It’s time to start a new year! Join Karl and Jason as they sit down to discuss the value of friendship as shown to us through the Star Wars saga! From the iconic relationship between R2D2 and C-3PO to the dysfunctional friendship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, your hosts talk about how good friendship can lead to the redemption of a galaxy! So sit back, relax, and usher in this great new year in the Lair!
In their latest episode, Karl and Jason sit down some of the deeper truths that are revealed in the Original Trilogy. From the concept of the “will of the Force” to how it interacts with character’s desires. They also talk about the big theme of redemption in a couple of different aspects as revealed throughout the films. So sit back, put your pondering cap on, and join them for another great episode!
While I have watched ROTJ close to a thousand times in my life, I was really inspired to write something brief about how love and redemption are presented at the end of the film. In just one short scene, so much of the the Truth which the tale of Star Wars teaches is revealed. I am referring to the scene when Luke takes off Vader’s mask right before Vader’s, or should I say Anakin’s, death.
This one particular scene does such a great job of “unmasking” what I would is one of George Lucas’ main themes in Star Wars. What begins in The Empire Strikes Back is brought to its full potential at the conclusion of ROTJ. When Vader confronts Luke in TESB, his motives are merely selfish as he only wants Luke to join him so that they can overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together; it’s still all about power for Vader.
Yet when Luke throws himself into the chasm of Cloud City I think what he does is plant a seed in Vader which shows to him that there is something more than the dark side, that there is something more important than power. When Vader and Luke meet up again in ROTJ after Luke surrenders himself on Endor, Luke tells Vader the Truth he has hidden himself from: “You were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.” Vader says that this name has “no meaning for me” but Luke fires back, “It is the name of your true self you’ve only forgotten.” Quite literally, Anakin has been hidden by the mask of Vader for so long that he truly has forgotten who he really is. It’s interesting as many psychologists have said for years that people make masks to hide themselves and stay safe. That is what Vader has done; his fear and loneliness causes him to hide behind the mask of Darth Vader. I think we too often make masks for ourselves so that we don’t have to face parts of ourselves.
Luke continually points out to Vader during their duel in ROTJ that he senses the conflict going on inside Vader. To Luke, it’s clear that Anakin is fighting to reemerge from the mask of Darth Vader. After Luke lops off Vader’s right hand (poor guy is always losing limbs!), he realizes what he has done and renounces the dark side. This was something Anakin was incapable of doing. Anakin’s fear won out causing him to join the dark side. However Luke gives him another example. Luke renounces the dark side because he knows who he is; “I am a Jedi.”
Yet the event that finally allows Anakin to reemerge from the mask of Darth Vader occurs as the Emperor begins to hurl force lightening at Luke with the intention of killing him. As each blast of lightening pours over Luke causing him more and more pain, it’s as if the lightening is also having an effect on Vader; each blast is burning off the mask that is Vader.
As Luke pleads, “Father!”, his cries for help break through the mask of Darth Vader and hit the heart of Anakin Skywalker. And thanks to the blu ray version we know Vader does not approve of his master’s actions towards his son. As he screams “NO!!!”, he throws the Emperor to his death thus saving the one person who has shown Anakin what selfless love is. Just as Luke was willing to die to try and redeem his father, now the father dies in order to save the son.
So finally we’re to the scene where I’ve been trying to make my point: the unmasking of Vader. Vader tells Luke he wants to look on him with the eyes of Anakin, no longer through the mask of Vader. Yet Anakin is incapable of removing this mask on his own. Quite literally, he is too weak and not to mention he only has one hand! So he literally needs the help of his son. I think this is a very powerful Truth statement being made. Just like Vader, we are incapable of removing the masks we wear on our own. Just as Vader needed the help of his son, so too do we need the help of others.
But what is it that ultimately unmasks Vader? Why love of course! Vader was so full of fear and so obsessed with power that he hid behind the mask of Vader and was incapable of being vulnerable to anyone. After the death of Padme, Anakin feels no one could probably love him so he hides behind the mask of Vader. But then Luke comes along and shows him again what true love is. So when Luke pulls back that mask which Vader has been hiding behind we see a great Truth about love: love exposes us and allows our true self to be revealed. When we are loved by another, be it a parent, a friend, a spouse, we are made vulnerable and realize that we no longer have any need for a mask! Love redeems and unmasks us!
Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!
On this episode, your hosts Nathan and Mark discuss the type of storytelling in Star Wars, specifically in reference to the similar patterns you see in the Star Wars universe. Sith come and go, they rise to power and are defeated, only to rise, once again a threat. Is it a pattern we enjoy, and one that is beneficial to Star Wars, or not? There are, after all, power parallels and patterns in our own history.
Can the ever going battles between the Jedi and the Sith be harmful to the Saga?
For movie only fans, do stories like Dark Empire feel like a slap in the face of Vader’s sacrifice?
Mark tries to get into the mindset to address the issue untainted by the Dark Side (the EU Side.) New Sith, Old Sith, One Sith, Lost Tribe Sith, Sith Emperors, Sith Marauders, Sith Wannabe’s, Banite Sith, Daminite Sith, how many Sith are there? Too many? The hosts delve deep in this episode.
Nathan looks forward to Kol and Cade Skywalker, the struggles of the future Skywalkers, and the Skywalker line being destined to stand against the Sith.
Nathan uses history to explain how the circles of life work and how it is plausible in the EU to have the Sith keep coming back like a bad cold.
Mark points out that even the Mandalorians keep coming back like the Sith. That the Jedi, Sith and the Mando’s are the BIG THREE of the Star Wars Universe. And, he ponders Emperor Palpatine’s living past RotJ and how Lucas himself was behind the “cloning of Palpatine” and how this may or may not have caused issues. Was a happy medium found? Or is there still potential for more retcons and additional stories around the Emperor’s personal clone usage?
Can the Sith be wiped out? In the EU that doesn’t seem to be the case, sometimes. Where can the story of Kam Solusar be found? Untold stories… who sets the bar? What IS off limits? Should the Sith have been left off limits? The hosts look at the examples of the Re-emergant Sith and if that was done well or not.
They discuss Lumiya’s early adventures. Mark points out that Darth Maul’s living after being halved shouldn’t come to a surprise to many EU fans. For instance, there’s Simus – the Sith, disembodied HEAD! If HE can live being just as a head, then Maul’s survival is a little less surprising.
Mark does not trust any Sith, and would like to see more clear cut answers to his questions about them from future Star Wars novels. Nathan points out how Lumiya’s backstory could have had more page time in Legacy of the Force. Then he gives a quick break down of the Sith Order over time. They discuss Untainted Sith… Sith who are Jedi? Jedaii?! They also discuss the Nightsisters – the female order who remind us very much of the Sith at times. Mark ponders that it could be worse then just a lot of Sith. The potential for more species being corrupted by Force users is very high in the SWEU.
They discuss the Lightning Rod of the Sith, (Jacen Solo) and more!
The Sith are like mold. You think you’ve wiped them all out, and they come back, more dangerous then you originally thought. Don’t laugh, more Jedi succumb to the Sith Mold then you might think! Also, some fan’s complain about the Sith re-occuring, but not so many argue the same about the Empire, even though the same case could be made.
Enjoy this episode, and never quote us the odds!
Book Review: Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare
If the hundreds of novels, comics, video games, movies, and TV episodes are the rice krispies, the Essential Guides are the melted marshmallow that holds it all together. They fill in the spaces you wondered about and even some you never thought about. If you are a fan of the Star Wars expanded universe then the Essential Guides are… well, essential.
Today, the next great Essential Guide is released and it does not disappoint. Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare is a 246-page book written by Jason Fry filled with everything you could want to know about the history of military and warfare in the galaxy far, far away. Filled with beautiful illustrations, this is a book that once you pick it up you will not want to put it down.
The Star Wars Essential Guides have really come a long way. I have been reading them since the beginning with 1995’s Essential Guide to Characters. The layout of the book was like an encyclopedia with individual entries for the different characters. This same format continued with the next four guides covering things like vehicles, weapons, planets, and droids. Then in April of 2000 (Has it been 12 years?!) Star Wars: The Essential Chronology was released. I loved this book. This was the first one to switch up the format. Instead of having individual entries, this one read more like an in-universe history book. If there were a Star Wars history class at the time, this would have been the textbook. A New Essential Chronology was released in 2005 with the same look and feel.
I think the Essential Guides work best in this format although I understand why some subjects work better in the encyclopedic format (Guide to Characters for example). The last few guides have really embraced the textbook layout with the Essential Guide to the Force being almost all textbook and the Essential Atlas being a bit of a hybrid. In some ways the Essential Guide to Warfare can be seen as the newest version of the Essential Chronology. It covers the entire history of the galaxy from the Celestials and Rakata to Cade Skywalker and Darth Krayt, just with the focus being more on the military side of things.
I was much more interested in the historical side of things rather than details of weaponry and ships. I found myself skimming over the “Armory and Sensory Profiles” where things like ship classification were covered. I instead was engrossed in the character stories. The book contains a number of “War Portraits” which tell war stories of specific characters. If it was Rohlan of Khaal fighting off Sith pirates or Ahsoka Tano’s letter to her friend, I was eating it all up. Some other characters given war portraits are: Boonta the Hutt, Juno Eclipse, Wullf Yularen, Baron Fel, Admiral Trench, General Grievous, and many others. The prologue featuring an account from the war prisoner Grand Admiral Osvald Teshik is not to be skipped.
The beauty of these guides is they can really get into the nitty gritty of the stories and tie everything together. They are also the best vehicles for retcons. For example the history of the Mandalorians is touched on and some of the discrepancies that exist have been “smoothed out”. Of course a book with this much text can also create its own continuity errors. There is one fact revealed that has me scratching my head and could possibly start some interesting discussions.
If for nothing else you should buy this book for the amazing illustrations. Star Wars Books has already given many preview images but that just scratches the surface of what is in this book. There are illustrations on at least every other page. Some are simple illustrations of ships or weapons but many are full page paintings. They have come a long way from the black and white illustrations in the original Essential Guides. The very detailed galaxy maps that were used in the Essential Atlas can also be found in this book showing things like the placement of sector armies and the paths of specific war campaigns.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are a die-hard Expanded Universe fan like me or just like to look at great artwork, you will enjoy this book. If you have never picked up a Star Wars Essential Guide this would be a great one to start with.
Highlights and Random Thoughts
I’m not sure you can spoil a book like this but if you are worried about spoilers you may not want to read the random thoughts below.
Xim the Despot was no match for the Hutts. (page 6)
Arden Lynn (of Masters of Teras Kasi fame) and her lover Xendor get a cool story. (page 17)
Xendor met the Ones? Did he go to Mortis? (page 18)
Prince-Admiral Jonash e Solo. Relative of Han Solo? (page 24)
Contispex and the Pius Dea Crusades were interesting to read about. (page 25)
Valenthyne Farfalla was half Bothan? What was the other half? Why does he have hooves? (page 44)
We get a name for Lord Hoth, Rohlan of Kaal. (page 44)
First official image (I think) of the bounty hunter D’harhan who has a laser cannon for a head. (page 61)
The 14th Army during the Clone Wars was called Red Tails (page 101)
Letter from Ahsoka to her friend. She was kind of crushing on Anakin :/ (page 102)
A recap of Palpatine taking power and Order 66 from the perspective of Kol Skywalker (page 105)
Fighter pilot slang. (page 141)
Lumiya with her lightwhip. (page 187)
Image of Abeloth fighting Jedi and Sith. (page 234)
What? No image of Ben Skywalker? In the whole book?