Revan vs. Dark Disciple

Revan-coverThousands of Years Apart;
But Similarities Abound

With a lull between Star Wars new canon novel releases (I currently have Catalyst, Ahsoka, Empire’s End, and Thrawn on pre-order), I’m taking the opportunity to expand my Star Wars Legends knowledge. This past weekend, I was transported back in time nearly 4,000 years on the Star Wars Legends timeline.

Well, 3,950 years BBY (“Before the Battle of Yavin”) to be precise.

The period is well known by many Star Wars fans as the Old Republic Era in which tales from the Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) reside. It’s many accounts were spawned from the KOTOR video game’s release in 2003 and popular characters had their stories continued in various forms of media.

One of the most well-known characters is Revan, a Jedi who turns to the dark side and then is redeemed.

Sound familiar?

But Revan’s similarities to the most famous Jedi turned evil turned good is not where this post is focused. No, in fact while reading Drew Karpyshyn’s novel Star Wars The Old Republic: Revan, I drew many more similarities between Revan and the main characters in Christie Golden’s novel Dark Disciple.

DD-coverBy contrast, Dark Disciple takes place approximately 19 years BBY.

Karpyshyn’s novel tells Revan’s story in the years following the events of the KOTOR game. Revan’s popularity warranted that the rest of his story be told. Golden’s novel continues the story mainly of Asajj Ventress, whose popularity also had Star Wars fans wanting more. The other main character in Dark Disciple is Quinlan Vos, who I also found very much like Revan.

Caution: Potential Spoilers Ahead

If you’ve read both novels, you probably already know where I’m headed. If you haven’t, proceed with caution as the rest of this post contains some plot specifics about each novel, although I’ll be careful not to spoil the ending of the books in case you haven’t read either one. I’m confident you can finish this post having not read either book and still pick them up later and enjoy them.

Revan & Quinlan Vos

I didn’t draw any comparison to these two male Jedi until the latter half of the book when Revan was locked in a cell for years drugged, tortured, and interrogated – severely. Much like Vos, Revan was captured by Sith and held captive for a very significant period of time. Both authors describe in detail how the characters battled the Dark Side and leaned on the Force as their only way of dealing with the enormous pressures their mind, body, and souls were forced to undertake.FreedRevan01

From there, the connections between Revan and Vos really hit home. Like Revan, Vos was lured to the Dark Side and partnered with the Sith (Malak & Dooku). Like Revan, Vos witnessed his partner’s demise at the hand of a Sith Lord (Scourge & Dooku). Like Revan, Vos returned to the Light and reaffirmed himself as Jedi.

Revan & Asajj Ventress

Revan may have returned to the Light and his standing in the Jedi Order re-established, but the novel makes a point to explain that following the events of KOTOR, Revan preferred to be incognito about his affiliation. He ended up as an outcast for various reasons, including his renouncing the Jedi way of not forming attachments and engaging in marriage. It reminded me of Ventress, who was betrayed many times by her Sith master and resorted to a life of bounty hunting and otherwise wanted to hide the fact she at one time aligned herself as a member of the Sith Order and later outright denounced the Sith.

DD Back CoverFrom there, the similarities began to fall in line for me: Like Revan, Ventress’ mission was to destroy the opponent’s perceived leader to stop a war (The Emperor, Imperial ruler & Dooku, leader of the Separatists). Like Revan, Ventress is hell bent on destroying her former master (Emperor & Dooku).

But perhaps the biggest reason I linked Revan and Ventress after reading both novels was how they both – being former Sith and for a season only looking inwardly at themselves – end up sacrificing themselves for the good of others. Each in their own unique way of course, as the novels end very differently.

And I’ll leave it right there.

Of course the storylines could probably be applied to many Star Wars accounts and perhaps countless other stories of different genre. But there was something about Revan and his story that made me think of Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress. Probably a coincidence because Golden replied to my tweet asking about a certain scene Kapryshyn’s novel stating she wasn’t familiar with it.Capture

Still, I can’t deny that both books contain stories of Jedi turned Sith, then Sith turned Jedi, and eventually two beings who kind of end up somewhere in the middle doing something uncharacteristic in a moment of clarity. Thousands of years apart but forever intertwined because of their journeys, because of their will, because of the Force.

May the Force be with you.

Star Wars #ComLINKS: Favorite Memory

Trying to come up with just one favorite Star Wars memory that trumps them all is virtually and literally impossible for me as a life-long Star Wars enthusiast.

Forget it. Not happenin’.

I have almost four decades of amazing experiences and unforgettable stories I can recall as if they happened only this morning relating to my Star Wars fandom.

No, I refuse to pick just one and call it my favorite.

So I’ll share a handful of my favorites along with the disclaimer that the list below certainly is not exhaustive and I retain the right to add, modify, and/or change anything at any time from this point forward. Because as you all know and I’m sure agree there’s never been a better time in the history of the Planet Earth to be a Star Wars fan.

Thank the Force I was alive during this period of our history. The below is basically a brief summary of my Star Wars life. Sorry not sorry:

  • Seeing The Empire Strikes Back in the early 80’s and having my mind blown as I was introduced to the Star Wars Universe.
  • Watching A New Hope over and over and over and over and over again at my best friend Derek’s house (who owned it on VHS).
  • Opening the Millennium Falcon on Christmas morning 1982.
  • Seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater (the first Star Wars film I saw on the big screen).
  • Turning an old wicker chair on its back and using my Star Wars action figures to re-create the Sarlacc pit scene. Our heroes always ended up escaping in the Millennium Falcon. Just FYI.
  • Re-creating the Sarlacc pit scene with my friends on my sisters’ bunk bed, which served as a desert skiff.
  • Using blankets, tables, chairs, and all the electronic equipment (anything with buttons or switches on it) to create the Millennium Falcon cockpit where my friends and I flew on countless adventures around the galaxy.
  • Opening a Kenner DL-44 blaster on Christmas morning 1983. I can still hear those laser blast sound effects.
  • Taking The Empire Strikes Back lunchbox to school every day of third grade.ESBlunchbox
  • Opening the Original Trilogy on VHS on Christmas morning 1987.
  • Purchasing the Original Trilogy on DVD.
  • Reading The Thrawn Trilogy.
  • Seeing The Phantom Menace on release day at midnight with whoopin’ and hollerin’ Star Wars fans.
  • Seeing Attack of the Clones more than 10 times at the theater. Many, many, many work lunch breaks were extended into the early afternoon. My boss never found out!
  • Counting down the days to Revenge of the Sith and then trying to soak up every last second of the movie thinking it was the last time we’d ever see a Star Wars film on the big screen.
  • Seeing the Star Wars Special Editions in theaters in the late 90s.
  • Getting into the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels because that’s all we had!
  • Cosplaying as Darth Vader for my nephew’s and son’s birthday parties.
  • Creating a Star Wars movie for my 5-year-old son to star in.
  • Producing and starring in my own Star Wars fan film.
  • Learning Disney was going to make a new trilogy and anthology films.
  • Staying up all night waiting for the release of The Force Awakens on Thanksgiving night and seeing those X-Wings soar over the lake and Kylo’s new lightsaber. And the Millennium Falcon!!!
  • Star. Wars. Legos. Enough said there!
  • Attending Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim and meeting Dave Filoni and the cast of Star Wars Rebels.
  • Meeting Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and getting a photo with them.
  • Meeting Stephen Stanton, the voice of Governor Tarkin.
  • Meeting so many awesome Star Wars fans in person and online and joining the awesome Star Wars communities on social media where we discuss all things Star Wars and share our experiences and reactions.
  • Receiving an autographed picture of Darth Maul from Ray Park.
  • Seeing The Force Awakens on opening night with my family and friends and taking my kids to see their first Star Wars film on the big screen.

And thousands more in between …

How cool is it knowing all of our Star Wars memory lists will continue to grow during our lifetimes? Our experiences with the Galaxy far, far away will keep piling up for ourselves, our families, and those we love. Sharing all of these with them and with you are what makes Star Wars fandom the best fandom in the universe.

Thank you for accompanying me on a trip down Star Wars memory lane. What’s on your list? I can’t to read yours.

May the Force be with you.

Star Wars ComLINKS: Top 5 TFA Scenes

Now that the Jakku dust has settled (somewhat) and a majority of – if not all – Star Wars fans have seen The Force Awakens, it’s time to recount my Top 5 favorite scenes from the long-awaited installment of the Saga for this month’s Star Wars ComLINKS.

94f3c0701c366eca4ebe78701b436dc0No. 5 – BB-8’s thumbs up

Definitely the most humor-filled moment was Finn and BB-8’s exchange after they escape Jakku and before running into Han and Chewie. Finn pleads with the droid to reveal the location of the Resistance base in order to keep up the ruse he’s with the Resistance. Rey needs to know the location of the base in order to pilot the Falcon and deliver BB-8 and the map, but obviously the former First Order Stormtrooper has no idea.

When BB-8 decides to reveal the location and Rey ducks back down below the Falcon’s floor to keep poisonous gas from leaking into the ship, Finn gives BB-8 a thumbs up and the droid responds in kind – with his tiny blow torch serving as a pseudo-thumb – much to the delight of the audience. I’ve seen The Force Awakens seven times as of the writing of this blog post, and each time this scene has drawn the most laughter.

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 16: (L-R) Actors Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher speak onstage during Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 16: (L-R) Actors Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher speak onstage during Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

No. 4 – The hug

No, I’m not talking about Han and Leia. Not Chewie and Leia. Not Finn and Rey. All great moments, but my favorite hug is the one between two people who had never met until the Falcon landed on D’Qar after the destruction of Starkiller Base. I’m talking about Rey and Leia.

In a scene absolutely dripping with meaning and emotion, two strangers – but one with the Force – meet and embrace with ne’er a word being spoken. Often in The Force Awakens did the sights and sounds provide all of the dialogue that was necessary. This was another one of those instances where two people who had lost something very dear could comfort each other because of an invisible but all-powerful bond.

I’ll leave it up to the speculative experts who will attempt to fabricate Rey and Leia’s history (if there is one), or theorize the hug signifies this or that. My thoughts on the touching embrace are simply that Leia’s abilities allowed her to recognize Rey as another person strong with the Force and could feel her concern and confusion surrounding her new-found knowledge and skills. Likewise, Rey – even with her limited experience in the ways of the Force – could feel Leia’s pain and sorrow. Leia knew her only as “the girl.” Rey only knew her as the leader of the Resistance. But in that moment, they both were so much more.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) ..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) ..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

No. 3 – First appearance of the Falcon

A highly deserved round of applause to J.J. and Lawrence, or whomever decided to present the Millennium Falcon to us on Jakku the way they did. For Finn to point to a ship off Capturescreen and Rey’s response describing it as garbage, and then for them both to turn when the quad jumper was destroyed and go for Plan B… well, it was just perfect.

I don’t know about you, but that was the second time I cheered loudly during the movie – the first time being at the very beginning with the Lucasfilm logo and opening crawl.

When the camera pans up and we see the unmistakable profile of the Falcon, it really hit me that we were truly home. How long has it been since seeing the YT-model freighter on the big screen? Too long!

reyresisting

No. 2 – Rey resisting Kylo’s mind probe

My favorite line in the movie is when Rey pushes back against Kylo’s attempt to read her mind, discovers her ability to read his mind, and says:

“You. You’re afraid… that you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.”

Kylo is snapped out of his concentration with a look that could kill. Kylo had discovered her Force sensitivities before that moment because when he first began to search her mind, he said: “I know. I feel it, too.”

He then went on to describe her thoughts – insomnia, loneliness, Luke’s location (which is VERY interesting and gives us a clue to her past involvement with Luke?), and her feelings about Han Solo being a father she never had. When Kylo dug deeper to find the map she’d seen via BB-8, inadvertently stepping over Luke’s actual location in her mind, Rey began to resist the mind probe and turned the tables on him. The look on Kylo’s face was priceless.1450450950719

No. 1 – Rey piloting the Falcon with Chewie’s blessing:

How come Chewie doesn’t pilot the Falcon to go find Luke? Isn’t he the rightful owner now that Han is gone? He certainly has more experience than Rey handling the Falcon.

No, there’s a reason Chewie sat in his customary co-pilot’s chair to depart D’Qar. Rey entered the cockpit, set her quarterstaff down, and then cautiously slid into the pilot’s chair while glancing over at Chewie. I would submit that in that moment she was surprised to be allowed to sit there – confirmed by her ever so slight smile.

Folks, this final sequence of the movie is just soaked with meaning. The passing of the torch. A changing of the guard. You can use whatever cliché you want, but I don’t think there’s much to debate what’s going on in Chewie’s head. He acknowledges Rey as a worthy pilot and someone, as Han said, who appreciates the Falcon. And she speaks Wookiee to boot! You can see it in the look Chewie gave her as they entered the planet’s atmosphere and headed to the island where Rey eventually found Luke.

Now, I admit it could be Chewie allowed Rey to pilot the Falcon because she had to use her Force sensitivities to find Luke on the planet’s surface, but he certainly could’ve piloted the ship with Rey in the co-pilot seat directing him. There’s just so much more going on here. That pilot’s chair is sacred.

Also, how come Chewie didn’t accompany Rey up and across the mysterious island to find Luke? Why did he stay behind and allow Rey to venture out on her own? To guard the ship? R2 could’ve done that. Chewie and Luke go way back. Isn’t he excited to see his old friend?

I think you know the answer. Chewie, like Luke, doesn’t need to say or do anything in this final scene. His actions speak louder than words.

Rey is special. Rey is the one.

What were your favorite scenes in The Force Awakens?

Twilight Company – Raw, Gritty, and Entertaining (non-spoiler review)

star-wars-battlefront-twilight-company-reviewAs an avid reader of the new Star Wars canon, I continue to be pleased with the way the universe is being expanded. Gone are the days of our heroes having to be morally justified in every act they commit. No longer is the Empire a bunch of faceless, heartless, ineffective soldiers. No, the new Star Wars Universe rebooted by Lucasfilm and powered by the deep pockets of Disney is changing our point of view of the Galactic Civil War.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company is the latest novel (released Nov. 3) that continues these themes and brings a new and powerful perspective to the conflict that has captured our imagination for generations. Even more fulfilling is the fact the book is the author’s (Alexander Freed) first novel. Bravo Mr. Freed! I hope he is commissioned to pen more new canon stories based on my Twilight Company experience.

Twilight Company‘s release coincided with and is considered a companion novel to the Star Wars: Battlefront video game, which was released a few weeks later. It follows the story of a handful of platoons that make up one of the Rebel Alliance’s most effective companies – both from a standpoint of winning worlds back from the Empire’s grip and covering the Rebels’ hindquarters when High Command orders a withdrawal. What transpires is a raw, gritty, and entertaining story that pits common foes but does so without the usual elements – mainly the Force.

Indeed, what we experience in this novel – which is set in the few months after the events of A New Hope – is traditional warfare (well, as traditional as it gets in a galaxy far, far away). These Rebel freedom fighters don’t have the Jedi’s ethics and honor getting in the way when the circumstances require them to act swiftly and ruthlessly. Likewise, the Empire’s forces are portrayed in a much more “realistic” light – they don’t miss every shot and aren’t bumbling around. Instead, they are effective, organized, and a real threat – mainly because of their sheer numbers.

Twilight Company introduces us to a band of new characters and doesn’t dwell on our hold heroes, meaning all of Twilight crew is expendable because the Star Wars Universe timeline doesn’t rely on their survival and could easily be killed off without ruining any sort of continuity. I’m not ashamed to admit there were certain scenes where I was probably white-knuckling my Kindle as I swiped through the pages of my advanced copy. You get to know the characters, their relationships, and their back stories that frame how they think and why they do what they do – all the while dealing with the fact they could be gone in the next paragraph.

The main character, Namir, is not your typical Star Wars hero by any stretch. He’s cynical, angry, and lost – not even sure why he is involved in the conflict sometimes. It takes a few swigs of some liquor and a conversation with an unnamed pilot (when you read it you will know who it is!) before Namir begins his path to a self-realization of what he’s fighting for. Namir’s rapport with and loyalty to his comrades helps you grow to like him despite his pessimism and you get a real “Band of Brothers” type feel as you read how Twilight Company plans and executes its missions to advance the Rebel Alliance’s cause. There are no lightsabers or Force-weilding protagonists to save the day. It’s pure will, grit, determination, and the innate power of survival that allows the soldiers to survive another day against the Empire’s tyranny.

To further expand on these themes of humanizing – if you will – the two opposing forces, we are introduced to a female stormtrooper, based on Sullust. Tharra, who is forced to balance her loyalty to her Imperial CO’s while dealing with the perception her fellow Sullustan citizens have about the Empire – and even her own father. Further cultivating the theme of the humanization of stormtroopers who aren’t just nameless, faceless, mindless grunts, we see how Tharra is fed the Imperial propaganda and how she lives in constant fear of a Rebels attack.

The story is somewhat like Claudia Gray’s YA novel Lost Stars in which our new heroes’ lives are intertwined with major events of the Original Trilogy, which I found to be extremely fulfilling. In Twilight Company, the characters are part of one of the major battles any Star Wars fans would recognize. It is not, however, the major conflict of the story and only adds to its richness so readers are able to tie this story to the ones we hold near and dear to our hearts. I refuse to spoil any part of this book in this post and won’t get into the plot until I write a much more in-depth review, but I will mention here that Twilight Company is forced to make a decision that proves to be a turning point in their lives but is not pivotal to the greater war. While that may turn some people off to digging in and enjoying Freed’s first novel, the climax of the story does anything but just fizzle out and leave you asking ‘Why should I care?'”

No, Battlefront: Twilight Company ends well and despite the ride not being like any Star Wars story you’ve ever read before, Freed provides just enough sprinkling of the Saga combined with new and compelling characters along with a captivating story that you’ll retrospectively thank the Force you decided to crack.

Alexander Freed is the author of Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Lost Suns, as well as many short stories, comic books and video games. He resides in Austin, Texas. Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company is published by LucasBooks and is 416 pages.

Advance copy provided by Netgalley (www.netgalley.com).

Star Wars ComLINKS: Poe Dameron is our next Han Solo

poeandhan

Oscar Isaac announced at The Force Awakens panel at Star Wars Celebration last April that his character, Poe Dameron, was “the best fricken pilot in the galaxy.”

Confident. Cocky. A bragger with swagger.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing Poe on screen December 17th – in IMAX 3D, no less – because of that smugness. He’s my choice for the character I’m most looking forward to when The Force Awakens is released next month – and the topic of this month’s Star Wars ComLINKS.

As an “original” Star Wars fan, as I affectionately refer to myself having grown up with the Original Trilogy (I was 9 when Return of the Jedi was released – the first installment of the saga I saw on the big screen), I always aligned myself closest to Han Solo. His confidence and cockiness was immensely alluring. He was cool. He was a helluva pilot. A gambler and a scoundrel, of course. He got the girl, he was heroic, and he got paid! A solid day’s work and my kind of dude. Han was the Star Wars character I role played the most as a youngling.

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Poe is our next Han Solo – at least I’m hoping so. All we’ve really seen from the teasers and trailers for The Force Awakens is Poe yelling and piloting an X-wing in at least two different in-atmosphere battles. Disney Channel’s sneak peek on November 13th gave us a single Poe line of dialogue that signals a pivotal moment in the new film:

“We’ve got company.”

Coincidence that Han yelled something very similar to Luke on the Death Star? I think not.

One of my favorite scenes from the full trailer for The Force Awakens that was released during Monday Night Football on ESPN in October was Poe being tortured by Kylo Ren. I immediately thought of the other Original Trilogy character who we saw being tortured on Cloud City – Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.

With only a handful of shots and really just the one line of dialogue, it’s hard to draw many comparisons between Poe and Han, but if my insights are serving me well, I think we’ll leave the theater after seeing The Force Awakens with the realization that Poe Dameron is our next Han Solo. After all, both characters only have three letters in their first name and neither are Force sensitive (so far). I also think Poe and Finn will have a relationship like Han and Luke did. The scrolling scene of Poe and Finn running into each other in the full trailer reminded me of Han and Luke on Yavin 4 before the attack on first Death Star.poeandfinn

Will we see Poe exude confidence and cockiness? I do think so. Will he exhibit exceptional piloting skills and leadership qualities? For sure. A gambler and scoundrel? We’ll see. Will he be heroic and get the girl? I certainly am hoping for that.

One thing’s for certain – Poe’s story in The Force Awakens will have its ups and downs and that will make his character compelling for sure. Considering what we’ve seen and heard so far, Poe’s story within the grander story will be quite interesting. Considering also how he’s already been tied to the Original Trilogy with his parents being involved in the Battle of Endor and fighting the Empire alongside Han, Leia, and Chewie, Poe’s backstory is something I’m very much looking forward to learning about.

Come December 17th, I’ll be in my seat ready to experience The Force Awakens in all its glory. With so many new characters and a brand new story, I’m sure many favorites will emerge – from its characters, its ships, planets, and epic battles. Poe’s will be one of many and I can’t wait to see his character and his heroism first hand.

I’ll close with my BOLD prediction regarding Poe and The Force Awakens, which if it does come to fruition is sure to draw applause and cheers from the Star Wars faithful in those theater seats with me:

*** Poe will utter the classic Star Wars phrase: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” ***

May the Force be with you.

Star Wars The Force Awakens International Trailer Reaction

Such a different feel to the International Trailer – not as hard-hitting mainly because of the different music, but oh the feels nonetheless. This one hit me harder – probably because I’ve seen the new footage so many times the past few weeks – so the new shots just pushed me over the edge. Misty eyes…

The Force Awakens Trailer Reaction

My Star Wars The Force Awakens official trailer reaction – hahahaha. I think my mouth was open for more than 2 minutes!

Bold Predictions for Rebels Season 2

Check out my Season 1 recap HERE.

 With nearly twice as many episodes of in season two of Star Wars Rebels than we had in Season 1, I’m looking forward to the continued character development, specifically Hera, Zeb, and Sabine. Those three were relegated somewhat to background characters in comparison to the heavy emphasis on Kanan and Ezra’s relationship and their training in the Force. It’s understandable why the focus was on the two Jedi, but now it’s time to gain a similar understanding of the rest of the Ghost crew’s backgrounds. Including Chopper.

While the Inquisitor was definitely scary and I love Agent Kallus’ style, it wasn’t until Tarkin and Vader showed up that I felt the Empire was again a threat to the Ghost crew’s efforts. Throughout Season 1, stormtroopers bumbled along getting their heads knocked off by Zeb, outsmarted by Chopper, and out skilled by Ezra. But as we all know, the overall state of the galaxy needs to deteriorate quickly in order for us to continue seeing the formation of the Rebel Alliance and inevitable all-out galactic war.

I very much would like to see the two new inquisitors dispatched by the Empire to hunt down the Jedi provide a significant threat to the Rebels. We found out recently Sarah Michelle Gellar will voice the female inquisitor, who’s called the Seventh Sister (which sounds Dathomirian to me). I hope the inquisitors are as intimidating as they appeared in the Season two trailer and prove immensely effective against the ever-improving Jedi, who now have Ahsoka’s training and experience, as well. The battles should be more intense and the stakes should get higher each episode.

Of course the main event would be an Ahsoka-Vader meeting. While I’d certainly love to see an epic lightsaber duel between the Ahsoka and her former master, the first time they run into each other should be dripping with drama and intrigue, so it’s okay if it’s not an all-out war between the two. I envision something like Luke and Vader, where they end up dueling twice before a winner emerged.

When asked a few weeks ago about an Ahsoka-Vader meeting, Filoni said “if” they were to meet, Ahsoka “wouldn’t be a push over.” Filoni went on to say Ahsoka is “well-equipped” to deal with Anakin.

Bring it on!

5 BOLD PREDICTIONS

I have some BOLD season two predictions. These are, obviously, pure speculation only and—if I’m honest—just wishful thinking on my part. So take them with a grain of Lothalian sand:

The Return of Darth Maul – I’m of the opinion Lucas made a big mistake in killing him off (or so we thought) in The Phantom Menace and didn’t get to see him in Episodes II and III, so when Maul was brought back into the canon story inThe Clone Wars, I yub yubbed for weeks! I adored the episodes Maul appeared in because he’s a true villain and frankly, he scares me. Thankfully we got the comics to see what happened after The Clone Wars was cancelled, and last we saw Maul, he and the Death Watch escaped—again. Which leads into the following theory…

Sabine is connected to Death Watch – We heard this past week we’ll get to see more about Sabine’s past in season two, and more specifically her Mandalorian roots. I’m thinking Sabine may even be Bo-Katan’s relative in some way (dare I say, her daughter?), with a name so similar to Bo-Katan’s sister, Satine. Look for her family tree on Mandalore to contain someone from The Clone Wars. Pre-Vizsla?

Death Star 1 – I’m betting we’ll see the first Death Star under construction like we saw Death Star 2 in Return Of The Jedi. I’ve got a feeling when Vizago calls in his Jedi favor, it has something to do with him hoping to cash in on the Empire’s needs for materials to build the battle station.

A Princess Leia sighting – The budding Alderaanian senator would be around 15 years old, so seeing her beginning to make a name for herself in the Imperial Senate would not be a stretch whatsoever. If you’ve read Alexandra Bracken’s “The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy,” you know this isn’t really much of a BOLD prediction.

Death of the Clones – As much as it pains me to think it, my gut says Rex and the other Clones will see their demise, but not before making a lasting impact on the Rebels in helping them become properly equipped for the imminent Galactic Civil War. And it would be fitting to have the Clones, who used to serve under Anakin, meet their end at his lightsaber.

There you have it. These are my predictions for Star Wars Rebels in season two. Tell me if you agree or disagree and why. Do you have any predictions or hopes for the upcoming season? Let me hear them before October 14.

Children Of The Force: A Rebels Season 1 Recap

See my BOLD predictions for Season 2 HERE!

This Star Wars Rebels recap contains spoilers. If you’ve yet to watch season one of the series, we recommend doing so. If you’re planning on jumping in with season two, carry on.

Star Wars Rebels won me over quicker than a wampa could tear into a tauntaun. Why did I become attached so quickly? Because it did everything right straight after takeoff. The stories were focused on its characters and their relationships. It gave nods to classic themes and designs that emulated the original trilogy. Most of all, it looked and felt like Star Wars.

When Rebels launched in the fall of 2014, it had its naysayers. It reminded me of a time when its animated TV series predecessor, The Clone Wars, had first aired in late 2008—met with the same level of skepticism.

A Star Wars cartoon? It’s for kids. Adults won’t watch it. It’s too juvenile to be taken seriously. Besides, the designs are all wrong. It doesn’t look and feel like Star Wars. That Ashoka Tano character is super annoying.

As we all know now, The Clone Wars evolved into an absolutely amazing show and is regarded by many as important to the Star Wars canon as the six feature films. The Clone Wars was at the top of its game by the time season six rolled around. Still, as Han Solo might explain, the jump to hyperspace would take some time.

Here’s the difference: We didn’t have to wait for Star Wars Rebels to get good. Cynicism crept in when it was first announced, but Dave Filoni and his team silenced critics immediately. Their experience in producing quality, thought-provoking, dramatic, and compelling stories and characters with The Clone Wars positioned Rebels for a home run in the first inning.

Now, I’m not saying Rebels is better than The Clone Wars. What I want to highlight is that the all-around quality of Season 1 of Rebels was light years ahead of The Clone Wars‘ initial run. Oh, guess who appeared in the Rebels season finale and blew all our minds? Yep, that annoying Ahsoka Tano.

Well played, Lucasfilm.

Season two of Rebels continues Wednesday, October 14. Although, DisneyXD aired a one-hour season two premiere in June entitled “The Siege of Lothal” that got us all fired up for what’s next for the crew of the Ghost and their new allies. Before we talk about season two—and I have some bold predictions—let’s spend some time recapping some of the top story lines from Season 1 as a refresher.

VADER CAMEO

Season one started with a bang. Seeing Darth Vader and hearing him voiced by none other than the incomparable James Earl Jones left a heavy impression. Initially, the first episode aired on Disney XD in early October 2014 without the clip with the hologram of Vader and a kneeling Inquisitor, which was eerily reminiscent of Vader kneeling before a hologram of Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back. ABC re-aired the pilot a few weeks later with the bonus scene.

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The conversation between Vader and the Inquisitor was key – Vader mentions the Jedi being all but extinct, however the Inquisitor’s job continues because the Emperor has foreseen a new threat rising against him. “The children of the Force,” Vader said. “They must not become Jedi.”

That one line of dialogue set the stage perfectly for Season one, which showed us how the crew of the Ghost came to join the Rebellion, helped immensely by a few Jedi. We got to know and fell in love with a rag-tag team that saw the terror and injustice the Empire was spreading and decided they weren’t going to just sit by as spectators.

Instead, they became specters.

THE GHOST FAMILY

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Specter 1 is Kanan Jarrus.

Species: Human.

Details: Jedi. Survivor of Order 66. A space cowboy, as he was introduced to us in early show promos.


Specter 2 is Hera Syndulla.

Species: Twi’lek.

Details: Captain of the Ghost. Daughter of Cham Syndulla, freedom fighter, from The Clone Wars.


Specter 3 is Chopper.

Class: C1-10P droid.

Details: Mechanic. Navigator. Gunner. General pain in the ass if you ask Specter 4.


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Specter 4 is Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios.

Species: Lasat.

Details: The muscle. Favorite past time is beating up stormtroopers and kicking Chopper around.


Specter 5 is Sabine Wren.

Species: Human.

Details: Young Mandalorian warrior. Demolitions expert. Artist. Deadly with blasters and a can of paint.


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Then came the star of the show—orphan Ezra Bridger. Before he became Specter 6, he was fighting the Empire his way. We see his Force sensitivity mere minutes into season one, and later we find that he and Kanan have an instant connection. Kanan is impressed by Ezra, so he and the crew of the Ghost show the “Loth-rat” how to fight the Empire for those who can’t—pushing him to look beyond himself and use his skills to do more for his planet and galaxy.

What has made Rebels a fast and solid addition to the Star Wars canon is a continuing theme—a crew’s tight-knit family dynamic.

So this teen-age kid, a loner—whose parents were a voice of hope to the Lothal people before being captured by the Empire and their fate now unknown—becomes a part of this new family: Kanan, a father-figure struggling to figure out how to raise a son and teach him how to hone his Force skills; Hera, a nurturing mother; Zeb, an older brother; and Sabine like a sister. Then again, Ezra crushes on Sabine, so that’s kind of weird. And where does that leave Chopper? I guess that would make him the family dog? You get my point.

JEDI REVEAL

On Ezra’s first mission with the Ghost crew, the team is tasked with saving a group of Wookiees who had been captured by the Empire. The Wookiees were being taken to the spice mines of Kessel—labor camps mentioned in A New Hopeby C-3PO. The Ghost crew ends up getting pinned down by laser fire when Kanan is forced to reveal himself to the Empire (and Ezra) as a Jedi in hiding. He busts out his lightsaber and holds off the barrage of laser blasts by stormtroopers, giving the rest of his crew and the Wookiees time to escape.

Once Ezra sees what he can become, he’s drawn fully into the fight against the Empire and the lure to be trained in the ways of the Force.

EZRA’S SKILLS

From there, the Ghost crew sets out to continue annoying and disrupting the Empire’s efforts to subdue Lothal’s residents and conduct mining operations to unearth its valuable minerals for starship construction. Meanwhile, Ezra begins to grow in the ways of the Force and uses his skills to help his fellow citizens.

Kanan and Ezra, a budding master and apprentice, tangle with The Inquisitor but manage to escape thanks to Ezra’s quick thinking. Kanan commits to teaching Ezra the ways of the Force, which comes in handy when Ezra infiltrates the academy’s headquarters on Lothal to steal a decoder. This allows the crew of the Ghost to stop a Kyber crystal shipment. Death Star superlaser anyone?

FULCRUM AND EZRA’S FOLKS

In the ensuing episodes, we start getting hints indicating that the crew of the Ghost isn’t alone in their efforts to thwart the Empire’s stranglehold on the galaxy. This is the first time we hear the name “Fulcrum,” an anonymous contact Hera communicates and coordinates efforts with—and later appears in the season finale in a big way.

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Next comes Empire Day, an annual celebration of the Emperor’s formation of the Galactic Empire. It’s also Ezra’s birthday and we begin to learn of his past and how his parents were a voice of hope for Lothal before their capture by the Empire.

The crew ends up saving a former Imperial Information Officer by the name of Tseebo, a Rodian who was outfitted as a cyborg construct and had vital information about the Empire. Tseebo also claims to know what happened to Ezra’s parents but never gets the chance to explain as Kanan and Ezra leave to try to draw the Empire away from Tseebo. Tseebo does tell Hera before he is delivered to Fulcrum, however. There is definitely more to come there.

YODA AND LANDO

Ezra flirts with the dark side when he and Kanan tangle with the Inquisitor for the second time. They manage to escape yet again. Kanan figures with Ezra’s powers growing so quickly, it’s time to take him to an abandoned Jedi temple on Lothal. Once there, Ezra experiences Jedi trials to face his fears, while Yoda—voiced by the legendary Frank Oz—communicates through the Force from his exile on Dagobah. Ezra does well, receives his lightsaber crystal, and constructs his own Jedi weapon. Thus, his position as Kanan’s Padawan learner is solidified.

Billy Dee Williams reprises his role from the original trilogy as the voice of smuggler and gambler Lando Calrissian, who beats Zeb in a game of sabacc and ends up winning Chopper. In order to get their droid back, Hera and company are forced to help Lando smuggle mining equipment to Lothal.

TARKIN AND KANAN’S CAPTURE

With our heroes becoming more and more effective in their disruption of the Empire’s plans for Lothal, Grand Moff Tarkin is sent to handle the growing threat. The crew of the Ghost takes things to the next level with a plan to broadcast a message of hope by high jacking the Empire’s transmission tower. But Kanan ends up getting separated from the rest of the group and is taken prisoner. Still, the transmission was sent before the Empire destroyed its own control tower.

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Fulcrum recommends the Ghost crew leave Lothal and go into hiding vs. attempting to rescue Kanan. Ezra lobbies the rest of the group and eventually wins Chopper, Zeb, and Sabine over to his plan to find out where Kanan is being held without Hera knowing. The four seek out Vizago, a Devaronian crime lord who knows the comings and goings of the Empire. Ezra reveals he’s a Jedi to Vizago and commits to owing him a favor. Vizago then tells Ezra because the control tower was destroyed, the Empire is using droid couriers for communication.

Hera eventually finds out but is convinced to allow Chopper to pose as one of the Empire’s droids in order to obtain the information on the whereabouts of Kanan. The plan works and the Ghost crew sets their sights on the space above Mustafar, where Kanan is aboard Tarkin’s Star Destroyer.

RESCUE AND FULCRUM REVEAL

Using a TIE fighter Ezra and Zeb stole in an earlier episode, the crew manages to infiltrate the Star Destroyer and release Kanan. Once again, the Inquisitor blocks Ezra and Kanan’s escape and the trio engage in an epic lightsaber battle reminiscent of Obi-Wan’s and Qui-Gon’s duel with Darth Maul. The Inquisitor overpowers Ezra and causes him to fall to another platform, but Kanan thinks Ezra has fallen to his death.

Finding renewed resolve and releasing his fear because of the apparent death of his Padawan, Kanan defeats the Inquisitor, whose lightsaber lands in the reactor core of the Star Destroyer causing its imminent destruction. The Inquisitor allows himself to fall into reactor to his death and Ezra manages to climb back up to the platform and rejoin his Jedi master.

Meanwhile, a battalion of reinforcements are dispatched to thwart our heroes’ escape. Seeing the long odds, Chopper solicits Fulcrum for help. With Hera, Zeb, and Sabine in the stolen TIE, and Kanan and Ezra having borrowed the Inquisitors TIE Advanced, the crew of the Ghost flees the deteriorating Star Destroyer and runs into a squadron of TIE fighters. Just in time, Fulcrum comes through and a cavalry of Rebellion ships arrive to hold the TIEs off, allowing all to escape into hyperspace.

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It’s then our heroes find out they are part of a much larger Rebellion and Fulcrum’s identity is revealed. It’s none other than Ahsoka, former member of the Jedi council and most importantly former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker. Speaking of Anakin, Season 1 comes full circle as Darth Vader is dispatched to Lothal to handle the growing threat in the season’s final scene.

SIEGE OF LOTHAL

Star Wars Rebels fans were treated to The Siege of Lothal, the one-hour season two premiere, in April (at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim) before its general release June 20 on DisneyXD. I suggest you check it out before October 14 so that you will be ready for season two. Without going into greater detail, here’s a tease: Kanan and Ezra are forced to face Vader. Later, while dealing with the newly formed rebel alliance in his TIE fighter, Vader “snips” off a significant portion of the rebel fleet. Those of you who’ve seen the episode know exactly what I’m talking about.

May the Force be with you.

Original Trilogy Re-tellings Available Today!

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If you read and loved the young adult canon Star Wars novel Lost Stars that was released as part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens” merchandise blitz on Force Friday, then you need to keep reading. While there are probably a dozen (or more) reasons you enjoyed the book, the one I want to cover with this post is how it brought the Original Trilogy to life in a whole new way. Seeing the three films we love and cherish from a totally different point of view absolutely captured my imagination – and I’m confident it did the same for you. (If you haven’t read Lost Stars, go get a copy after you finish reading this post).

Now take that idea, that new and exciting perspective on our sacred stories from Episodes IV, V, and VI, and imagine looking at the story lines from those three films exclusively from the eyes of some of the heroes themselves – Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker, to name a few. Do I have your attention?

Good.

Today (September 22, 2015) marks the release of three books that are the “re-telling” of the three films that make up the Original Trilogy. Keep in mind, the targeted age group for the books is 8-12, but I caution you to not let that fact dissuade you from diving in.

I’m well aware of the preconceived notion young adult, junior novels, and young readers aren’t as compelling or engaging as adult novels, but I beg to differ. While the sentence structure and the overall concepts are simplified to a certain degree to make it appropriate for the age group targeted, they are just as enjoyable as the adult novels. They certainly have enhanced my “certain point of view” of the Star Wars Universe.

Via the links below, I’ll provide a brief review of the first couple of chapters of each of the three books that are available for purchase starting today: Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?; and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

No, the three books are not a movie novelizations. On the contrary, the three films are re-told in captivating ways from different and new perspectives. From what I’ve read so far, the narrative style will not only be extremely compelling to young readers, but they also will enrich the Star Wars experience for saga fans of all ages.

Click the links below to read my brief reviews for the three new books that are available now! Don’t miss out on these all you Jedi and Sith. The stories within the stories appear quite intriguing:

Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

May the Force Be With You.