Thursday, December 14, 2017

My newest Star Wars Watch Order post

As I am writing this, people are getting ready to watch Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. (And, yes . .  . I do realize that the Disney Star Wars films have moved away from the "Episode [Roman numeral] structure of the Lucasverse. But, for the good and all the bad of it, my Star Wars lifetime is defined by the bedrock of what George Lucas did--then redid, then enhanced, then prequalized, then enhanced again. I am what he made me to be.

But--The Last Jedi is going live and I am fully expecting that Rian Johnson's Episode VIII is going to be good. It'll be almost three hours long--and I can only hope that a full thirty minutes of that is not driven by porgs.

Andbutso you're not here to be horrified by these furry space penguins. (Just look at how those fins shiver.) Rather you want to know if I have come up with a definitive and proper order for watching the Star Wars films.

I first talked about this when I provided you with the Abrams Influence Method. (You can read all the ins-and-outs of it by clicking and reading this post from October 2015.)

And then, in December 2016 I came back again to factor in the existence of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It isn't really hard to figure out what to do with Episode VII. You simply plop it on the end of the list. But I wasn't really sure what to do with Rogue One--not a numerically sequential "Episode" but simply subtitled "A Star Wars Story."

Should we treat this "Star Wars Story" like you might the Star Wars Holiday Special?

No. Of course you would not do that to Rogue One. Because it is a wonderful movie filled with good characters, a riveting plot, and emotions. None of which you can find in the Holiday Special.

Now . . . you could simply pull an Episode VII and make the executive decision to plop Rogue One in chronological order in front of A New Hope. And that is what I originally chose to do when I wrote the December 2016 post "Star Wars Watch Order Adjustment."

Now I am wondering if that is the correct thing to do.

Because the real power and influence of Rogue One come from the knowledge of what you have already learned from Episode IV: A New Hope. 

After discussing it with some colleagues at work today, I was all prepared to mimic my Abrams Influence  Method and try to slot Rogue One in as a flashback somewhere? I first thought that it could work in A New Hope at some point. But the best places for it are so close to the beginning--right around the opening scenes when Leia's CR90 corvette (the Tantive IV) is being boarded by Vader and his stormtroopers. Or possibly a few minutes later when Leia is hiding the Death Star plans with R2D2? But I don't really like those options as it continues to dilute the emotional heft of the end of Rogue One--which is one of the best things about the movie anyway. So, to put some distance between A New Hope and Rogue One . . . maybe we should position the flashback later?

To my mind, the next best option is in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Do you remember the scene on Endor's moon where C3P0 is catching up the Ewoks on the history of the rebellion? Perhaps you could find a way to drop in a flashback to the story of Rogue One at that point in Episode VI?

But I don't love that either. Does it shift the emotional arc of the progress being made with the Ewoks and drag the viewer back down into what is definitely the most depressing Star Wars movie made--no matter how good it is.

So in the end, I'm left without a definitive solution and I guess I have to bow in acknowledgment to the Disney masters who made the wise move of calling Rogue One "a Star Wars story." Perhaps it is best left outside of the sequence, left to the viewer to decide when they want to confront the true story of how the Death Star plans were acquired. 

But I definitely don't have any qualms about adjusting the Watch Order to include Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Even if I don't know yet what happens in this movie--whether Kylo Ren and Rey kiss, whether Kylo kills Leia, whether Snoke succeeds in turning Rey to the Dark, whether Luke trains Rey by making her carry him around in a backpack . . . I can definitely say that it goes at the end of the sequence. So . . . as of today, my new official Watch Order is:

(I know. I failed to come up with a solution to this post. Maybe you can do better? Please leave your best solution to where to watch Rogue One in comments. I would love to get other people's point of view on this very important issue.)

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