The EU Is Not Authoritative (and Flashback Blog: It’s Likely That Mr. Lucas Doesn’t Know)

Recently on The Twitter, a conversation along these lines came up again.

Perhaps I jumped in because I was in the process of migrating a lot of these into draft format; I was up late doing so when I saw something that I knew to be incorrect regarding how much the prequels were supposedly shaped by Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars work. It was something I consider a complete misrepresentation considering all Mr. Zahn did was roll out ideas that Lucas had already written but not used.

Love them or hate them, the prequels are completely original works by Mr. Lucas using his own concepts that were left dormant when he made the original films. He picked up a few bits here and there, like Aayla Secura as a background character, or dropping in an off-hand reference to Quinlan Vos, but all those did was solidify his revenue sources as legitimate and ensure fans kept up their fanaticism.

Did Lucas never actually name Coruscant (from the potential other draft names like Had Abbadon) until Zahn committed it to print? Yes. But that’s like giving the EU credit for all of Christmas when all it did was hang an ornament in the perfect spot.

I love to point to it, but Lucas threw out all of Boba Fett’s supposed back-story with the prequels, because he wanted to use him in the story he saw. He did pretty much kill the idea of “force madness” being what drove the clones to problems. The EU later went back and shoe-horned these things back into the firmament of lore, but it just proves that they’re not the owners of the story, just fellow fans lucky enough to get paid for what they dream up.

Anyway, it’s strange how relevant this blog is, still. It’s a real chicken–and–egg conversation.

Small note: The ref to “PH” is to Pablo Hidalgo, who was/is content manager for starwars.com/indianajones.com. He read my original blog and would comment occasionally. I’d like to think that at some future point, our paths will cross so I can shake his hand for being a pretty level head and voice back in the days of the old, crazy message boards. I’d hope he’d think the same of me.

Maybe we’ll meet at a future Star Wars convention, where I’ll finally wear a shirt stating “I am kesseljunkie” just to see if anyone remembers those old Message Board days. They are, after all, where kesseljunkie really began.

Flashback Blog: It’s Likely That Mr. Lucas Doesn’t Know

Originally published at blogs.starwars.com/kesseljunkie on Oct. 17, 2005

George Lucas knows a lot about Star Wars. He knows that Jedi are good and Anakin turned bad. He knows that the Jedi Starfighter is a visual predecessor to both the Star Destroyer and the TIE fighter, depending on which incarnation you are viewing. He knows that in Star Wars, space carries sound.

He does not, however, know that Plo Koon was a better fighter than Saesee Tinn – or that Tinn was a better pilot than Koon. Even if he knows, he does not care. This did not weigh in his mind at all when he directed Episode III. He simply knew that they were both members of the Jedi Council, and so he wanted to show each member of the Council get struck down in some way when Palpatine was revealed.

I remember that it was an actual point of contention for some on the boards that Tinn whould have been the pilot, and Koon should have gone to fight with Mace Windu. Not that it would have mattered, because in the grand scheme they both would have died still.

The fans have blurred the line, much like Star Trek fans, who hold their writers accountable for violating what was written in the tech manuals (exploit psuedo-science for fun and profit!). Saesee Tinn is the pilot! Plo Koon is the fighter! Both are echoes of “You can’t transport at warp speed!”

(And before you ST geeks jump all over me – yes, I know that now you can if both ships manage to merge warp fields…blah, blah, blah…)

Guess what? If the writer and/or director needs for it to happen, it does. He needed Tinn to go with Mace windu because – well, whimsy if that’s what it boils down to. He wanted the guy with horns to die with Sam Jackson. Okay.

Star Wars fans in general are mighty good sports about it, but for those of you that can’t let it go, just accept that it got re-written on the spot, and now Plo Koon is the better pilot. The EU is remarkably flimsy when held against Mr. Lucas’ wishes for his story.

Just ask Jaster Mereel.

[P.S. Thanks to PH for mentioning Plo Koon in response to an earlier blog, and tossing some fresh fuel onto the embers in my never-ending Reform the Fans Crusade.]

Flashback Blog: Elvis Dead: Is Elvis Alive?

They’re finally shutting down the old blogs.starwars.com servers, so I’m starting one last big migration of material so that it isn’t lost forever. This one is a personal favorite, dealing with the inability of fanboys (and girls) to “just let go” of popular/favorite characters.

It was received both well and poorly depending on different people who read it. I liked stirring up a little controversy over there, and this one did.

The thing I enjoyed most was when someone officially employed by the Lucas companies basically agreed with it. Pretty validating.

So enjoy. I doubt it would stir up as much controversy now as it did then. Also, I’ve completely preserved anything about it, even any spelling and/or grammatical errors.

Elvis Dead: Is Elvis Alive?

Originally published May 30, 2006 at blogs.starwars.com/kesseljunkie

There is quite the debate raging (still) on the Hyperspace Forum as to whether Mace Windu died when he, um, died. Apparently, he is subject to the same resurrecting devotion that brought Boba Fett out of the belly of the Sarlacc.

Welcome to the Video Game generation, where death is temporary and favorite characters come back so long as they’re backed up.

Lucas refers to Mace Windu’s death scene as that – a death scene. Sam Jackson was loudly criticized on the boards for affectionately speaking about his death scene so much. The Databank is completely and compellingly definitive in its statement that Windu is dead.

Mace died. It totally undercuts the tragedy of the situation to allow him any ‘out’. It undercuts the tragedy to imagine that any one of those kids walked out of the Jedi Temple after Anakin ignited his lightsaber. It’s an extension of the whole inability to process the concept of death that ‘resurrected’ Boba Fett for the die-hard fans who have an attachment to him because when they were kids, he caught Han Solo and so that meant he was the ultimate dude because Han Solo was just so cool.

Let’s all start theorizing that Anakin, unfamiliar with Neimoidian physiology, did not really hit a critical spot when he stabbed Nute Gunray. I never saw a medical droid pronounce him dead.

Let’s all start theorizing how Tarkin could have escaped the Death Star. I never saw a body! Just a loosely conglomerated series of images that imply he died on the Death Star, but no one chained him to his command post.

And the wampa did not kill the Tauntaun – he stunned him. Prove definitively that he was eating that actual Tauntaun when Luke disturbed him. Hell, prove the Wampa was a “he”.

It sucks when someone we love dies. Even a fictional character to whom we have become attached. Compassion makes us human, after all. But all the wishing in the world will never bring them back, and I for one would rail against and reject any Lucasfilm property that claimed that Windu survived. It would make Anakin’s fall less important and far less tragic, and lessen the magnitude of his redemption, which is the point of the whole saga.

You must let go of the dead ones, everyone. Let’s focus instead on some more, dynamic characters and plotlines for the new TV show instead of trying to resurrect the dead. Life moves on, and so must we.

Flashback Blog: It’s all About the Final Shot

The great migration of the blogs from the original kessel korner continues! (I almost have spelled continue with a “k” but…yeah…no. Krusty taught me that lesson.)

In this particular gem, I forayed into analyzing only the last moments from the films, and what they were telling us. It’s interesting to flip through these things and see how I was tentatively still trying to find a style. I imagine if I wrote this today, I’d toss in a token pot-shot at Star Trek fans just for the heck of it. As tempting as it is to edit and include that…nah. I’ll deal with them soon enough again.

Anyway, hope you enjoy my attempt at film analysis here. Oh, Professor Joe Miller, wherever you are…I blame you.


It’s All About the Final Shot

Originally published on July 28, 2005, at the original kessel korner.

The final shots of Star Wars films tell you a lot about them. They show, in a brief moment, one of their tying themes and one of their key philosophies; togetherness and the place of the hero.

One of the greatest things that George Lucas seems to have learned from John Ford westerns is the importance of community, family and togetherness to the saga of the hero. The hero belongs not just to the community, but within it. The success of his journey depends on his functionality within the society.

That is how you know the hero is necessary to the wellness of that which he is trying to save, and that it is worth the sacrifice. If we did not belong to something, why would we fight to preserve it?

Let’s look at the final shots of the films and see what they are telling us. You’ve seen them hundreds of times, and processed all of this information whether you noticed it or not.

The heroes always look out, toward some future we cannot see. Whether celebrating a great victory [Episodes I, IV, VI] or regrouping and gathering strength for a future struggle [Episodes II, III, V], the players stand and look out to the future to meet it.

Endings are never the end. Arguably, this is more clearly the case with Episodes II, III and V – the resolution leaves major questions unanswered. But it’s also the case in the other films. At the end of The Phantom Menace, Anakin is a boy and we know that his journey lays before him. At the end of A New Hope, Vader has survived, and we know that the entire Empire did not fall when the Death Star was destroyed. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor is vanquished, but the Jedi have yet to be rebuilt and there’s a galaxy that needs rebuilding. So at the end of each film, there is always something more awaiting our heroes, and whether it is with anticipation or reluctance, they are going to meet it together.

The hero is a part of a whole. The hero never stands alone at the end of a Star Wars film. With these shots, Mr. Lucas stresses the fact that the hero cannot do it alone. Padme with Anakin, Leia with Luke, and Owen & Beru together with Luke – families that will stay by each other and fight both alongside and for each other.

It’s the final curtain. The act is over, the story goes on, but for now the players must bow. It gives the audience what I call a “theater moment,” one that allows them (and Mr. Lucas) to acknowledge the players as the curtain calls for intermission, and finally closes at the end of this beautiful melodrama. It’s a great art that seems to be dying in modern Hollywood. The moment at the end of the act/play that gives you a breather, that lets you know this is the end. I could go on and on about how other filmmakers could take a note from this.

So that’s my take. Amazing what amounts to less than five minutes of total screen time can tell you about a story and its teller.

Flashback Blog: I Must Obey My Master

Yep. I’m still in the process of reclaiming my old blogs from their old origin points to protect them from being locked away from me for good. I’m also very tired and going to sleep pretty much immediately after I post this.

This time, I decided to nab another one that explores the nature of the Dark Side, but also Anakin/Vader’s dependency on Palpatine/Sidious. It’s something that, as a fan, I’m always interested in trying to peg down just because of the subtextual complexity laid down in that relationship.

So here are my thoughts from 2005, just a few months after Revenge of the Sith was released.


I Must Obey My Master

Originally published on August 24, 2005, at the original kessel korner.

There is something over which I have pondered for more than twenty years. In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader, on the forest moon of Endor, declares, “I must obey my master.” In light of the events revealed in Revenge of the Sith, I think finally know why.

Now, you must know that I am not pulling this from any official source. So don’t take my word as ‘canon’, unless like me, it makes the most sense for you. 🙂

I have always wondered why Vader must obey his master. It just didn’t make sense; Vader offered Luke the opportunity in The Empire Strikes Back to overthrow the Emperor. (As a side note, I loved the parallel moment in Sith when he made the same offer to Padmé.)

There are any of a number of noble reasons you can throw out there as well. One which I always favored was that Vader defends the Emperor, in part because on a subconscious level he wants to prevent Luke from making the same mistakes he did. That explanation still works in the subtext, but it’s not a strong enough motivator to keep Sidious alive.

Vader is already doubting the ways of the Sith by the beginning of Return of the Jedi. The statement, “It is too late for me, son” points to a conflicted soul, one who is resigned to his fate but unhappy about it. It’s not the triumphant declaration of power that we came to expect from Vader after A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, when he was still a blazing acolyte of the Dark Side.

Despite the conflict, despite the doubt, Vader acts first out of the Fear of Death. And since we know that Vader fears death above all other things, he must do everything in his power to protect…the wellspring of his life.

After Revenge of the Sith, it clicked for me when Sidious told Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis. The Sith want to acheive immortality by unnaturally prolonging life. The one word that Palpatine/Sidious hit on in the “legend” was power. Later, when Anakin turns, Sidious states that “only one has mastered” the secret to immortality, “but together, I am sure we can discover its secret.”*

The Emperor, when he goes to find Anakin on Mustafar, does not turn and look for a new apprentice. It would have made sense, would it not? Especially for a ruthless, self-serving manipulator like Sidious. He had already won. We know that Anakin is damaged goods by that point, and so does he. But rather, he goes to the lava shore and saves Anakin’s life. This is not a tender man, so to see any sort of tenderness does not fit.

Palpatine still needs Anakin, because as weakened as he is, he is still the key to Palpatine’s chance at immortality. After his slash-and-burn fate, Anakin needs Palpatine’s power to stay alive as well. They act like parasites, one feeding off the other.

That is the key. Together, Sidious and Vader are extremely powerful. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and I believe that one keeps the other alive.

Even in his weakened state as a zombie cyborg, Vader provides the power for the Emperor to cheat death…to a certain point. The problem is that Vader is no longer the powerful man that Anakin was, and as time marches on he cannot feed the Emperor’s “need” much longer. The Emperor now needs the whole, unspoiled son if he is to unlock the secret forever.

Vader, on the other hand, made three plays for power (Mustafar, Death Star, Bespin) and failed. The sun is already setting on him, and he knows that he has blown his chance at “independence”. He needs the Emperor in Return of the Jedi far more than the Emperor needs him. Vader must obey his master, because otherwise he will die. Without Palpatine, the key to Vader’s unnatural life ends.

“Luke, help me take this mask off.”
“But you’ll die.”
“Nothing can stop that now…”

I am already sure that everyone will tell me that it was the Emperor’s lightning that killed Vader. Being more machine than man, blah, blah, blah. But you know what? People survive Force lightning in the films. While I think still that it brings the house crashing down, it is the removal of the Emperor’s power that ensures Vader’s death. This adds even more nobility to the sacrifice. When he throws the Emperor down that ill-placed reactor shaft, he knows that he is committing suicide to save his son. That is the ultimate sacrifice – not to just throw yourself into harm’s way, but to know that it means your end.

So what was the final moment that pushed Vader over the edge? We all know that. But now, maybe I understand why it was such a difficult decision from the start.

* Give me a break. If I mis-quoted something, I know I was at least in the ball park. I haven’t seen Sith more than five times yet, the memorization will come.


I still think this is a pretty valid interpretation after all these years. Anyone have any thoughts?

Flashback Blog: Mace-ing with the Dark Side

It’s Sunday, I’m tired, I’m working from home to prep for a skirmish about a site at work (I will win) and I’ve got about 6 blogs in progress but not ready for prime-time. So I dug one out of the old Star Wars blog archive from the original kessel korner. I’m on a mission to take those all into this archive anyway since they’re bound to torch that area anyway as they rebuild the site. They’re shutting down the forums, it’s only a matter of time until they get to the blogs.

So I picked one that’s near and dear to my heart, and at the time generated a fair amount of controversy among my fellow fans. To be honest, I stand by my conclusions, and think that it certainly makes for a richer interpretation. Perhaps it was just born out of watching LOST too much. The Sam Jackson pic is the one I used all those years ago, the lightsaber is just added for flavor.

Anyway, enjoy.


Mace-ing with the Dark Side

Originally published on May 13, 2006, at the original kessel korner

Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
One of the best characters from the prequels, and one whose depth and importance is often overlooked. This is largely due to myopic fanboy bias and whining. There, I said it.

This blog is in response to an ongoing conversation thread regarding Mace Windu in the HS forums. In it, I stated that Mace Windu would have gone to the Dark Side if he had successfully killed Palpatine, and that interpretation was challenged. Here, I will provide my points as to why I think Windu was about to become a new Dark Lord.

First, this is definitely open to interpretation. My interpretation is that Windu was ready to do whatever was necessary for a “final victory”; to me, the willingness to win without principles equals a “Dark Side” movement.

Look at the whole picture. Mace was ready to take over the Senate (with good intentions, but remember that road to Hell being paved with them), in effect eliminating the Republic. The implication was that the Senators in league with Palpy would have to be removed from power, forcefully if necessary (no pun intended, but very much enjoyed). This is why Yoda said the plan led to a “dark place.”

Windu had one final step to take, since his thoughts were already going to that dark place. Kill a “defenseless” person to enact the plan.

Now, the roaring counterpoint I expect to see eloquently stated below is that Palpatine was never “defenseless”. I agree that he was completely without the means to defend himself. However, he was at the mercy of Mace Windu. Windu decided to show none, and he had a plan to take control and “clean out” the senate. Sounds like the making of a Dark Side switch to me.

Remember, Anakin did not become a Sith Lord by simply killing Dooku. But it made his later Dark Side actions easier, as it is a slippery slope once you are willing to leave your principles behind.

Mace Windu replica hilt
Awesome hilt design, and purple is my favorite color too. It’s also Sam Jackson’s, and he campaigned Lucas to let him have a purple saber, which broke the ‘rule’ for Jedi..

I don’t see the line, “Too weak…I’m too weak…” as an outright lie. There is a grain of truth in there. All the best lies, after all, have at least a grain of truth in them.

The balance of the Force is teetering on the edge at the moment Palpatine is staring down Windu’s blade. Palpatine had very obviously poured everything he had into killing Windu. I doubt that part of his master plan was to have his face get screwed up/ have his true face revealed, after all. Windu offered more resistance than he could handle. And he was about to kill him.

Palpatine had one chance at that moment. Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin steps in. Once he takes his energy to the Dark Side, the balance is tipped. The Dark Side experiences…well, let’s call it a “surge.” Yoda feels it halfway across the galaxy.*

Palpatine gets the necessary “rejuvenation” at that moment to just flat-out destroy Windu quickly and easily. Mace’s missing saber was pretty much irrelevant at that point; it definitely made it easier, though.

So in a way, Anakin cost Windu his life but saved his soul.

…From a certain point of view. 😉

* I don’t care if a map somewhere shows it’s less than that. You get the point.