Archive for characters

The Greatest Sin, The Most Forgiveness

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on 14 April 2017 by Megan

It’s deep in the human psyche that betrayal is the worst thing anyone can ever do to anyone. The crux of Julius Caesar is not whether the Caesar was a good or bad ruler who should or should not be removed from power — it’s a tragedy that hangs on betrayal, on E tu, Brute?

When Dante described the lowest circle of hell in his Inferno, he described a place reserved for betrayers — the worst sin that deserves the worst punishment. He also assigns the worst fate (being gnawed on by Satan himself in the center of the pit) to the two most famous betrayers in history — Brutus, betrayer of Caesar, and Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ. The creature who betrayed Christ fills us with such revulsion that we no longer use the name “Judas.” When Ben-Hur was being adapted into a film, the producers wanted to change the main character’s name from “Judah” because they thought it was too similar. All of this resonating from the deep human repugnance at the notion of betrayal.

This is a very literary opening, isn’t it? Well, Star Wars is literary and so am I. This is all leading somewhere.

In Luke’s Gospel, 7:47, Jesus makes the profound statement that one who loves much is forgiven much — and one who is forgiven little, loves only little. If betrayal is the worst thing one human can do to another, then it follows that a repentant betrayer is forgiven more and surely loves more than any other person. In light of this, let’s turn to the two most famous betrayers in the Star Wars Saga.

Although they were born 3,000 years apart on opposite sides of the galaxy, these two have remarkably similar stories in the great saga. Malavai Quinn, whose name literally means leader going bad, was born on Dromond Kaas 3,680 years before the Battle of Yavin. One of thousands of frustrated military men, he enters the saga as a companion of the Emperor’s Wrath during the cold war between Old Republic and Empire. A cunning military mastermind, he was exiled to a post on Balmorra after embarrassing a Moff; he only escaped execution due to the good graces of a Dark Council member named Darth Baras. Baras, an exacting master, was content to let Quinn rot on Balmorra until such time as he needed his services. The Wrath was merely an apprentice when Quinn joined his crew; when this Sith received the Emperor’s commission and became Wrath, he aligned himself against Darth Baras and put Quinn in an unenviable position of serving two masters, each wanting the other dead. Not knowing which master was truly serving the Emperor, or which truly desired the best for the Empire — Quinn’s driving passion — he obeyed Baras’ orders and attempted to destroy the Wrath in a crushing betrayal. Defeated by the Wrath, he begged forgiveness and begged to continue serving him for the Empire’s sake.

Lando Calrissian was born on Soccoro 31 years before the Battle of Yavin. Always a restless spirit, he left home as a teenager and acquired a reputation as a professional gambler. He participated in military actions such as the Battle of Tanaab but was always more of a businessman. Constantly sniffing out opportunities for profit, he more than once found himself uncomfortable when the situations went bust. One of his most successful ventures was when he took over as Baron Administrator of Cloud City, a tibanna gas mine that flourished under his control. Many of its citizens came from dubious backgrounds and criminal pasts; they viewed the mine as a way to start over, to go legit. When the Empire arrived on the hunt for Han Solo, it was a disaster in more ways than one. Lando and Han had been friends for years, but due to a falling out, hadn’t spoken for a long time. With the Empire threatening the colony of people who depended on him, Lando tried his best to make the situation work. Betrayed in turn by Vader, Lando was forced to call the city to evacuate and dedicate his energies to rescuing Han from the trap he had helped create.

Both of these men are forced between two profound loyalties when it comes to “the betrayal.” Neither of them choose to betray their friends for something trivial such as greed or lust. Both men are willing to sacrifice for and desperate to choose the best for their respective communities; however, it’s even two-pronged on Quinn’s part, for Darth Baras has treated him well for ten years, protecting him from Broysc’s pettiness, even confiding in him. By contrast, however much Quinn respects and admires the Sith Warrior who becomes the Wrath, this person is a recent acquaintance whose behavior may be quite erratic as far as the good of the Empire is concerned. Sith are notoriously self-serving, and Quinn believes he has ten years of Baras’ behavior to count on.

Both men defend the decision in the heat of it. Lando’s “I’ve done all I can! I’m sorry I couldn’t do better, but I’ve got my own problems” and Quinn’s “I didn’t want to choose between you, but Darth Baras has forced my hand” are nearly interchangeable. No doubt it’s on this very brief moment their detractors most focus — but look at how much, how weighty the evidence is on either side of this flash.

Both men instantly regret the decision. One could say they merely dissolve when it goes sideways on them, but look at their history and you can see that’s not in their character. They both express their remorse right away. Quinn programs battle droids to kill the Sith and Lando stands by while Han is tortured, but as Quinn realizes the Wrath is more powerful than he thought and as Lando realizes Vader intends to destroy Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, they freely acknowledge they’ve gotten in over their heads. Both take steps to rectify the error as quickly as possible. Quinn later explains to Darth Vowrawn that he is trying to make up for a past indiscretion.

Neither man is questioned on his loyalty again. Quinn is integrated fully into the storyline after the anticlimactic betrayal scene. And while Han’s last words to Lando before carbonite are a stony, “What’s goin’ on, buddy?”, the first thing he does free of carbonite is attempt to save Lando from the sarlacc. There’s no hesitation. Not only does Lando reflexively call out for Han to help him, Han leaps into action despite being blinded and weakened. And when Han takes a blaster to shoot the tentacle holding Lando prisoner, neither man even considers the possibility that Han would take revenge–Lando’s only concern is Han’s ability to aim with hibernation sickness affecting his vision.

Now, I understand that The Old Republic is a game, and the Emperor’s Wrath is a character that is played differently by everyone who plays it. While I’ve freely noted Han’s interactions with Lando, I’ve refrained from speculating on the Wrath’s. Maybe you play a really dark side Sith who would like to kill anyone who ever looked at him sideways. I don’t have anything to do with that. I only present the canon version of these events: namely, that Quinn is accepted into the Wrath’s crew once more and remains a player in galactic events, just as Lando is welcomed into the rebellion and becomes an integral part of the Star Wars. How you feel is your business; I am under no circumstances telling you how to feel. So far, I haven’t even mentioned how I feel. I’ve just given the bare facts of the story.

Now, this is how I see it: if you want to be like the kids who threw things at Billy Dee Williams’ car when he picked his kids up from school, if you want to be like the kids on Twitter who moan about how much they want to kill Quinn, it’s your prerogative. It’s my prerogative to love both of these characters. I love the friendship between Malavai Quinn and my Wrath, a Chiss named Chan’drakan’tah. I love the friendship between Han and Lando. I can only hope my real life friendships are as strong and as stable — I hope if I feel forced between loyalties and choose the wrong one, that forgiveness and not condemnation will meet me. I promise my friends that if they make the same bad choice, I will forgive.

Because he who is forgiven much loves much. And, also, I love both these characters. Much.

A New Visual Guide to Sentients

Posted in Questions with tags , , on 1 March 2017 by Megan

The most popular post on my blog by far is my “Visual Guide to Sentients.” I collected 65 of what I felt were the most significant races in Star Wars — it wasn’t very polished, and since it’s become so popular, I’ve decided to do an updated version with the 99 most significant races in Star Wars with their name and first appearance.

In order to be considered significant, a race must have more than one living member at the time of the Original Trilogy (no Yoda) and must appear in more than one sequence (or be vitally important in the single instance in which they appear).

Planetary origin is immaterial: Alderaanians, Bakurans, Corellians, etc. are all humans, so they will not appear separately on the list. Mandalorians, not being a race on their own, do not appear either.

INDEX

Advozse — Aleena — Anzat — Aqualish — Arcona
Barabel — Besalisk — Bith — Bothan
Caamasi — Cathar — Cerean — Chadra-Fan — Chagrian — Chiss — Clawdite
Devaronian — Drall — Dug — Duros
Elom — Elomin — Er’kit — Ewok
Falleen
Gammorean — Gand — Gen’daii — Geonosian — Gossam — Gotal — Gran — Gree — Gungan
Herglic — Human — Hutt
Iktotchi — Ishi Tib — Ithorian
Jawa
Kaleesh — Kaminoan — Kel Dor — Kissai — Kitonak — Klatoonian — Kubaz
Lannik
Mirialan — Miralukan — Massassi — Mon Calamari — Muun
Nautolan — Neimodian — Nikto — Nimbanel — Noghri — Nosaurian
Ongree — Ortolan
Pau’an — Phindian — Polis Massan
Quarren — Quermian
Rakata — Rattataki — Revwien — Rodian
Sand People — Selonian — Sith — Snivvian — Ssi-Ruuk — Stennes — Sullustan
Talz — Thisspiasian — t’landa Til — Togorian — Togruta — Toydarian — Trandoshan — Twi’lek
Ubese — Ugnaught — Utai
Verpine — Vodran
Weequay — Whiphid — Wookiee
Xexto
Yinchorri — Yuzzem
Zabrak — Zeltron

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Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Side Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , on 3 August 2015 by Megan

Day 3 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Which has immediately launched me into trying to determine what constitutes main characters, side characters, and background characters . . . I am instantly thinking of a lot of background characters I love. Aayla Secura, Eeth Koth, Twi’leks, people with no lines. Those have to be background and they can’t possibly count.

So a side character is a non-protagonist who has lines. That narrows it down. I love Dexter Jettster so much, but I’m really not wanting to do another post about him. I know it’s been like three years and I said it’s not redundant but there are so many characters . . . surely there’s someone else.

You know who is cool? Captain Panaka is cool.

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I tend to forget how much I like him because I get distracted by how much I dislike his stupid nephew Typho. But Panaka is great. Out of place, an oddity, he is a real warrior and a patriot on a pacifist planet. He understands that pacifism is all well and good, but it can’t be practiced without soldiers — a contradiction his contradictory soul can be at peace with.

He wants what’s best for Naboo and is willing to do anything for the Queen. I don’t know what kind of seedy underbelly stuff is going on where pacifist Naboo trains body double guards for its ruler and keeps handguns in the throne, but Panaka is definitely no rent-a-cop. He’s one of the few people in the movie who has a backbone, and he’s not awed by Jedi reputation into accepting their word as law. Hugh Quarshie, who played Panaka, gave this telling insight into his character portrayal:

“I figured the tougher I was, the tougher it would make the Jedi seem to be. Obviously nobody out-toughed the Jedi, but Captain Panaka was going to give them a run for their money!”

Qui-Gon earns his respect, or he never would have let his charge wander off with him alone into a gangster-controlled slaver world.

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In a lot of ways, he reminds me of General Veers. He lost his sister and became dedicated to soldiering as a result. He later turned more to politics, becoming a sector Moff. His loyalty and dedication to Palpatine never wavered, and he considered that his compatriot held the galaxy together and brought order from Separatist chaos.

So you see, in the end, while he was wrong about Palpatine, Panaka becomes one of those near and dear to my heart — EMPIRE FOREVER!

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Main Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 2 August 2015 by Megan

Day 2 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Let’s just accept that 1) favorites generally don’t fluctuate; 2) challenges focus on favorites; 3) there is going to be a certain degree of redundancy; 4) it is OK to talk about the same person more than once; 5) when it’s been two years since I posted about something, it’s not redundant, not really.

That’s more for my benefit than yours because I guarantee you don’t care. My apology stated, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

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And what could be more fun than the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn? I listed some points in this post from 2013 — mostly, that I was entraced by this guy the moment I first saw him on the movie poster and was not disappointed by his appearance. Liam Neeson’s own personal core of awesomeness helps keep Qui-Gon a sustainable favorite even as we near the two decade mark.

Yes, he’s only in one of the three prequel films, but his shadow is over them all. Qui-Gon Jinn, like another favorite of mine, Cadfael, is a warrior/monk/teacher/detective/all around amazing and awesome guy. He’s been a role model to me since I was 14, which was made even cooler by the fact that Obi-Wan was 14 as his apprentice. I could basically step into Obi-Wan’s shoes and be mentored by this great man.

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It’s because of Qui-Gon Jinn that I think stubbornness is a virtue. He never accepts what authority tells him because, even if Yoda is 800 years old, Qui-Gon is confident enough in his own experience and knowledge to believe he just might know better than the little goblin. He tests each situation for himself and draws his own conclusions. Nothing shakes him from his beliefs. He’ll take rebuke, shame, even physical assault, but he will not change his position and he will not compromise on what he knows is right: “I will do what I must.”

obipose17

Which is not to say he’s never known failure, even deep, biting failure. He never stopped blaming himself for the fall of his second apprentice, Xanatos; nor did he ever recover from the death of the love of his life, Tahl. He held himself responsible for that, too. But he was tough in the face of his mistakes; they never introduced self-doubt, and he carries the entire plot of Episode I, and, arguably, the prequel trilogy, on his shoulder as he charges ahead. The Force could not be clearer: he has found the “Chosen One” and the Jedi must train him.

While some of his in-film behavior is inexplicable — I simply can’t believe a man who has been betrayed in the past, even betrayed by Obi-Wan, would ever backstab his apprentice before the Council the way Lucas’ Qui-Gon does. But there are times I genuinely believe George Lucas doesn’t know as much about his own characters as I do.

Qui-Gon is proud and stubborn but also gentle. He has an innate knowledge of what people need, what people will respond to, what will cause them to stretch and grow. Obstacles don’t ruffle him as long as he knows he’s in control — watch his temper flare when Watto shoos him out of the shop, for example — and while he doesn’t believe the Council could find the will of the Force with both hands and a flashlight, his trust in what he calls “the Living Force” (the Force of right now, this minute, not the dusty past or the shifting future) doesn’t waver at any point.

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In 1999, when I carried the Visual Dictionary everywhere for months because I couldn’t see the movie until a month after it came out, I drew the inevitable conclusion that Qui-Gon had to die in Episode I. There was no getting around it. I still cried when it happened. Actually, it just made me like him more; I was really infatuated with dead people back then. Sometimes I still am, as long as the death is pointful (not profitable), in character, and, most important of all, not Pyrrhic. Sidebar.

Qui-Gon’s life and background remains shrouded in mystery to me; honestly I have never been able to bring myself to believe that Dooku was his master. His death also has some mystery, in my opinion, because I find it a little overly convenient that when he falls in love a second time, he instantly dies. I’m inclined to think he faked his death so he could run away with Shmi, not allowing the Jedi to derail his heart a second time; but that’s a conspiracy for a different day (1)(2). He’s cool and he’s awesome and that’s all there is to say.

Announcing the Winner!

Posted in Announcements, Fun with tags , , , on 28 March 2015 by Megan

And the votes are in! They have been counted and weighed and the winner has been found.

Thanks for joining me on this learning experience as I tried out the brackety thing and ran a contest for who fans would choose for their favorite! Out of a very tricky to choose 64 characters, we made it down to two. These two. These TrEU two whose legend cannot be made legendary, even by a mouse army.

(PS, anyone knows who originally did that image, I love it and want to credit them.) And now, to find out who the winner was — by eight votes —

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Final Battle!

Posted in Fun with tags , , on 24 March 2015 by Megan

Okay, whew! It’s been a long, strange trip, guys! I thank you all for playing . . . and now there is one last task you must do before we part ways (until my next bracket challenge). While I consider this final match up a little cliche, most people seem to agree that it’s interesting as well as fitting. These two characters sprang from the same mind, after all, the mind that gave us the EU in 1991 . . .

thrawnmara

MARA JADE VS. ADMIRAL THRAWN

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You must vote . . . for the top True Expanded Universe character! Who will be the TrEU Champion?

TrEU Round V!

Posted in Fun with tags , , , , on 20 March 2015 by Megan

This has been a very fun journey, to be sure! And my stats are booming. I’m already planning to do more brackets in upcoming months, because I don’t see why they should be restricted to March! That being said . . . let’s take a look at the board!

It was dang close this time through. I actually had to resort to a tie breaker. And with all homage to our EU pioneer Timothy Zahn . . .

herovillains5That’s right! It’s boiled down to a face off of his three most popular characters . . . and that guy from our favorite computer game!

THE HEROES

THE VILLAINS

I’m still hoping folks will keep it more interesting than Zahn vs. Zahn, but can the great Kyle hold his own against the Emperor’s Hand, either in pitched combat, hand-to-hand melee, or the Star Warriors’ heart? I guess we’ll find out. I guess I’m not supposed to be influencing votes!

So go ahead and make your vote, tell your friends, and come back on March 24 to see who has survived to the final two, and your chance to vote for which favorite hero will stomp (or be stomped by!) which favorite villain!