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“Who’s Ever Ready?” – Poe’s Leadership Development in the Sequel Trilogy

As someone who works with college students through a campus ministry, my favorite part of the job is leadership development. Every year I try to guide students to take steps forward along a leadership “pipeline”: taking risks, sticking with commitments, inviting others into a vision, being honest about past mistakes, and dealing with failure—all while doing so with a measure of humility. That’s why I’ve loved the recurring theme of leadership development in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, particularly as it relates to passing the baton to the next generation. There are many ways that we see characters grow in this trilogy, but perhaps the clearest development arc of a leader is that of Poe Dameron.

Whether it’s his risk-taking in The Force Awakens, his lessons learned the hard way in The Last Jedi, or his final maturation in The Rise of Skywalker, we see a continued path of development for Poe into a leader far beyond just another stereotypical flyboy or lone ranger. Poe’s steady growth as a Resistance leader, under the guidance of Leia and other mentors, is a stirring model for anyone looking for a clear picture of a leadership pipeline in action.

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Shadow Fall: Where Will Alexander Freed’s Starfighter Story Go From Here?

The novels of Alexander Freed focus on the trials and tribulations of frontline soldiers in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Both his original works and his novelization of Rogue One center on characters’ experiences on the periphery of main galactic events. His latest novel, Shadow Fall, Part II of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy will be released next month. This piece will take a dive into what I’m expecting from Shadow Fall based on the contents and themes of Freed’s previous novels, Twilight Company and the original Alphabet Squadron.

Alphabet Squadron, as the first novel in a planned trilogy, is a bit hampered by the need for setup; some of the things that Freed did best in Twilight Company were therefore not expressed in Alphabet Squadron. For Shadow Fall, my hope is that Freed will more fully realize his vision of the galaxy at war. The post-Operation Cinder, pre-Battle of Jakku timeline that Freed is exploring contains vast narrative possibilities. With the Empire reeling as it loses control of the galaxy, there is massive room for conflict.

In Twilight Company, Freed deftly balanced between covering events around Hoth and telling new stories. I expect Freed will continue to cover his niche of the galaxy, while also tangentially including Chandrila, Kashyyyk, and perhaps eventually Jakku. One of Freed’s major strengths is how he tells established stories from new perspectives.  Part of Twilight Company covers the fall of Echo Base from the trenches, and I would be pretty excited to see the battle of Jakku from a similar perspective. 

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Trilogy of Trilogies: Does the Skywalker Saga Tell a Cohesive Story?

With the release of The Rise of Skywalker, the Skywalker saga is (ostensibly) complete. But with nine movies arranged into three trilogies, do each of the three trilogies tell a cohesive story? And do the three trilogies tell a cohesive narrative as a whole? 

The answer to both questions is affirmative: each of the three trilogies tells its own cohesive story, and all three trilogies together do indeed form a single cohesive narrative. Get your clichés about “rhyming” out now, because an in-depth analysis of the structure of all three movies is imminent.

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I Swear It’s Good Now: Why You Should Return to Battlefront II

Is it possible to overhaul a video game so radically that it becomes almost an entirely new, better product? I think so, and I think Battlefront II proves it. After well over two years in release, Battlefront II has been revitalized with new game modes, playable characters, and skins. The wealth of new content is a shot in the arm that’s resulted in a completely changed game. 

I don’t really play a lot of online shooters. I’ve dabbled in Battlefield and Call of Duty as much as any other gamer, but I’ve never really been able to get into them. Getting good at these games requires a lot of effort and playtime. So, it was to my great relief that I discovered the new modes in Battlefront II don’t require that.

The most striking new addition is a Co-Op mode. Allowing four players to team up against waves of AI troopers, Co-Op was what attracted me to buy the game. Each Co-Op mission contains a little mini narrative, where you and your friends fight to complete a series of objectives. 

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New Hope in the High Republic: How Star Wars’ New Setting Can Speak to a New Generation

“But a frightening new adversary threatens…”

The High Republic, the upcoming series of novels and comics exploring an era two hundred years before the events of The Phantom Menace, may or may not act as the incubator of future Star Wars. But from what we know so far, it could represent a new hope for its storytelling, one that reflects our turbulent times and the fears (and idealism) of today’s young people.

Initial reaction to The High Republic has been broadly positive: it’s time to move on from the Skywalker saga, with new stories to be told. I see three reasons for hope, based on three storytelling principles that helped to make Star Wars great and which could be reflected in The High Republic. (Yes, I’m just speculating – The High Republic could go in many directions, but it’s a way of thinking about the past, present and future of Star Wars.)

Firstly, the setting. The High Republic is set in a “golden age” at the height of the Galactic Republic, protected by the Jedi Knights as guardians of peace and justice. While Star Wars’ used-future aesthetics seem to be endlessly enjoyable, there’s a deeper meaning to “setting” here, meaning context.

Crucially, this setting needs to be in crisis – it’s not Star Peace, after all. In A New Hope we were thrown into the midst of a Galactic Civil War. Even more, what propels the plot of Episode IV is that the principal characters realize they’re witnessing the final consolidation of the Empire’s power, its total domination of the galaxy, through its ultimate weapon coming online. This is what the characters need to respond to, and immediately (we’ll return to those responses later).

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