Star Wars: Before and After the Special Editions
Blast It, Biggs! Who Are You?
When we first saw Star Wars in 1977, we heard about Biggs in a discussion around the dinner table in the Lars’ home, but we didn’t actually see him until he was revealed as “Red Three” during the Rebels’ attack on the Death Star at the end of the movie. Somehow, we always understood that Luke and Biggs were good friends back on Tatooine, even though we only saw them interact over a comlink while in their X-Wing Fighters. In the battle, when Luke barely pulled up in time to avoid colliding with the enormous space station, we recognized the concern Biggs had for his young friend when he asked Luke if he was “all right”. He did his best to protect Luke from a trio of TIE Fighters in the trench run. Then, after no more than a few seconds of screen time in the film, his X-Wing exploded in a ball of fire. Biggs was gone, and we were left to imagine his and Luke’s history together.
And imagine we did. When we read the Star Wars Storybook, we saw pictures of a scene we had never seen. We saw Luke and Biggs at Toshe Station and read a brief snippet of their conversation there. When we opened the Star Wars comic, we saw more of the same. The radio drama provided us with the audio we needed to complete the scene in our minds. Furthermore, we saw the two friends reunited at the Rebel base before the attack on the Death Star through the same media. In the days before home video, many of us translated these visuals and words into fully-rendered scenes in our minds, leading some of us to insist years later that we had seen a version of the movie that actually contained these scenes. We could describe almost flawlessly the scenes we had never seen, filling in the gaps we hadn’t been shown, and building a story in our minds of the friendship of Luke and Biggs.
Others among us who hadn’t seen the comics or storybook became somewhat confused during the dogfight over the Death Star. Luke, when pursued by a TIE Fighter, muttered to himself, “Blast it, Biggs! Where are you?” As if responding to his words, “Red Two” drilled the unsuspecting Imperial with shots from his own X-Wing. The youngest among us wondered whether we heard Luke correctly or if perhaps we had mistakenly saddled the mustachioed pilot with the name “Biggs” and Denis Lawson’s character was actually Luke’s friend from Tatooine. In Luke’s trench run, the confusion continued as he distinctly referred to each pilot by their correct names. Which one was Biggs? Was Wedge someone Luke had known from Tatooine, as well? If Biggs was Luke’s best friend, why hadn’t we seen more of him?
As the years passed, we all came to understand which was Wedge and which was Biggs. We heard about “deleted scenes” with Biggs that were extricated from the movie. We learned the backstory through “making of” documentaries and publications, developed a fondness for Wedge through the next two films of the trilogy, and yearned to know more about the Biggs we never really knew on screen.
And then came the Special Editions in 1997. Most of the scene with Luke and Biggs in the hangar before the Battle of Yavin was reinserted into the movie, adding depth to the relationship between Luke and Biggs, and making his death more tragic for Luke — adding empathy to Luke’s response to his demise as the young Skywalker continued his trajectory towards the vulnerable exhaust port on the Death Star. Finally, we were given an onscreen representation of the friendship we had ascertained from various sources. While we wanted more, there was a feeling of satisfaction in seeing their joyful reunion in the Rebel Alliance.
But we wanted more. As Star Wars fans, we seem to always want more. Especially when we know footage exists showing the scenes we had seen in pictures, heard on the radio, and read in books. Graciously, in the Blu-ray release of the saga, we were given a relatively clean version of the scene on the bonus features disc. Many of us watched in silent reverence as Luke burst into Toshe Station to find Biggs among his other friends, playing games. We listened intently as Biggs told Luke about his plans to join the Rebel Alliance. We took a collective deep breath as we contemplated what we had just seen on our flat screen TVs, having finally seen what we had only imagined. The long wait was finally over.
The addition of the Luke and Biggs reunion in the hangar to Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition was a welcome addition to the movie we had all known and loved. It was brief, conveyed the depth of their friendship, and provided gravitas to the trench run scene, as Luke lost another link to his past. Lucas’s restraint from reinserting the deleted scenes from Tatooine were also the right choice, since they would have slowed the pace of the opening scenes of the movie and added an ultimately unnecessary plot line that would have distracted us from the dangerous situation taking place miles above the surface of the desert planet. In its treatment of the Biggs Darklighter story, the Special Edition hit the nail on the head.
Now, we have a unique opportunity to see the Toshe Station scene added to the official story line of Star Wars in Star Wars: Rebels, the animated series on Disney XD. As this new and exciting series tracks the growth of the rebellion, there is an opportunity for Dave Filoni’s crew to explore the “friends” Biggs reveals to Luke that he met at the academy. Perhaps he will meet Zare Leonis, a cadet we have already seen in the series. Maybe he has a run-in with Sabine Wren or even Ezra Bridger, who appears to be exactly the same age as Luke Skywalker. As the story develops, we might even follow Biggs home to Tatooine and witness (in animation) the joyful reunion of Luke and Biggs at Toshe Station. These things would probably not occur until the fifth season, but they would be worth the wait because they would establish the widespread growth of the rebellion, connect the new characters with familiar favorites in a meaningful way, and finally give us (onscreen) the satisfaction of seeing Luke and Biggs as the friends we know they are.
Before the Special Editions, we could only imagine. After a few seasons of Rebels, everything we have “known” may finally be realized. Only time will tell.Powered by Sidelines