“Die Well, Mandalorian” – The Chance of Escape That Maul Didn’t Take

If there is one thing that Maul cannot shut up about, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. If there are two things that Maul cannot shut up about, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul’s abandonment by Darth Sidious.

It was one of the first things he discussed upon regaining lucidity, “…such is how you found me, brother. Discarded! Forgotten!” And it’s the story he draws from to gain Ezra’s trust on Malachor:

The Sith took everything from me. Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered my brother, used me as a weapon, and then cast me aside. Abandoned me! Once I had power, now I have nothing…nothing…

Maul, “Twilight of the Apprentice”

He snarls at Sidious directly for it in the Son of Dathomir comic, and in the latest episode of The Clone Wars, “The Phantom Apprentice”, Maul makes sure to work it into his monologues, both overtly and as subtext. He will bring it up to anyone who will listen – and those who won’t, he will make listen.

Beyond his ongoing monologues on the subject, we do see that abandonment is a constant theme in Maul’s arc, and I appreciate what “The Phantom Apprentice” adds. It makes explicit Maul’s complicity in the cycle of his own abandonment.

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Clone Wars Celebration: Siege of Mandalore Kicks Off

The Clone Wars starts the Siege of Mandalore by throwing itself a party.

Ahsoka’s theme plays over a retro-styled Lucasfilm logo. The John Williams fanfare blares over a screaming red logo of The Clone Wars, calling back to Maul’s return. The fortune cookie is replaced by a declaration of “Part I – Old Friends Not Forgotten” in the same font as the Lucasfilm logo, calling back to the serials that had inspired the original Star Wars in 1977.

The visuals of Season Seven – already leaps beyond the Lost Missions of Season Six – are left in the dust. The shot with Aayla and Bly passed before my brain registered that it wasn’t live action. The cinematography of Cody’s assault on the bridge had me alternately on the floor and leaping atop the couch to pump a fist into the air.

“Old Friends Not Forgotten” was a celebration of everything that The Clone Wars had become. Look at us! We finally made it! Look at how far we’ve come in our animation! In our writing! In the Star Wars canon – why, we’re in the Revenge of the Sith timeline!

But what I think I love most about this party is that The Clone Wars makes no attempts to apologize for where it started: a weird little movie released in 2008 to poor reception from critics and audiences alike.

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May The Force Be With You (And With Your Spirit) – When Religion Fails the People it’s Meant to Help

For those of us who grew up in the church and those of us who are a part of it now, it’s incredible how much Christianese can bypass our filters as being normal, everyday terms. I like to think I’m fairly good at not dropping lines like “let’s fellowship with each other”, or “called to [insert ministry here]”, but just the other day, I had a friend stop me with a “wait, what’s a spiritual gift?” Whoops.

There is a very distinct subculture of American Christianity (with its own sub-sub-subcultures) where this Christianese language lives, and much of it is intended to be something good. “Fellowship” is meant to be about deep community. Being “called to” a ministry is about seeing God’s heart for a particular need. But when you live in an echo chamber of this language without grasping its heart, it can devolve into empty platitudes.

It can become Luminara Unduli’s words to Rafa Martez.

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They Are Just – Rose Tico and Dexter Jettster

“Poe Dameron is super cool. Finn’s super cool. Even though [Rose] is good at what she does, she’s not known. She’s not cool. She’s this nobody, this background player…”

Kelly Marie Tran

This was our introduction to Rose Tico: an interview with Entertainment Weekly, well before Kelly Marie Tran graced the big screen in The Last Jedi. From the beginning, Rose has been billed as someone overshadowed by the heroes surrounding her. If it’s not the Sequel Trio, it’s her own gallant sister Paige. The Forces of Destiny and Star Wars Adventures comics take it another step and emphasize this in-universe, as head mechanic Lazslo actively demeans her place in the Resistance. It’s a mindset that Rose herself internalizes. In Spark of the Resistance, she dismisses her own instincts because she’s not a Jedi like Rey or a great leader like Poe. She’s “just Rose” (emphasis mine).

“I can’t save them all. I’m just one person. I can’t even save one of them.”

Dexter Jettster (emphasis mine)

This was an unexpected glimpse at Obi-Wan Kenobi’s friend: a heartfelt journal entry as he takes on a Crimson Dawn labor camp. From the beginning, Dexter Jettster has always exuded confidence. The script for Attack of the Clones describes him as “not someone to tangle with”, and between gun-running on Ord Sigatt and brawling on Ord Mantell, his underworld background in Legends only increased this reputation. In the new canon, The Smuggler’s Guide starts with this similar tone of confidence only to come to a shuddering halt with Dex’s doubts.

In a franchise where many of our leads spend time believing themselves to be something more than life has planned, Rose and Dex seem to believe that they aren’t enough. It’s a galaxy full of cruel empires and powerful crime syndicates, and Dex is just one person, and Rose is just Rose. They are, as Tran continued in her interview, “just like everyone else” (emphasis mine). And grim though this perspective might be, there’s a grounding and a gentle inspiration in characters like these.

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Context Matters, or, Why I Didn’t Hate That One Thing in The Rise of Skywalker That I Was Expecting to Hate

I wanted “Middle Chapter Romance” to conclude my thoughts on this ship and just take The Rise of Skywalker as it came. Whether the end result was what I wanted or not, I planned to let it be. I don’t like talking about this. I’d much rather talk about “Twin Suns”. But, alas, The Rise of Skywalker made a set of decisions so incongruous that this topic is back gnawing at me, and I will have no peace until I’ve processed it all.

So.

That kiss.

You may recall that I have a special place in my heart for Larma D’Acy. If anyone deserved to get her girl, it was our gallant Commander. Yes, D’Acy, please cause a scene.

Nevertheless, this is exactly what we all expected when J.J. Abrams promised us LBTQIA+ representation in Star Wars. A minor character has a blink-and-you-miss-it moment of queer affection, and the filmmakers all pat themselves on the back for being so inclusive and progressive.

Of course, this isn’t the only kiss in the film, nor is it the one I aim to discuss in this article, but it does tie in to my reaction to the kiss between Rey and Ben. I don’t hate the Rey-Ben kiss as I would have expected to, but it still has me baffled and even angered. It’s all about the context.

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