Spoiler Warning for The Force Awakens and tie-in material
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a Multi-Part Series
Things have changed drastically in the thirty years since the end of The Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker is missing, and in his absence a new threat has risen in the form of the First Order, an organization formed from the remnants of the Old Empire. The First Order knows that the greatest threat to their power would be the return of Luke Skywalker to rebuild the Jedi Order.
General Leia Organa now leads a Resistance against the First Order with support from the New Republic. However, the truth of this alliance is more complicated than the film makes it seem.
We find in the novelization, and other expanded material, that the New Republic signed a peace treaty, the Galactic Concordance, with the defeated remnant of the Empire one year after the Battle of Endor. This treaty limited the Imperials in territory and military capability. Along with this treaty, the New Republic also passed a law limiting their own military to pre-Clone War levels to show their commitment to peace, though they still maintained the largest fleet in the galaxy.
However, at least some Imperials, rather than facing these limitations, chose to retreat from the known galaxy into the Unknown Regions, where they regrouped to form the First Order. This move was foreshadowed in the novel Aftermath: Yupe Tashu, a non-Force sensitive dark side historian and close adviser to the Emperor, proposed to the Imperial Future Council that the fragmented Imperial remnant move beyond the known galaxy. It was in this unexplored space that the Emperor had funded expeditions searching for the “source” of the dark side. Tashu believed that the Imperials should seek out this source as a means of restoring their power, hiding in the shadows until the time was right to strike back. His advice was ignored at the time, however, which ultimately led to the full defeat of the Empire and the signing of the treaty.
Unfortunately, the New Republic did not view the First Order as a real threat as long as they held to the terms of the Galactic Concordance. But the Order was indeed violating the treaty by rebuilding their forces in secret.
It was in the Unknown Regions that the Order established Starkiller, a planetary base and superweapon. According to the Visual Dictionary, the First Order chose this ice planet due to its “unique energy-transmitting crystalline deposits.” This description, and its location on canon maps, hints at the tantalizing possibility that this was once the planet Ilum, the main source of the Jedi for Force resonating kyber crystals, the key component in constructing lightsabers. Giant kyber crystals were also the source of power for the Imperial Death Stars, a technology expanding on ancient Sith superweapons.
Leia, knowing the First Order could not be trusted, and seeing that there was corruption forming in the New Republic, created her own private military force to act as a watchdog group against the First Order, bringing with her veterans of the Rebel Alliance such as Grand Admiral Ackbar and pilot Nien Nunb. While the New Republic tolerates the Resistance, it does not fully support it, with many seeing Leia as an alarmist and warmonger. There are, however, some senators who secretly support the Resistance and provide funding for their operations.
With hopes of restoring peace and justice to the galaxy, Leia sends her best pilot, Poe Dameron, to Jakku in order to recover a map that may lead to Luke Skywalker. This map is in the hands of an old ally, Lor San Tekka….
In the coming days, I will be publishing articles exploring individual characters in The Force Awakens. First up will be legendary explorer and “Church of the Force” member Lor San Tekka.
Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.
Chris “Darth Hound” Miller