Sunday, March 15, 2020


I'm going to try and figure out how to handle this Star Wars problem.

I've tried several times in the last few years to address the best order of how to watch the Start Wars movies. And I still like the Abrams flashback method that, I think, best solved the problem of how to make the prequels a more engaging part of the overall story.

Attempt Number one: The Abrams Influence Method

Attempt Number two: My Newest Star Wars Watch Order Post

Attempt Number three: The Star Wars Watch Order Free-For-All

But I never absolutely figured out how to incorporate Rogue One into the story. And last time I wrote about this I didn't know what I now know about the Mandalorian. Nor did I figure out how to Handle (see what I did there?) "Solo: A Star Wars Story". So, I'm going to try and tackle some of those problems now. And I'm also going to rework the way that I visually display these movies in sequence. Because that was a hurdle in my desire to keep writing about this in the future.

So--let's go . . . back to a galaxy far, far away.

I think that the best place to start on this rewatch is NOT with the prequels--even though they come first in the chronology of all of this. As I've said before, the prequels are just not strong enough on their own to draw you into the story properly. That idea is at the heart of the Abrams flashback method. So, I will stick with that original idea and begin the journey with where it truly began back in 1977.

IV--A New Hope He's a young unknown boy from a backwater planet of Tattooine on the galaxy's outer rim. She's a privileged princess of the wealthy planet of Alderaan. He once only dreamed of bullseyeing womp rats with his T-16 and then maybe seeing more of the world.

But ever since he met her, he's been having uncomfortable dreams that his Aunt Beru never prepared him for. And his growing obsession isn't helped by an unexplained itch in his head that it just isn't right. If only Old Ben were still around. I'm sure he would be able to provide all the useful information!

V--The Empire Strikes Back Everything is going great! He's a total hero! Sure, his aunt and uncle are dead now. And so is his mentor Ben. But he swears that at his moment of doubt back when attacking the Death Star . . . he thought he heard Ben reassuring him. And when he gets too stressed out, he knows that she'll be there. He saw how she looked at him during the medal ceremony! True, she also gave that other guy some kind of look when they were together. But she's nice. She was just being polite. And the way that she kissed him when he was recovering in the hospital. That other guy sure noticed THAT.

Besides, he got other problems right now. This swamp planet is kinda gross. And his puppet master. Sorry, puppet. No, I meant master is a real taskmaster (yes, that's it). And he's learning so much about being a Jedi. She'll definitely notice the difference when he gets back to her. And nothing is more seductive than being a hero! Now if only he'd quit having dreams again--and these dreams are not the nice ones he'd had a while back. These are very upsetting. Maybe I'd better tell my pupil . . . no, my puppet . . . no! my Master about them.

. . .

Cloud City huh?  Seems nice. And uh . . . oh NO! It's THAT dark guy. Darth guy? Anyway. Fight, fight, fight. OWWWWW!


*flashback begins*

I--The Phantom Menace Yer a wizard Ani! / I'm a whot? / A space wizard!

Are you an angel? / Are you Keira Knightly?

Is he a senator / Is he sinister?

Does that guy have horns?

Obi-Ewan, why can't you keep hold of your lightsaber? But good job cutting that horned guy in half. He'll definitely NOT be a problem in the future.

Messa gonna be a big hit with da kiddos!

II--The Clone Wars I hate sand. It's coarse and it gets everywhere. Just like my depression and my repressed anger gets everywhere. And I want to be everywhere that you are my dear. I'll never let you out of my sight. I don't trust anyone else to make decisions and I am sure that I'm right. My space wizardness has only gotten stronger. And its helped me grow so quickly in such a short time.

Messa gonna . . . shut up this time.

What's this movie about? Lakes? Decapitating Tuskan Raiders? Dismembering Dooku? Who dismembers me? A bit of light bondage action with her on the weird insect planet? (I'll never look at wasps nests the same way again.) We hardly get to meet the Clones . . . which is why you should now watch--

The Clone Wars animated TV series, seasons 1-7 to really understand why these wars were important. And here you will get to truly appreciate the skill and depth of Anakin. And you'll fall in love with the grace of Ahsoka. And you'll grieve when you realize that the Jedi Council is just incapable of making good decisions. And you'll wonder why everyone respects Yoda so much when he does nothing but do the wrong thing for six straight seasons. But you'll appreciate the humanity within the clone troopers. And you'll learn a lot about the Mandalorian culture (which will be useful later). And you'll know that Obi-Wan has definitely bent the rules of the Jedi Order in ways that Anakin has also done. And you'll learn so much more about the Galactic Senate. And you'll learn to hate Caminoians. And you'll wonder why Mace Windu hates Anakin so much. But you'll never forget that this war is multifaceted and draining and deadly. And through it all, Palpatine is absolutely batting 1.000 and pulling every single string. So let's see all of that come to its regrettable conclusion with . . .

III--The Revenge of the Sith Anakin's temper is hot as the lava on Mustafar. He doesn't trust Padme any further than he could Force Throw her. But he'll never not trust the Chancellor.

Because you've watched the Clone Wars you'll feel the impact of Obi-Ewan's dismayed plea You were my brother, Anakin. You were the Chosen One! Because you've seen the best version of Anakin in the Clone Wars. And then you see Anakin fall and you see Vader rise. And you see Padme die. And you see Obi-Ewan flee.

But then you've got to go back and finish Episode V. The Empire is still striking back, remember? Luke's got to deal with the truth of Vader's reveal. But hey! At least Luke is back with Leia again, right? She got me that blanket when she pulled me off of the antenna below Cloud City. And sure, it's regrettable that Han is stuck in carbonite. But now that he is well and truly gone . . . Leia can be all mine!

You the viewer are in a pretty bleak place, right?
Han is frozen.
Luke is devastated.
The Rebellion seems hopelessly lost.

So, let's catch our breath. Let's pause for a bit and remember the good times. Remember when Han was a dashing rogue. But what else was he?

Solo: A Star Wars Story It turns out he was a street rat. And he worked for some kind of gangster space worm? And is that Keira Knightly? No, I'm meant to say is that Khaleesi?

Hold up. He's working with Haymitch? (Is Peeta here too?) No, not Peeta. But that definitely is Vision over there being very threatening. This is fun. It's got a train heist like in Captain America: Winter Soldier and it's got casino gangsters like Oceans 11.

And wow! It's got Childish Gambino. Who's definitely in love with that robot. And that's fine because all of the love stories in Star Wars movies always turn out great and exactly as we expect them to.

Whew. I do feel better. But I seem to remember that there was a war going on in the galaxy. Let's dip out toes back into that with

Rogue One Sure it's not exactly a hopeful movie because the crew of the ship all die in a Death Star assault of Scarif. But they did manage to smuggle out the plans for the space station before they die. And the last words of CGI Leia is hope. So maybe it is a hopeful movie after all.

(And here you can see that I am not strictly structuring these movies due to chronology. I'm trying to wring the most emotional impacts out of them while honoring the chronology as best I can. Because if you simply start from the earliest movie in time, you don't have any emotional connection to these characters.)

Now that I've gotten everyone depressed, let's try to find a silver lining. Here is where we can enter back into the animated world a bit more and watch . . .

Star Wars Rebels What better way to rekindle your hope than by seeing the Spectre crew fighting the  Empire on Lothal? Kanan and Ezra try single-handedly to restart the Jedi order, not knowing that Luke is out there trying to do the same thing while he struggles to overcome the knowledge of who Vader is and what has happened to his friends.

And we can see how Ahsoka also struggles with her own acceptance of who Anakin became in her character arc in the later seasons of Rebels.

But nothing will make you feel better than watching Emperor Palpy get his comeuppance (or at least that is what we all thought for the last several decades. But we'll get around to THAT reveal in a bit. Next, let's watch the Empire fall in

VI--Return of the Jedi Hey . . . wait.

Death Star back? Didn't we already destroy that thing? Well, that's fine. I'm sure we won't have to overcome something that dangerous more than once. And he totally defeated the Empire and we killed Palpy and we are so glad! Because we all know what happens in Episode VI stays in Episode VI.

Sure, it's kinda a bummer that Leia's my sister. I sure didn't see that coming! But I'm sure that I'll bounce back from this and I'll find some fun way to spend the years ahead. It'll be super fun training Jedi.

Now, we know what happened to all of the heroes. But what happened to the rest of the galaxy in the wake of the Empire's collapse? That means that it is time to watch

The Mandalorian You may think that the only purpose of this show is to be a delivery vehicle for all of your Baby Yoda memes. But it is more than that. It's a show that examines what happens in the wake of empire collapse. And it sets some of the groundwork for the new trilogy of movies to come. As well as brings back to the front some elements of The Clone Wars animated series for people that remember the big reveal of the last episode. (Where my Darksaber heads at?)

But it's also puzzling--and informative. It helps us understand why Rey and Poe and everyone thinks that the events of Episodes IV-VI are almost mythical. And not just because the galaxy was shaken by their actions. The absence of the Jedi is still truly felt. And we can see that when we turn our gaze away from the Skywalkers. We can see ow the rest of the galaxy hasn't heard of the Jedi since the time Obi-Ewan looked like . . . well, like Ewan. We think the Jedi are everywhere and always. And all of the bingeing that we've done to this point only helps to reinforce it. But remember that younger Han thought it was all hocus pocus and old-timey religion. This show demonstrates that for most people, the Jedi were always a distant rumor. And that the Force was never seen.

And now, finally, the chronology gets relatively (?) simple. . .

VII--The Force Awakens We continue to see that the Force is a distant mystery. But some that ought not to have been forgotten, right Galadriel? You thought the Empire was dead. But that was only a name. The dream of domination lived on. And it just rebranded itself--and not too much of that was accomplished either. The people in the armor might not be clones any longer. And they might not all be presumed as caucasian--or male. But they are numerous. And what they represent is strong.

Angry people can always find masks to hide behind. Powerful people can always find reasons to dominate the weak. You can number your orders however you want. But you're still out there giving them.

VIII--The Last Jedi Something is only last if we quit trying to reproduce it. If we quit seeing its value and stop teaching it. That is what Rey teaches us. That the past is gone. But its lessons remain. Kylo wishes for us to kill the past. Because he doesn't want to be reminded of its mistakes and its pains. But if we don't acknowledge those things, we cannot make the future that is free from that repetition.

And these movies are full of repetition--right? (Not that I'm complaining. I genuinely love all three of them.) We learn that the past is never over. But we can see that the evil forces are interested in covering up the past so that their resistance can't see that a path to victory was once possible and could be possible again. It just takes commitment and effort.

And speaking of resistance--there is also the final animated series
Star Wars: Resistance that fits somewhere in the years of this new generational trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe.

Depending on how much you need to cleanse your palette of the plot of episodes VII, VIII, and IX, you could drop this show anywhere, I think. (Full disclosure, I haven't watched any of them yet.)

But I think the best thematic place to put them is between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Because the endpoint of The Last Jedi is about how anyone can be a Jedi and Broom Boy serves as a symbol of that growing hope.

And then let's wrap everything up with

IX--The Rise of Skywalker Yep. Palpy back! Just like with the First Order, everything old is new again. But we know that "It is important to fight and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay though never quite eradicated." (Thanks Albus P.W.B.)

Your love interest may differ. But Luke would approve of Rey's commitment to a redemption arc. (Tell your sister . . . you were right.)

And so, that is it. Are you ready to dive in? You've got the time, maybe? If not--this post will still be here later. Next time you are inspired to watch, search for this and give it a try. I'm sure I won't have to mix it up too much in the future.

No comments: