Prequel Appreciation Day 2016: 10 Things

  1. Qui-Gon Jinn: Qui-Gon is basically a space Mufasa, a space father figure to all of us. He towers over pretty much everyone but he’s also one of the least threatening characters there is. He radiates calm and poise while also pulling reckless moves like betting their future on a kid who has never won a race. I still can’t believe there isn’t an adult stand alone Qui-Gon book.
  2. Padme Amidala: I first saw The Phantom Menace when I was about 8 and seeing a 14 year old girl elected queen of an entire planet, who was right in the middle of the action, rocked my world. Over the next two movies I got to watch Padme’s strength and passionate heart both grow and break, I watched her fight for things she believed in and things she knew were right, and I mourned her death while watching her even then still maintain her belief in the goodness in the man she loved. I may have idealized Leia first but Padme was everything to me growing up, and I still have a poster of her in Attack of the Clones hanging on my wall.
  3. Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Mustafar Duel: It lived up to all of my expectations I’d been building up for years and more. It’s raw and devastating and Obi-Wan’s “You were my brother, Anakin. I love you” line will make me sob every damn time.
  4. The Jedi Order: So many Jedi, human Jedi, alien Jedi, Jedi women, contemplative Jedi, Jedi of action, maverick Jedi, stickler Jedi, all the Jedi. Even though so few of them are named or discussed on screen there’s so much there, it speaks to such a huge galaxy filled with all sorts of people and all sorts of Jedi. It’s fantastic and it’s unrestrained and I love it. The prequels exist to show us the decaying Order and the decay is part of what Palpatine uses to sway Anakin but even with that decay, I love the Order. It’s a found family, and the loyalty of most of the Jedi is so strong. They’re a fascinating group and I could spend a lifetime studying them (though that might be an anthropologist/archaeologist in me speaking). It makes me incredibly sad that Jedi keep getting wiped out in later movies.
  5. Tiny Anakin: A friend of mine one described me as not even liking kids when I was a kid, and they were right. It’s not that I hate kids, I just don’t know how to talk to or relate to them and tend to find stories featuring kids as young as Anakin was in TPM fairly boring. Jake Lloyd makes me care about Anakin so much. Nine year old Anakin is excitable and determined, and most importantly he has kept an incredibly kind and helpful heart throughout his hard life. He risks his life in a podrace to help people he’s just met after inviting them to his house to food and shelter. He gives and gives and gives even though he has almost nothing, and he wants to fix everything and it upsets him so much when he can’t.
  6. Shmi Skywalker: It’s kind of incredible to think that the Skywalker family is all descended from a lone matriarch. Skywalker is her name, not a husbands or Anakin’s father, it’s hers, she starts the Skywalker legacy. She has passed down not only her name but her steel spine and her ability to remain soft and bright and hopeful in a world that has tried its hardest to crush her. I would die in battle for Shmi Skywalker if I’m being completely honest.
  7. Lightsaber Battles: They’re beautifully choreographed and awe inspiring to watch. These are saber wielders at their prime and it’s astounding.
  8. The Shaak fields scene: Anakin’s “I’d be much too frightened to tease a senator” and his little grin is so cute. Those awkward kids and their love, I love it.
  9. Palpatine’s manipulation: The original trilogy gives up this Ultimate Evil character in Palpatine, the prequels show us just how smart and patient he is. He played a masterful long game and managed to influence the fate of the entire galaxy in doing so.
  10. The scenery:  The planets and places we get to see in the prequels are so breathtaking and varied and create a beautiful backdrop for these stories. Sometimes I forget that I’m not actually watching a movie filmed in a galaxy far far away because the scenery created brings it all to life.

    **Bonus: Jar Jar Binks: Look, I know everyone is supposed to hate Jar Jar, but come on. Jar Jar has a big heart, he gives his affections freely and easily, he’s loyal and kind. He’s terrified of a lot of things but he still goes into battle with thousands of battle droids to protect Naboo, that’s pretty great. He’s got good intentions and people either write him off or take advantage of him and he doesn’t deserve it.

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A tsum tsum post!

The recent Phantom Menace tsum tsums collection combines several of my favorite things: prequels merch, cute plush things, and last week they were on sale.

Mine just arrived and let me tell you, they are so much cuter in person. The minis (3.5 inches) are the perfect size to just hold and marvel at their cuteness or, if you’re like me, balance on your shoulder like a parrot as Jar Jar is currently doing.

Prior to the sale I was planning on starting with just Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon because that’s really my niche but with the ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ sale I added Padme. Then I tried really hard to resist Jar Jar, but he just translated into tsum tsum form so perfectly I couldn’t resist how cute he was.

So I get my shipping envelope, take those 4 out, geek out about how adorable they are, then I picked up the envelope to throw it out and out rolled a Darth Maul who must have been thrown in by accident (or because he had unfinished business with the Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon tsums). Now the only two I’m missing from the set are Anakin and Sebulba and I’m sure I’ll add them eventually because now that I’ve started I can’t get enough.

Some especially delightful little elements are Obi-Wan’s fluffy padawan hair cut and braid, Darth Maul’s little horns under his hood, and Jar Jar’s everything, because he just looks so darn cute as a tsum.

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The Right Man for the Job?: Obi-Wan as Master and Teacher

I was discussing with Dora (@goodtruelies) on twitter yesterday about Obi-Wan being master to Anakin and how not great the situation is.

After the Battle of Theed Obi-Wan immediately goes from apprentice to teacher with no time in between to flesh out who he is a Jedi Knight. He also has no time to deal with the ramifications of how close he came to the dark side during his defeat of Darth Maul. He’s not ready to be a master at all, let alone master to The Chosen One who has to be caught up on the years of training that Jedi initiates go through. And there are several other factors working against him. Someone he was very close to and cared deeply for was killed in front of him, and ‘there is no death, there is a Force’ and ‘rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not’ are nice mantras but when your friend, mentor, and father figure for the past ~13 years is suddenly not there anymore, it’s hard. And he isn’t that fond of Anakin. Qui-Gon was ready to drop Obi-Wan to teach Anakin and that stung, their first understanding of each other was competitive siblings, or an older sibling jealous of a new younger one, and their ages are close that their relationship is more brothers than student and teacher.

He did his absolute best and in some aspects did really well but he and Anakin are such fundamentally different people. There was no way that Obi-Wan wouldn’t train Anakin (with of without the Council’s approval), because he gave Qui-Gon his word but was he really the right Jedi for the job? Was there another Jedi who maybe could have changed Anakin’s fate? Or was Anakin always fated to do exactly what he did (which is another question for another day)?

  • Bant Eerin (Jedi Apprentice books) : Bant is incredibly gentle and kind with a quiet strength and wisdom that would have grounded and quieted Anakin’s restless and impulsive mind. Her comforting presence has more than once calmed Obi-Wan down. She also shares Anakin’s deep loyalty to her friends, holding Qui-Gon responsible for leaving Obi-Wan on Melida/Daan (a choice Obi-Wan made) and putting herself at personal risk to assist Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon when the Temple is under attack
  • Kit Fisto: I have little technical evidence for this but everything in my gut tells me that would have both gotten along well and resulted in numerous disasters resulting in them continually egging each other into some stupidly risky action
  • an older Siri Tachi (Jedi Apprentice books): Siri learns to overcome many of the same faults that Anakin has to and her first hand experience may have been more useful to Anakin than Obi-Wan’s ‘think and meditate’ approach. Both are quick to annoyance and anger and impulsive. They both start out thinking they are invincible in a fight and have to learn that sometimes you are outmatched and finding a way out of those fights is sometimes better than staying and dying. Siri also puts up with very little nonsense or distractions, which probably been hard, but good for Anakin.
  • Shaak Ti: She presents an interesting possibility. She was doubtful of Anakin’s readiness to be knighted, but she is also shown to possess qualities beneficial to Anakin. In teaching the new clone recruits she stresses the need for unity and to function as a group while also believing in a group despite their failures of the testing. She has a contemplative nature (though hers is more analytical to Obi-Wan’s more emotional one) that if she managed to pass on to Anakin would have greatly benefited him

Obi-Wan gave Anakin a lot of leeway, probably initially out of loyalty to Qui-Gon and eventually out of loyalty to Anakin himself. I doubt many other Jedi would be as willingly blind to Anakin’s feelings towards Padme. However, without this leeway it’s entirely possible Anakin would have chosen to leave the Order much earlier. Obi-Wan is poorly suited to train Anakin but he may also be the best/only choice.

Anakin doesn’t fit into the structure of the Jedi Order at this point in their history. Obi-Wan’s explanation that it is the will of the Force that “Everything dies. In time, even stars burn out” in the Revenge of the Sith novelization is traumatizing to Anakin and the knowledge that all things die is something he has great difficulty understanding and accepting even though acceptance of this fact is the Jedi way, he forms attachments and deep personal loyalties over loyalty to the ideals of the Jedi. Would any other Jedi have been able to mold Anakin into a more traditional Jedi or would Anakin have simply pushed back harder?

Was Obi-Wan responsible for Anakin’s fall? I don’t believe so. We are all responsible for our own actions and choices, and sometimes we make terrible ones. Anakin made a choice, albeit a desperate one. While Obi-Wan could have trained him differently, Anakin’s fall is so interwoven with every aspect of his life it’s impossible to pick out any singular event as a cause.

Ultimately, both Anakin and Obi-Wan are who the other made them, training Anakin made Obi-Wan a better and more confident Jedi, and Anakin’s loyalty to Obi-Wan far rivals his loyalty to the ideals of the Order.  Without their master and padawan relationship they would both be very different people and Star Wars would not be the same story, so this is an exercise in futility to speculate but an interesting one at that.

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