Here at The Last Movie Outpost we have some time on our hands. Lockdown is in full effect. We have plenty of supplies. We are even remembering to take a shower every so often.
When passing the time we find ourselves revisiting some of our favorite old articles. Remember way back when Coronavirus wasn’t a thing? Back then all we had to worry about was the mess Disney seemed to be making of the Star Wars sequels. We had identified the contagion as The Last Jedi and set out to fix it.
In what turned out to be a mammoth article we took that movie, dismantled it and rebuilt it into something people seemed to respond well to. Our very own Drunken Yoda even created a video version of the entire article here, for the non-readers among you. Good times!
However there was still something bugging us. The rules of the Last Movie Outpost fixing workshop are very clear:
“Mainly, you have to play with the cards you have been dealt. For instance, if you are ‘fixing’ a sequel you have to start where the previous movie left you. You can’t go back and retcon it out of existence, or merely ignore it because you didn’t like it.
Similarly, if the universe has already been established then you have to play within its rules. No randomly invented superpowers to fill a plothole. Same with characters and their motivations. Unless you can make a workable narrative for them.
Finally, if the train is already in motion then you can’t recast simply because you didn’t like the original choice. Proceed as if you are a jobbing writer/director.”
So this left us on a journey starting from place where, if we were honest, we wouldn’t have chosen. The First Order was a thing. Han was dead. Luke was in solitude. The Resistance was… whatever the hell the Resistance was. We had to color within those lines. But what if we didn’t want to? If it was up to us we really wouldn’t have done it that way, we would have done something entirely different.
So without further waiting here we go. This time around we might have really bitten off more than we can chew. This time around…
The Last Movie Outpost Fixes… The Entire Sequel Trilogy
Starting with Episode VII. Title? We are open to suggestions from the Disqus below. New opening crawl:
As a series of terrorist attacks rock the Outer Rim, Senator Leia Organa struggles to gain support in the Senate for military action. As the investigations drag on she asks Han Solo to use his old smuggling networks to gain information.
As the debate rages and remote worlds demand protection from the Galactic capitol, Coruscant, some regions begin to take matters into their own hands.
Meanwhile, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker searches for his own answers…
Camera pans down to the desert planet of Tatooine. A huge starship pulls into view and we hear comms chatter from Mos Eisley spaceport as we follow it down towards the planets surface. As it closes in on Mos Eisley we see dozens of smaller ships, freighters and drones going about their business. We can make out herds of Bantha and Sandpeople settlements or moisture farms before the city of Mos Eisley comes into view as the ship continues to descend.
As the starship lumbers over the spaceport and begins to settle into a huge circular docking bay, just outside the bay we see a typical Tatooine bazaar.
Stalls and traders surrounded by a throng of people as smugglers, pilots and residents go about their business. Suddenly a huge explosion rips through an area of the bazaar, several stalls completely in flames as screams fill the air and the view is obscured by thick, black smoke.
Iris wipe to… Coruscant
We see Leia striding along a corridor in the senate as her aide struggles to keep up. Even further behind is C-3PO. West Wing style walk-and-talk. She is reporting to Leia that casualties were minimal (this is a PG movie afterall) but local unrest is growing and even the Hutts are forming a militia. So many groups arming up, rising suspicion and distrust between them.
Dialogue explains that nobody knows if these are outside forces or competing interests. A powerplay disrupting the peace that has even managed to hold, albeit fragile, in the Outer Rim for 30 years. If the Senate does not start to listen then there could be local violence or even clan wars in the Outer Rim. Surely Leia can make Chancellor Mon Mothma see sense?
As Leia sweeps into an office with her aide, Threepio bringing up the rear a long way behind, we see a very elderly Mon Mothma behind her desk, clearly a bit weak and not in the best of health.
Mothma: “I heard already. Tatooine this time.”
Leia: “It is like it is designed to hit us where we are weakest, where our influence is stretched and there is a danger of a power vacuum.”
Mothma: “Any report from General Solo or General Calrissian?”
Leia (looks as if caught a little off-guard): “As Senator responsible for system security it was my prerogative to investigate with whatever I deemed necessary, and the decision to reinstate them both into the Republic Navy was mine alone.”
Mothma: “Senator…(softens) Leia. Please. I am not trying to second guess you. But as I keep on saying to you, I will not be around forever. You know there are those in the Senate who still find you… impulsive. If you ever do hope to succeed me you will need their support as much as anybody’s.”
Leia: “If they believe that preventative action is… impulsive, then I am not sure I will ever be their chosen candidate.”
Mothma: “Then results will be important, to prove you were right. Now, what of your brother?”
Leia: “You know that as far as Luke is concerned the Jedi serve at their pleasure, not at the pleasure of the Senate. (a note of regret) Luke will do what he feels he must, I am sure.”
So at this point in a single scene we know all we need to know. We know the threat is unknown but we know the symptom is terrorist attacks and the consequence is potential local wars. We know the Senate is divided on how to respond, that the Chancellor is Leia’s friend and potentially grooming her for succession. We know that Leia is responsible for defence and security. We know Han and Lando are back in the fleet. We know they are lacking information and trying to gather more. We know the Jedi are back in some form but there is tension between the Senate and the Jedi.
Right now we know almost as much as the protagonists. We have a snapshot of where our heroes are 30 years later and a glimpse of wider details. There are things to discover, but it is not an enigma wrapped in a mystery box.
This is unlike The Force Awakens where we were already playing catch-up from the opening crawl. Who are the First Order? Where is Luke? What planet is this? Why do I care? What do you mean I should have read three comic books and a continuation series of novels in prep for this trip to the movies?
Iris wipe to… Coruscant Lower Levels
Several thousand feet below the gleaming spires and bustling sky-ways of the planet-wide city are the forgotten places. No light ever gets down here. Just the refuse of several billion inhabitants, the services that keep it all running and the poor unfortunates who work in the heavy industry to support it. Those for whom life hasn’t quite turned out how they planned it.
Alongside this are the businesses that have sprung up to service these wretched communities. Food stalls sell street food from all across the galaxy, reflecting the fact that millions flock to Coruscant seeking a better life but not all of them make it to that life. Traders sell goods from carts. Garish neon lights advertise seedy bars. Holograms tempt punters in off the streets to various businesses.
It could be rain falling from the sky, something those at the very top of the many kilometer high skyscrapers never have to deal with. It could be something worse. It is just part of life down here.
A citizen of the upper levels would be very unwise to come down here. They would immediately make themselves a target for the type of people that don’t necessarily have an honest livelihood that always seem to prosper in these communities, far from the gaze of the establishment.
Like the man we see moving through the throng now. His dark brown robes may be humble but they are clean and new. He moves with a purpose, hood up, directly through gaps in the crowd as if he already knows exactly where they will be. He ignores the hawkers and the traders as he makes his way towards an opening between two monolithic blocks with empty, dilapidated units on each corner from businesses long since gone.
He is being followed. One roughly humanoid. Another over nine feet tall and something… else.
As he moves deeper into the deserted street his followers pick up the pace, closing in. Without warning the hooded man stops suddenly. He stands, absolutely still. The followers stop too. Exchange a look. One of them smirks at the other as he removes a stubby blaster from under his jacket and tilts his head towards the stationary hooded man.
We see a POV looking back up the deserted street. The hooded man, face still in shadow, in the foreground with his two would be assailants closing in from behind, one over each shoulder. Focus on the hooded man.
The hooded man removes his left hand from the sleeves of his robes and, after momentarily holding it open palmed at his side, swipes his hand in a snapping motion across is left hip.
There is a screech of metal as a generator unit is ripped from a wall offscreen. In the same POV shot it moves swiftly from left to right behind the hooded figure, completely taking out the two approaching attackers. Without waiting the hooded figure places his hands back in his sleeves and continues forward, deeper into the maze of alleyways and machinery spanned gullys that make up this hell beneath Coruscant.
As the hooded figure passes, it is clear that eyes are watching from many doorways and behind grates. At the far end of another alley the entire wall, left to right and 12 feet tall, is a set of blast doors. Set into the right hand wall is another single door. The hooded figure raises a gloved right hand and raps on the metal door. The bangs echo around the seeming deserted alleyway.
A beat, and the blast door suddenly slides halfway back. A guttural non-human voice barks commands from the darkness of the doorway in an alien language. The hooded figure waves two fingers gently from left to right and says:
“I am here to see Kit Baser. He is expecting me. He wants to see me and you will let me in.”
The guttural voice replies calmly in the alien language, the words unrecognizable, but the cadence and tone matching the hooded figures statement. As if hypnotised. The large blast door slides back to reveal…
…huge high tech warehouse. Gleaming, clean, brightly lit. Completely at odds with the exterior. Like walking into an Apple Store from a New Delhi slum. Conveyor belts move equipment cases to waiting droids who tow the cases, levitating like landspeeders, to bigger crates. At the other side are what looks like loading doors with large transports lined up alongside. On an over head gantry is what looks like a group of men, they are armed. They turn to face the newcomer in the open blast door with surprise on their faces. The hooded man steps through and the blast doors snap shut behind him. The alley is silent again with no sign of anything ever happening here.
Warehouse interior. As the hooded man takes several steps inside the hum of activity dies, the machine noises slow and eventually stop as if somebody has flicked a giant switch to shut things down. We hear his footsteps as he walks towards the center of the warehouse calmly.
The men on the gantry break and pour down the steps to the warehouse floor. Fanning out to surround the man, blaster rifles aimed. As they raise their rifles a voice calls from elsewhere in the warehouse.
“Do you know who we are?”
The hooded man calmly looks around him, taking stock of where the men aiming weapons at him are. He replies:
“I know exactly who YOU are. You are the one I want to speak with. Kit Baser, current leader of the Baser smuggling gang. Took over from your father after he was killed in a feud with a rival gang. Your specialty is technology, specifically weapons. Getting them in and out of hard to access places. Which makes you basically an arms dealer. Your father made his start shipping ex-Civil War surplus to the outer rim for large profits. Currently subject to at least six capture orders issued by Republic security, and a number of bounties from less… civilised people in other places…”
A man steps forward from the shadows. Late twenties, short, cropped dark hair that is missing behind the ear completely on one side where a scar runs down the back of the head and around the half of the rear of the neck. He’s wearing an old flight jacket and holding a solid looking blaster aimed directly at the hooded man.
“And what, exactly, do you want to talk about?”
The hooded man steps forward. Twenty guns are raised and aimed. A droid hurriedly makes it’s way behind a nearby stack of crates. He stops. He reaches up and pulls his hood back.
Luke Skywalker. Older, bearded, but still recognisable. He calmly continues:
“You have a shipment being prepared here. Blasters and armor, Civil War vintage. You’ve been prepping for weeks, had the word out to every dealer in the sector. Paying good prices for speed. I want to know who it is going to?”
Baser smiles wryly. Looks Luke up and down intently. A flicker of something crosses his face, but he simply replies:
“My clients pay a premium for absolute discretion. Breaking their confidence would not be good for my business and my reputation, even if I was telling a Jedi.
That’s right, I know what you are. Did the precious New Republic send you down here? Not got enough parties to attend and ambassadors to entertain up there, in the spires? Now you need to interfere down here where people are just trying to earn a living?”
The guards surrounding Luke are straining to shoot. The tension is rising. Luke remains calm.
“An honest days pay for an honest days work? Shipping old weapons and armor from the core to the outer rim? I have no desire to stop you… yet. I just want to know who the buyer is. Now (hand movements – level voice) you will tell your men to stand down and you will tell me the name of your buyer now.”
Baser chuckles and steps forward. He is looking intently at Luke.
“Every once in a while you meet somebody that Force stuff just doesn’t work on… right? Then what do you old guys do?”
Luke moves his robe back, revealing his saber at his belt. He is hoping the threat will be enough. He is still trying to avoid conflict and bloodshed.
“If we have no choice, then we use some more direct methods.”
Baser steps further forward, more into the light so we can get a really good look at him.
“As do we Jedi, as do we.”
He nods at one of the guards. That instant a green flash illuminates everything and a familiar sound is heard. Guards fire but their bolts are deflected away from Luke as his lightsaber moves around him in a blur. Deflected bolts slam into walls, blast open metal boxes revealing stormtrooper armor components and blaster rifles inside. Some hit lights and power conduits, which spark and flash. The brilliantly lit warehouse becomes a giant strobe for a few seconds and is then plunged into darkness, only lit by the blaster bolts and the relentless flashing of Luke’s green saber.
Just like that, it finishes. The guards stare dumbstruck, blaster rifles hanging limply in their hands. Crates and boxes, walls, floors, ceilings and fixtures are destroyed or marked by blaster burns but the Jedi stands in front of them, relaxed and unscathed. One of the guards drops his rifle and checks himself as if for holes. They are all uninjured, as if it was deliberate.
One guard regains his senses and levels his rifle to fire at Skywalker from behind. Just as he does, a flick of Luke’s hand and a crate moves and takes the guard out. Luke spins to face them, lightsaber outstretched.
The guards drop their rifles in unison and back away. They have never seen a Jedi, in full flow, up close before and they want none of this. Luke turns back to Baser.
“If you paid more, you might get better help.”
Baser smiles and backs away into the shadows. We hear a second familiar sound, followed by a hum. He is lit in the darkness, bathed in blue light as he ignites his own lightsaber. Luke stares at it closely, in Baser’s hand.
It’s familiar. He recognizes it. It used to be Luke’s, lost over thirty years ago deep in the bowels of the Bespin Cloud City.
(OK, so sue me! I quite like the idea of Luke’s lightsaber making a return. Only I intend to make it a narrative device and use it to drive some plot, instead of just being an abandoned plot thread!)
Luke: “Where did you get that?”
Baser: “My father gave it to me.”
Luke: (a wry smile) “That happens a lot.”
Baser: (angrily) “Do you think nobody but a Jedi should ever have one?”
Luke: “I think nobody but a Jedi would really know how to use one, especially against another Jedi or… against something else.”
Baser: “Well life is full of surprises…”
Baser launches himself at Luke with a wild swing. Luke blocks it easily. Baser fights with a raw intensity, anger, wild swings. Luke is easily keeping him at bay. Luke focussing intently on his old lightsaber. The fight follows this pattern around the darkened warehouse. Luke is almost toying with him, waiting for Baser to atttack and then defelcting easily. However Luke looks confused. How come this person came into possession of the lightsaber long thought lost? Why was he immune to a Jedi mind-trick? He clearly has some skills with the lightsaber too, even if not advanced.
Baser tires, no match for the skills of the Jedi, and like Clubber Lang in Rocky III he starts to blow. As it dawns on him he is way out of his depth, he starts to try and make his escape. Luke blocks his path with a crate, effortlessly moved by the force.
A now desperate Baser yells and launches a final flurry of rapidly tiring attacks at Luke. All are repelled. Luke strikes downward, targeting the saber and forces Baser to his knees against the crate that was blocking his escape. Luke twists his grip and pins Baser’s saber against the plas-steel container. Where the blade is touching the container the surface begins to blister and buckle like the doors on the Droid control ships in The Phantom Menace.
Luke: “Drop the lightsaber. And tell me where these weapons are going? Who is buying them up on the Outer Rim?”
Baser: “If they find out I told you, my reputation is gone. In this business it’s all anyone has.”
Luke : “And if you don’t tell me you freedom is gone, as I will keep you here and call Republic Security.”
Baser: “Arula. Arula Cain. Runs the old Hutt crew outside Mos Eisley on Tatooine. Do you know it?”
Luke smiles: “Yes, I know it. And the lightsaber?”
Baser: “No, it was my fathers!”
Luke: “Mine too.”
He pushes on his saber to force Baser’s harder against the rapidly melting metal. A globule of red hot plas-steel falls from the molten area of the container straight onto Baser’s hand. With a scream he lets go of the saber which hits the ground and shuts off. Luke bends down and picks it up. Turning on his heel he walks quickly but calmly away without another word. Baser stares after him with hatred in his eyes.
Back in the rain outside Luke Skywalker moves purposefully back through the crowd again and we see him aiming for a parked speeder at the end of the Coruscant equivalent of a Taxi rank. Various battered, different transport designs make up the row of vehicles. The speeder he is aiming for is clearly the most modern and cleanest. It is getting admiring, or jealous looks from passers-by. One stops and tries the door. Instantly a flurry of indignant beeps and whistles comes from inside. The door flies open and inside we see a familiar R2 unit, literally shaking as the beeps grow more violent. Whatever he is saying it clearly has an effect as the admirer scurries away, muttering to himself in a strange alien language.
Luke arrives and steps inside out of the rain. He takes out his old lightsaber and holds it in his gloved hands, staring intently at it for longer than is comfortable. A look of concern is on his face. Artoo beeps, and snaps him out of it.
Luke : “Sorry, was just somewhere else for a while there. Open a secure channel to Han. And take us back to the Temple as fast as you can.”
Artoo beeps and whistles again as the Speeder moves away from the kerb and starts to move through the streets. At the end the street it starts to rise into the air.
Iris wipe to… The space above Tatooine
We hear a rumbling noise as a giant ship comes into view. It is a Star Destroyer. Or is it? It is the same yet somehow different. Less rough and ready, less industrial than during the Galactic Civil war yet somehow still recognizable. It is flanked by other ships. Some look like Mon Calamari cruisers, some like Rebel frigates, but again somewhat updated. Some with more success than others. There are about seven ships in all. Fighters and shuttle craft move between the giant ships.
From inside the belly loading bay of this new Star Destroyer we see the ships depart. As they fly closer we see an immediately recognisable old freighter, flanked by two advanced X-Wing style fighters. Inside the cockpit of the lead X-Wing:
Wedge: “If we come in over the horizon from Mos Espa and then turn North we should avoid any prying eyes, at least for a while.”
Inside the Falcon, Han and Chewie with Lando seated behind.
Lando, into a comms panel: “Copy that Red Leader. We’ll follow you down Wedge.”
The three ships angle down to the surface and accelerate away from the small fleet.
Iris wipe to… A ledge overlooking a canyon
The Falcon is parked there, with two TIE fighters alongside. Wedge and the other pilot remain near their X-Wings as Han and Lando stealthily approach the edge of the ledge, somewhat comically undermined by the eight foot tall Wookie with them struggling to stay concealed.
Lando: “What makes you think we’ll be any more welcome here than last time we all dropped by?”
Han: “That was a long time ago. Surely they will have forgiven that by now? Besides, it’s all under new management. We just helped speed up that change.”
Lando: “Until you know that’s how they look at our… shared history, I suggest (nods at Chewie) you take the muscle with you.”
Han: “Oh, and what about you?”
Lando: “Somebody has to be the getaway driver. You know, just in case.”
Chewie growls deeply.
Han: “You always have a bad feeling Chewie, its part of your charm.”
Camera angle slowly changes to reveal what they are looking at, across the canyon on a plain. What was Jabba’s palace.
Iris Wipe too… Han and Chewie approaching a familiar door
They are bickering just like the last two characters we saw approaching this door 30 years ago. They stop as the get to it and regard the towering steel. Chewie grunts, leans forward and raps on the door. Huge booming knocks.
They wait. Absolutely nothing happens. Chewie turns to Han and mewls.
Han: “Maybe everybody went out?”
Chewie makes a mocking noise, almost like a laugh. He leans forward and bangs again. On the third bang, the small hatch opens and the eye on the stalk thrusts forward. It swings from Han to Chewie and back again, then issues a challenge in an alien tongue.
Han: “Open the door, let us in. We have something vitally important to speak with your master about. It’s in their business interests to hear us out and guarantee our safety.”
Chewie growls, concerned. The eye looks at them both again and with a single, spat word quickly retreats back into it’s hole, which slams shut. Chewie and Han look at each other. Chewie shrugs. They wait just a moment longer than is comfortable. Then the hatch over the eye’s hole opens again and this time recognizably the end of a blaster rifle appears. A different, deeper alien voice issues what sounds like a command, or a threat. Han reaches slowly into his jacket and removes some kind of scanner. He holds it up and presses a button.
Immediately a 3D model of the surface of the planet appears in hologram form above the scanner. You can clearly see the ships of the fleet that he arrived with over a red, pulsing point on the surface.
Han: “Because if you don’t, or if anything happens to either of us, these ships have a standing order to start an aerial bombardment of this entire area.”
From behind the door we hear what sounds like a swear word in alien. The rifle recedes back into the hole which remains open. We hear what sounds like a heated argument going on from the other side of the door in this baffling alien language. It’s getting more heated. Suddenly there is the sound of a blaster shot, and something heavy hitting the floor.
At this, the door begins to slowly rise up with huge noise as if it is not something that happens very often. Chewie growls at Han.
Han: “Yeah, I know. But what’s the point in having all this back-up if you aren’t going to at least threaten to use it?”
Han and Chewie step into the darkness and we just about catch the sight of a pair of feet disappearing into a antechamber as if somebody is being dragged away by somebody else. Left completely alone in the darkness, Chewie shrugs at Han and they both start to walk forward, their footsteps echoing along the familiar hallway towards distant sounds.
They enter the grand hall of Jabba’s palace. But it is not a party that is underway. Instead a long banqueting table is full of various alien races and people all arguing with each other. Around the wall a retinue of lesser aides look on, some conversing in small groups. We hear snippets of conversation…
“Well, if the Core can’t keep the Outer Rim secure what choice do we have?”
“The New Republic is weak, the Empire would have dealt with this….”
“Where can we find that many weapons at short notice?”
“The Hutt’s say the they saw Stormtroopers…”
“…already landings at Mos Espa are down…”
At the head of the table, looking completely bored by the spectacle of the debate, is Arula Cain. Twi’lek, not old. Stunningly beautiful, exotic looking. Imagine a green version of Grace Park (Hawaii Five-Oh / Battlestar Galactica), but green, and with head tentacles.
She see’s Solo and Chewie in the doorway and a look of playfulness crosses her face. An aide approaches and whispers something in her ear that she smiles at, showing her pointed teeth that ruin the look of beauty, but just a little. Suddenly she wraps her goblet on the table three times. The rabble fall silent and turn to face her as she raises the palm of her hand and motions for silence.
Cain: “And as if by the power of the Force, the emissaries from the Core arrive. Interesting choice of diplomat, given where we are are sitting. Almost insulting. What’s the word from the New Republic… (a pause, a little too long) General Solo?”
At the mention of that name the room explodes in uproar once again. One of the aides splips away from the wall. As the aide exits the room we see a communicator in hand, and rapid speaking in an alien language. Cain bangs the table again to quieten the room.
Cain: “A failed smuggler turned a war hero. The man responsible, in a roundabout way, for me sitting in this very place. A man who knows it would be very likely he would be killed where he stands simply for daring to show his face in this part of the Outer Rim again without protection in the form of a New Republic fleet. This is the man the Senator, his wife, Organa decides to send for parlay? We are not stupid or uninformed out here Solo, despite whatever they may think among the gilded spires of Coruscant.”
Solo steps forward. Chewie growls menacingly, bowcaster at the ready. He doesn’t like this.
Cain: “And the mighty Chewbacca of Kashaykk. Reduced to a bodyguard for an old man?”
Chewie barks and grumbles.
Han: “No messenger. No diplomat. And don’t feel old. I want answers to some questions, the kind of questions you will want me to ask you in private.”
Cain (motioning dismissively to the others around the table): “There is nothing we have to say that we can’t say in front of my associates in the Council.”
Han: “The Council? Is that what you call this?”
Cain: “We represent the community. We protect it. Who else were they going to turn to with no help from the Core?”
Han: “Ahhh, a protection racket? Good income I am sure. I know most of the faces around this table, or have heard of most of you.
He proceeds to pick random faces from around the table, listing their names and their crimes, wrap sheets, wanted statuses etc.
Han: “You see Arula (smirks) we aren’t as stupid or uniformed as you think among those gleaming spires. Now, you and me need to have this talk and it can either happen here or it can happen in a cell onboard one of the ships above us.”
Cain (annoyed but determined not to lose face, exaggerated and sarcastic deferral to authority): “Who are we, here in the Outer Rim to deny a war hero of the New Republic? I will talk to you in return for an answer to my question. Will these attacks simply be allowed to continue or will we continue to arrange our own security?”
Han: “Depends entirely on what your answers are.”
Chewie growls in agreement. Cain claps her hands together twice and the room empties. Han sits at the other end of the table as Chewie stands off to one side in the shadows. Through the conversation we learn some of the backstory to Arula Cain. How after Jabba fell there was a bitter gang war on Tatooine and her father was victorious. How he was assassinated and her brother took over until he too was killed. Han will remark how being part of the underworld was always a dangerous line of work.
This expands into how Cain now controls most of the supply of military technology into Tatooine but she then sells it on to various interested third parties.
Han and the New Republic are concerned this may be helping local factions and warlords create militia, not just on Tatooine but along the Outer Rim. Cain is dismissive, she doesn’t ask too many questions and is primarily interested in her profits, her reputation and her position. This is why she is supporting this local “Council” as the situation deteriorates out here. Is it really just money and power? Or, deep down, is she actually trying to do some good? Han chides her that maybe she has hidden depths. She chides him back that if he can go from smuggler to war hero then why cant she go from gang boss to local leader?
As they continue talking suddenly they are interrupted by the wail of a siren. Cain heads for a doorway and Han follows with Chewie. Suddenly we are in an aged, but effective looking control room. Older monitors fill the wall, displays show vector line graphics and rudimentary scans like the control rooms of the OT and the Rebel briefing on Yavin. Han looks impressed as Cain points out it is old, salvaged or second hand, but effective.
Ships are incoming, large and fast at low altitude towards the Palace. Han fires up his communicator and tells Lando to get the Falcon warmed up and moving, then tells the fleet to send down fighters immediately. As he does this the screens alert them that there is incoming fire – a lot of it!
The Palace starts to shake and stones fall. People are panicking and leaving their posts. These are not military people and now they appear to be under some kind of military attack. The Palace is in chaos. Han tells Cain they are leaving and bundles her towards the door with Chewie.
The great hall is wrecked. Piles of rubble, bodies. People running and screaming. Cain regains some composure and takes charge again. Telling Han and Chewie to follow her. They run down corridors, twisting and turning deep into the bowels of the Palace before emerging into a hanger. The Palace continues to shake as more firepower reigns down, as various people jump into various speeders and make for the hanger doors. Some don’t make it as a huge lump of masonry falls from the ceiling and crushes the fleeing speeders. Cain is dumbstruck for a moment. Han intervenes.
Han: (motioning at the remaining speeders) “Which one is yours?”
Cain: “This way.”
They head for a corner of the hanger and we see Cain’s speeder. It’s large, low, wide and sleek in highly polished silver with an enclosed cockpit, reminiscent of a speeder version of a Naboo royal cruiser. Expensive. State of the art. Han runs onboard and heads for the cockpit. Cain pushes him aside.
Cain: “I will drive!”
Han: “I am not going to argue with you. I’m driving!”
Cain: “Like hell you are. My speeder, I drive!”
Another huge lump of masonry falls from the ceiling and crashes to the ground just feet away from their speeder. Chewie growls, pushes them both out of the way as he squeezes past them through the narrow passageway at speed, wedges himself into the comically tiny, for a Wookie, cockpit and starts punching buttons and pulling leavers. He barks instructions at them over his shoulder. Han and Cain look at each other as Han shrugs.
Cain: “I guess he’s driving.”
With a lurch and a shake the large speeder pivots and speeds across the hanger, weaving to avoid falling ceiling, piles of debris and other speeders as it streaks out of the hanger doors and into the open desert. We see other escaped speeders scattering in all directions and more fire reigns down, throwing up dust and sand. Some take hits and are vaporised as more fire streaks across the surface towards the Palace which is crumbling.
Han: “Guess nobody can stay in this game too long without making some pretty powerful enemies huh? Who are these guys?”
Cain (grim face, lost all her cockiness) : “I don’t know.”
As they look out of the cockpit to the side they see vast shapes of ships on the horizon moving away. Too far away to identify. The ships accelerate away from each other.
A different point of view, watching Cain’s speeder disappearing into the distance through a familiar octagonal viewport. We hear some radio chatter in non-human and the view through the viewport begins to accelerate and we we see gloved hands work serious looking controls as the ship we are watching from gives chase.
4 TIE Interceptors as seen at the Battle of Endor. The TIE fighter’s sleeker, meaner cousin as three of them turn away from pulling out behind the large ships and race to catch up with the 4th, the TIE whose point of view we were just watching from.
They give chase to the speeder as the speeder heads across the open plain towards some looming cliffs. In the speeder a light on the dash starts flashing with an accompanying chirp as Chewie barks at Han and Cain.
Cain: “Incoming, and fast. Chewie, head over there and open her up!”
The speeder turns slightly as Chewie pushes the throttle forward and they speed towards the cliff face.
Cain: (Cool demeanor completely slipped) There, there! (Pointing frantically, annoying Chewie in the process who swats her hands away)
Han: (Struggling through the cramped speeder to a rear gun) Where are you taking us?
Cain: South end of Beggar’s Canyon, to find somewhere to hide.
And so begins the big action sequence of this act. A speeder evading four TIE Interceptors through Beggar’s Canyon joined quickly by the Falcon, piloted by Lando, and Wedge in an X-Wing with his wing-man. Twisting and turning high speed game of cat and mouse as TIEs try to avoid the Falcon and X-Wings while chasing down the speeder.
There are tunnels, off shoots, dead ends, wrecked speeder racers, wamprats, maybe even a Krait dragon. Wedge’s wing-man might as well be wearing a red shirt over his flight suit as he won’t be coming back from this. It also ends up with the speeder totaled and an injured Cain with Han, Chewie and Lando back on the Falcon.
As far as Cain is concerned this only happened when Han and Chewie showed up. So the New Republic owes her one palace and one speeder. Also given her profession she cannot let the attack stand and needs allies… for now.
Iris Wipe To: The New Jedi Temple on Coruscant
Smaller, less grandiose, more functional than it’s destroyed predecessor. Inside Luke sits at a console. In his robotic hand is his fathers own lightsaber. His self-made green saber’s hilt sits in shot on the console in front of him. He is looking at them both, deep in thought.
On the console screen we see holo-images of some things that look a little familiar. Clone troopers in the old Jedi Temple. A tall man with a lightsaber, we don’t see his face. Children’s bodies on the Temple floor.
Artoo whistles softly next to Luke.
Luke: “I don’t know Artoo. I just don’t know. I can sense… something… but I don’t know what it is.”
Artoo whistles again, concerned for his Master. Luke reaches out and puts his human hand on Artoo’s dome.
Luke: “We’ll figure it out old friend. We always do.” (Smiles ruefully)
Artoo and Luke are still a team! They have come a long way and been through so much together since they were just a boy and his droid.
Luke: “Get the speeder again. We need to go and see Leia and after that I want another conversation with Kit Baser. I hope it goes better than the last one.”
Artoo extends his third wheel and rolls away as Luke turns his attention to the horrific images on the console once more.
END OF ACT I
So there it is, all laid out. Deliberate things have been done in this act.
First of all, the gangs all here. They are all recognizably the same characters they were 30 years ago, just moved on. Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Artoo and Threepio are all present, correct, and useful in this first act. This is very deliberate. It is what we wanted and what we have come to see. There is a time and a place for “subverting expectations” but it’s not here in the first Act of the first sequel and it doesn’t need the complete destruction of beloved characters to achieve it.
We know Leia is now a New Republic senator. Luke is rebuilding the Jedi. Han, Chewie and Lando have been reinstated in the fleet to help Leia investigate. It’s enough for this Act. We will understand more about the journey they have been on for 30 years, what has changed and what hasn’t, as we go forward. For now, we know all we need to know without having to read filler novels and comic books or dedicate months to a cartoon show on another subscription service.
There are mysteries to be solved. Who is causing unrest on the Outer Rim and what can the New Republic do about it? Can they prevent inter-clan and faction bush-wars out there?
Whoever it is has money and power and is using a smuggling network to equip a force with illegal arms, ex-Imperial kit. They are also ruthless enough to turn on their suppliers with deadly force to keep themselves in the shadows. We know one of the links in the chain has somehow come by Anakin’s old lightsaber and seems to have some basic grasp of how to use it.
Familiar locations and settings have been used as an anchor in this Act to ease us back into the world after years away, the same with the use of “memberberries”. This is to provide a world that is recognizably the Star Wars we all know and love while providing us a springboard to now go somewhere new, and doing that mostly contained in Act I.
On that journey we will discover how Kit Baser came to possess the lightsaber. We will discover more about the plot in the Outer Rim and what is behind it. We will come to understand the New Republic isn’t quite as successful as it likes to think it is, with peace-time struggles as difficult as war-time. We will delve deeply into the Underworld of the galaxy, with the smugglers & gangsters. And Han, Leia, Chewie, Luke, Lando and the Droids will not just appear on screen together, they will have an adventure together.
We have already learned that coming up with Star Wars titles is harder than it looks, and character names harder still!
So over to the most savage critics. Enjoyed it? Hate it? Please carry on? Or don’t quit the day job and just kill this now? What do you think?