The Essential Clone Wars: “Voices”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S6:E11 – “Voices”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Tom Kane, Matt Lanter, Terrence Carson, James Arnold Taylor, Catherine Taber
GUEST-STARRING:
Liam Neeson
WRITER:
Christian Taylor
DIRECTOR:
Danny Keller
PREMIERE DATE:
 March 7, 2014
SYNOPSIS:
Guided by the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda goes on a special quest.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

First and foremost, it’s extremely cool to have Liam Neeson back. Even independently of him having played Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace, he’s got such a great voice. He’d previously come in for the season three episode, “Ghosts of Mortis.” But his role here is obviously much more substantial in the grand scheme of things.

The prequels never suitably followed up, or even explored, the idea of Qui-Gon speaking to Yoda from beyond the grave, and how that ultimately leads to Yoda and Obi-Wan being able to come back as Force ghosts. So I’m extremely grateful that The Clone Wars explored that, and with plenty of fan service to boot.

For all the unexplored territory they venture into, these last few episodes of season six just might be the most essential of “The Essential Clone Wars.”

This episode continues on a theme we’ve seen in previous episodes, including the last one: The idea of public confidence in the Jedi being undermined. The idea being that part of how bad guys bring down a society is by diluting public confidence in its institutions. Not to get too political here, but we saw a lot of that recently during the Trump presidency.

The scenes with Yoda in the hospital bed, and then later in the isolation tank (shown above), do a nice job of reminding us just how small and seemingly vulnerable the character is. He’s not vulnerable, of course. But the visual is interesting.

Oddly enough Rig Nema, the doctor character, is voiced by Catherine Taber, who also provides the voice for Padme. Even more odd is that she doesn’t do much to differentiate between her Padme voice and her Rig Nema voice. So it essentially sounds like Yoda is being tended to by Padme.

As fun as it is to watch Yoda explore Dagobah for the first time, and walk into the same cave he’ll send Luke into decades later, you’ve got to believe it was even more fun for the animators to work on. There’s no imagery more synonymous with classic Star Wars than Yoda in the swamp.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Star Wars: Brotherhood – 6 Takeaways From the Novel

Star Wars Brotherhood, coverBy Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got more than 60 Star Wars novels under my belt. I won’t say that makes me an expert. But it does give me a sense of when I’m reading one that stands out among the franchise’s extensive library.

Brotherhood by Mike Chen quickly became one of my favorites. It takes us through the transition Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker take from a father and son, master and apprentice relationship in Attack of the Clones, to the brotherly bond they have through The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. It’s a cool, clover, and sensible premise for a Star Wars story. Chen, on his first try, proves he’s more than adept at navigating everybody’s favorite galaxy far, far away.

Here’s what I came away from Brotherhood thinking about…

1. It’s a bridge between Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars. Not just figuratively in terms of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s dynamic, but literally. There’s an argument to be made that the 2008 Clone Wars movie, where Ahsoka becomes Anakin’s apprentice, should be set immediately after the events of this book. That’s how well it all fits together.

2. Anakin and other Padawans were hurried to Jedi status to accommodate for the war. For me, this was a head-canon thing that Brotherhood actually put into print. With a war broken out, it makes sense that there would be a need for more Jedi to serve and protect the Republic. Thus, Anakin and other apprentices were given the rank of Jedi relatively quickly. Perhaps even before they were fully prepared?

3. Anakin and Padme once clandestinely banged on a blanket somewhere on the streets of Coruscant. Is this a childish thing to take away from this book? Why, yes. Yes it is. And does Mike Chen actually write a sex scene between Anakin and Padme? Of course not. But he does directly indicate that it happens.

Oh c’mon! I can’t help it! The idea that Anakin and Padme had discreet sex somewhere on the streets of Coruscant is the kind of thing I just can’t forget. It is a little romantic, I suppose. From a certain point of view…

4. Neimoidians struggled to establish an identity within the Republic away from the Trade Federation. When the average Star Wars fan thinks of a Neimoidian, they inevitably think of Nute Gunray. And when they think of Nute Gunray, they think of the Trade Federation. It makes sense, given what we see in the prequels. Chen, to his credit, took that association and wrapped it into Brotherhood. It’s a nice reminder that you can’t judge an entire race based on the actions of one or two individuals.

It’s a lesson that’s not inapplicable to real-world scenarios, either.

5. Qui-Gon believed in them. I’m a Qui-Gon Jinn fan. Maybe I’m in the minority among fans in that sense. But I enjoy him. So when Star Wars creators find a way to tie him into things, be it directly or indirectly, it hits a soft spot with me.

Chen talks a lot about Qui-Gon Jinn as he’s wrapping up Brotherhood. Specifically, what Obi-Wan and Anakin have in common as it relates to him. He doesn’t frame it as the centerpiece to their new brotherly bond, nor should he. But it is there, and it’s worth acknowledging.

6. Not all Jedi have to be warriors. Chen creates a character for Brotherhood named Mill Alibeth, a young Jedi initiate who is apprehensive about tapping into the Force and wielding a lightsaber. As someone who’s lived with mental illness, it occurred to me that she might actually be the first Jedi we’ve seen with anxiety. Now that’s something different.

Through her time with Anakin, Mill learns there is more than one path to the Force and being a Jedi. We’re reminded that it’s not all about swinging lightsabers. And in a franchise that loves to overemphasize lightsabers, that’s a very welcome notion.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan #2 Micro-Review – Lights in the Darkness

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Star Wars Obi-Wan 2, cover, 2022, Phil NotoTITLE: Star Wars: Obi-Wan #2
AUTHOR: Christopher Cantwell
ARTISTS:
Luke Ross, Nolan Woodard (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Phil Noto.

RELEASED: June 29, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard’s art highlight this issue, as they have the not necessarily enviable task of depicting Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in an environment mostly devoid of light.

This issue didn’t blow me away from a plot perspective. But it did do a fine job of capturing the master/apprentice dynamic between our two heroes, which for my money was one of the better aspects of The Phantom Menace.

Marvel should really release a book of Phil Noto’s Star Wars work. The majority of it is just brilliant.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part VI” Review

Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi poster, Owen LarsSERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part VI”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones (voice), Joel Edgerton
WRITERS:
Joby Harold, Andrew Stanton, Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
June 22, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan must face Darth Vader once again.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We got a lot of callbacks in this episode. We got some Empire Strikes Back with the ship being chased by a Star Destroyer, Vader on the bridge, and the musical callback to John Williams’ score. We got another later in the episode with Luke’s line, “I’m not afraid.”

We had some more more verbal callbacks with Ewan’s lines, “I will do what I must,” (Revenge of the Sith) and “Then my friend is truly dead” (Return of the Jedi). Palpatine (more on him in a bit) had one about Vader’s thoughts being “clear.” One can even make an argument for Reva’s hunting of Luke in the dark being a nod to Return of the Jedi.

All…interesting choices. I’m not sure I would have gone quite that heavy. But there it is.

Ha! After Obi-Wan says, “I will do what I must,” he does what I’ll call the “Obi-Wan pose” (shown below), with the lightsaber in one hand and his other extended outward. Great little touch.

The second fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader was about what it should have been. Obi-Wan had a little bit of his mojo back, but was still doing a lot of evading.

That broken Vader helmet thing was done on Rebels. So there is a certain cheapness to doing it again. But I’d argue this was more effective, by virtue of us having the involvement of both Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones, as well as Ewan McGregor.

This episode gave us what I thought was the show’s only major misstep: Obi-Wan knowingly leaving Vader alive. That’s an objectively stupid move. At least in Revenge of the Sith, he thought Anakin was dead when he left Mustafar. But here there’s no excuse. Obi-Wan has accepted the notion that the Anakin he knew is gone. He’s standing in front of Darth Vader, who has slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands of people. The right thing to do would have been to finish the job.

Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi, Part VI, pose

What boggles my mind is that they could have easily had the Grand Inquisitor fly in with a squad of TIE Fighters and attack Obi-Wan, prompting a hasty retreat. Or something like that. But to just leave the evil dictator alive when you’ve got him right where you want him? Nope. Fail. So is Obi-Wan now culpable in every life Vader takes from here on out?

Reva’s redemption obviously opens the door to more stories with her. Supposedly she has her own series in the works. I can’t say I’m dying to see her story continue. But who am I kidding? I’d watch. If nothing else it would be poetic justice for all the racist crap Moses Ingram got.

Great to see a Palpatine cameo from Ian McDiarmid. He’s always great. Poor guy had to lie about it at Star Wars Celebration.

There’s been a lot of talk about Leia’s outfits in this show being reminiscent of stuff she wore in the original trilogy. But I’d argue her final outfit in this episode, and the series itself, was very similar to what Luke wears on Tatooine. That’s fitting, for obvious reasons.

So…Obi-Wan just stopped by Alderaan for a quick visit? That’s a little weird. They couldn’t have done that via the holo-communicator?

I can already here the crybabies out there calling foul over Obi-Wan meeting Luke. But Luke did know who “Old Ben”was in A New Hope. There was nothing there to directly contradict him meeting Leia, and there’s even less to indicate that he hadn’t met Luke at least once. Maybe even two or three times. Cool your thrusters, fanboys…

Qui-Gon Jinn, Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi, Part VI

Aaaaaaand of course Liam Neeson made a cameo as Qui-Gon. I called it. They couldn’t not pay that off after Obi-Wan spoke to him multiple times over the course of the show. I’m happy Liam Neeson is back in the Star Wars fold. I enjoy the Qui-Gon Jinn character. Quite a bit, actually.

There was a time period where Star Wars really harped on hope. Especially in Rogue One and The Last Jedi. But in its own way, Obi-Wan Kenobi was about hope too. Specifically, Obi-Wan regaining the hope he lost so many years ago after Anakin’s fall. Thankfully, this series didn’t point at it the way those movies did.

Obi-Wan Kenobi went by fast, didn’t it? But the show, despite its critics, delivered. I’d still argue The Mandalorian is better. But not by much. Obi-Wan Kenobi has been, and perhaps should be, judged by very different standards. People came in with much higher expectations. But I honestly don’t see what more the show could have done to appeal to fans new and old. For that, I tip my hat to it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part II” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part II”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Kumail Nanjiani
WRITERS: 
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan travels to Daiyu to rescue Princess Leia.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When I first saw the publicity images of Obi-Wan on Daiyu, I thought we were looking at the underbelly of Coruscant. That would have been cool to see. But from a story perspective, it makes more sense to keep Obi-Wan away from Coruscant. He is, after all, a wanted man. And Coruscant is, after all, the center of the Empire.

Most of the best planets in Star Wars are simple in concept and easy to understand. Tatooine is the desert planet, Coruscant is the city planet, Kashyyyk is the wookie planet, etc. By those standards, it looks like Daiyu is the crime planet. A sort of low rent Coruscant where corruption reigns supreme. It serves its purpose fine here, so I’ve got no complaints.

Kumail Nanjiani’s character, Haja Estree, is a Jedi impersonator. I like that. A trickster who preys on people’s need for hope. Yet deep down, he secretly has a desire to legitimately do good. I have my doubts about whether we’ll see him again in this series. But I certainly wouldn’t mind it.

I appreciate that we see Obi-Wan using a blaster, and reluctant to use his lightsaber. When he uses the Force to save Leia in this episode, it’s a big moment because he presumably hasn’t done it in years. When he uses the lightsaber for the first time on this show, it should be a similar kind of moment.

Plus, we’re getting our lightsaber fix with the Inquisitors. Having Obi-Wan use one too, especially so soon, would be overkill.

The actress that plays the “I was someone’s daughter once too” girl is actually Ewan McGregor’s daughter, Esther Rose McGregor. Ironically, Obi-Wan tells that character he’s looking for his daughter.

Is that the Star Wars equivalent of a meth lab we see in this episode? I’m thinking it is. And I kind of love it.

I was angry, yet sadly not surprised to hear Moses Ingram, who plays Reva, has been getting racist messages from a small portion of the Obi-Wan Kenobi audience. There’s no place for that. Never has been. Never will be. And I was happy to see the official Star Wars social media accounts come to her defense.

I’m now convinced we’re getting a Qui-Gon Jinn Force ghost scene. We’ve seen Obi-Wan try and talk to Qui-Gon a couple of times now. You can’t not pay that off. Liam Neeson, who of course plays Qui-Gon, may have said he doesn’t do TV. But what else is he going to say? His appearance is, theoretically, meant to be a surprise. Andrew Garfield had to lie for months about not being in Spider-Man: No Way Home. I’d bet money it’s the same kind of situation with Liam Neeson and Star Wars.

Plus, we found out at Star Wars Celebration last week that Neeson is doing voiceover work on a Tales of the Jedi animated show. He’s coming back, folks. We just have to be patient.

I was more than happy to see Reva turn on the Grand Inquisitor, presumably killing him. As I said last time, I don’t love the idea of the Inquisitors, as I think they devalue Darth Vader. So the less of them that are around, the happier I am.

As it turns out, though, the Grand Inquisitor may not actually be dead. He’s obviously on Star Wars: Rebels, which takes place years after Obi-Wan Kenobi. So either he survived the stabbing, or there’s a cloning situation happening here, or some other wacky scenario brings him back. Remember, this is the Star Wars universe, where Darth Maul can survive being cut in half and dropped into a pit…

I’ve enjoyed Rupert Friend’s portrayal of the character, though. It looks like he was having a ball doing it. I got Ian McDiarmid/Revenge of the Sith vibes.

Obi-Wan’s reaction to learning Anakin is alive was very well acted by Ewan McGregor. The revelation does make me wonder, though…who did know Anakin was Darth Vader? Was it common knowledge within the upper ranks of the Empire? It must have been on some level, because the Inquisitors obviously know.

What about Yoda? Did he sense Anakin was alive? Can Obi-Wan contact Yoda, the same way Bail Organa contacted him, and ask?

Oh, the pressing questions…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

George Lucas on Star Wars: Staying Together

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: Like the various groups throughout the Star Wars saga, the heroes of The Phantom Menace are a diverse lot. We have two Jedi, a young queen, a gungan fool, a liberated slave, among others.

George Lucas Says: “One of the difficulties in writing a script with lots and lots of characters is you have to be able to rationalize why everybody is along. If you have a film like Dirty Dozen, where you sort of establish they’re all going out on a mission together, and you gather them all up and they go, it’s pretty easy. But when you have a situation like this where there isn’t any mandate that they stay together, and they’re there for transitory reasons that are constantly having to be renewed as the plot progresses, it becomes much more difficult to be able to get all the characters in on the act and take them along…”

I Say: I can appreciate what he’s saying here, and I appreciate its value. But I’m only half joking when I say it still doesn’t explain why Qui-Gon brought eight-year-old Anakin into a war zone.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

George Lucas on Star Wars: Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: As Anakin Skywalker slaughters Tusken Raiders over the death of his mother, a meditating Yoda feels his pain and suffering. He also briefly hears Qui-Gon Jinn calling to the young padawan.

George Lucas Says (Via the Attack of the Clones Commentary Track): “… we cut to Yoda, who is meditating, who hears this off-screen, and we do hear a voice in there. That voice is the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn. So we very subtly establish … Yoda is feeling the pain and suffering of Anakin and the Tusken Raiders, [and] he’s also making a connection, unwittingly with Qui-Gon Jinn. Up to this point we haven’t really established that you can make a connection with the departed in this world. That will become a factor in [Episode III].”

I Say: If by factor he means “afterthought,” then yes, it became a factor in Episode III.

This has always been one of the more frustrating aspects of Revenge of the Sith for me, as it would have done so much to justify Qui-Gon’s entire presence in The Phantom Menace. Plus, they just would have been cool scenes.

The novelizations of Episode II and III both touched on Yoda communicating with Qui-Gon. The latter even had a brief dialogue between the two. But somehow they didn’t make it into the films. So the whole “training I have for you” thing at the end of Sith seemed comically tacked on.

Even The Rise of Skywalker got this one right, with Rey hearing the voices of all the Jedi at the end. It’s not like it was an entirely separate plot thread or anything. It would have taken maybe five to 10 seconds in Clones, and maybe a minute in Sith. All you need is a few lines of audio from Liam Neeson.

All to establish that Yoda has not gone bonkers when he tells Obi-Wan to talk to his dead master.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Rey Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the third of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
A.K.A. Rob Skywalker

1. Force-Healing Powers.
Why did everybody get so bent out of shape about Rey’s Force-healing powers? Forget the fact that if you’re into Star Wars lore, you already know there were Jedi healers. But let’s say you’re not, and you’re still upset…

So the Force is a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together, and the Jedi have access to it. What does that mean? For story purposes, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

In the original film, it meant Obi-Wan could control people’s minds and make Stormtroopers hear things that weren’t really there. It also meant Luke could see through solid objects, hear Obi-Wan’s voice in his head, and move a proton torpedo with his mind.

Then in Empire, it also meant Luke could jump really high to avoid being frozen in carbonite, and that Darth Vader could stop blaster bolts with his hand.

In Return of the Jedi, it meant that if you were a bad guy, you could shoot lightning out of your fingers.

In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could run super-fast like the Flash.

In The Last Jedi, it meant Luke could essentially project a hologram of himself across the galaxy. Oh, and that Snoke could link Kylo Ren’s mind with Rey’s.

Now in this movie it means Rey can heal a serpent monster, and Ben can save Rey’s life.

Folks, I know a lot of Expanded Universe stuff has been written about the Force, Jedi powers, etc. But at the end of the day, George Lucas was making this stuff up as he went along. He didn’t bend the rules of reality too far, but he used it to suit the story’s needs.

So if Force-healing has always been a thing, why didn’t Luke use it to save Vader’s life? Why didn’t Obi-Wan use it to save Qui-Gon’s? I don’t know. I just know they didn’t. That’s enough for me.

2. Rey Fixed Luke’s X-Wing
Okay, so healing someone with your magic powers? I’m okay with that. But fixing a spaceship that’s been underwater for years and is missing a wing? That’s where I draw the line, damn it!

In the movie when Luke raises his X-Wing out of the water on Ahch-To, it seems like it’s primed and set. As if he’s somehow been fixing it underwater in a translucent scuba suit or something. The book gives us further details. They don’t make the notion that Rey flew Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing into the unknown regions of space any less silly. But I’m glad they’re there.

On page 200 (of the original hardcover edition), we learn Rey didn’t just have to patch the wing that was serving as the door to Luke’s hut. She also had to use parts from Kylo Ren’s Tie Whisper, which she’d just set ablaze, and do a bunch of rewiring. The ship, might never fight againBut it was still fighter class, and its transition from vacuum to atmo was seamless.

Of course it was.

A little Wookiepedia research tells me that, assuming Luke went into exile soon after Ben destroyed his temple, that X-Wing was probably down there about six years. Jedi or not, plop my dirty Honda Civic in the ocean for six years and see how quickly you can get it running. Just sayin…

3. “Be With Me”
Like the movie, the book doesn’t specify who exactly is talking to Rey as all the Jedi of the past are rooting her on. It’s better that way, of course. After all, how would Rey know what Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, or Anakin Skywalker sound like? The only obvious tell is Yoda based on his speech patterns. And of course, she recognizes Luke.

There’s also an interesting line in here about not all these voices necessarily coming from beyond the grave…

Presences filled her awareness, some recent, some ancient, some still anchored to the living in a strange way. Rey didn’t understand. But she accepted.

I assume that’s in there not just to keep Ashoka Tano’s fate a secret, but because certain Force sensitives around the galaxy could feel what was happening and were cheering Rey on. Even if they weren’t quite aware they were doing it. “Broom boy” from The Last Jedi comes to mind. And of course there’s Finn.

4. The Lars Homestead; “Rey Skywalker”
Upon second viewing, the movie is better at covering Rey’s exploration of the Lars Homestead than I remembered. We get a lot of familiar shots, only these places are now partially buried in sand. Probably stripped for parts too.

The implication, at least the way I interpreted it, was that Rey would now be the one to train a new generation of Jedi. She’d do it from the Lars Homestead, where Luke’s journey began, and where Anakin also had strong ties.

As it turns out, that’s not the case. At the end of the book, she and BB-8 get back in the Falcon and fly off. Presumably back to Ajan Kloss.

That’s disappointing. Yes, I’m sure different Empire/First Order survivors or sympathizers across the galaxy know where Anakin and Luke were born. They’re likely more than capable of following their trail back to Tatooine.

But in terms of closing the book on the so-called “Skywalker saga,” it’s poetic not just to see it end where it began. But to see it begin there again. I understand why they closed the movie with the image of Rey and BB-8. But in terms of the book going with the whole “alone with friends” theme might have been better. Sure, BB-8 is there. But we’ve also got C-3PO to help translate old Jedi texts. R2-D2 to do astromech droid stuff, and provide anecdotes from his days with both Anakin and Luke. Then there’s Finn. Rey’s first student.

Finally, the book gives us a brief moment where Luke, as he and Leia’s spiritual presences look on at Rey, grants her permission to use his family name.

It’s yours, Rey.

And so we reach an ending. But every ending is also a beginning.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: 10 Lingering Questions

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I might have been the last die-hard Star Wars geek to see The Rise of Skywalker. Such things are the case when you’ve got a six-month-old. You can’t very well bring an infant with you to a movie with this many pew-pews and explosions. Although you just know that somebody, somewhere, totally did.

At this juncture, a traditional review is essentially pointless. So I thought I’d try something a little different, and just ask some questions. Some you’ve probably heard by now. But certain others, perhaps not…

In case it needs to be said at this point, ***SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!***

1. Why so much?
The most common complaint I’ve heard about The Rise of Skywalker is how overstuffed it is. It seemed like J.J. Abrams and his co-writer Chris Terrio were trying to make up for lost time, i.e. The Last Jedi. They had to straighten everything out with Palpatine, Snoke, Kylo Ren, the Sith, etc. We had to send our heroes on a bunch of different quests, then deal with Rey’s parentage, have Leia die, and then have the biggest space battle ever you guyz.

As such, the pacing is way too fast. We barely have time to digest anything. You can call that a non-stop, rip roarin’ action adventure if you like. But those quieter character moments are every bit as important, if not more. Rey and Kylo had their share. C-3PO did too. But we didn’t have time for anyone else.

My question is, why overstuff it so much? For instance, going to the planets Kijmi and Pasana. For me, the most interesting planet in this movie was Kijmi, where we met Kerri Russell’s character. Why not just have Rey and the others take the Falcon straight there, find out where the Sith McGuffin thing is, and skip Pasana all together? Did we really need yet another desert planet in the Star Wars universe? They could have found Lando, done the TIE Fighter stunt, and faked Chewie’s death just as easily on Kijmi, and it would have saved us some time.

2. Has Disney learned its lesson about planning this stuff out in advance?
It’s amazing to me that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its dozens of movies featuring different characters and settings, exists under the same umbrella as this new Star Wars trilogy, which couldn’t stay consistent through three consecutive films.

We learned from The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson that by the time he signed on, the Disney/Lucasfilm brain trust hadn’t figured anything out beyond The Force Awakens. To this day, that’s staggering to me. They had access to Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Not to mention George Lucas himself. And yet they couldn’t be bothered to at least come up with some basic bullet points? If you need to change course at some point, then do so. But at least draw a friggin’ map before you start the trip…

3. Was Chewie really that upset over the whole medal thing? Both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker go out of their way to “fix” something with Chewbacca.

In The Force Awakens, fans called foul when, upon their return from Starkiller Base, Rey got a hug from Leia, while Chewie seemingly walked by unnoticed. Remember, Han Solo, Leia’s former husband and Chewie’s BFF, had just been killed. By his own son no less. So in The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson had Leia exclaim, “Chewie!” and then give him a big hug. A cute little wink. Harmless.

Since the original film, it’s been a running joke that while Luke and Han got medals for destroying the Death Star, Chewie was left empty-handed. Kind of funny, but again, harmless.

And yet in this movie, after the battle is won, Maz Kanata gives our fuzzy friend one of those Death Star medals. (Presumably Han’s?) I get the gesture. But in a movie that’s already so long…why? After more than three decades, was Chewie still sore that he didn’t get a trinket? It’s not like they made him sit in the audience. He was standing up there with them! He ain’t easy to miss, either.

Also, where does Maz Kanata get her original trilogy collectibles? We never did find out how she got her hands on Luke’s lightsaber…

4. Is there a “cutesy character quota” in every Star Wars project now?
Everybody seemed to like Babu Frik, the little puppet who worked on C-3PO. With a fanbase as divisive as this one can be, something universally praised is a pretty big deal.

Between Babu Frik and Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian, I’m starting to wonder if there’s going to be a “cutesy character quota” every Star Wars project has to meet from here on out.

“Well Mr. Feige, I like what you’ve turned in here. But let me ask you this: How would you feel about adding a baby Ewok?”

5. What’s the deal with Palpatine’s body?
I don’t have an issue with them bringing Palpatine back. They shouldn’t have needed to, but that’s another story. If the Jedi can come back as “Force Ghosts,” then there’s no reason Palpatine couldn’t have used some kind of Sith alchemy to preserve himself after death. It fits with all that talk about cheating death in Revenge of the Sith.

And yes, there is a comic book that uses a similar concept with Palpatine transferring his consciousness into different bodies. Dark Empire, circa 1992. There’s even a similar line that we hear in The Rise of Skywalker about how, “It was not the first time I died…Nor will it be the last.” (Shown above.)

However, the movie doesn’t get into specifics about what exactly is going on with Palpatine. Is it a cloning thing? Is that somehow his original body? I’m hoping the novelization clears up the specifics of what exactly it is.

6. Really? Palpatine’s entire throne room survived the second Death Star explosion?
Because this movie, like the prequels, relies way too heavily on original trilogy nostalgia, Rey and Kylo Ren wind up fighting inside the remains of the second Death Star, which crashed on Endor. Including the Emperor’s throne room.

Point blank: This was stupid. Not just that we had to go back to Endor, but that so much of the second Death Star survived at all, much less the Emperor’s damn chair. We were going to see Palpatine later on anyway. There was no reason to have it in there other than a lazy play at nostalgia. Ditto for when Wicket made that cameo for no real reason.

To quote Luke, “That was a cheap move.”

7. Couldn’t R2-D2 have gotten in on the fun? Artoo has never been a main character. But he always had a prominent supporting role in both the original and prequel trilogies. George Lucas had a soft spot for him. He could be an unlikely hero, while also providing some comic relief.

But in this sequel trilogy, Artoo really only serves one purpose: Plot convenience. In The Force Awakens, he completes the map to Luke. In The Last Jedi, he convinces Luke to talk to Rey about the Jedi. In The Rise of Skywalker, he’s there to restore Threepio’s memories. Yes, he flies in Poe’s X-Wing during the end battle. But that’s supposed to be BB-8’s job, isn’t it? What’s more, it really should have been Artoo at the Lars Homestead with Rey. Assuming she’s setting up her own little Jedi Academy there, he’d be a great source of information, having spent all those years with Anakin and Luke. Instead, she brings BB-8.

It is indeed BB-8 we have to thank for Artoo sitting on the sidelines like this. I like the little guy and all, but he essentially took Artoo’s job as the resident hero droid. With BB-8 around, Artoo had nothing to do. That’s a damn shame. As one of the more iconic Star Wars characters, he deserved better.

8. What was with all the dead Jedi voices Rey heard?
Yes, the prequels turned out pretty rough. Even so, hearing the voices of Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), and yes, even Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) during Rey’s big crowning moment was awesome. Like much of the film, it was hard to digest it all. But apparently, in addition to Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, we also heard TV characters like Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus.

But while I loved it, I have to ask…how?

In the prequels, the first one to learn how to retain your consciousness in the Force, i.e. become a Force Ghost, was Qui-Gon. In the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, a spectral Qui-Gon taught both Yoda and Obi-Wan how to do it. I think it’s fair to assume Luke learned how to do it at some point after the fall of the Empire. But what’s the story with everybody else? Presumably, none of those other characters had the chance to learn that ability.

And as long as we’re on the subject, how did Anakin appear as a Force Ghost in Return of the Jedi? It was less than a day after he died!

The only explanation I can come up with is that Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and the others are somehow able to reach out to whatever spectral trace remains of their fallen comrades, and allow them to briefly speak. Or in certain special cases, even grant them the ability in the moments after their death, i.e. Anakin in Jedi. Given this is the Star Wars Universe we’re talking about, it’s about as plausible as anything else…

Would this whole trilogy have been better if Poe had died in the The Force Awakens?
According to a documentary among the special features on The Force Awakens Blu-ray, the Poe Dameron character was originally supposed to be killed off. I can only assume it would have been in the TIE Fighter crash on Jakku. But Oscar Isaac had been killed off early in some other movies, and didn’t want to do that again. The filmmakers obliged.

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, the only reason Poe made it through the movie is because Oscar Isaac would have declined the role otherwise? Um…what? He’s a great actor, but did Star Wars really need Oscar Issac that badly? If he wasn’t up for the role, I’ve got a hunch there might have been other actors willing to step in. I mean, y’know, maybe a few?

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What could The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker have been like if they hadn’t had to balance Poe’s plotlines along with everyone else’s? Imagine how much more time they could have devoted to Finn’s development. We could have skipped all that Canto Bight stuff, and maybe had Finn be the one in conflict with Holdo. They might not have felt the need to cram so much stuff in. We could have gotten a little more breathing room…

10. What happens now?
The interesting thing about The Rise of Skywalker compared to both Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, is that despite being the final chapter of the trilogy, there’s so much more meat on the bone from a storytelling perspective.

Just off the top of my head…

– Rey attempting to succeed where Luke failed, starting her own low key Jedi Academy based out of the Lars Homestead on Tatooine. She’s now in a position to redefine what it means to be a Jedi. There’s probably two or three movies worth of content there alone. Especially if Finn is Force sensitive, as the film seemed to suggest. Maybe weave in a potential romance between the two? That obviously contrasts with the old Jedi ways.

– Assuming the 82-year-old Billy Dee Williams is willing and able to do it, a follow-up on the question of Jannah’s lineage, and whether Lando is her father. Bring Threepio and Artoo along. Why the hell not?

– What happens with the government now? Is the New Republic gone? Do they have to start from scratch? If so, how? Almost everybody died when Starkiller Base blew up the Hosnian system. Maybe look at it from Poe’s perspective? As one of the de-facto leaders of the Resistance, he’d undoubtedly get looped into things. Finn too.

– After Order 66, Darth Vader, the Inquisitors, and the Empire at large hunted and killed the surviving Jedi. The Resistance can do the same thing here with surviving Palpatine loyalists and First Order figureheads. Is the First Order even completely gone?

Granted, much of this depends on whether they can get the actors back. Neither Daisy Ridley or John Boyega seem anxious to come back. I can’t imagine Oscar Isaac is, either.

In the end, I think the reason there’s so much uncharted territory here is because, sadly, there’ve been so many missed storytelling opportunities with these new movies. I didn’t necessarily dislike The Rise of Skywalker. I didn’t totally hate The Last Jedi either.

But by the Force, imagine what those movies could have been…

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