At first glance, it seems a bit ridiculous to pit the Star Wars sequels against the prequels. The easy comparison is between The Force Awakens and the original trilogy, since the former is a continuation of the latter and features many of the same characters. The prequels are basically just extended backstory while the sequels are passing the torch forward to tell something new. TFA was pretty universally loved while the prequels were…not quite as admired. Surely there’s nothing the prequels could offer in terms of advice for the sequels.
It is true that both trilogies have differing relationships to the original trilogy. For the prequels, the originals are the endpoint while for the sequels, they’re just the start. You can’t approach them the same way from a narrative and creative point of view. However, I think it’s worth looking at what the sequel trilogy as a whole could learn from the prequels. After all, both trilogies are basically reaching for the same goal: continue the story of the Skywalker family while living up to the high regard of the originals. That’s not an easy task.
And yes, I’m aware that this may seem counterproductive since pop culture at large tends to have a less than favorable view of the prequels. But there is a lot that the prequels did well, and even where the prequels didn’t succeed there’s something to be learned. When you’re making a sequel, what better way to do so than to look back at what came before to see what worked and what didn’t? And so, there’s three areas in particular where I think the Star Wars sequels would do well to take notes from the prequels.
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This article contains spoilers for Bloodline.
If you are one of the greatest heroes of a rebellion against a tyrannical empire, what would you do if you found out that one of the most evil people in that empire was your father by blood?
That is a question that haunts Leia Organa in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline. How would you deal with knowing that the person who tortured you and cold-heartedly destroyed your planet while making you watch is the same person with whom you share half your genes? Can you?
While the main plot of Bloodline is an exploration of how obsession with ideological purity causes democracy to fail, it is also about the dangers of extremism. More specifically, the dangers of a black and white worldview where people are either an ally or an enemy. It is also about the dangers of taking that “with me or against me” attitude to its extreme, where people can either do no wrong or do no right.
So again, how do you reconcile being a galactic hero who is the daughter of one of the most infamous galactic villains in recent history? When you subscribe to a worldview where there are no shades of grey and everyone is a villain or a hero with no in between, you can’t. Vader and Leia are both larger-than-life figures who are put up on these pedestals. One is demonized and the other revered and neither is really seen as a person who is as fallible as the next.
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Like the rest of Star Wars fandom, I am eagerly anticipating next week’s release of Claudia Gray’s Bloodline. And while I am excited for a Leia-centric political novel, I can’t help but think of the other Skywalker family politician: Padmé Amidala. While I have always loved Leia, as a kid I latched onto Padmé in a way I never did with her daughter. I loved Padmé because she was both someone I looked up to and someone who was relatable. Padmé was a kid who ruled a planet and foiled Sith machinations due to sheer stubbornness and quick thinking, and yet was still totally a teenage girl. She pouts when she doesn’t get her way and makes friends with funny little boys in junk shops. I was enamored.
But sadly, most of the EU apparently doesn’t share my fondness for the galaxy’s most fabulously dressed politician. For a character who makes up one third of the prequel trilogy, she doesn’t get a lot of love outside the movies (or even within the movies, if we’re being honest). But she’s intimately connected to most major players in the saga; she’s close colleagues with Palpatine (at least at first), she’s married to Anakin (and indirectly one of the reasons for his fall), and she’s mother to Luke and Leia. She’s firmly entrenched within the Skywalker family and yet this is rarely acknowledged.
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For most of season two of Star Wars Rebels, it was hard to miss the signs that things were building towards an explosive conclusion. Not only was it explosive, but the season two finale shook things up in a major way. What looks (no pun intended) to be the biggest game changer is Kanan being permanently blinded after his duel with Maul. Granted, it’s entirely possible this injury will be fixed by next season (after all, medical technology in the Star Wars universe is capable of some pretty amazing things) but I’m hoping that it stays permanent. For one, it would be especially great on the representation front to show that physical limitations don’t mean you can’t still be a hero.
But secondly, it presents the perfect opportunity for a fun nod back to the Legends timeline. If Kanan is going to learn to cope with his newfound blindness, he’s going to need help. He can manage for the time being through intense concentration in the Force, but he probably won’t be able to maintain that level of concentration 24/7. And that’s where the Miraluka come in.
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The season two finale of Rebels shook things up in a major way. Kanan has been blinded, most likely permanently. Maul has survived yet again to go cause trouble for Rebellion and Empire alike. Ezra feels the pull of the dark side more strongly than ever. And Ahsoka finally realized the truth about Anakin Skywalker. Her confrontation with him was something fans had been eagerly looking forward to since she appeared on the Ghost at the end of season one.
Which is why I am increasingly frustrated that Ahsoka’s fate has been left in limbo yet again – and apparently may not get resolved for some time. If it was simply a matter of being left on a season finale cliffhanger with the reasonable expectation that we would see her again next season, that would be one thing. But Dave Filoni’s comments seem to imply (to me anyway) that Ahsoka won’t be showing up on Rebels again any time soon. Just like at the end of season five of The Clone Wars, fans are once again left wondering what will happen to Ahsoka.
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