4 Things That Make the Star Wars Saga Stand Out

Ever since 1977, the Star Wars films have captured the public’s imagination in a way that other studios and moviemakers have tried to recreate time and time again. As someone who studies fiction for a living, I can’t say I claim to have the answers myself, but I do notice a few consistent traits that almost each Star Wars movie and spinoff media has going for it (that is, if you don’t count the prequel trilogy from the early 2000’s). I think what makes Star Wars so memorable is the way it gives the audience a sense of just how big its universe is.

Here are 4 things that the whole saga exemplifies, from the Seventies to today.

1. War on a galactic scale

Copyright © 1983 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1983 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Sounds obvious, I know, but Star Wars is very much a space opera when it comes to the scale and style of its battles. You don’t get just dogfights in outer space, but plucky freighters outrunning giant Star Destroyers or rebel troops going toe-to-toe with massive, four-legged Imperial tanks. You get trench runs through the sides of planet-sized space stations, as pilots execute daredevil maneuvers through a storm of cannonfire. Lightsaber battles are iconic to the saga, but just as thrilling to the imagination are the space and ground battles between resistance fighters and the Empire’s soldiers.

2. Life on the frontier

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

For all the grandeur that a galaxy-spanning empire conjures up, it’s amazing how often the saga takes place in small, backwater worlds like Tatooine, Hoth, and Jakku. For me, it brings up what I like to call the “Hobbit effect.” In laymen’s terms, if you want to see how big a fictional setting is, show us through the eyes of the smallest people. When we see how farmers like Luke and scavengers like Rey get by on these out-of-the-way planets, we can only go up from there.

There’s also the appeal of outlaws like Han Solo and bounty hunters like Boba Fett, who give us a sense of how gritty and violent life under the Empire can be. It’s an element that clashes with the “cleaner” perspective of Jedi Knights and Rebel heroes.

3. Mythology that comes alive

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

As big an impact as Darth Vader had when he first appeared onscreen, audiences were still ready for a classic sci-fi epic like Flash Gordon. But everything changes when we first met Obi-Wan Kenobi. We learn about the Jedi Knights, the Force, and the lure of the dark side that turns good men like Anakin Skywalker into vicious monsters like Vader.

Lucas might’ve tried to explain the Force with later additions like the midi-chlorians (ugh), but there’s always something mystical and otherworldly about the Force. It borrows from the Zen philosophy that many samurai followed, from which the Jedi Knights were mostly based on. And it clashes with the technologies that both the Empire and the Rebellion use. For all the starships and laser sword duels we get to see, it’s the mystical bonds of the Force that drives everything from behind the scenes.

4. Good vs. Evil clashing onscreen

Copyright © 1980 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1980 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Compared to a science fiction franchise like Star Trek, which features the moral relativism of human beings encountering alien cultures, Star Wars has always been a little simpler in its conflicts. We get Good vs. Evil writ large. Fresh-faced, motley heroes fighting legions of faceless, armored shock troops. A ragtag, broken-down space freighter trading laser blasts with screaming starfighters and angular Star Destroyers. A young man with a blue laser sword fighting against a black-armored warrior with a red blade.

Even though every Star Wars film begins with an opening series of text to provide exposition, there’s almost no need. We can tell what’s happening just by the visual language alone.

So what else does Star Wars have that makes you love it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. And, as always, thanks for reading.

Top 5 Things I Enjoyed About the Star Wars Prequels

Yes, you read that title correctly.

Even after coming up with new ways to alter the prequel trilogy (and trying to rewrite each movie entirely), I have to admit that there are one or two things that George Lucas and Company still got right. For me, anyway. Your mileage may vary.

5. Count Dooku’s Solar Sailer

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

From: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Why I Like It: There’s something ethereal and elegant about the design of this ship, which fits Count Dooku’s whole style. But the whole cool thing is that solar sails are a real-life concept in space exploration and I love the science behind them. It’s too bad that such an awesome starship concept got reduced to a throwaway CGI effect in this one movie.

4. Kamino

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

From: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Why I Like It: Like most science fiction, Star Wars has always been big on single-biome worlds like Tatooine and Hoth, but they don’t compare to the living contrast of Kamino. This planet is full of grim, stormy skies over an endless ocean, with buildings that have a cool stark white interior. Not to mention the fact that Obi-Wan and Jango Fett have a pretty solid fight in the rain on this planet.

3. The Great Jedi Purge

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

From: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Why I Like It: We always knew from Obi-Wan’s words in A New Hope that the downfall of the Jedi Knights was a tragic episode in the galaxy’s history and for the most part, what we saw in theaters lived up to that reputation. In one well-rendered sequence, we see dozens of Jedi fall to the dispassionate efficiency of their own clone troopers. Not only do we see the end of an august era of Knighthood, but we also see these soldiers turn into the dreaded Imperial Stormtroopers in a single moment.

2. Darth Maul’s Lightsaber Duel

Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

From: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Why I Like It: While more effort was put into the choreography and range of the lightsaber duels for Revenge of the Sith, I still think that the whole saga’s lightsaber duels peaked with the threeway duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul. Besides the fast tempo of the duel set to a memorable orchestral score, this duel feels like an evolution of the fights between Luke and Vader in the original trilogy. No CGI needed (other than the backdrop for the fight). Just a few actors and some very fast, fluid swordplay.

1. The Birth of Darth Vader

Copyright © 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd.

From: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Why I Like It: As much as some of us came to the prequels to see how Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side and the Republic became the Empire, it was the actual moment where Vader was born that most fans and audiences were waiting for. Yes, we’ve made countless memes out of Vader’s anguished “Nooo!”, but it’s hard to deny that the actual process of seeing a broken man undergoing surgery and being put into the iconic suit and helmet is remarkable. It’s one of the few moments in the whole trilogy where Lucas really came through as a filmmaker in my opinion, where both the CGI, the pacing, and even the acting came together.

That concludes my short bit about what I enjoyed most about the prequels. God willing, I won’t have to talk about them as much ever again. I’d much rather focus on the bright future of the Star Wars saga, especially once Episode VII: The Force Awakens hits theaters.

If you’d like to share your own favorite bits of the prequel trilogy, or just defend the whole series, feel free to do so in the comments below.

Rewriting the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy: Episode Three

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your consideration The Clone Wars Trilogy and its final installment, Episode III: Fall of the Knight.

Act One: The Home Front

It has been a year since the Mandalorians’ victory at Kiros and now their forces are poised to strike at Coruscant itself. In a surprise move, the Supercommandos have invaded the Senate and abducted Palpatine. Obi-Wan and Anakin arrive with their own fleet to retake Coruscant and rescue the Chancellor.

Stationed on Coruscant, Padme uses Threepio to find the cruiser where Palpatine is being held and directs the two Jedi toward it. Anakin and Obi-Wan fly their way onto the cruiser and then fight their way through waves of battle droids in the interior. The two Jedi are in perfect coordination.

They locate Palpatine, but Tyranus is already waiting for them. He quickly knocks out Obi-Wan and holds Anakin at bay. Slowly, Anakin lets goes of his self-control and taps into his rage, especially when Tyranus claims that he’s looking forward to meeting and personally executing the famous resistance fighter Padme Amidala. Anakin disarms him (literally) and then proceeds to murder Tyranus with a single stab of his lightsaber. Although horrified at what he’s done (murdering a prisoner of war), Palpatine commends Anakin for his actions.

Once Obi-Wan regains consciousness, he and Anakin escort Palpatine to the bridge. The enemy cruiser has taken several hits and is falling toward Coruscant. Anakin takes the controls and manages to safely land the burning front half of the ship outside the Senate Building.

While Anakin and Padme share a joyful reunion, Obi-Wan meets privately with Senator Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. They reveal that Palpatine has just installed Sector Governors and taken more power away from the Senate. Mon Mothma wants Obi-Wan to help persuade the Jedi Council to stop Palpatine from slowly disbanding the Senate altogether. Obi-Wan can’t promise much, but offers to make their case to the Council anyway.

Meanwhile, Anakin is overjoyed to learn that Padme is pregnant, but knows that he can’t be both a committed father and an active Jedi Knight. And after years of war, Anakin feels no confidence in the Jedi Council. He refuses to let them take his unborn child into the Order.

On the planet Mandalore, High Commander Jaster Mereel receives a message from Darth Sidious. He is rebuked for letting the Jedi kill Tyranus and escape with the Chancellor. Mereel promises a retaliatory strike on Naboo, Palpatine’s homeworld, but Sidious instead orders him to tighten his defenses for the Republic’s invasion of Mandalore. He tells him that a Jedi General is coming and promises him the most glorious battle yet.

Act Two: Falling Shadows

On Coruscant, Palpatine asks Anakin to resign his commission to the Jedi Order and become his personal bodyguard and security chief; after his abduction, he would feel much safer with Skywalker at his side. Anakin is tempted by the promise of actual power in strategy planning and accepts, putting him in direct opposition to the Jedi Council. Padme congratulates Anakin, but Obi-Wan is mortified at how easily Anakin has left the Order.

With the Republic attack on Mandalore underway, Obi-Wan is assigned to lead the assault. Anakin regrets not going with him, but Obi-Wan reminds him of his duty to the Chancellor. They share one last embrace before Obi-Wan leaves with his fleet.

At the Chancellor’s Office, Palpatine explains to Anakin that he fears that the Jedi and a handful of Senators are plotting to remove him from power. When Anakin denies that, Palpatine simply says, “Then ask your wife.”

Confronting Padme, Anakin suspects that her work with the planetary militias on enemy-held worlds is a cover for the Rebellion that Palpatine warned him about. He accuses her of treason and demands that she pick a side for the sake of their child.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan leads the fight on Mandalore. He engages Jaster Mereel in single combat, taking several wounds but still able to strike him down all the same. He then sends a message to the Jedi Council, declaring the enemy capital to be under the’s Republic control even though the enemy is still fighting.

Anakin goes back to Palpatine and swears his loyalty to the Republic above his loyalty to the Jedi, asking for help to protect his family. Palpatine reveals that he knows about Anakin’s unborn child and offers him a new path: the Sith path. Anakin is outraged to learn that Palpatine is in fact Darth Sidious, the mastermind behind the Clone Wars, but Sidious explains that he has saved the Republic from corruption, manipulating the Mandalorians to a false sense of victory while letting the Jedi prove themselves to be weak and deluded. Anakin is forced to agree.

However, Mace Windu and three other Jedi Masters arrive to ask Palpatine to step down as Chancellor. When Anakin exposes him as a Sith Lord, Windu attempts to kill Palpatine rather than have him stand trial. Sidious defeats the other Masters easily, and Anakin intervenes and kills Windu himself.

Sidious promises Anakin a chance to protect his family from the Jedi and put a final end to the war. Anakin agrees to become his new apprentice and accepts the name Darth Vader. As Vader, he says his first act will be to destroy the Jedi.

Act Three: The Long Night Begins

Palpatine sends a coded transmission to every clone trooper across the galaxy: “Execute Order Sixty-Six.” The clones turn on their Jedi commanders, slaughtering thousands at once. Yoda himself escapes the devastation on Kashyyyk with the help of a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Obi-Wan is saved from execution when Padme’s resistance team on Mandalore shows up and covers his retreat.

After leading the assault on the Jedi Temple, Anakin goes to Padme and tells her that he has been given an assignment to end the war by destroying the Mandalorian control tower on Mustafar. Padme can’t bear to hear that he killed Mace Windu and thinks her husband has gone mad. Anakin warns her to stay on Coruscant and not get involved with traitors like Obi-Wan and Bail Organa.

Meanwhile, Bail and his crew on the Tantive IV fly across the galaxy to collect fugitive Jedi like Obi-Wan and Yoda. They make plans to infiltrate Coruscant and learn what is to be done about the clones’ treachery.

As the two Jedi infiltrate the Temple, Bail meets Padme at the Senate, where Palpatine denounces the Jedi as traitors and declares himself Emperor. Padme feels the pull of the new Emperor’s will on the Senate (a Jedi mind trick on a vast scale) and knows that he’s poisoned Anakin’s mind as well. She asks Bail to hold off on his Rebellion and publicly support the new Empire while their resistance forces gather strength. In the meantime, she has to go to Mustafar.

Obi-Wan and Yoda enter the Temple and learn about Anakin’s fall to the dark side. Yoda orders Obi-Wan to go and put an end to the man who was once his friend, while Yoda himself will go and face Sidious. When Obi-Wan meets with Padme, she offers him safe passage off Coruscant and onto Mustafar.

As Sidious faces with Yoda inside the empty Senate chamber, Anakin singlehandedly slaughters the Mandalorian civilians and shuts down the control signal for their entire army across the galaxy. He is furious when Padme and Obi-Wan show up to confront him, especially when Padme says she will deny him any chance to see their child if he continues down this road. Anakin tries to strangle her with the Force, but Obi-Wan steps in. As Threepio and Artoo carry Padme back to the ship, Obi-Wan duels Anakin across Mustafar, showing him no mercy. In the end, Obi-Wan cuts off Anakin’s limbs and leaves him to burn beside a lava flow.

Bail Organa helps Yoda escape from Coruscant and organizes a rendezvous with Obi-Wan on Polis Massa. There, Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia. She lives, but is too weak to fight anymore. Yoda agrees that, for her own safety, her presence in the Force is sealed to prevent the Emperor from tracking her or her children.

Sidious, meanwhile, goes to Mustafar to find Anakin’s ruined body and take him back to Coruscant. After weeks of reconstruction, Darth Vader is sealed into a life-support suit and told of Padme’s death. Vader attacks Sidious, but finds he has lost much of his power. Sidious tells Vader that he has nothing left but the Empire that he helped bring into being and his old life is gone forever. Reluctantly, Vader kneels and asks, “Then… what is thy bidding, my Master?”

As Yoda goes into exile on Dagobah, Bail adopts Leia as his daughter and takes Padme into his home as a handmaiden, along with the droids Artoo and Threepio. Obi-Wan takes Luke to be raised by Owen and Beru Lars on Tatooine, where he will spend his own exile until the children have grown and are ready to be trained.

This concludes my extensive rewrite of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. I appreciate that not everyone is going to like all the changes I made, and I imagine there are fans who actually enjoy the prequels as they are. All that is perfectly fine. This is normally more than a thought experiment, one that I’ll hold dear as we await the beginning of the Star Wars sequel trilogy in 2015.

For more on the prequel rewrite, you can read my revisions for Episode I and Episode II as well.

Rewriting the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy: Episode Two

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your consideration The Clone Wars Trilogy and its second installment, Episode II: Revenge of the Sith.

Act One: Wartime Jedi

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Galactic Senate on Coruscant is prepared to meet for Opening Day. Anakin has received his first private assignment from the Supreme Chancellor: to oversee security for the Senatorial event. The Jedi Council questions this arrangement, but Anakin is too eager to care. But he feels the only thing missing is Padme, whom Bail Organa has sent on an assignment in the Outer Rim Territories.

However, the Mandalorian strike force secretly arrives on Coruscant. Leading the team is Boba Fett, son of the deceased Jango Fett, who is ready to assassinate both Chancellor Palpatine and Bail Organa.

Obi-Wan senses the coming ambush and warns Anakin, who springs into action just in time to save Palpatine and Organa. However, seven other Senators are killed in the crossfire, disrupting the Opening Day ceremonies. The two Jedi give chase as Fett and his team lead them deep into the Underlevels of Coruscant. The Mandalorians use booby traps to distract the Jedi and escape the planet.

Jedi Master Mace Windu receives Anakin’s report and rebukes him for letting his feelings distract him from the true threat at hand. However, Palpatine commends Anakin for his success to the entire Senate’s approval. Anakin himself becomes a HoloNet celebrity: “The Hero With No Fear.”

Meanwhile, Padme and Shaak Ti arrive on Kiros, Shaak Ti’s homeworld. The Mandalorians have occupied the planet for over a year, easily crushing all resistance. Padme and Shaak Ti have the job of organizing a Togruta militia to carry on the fight and break the occupation from within.

Back on Coruscant, Palpatine and the Jedi Council assign Obi-Wan and Anakin to take a special brigade of troops and pursue the Mandalorian hit squad. They believe that they are fleeing to Tatooine, where it’s rumored that the Hutts are organizing a major arms deal for the Separatists. Anakin knows Tatooine well, but his fear at the Mandalorians being so close to his family leads him to overstepping his bounds as a team leader and declaring “revenge” against every Mandalorian for bringing war to his homeworld.

Act Two: A Question of Loyalty

After Anakin and Obi-Wan depart, Bail Organa and Senator Mon Mothma meet privately with Yoda and Mace Windu. The two Senators explain their concerns about Palpatine holding emergency power as Chancellor and fear that he has effectively stripped the Senate of its power (all legislation begins and ends inside the Chancellor’s Office now). The militias that Padme and Shaak Ti are organizing serve two purposes: to protect worlds from Mandalorian invasion and to fight Palpatine’s troops if he should assume absolute control of the Republic. Yoda and Windu urge them to remain patient and loyal, explaining that the resurgent Sith are far more dangerous.

Meanwhile, Darth Sidious contacts Tyranus and orders him to go to Tatooine for a special assignment before he joins the occupation forces on Kiros. Tyranus is eager to go when he learns that Skywalker will be there soon.

En route to Tatooine, Anakin is troubled by his feelings. He argues with Obi-Wan that he lacks the power to keep his loved ones safe. Obi-Wan counsels that everyone must follow their own destiny and Anakin cannot fight their battles for them.

At Tatooine, Obi-Wan and Anakin shadow the Mandalorians as they go to make an arms trade with Gardulla the Hutt. Boba Fett, however, spots them and lets the Hutt’s mercenaries fight the Jedi while his team escapes with the weapons. The Jedi call in a team of desert-ready clone troopers for backup, but Anakin abandons the mission when he senses a shadow over the Lars homestead. He takes a speeder and races out alone.

When Anakin arrives, he finds a pair of Mandalorians standing over the charred remains of his foster parents, Shmi and Cliegg Lars. He attacks the Mandalorians, savagely cutting them down and nearly doing the same to his foster brother Owen when he emerges from his hiding spot. Anakin accuses of Owen of failing their parents, but Owen’s wife Beru stops him from hurting her husband. Obi-Wan arrives just in time to see Anakin and Owen bury their parents. Anakin sees this as a personal attack and swears that he will slaughter every enemy of the Republic, even if it means breaking the Jedi Code.

Tyranus waits for Boba Fett–the lone survivor of the Mandalorian forces–and takes him onto his shuttle. Tyranus is pleased to hear of Skywalker’s torment and leaves for Kiros at once.

Obi-Wan is unable to get through to Anakin after the death of his parents. But Anakin does reach out through the Force to Padme, who is surprised to hear his voice on Kiros. She offers her sympathy and asks for his help with the resistance. Anakin wants to go, but feels guilt over abandoning Obi-Wan during the last fight. Obi-Wan, however, forgives Anakin for leaving and agrees to lead their forces to Kiros.

Act Three: Skywalker’s Scars

When Tyranus lands on Kiros, he promotes young Boba Fett to commander of the occupation forces. Then he orders the massacre of two hundred Togruta to draw in as many Republic forces as possible.

Obi-Wan decides to lead the attack from orbit while Anakin takes his troops onto the planet and meets up with Padme’s unit. Obi-Wan decides to work with Artoo in his starfighter as he leads the attack on the Mandalorian fleet, threading the gauntlet of battlecruisers and droid starfighters.

After landing on Kiros, Anakin reunites with Padme, sharing a passionate kiss. But their joy is short-lived. Tyranus arrives with an entire battalion of Supercommandos, storming the resistance’s hideout. He personally targets and kills Shaak Ti after she takes down several of his soldiers in a last act of defiance. Padme goes mad with grief and Anakin declares that the Sith Lord won’t take any more of his loved ones.

He fights Tyranus in a fierce duel, but the cyborg is disappointed in Anakin’s skill. To “train” him, Tyranus cuts off Anakin’s arm and then throws him back his lightsaber, urging him to use his pain and his anger to defeat Tyranus. Anakin tries, but fails. He nearly falls to Tyranus’s blade, but Padme arrives to fight him off with the rest of her Togruta fighters. Tyranus escapes once more, leaving Anakin broken and bitter.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and the rest of the Republic fighters are losing their battle. Obi-Wan contacts Anakin and orders a retreat from Kiros. Padme convinces Anakin to help her fly the evacuation shuttle as they race past the Mandalorian cruisers and make the jump into hyperspace.

Tyranus contacts Darth Sidious and informs him of Skywalker’s injury. Sidious approves and tells Tyranus that the final phase of the war will soon begin and Skywalker must be ready for it.

On Coruscant, Padme and Bail mourn the loss of their friend Shaak Ti. Anakin is fitted with a prosthetic arm and tests it out in a practice duel with Obi-Wan. With his friend’s approval, Anakin asks Padme to marry him and extends to her his vow to keep his loved ones safe from harm.

Stay tuned for next week’s thrilling conclusion, Episode III: Fall of the Knight.

Update: You can also read my revision for Episode I: The Saga Begins.

Rewriting the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy: Episode One

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you might know about one of my more popular posts, “My Top 10 Changes to the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.” I’ve enjoyed all the audience discussion that it generated and I had an equally good time with my other rewrite post, “Rewriting The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s also worth noting that, around the time of this post being published, Dresden Codak creator Aaron Diaz is running his own rewrite of the Star Wars prequels on Tumblr, Star Wars ’99. So in the same spirit of fandom, I’m spending the next few weeks showcasing another route that these films could have taken. An attempt to get back to the Star Wars we grew up with before 1999.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your consideration The Clone Wars Trilogy and its first installment, Episode I: The Saga Begins.

Act One: The First Strike

We begin on the planet Alderaan, where the first wave of Mandalorian Supercommandos has launched their invasion. Padme Amidala and her droid C-3PO make contact with the planet’s Viceroy and Senator, Bail Organa, and urges him to send reinforcements from the Galactic Republic. The Mandalorians follow their commander, Jango Fett, as they take the capital city of Aldera.

On Coruscant, we watch as Anakin Skywalker complete his Trials and is declared a Jedi Knight. He joins Obi-Wan Kenobi for their first assignment as equals: to save Alderaan from the Mandalorians. Yoda, however, expresses concern to Obi-Wan that young Skywalker is still too proud of his abilities and needs careful guidance in the field.

Obi-Wan takes Anakin to a local cantina for a drink to celebrate, but warns him of what Yoda said. Anakin accepts the criticism and then takes a moment alone to call his family and tell them the good news. We learn that he was taken in as an orphan by the Lars family on Tatooine before being recruited for Jedi training. He has a history as a skyhopper pilot and a thief that he hoped to leave behind when he started his training.

The next morning, they leave Coruscant with a regiment of clone troopers and their personal starfighters. Anakin has his astromech droid, R2-D2, lock in the coordinates for Alderaan as they jump into hyperspace.

Meanwhile, in the captured Royal Palace on Alderaan, Jango Fett receives a message from his master, Darth Sidious. The Sith Lord congratulates Fett on his success and informs him that he is sending his apprentice, General Tyranus, to take control of the new regime on Alderaan and announce their presence to the galaxy. Tyranus is a six-foot-tall cyborg encased in alien battle armor, an eloquent and ruthless Sith Lord.

After a practice duel and a shared moment in meditation, Anakin and Obi-Wan get ready for Alderaan. Obi-Wan tries to urge Anakin to use his feelings, but not to be used by them (“Pride isn’t a tool, only a distraction”). Anakin has heard this before, but accepts the rebuke. He’s still cocky when he hops into his starfighter and is the first Republic pilot to break past the Mandalorian blockade.

Act Two: Change of Plans

The Jedi and the Republic’s troops make landfall outside Aldera. Their gunships are able to strafe the city from above. Bail Organa contacts the Jedi to get them access to the evacuation tunnels below the city, where they’ll find his Senatorial aide Padme. Anakin feels her presence inside the city when he sees her face on the holographic transmission; she’s already in danger and fighting for her life.

After encountering a battle droid patrol in the tunnels, Anakin and Obi-Wan lead the assault. They nearly walk into a trap if not the intervention of Padme, who now leads the resistance in Aldera. She thanks the Jedi for their help, but makes it clear that the resistance fighters are her people and not just proxies for the Republic (a bloated bureaucracy, in her opinion). Anakin agrees, much to Obi-Wan’s chagrin, and takes her help in taking a direct route to the Royal Palace.

In orbit, the Republic forces find themselves hit by a surprise attack. A new fleet of ships arrives to replace the blockade forces. During the confusion, a small shuttle slips into the atmosphere and lands in Aldera. Darth Tyranus disembarks, taking command of the occupation while leaving Jango Fett in charge of the Supercommandos. The Sith Lord senses the presence of two Jedi Knights and says he’ll handle them personally.

Meanwhile, Anakin finds himself falling for Padme, though the romance isn’t entirely mutual. She’s not sympathetic to the Senate (Bail Organa notwithstanding) and would rather her planet defend itself than have to wait for a distant bureaucrat’s say-so. But she does accept Anakin’s help when they have to repair a broken airspeeder to conduct reconnaissance.

Despite Obi-Wan’s insistence, Anakin goes with Padme, Threepio, and Artoo on the recon mission, leaving Obi-Wan and Padme’s partner Shaak Ti to defend the tunnels with the rest of the resistance. However, the airspeeder is spotted and Anakin leads a daredevil chase through a mountain pass to shake off the pursuers. Threepio proves useful when he imitates a Mandalorian Supercommando and “orders” the pursuers to cease and return to base. Anakin’s quick application of a Jedi mind trick convinces the Mandalorians, allowing Padme’s speeder to quietly follow them to their staging ground.

Act Three: Last Stand

Tyranus comes out of his meditation chamber to inform Jango Fett of new developments. He senses Anakin at the Mandalorian control tower (which coordinates their battle droids and their blockade fleet) and sends Fett and his forces to stop him. Tyranus says he will face Obi-Wan and the incoming resistance fighters himself.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Shaak Ti infiltrate the royal palace, waiting until Jango Fett and his soldiers depart. Obi-Wan senses a trap, but assures Shaak Ti that he has a “good policy” on traps (“Be the first to spring it”).

At the control tower, Anakin and Padme get separated from Artoo and Threepio. Anakin attempts to take charge, but finds himself overwhelmed when facing an entire squad of Supercommandos. Padme uses a smoke grenade and has Artoo override the building’s defenses to rescue him. Meanwhile, Threepio uses more Mandalorian commands to confuse the occupation forces and break up the blockade in orbit, giving space control to the Republic.

Obi-Wan and Shaak Ti easily take the palace, but Tyranus begins to cut down the other resistance fighters with ease. Obi-Wan faces Tyranus alone, but after cutting off one of the Sith Lord’s hands, he learns that his enemy fights just as well with one hand–and that he has sonic blasts to break the Jedi’s concentration. Obi-Wan barely survives if not for Shaak Ti’s help and Tyranus declares that Kenobi is not the one destined to defeat him. He bids him farewell and escapes on his shuttle. Obi-Wan rushes to his starfighter to give chase into orbit, but the general flees into hyperspace.

Back at the control tower, Artoo breaks the battle droid control signal, but the Mandalorian Supercommandos have Anakin and Padme trapped. Preparing for the end, Anakin lets go of his pride–just in time for Padme to get in one quick kiss. They stand side-by-side, ready to go out like heroes. But fortunately, Obi-Wan and the other Republic troops arrive to rescue them and demand the Mandalorians’ surrender. Jango Fett dies fighting, but the control tower is shut down and Alderaan is saved.

Bail Organa returns to his planet for the victory celebrations, escorted by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The Chancellor congratulates the two Jedi on their success and awards Anakin the Medal of Valor for his bravery. Yoda, however, warns Obi-Wan to be watchful because of the return of the Sith and the war’s dangerous effect on Jedi Knights like Anakin.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition, Episode II: Revenge of the Sith.

Update: You can also read my revision for Episode III: Fall of the Knight.