Tag Archive for In Defense Of

Nobody’s Perfect: In Defense of Rey From Nowhere

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As Episode IX steadily approaches, a year and a few months away from release, debate around the parentage of Rey has continued almost unabated, arguably intensified by The Last Jedi’s “surprise” revelation. Some fans still seem to want an easy way to connect the dots from Rey to the core family of Star Wars, even indirectly, as if the term “Skywalker saga” was a mission statement rather than a convenient identifier.

Part of this stems from how the information is revealed in The Last Jedi: a terrific anticlimax, prompted by Kylo Ren. Prompted…but not issued. The text of Rian Johnson’s film builds this up and suggests it through Rey’s tendency to look for parental figures wherever possible, even when those whom she latches onto are inadequate in some way. The “reveal” isn’t some fake-out gotcha, it’s a natural progression from what we’ve already been given, albeit couched in Abrams’s typically coy storytelling tendencies in The Force Awakens. We’ve been conditioned to expect reversal, so much so that a greater surprise comes from straightforward progression.

In a way, The Last Jedi fleshes out the thread that can make the sequel trilogy a truly essential addition to the epic of Anakin and Luke Skywalker: a story of individuals within the galaxy far far away interpreting and reconciling the tales that have come before to carve out their own path. And perhaps the best torchbearer for this journey of interpretation, emulation and discovery is someone who is a nobody from nowhere, someone without the baggage that weighs so heavily on the new arch-villain Kylo Ren. Rey, as it turns out, operates very differently from her predecessors, the Skywalker boys. She is grappling with entirely different types of problems – no more or less difficult, but complex in a different way. To that end, the scenarios in which we find each of Star Wars’ three core protagonists when first introduced to them (chronologically) hugely inform their stories to follow, both in nature and resolution. In some ways, Rey is far ahead of the Skywalker boys when we first meet her. In other ways, she isn’t. It is this contrast that helps drive this new generation forward, and helps reshape what it means to be a Jedi with “the most serious mind”, and the appeal of a nobody in the galaxy far, far away. » Read more..

In Defense of Dave Filoni’s Force Mysticism

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It’s no secret that when it comes to Star Wars, Dave Filoni is not shy about putting the “fantasy” in “space fantasy”. Between the numerous Tolkien allusions to interviews discussing his love of Miyazaki, Filoni has always placed a high importance on the fantasy elements of the Star Wars universe—namely, the Force. Both The Clone Wars and Rebels were not afraid to mix the more standard military stories with highly fantastical detours to strange and bizarre worlds that seemed to upend everything we knew about the Force.

And it’s therefore generally met by the fandom with a not-insignificant amount of skeptical eyebrow raises. While Yoda’s encounter with the five Force priestesses in the TCW Lost Missions was more or less well-received, the Mortis arc was firmly a “love it or hate it” storyline in the fandom, and Ezra’s experience in the portal universe is looking to be similarly divisive. It’s weird and confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense at first blush…but I’d argue that’s exactly why Dave Filoni has the best approach when it comes to depicting the Force.

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Breaking Ranks – In Defense of “Filler” Episodes

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As season three of Star Wars Rebels reached its finale, it was once again plagued by the criticism that it had contained too many “filler” episodes. This usually referred to any episode of a vaguely comedic nature, or more broadly, any which did not focus on its two central story arcs – Thrawn vs. the Rebellion, or Maul vs. Ezra.

The argument implies that these episodes, whether it be the adventures of Iron Squadron or AP-5’s musical number in space, are somehow of lesser status, and are written only to fill in a gap in the schedule while we wait for the “real” story to continue. It’s a criticism that has been leveled at the series since the beginning. It is also entirely misplaced.

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In Defense of Things That Don’t Make Sense

Hilarious Abeloth IllustrationI’m going to shout it from the hills: I love the Bantam era. I love warlord and superweapon of the week. I love silly, disjointed things that years later, make us wonder what exactly we were thinking when we first read this. I love the things that don’t neatly fit into the greater Star Wars puzzle, and there is much to be said in defense of embracing the weird. We’re in a new era of Star Wars now, and with that comes all the unexplored territory. We don’t have to avoid the mistakes of Legends; in fact, I could happily argue that many of those mistakes are better in the long term.

One of the things that Star Wars fandom had run into, in the twilight of the Legends years, was quality issues. Ask a group of Star Wars fans about Fate of the Jedi and Crucible, and you’ll get a wide variety of (frequently negative) reactions. Sometimes people ask me about how I feel about Fate of the Jedi, and my response is usually along the lines of “I remember the hilarious Abeloth illustration that’s on Wookieepedia, that Daala is the worst politician alive, and that Luke and Ben went on a father-son trip that proved that Ben’s taste in women is no better than Luke’s had been.” That is possibly one of the sillier sentences I’ve written in a while, but let’s deconstruct that. What if we didn’t worry so much about things being silly or not making sense? What if wild plots could be the basis for a good story? Because there was a time when we really were thinking that way.

Many of the earliest Star Wars books are from a time when we had no idea about longer-term galactic history. Big chunks of galactic history were a complete blank, and the authors really couldn’t do much filling-in. We didn’t know exactly how the Old Republic fell until the Dark Nest trilogy was released, and of course now that we knew galactic history out-of-universe, it worked its way into Legacy of the Force. But we did fill in about twenty years of galactic history with no good references about what came before. And that led to things that just didn’t make sense in the longer run. » Read more..

In Defense of Anarchy: What I Saw on Thursday

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As I’ve probably mentioned before, I don’t really follow The Force Awakens spoilers. I recognize that in this line of work it’s inevitable that certain things will get around to me, and some have, but by and large I don’t know if what I’m going to talk about in this piece is already confirmed, debunked, or neither—these are just my impressions, as an educated guesser who’s seen more than his share of Star Wars stories. When the new teaser was revealed last Thursday, a lot of stuff was pretty much what you’d expect—X-wing pilots in orange, TIEs chasing the Millennium Falcon, a masked villain with a red lightsaber.

But if you looked closely, not everything was so easy to contextualize—especially one shot of stormtroopers fighting against a rogue TIE fighter in some sort of hangar, immediately following a distraught-looking Finn removing his own helmet. If there’s one plot point we can safely rely on at this stage, it’s that John Boyega’s stormtrooper character defects or deserts early on. The stormtroopers in the original trilogy were nothing if not anonymous and interchangeable, so choosing to begin the story of the sequel trilogy with the face of the Empire going AWOL is an effective way to demonstrate that things aren’t quite as clear-cut now as they were with Palpatine in charge. » Read more..

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