In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke

General Hux

I think I’m in the minority out there…but I really like General Hux.  I’ve been reading many reviews that label him as a superfluous character in The Force Awakens but I would like to argue that people who are writing about that are missing the point of who he is.

General Hux is a bad guy, sure.  He’s not the main antagonist like Kylo Ren and, possibly in the future, SL Snoke, but he falls more in the realm of a secondary antagonist.  Maybe J.J. was trying to create him to be the new Grand Moff Tarkin but he fell short.  Not in a bad way necessarily, but just because General Hux is different from Tarkin.

General HuxHux represents a new generation of the Empire.  He is the ideal First Order candidate.  Similar to Finn, he was raised with Imperial propaganda as his breakfast, lunch and dinner.  General Hux sincerely believed that the Empire saved the Republic from the Clone Wars and the current New Republic is weak.  He grew up as a beast frothing at his mouth, trapped by the New Republic.  He’s what I would label a First Order Fanatic (FOF…nice ring, right?).

This is where he is different from Grand Moff Tarkin.  Tarkin worked strategically to get the Empire where it was.  Hux believed it was his God given right to rule the galaxy as one of the best Generals in charge of the biggest, baddest base.   Tarkin was someone who firmly believed the Empire should rule the galaxy.  Hux believes the First Order is there to wipe out anyone who doesn’t agree with them and he should be leading it.

He’s a maniac. I love it.

All his thoughts and actions are surrounding the First Order in a way that reminds you of a deranged serial killer.  He’s obsessed with bringing the First Order to the height that the Empire once was.  He steals kids from birth to brainwash them into being perfect stormtroopers for the First Order!  Wow.

Everything he says and does is purely for the First Order. Starkiller base and it’s troops are his tools that he works into perfection.  Even Kylo Ren does not live up to his expectations, possibly because he knows that he has not completed his training or maybe it’s because of his heritage that involves people who so vehemently opposed the Empire, and now, the First Order.  Though Hux makes mistakes, you can see that he genuinely believes he still has the best army in the galaxy, unlike Kylo Ren who shows a moment of weakness when Hux accuses him of purposefully letting BB-8 escape in favor of taking the girl instead.  General Hux hates weakness and hates mistakes, especially large blunders like the one Kylo Ren made.

All this leads me to talk about why I loved his speech.  There were a lot of complaints out there about how it was badly written, but I didn’t even pay attention to what was said.  I was enraptured with Hux’s face because in that moment, he is in his glory.  Everything he has worked so hard for over 30 years is coming to a the epic climax.  His eyes fill with tears and you can see he means every single word of what he is saying to the core of his being.  This is his moment to show the galaxy that General Hux and the First Order are not ones to be trifled with.

He’s crazy.  I love it.

 

Supreme Leader Snoke

There are rumors going around that Snoke is Darth Plagueis.  He looks like someone once dead and most importantly, people are arguing that Snoke’s theme is eerily similar to the music played during ROTS when Palpatine and Anakin discuss Plagueis at the opera.

I sincerely hope that Snoke is not Plagueis.

Why?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

Because the more I’ve written in this blog about Palpatine, the more I love his character.  Lucas did an excellent job intertwining Palpatine’s story between both trilogies to see that he was an absolute genius and mastermind in creating the Empire bringing the Sith back into power.  He was, in supreme leader snokeshort, a genius the galaxy had never seen.

Palpatine, as we know, also learned everything he could from his master Darth Plagueis, and then killed him.  He stole everything he learned.

Do you really think that Palpatine would let there be a chance that Plagueis could return?  By doing so, it shows a weakness in Palpatine’s planning and takes away from how amazing and intelligent 60+ years of his life was.

The music being similar is a good argument, but LFL and Disney has a bunch of tricks up their sleeve.  Remember that the previews led us to believe that Finn was the Force user, as opposed to Rey.

Or perhaps Williams is getting up there in years and forgot he already did a very similar piece.

I just don’t like the idea of Snoke being Plagueis because it takes away from Palpatine’s greatness.  I much prefer Snoke being Palpatine resurrected but, for some reason, I just don’t think that’s the case.  I could be wrong, but I think that would be yawn-worthy and hope they don’t do it.  I like Palpatine’s story just the way it is and I don’t think he should be brought back.

It would also be somewhat out-of-character for Disney to bring in a character that was only mentioned in the PT when they are focusing so much on pulling similarities from the OT.  I will argue that the opera scene is one of the most interesting and best acted scenes in the PT and I don’t think anyone could argue with that so perhaps if they take anything from the PT, they go with the Plagueis storyline since it is canon.

If you’re interested in reading all the theories out there on who Snoke is, combined into one place, click here.

But please don’t.  Leave Plagueis to history and leave Palpatine with his body in fragments across the galaxy after the second Death Star was destroyed.

 

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How The Clone Wars Succeeded and Failed

With the arrival of Star Wars Rebels, I thought it would be a good time to publish this guest post and look back at the last Star Wars animated series: The Clone Wars.  Please comment and love Icarus’ post on TCW.  His bio is below, if you would like more info.  (My thoughts on Rebels next week)

What can I say about The Clone Wars that hasn’t already been said? Star Wars fans hoped TCW would fill in some critical gaps in the three years between second-trilogy Star Wars films Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith.  Bonus if it fixed a few mistakes in the prequels.  What we got instead were very uncomplicated story arcs and tastes and teases but not much more depth to the Star Wars ecosystem — InterGalactic Banking Clan anyone — certainly not enough to satisfy the appetite of even the more casual fan.

The Clone Wars says goodbye

The Clone Wars says goodbye

The series is over but I’m writing this from the perspective of what potential it had at the beginning.  To be sure, I tried to binge watch the entire series and found that I could only stand to watch one, maybe two episodes at a time.  It was painful to listen to Kabuki theater level dialog overemphasizing the importance of obvious plot devices at the expense of storytelling. That was probably because each episode has to appeal the limited experiences of its kids audience.  In every episode you had comically inept droids trying to kill Clone Troopers and vice versa.  You have to handle this with a certain delicacy for your young audience.  To simultaneously kill bad guys, kill some good guys yet not bring the horrors of war too close to light.  TCW had to do this on the small scale while also keeping its eye on the end game, setting up the landscape for ROTS.

You cannot talk about ROTS without talking about Order 66 and how thousands of Jedi were slaughtered by clone troopers without any hesitation or sense of loyalty to their Jedi generals. I could see the droid army following this order more to the letter than the clone one, although given the level of ineptness portrayed by the combat droids, along with the ease with which Jedi Masters Yoda and Windu dispatched them, the number of Jedi actually killed would have been substantially lower.

I’ve always asked myself how could you pull something like this off?   Putting aside the logistics of getting word simultaneously to every despot in the galaxy, one thing that bothered me was in the movie, they show every Jedi getting ambushed because they were in a vulnerable position.  Yet the Jedi are almost godlike in their awareness and certainly wouldn’t have been just heading into battle as the order came in.  While the galaxy’s preeminent mystics/warriors can be caught by surprise, it’s also just as likely the Empire’s spin doctors exaggerated the number of Traitors eliminated under Order 66 with many more  Jedi  driven into hiding.

Clone trooper clone wars s5ep18War changes everyone and it is possible that Order 66 succeeded because the clone troopers saw the Jedi as an actual threat to the Republic.  Remember to outsiders, the Jedi are a very secretive group that keeps their Archives, a vast repository of knowledge, to themselves (Vatican anyone?). If you view The Force as a hokey religion and the Jedi as the Temple Priests, it follows that ordinary soldiers could see the Jedi as roadblocks to peace.

Though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m aware of the Fives/Tup arc that almost exposed Order 66 prematurely.  I’m probably way off on this but I suspect that arc serves to demonstrate that while moving toward complete domination of the Republic, Chancellor Palpatine wasn’t quite there yet and there is always the slim hope of a few people being in the right place at the right time

What are your thoughts on Order 66 and the clone troopers?

About me:  I am what you would designate as a casual fan at best.  When the original trilogy was out, the conventional “wisdom” at the time was that you could either like Star Wars or Star Trek, not both.  However, I like Star Wars and Star Trek and if that makes me a freak so what. Being from Chicago, I also like the White Sox and the Cubs except when they play each other in inter league.  If you like what you read, please read my regular blog at ChicagoNow and/or my personal blog and if you are on Facebook please give me a “like” at Mysteries-of-Life and of course feel free to follow me on Twitter at @Icarus2013.

Rewriting ROTS

I decided this weekend that I am going to rewrite some of Episode III.  I’m rewriting it enough to give it what would be a satisfying ending for myself.

I was talking with a friend about the shortcomings of the Prequels and we went back to the fact that Padmé’s death was incredibly lame.  She “lost the will to live”?!  Really?  Tricia Barr makes a great argument on this in an Insider article, where I mentioned it in a past post.  But at the end of the day, Padmé is a strong, wonderful character and her death deserved more respect.

And when I say that I think it “deserved more”, what I really mean is that…I think Anakin should have killed her.  I feel like I could have mentioned this before, but I thought about it more in depth this weekend.

Anakin choking padme

 

I would cut out all the dreams Anakin has about Padmé dying in childbirth throughout Episode III.  I mean, at the end, we all know it’s just an excuse to see Hayden Christensen’s bare, muscular, fabulous looking chest.  I can do without that fine looking chest and cut out all of his dreams.

If we really do want to focus on Anakin’s internal feelings, perhaps let’s focus on how he felt abnormally good and powerful when he anakin killing sandpeoplekilled all the Sand People on Tatooine.  How those feelings of power have become sort of addicting and let’s use that to contradict it against his feelings of guilt as a Jedi.  He knows he shouldn’t like the feeling of power and the act of killing…but he does and it’s slowly taking over his life.

Intersperse that with Palpatine’s wheedling ways and the way he cracks Anakin’s shells by making him doubt everything.  We can keep the pivotal opera scene, but instead expand on what was discussed in the beginning about the Sith not being afraid to embrace the dark side of the Force.  He can talk about how Anakin’s feelings are not bad at all, instead that killing-spree-power-trip is necessary in order to be aware of all aspects of the Force.

obiwanpadmeThen we have Obi-Wan on the other side, trying to mentor Anakin down the road of the Jedi, coupled with the Jedi Council’s mistrust of Anakin.  Anakin’s need to prove himself as a Jedi Master only further frustrates him as he wants to believe what Palpatine is saying so badly.  Within these scenes, Anakin finds out how Obi-Wan and Padmé have been schmoozing on the back porch together and gets jealous aka sociopath jealous aka dark side jealous and just mulls over those feelings in his head (and the thoughts in his head are like TCW jealousy, not what we see in the movies).  It further adds to his internal war because though he loves both Obi-Wan and Padmé, he is starting to resent the Jedi and Obi-Wan is, clearly, a Jedi.

When he finally does welcome the dark side and kills Mace Windu, he doesn’t utter “What have I done?”, instead he relishes in the joy of finally being able to embrace who he is.

At this point, he still loves Padmé because even in ROTS, Anakin wants Padmé to join him and rule the galaxy.  In his twisted head, he thinks she will want power too, be understanding, and still love him, despite being a Sith.  And then Obi-Wan comes out of the back of the ship and all those jealous feelings that have been mulling around in his head internally just come out in a rage, similar to what we actually see in ROTS.

The only difference is that this time – he kills Padmé deliberately.  He doesn’t care about his unborn child and doesn’t care about her.  His dreams of ruling the galaxy with his love are extinguished as soon as he sees Obi-Wan step out of the ship. Because at this point, Obi-Wan represents everything he hates.  Obi-Wan represents the Jedi, which stifled him and refused to let him use his powers to his full ability; he represents the life he has led where he was not able to see his mother, not able to love Padmé freely, not able to feel joy when she announced she was pregnant; and he represents the guilt that Anakin felt for wanting to kill and enjoy it.

padme on ground

Padmé is far enough along with child that they are able to save the children after Obi-Wan’s duel with Anakin/Vader.  They have awesome medical care in a galaxy far, far away so it’s no problem, obviously.  Or the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin is much shorter.  Or Threepio actually does something for once and pulls Padmé into the ship and manages to hook her belly up to something that saves the children.  Whatever.  Somehow, the children are saved and we still have Luke and Leia.

I feel like this makes the redemption in ROTJ so much stronger.  At the end of ROTS, Anakin is just downright twisted and evil…the Darth Vader we remember from the OT.  So when Luke breaks through and gets Vader to feel a little bit of love again, the ROTJ ending is much more poignant.

Or it can bring into question on whether Vader just killed the Emperor to feel the ultimate satisfaction of killing the hardest target.  Bwaha.  You’d never know if he did it for Luke or because he felt a good opportunity.

 

I know I can’t change ROTS, but sometimes I like to think, “What would I have done?”  Okay, now you all can feel free to tear my thoughts apart and point out all the holes.

As much as we all love Star Wars, is there anything significant plot wise (not characters) that you guys have wanted to rewrite in the Saga?

Palpatine’s Game of Chess

I was in the process of doing a Vader vs. Sidious showdown post when a thought struck me. Clearly Sidious would win, there’s no doubt. Then how come he didn’t?

The more I write on my blog, the more I realize how much of a master manipulator Palpatine really is. In simple terms: he maintained a double life as a Senator/Chancellor and evil Sith Lord. He slowly watched Anakin’s life progress, took on the role of a second mentor to him, and quietly fine-tuned all the proceedings of the Clone Wars so that he could reveal himself at the perfect moment. And, oh my goodness, so much could have gone wrong but it didn’t. He really knew the virtue of patience and played an amazing game of chess with the entire galaxy.

Hmmm, next move? Bringing the queen down.

Hmmm, next move? Becoming Chancellor, then Emperor.

Palpatine’s intelligence, ruthlessness, experience, Force sensitivity, and lightsaber combat are all near perfect marks. He was the perfect Sith Lord.

I guess I am struggling because I am confused on how he did not see that Vader could, perhaps, turn on him. It’s understandable that between the end of ROTS and all the way up to ESB, Vader was the apprentice he had worked so hard and long for. All his work was paying off as Vader went around killing all the remaining Jedi, helped establish the Empire, and became entrenched in the dark side. Padmé was dead and her child (or so Vader thought) died along with her.

But once you reach ESB, Vader knows his son is alive. Vader discusses his son with Palpatine in his hologram discussion:

What is thy bidding, my master?  

There is a great disturbance in the Force.                                               

I have felt it.                                     

We have a new enemy – Luke Skywalker.                                                

Yes, my master.                                           

He could destroy us.                                               

He’s just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him.                                  

The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.            

If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.                                  

Yes. Yes. He would be a great asset. Can it be done?                           

He will join us or die, my master.

palpatine hologramPalpatine is nervous about Luke. He senses that he could be strong enough to destroy both of them. And how does Vader react? He kind of waves his fear away. “Ohhh, he’s just a boy, why worry? And Obi-Wan is dead so it’s not like he’ll get far in his training.” So Palpatine reiterates that he doesn’t want him getting any stronger and Vader says, “Hey, why don’t we turn him to the dark side? He could be an ally?” Dude, you’re dumb. If that happened, Palpatine would take Luke as the new apprentice and you’d be dead (as we saw suggested in ROTJ). FINALLY at the end of the conversation, Vader says that if Luke won’t join them, he’ll kill him.

It just seems like in this entire conversation, Vader is evading the issue at hand and wanting to save Luke. It’s not until the end that he gives in and says he’ll kill him, but only if he can’t turn him to the dark side first.

Warning bells should be going off in Palpatine’s head right now. Either a) he is aware that Vader could be interested in keeping his son alive and is hoping he can trust him enough to do his bidding or b) he has no idea.

I just get this feeling that Palpatine did not sense things until it was too late. Luke does not turn to the dark side and also does not die. In ROTJ, Vader senses Luke is part of the strike force that goes to Endor to disable the shield generator. The Emperor, moving his pieces around on the chess game, knows all about this but does not sense Luke. I think this perturbs him that Vader is so finely attuned to his son (we saw hints of this at the end of ESB when he is calling to Luke and Luke is on the Falcon) that he has to say “I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader?” For someone so powerful in the Force, he should be digging deep into Vader’s psyche and soul to see if Vader feelings really are clear. But when Vader reassures him that everything is cool, he then goes to say Luke will come to Vader. All of a sudden, now that he knows about Luke, he knows what will happen next and his chess game is tweaked.

Why would he send Vader to Endor alone? I’ve always felt that the brief scene Luke and Vader had on the bridge was when the chisel started breaking into Vader’s commitment to the dark side. Palpatine should have sent Piett or someone else high enough but trustworthy to bring Luke in. Luke had his chance to start wheedling his way through Vader’s defenses, telling him that there is still good in him.

Luke and Vader

What I love about this whole scenario but what also makes me most confused is that Palpatine thought that Vader was completely turned to the dark side. Anakin was a complete raging river of emotions. Palpatine harnessed that and used it for rage and the dark side, but he should have been more alert when Luke was brought into the picture. I have issues with Anakin and Padmé’s relationship and how it was portrayed on screen, but he did love her a lot. So you’re going to think he’ll be fine when Luke is around? Don’t you remember that the first question out of Vader’s mouth (and he had already turned to the dark side) when he was in his iconic garb was, “Where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she alright?” If he cared that much about Padmé, you can bet that he would care and love his son.

So the point of this whole rambling post is: how did Palpatine not factor in Vader’s possible love for his son in his plans? Someone as intelligent and organized as him would not have a backup plan at the very least? I understand that he was hoping Luke would kill Vader and take his place…but seriously, he should have factored in all possibilities. And one of those possibilities would be that Vader would not let him kill his son and would save him by killing Palpatine.

luke vader rotj

Haiku 04.01.14

Vegetarian month is over.  Phew.  You know, it wasn’t too bad, but there were times when I was really frustrated and tired and didn’t feel like cutting up a bunch of veggies to make dinner.  I just wanted to throw some meat on a pan or in the oven and be done with it.  However, I think this was a good detox for my body and I didn’t cheat, forget, or mess up once!  I’ve done vegetarian spells before and I would always make mistakes (like getting samples of meat in the food court at the mall, or eating a sandwich with meat before remembering), but this time I can safely say that the full 31 days went by without one mishap.

And now it’s April.  My birthday month…and also haiku a day month.  My goal is to write one random one, and one related to Star Wars.  So really, two a day.  Bear with me.  Hopefully they will get better as the month continues, because that’s the goal, right?  *clears throat*

Is this April Fools?
Haikus are starting today
Not sure I’m ready…

Okay, I’ll wait for your round of applause to be done.  Thank you, thank you.  The Star Wars one was hard but after a few minutes of brainstorming, here is the first Star War haiku of the month!

Dark side clouded sight Only two Jedi remained At end of Clone Wars

Dark side clouded sight
Only two Jedi remained
At end of Clone Wars

I realized that the way you speak makes a big difference on attempting to form haikus.  For instance, the word “beautiful” in my mind, is three syllables.  But properly pronounced, it would probably be four syllables.  Our dialect has merged “be-au” into one syllable: “bue”, thus making it three syllables.

Anyway, I’ll work all that out later.  Let the haikus commence!