Archive for Simple Tricks

Rebels Revisited: The Natural Conclusion

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The common parlance (taken, of course, from a line the first film and applied liberally by fans) for the period between the fall of the Republic in Revenge of the Sith and the rise of the Rebellion in A New Hope is “the dark times”. This is when the Empire is at its zenith, with the Jedi long dead and any other opposing forces deep underground to avoid being summarily crushed. For many, especially when Star Wars Rebels was first announced, having a kid-friendly show about the adventures of a precocious teenager set in a time that should be the hallmark of an oppressive authoritarian regime was a perfect example of the “Disney-fication” of Star Wars as a whole. A show like Rebels, with such a light, comedic tone, would never be able to properly show the extent of the Empire’s oppression.

How easy it is to forget that when the Rebels media blitz was getting revved up and the series itself was finding its sea legs, we got a glimpse of the future, of how the show would handle that very subject. Various supplemental sources, like the Servants of the Empire series, hinted that the Empire was going to start to strip-mine Lothal for its natural resources, turning it from its idyllic pastures and rolling hills into yet another cog in the Imperial war machine. As Rebels itself left Lothal in the second season, we lost sight of that vision a bit. On periodic return visits, everything seemed relatively fine aside from the gradually increased Imperial presence, though sources outside of the show like the Thrawn novel touched back on the planet’s mining riches as general background.

Now, though, after the time-skip between the second and third seasons of the show, we’ve finally returned to Lothal proper in “The Occupation”. We go back to familiar locales first glimpsed all the way back in the show’s pilot shorts, now seeing the wind-swept McQuarrie-inspired grassland covered in heavy industrial smoke and dust. We hear that the friendly Ithorian bartender Old Jho, an early ally featured across multiple episodes of the show and even some of the books, was evicted from his establishment and summarily executed by the Empire for treason. The once-friendly locals don’t even dare brave the streets after dark anymore, with all motorized transports impounded and Imperial patrols everywhere. Lothal may have been under Imperial rule before, but now it is under true Imperial occupation, with all efforts being taken to stamp out any further potential rebellion. » Read more..

Rebels Revisited: Alliances Make For Strange Bedfellows

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Jay: This two-part episode really did a great job highlighting the Mothma-Saw conflict and presenting their opposing viewpoints in the clearest way, while simultaneously developing Saw in a way that didn’t make him look like a two-dimensional cartoon character (lol). But this episode’s strengths highlighted the weakness of its handling of Kallus, who has somehow transformed himself. I don’t mean the Hot Kallus thing, that’s mostly funny (and people are allowed to be fans of characters even if they aren’t the purest). What I mean is that Kallus, formerly Fulcrum, formerly ISB Agent Kallus, is now important enough to the Rebellion that he’s present in councils with Mon Mothma and General Dodonna. He, a former genocidal Imperial agent, gets treated better than a fellow Rebel, Saw. He also gets more trust than Jyn, a person who’s been anti-Imperial her whole life, and more trust than Bodhi Rook, another defector who is in fact distrusted by the Rebel high council.

This is problematic, not least from an optics point of view. Saw, Bodhi, and Jyn are mistrusted (POCs and a woman) while Kallus (white male) is implicitly believed. This disparity is a bad look, even though it is obviously not the intent of the writers (indeed, it’s easy to justify the contrast between Bodhi’s treatment and Kallus’s–Kallus’s Fulcrum stint has earned him credibility, and Bodhi is an unknown quantity). But it doesn’t look good, and I think people are noticing the troubling optics there. But leaving that potentially controversial point aside, it’s hard to see why Saw’s extremism makes the Rebel leadership so uncomfortable with him when they’re apparently fine with Kallus.

It’s possible there will be story repercussions for Kallus, and a treatment of his war crimes just hasn’t shown up in the show yet. That’ll satisfy the need for it to be addressed, but it makes me ask — why put it off until later? Kallus was, more than any other character, the main antagonist for the Ghost crew. His defection is a big deal, and the consequences of it and his addition to trusted Rebel staff deserve to be addressed before we suddenly see him as one of the good guys. I have enough faith in the writing team to believe that it will be addressed, but the fact that it hasn’t been addressed yet bothers me. » Read more..

This is Not Going to Go the Way You Think: Our Hopes for The Last Jedi

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Since the release of The Last Jedi‘s theatrical trailer last week, two years of theories and speculation have at last begun to collapse into a rough shape of the movie’s plot. Not the overall structure, really, but certain moments are depicted very clearly—Luke in awe of Rey’s strength, Finn versus Phasma on a First Order base that may be the Supremacy—and a couple others strongly suggested: Kylo preparing to fire on Leia, and later offering his hand to Rey. Do those scenes really happen in the film? Lord knows we should be used to the trailers not being 100% indicative of the final films by now, but I’m inclined to believe that the essence of those two scenes does indeed happen—even if the footage used here isn’t quite right.

Kylo working up the nerve to fire on Leia is a pretty logical thing to happen post-The Force Awakens (and not especially suspenseful given that we know Carrie Fisher was meant to have a big role in Episode IX), but the suggestion that Kylo and Rey might be remotely cooperative for any reason whatsoever was like a bomb going off in the fandom: does Rey turn, fed up with Luke’s refusal to train her? Does Kylo turn, unable to follow orders and kill another parent? Or is this more of a détente, a brief setting aside of hostilities in order to reach some common goal? Personally, I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve been hoping for something along those lines to happen and I will gladly seize the thread this trailer offers and hold on tight for the next couple months.

I do think, though, that fans should try to open their minds to a much wider range of options than simply “Rey goes bad” or “Kylo becomes good”. This trilogy may have started with a defection, but I don’t see either Kylo or Rey really operating as members of the militaries they ostensibly represent—Force users rarely do. Kylo may have second thoughts, may even work actively against Snoke, but that hardly means he’d be welcomed with open arms by the Resistance or the New Republic. And Rey may well be tempted by Snoke, but we don’t really know his actual goals, do we? The First Order could simply be a means to an end for him, and if that end involves Rey, her cooperation could change his larger game in ways we can’t begin to guess—but I’m excited to see these lines blur a bit, for the movie to ask questions that the previous saga films haven’t prepared us for.

With the trailer and all its lovely possibilities now swirling around in your heads, what’s one scene, or moment, you particularly want to see in The Last Jedi? Is it a plot event or more of a character beat? And why is it important to you? » Read more..

Rebels Revisited: For Mandalore – The Escalation of Drama and Subversion of Expectations

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Full disclosure: I had part of the idea for this article in mind after having seen the first of this duology at Star Wars Celebration Orlando in the spring. My expectations for the second episode, then, were a bit colored by having to wait six months for the next bit of the story to finally be revealed. A cruel, cruel man is Dave Filoni, giving Celebration attendees the first of a two-parter as a special sneak preview and leaving us with one of the cruelest cliffhangers in any Star Wars media that I have personally consumed.

There will, of course, be many, many spoilers for both episodes of the “Heroes of Mandalore” two-parter coming up ahead. Only proceed if you’ve already watched the episodes for yourself, it’s well worth the events hitting you fresh.

Star Wars Rebels has always been a very serialized show, with heavy continuity and character development from episode to episode and season to season drawing the viewer ever deeper into the stories of the main cast. This duology serves as a climax, of sorts, for Sabine’s story. While she’s guaranteed to return throughout the remaining season as a member of the ensemble, this is the climax of the arc that’s been building since the show’s first season, when we first glimpsed this extremely talented, yet highly unorthodox, Mandalorian girl. » Read more..

A Grown-Up Watches Star Wars For the First Time, Part Two – The Originals (and TFA)

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When was the last time you met an adult who had never watched a single Star Wars film? What if you could introduce them to the series, one film at a time, and ask them their thoughts as they went along? That’s exactly the situation I’ve found myself in, as my friend Kelsey just started watching the Star Wars films this year. After viewing Episodes I, II, and III, Kelsey agreed to be interviewed to satisfy my curiosity about her experience and reflections on the series so far; Eleven-ThirtyEight ran our first interview in June. This follow-up comes after Kelsey watched Episodes IV, V, VI, and VII in order (although not Rogue One or any other canonical material). This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What were your thoughts watching A New Hope, coming in straight from the prequels?

I liked it! But I imagine it would be massively confusing without having known anything else about this universe…I can’t imagine that this was the first movie the public saw!

Any questions you had coming out of A New Hope?

I wish we got to see the little hooded creatures in the huge tank w/o their robes… I couldn’t tell if the beady eyes were cute or scary, haha. Also, how thick is Darth Vader? Why didn’t he feel a disturbance in the Force when he was in such close proximity to Leia and Luke? That should’ve been at least double disturbance! Also, Luke’s reaction to Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice speaking to him suddenly was like, nothing. He should’ve been freaked out! Or was he happy because he recognizes it as Obi, which might mean he’s not really dead? Or maybe he doesn’t realize it’s Obi and just decides to listen to this invisible person that no one else seems to hear…weird. » Read more..

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