We’re now officially less than a month away from the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Needless to say, I am very excited – not just for the movie, but also for the way the Star Wars Expanded Universe seems to be following. Watch out, for there will be spoilers ahead.
When Disney first acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012, I was actually very angry about the whole thing. Well, more specifically, I was furious about their decision to disregard the already existing Expanded Universe and making it into “Legends.”
In hindsight, I can see that it was somewhat irrational and unreasonable. Granted, there were a lot of really, really horrible stories in the old canon. But there were also some amazing gems like Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane trilogy.
First of all, you know you’re in good hands when Karpyshyn’s at the helm. This is the guy who wrote Knights of the Old Republic after all. For context, that’s a Star Wars story that takes place more than 4000 years before A New Hope. The Darth Bane trilogy, essentially, connects KOTOR to the Skywalker saga.
The trilogy was an interesting take, mainly because its protagonist was a Dark Lord of the Sith i.e. the bad guy. Except, he wasn’t necessarily a bad guy. Karpyshyn brought nuance and depth to the somewhat simplistic Light/Dark dichotomy that George Lucas was (and still is) obsessed with.
Bane was born a man named Dessel in a galaxy wrecked by Civil War. On the one hand, there was the Sith Empire with its many Sith Lord, all of whom competed against one another in an endless struggle for more power. On the other hand, the Galactic Republic, with its forces led by the Jedi Order, who were plagued by self-righteousness and arrogance.
Even with just this premise, the books managed to blur the distinction between the Jedi and the Sith. Each vied for power, but through different means. Bane hated both of the groups, mainly because of the same reason. Sure, at the end of the day, he wanted the Sith to win, but that wasn’t because he wanted to plunge the galaxy into darkness.
He wanted that because it was part of his politics.
So going back to Disney’s iconoclasm, I was very angry when Darth Bane was basically uncanonized. Except, as it turned out, he wasn’t. Disney wasn’t fully out of control. They had kept the amazing TV series Clone Wars within the main continuity.
Clone Wars was a cartoon series, but I daresay it singlehandedly redeemed almost all the flaws of the prequel trilogy. It made Anakin Skywalker into an actual character, for one. This gave us a broader understanding as to why Anakin fell to the Dark Side. Sure, Revenge of the Sith kind of approaches this subject, but it remains very superficial.
If you haven’t already, see the “To Catch A Jedi” story arc. Here, we see just how self-righteous the Jedi Council can be. They are not the paragons of good and justice as they would like to pretend. They fail Anakin’s Padawan Ahsoka Tano. In turn, this makes Anakin realize his own struggles with the Council.
Honestly, if you watch the Jedi Council scene in Revenge with that scene in mind, you can almost ignore Hayden Christensen’s angst and actually enjoy the scene.
I would argue that the “nuanced” approach to the Light and the Dark side (thank the Force!) continued with The Force Awakens. In this movie, we have Kylo Ren, who is clearly struggling with making a decision between the two sides.
He literally says, “I’m being torn apart.” Kylo Ren is basically the Anakin Skywalker we never got. Something must have happened that has ruined his faith in Luke. This is further supported by the fact that Luke Skywalker is very afraid of Rey’s powers in trailer for The Last Jedi.
Not only that, but Luke also seems to be advocating for the Jedi to end. Did Luke finally realize that the struggle between the Light and the Dark is what’s causing the galaxy so much suffering?
A basic lesson in history would prove that to be the case. Why did Anakin fall to the Dark Side? Because the Jedi would not allow him to have emotional attachments, which led to his hiding his relationship with Padmé, which led to his having to deal with trying to save her life on his own, which led to his falling into the clutches of Palpatine.
Had he been able to be openly in love with Padmé, none of this would have happened, because Padmé wouldn’t have had to hide her pregnancy and could get some actual medical assistance. (Also, side note, in the old Expanded Universe, Luke actually got rid of that no marriage rule, because he realized that’s what caused his dad to fall to the Dark Side and got married to Mara Jade.)
Maybe the only way to bring balance to the Force is by destroying not just the Sith, but the Jedi as well. I am pretty confident that’s where the story is going, mainly because The Rebels is also pushing the “We are the balance” angle really hard.
All this is to say that I was so, so wrong to be angry at Disney for messing up with my Expanded Universe. The Expanded Universe, as it turns out, did need a reboot. Someone needed to take the best things from it and leave the chaff behind.
And now, I think Star Wars is more intriguing than ever. It’s becoming more and more real every day and I’m more than okay with that. You might miss your old, Manichean Star Wars, but I want politics goddammit.