Gods can’t die.
A god observes the circle of life from way up yonder. A god would be able to survive being thrown down a Death Star reactor shaft.
Emperor Palpatine has a god complex, but he’s not a god; he’s a politician. With a name like Sheev, his aliases, both Darth Sidious and Sith Lord, comes across as overcompensation.
Senator Palpatine has no friends in the legislative body that writes bills into law for the Galactic Republic; no woman either.
In Revenge Of The Sith, directed by George Lucas, Darth Sidious is too preoccupied with plotting the massacre of the galaxy’s Jedi generals with his secret clone trooper army for a personal life. You never hear anybody calling the senator out of Naboo by the name his mother gave him. Although his father, Cosigna Palpatine, a Naboo aristocrat, never appears in any of the three trilogies, he exists according to multiple fan sites.
The mother’s name may be unknown, but we have absolute confirmation that the future Darth Sidious came out of a womb.
But despite Sheev’s ability to self-generate electricity, shooting projectile lightning like a concert pianist from his fingertips – sometimes blue, sometimes white – whenever a matter vexes him, the self-appointed lord, despite all the pomp and circumstance that evil affords him, can only call himself a man at the end of a day.
Including the day Darth Vader threw him down the reactor shaft in Richard Maquand’s Return Of The Jedi.
Palpatine sure looks dead. He turns into a vapor. We saw the poof.
Ian McDiarmid, the actor who portrayed the Sith Lord, thought he was dead, too. After Episode Six wrapped up, McDiarmid asked creator George Lucas about his long-term prospects. The maestro answered: “Absolutely dead.”
To everybody’s surprise, especially Ian McDiarmid: lo and behold, Emperor Palpatine returns in J.J. Abrams’ The Rise Of Skywalker, the final installment of a trilogy that divided the warsies.
Depending on what you read, Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio resurrected Darth Sidious of their own volition. While other people believe the plot twist was inorganic, prompted by a point of contention with how the franchise reinvented itself, radically deviating from its mythology. Allocating the foundational source of indignation expressed by generational fans, young and old alike, is just a google search away; the vitriolic detritus left behind on message boards, the aftermath of website crashes.
There were various factors as to why The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, was a hit with both, print and online critics, and yet, polarized audiences.
But in the end, it boiled down to this:
Luke Skywalker was replaced by a girl.
The force awakens:
Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a self-made Jedi.
She has no pedigree, “the mighty Skywalker blood” to fall back on.
She is the daughter of junk traders, presumed dead. Orphaned, the scavenger lives on Jakku, a desert planet, whereas Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), albeit a foundling, too, had Uncle Owen (Phil Brown) and Aunt Beru (Shelaigh Fraser) to take him in, offering the rebel dreamer three meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in.
The Force Awakens recognizes the girls who waited n the same long lines that snaked around blocks to catch the once in a lifetime phenomena that was Star Wars.
Rey is all of us. You and me.
A surrogate for any kid alive in 1977 who extended the Star Wars universe to their own.
With action figures, plastic light sabers, and ship replicas, Millennium Falcons and Tie Fighters both.tnocs.com contributing author cappiethedog
We told our own stories. We used our imagination. In the converted cave Rey calls home, the camera pans across her mud-derived shelf, showcasing a conspicuous object that is the beating heart of the original trilogy, Episodes Four-to-Six.
Rey made her own Luke Skywalker doll, a primitive action figure, suggesting that not all females identified with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), but the legend himself. Rey is an extrapolated tomboy, bartering for “portions” (a self-rising puke-colored breadstuff) with scrap metal she collects from downed spacecrafts and sells to a crooked broker on the make. Rey doesn’t have a female role model.
How could she? In Star Wars: A New Hope, the Rebel Alliance was not offering jobs to women, airborne or otherwise.
The last Jedi
“Wisdom they held, but that library contained noting that the girl Rey doesn’t know already.”Yoda
The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens left off; the historic meeting of master and servant on a lonely island, in which a young woman reunites the old man with his most-prized possession, the light saber.
No doubt, audible gasps and cries of “Judas!” coalesced into a shared nerd-grievance from coast to coast, and across bodies of water, when Luke Skywalker tosses the kyber crystal-powdered blade over his shoulder.
Jedis don’t retire. Jedis don’t walk away from a fight.
And most importantly, nobody, especially some girl, pushes their childhood hero to the ground, holding the celebrated glowing green blade just inches from his face.
Nobody could wrap their heads around a Jedi Knight who was anything but brave. The demythologization of Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Hamill as a has-been, a secularist closed-off to The Force, was just too much for ardent fans. A Jedi Master may err, but he doesn’t walk away from an opportunity for redemption.
In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) lost his pupil, Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, to the dark side.
And returned to Tatooine, living a hermetic life of guilt and sorrow. But he’s rejuvenated when Luke Skywalker shows up on his rocky doorstep, ready and willing, with a fire in his belly, to confront their shared foe and raze the Empire to the cosmos ground.
Luke as an old man, conversely, shows no interest in mentoring Rey – only doing so because R2D2 has a guilt-trip setting, in which the irreplaceable robot (overshadowed by BB-8, possibly, a female droid, throughout the latest trilogy), projects an archived hologram of Leia’s historical plea for Obi Wan Kenobi’s help.
But alas, Luke Skywalker doesn’t join Rey on her return trip, suggesting cowardice, and worse, indifference to the millions upon millions of innocents on vulnerable planets in thrall of Ben Solo (Adam Driver), a.k.a. Kylo Ren: his greatest mistake.
Rian Johnson, a perceived heretic, literally sets Star Wars on fire, using Yoda as his proxy, when the spectral muppet burns down the ancient Jedi temple that houses all the sacred texts to ash and cinder. Luke leaves the fate of intergalactic peace in Rey’s hands.
She returns with a porg, Chewbacca’s second mate, an animal reminiscent of an evolved guinea pig.
Warsies threw hissy fits, aghast at the disregard for tradition, asking aloud to themselves and each other, online: “She doesn’t need to read the sacred Jedi texts?”
Nobody likes a smart girl.
The rise of Skywalker
Luke loves his sister, so for three lessons, the Jedi knight-turned-ascetic curmudgeon sets aside his nihilism and gets some liturgical training in The Last Jedi. Arguably, Rey was doing fine on her own, strengthening Yoda’s argument that The Force doesn’t need interpreters in a vested capacity. Without any formal training, in The Force Awakens, Rey defeats Kylo Ren in a light saber duel against a snow-dappled backdrop at dusk. Without ceremony, Rey already was a de facto Jedi Knight.
Luke was right. His kind are the unnecessary mediators of The Force. Rey, an outsider, a girl with no rarefied bloodlines, can access the hallowed life force without a go-between because The Force isn’t exclusive to the Jedi order. She mastered this religion (as Luke describes it) back home on Jakky by herself. All she needed was faith.
This, perhaps, was the most radical shift from George Lucas’ original vision for his filmic empire.
People take Star Wars seriously.
It is, indeed, a religion. Rian Johnson’s screenplay acknowledges this converted phantasm. The Rise Of Skywalker, directed by JJ Abrams, honors those adherents who practice The Force, by unilaterally reverting their incontrovertible leader back to his leadership position.
If Rey had asked for directions to Exegol, Kylo Ren most certainly would have told her about the second pathfinder aboard his ship. The former Ben Solo benefits Rey’s healing touch after being mortally-wounded in their rematch of crossing lightsabers. He owes her, and now, they’re fighting a common enemy, Emperor Palpatine. The latest and bravest Jedi Knight rides tidal waves on a skimmer.
She’s unflappable. But the fanboy outcry that followed in the wake of Luke Skywalker’s deconstruction forced J.J. Abrams’ hand.
Rian Johnson, in essence, made a Star Wars for girls.
As a result, Abrams set out to assuage the male ego. Rey can still be the hero, but the young woman must learn humility.
Outside forces took care of that. The Rise Of Skywalker weakens her otherwise steely resolve. This one-upmanship of Luke Skywalker comes to a grinding halt. Nothing about Rey’s comportment suggests that she’d run away from a final showdown with Emperor Palpatine.
But here, a transference of fatalism from Luke to Rey is performed, in which she burns Kylo Ren’s Tie Fighter and throws her light saber into the fire.
The Rise Of Skywalker reduces Rey, a warrior, to a girl. The next Jedi’s return to Temple Island stops the forward momentum of the narrative dead in its tracks, so Luke can reassert himself as the alpha male.
He gives Rey a pep talk. The Rise Of Skywalker contradicts the progressive ideas rife in Rian Johnson’s vision for the franchise. Rey not only needs a man to guide her, but also the knowledge imparted from the sacred Jedi texts, which Rey retroactively saved (arguably, a convolution) from the fire Yoda started. Rey is also Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter.
Again, arguably, another convolution. Luke claims that Leia knew Rey was a descendant of the Sith Lord. Nobody knew: Not Luke, not Yoda, and most importantly, not Palpatine himself, who, perhaps, suddenly remembered after being volatilized into atoms. Rian Johnson captured the magic and awe of the original trilogy. He brought to Star Wars a message of plurality.
In the final sequence of The Last Jedi, a boy, with broom in hand, after just being at yelled at by his alien guardian, looks up at the right time to see the Millennium Falcon zip across the night sky.
The boy, apparently, had skipped his chores in favor of playing a self-reflexive game, a Star Wars-derived game, resistance fighters versus The First Order with his friends. He kept the ring Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) passed onto him during the course of his job as stable boy at the Canto Bight racing track.
The boy doesn’t care that Rose is a girl. But his real-life counterparts did, therefore, The Rise Of Skywalker delegitimizes Rey’s accomplishments from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi as being solely belonging to her.
Luke Skywalker and the long line of Jedis that came before Rey gets an assist for every act of heroism she performed.
The big reveal, again, arguably, another convolution, out of the blue, just like every other plot point in The Rise Of Skywalker:
… is that she and Ben Solo are a dyad.
The paradox of Rey, as portrayed in The Rise Of Skywalker, is that she both has and does not have a place in the narrative. The former scavenger simultaneously gains and loses her identity.
Clearly, in The Last Jedi, Johnson wanted the baton to be passed from Luke to Rey. “I will not be the last Jedi,” Skywalker as hologram tells Kylo Ren on the salt flat. Mark Hamill, more than likely, was not supposed to appear in The Rise Of Skywalker.
Despite grossing $620M domestic (United States and Canada), Rian Johnson was replaced. During pre-production, not only did the patriarchy force the inorganic resurrection of Emperor Palpatine, but engineered the summoning of Luke Skywalker’s ghost, as well.
The Rise Of Skywalker made STAR WARS great again.
What is your favorite STAR WARS film?
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