The Sequel Trilogy: My Way

Hey everybody!
Way back when, I wrote up some ideas that I’d had to “improve” The Phantom Menace, which at the time seemed like an interesting thought exercise and a useful way to pass the time. Well, in trying to soothe a teething infant the last few evenings, I’ve been giving some thought to the Sequel Trilogy in something of the same manner. I suppose, after watching The Rise of Skywalker again recently, it’s been on my mind how much of a let-down things were. I’m not saying that any of these ideas would actually improve things, of course – I thought it was just an interesting idea to think about, trying to pull together more of the story into something a bit more cohesive perhaps…

Star Wars

So first of all, let’s take The Force Awakens as standing as it is. I don’t think it’s a perfect film, but I do believe it works perfectly fine for setting things up, and the main problems that I have with the sequels have been around the lack of any satisfying pay-off for a number of plot points raised therein.

Now. There are two points that I’d like to bring up from the expanded universe (the new one). The novel Bloodline is truly excellent, and should be read by everyone. Whether it was because it came out around the time of episode seven, when we had very little else to go on, it provided a tremendous amount of background to the political landscape in which that movie takes place. It also – kinda – answers the question of where the First Order came from, and that’s the first point that I feel is a let-down in the trilogy. Secondly, the Aftermath trilogy, while I wasn’t really a fan of the story being told, it nevertheless gives us a lot of information on what happens to the Imperial Remnant, and gives us some background for how Palpatine might have ended up with a massive fleet out in the Unknown Regions.

So, without further ado, and still hitting quite a few of the plot points from around and about the existing films, let’s do this!

Rey and Luke

The Last Jedi is all about recruiting Luke to the cause of the Resistance. Luke realizes that he is somewhat responsible for the death of his old friend Han, since he feels a sense of guilt over Ben’s fall to the Dark Side, and so he heads off with Rey to rejoin the Resistance.

The Resistance themselves flee from D’Qar, with Vice-Admiral Holdo leading a rearguard action to allow the majority of the fleet to disappear. Holdo sacrifices herself, taking out a good portion of the First Order fleet with her. Leia leads her forces to the planet Ajan Kloss, where they regroup and reorganise.

Finn is given a job in military intelligence after his vital part in the destruction of Starkiller Base, as the Resistance tries to get ahead of the First Order and work out what is going on. There he meets his fellow spy Rose, and they’re given the task of infiltrating an old Imperial Archive on Coruscant. At this point, and during this storyline, we’ll be able to learn more of what happened to the Empire after Endor, and maybe some more tidbits about the New Republic, too.

On Ajan Kloss, Luke and Rey arrive and sense a massive connection with the Force – none other than the Whiphid Jedi Master K’Kruhk, who had survived Order 66 through sheer bad-assery and has been secretly biding his time raising a small Jedi enclave far from the reaches of the galactic conflict. Luke and K’Kruhk train together, and develop Rey’s talents alongside the other students and followers of the Whiphid.

Snoke attempts to bolster the First Order following their losses incurred at Holdo’s hand, and sends Kylo Ren to “implement contingency b” or something…

Poe leads a mission to Corellia as a distraction while Finn and Rose head to Coruscant, and inadvertently discovers that Wedge has been informally leading a rebellion of his own there. The First Order comes to investigate and utterly destroys the revolt there, Poe and Wedge barely get out alive. The mission to Coruscant has unveiled a trail that leads to the Unknown Regions, and the movie ends with Finn and Rose coming out of hyperspace above Exegol, where they find the Final Order fleet, and Kylo Ren…

Of course, all of this means that The Rise of Skywalker needs a few changes of its own!

Snoke is the head of a cabal of ex-Imperials and the like who are attempting to resurrect the Emperor through Sith Alchemy. Snoke himself is so badly scarred because of a failed experiment to use his body to channel the dead Palpatine’s spirit years before.

Allegiant General Pryde is the man in charge of the First Order’s operations in the Unknown Regions, having taken over from Brendol Hux. Finn and Rose find him, and Finn tortures him into revealing who he, Finn, is. They learn that Finn was abducted from a crime lord, and flee from the fleet to return to the Resistance.

Leia and co have been attempting to recruit more allies to the Resistance, and Lando returns to the fold when he learns that Han has been killed. He brings a lot of his old underground contacts with him, and when Finn and Rose return with their news, Lando reveals that he knows Finn’s father. Moreover, Poe used to work for him in his days running spice, so they lead a delegation to ask for support. Finn’s father is the head of Kanjiklub, and lends the support of his fleet of smugglers in revenge for having his boy stolen from him, and the Resistance heads off into the Unknown Regions.

Luke leads his band of Jedi against Snoke and the cabal, but he is cut down when the Knights of Ren descend upon him. Kylo Ren redeems himself by dying to save Rey, and Luke’s dying action is to lend his Force spirit to Rey and allowing for her to cut down Snoke.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Rey’s parents really were nobodies, hiding her on Jakku to escape from the Knights of Ren, who stalk the galaxy in search of Force-sensitive children and abduct them for the Sith alchemical experiments. Rey is a pure manifestation of the Force, similar to Anakin. The Force is aware of its internal balance being out of whack, and when one side gets too strong, it will bring forth a balancing power like this.


So there’s my half-baked thoughts on how the sequels could have played out, trying to combine as much as possible but giving things some new slants. There are plenty of things missed out that could have been included, such as the Death Star ruins and Lando’s daughter, and I’m sure Captain Phasma could have been sprinkled in there as well.

Finn feels like a character that was somehow forgotten about after episode seven, but I think making him a part of military intelligence could fit quite well. I do like the idea of Finn being the son of a crime lord, and the link to The Force Awakens and Kanjiklub is something I quite liked at the time I thought of it! It also brings in the underworld element, much like we had with Jabba in Return of the Jedi, and much like the idea of them finding out about the Imperial remnant in the middle film, here Finn and Rose become a catalyst for another info-dump, as we see what happened after Jabba’s organisation fell.

I’d love to have seen the Knights of Ren taking a bigger role throughout both movies, and I’m sure there would be opportunities with more development, but this isn’t precisely the sort of thing I want to spend most of my time working up a script for, or something!

For those who don’t know, Master K’Kruhk was a Jedi Master during the Dark Horse series of comics set in the prequel era, and was brought somewhat to the fore during the Dark Times run as an almost indestructible force of nature. He then showed up in the Legacy series that took place over 100 years after the Battle of Yavin, making him almost a Jedi Perpetual. It’s the storyline from the Dark Times comics that I’m sort of drawing upon here, with him being a patriarch of a Jedi enclave of survivors of Order 66.

At any rate, I thought it was a fun thought exercise on how things might have worked out, if we had something other than that abysmal episode eight, and removing the need to bring back Palpatine to make everything work out in the end.

What do you think? Is this worse than what we got?

The Last Jedi… again

Hey everybody!
It’s May 4th, so it’s now compulsory to write about Star Wars!

I recently watched The Last Jedi for the second time (I know, it’s shocking), having picked up the DVD upon release. When I first saw it back in December, I felt like there was a lot going on, and the film does still feel quite busy in that respect. There feels like a lot of chaff included, and the Battle of Crait at the end did feel a little… not a let-down per se, but it certainly didn’t feel like the climax the film had been building to. I guess we have a few mini-climaxes throughout the film, such as Rey vs Kylo Ren.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

When I watched The Force Awakens for the second time, it somehow felt a lot more like a Star Wars movie than when I’d watched it in the cinema. With The Last Jedi, however, I’m still in that middle ground of kinda liking it, but it still feels really weird and different to everything that went before it. The tone of the dialogue at times felt incredibly weird, and Poe baiting General Hux at the beginning of the film in particular ripped me out of the Star Wars feel of a movie… maybe I’m just being a bit sensitive on this one, though.

Now, I did like the fact that the film plays a bit with the idea of everyone having to have an iconic story. The fact that Rey comes from nothing is superb, to me, and I really hope they keep that in episode IX, rather than it being one of these “from a certain point of view” lines. It had been a fear going into the film that Rey would turn out to be Luke’s daughter, but thankfully that doesn’t appear to be correct… It does add a lot to her character to think that she doesn’t have this incredible lineage to live up to, and that can explain away her power. I do like the idea that, maybe, she is some kind of spontaneous appearance of the Force (not exactly along the lines of Anakin Skywalker, of course, but you hopefully know what I mean!)

Star Wars The Last Jedi

I mentioned earlier that there is a lot of chaff in the film, and I think this primarily surrounds the Resistance storyline, as they’re chased through hyperspace. There is definitely an attempt to build a lot of tension for this whole arc, but it just feels robbed of that when Finn and Rose head off to Canto Bight. And that whole gratuitous cameo of Maz… I really like her character, I just wish she could either come back in a better way, or else be left out altogether. It just made no real sense for Poe to know her, somehow.

I think the whole Canto Bight thing would have been better left out, and Finn and Rose had to just try to sneak aboard and disable the thing themselves… It just feels a bit like the worst excesses of the Prequels have returned, the whole thing is just pointless (animal rights messages should not be strong-armed into a Star Wars movie – there, I said it).

Canto Bight

I’m really not trying to say that I hate the film, like so many others have filled the internet with since last year. I think there are a lot of areas that I find a bit jarring, and I would have preferred to have seen certain aspects handled differently for what (I think) would have been a smoother finish. However, some of these things – Admiral Holdo coming out of nowhere etc – are likely down to the fact that the film is still quite new, and I’m finding its place within the universe, etc. Given another viewing, and maybe given the chance to read some of the material around it, I’d have something different to say…

Star Wars The Last Jedi

I suppose that’s a problem with the sequel trilogy in general though, right now. There is a dearth of reading material out there that surrounds the trilogy right now, owing to the attempt to continue that air of mystery surrounding so many plot elements. It’s a JJ thing, of course, but sometimes it feels like this mystery element is too much, and we’re seeing too much stuff that is going unexplained. Supreme Leader Snoke certainly falls into this category, and the information we’re being fed piecemeal around Ben’s seduction to the Dark Side feels a bit like it’s getting old now. I don’t know, there just feels like a lot of extraneous weirdness here. And did we really need the shirtless Kylo Ren? Well, apparently, but still!

Rey and Luke

I’ve said before that Luke Skywalker is my favourite character, but I have to say that I was more than a little bit disappointed on this aspect of the film. Luke giving up? Not sure about that, and I’m not sure the whole portrayal was in keeping with the idealist of the original trilogy, who was convinced of the good still in Vader. Mark Hamill himself has come out with similar feelings, which does feel a bit damning.

There’s a lot of negativity coming out of this blog now, so I guess I’m going to stop. It might just be the fact that it’s new, and might just be jarring with my established feeling of what Star Wars is. I might need to watch it a few more times and see if I can get more comfortable with it.

The Last Jedi! (spoilers within)

Hey everybody!
I went to see The Last Jedi last night, and I have to say, I was really blown away. Considering, at its core, it’s a very straightforward movie, there was a hell of a lot going on! This blog post will contain spoilers, so please turn back unless you’re willing to take the risk – but suffice it to say, I think I liked it!

The Last Jedi

The movie picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey meeting Luke on Ahch-To and returning his lightsaber. Luke is initially very reluctant to teach Rey anything, but eventually offers her three lessons. During their time together, Rey learns that Luke almost killed Ben Solo during their training, as he had seen the corruption Snoke had managed to inveigle into his student, but stopped himself. However, Ben turned on Luke alongside a handful of students at the Jedi temple, killing the others and leaving to join the First Order.

The Resistance is on the defensive against the First Order fleet, being hounded across the galaxy due to the First Order’s ability to track their ships through lightspeed. Realising this, Finn and a mechanic named Rose decide to infiltrate the First Order star destroyer tracking them, and disable the device in order to allow the Resistance the chance to flee. In order to do so, they travel to the casino city of Canto Bight on Cantonica, but are apprehended by the police and imprisoned. There, they meet the slicer DJ who offers to help them, and after a hectic breakout, manage to flee the world. DJ gets Finn and Rose to the First Order flagship, but betrays them and they are once again captured.

During a First Order attack on the Resistance, however, General Leia was seriously wounded, leaving command of the fleet with Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She and Poe clash over the vice admiral’s apparent lack of determination, and when Poe discovers she is seemingly intent on abandoning ship, he leads a mutiny against her, as he is desperate for Finn and Rose to get through and disable the tracking device. However, Leia stuns him and the extent of Holdo’s plan becomes clear: she intends to allow cloaked transports to flee the Resistance flagship, providing a decoy for the First Order to continue to follow.

Rey, communicating through the Force with Kylo Ren, decides to leave Luke and return to known space, intent on turning Ren from the dark side. She allows herself to be captured by the First Order, and Ren takes her to Snoke, who chides her foolishness for thinking she can turn him. As Snoke laughs in triumph, seeing Ren using a lightsaber to destroy “his true enemy”, Ren uses the Force to bisect Snoke with Luke’s lightsaber. The two kill Snoke’s guards, then Ren offers Rey the chance to join him in ruling the galaxy. A Force struggle ensues, and Rey leaves to rejoin the resistance.

The main Resistance forces are making their way to the old Rebellion outpost of Crait, but are discovered by the First Order and largely destroyed. However, Holdo sets a course directly for the First Order flagship and jumps to lightspeed, destroying her own ship and tearing a chunk out of that of the First Order in the process. In the confusion, Finn and Captain Phasma duel, with Finn managing to best his former boss before he and Rose escape the ship.

The Resistance reconvenes on the salt mining world of Crait, but so few remain and soon the First Order arrives in force. After an initial bombardment, Luke seems to appear within the base, and heads out to confront the enemy. Ren, now Supreme Leader of the First Order, orders every gun to blast him to pieces, but he emerges unscathed, at which point he goes out to duel his uncle. However, it soon appears to be nothing more than a Force projection, Luke allowing the remaining Resistance leaders time to flee from the mine with Rey and Chewie aboard the Falcon. Exhausted by the effort of projecting his consciousness across the galaxy, Luke dies.

The film ends with the confirmation that the Resistance is more than the surviving band of freedom fighters, but the idea that you can fight the First Order.


Like I said, there is a lot going on in this movie, for what is essentially a two-story arc of the Resistance’s flight from the First Order, and Rey’s search for training. That isn’t meant to do the film a disservice, as I thought it was actually really quite an interesting take. There was so much happening, though, I feel that I need to go watch it again to really take it all in.

Much like my initial thoughts on The Force Awakens, I didn’t really feel like this movie fits with the others, either. Though I’m sure that will change in time! It feels like a decent film, don’t get me wrong, and I really did like it, but it definitely felt like a world apart from the others.

In common with the last movie, it also has a lot of throwbacks to the original movie trilogy, this time to Empire. The Resistance base on Crait felt exactly like Hoth, and there were at least a couple of shots that directly reference similar shots to the Battle of Hoth. It seemed quite silly that a random soldier dude has to make reference to the fact that the white stuff is salt, not snow, as if just to differentiate. Later on, there is a sequence where Chewie flies the Falcon through the salt mine, which is almost entirely lifted from the Death Star attack during the Battle of Endor – right down to the same music playing. The Canto Bight casino feels like the Cloud City shots we never got to see, etc etc. It’s not as obvious as episode VII, don’t get me wrong, but it still feels a little like this sequel trilogy is being propped up by the original three, and I would prefer to see more entirely new stuff, if I’m honest.

The Last Jedi

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room here. Leia survives the film, while Luke becomes one with the Force. I was really perplexed by this, and I don’t really know where we’re going from here. Of course, we knew earlier in the year that Leia had a larger part to play in IX, but with Carrie Fisher’s death almost a year ago now, and Kathleen Kennedy stating that she will not be brought back for episode nine, I can’t really see how they’re going to get round this. Leia is too pivotal a character to be killed off-screen, but the only thing I can think of here is that the opening crawl for the next movie will start with something like “General Leia is dead.” I suppose it’s too early to be speculating with what could happen, but I was fully expecting them to give her a similar death to Oliver Reed’s Gladiator demise.

On a related note, though, I was quite pleased to see Luke dying to save his friends, but not being killed in battle. I mean, Luke is my favourite character, so I’m biased here, but I’d always thought he wouldn’t just go out like a chump, as he’s too powerful with the Force. That he managed to project himself across the galaxy to provide the distraction for Leia and co to flee, then just goes into the Force, it really was the best way for him to go.

There’s so much to talk about with this movie, I’m really looking forward to seeing it again and just becoming more familiar with it as part of the ongoing saga. There is definitely a lot going on – it’s possibly the most action-packed of the films so far – so I’m sure I’ll be devoting many more blog posts to it in the months to come!!

Star Wars: Phasma (a review)

Hey everybody,
Yesterday, I finished reading the latest new canon novel in the Star Wars universe, Phasma. One of the new “Journey to The Last Jedi” books, the novel is very much in line with previous books that we’ve had in the run-up to The Force Awakens back in 2015, providing no real meat for the rumour-hungry, but just teasing tidbits for the new film.

The book takes place somewhere around the same time period as last year’s Bloodline, with most of the book forming a frame story around Phasma’s past on the post-apocalyptic world of Parnassos. We meet Captain Cardinal, a stormtrooper tasked with training the children taken into the First Order’s ranks, as he interrogates the Resistance spy Vi Moradi. Moradi has been researching several high-ranking First Order personnel, which makes her the exact tool Cardinal needs to take down his hated rival, Captain Phasma.

Moradi’s tale is basically Phasma’s life, and is told through several extended sequences that are lightly dusted with a return to the interrogation. We see Phasma encounter General Brendol Hux after his ship crash-lands on Parnassos, and their trek across the desert to find it and thus salvation from the harsh world.

Once Cardinal thinks he has enough information that he can discredit Phasma as the poster-child for the First Order, he confronts first Armitage Hux, and then Phasma herself, with dire consequences.

I have to say, I was not really a fan of this book. For the most part, it felt like Mad Max, not Star Wars, and once I was done with it, having had some time to reflect, I really don’t think this is the sort of backstory that I wanted for Phasma. Sure, I’m not really sure what I did want, but I don’t think it would have been this.

This is really turning into a theme for me with these new canon novels of late. I think it boils down to the fact that we’ve had a number of years of new canon material now, and yet the universe still doesn’t exactly feel like a cohesive place, really. Part of this has to do with the fact that we’re still waiting for the new trilogy to resolve, of course, but I’ve read a good number of these things now, and I don’t feel at home within the universe as I used to. I don’t feel that I know anybody, or anywhere, or, really, anything.

I’m trying not to be negative about these novels, because I’m sure that a lot of work is going in, behind the scenes, to keep the narrative more focused than it ever was under Bantam, but at the same time, my expectations for new Star Wars novels have been reduced so much, I’m quite shocked that I’m even still buying them. (And don’t get me started on the comics!)

Now, don’t get me wrong, the story is a fine tale, and the concept of the framing device is quite interesting within Star Wars literature generally. My biggest gripe, I suppose, is that there’s still that air of expectation around the novel as there was with Aftermath; for sure, Phasma seems to be a major player in the next movie, so a book about her origins is bound to be a big-ticket item. There are some interesting slants on the First Order that we get later in the book, as well, but in the main this is the tale of how Phasma met Brendol Hux, and how she escaped her origins on a backwater world. Mad Max fans will possibly enjoy the feel, but even then, any story that involves a foot-slog across a desert is bound to get tedious after a while.

If they stay true to form, we’ll get a novel next spring/summer like Bloodline, which will vindicate the publishing programme and fill us in on several of the details that couldn’t be discussed before the new movie hits.

Which leaves me thinking – why not just publish different stories in the run-up to the new movies, if they’re not going to give us anything really meaningful?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (official trailer)

Well, this has really made me very excited for the new Star Wars movie!

I’ve watched this thing through twice now, and while overall I don’t think it tells us anything we hadn’t already surmised, I am nevertheless really interested in where the story is being taken for the middle arc of the trilogy.

Sure, we have Rey training with Luke, and they seem to be going on some kind of journey of discovery, stuff that we’d pretty much surmised from the teaser trailer. But this whole business with Rey and Kylo Ren seeming to team up? Is Kylo Ren going to kill Leia? What’s up with Finn, is he back with the First Order, or is it some kind of ruse? That fight with Phasma looks like it could be pretty epic, but could it lead to his return, somehow?

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the new poster for the film:

So Luke is very much front and centre, with Rey and Kylo Ren flanking General Leia in a manner that makes me think this film is going to be very much a story driven by matters of the Force, and the war between the First Order and the Resistance will take a bit of a back seat. Leia has some overlap between these two spheres, of course, so her prominence over Poe and Finn seems to be justified there. Will Kylo have to kill Leia as part of his training under Snoke, only to turn his back on the darkness and team up with Rey as a penance? I can’t honestly see Rey willingly joining with him if he’s still evil, but maybe there will be a lot more grey in this film than meets the eye…

I purposefully avoided everything except the trailers for episode 7, and found myself enjoying the film more as a result. I’m therefore doing the same again, so I’m hoping that I’ll walk out of the cinema on 15 December feeling just as fresh as a result!