Last week I posted my 5 Favorite Animals in Star Wars. I explained that I excluded certain creatures that may qualify as animals because, in my mind, they are great examples of “monsters.” Monsters being creatures that elicit terror and fear, and whose main goal is to probably kill or eat you. So here, in all their terrifying glory, are my five favorite monsters in Star Wars:
The Rancor. The Rancor, from Return of the Jedi, was probably the scariest monster from the Original Trilogy for me. It’s appropriately scary-ugly and horrifying; but at least one person loved this monstrosity: Malakili, the Rancor-keeper, who wept after Luke killed it. He’s still one of my favorite minor characters in all of Star Wars, proving that someone’s reviled monster is someone else’s beloved pet.
These three beasts (yes, I’m cheating and counting them as one) were unleashed on Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. They’re all deadly in their own way, but I’m particularly fond of the Acklay. He has a weird screech, and gave me the disgusting-insect-shivers.
Bor Gullet. Bor Gullet from Rogue One is one of the most appalling creatures ever created in Star Wars. Not only is he quite gross to look at, he’s a kind of mindflayer–he wraps his tentacles around someone’s head and looks into their minds; the result is often madness. Bodhi Rook was lucky to escape with his mind fairly intact.
The Krayt Dragon. The Krayt Dragon from The Mandalorian was an awesome sight to see. Tatooine’s famous dragon gave me definite Dune-vibes, more worm than dragon, but still bad-ass. I hadn’t known that Krayt Dragons harbor a huge pearl inside them, but it kind of makes sense: oysters grow pearls from the irritation of sand in their bodies. This guy lives in sand, and probably ingests a desert’s worth on a regular basis. A dragon’s treasure inside the dragon. Clever.
The Zillo Beast. The Zillo Beast makes an appearance in Clone Wars (Season Two, Episodes 18 & 19). I felt sorry for this guy–he was accidentally disturbed in his resting place under the earth during the Battle of Malastare, subdued and brought to Coruscant to study, whereupon he escaped and rampaged through the city. The Jedi were forced to kill the beast. The tragedy of King Kong in the Star Wars universe.
The Wampa. The Wampa holds the honor of being the first Star Wars monster I ever encountered (in the theater, when I was 10, so yeah, scary!). I never figured out how he stuck Luke upside down from his cave ceiling, his feet frozen solid in ice.
The Exogorth. This is the space slug that lives in the asteroid in The Empire Strikes Back. “This is no cave.” Surprise! Talk about being in the belly of the beast.
Rathtars. Han and Chewie are transporting several of these very cranky monsters when we first see them in The Force Awakens. You just know that they’re going to escape somehow and cause all manner of problems. But they did give our friends a chance to escape Kanjiklub and the Guavian Death Gang. Silver linings, people.
I could have put down the giant spiders from Rebels (Krykna) or the Mandalorian, but I hate spiders. Hate, hate, hate spiders. I guess from a terror point of view, they work great as monsters, but I don’t think they’re cool in any way. In fact, I don’t like to think about them. Ever. So no. No picture, either, or I’ll have nightmares.
What’s your favorite monster? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
There are some wonderful animals that are included in Star Wars, and though some of them are merely beautiful or super-cute, some of them play a vital part in the saga. To be clear, these are non-sentient beings, not aliens that simply look like animals (the Ewoks, for example).
Lothwolves and lothcats. I put these two together, because they’re both from Lothal in Rebels. The lothcats are cheeky little creatures, and Ezra, who is from Lothal, has a kind of connection with them through the Force. He’s sort of like Obi-Wan, who also shares a connection with animals. The lothcats helped out our Rebel friends on a few occasions through Ezra. And the lothwolves are my absolute favorite–they’re strikingly beautiful, but more importantly, they seem to be connected to the Force themselves, being able to travel long distances in a short amount of time, utilizing a kind of Force-powered hyperspace (like the Pergil, which I just remembered and want to include here) . And of course, the main Lothwolf who calls himself Dume harbors the spirit of Kanan (that’s what we’re led to believe, anyway). The lothwolves may not even qualify for this list as they’re arguably sentient creatures (along with the Pergil).
Vulptices (crystal foxes). I loved these tinkling, crystalline foxes from The Last Jedi. Not only are they beautiful, but they helped (perhaps unknowingly) what was left of the Resistance escape the cave on Crait. When danger threatens, do what the natives do: run and find a back door!
Porgs. Let’s face it, these guys are just adorable.
Boga the veractyl. This is the beastie that Obi-Wan rode on Utapau when he was looking for, and pursuing, Grievous in Revenge of the Sith. The novelization of the movie gives more insight into the communication between Boga and Obi-Wan; we find out Boga is a female, and that she trusts Obi-Wan implicitly. And I bet you can hear her trilling call in your mind right now.
The Vexis Snake. This is the injured snake-thing that Rey healed on Passana in The Rise of Skywalker. Normally I would put this under the category of “monster” because, hello, giant snake. But this one is simply hurting, and gives Rey an opportunity to show us her Force-healing skills. Once he’s all better, he just slinks away. And it shows Rey’s compassion for all creatures. When Poe was ready to shoot it because it scared him, Rey felt its pain and healed it.
Beasts of burden–tauntaun, eopies, dewbacks, bantha, fathiers, blurggs, etc. Let’s give a shout-out to these creatures that haul our characters’ gear, as well as their butts, over long distances in often extreme environments.
The mudhorn in The Mandalorian. This beastie eventually became the sigil of Din Djarrin, in The Mandalorian. I kind of felt bad for her, because she was only trying to protect her egg. The mom in me cries out, lol.
Ahsoka’s owl. I believe it’s called a covoree, and this bird appears with Ahsoka in Rebels on several occasions. It’s Ahsoka’s spirit animal and guide, or morai, and some believe it is representative of The Daughter, from the Mortis arc in Clone Wars, because of its similar coloring. The Daughter represented the Light Side of the Force. The covoree most notably showed up when Ezra pulled Ahsoka into the World Between Worlds, and acted as a guide.
There are others that would probably qualify as animals, but I put them under the “monster” category, because they instill fear in us: wampa, sarlaccs, giant spiders, rancors, krayt dragons, that sort of thing. Maybe I’m being unfair–but at least I included the vexis on my list, right? “Favorite Monsters” might be a good post for next time.
There are also tons of animals that are described in Star Wars books, but they’re too numerous to count here, so I’ve just included those in the films and shows.
What’s your favorite Star Wars animal? Did I miss anything obvious? Let me know in the comments!
Love has always been a big part of Star Wars. The love of friends. Of family. Of ideals. Of all that is good. But what I’m going to talk about here is romantic love, which is just as important. In fact, a tragic love story is at the heart of the very existence of the saga.
Here’s my top five favorite love stories in Star Wars:
Han Solo and Leia Organa
The Han and Leia love story was the first Star Wars romance I experienced (and probably the first movie romance, come to think of it, besides all those Prince Charmings in Disney films), and it still remains my favorite. Han Solo was definitely not a Prince Charming; in fact, it was his “scoundrel” status that made the romance interesting to my young mind. The feisty Princess Leia had met her match (and vice versa), and the sexual tension lurking in their verbal sparring made it all the more sweet when we finally heard “I love you” and “I know.”
The Han-Leia romance is the only one on this list that ends with a long-lasting marriage. Yes, they were seperated at the time Han died at the hands of their son, but they’d had many years of arguments and reconciliations and the things married couples do in the course of their relationship. I’m sure they washed the dishes together a couple of times, maybe changed little Ben’s diapers when the droid nanny wasn’t around, and rocked a screaming Ben to sleep on countless nights. This is what married couples do, the things that either cement the relationship and deepen it, or blow it apart. So yeah, they argued and annoyed each other, but they also got on with it and loved each other, too. And tried to build a new government while they were at it, and maybe weren’t there for Ben when he really needed them. But they loved each other to the last.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze
I didn’t realize Obi-Wan had a love interest until I watched Clone Wars, and I was enthralled by the idea. Who could possibly win Obi-Wan’s good, kind, but platonic heart? She’d have to be an extraordinary woman indeed. And Satine Kryze, Duchess of Mandalore, turned out to be that woman. True, they met and fell in love when they were quite young–when hearts and hormones are easily aroused–but that love, though never consummated, endured through the years. Even though Obi-Wan never said the words “I love you” to Satine, his admission that he’d have left the Jedi Order for her speaks volumes. And the fact that Satine didn’t ask him means that she loved him enough to want what was best for him–that he was meant to be a Jedi–and that she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for him. These two did a bit of verbal sparring themselves when they first meet up after years of not seeing each other, mostly concerning her pacifist postition in ruling Mandalore, but I believe it’s Obi-Wan’s concern for her welfare (and maybe a wee bit of sexual tension) that gets him all riled up about it. I believe he truly respects Satine for her pacifist beliefs, and loves her all the more for it. And I love how they call each other “my dear,” in their prim little way.
Like almost all of the relationships on this list, this one ends with a premature death. When Maul takes his revenge on Obi-Wan by killing Satine, it’s Satine who reiterates that she loves him with her last breath. Obi-Wan is speechless, but we can see the pain and love in his eyes as she dies in his arms. And it’s his memory of Satine that prevents him from falling to the Dark Side in his rage, as he envisions killing Maul and everyone in the room in retaliation (this is shown in the short story “Kenobi’s Shadow” in the book Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark). But he knows it’s not what Satine would have wanted for him. He wins the silent, solitary struggle for his soul because of her. This love story will always pierce my heart.
Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla
This relationship enchanted me, because I was never quite sure where they stood during the whole of Rebels until the very end. Hera and Kanan certainly had some kind of connection going on, and they were quite flirty. So are they in love? Or are they just lovers? Friends with benefits? Do they sleep in the same bed? What’s going on??? These questions kept popping up in my head, but they didn’t necessarily need to be answered. They clearly cared for each other, and would give their lives for each other, and that’s enough for me.
But toward the end of Rebels, it was clear Kanan wanted some clarification himself from Hera. He questioned her about what would happen after the war ended, what kind of life she wanted. Hera had been too busy fighting the war to give it much thought, or to want to commit to anything else–or anyone; but Kanan, early on the more flippant of the two, was getting serious. He didn’t push her, but once he was blinded, Kanan gained a depth of wisdom that made him “see” what was important in life. It was only at the end, just before he gave his life to save her and the others, that Hera finally realized she loved him and told him so. I admit it, I cried when he died.
So imagine my happiness and surprise when, at the end of the last season, Hera appears with a green little boy by her side (no, not Baby Yoda)–Jacen Syndulla, Kanan’s son–Ha! Same bed after all. But I was truly delighted that Kanan lived on in their little boy.
Quinlan Voss and Asajj Ventress
This was a surprising but strangely satisfying relationship told in the book Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden. The Jedi Quinlan Voss and the former Sith assassin Asajj Ventress fall in love while she teaches him a bit of the Dark Side of the Force so he can accomplish his mission of assassinating Count Dooku. I wasn’t too familiar with Vos, but it was gratifying to see someone like Ventress–full of anger and bitterness–open herself up to love. This girl’s had a rough life, after all–being taken away from her Nightsister family at a young age to become a slave; taken in by a Jedi to be taught how to use her Force abilities, only to see him killed before her eyes; apprenticed to Count Dooku as a Sith, only to be abandoned and betrayed by him; her return to her Nightsister family, only to see them slaughtered by Grievous and his droids; and on and on. This girl deserves a little happiness, darnit. And she finally gets it through Vos and a love neither of them had ever known. But, naturally, the course of true love never does run smooth. Vos falls to the Dark Side when he’s captured by Dooku, and their fate is uncertain. So she suffers again. In the end Vos comes back to the Light, but Ventress is killed while protecting him in a battle. Her death crushes him. Some of her last words to him are “Remember…you always have a choice to be better…you always have a choice to…to pick the right path.”
Vos buries her on Dathomir with her Nightsister family, and Ventress is finally at peace. I had wondered what happened to Ventress after Clone Wars, and though I’m sad she died, I’m glad she at least had a little bit of happiness toward the end.
Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala
Ah, Anakin and Padme, the great tragic love story of Star Wars. I was never particularly enthralled by it, maybe because Anakin’s obsessiveness turned me off. And to see Padme, a strong, intelligent, capable woman in the first two movies of the prequels become undone by love, to just die of sadness when she had babies who needed her–well, that just galled me a little bit. Am I being unromantic? Sorry. Maybe if I had seen the prequels when I was younger, in my teens or early 20’s, I would have melted over it. But I saw it when I was older, and I’m even older now, so I guess I just prefer the steadiness of Han and Leia, or the quiet endurance of Obi-Wan and Satine. Or even the light touch of Hera and Kanan. Maybe I don’t have the patience for the grand passions of the young anymore. How sad for me, right?
But this isn’t about me, it’s about Anakin and Padme, and it IS tragic, and I do get choked up when Padme says, “I don’t know you anymore. You’re breaking my heart. You’re going down a path I can’t follow.” Evil has touched and poisoned this love, and it’s horrible and unfair and it affects the entire galaxy. So even though it’s not at the top of my list, it’s here because of the sheer importance of it to the saga.
Bail and Breha Organa. We don’t see too much of this couple, and we don’t see Breha at all except at the end of ROTS when Bail puts baby Leia into his wife’s arms. But I’ve read some books that have the Organas in them, and especially in Leia: Princess of Alderaan. These two have been married for many years, and it’s a happy relationship. Breha is the Queen of Alderaan, and Bail is her Viceroy. She deals with the politics at home, and he deals with it in the Senate and the galaxy at large. It’s an equal partnership, one of love and respect. And they adore their adopted daughter, and raise her well. I hate that they perished when Alderaan was destroyed.
Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. So this is Legends material, and to be honest I haven’t read any of the books that puts these two together. I just know about it from fan sources, but I still love the idea of Luke having a wife. They had a child together–Ben Skywalker. I love that. I liked grumpy Luke in the sequels, but was a bit sad at the idea of him being an old hermit who had never known romantic love. Early on, I’d hoped Rey was his daughter, possibly from Mara Jade, or someone else, but it was not to be.
Owen Lars and Beru Whitesun. Luke’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s long-lasting marriage gave young Luke a grounded and stable childhood (besides the natural dangers of Tatooine like Tusken Raiders or other scum and villainy), raising him in a way Obi-Wan couldn’t. The Lars’ were practical, down-to-earth folk who wanted nothing more than to work their moisture farm and stay out of trouble. They were committed to Luke and to each other. Owen was perhaps a bit hard on Luke sometimes, but only because he feared his lineage and what might happen to Luke.
Ziro the Hutt and Sy Snootles. Just kidding.
Love Stories Not Meant To Be
Han and Q’ira. I liked this romance between young Han and intrepid Q’ira in Solo: A Star WarsStory, as well as their getting to know each other in the book Most Wanted, by Rae Carson. Han’s heart being broken by Q’ira is the reason he became such a scoundrel in the first place. Luckily he met an equally feisty princess later on to melt that armored heart of his.
Cassian and Jyn. I would have loved to see where this relationship could have gone if they HADN’T ALL PERISHED at the end of Rogue One. Truly devastating, but their sacrifice meant everything to the saga.
What’s your favorite Star Wars romance? Did I miss anyone? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
A fictional world needs details to give it authenticity, to suspend our disbelief, and to give it a richness and texture that simply makes us believe.
Here’s a few things about the world of Star Wars that I just learned about in the past year or so, although I’ve been a fan for nearly 40 years:
Aurabesh. This is the Star Wars alphabet. I’m not fluent in it at all, but it’s pretty darn cool. My name would be (Trill) (Isk) (Nern) (Aurek).
Symbols. Every major group or institution has a symbol attached to it. There are many more, but this is a decent sample. For my fiftieth birthday next year, and to celebrate my love of Star Wars, I’m going to get a tattoo of the Jedi symbol, probably on my right shoulder, and then the Rebel Alliance symbol on my left. As someone who’s never gotten a tattoo in her life, this is a big deal.
Lightsaber color meanings. Up until recently, I knew only of 3 lightsaber colors: green, blue, and red. The red I knew was for the Sith; and the green and blue for the Jedi, but I didn’t know the difference between the two, if any. Now I’m aware of many lightsaber colors, but I don’t have all the meanings memorized. So here’s a handy chart:
Green had always been my favorite color, until I saw Rey’s yellow lightsaber. Now I want to know more about the Sentinels (as well as the Jedi Consulars and Guardians), and will do some further research on them. So many Star Wars rabbit holes!
Calendar. I don’t know what was used before the designation BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), or ABY (After the Battle of Yavin) but I only recently learned about this system when I began my Star Wars book-reading journey. The book timelines in both Legends and Canon list them in relation to A New Hope’s decisive battle, to make it easy to place it in time (most people are familiar with that event). For instance, the book I’m reading now, Rogue Planet by Greg Bear, is listed as 29BBY. (It takes place three years after The Phantom Menace). It’s always nice to know exactly “when” a story takes place.
So these are just a few of the fascinating details I’ve learned about Star Wars, among many that make it so fun.
I know, I know. Every single Star Wars fan on the planet has, at one time or another, said, “I wish they’d make a story about….” and put in their two cents worth on future Star Wars projects. I’m no exception. And while of course the good people at Lucasfilm/Disney can’t satisfy every fan’s wishlist, we all do have our opinions; I simply see it as proof of the richness of Star Wars and its storytelling potential.
So in an ideal world, what stories would I love to see? Well, here are my top five ideas (and this includes movies, books, comics, TV shows, or whatever medium may tell the story best):
Okay, so I know LF/Disney are done with the Skywalker saga, at least in film, but I’m hoping that books aren’t off the table in continuing Rey’s story. I would love to see what she does next, if she trains more Jedi, what the galaxy is like after the Emperor is gone. Is there another central government, or do all the worlds and systems simply rule themselves now? What about Finn’s Force sensitivity? Does he become a Jedi? What role would the Jedi play in this new world? What kind of adventures can Rey, Finn and Poe go on? And what is the legacy of Ben Solo, pertaining to Rey in particular? Is he with her in some form? Force ghost? Voice? I want to know!
I’d love to know Rey’s parents story. Palpatine’s clone cast-off–what was his life like? How did he meet Rey’s mother? Who was she? What were their names, for goodness sake! What was their life like on the run from Papa Palpie, and how did they survive? Tell me this wouldn’t be a good story.
I would love a book telling the story of how Obi-Wan met the Duchess Satine Kryze when they were young during the Mandalorian Civil War. Qui Gon and Obi-Wan’s mission to protect her, what they did and where they went, the budding relationship between the two young people. And where does Bo-Katan fit into the story? Who are Satine’s parents and what happened to them? What are the particular politics involved? There may be some answers to these questions somewhere, but I want a book, darnit!
Shmi Skywalker‘s story. Where is she from, who are her parents, how did she become a slave? I suppose we could go back and back into the history and genealogy of the Skywalkers, but I’d love to know at least Shmi’s story. What were the circumstances of her discovering her pregnancy? I’ve heard a reference about Thrawn and the Chiss’ knowledge of “Sky Walkers,” though I haven’t read any of the books about Thrawn yet to quite know what they are. Coincidence? I think not.
This one is kind of obvious, and may be answered in some form someday, but the mystery of where Thrawn and Ezra disappeared to has to be addressed. Some people think perhaps The Mandalorian may shed some light on it, but who knows? Where do they end up, in what circumstances, do they become allies against a common enemy, or do they remain antagonists? And what about Sabine and Ahsoka’s journey to find them? Aarg, so many questions!
There’s literally a zillion spin-off stories that could be told in Star Wars, but these are at the top of my mind. They’re mostly character-oriented, personal stories, the kind that I particularly enjoy. And if none of these stories get told, that’s okay. That’s what imagination is for. Or fan fiction, if that’s your thing!
What stories would you love to see in Star Wars? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Since my obsession with Star Wars was reignited in the past year or so, I’ve been busy trying to catch up with everything that’s been going on in the universe in the past twenty years while I’d been doing other things. That means many hours watching Youtube videos and scrolling through a ton of other social media, and more importantly, separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I’ve found some great channels and sites that I love, and others that, well, aren’t so great. I like to focus on the positive, so here are my top five Star Wars-related social media channels and sites:
Wookiepedia. This is a vast, extremely comprehensive archive of everything Star Wars, including characters, the movies and shows, vessels, books, video games, you name it. I use it a lot when I’m looking for a bit more information on something I’m blogging about, or if I don’t know a thing about a character or planet, etc. I haven’t really begun to plumb its depths, but it’s a great resource when you want information about something specific.
At-At Chat. I discovered this Youtube channel early on, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Star Wars Youtubers who are fond of using clickbait, outrageous headlines and rumors, hateful and/or just plain dumb stuff to get people to their channel and to make money off of it. It’s really annoying. AT-AT Chat is NOT one of those channels. He presents his opinions and ideas on the Star Wars universe in an engaging, yet intelligent and rational manner. No hype, just fun stuff that is remarkably well-thought out and thought-provoking. I especially love his lightsaber-duel analyses and his takes on Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.
Star Wars Reading Club. This Youtube channel discusses many intriguing or burning questions about Star Wars in the context of what happened in books and comics, both Legends and Canon. It’s a great resource for me, as I’m still catching up on Legends lore; I’m also not a big comic book reader (though I’m seriously thinking about becoming one) and a lot of great stuff happens in comics that I don’t know about but would love to. The only criticism I have of the channel is the narrator’s monotone style of speaking; I also twitch a bit when he says, “Obi-One.” He knows his Star Wars lore, though!
Youtini. I’ve talked a bit about Youtini on my other blog, The Star Wars Reader, but feel it should be mentioned here, too. I just discovered this great resource for Star Wars books and comics, both Legends and Canon. Here you can check out the latest releases, book reviews, and excerpts. There’s also a great timeline page that lists the books chronologically (a separate one for Legends, and one for Canon) based on the BBY marker (Before the Battle of Yavin). I’ve come here quite a bit to make sure my own timeline listings are correct, and to add any books I’ve missed. There’s also a cool application where you can make lists of your own Star Wars library, as well as chat boards to talk about the books. I love this webpage!
James Arnold Taylor. In case you don’t know, James Arnold Taylor is the voice-actor who voices Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars. Since I’m a big Obi-Wan fan, I was curious about the man who gives him his voice in Clone Wars, and guess what? He’s a pretty awesome dude! Very down-to-earth and likable. He’s got his own Youtube channel where he talks about the voice-over profession in general, and his own projects in particular, which is all very fascinating to me; but what I’ve been especially loving is his series Clone Wars Conversations, where he interviews his fellow co-stars from the animated series. I’ve watched his two-part interview with Matt Lanter, who voices Anakin Skywalker, and it was just so wonderful to listen to them reminisce about their Clone Wars experiences (it was recorded before Season Seven was announced, however), and also surreal to hear the character’s voices coming out of these people’s mouths! He also interviews others from the show, like Sam Witwer who played Maul, Anna Graves who played the Duchess Satine Kryze, and others. If you want more Obitine, you must watch Taylor and Graves recite Romeo and Juliet in Obi-Wan’s and Satine’s voices. Be still my sentimental little heart!
These are the sources I’ve been going to and enjoying over and over lately. I’m sure as I continue to explore the galaxy far, far away I’ll discover some more great channels, and I’ll certainly share them here when I do. They’re almost as limitless as the stars themselves, and I’m so grateful for all the wonderful Star Wars content out there.
What are some of your favorite Star Wars channels and websites? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I’m a big fan of the Jedi. I have no ill will towards Sith fans, or those who claim to prefer the Dark Side. I guess. I suppose I just don’t understand them–I’m light side all the way. I’ll always root for them in a fight and consider them heroes, to be admired and emulated.
Anyway, I thought I’d list my top 5 favorite Jedi. Probably no surprises here, since I’m not familiar with a lot of the Legends Jedi (which I hope to eventually remedy). I had a lot to say here, so it’s kind of long. Sorry. But here they are:
Obi-Wan Kenobi. Duh. I think he’s universally considered the greatest Jedi ever, with few exceptions. And he’s certainly my personal favorite. Obi-Wan’s skills, commitment and discipline, kindness and compassion, as well as his witty repartee all commend him as the best. But here’s the kicker: despite a lifetime of grief and loss, he never gives in to the Dark Side. Qui Gon Jinn, Satine Kryze, Anakin Skywalker (and Padme, to some extent); not to mention the entire Jedi Order and a way of life he’s always known: all huge personal losses, and grief and sorrow and yes, anger and hatred, flows through him. Yet, he stands firm. Anakin falls because of his mere fear of losing Padme; Obi-Wan endures unimaginable losses, and remains committed to the light. His life arc is interesting, as well: he starts out as a rather arrogant young Jedi, calling both Jar Jar and young Anakin “pathetic life forms;” he goes on to become an amazing war hero during the Clone Wars; and in his later years, he becomes the hermit in the desert who treats his fallen enemy (and the one who killed two of his loved ones) with compassion. No matter his circumstances, he trusts in the Force completely. Despite all this, he isn’t perfect: he’s a bit uptight in the emotions department (which, in the end, served him well); he follows the Jedi Code almost to a fault; and he lost his Padawan to the Dark Side. Did he fail Anakin? Yes. And also no. That’s a debate for a whole other blog post, though. Despite his flaws, Obi-Wan is a class act who sets the bar amazingly high.
Luke Skywalker. Ah, Luke. The first Jedi that we really come to know in this whole Star Wars thing. When I was a kid, I thought Luke was cool and all, but Han Solo was my guy. I still love Han, of course, but I’ve really come to appreciate Luke’s character and his arc in the films. I love his innocence in A New Hope, and his growing Force powers in The Empire Strikes Back. But it’s in Return of the Jedi that Luke really shines. His rescue of Han from Jabba and his realization that Leia is his sister are both satisfying, showcasing his newfound confidence and maturity. But of course it’s his confrontation with his father, Darth Vader, that defines Luke’s character. He is tempted by the Dark Side, yes. Terribly. The Emperor’s threat against his friends, and in particular, Vader’s threat against his sister, drives him to the brink of the Dark. But he ultimately achieves what his father never could: to trust in the Force, and in himself. When he throws away his lightsaber and declares to Sidious, “Never. I’ll never join the Dark Side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” Luke is willing to throw everything–the Rebellion, his friends, his very life–away to do what is right. That kind of selflessness and devotion to the Light is what defines a Jedi, and Luke passed with flying colors. He plumbed the depths of his own darkness, and rose above it. Daddy Vader was impressed; he finally realized that his son had surpassed him. Luke’s love for his father reminded him that he could be more than the ruined, hateful thing he’d become. Luke reminded him that Anakin was still in there somewhere–something that Padme had believed–and it was Anakin who threw the Emperor down the shaft, saving his son. They saved each other. The whole thing is so powerful and poetic, I just love it. And I haven’t even gotten to Sequel Trilogy Luke, but that’s going to be a whole ‘nother blog post. This one’s long enough!
Qui Gon Jinn. I think Qui Gon was one of the best parts of The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Master, he’s considered a bit of a rebel within the Jedi Order. He often disagrees with the Council, which tends to irritate his more strait-laced young Padawan. But Qui Gon’s contention with the Council doesn’t originate in rebelliousness for its own sake; he simply looks at the Force and the role of the Jedi differently. He tends to put more importance on the living Force, rather than the cosmic Force. All that means is that he thinks a Jedi should focus on the present, and on the Force present in the beings around them. That’s why he takes such an interest in Jar Jar, and later Anakin; he feels they both have a part to play in what they’re trying to accomplish, while Obi-Wan would just as soon leave them both behind on their respective worlds. And of course, Anakin turns out to be the Chosen One. Qui Gon also has an interest in the Jedi Prophecies (of which the prophecy of the Chosen One is a part); not so much to be able to divine the future (which is a form of control), but of what insights they can offer. (There is much more about Qui Gon’s interest in the Jedi Prophecies, as well as his relationship with Obi-Wan, in the book Master and Apprentice, which I highly recommend). The Jedi Council at this point has lost its way, as we come to see more clearly later in the prequel trilogy; but Qui Gon is not one of them. His insight, compassion, and wisdom make him one of my favorite Jedi, and he was taken away from us too soon.
Kanan Jarrus. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of Rebels at first, but once I got through the first season, I was firmly on board. One of the reasons for this was Kanan Jarrus. He’s a fascinating look at what might happen to a Jedi Padawan who survives Order 66. When their entire world fell, they had to find answers to questions like: where do I go? What do I do in this new world of the Empire? How do I stay hidden? How can I answer the terrible betrayal of Order 66? And should I? At first, Kanan was content to forget his old life, to try to stay under the radar, and move on. He tried to convince himself that it didn’t matter, what’s done is done, and he couldn’t care less about what happens in the universe. He works, he drinks and carouses, he hides his Force powers. He has a rather cocky attitude. (The book A New Dawn examines Kanan’s life before he meets Hera and the Ghost crew more thoroughly). But deep inside, Caleb Dume (his given name, associated with his Jedi years) still lives. He tends to pop out in a crisis, helping others and doing the right thing. Very Jedi-like things. There’s something inside Kanan that won’t die and needs expression, try as he might to suppress it. Once he meets Hera and becomes a part of the Ghost crew, he has the chance to utilize that aspect of himself. And once he meets Ezra and begins to train him in the Jedi ways, he finally starts to remember. And not just remember the Jedi ways, but to once again embody them. He becomes more fully himself again, what he was meant to be. By teaching Ezra, he relearns what it is to be a Jedi. When he is blinded, he becomes even more attuned to the Force; he truly comes into his power. I absolutely love Kanan’s arc in the show–when he first meets Hera, it’s she that must show him how to live a meaningful life; but later it’s Kanan who asks Hera what she truly wants out of life when all the fighting is over. He reminds her not to forget about love. And when the time comes (as it inevitably does) for him to sacrifice himself for the cause and those he loves–when his “moment” comes–he faces it with a quiet, stoic bravery that left me in tears. The fact that he seems to resurface in the Lothwolf as an embodiment of the living Force is just, well, awesome. The spirit of Caleb Dume lives.
Ahsoka Tano. I wrote quite a bit about Ahsoka Tano in one of my Women of Star Wars posts here. Some may say that Ahsoka shouldn’t be on this list, as she says herself to Vader in Rebels, “I am no Jedi.” But, I’m sorry Ahsoka, I beg to differ. You are a Jedi, whether you call yourself one or not. Ahsoka trained in the Jedi Temple from a young age and served as a Padawan to Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Even though she left the Temple, leaving behind the Jedi and her life there, one cannot simply erase all that. If we can call Luke Skywalker a Jedi, who received some quick training from Yoda as a fully grown man, or even Ezra from Kanan’s teachings, or Rey from Luke’s advice (not even training, in my book)–if they can be called Jedi, then Ahsoka is clearly one. So she makes the cut. Anyway, once Ahsoka moved beyond her snippy, new-Padawan-know-it-all phase, I liked her. She complemented Anakin like no other Padawan possibly could. And she brought out the best in Anakin. I probably loved her even more in Rebels. When she faced Darth Vader and realized he was her former master, she refused to leave him, as she did in Clone Wars, come what may. From what I understand, she’s supposed to make an appearance in The Mandalorian, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do. By the way, I love that Ahsoka uses two lightsabers. If I could be a Jedi, I’d be her: I like how this girl moves.
Yoda. Who doesn’t love Yoda? Old and wise beyond our imagining. A master for a reason. Cute and ugly at the same time. And fun to watch with a lightsaber.
Rey. You may not agree with me, but I liked Rey. A lot. She’s sweet, loyal, strong, not afraid to cry, and defeats her evil grandpa. You go, girl. She’s also the subject of one of my Women of Star Wars posts, here.
Jedi Council Members. Plo Kloon, Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Shakti, and all those other cool Jedi Masters on the Council. (Except Mace Windu. I don’t like that guy.)
You might be wondering, Where’s Anakin? Here’s the thing: Yes, he was a powerful Jedi. Probably the most powerful ever. The Chosen One. Clone Wars hero. But he fell to the Dark Side. What made the above list of Jedi great–characteristics like patience, commitment, faith, and selflessness–are traits that Anakin lacked. So I can’t include him on my list. It’s the same reason I haven’t included Quinlan Voss. In Dark Disciple, he also fell to the Dark Side. I understand the reasons they were vulnerable and fell, and they have my compassion. But I can’t admire them.
Anyway, that’s my list and my why’s. Sorry so long, but I didn’t really want to break it up into parts.
Who’s your favorite Jedi, and why? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
My husband I watched The Empire Strikes Back on Sunday afternoon at our local movie theater. I still love everything about it, but what I loved the most was that I was watching it in the very same theater I had first seen it in 40 years ago as a kid.
Oh, the theater’s different, that’s for sure. It’s a multiplex now, has been for decades, but when I first saw Empire with friends at ten years old, it was the only movie playing, in a theater that was designed as a throwback to its old vaudeville days. It was still a thrill to watch the familiar words scrawl up the big screen, and even though I’ve seen this movie probably a few dozen times and know it like the back of my hand, I settled back into the seat for what I knew was going to be a treat.
In honor of ESB’s 40th birthday, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite moments from this, my favorite SW film:
AT-AT assault on Hoth.
That other kiss.
Luke battles Darth Vader.
Come to think of it, I love everything about this movie: the scenes, the dialogue, the humor, the music, the feels. Every. Single. Thing. Even Threepio’s constant complaining didn’t grate on me that much this time around. I suppose that’s true with every SW movie–I love them all–but there’s something about this one…it’s the one that made me fall in love with Star Wars, with Harrison Ford, with space fantasy, with storytelling, with everything I love about the movies.
It’s special, and it always will be.
How do you rank ESB in the Star Wars universe? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
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Like any Star Wars fan, I love a good lightsaber duel, and there’s plenty to choose from over the course of nine films. The ones I like the best have the most emotional heft where the stakes are high, rather than flash and dazzle (though that’s fun, too). Here are my top five faves:
5. Kylo and Rey on the Death Star Wreckage (TROS)
This duel is visually stunning, with the waves of water pouring down on them as they battle it out. I like how the water may be seen to symbolize a sort of baptism for Kylo/Ben, as at the end of the battle, Kylo is washed away so Ben can emerge. The lack of score through a lot of this fight also intensifies the battle, as if any kind of music would be too distracting to the physical and psychic battle going on.
4. Throne Room battle with Kylo and Rey (TLJ)
This battle is emotionally satisfying because we see Kylo and Rey working together against a common enemy–Snoke’s personal guards. It’s a spectacularly choreographed fight scene (it took six months to train for and shoot), and has a bit of flash and dazzle that awes the viewer. We see in this battle what Kylo and Rey could be together and are left wanting more–which makes his refusal to help the Resistance Fleet and her refusal to join him all the more painful.
3. Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar (ROTS)
The prequel series has a lot of great lightsaber duels–the Jedi at the height of their powers is a sight to see. They look like dancers flitting across the battlefield, graceful and nimble and fleet. But watching them fight the bad guys isn’t particularly interesting to me on an emotional level.
The exception to this prequel prejudice is the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar. This is the battle we’ve been waiting for– Anakin’s final fall into his transformation into Darth Vader. The anguish in the two men is palpable: Anakin’s rage, and Obi-Wan’s sorrow at losing his friend to the Dark Side. To see the particulars of Anakin’s physical and emotional pain is disturbing.
2. Vader and Luke on the second Death Star (ROTJ)
Luke’s confrontation with his father, in the presence of the Emperor, is harrowing. The stakes, of course, are extremely high here; not only in the fate of the Rebellion, but Luke’s life and his very soul. There is a point where he gives in to his rage and hacks away at Vader, a glint of dark in his eyes. Looking down at his beaten father, he realizes the path he is treading, and throws down his lightsaber while standing up to the Emperor. This is where the strength of Luke’s character shines through. And of course this battle leads to Vader redeeming himself by saving his son from the Emperor. It’s satisfying in every way.
1. Luke and Vader on Cloud City (TESB)
I chose this battle as #1 for a few reasons. First, it leads to the greatest revelation in all of moviedom: Vader tells Luke he is his father. BAM what!?
Second, it’s the first time the untested Luke confronts Vader, wanting to take revenge on the man who he believes killed his father. But Luke, though capable with a lightsaber, is nowhere near ready for this battle. His innocence and naivete is quite literally chipped away until there’s nowhere left to turn: here we first get a glimpse of Luke’s commitment to the Light, as he chooses to fall to his death rather than join his father in the Dark Side. This is a critical turning point for Luke, leading to the sober, black-clad Jedi we see in Return of the Jedi. Here, Luke grows up.
Third, from a physical standpoint, this duel is a bit of cat and mouse, with Luke escaping and being found again, escaping and being found. It’s ominous, we’re on the edge of our seats on first viewing because we don’t know when the bad guy is gonna jump out at us. This is a great litmus test for battles and duels: what can surprise and startle us.
Kylo and Rey on Starkiller Base (TFA)
This is the first time the two have met in battle, and Rey is just beginning to understand what she is capable of. The moment Anakin’s lightsaber flies to her instead of to Kylo is an important moment. Kylo is injured and an emotional wreck, as he just killed his father and is dealing with the reality of that, and so Rey is able to best him here.
Ben Solo against the Knights of Ren on Exegol (TROS)
This is a fantastic short battle, with the newly emerged Ben Solo fighting off the Knights of Ren after Rey force-hands him Anakin’s lightsaber. It’s fascinating in that he fights in a completely different manner than Kylo Ren, who used brute strength and intimidation in his duels. Ben Solo seems to be lifted of a heavy burden here, and infused with Light; he fights more like a prequel Jedi Knight, with speed and agility. After demanding Anakin’s lightsaber throughout the series, here he finally earns it.
Luke and Kylo Ren on Crait (TLJ).
Though technically not a proper battle, as Luke isn’t even really there, this is an emotionally relevant confrontation between a master and his former fallen student. Luke is using it as a ruse to buy time for the Resistance to escape, but it also gives him some sort of closure on his failure of Ben Solo. It only enrages Kylo, but Luke can now fade into the Force knowing he did what he could and giving these last words of wisdom to Kylo: “See you around, kid.”
So what do you think? Do agree with my list? Or did I miss an obviously important and/or awesome duel? Post your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll talk about it!