh at the very blatant “jogan fruit” insert that was put in there

Lisa: there were cutesy things with it but I can see how people wouldn’t like that

Jay: “ok, now we can check off our Rebels reference”

Ben: Oh, there was one?

David: he’s not very complex, so that the audience can identify with him… and that doesn’t make a good lead in a first person novel

David: yeah, the cute parts were annoying, but eh. we’ve seen worse, hahaha

David: yeah, Ben, the jogan fruit is from Rebels

Lisa: lol see I liked the cute parts :p

Jay: I think the problem is that Hearne as a narrator clearly likes the setting and has creative/descriptive skills that would make him write passages that I can’t see coming out of Luke’s head

Jay: yeah, I’m with Lisa on the cute parts. Those were the few things I actually liked.

Jay: I can see that happening.

David: that too. the prions reference had me blinking very fast. totally took me out of the story.

David: I liked the equations in the chapter titles :p

Ben: Those were a nice touch.

David: and I thought the detour to what I’ve called Planet of the Drop Bears was… a puzzling narrative choice

Jay: Yeah, the brain eating slug part was what took me out of the book

Lisa: Schwarz – the Planet of the Invisible Drop Bears

Jay: it took me like weeks to get back into reading it because it seemed so pointless and unnecessary

Jay: the Givin stuff afterward was much more interesting, shame it took like the whole book to get to it

David: yeah, I mean, it gets referenced later on but… still totally unnecessary

Lisa: yeah it was like the filler part was unnecessary

Lisa: I completely agree on that

David: and I have to say the “foiled the plan” joke made me cry in anger and confussion

Ben: That one didn’t work for me either.

Lisa: I adored that part. OMG the cheese!

David: so I’d say I disliked the book enough that I’m not going to bother with the Iron Druid novels.

Ben: Let’s be honest: Any urban fantasy series now, for me, has to match or beat Dresden Files. Those are uphill odds at best.

Jay: that was a very culturally specific math joke too.

David: I don’t mind cheese, usually. I mean, i’m okay with Droopy McCool or Elan Sleazabaggano. it’s what makes Star Wars what it is

David: it’s pulp novels, Golden and Silver Age comics, and 1940s serials all thrown together

David: so yeah, it kind of HAS TO be corny

Lisa: See and I get more upset about things like ‘bathroom’ over ‘refresher’

David: but the f.o.i.l. joke… just didn’t hit home :p

David: i rarely notice those

Lisa: Maybe because I teach the f.o.i.l. method, idk I felt like that joke was just for me

David: i teach the foil method too, hahaha

Lisa: dude! Then how can you not like that?!?!

David: i don’t know! it was just too bad of a joke!

Lisa: Ok so Luke’s romance

David: the saving grace is that I think it was supposed to be a bad joke

David: given Luke’s reaction

David: ah yes

David: the bantha in the room

Jay: heh

David: the bantha in the unit, actually, i think… dammit, forget it

Ben: Surely the bantha in the fridge?

Jay: Nakari was an interesting character, and I feel the romance was a little rushed at times… probably because Hearne knew where it was going

Jay: so it’s just extra unfortunate they went that way

David: sometimes she felt a bit too perfect, but that’s something that could easily be justified through the first person view

David: not too perfect a person, too perfect a paramour

David: and yes, they were suddenly dating. they are 19 years old, not 12 :p

Jay: to be fair, Luke grew up on a desert

farmboyDavid: good point

David: so did she

Lisa: I don’t mind the rushed part and poof they’re dating because Luke is so naive and has no idea what’s really going on

Jay: and we don’t have a “Luke Skywalker, the early days” story yet (probably because it would be boring)

David: I think it’s safe to assume we all hated the fridging of Nakari

Lisa: I didn’t hate it

David: oh really?

Lisa: yup. I thought it needed to happen

Jay: …because of what it prompted him to do?

David: i… actually think it was probably less awful before the rewrites

Lisa: and it completely made sense because they were so outnumbered. We have to remember Luke is completely untrained as a Jedi at this point.

Jay: the problem was never that it was implausible though

Jay: it’s just classic fridging — she dies in order to enable Luke’s growth

David: i’m assuming that this novel was originally going to be set soon before ESB, like the rest of the Empire and Rebellion series, and it was moved around after the reboot, probably because of Luke learning TK clashing with the Marvel comic

David: hence the TIE Interceptors, references to Interdictors being phased out…

Jay: and I guess my big disappointment with it is that it is so common and so typical that the second she and Luke started clicking I already suspected her life was going to be measured in terms of pages

Lisa: It isn’t common in the Star Wars universe though. How many love interests did Luke go through in the past? They usually don’t die

Ben: Not so sure about that, Darth Denning and his collaborators did for quite a few of them!

David: and I’m also assuming that part of that “backdating” included the scene where Luke cries for the first time and finally accepts the losses of Uncle Ben, I mean, Uncle Owen, Beru, etc

David: and it’s that scene what turns Nakari’s death into a real “fridging”, even if that wasn’t the original intent

Lisa: I guess the part I like the most is that this new crew isn’t afraid to kill off characters. We got into so much trouble in the old EU with the massive cast and people need to die. This is war. Death is part of that.

David: if it had been a death like Lisa said, just to show that war is dangerous, and didn’t include that “THROUGH THIS WOMAN’S DEATH MY EMOTIONAL CHAINS ARE BROKEN” scene… I don’t think I would have been that appalled

Ben: I’m not so convinced, if you need a character to bite it to show war is dangerous then you’ve done a crappy job depicting in the story up until this point. But I’m not convinced SW is a war story anyway.

David: That’s a good point.

Jay: We don’t even have a massive cast of characters yet, and the moment they introduce one that might be interesting they kill her off. Too early for her to be developed enough for it to be impactful, so she just feels like “new character of the day”

Jay: yeah that part too I think

Lisa: But we also know that Luke still likes Leia in ESB

Jay: like, the fridging label is pretty direct here. If she was just a casualty of war (and sure, Luke feels terribly for it like Biggs etc) then fine. But this is like his first brush with the dark side.

Ben: That part of it worked well for me, the description of a yawning, hungry abyss.

Lisa: so if he was dating someone else that kiss scene would be weird

Jay: It was already weird :p

David: yes. I think that if they were willing to add jogan fruit references to make the novel fit (or to God knows how much they had to tinker with Tarkin!) they should have realized killing Luke’s girl this early in the new continuity is, at the very least, tacky

David: It will never be not weird :p

Lisa: Fine fine

David: Hahaha

Jay: but still, it’s interesting to know that the view of Nakari’s death is not as universal as I thought

Lisa: So here’s my view: If she hadn’t been a love interest and they killed her off I would be pissed. They create this strong female character and then kill her off, but because she was a love interest I am totally fine with it. There might be something wrong with me.

Jay: Maybe you’re just a Luke/Leia shipper.

Jay: Nothing wrong with that.

David: I also thought as soon as I saw them flirt “her days are countered”, and I hated that I was right. I keep expecting the NEU to avoid mistakes of the past, and so far… not a good track here

Lisa: :p not the case at all

David: hahaha that’s an interesting point of view

Jay: I hope not! :p

Jay: Anything we want to say about the Force/Jedi stuff?

Jay: I have to get going soon though.

David: I didn’t mind it at all. Nothing groundbreaking. It was okay.

Lisa: I found it a bit strange that Luke was able to find so many people willing to talk about it with him and ‘train’ him

Lisa: Maybe encourage is a better word than train

Jay: yeah good point, especially since the NEU is really running with the “most people think Jedi are fables” thing

Jay: which I kinda like.

Lisa: right

David: I liked that Luke knows and assumes that he was an illegitimate child, because Jedi don’t have children

Lisa: I also think the whole moving the noodle thing cheapens the ESB scene with Yoda

noodles

Jay: I would’ve thought that at least someone might’ve been alarmed.

David: as much as the PT bores me, I like seeing the OT and the PT being linked

Jay: yeah, I didn’t like him trying to think about the size like that.

David: yes, that was a bad choice, no doubt

Jay: Though I /guess/ Luke had to practice TK at some point to get the lightsaber moving? But I always thought he used TK on the torpedoes in ANH, anyway.

Jay: as for that PT connection, huh — I didn’t catch that

David: yes, it’s in one of his conversations with Nakari

David: I’m okay with Luke knowing TK, but I expected his knowledge of it to be more… instinctive

Jay: yeah as much as I dislike the PT, I do like the NEU having the ability to rationalize them and make them flow cleanly from the ground up

David: or, in WEG terms, he used a Force point in the Wampa cave to use a power he didn’t know :p

Jay: yeah true

Jay: “feel, don’t think — use your instincts”

Lisa: yeah Luke is the son of one of the most powerful Jedi ever. I don’t totally like that it isn’t more instinctive for him

Ben: One of the points I liked that Zahn did in Allegiance / Choices of One is the notion of how anti-rational the Force is. That it’s basically counter-intuitive and contrary to all you know.

David: (you knew the WEG reference was coming)

Jay: Luke is very cerebral about it, and it’s weird

Jay: he’s not a philosopher

David: he’s, when you think about it, kind of like Superman

Jay: it’s another thing that might’ve worked a lot better from a third person POV

Jay: yeah, he doesn’t realize he’s that much more able than everyone

Jay: he just… /does/ it

David: (one of the) the most powerful being(s) in the world, being raised by honest hard-working people

Jay: hey now, who’s to say Uncle Owen is honest

Lisa: good analogy David

Jay: maybe he has Black Sun connections

Jay: I can’t wait for the Uncle Own noir comic

David: he doesn’t look like a Falleen to me (ha! NEU joke!)

Jay: he’s a changeling

Lisa: We can at least all agree that SW is saved again because they’re writing R2 saving the day right?

David: very true. if R2 doesn’t save the day, it’s not Star Wars

Jay: I kind of liked the part with the Givin being really impressed by Artoo

Jay: despite at first being like “an astromech, really?”

David: that was cute

David: I’m still… I don’t know, surprised… by the fact that the best books in the NEU, so far and by far, have been Jason Fry’s YA novels

Jay: They need to publish the second one on kindle dammit.

Jay: I’ll buy it in print if I really have to but blargh.

David: it is not? I thought I saw a tweet saying that it had been published

Jay: when? I’ve been looking constantly.

David: last week. maybe I’m wrong…

Jay: yeah, still just seeing paperback only.

David: I don’t even have a Kindle :p

Lisa: Ooo I haven’t read those am I missing something?

Jay: yes!

Jay: they are excellent (and tie right into Rebels)

Ben: Well, if LFL actually actually gets around to releasing Rebels on Region 2 DVD, I might be interested.

Jay: also they have space football

Lisa: ok I’ll get those

Jay: and you like football, so.

David: yes, yes, and yes. they are fabtastic.

David: also, fantastic.

Jay: so in conclusion

Jay: our piece says: skip HTTJ, read Servants of the Empire

Jay: :p

Lisa: hahaha

David: you can quote me on that!

5 comments

  1. Brian says:

    The fridging of Nakari was pretty bad because, as it was pointed out in the chat, it’s such a (sadly) classic use of the fridge. She dies off-page for no other reason than to create some man-pain for Luke. We’ve been making fun of this trope for years and this comes along and is instantly one of (if not the) most blatant examples of this trope used in Star Wars in quite a long time.

    Then of course there’s the out-of-universe social context that makes it pretty gross. There aren’t a whole lot of characters of color in Star Wars, and there’s probably fewer female characters of color. To create one only to kill them at the end of the book kinda really hurts if you’re a POC reader. I’d rather you just not create the character to begin with if the end-game is just a pointless fridging that could easily be written around.

    • Mike Cooper Mike Cooper says:

      You just hit a spot where I think I do disagree with a lot of people myself—I don’t like that Nakari died, but I’d rather have an imperfect POC than not have her at all. I mean, think it through—for better or worse, it was felt by the creators that Nakari should die. With that as a given, I don’t know that I’d want their thought process to be “well, people will be upset about it, so I guess she has to be white then”. As an advocate, I’d rather be having the “how could this POC have been used better” conversation than the “where are all the POCs” conversation.

      • Brian says:

        I guess this is one of those life experiences filters things. If I could be more disassociated from that representation venn diagram, I’d probably agree with you. As I fall into the POC description, I can’t help but see a female POC get fridged so callously and not feel super hurt about it.

        If this was fifteen years ago, I might be more inclined to shrug it off. In 2015, when editors and authors do know better, it really stings.

      • Bria says:

        Mike, I’m with you actually. As a WOC, it’s nice to see writers (and artists when it comes to the comics) making visible efforts to include more POCs. I just think it’s a damn shame about Nakari. Very bittersweet.

  2. Eric J. Brown says:

    The book was just too short. And what’s sad is a great way to have expanded it a good 75 pages would have been to add a few chapters from Nakari’s 1st Person POV… that would have been fascinating — and been an opportunity to bring in some dramatic irony, things like that.

%d bloggers like this: