Attack Of The Clones: A Voice Of Reason In The Darkness

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I am not usually one to dwell on deleted scenes in films, for better or worse, if the director chose to leave specific things out to better convey the story that they’re trying to tell then it’s usually for a good reason. But every now and then deleted scenes will stick out in a way that even their absence changes the entire film. Star Wars is no exception. There are two deleted scenes that stand out this way to me, and funny enough, if they had never been included on the DVD we would have no knowledge of them, so it’s almost as if the director was like, look…this can’t be in the movie for whatever reason, but this scene or it’s removal is saying something

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One of those deleted scenes is from The Last Jedi and centers around Finn and Phasma, so I’ll save that one for later, but the second deleted scene that strikes me as incredibly important is from Attack of the Clones itself. And oddly enough, I’ve seen this movie countless times, but I only just recently (like earlier this week) stumbled across this scene, and it just really moved me and made me wonder…why was it removed from the film? What secrets did it give away or truths did it reinforce? This isn’t a ten second clip where someone walked right when they should have walked left, this is a scene of power.

We all saw the incredible lengths Padme Amidala went through to save her home-world in The Phantom Menace, we know she is no shirker of responsibility or the will to act. Padme saved Naboo, she saved her people, and she rearranged the entire Senate to do so. So, when we meet her again in AOTC and watch as she is nearly killed time and again for her voice in the Senate, we can safely assume that she is just as determined and unstoppable as a Senator as she was as a Queen. But oddly enough, we never really see Padme take the floor like she did in the previous film, we never see her exercise her influential range on the Senate for ourselves. We know she is a strong voice because we know her character, but we never see just how much she can truly impact the galaxy with just her presence and words on the senatorial floor. And after watching the scene in question I have to wonder why that is? Why take Padme out of the game before we see what she can do as a Senator?

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“Wake up Senators! You must wake up! If you offer the Separatist’s violence, they can only show violence in return. Many will lose their lives, all will lose their freedom. I pray you do not let fear push you into disaster. Vote down this security measure — which is nothing less than a declaration of war. Does anyone here want that? I cannot believe they do.”  — Senator Padme Amidala

And in this instance, I truly think it’s because it gave too much of the end-game away. Padme’s voiced boomed across the Senate, reaching her fellow senators with her clarity and wisdom until it was quickly sidelined by a very noticeably shaken Palpatine. The future Emperor of the galaxy saw firsthand that there was someone in the room who had the ability to derail his plans, because had they voted that day on the creation of the Grand army of the Republic with Padme’s cries of “Wake up!” ringing fresh in their ears the vote would have failed to yield the army – and the control – that Palpatine desired. Yes, Anakin Skywalker was the biggest threat to the Darth Sidious and the Jedi, but Padme Amidala just proved herself to be the biggest threat to Sheev Palpatine. He already had multiple ideas of how to handle Ani, with and without the help of the Jedi, but Padme could destroy everything on her own. Her voice reached across the stars, she could take the Senate from him just as easily as she took it from Valorum.

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Funny then, that she died so tragically – and let’s be honest – so oddly in the next film. It’s long been a popular theory that Palpatine used Padme’s life-force to keep Anakin alive after his devastating battle on Mustafar, thus draining and killing her in the process. A fellow SW fan and I have even been discussing it in the comments on some of my posts (hi Amy!). There’s a lot of evidence for this theory being correct and it does make a helluva lot of sense, but until Lucasfilm or Disney confirms or denies it one way or another, we’ll never know for sure. But with so many prequel books being released this year leading up to Episode IX and so many prequel characters rejoining the SW family this year at SW Celebration, I think it’s safe to say that in one form or another, the story is leading us back to the beginning, back to Padme and Anakin.

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And as it stands, the consensus is that Palpatine took Padme’s life to save Anakin, to save his apprentice, and to gain a firmer hold on him because with Padme alive, Sidious would always have come in second place in Anakin’s priorities. With her dead, Anakin is wholly Palpatine’s creature. And that’s all true. But I also think that if Palpatine did kill Padme Amidala, it was because she was capable of not only taking Anakin from him, but the entire Senate…and with that Senate, the galaxy itself. The Jedi and the Sith chose Anakin as their enemy, but Sheev Palpatine, ever the politician on the rise, chose a woman whose voice rang with truth that could be heard in every corner of the galaxy. He chose the woman whose cries of Wake up, would have stolen an army from him. He chose Padme Amidala, and this scene shows us exactly why.

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“My noble colleagues, less than an hour ago, an assassination attempt was made on my life. One of my bodyguards, and six others, were ruthlessly and senselessly murdered. I was the target. But more importantly, the security measure before you was the target. I have led the opposition to building this army, and someone will stop at nothing to assure its passage!” — Senator Padme Amidala

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Attack Of The Clones: Once Upon A Cautionary Tale

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“Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me?” — Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Like most avid readers, I’ve learned some of my greatest life lessons from stories. Their wealth of knowledge and wisdom has fed my soul for 29 years and it is because of all of them that I am the woman I am today. Fairytales, mythology, fantasy, romance, classics, adventures and darkness, I am a keeper of tales and once-upon-a-times. I know no better way to impart knowledge to other beings than through words, written and spoken alike — for they contain infinite power and magic.

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Perhaps because I think in terms of what book or film reminds me of this or that particular situation, I often wonder what books and stories my favorite characters are exposed to in their worlds? What words guided their lives, gave them peace and comfort, or warned them of danger still to come?

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I know to guard my heart and my senses because of stories like Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I know that people who we love and are loved by can deceive because of Jane Eyre, and I know that love is very rarely ever easy because of Wuthering Heights. I am surrounded by stories that explain my world and it’s consequences to me, but what tales did Anakin and Padme have to teach them that fate isn’t always kind? What fairytales warned them to love moderately, or to perceive the monster lurking behind the face of a friend? Was there a galactic Romeo and Juliet that a lovelorn Padme quoted listlessly to herself when Anakin was sent into battle for months at a time? Did Anakin whisper desert folklore from his childhood to help himself fall asleep at night?

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“My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” — Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Ultimately there is a difference between knowing something and understanding why it is the way it is. The clarity is found in example, in finding yourself in another. Stories give us that clarity. What stories did Anakin and Padme have? Did they find themselves in others? Would it have saved them if they had? Or did they choose to look away, to hide from the truth that could have set them free? They knew their love was forbidden, but did they have an example to show them what that really meant?

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In the end, the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala is one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories in modern storytelling. Full of forbidden desire, angst, fear, secrets, and ill-fated love, it is truly a cautionary tale for the ages. It teaches the audience what its own heroes failed to learn: to love carefully, wisely, and without falsehood. But above all it teaches that sometimes, no matter your intent, fate has a hand in the way your story progresses. Sometimes you can do everything right, and still fall. Because Once Upon a Time is never a guarantee of happily ever after, it’s only a gateway to a story yet to be told and truths yet to be discovered.

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Attack Of The Clones: Naboo — The End Of The Fairytale


Star Wars has always had fascinating planets with beautiful – if not deadly – scenery and ambiance, but nothing in the Original Trilogy prepared me for seeing the beauty of Naboo for the first time back in 1999. The land was lush, with bright green grass and architecture that spoke of grandeur and elegance, even to a nine-year-old. It seemed fitting to me and my youthful sensibilities, that that’s where Padme Amidala came from, a beautiful, elegant planet for a beautiful, elegant woman. And when we were lucky enough to return to that shimmering world in Attack of the Clones, I was not only thrilled, but immediately entranced and mesmerized by the sheer tranquility of the Lake Country where Padme and Anakin took refuge after her deadly assassination attempts.

To me, Naboo symbolizes the very best the galaxy has to offer. I’s an Eden amongst the almost hellish desert and frostbitten worlds we more-often find our heroes in — and no disrespect to the Ewoks, but it’s a little more upscale as forest worlds tend to go. From what we see of its landscapes, cities, and hideaways, Naboo has a near perfect blend of nature and man, with man-made structures that enhance natural beauty, not attempt to overpower or overshadow them. And after reading Queen’s Shadow and even Leia: Princess of Alderaan, I feel like I understand its people and cultures better, their desire to be of service and to create art, celebrate life, and sustain peace.

With its rounded edges, shimmering waterfalls, quiet strength, and above all tranquil peace, Naboo is what is missing from the sequel trilogy. We began TFA with our core cast on the desert planet of Jakku, a callback to Luke and Tattooine from the originals, but Luke was always the middle of the story – the real beginning was on Naboo itself in Episode I. Over the course of the first two trilogies, we’ve gone from Naboo to Tattooine, in essence from Eden to Hell/ Paradise to the Underworld, and now in the last trilogy we’re back again in the desert, and there’s only one place I can think of that the saga can truly end, coming full circle, and that’s back where the story began: Naboo – paradise.

The story of Star Wars is timeless and cyclical, it mirrors and repeats itself in a thousand intricate ways, and what it’s ultimately shown us is the fall of the hero. Both Anakin and Luke start off strong in their heroic journeys, but overtime they stumble and fall, each going into their own isolated versions of the Hell/the Underworld: a volcanic, firepit of a world, and a lonely isolated island with no one to admire and love either of them for their heroic deeds. And neither truly escape those self-imposed Hells, Anakin dies in space, and Luke dies still on his spit of land in the middle of a raging sea. Both achieve redemption and glimpse the bright peace of the Force, either in the love shining in his son’s eyes, or the majestic double sunset that cries of home, but the audience and the redeemed characters are never taken back to the ultimate peaceful calm of Naboo. I think that is purposeful.

What better way to end the saga of the Skywalkers than where it all began – and with another Skywalker male in dire need of redemption, forgiveness, and love. To most, Kylo Ren’s redemption is the one that is most uncertain, but that’s why it is the most needed. Anakin committed many heinous deeds and actions, but because we met him as a child and saw the conditions he lived in and the suffering he faced, we are much quicker to forgive him. And Luke is so universally revered as an untouchable hero that most miss his failings all together, so his redemption is admittedly glossed over because the majority of the SW audience can’t see past the young hero we were given 40 years ago.

But Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo is another matter altogether. Kylo is someone we met when he was already an adult, we have no cute or endearing memories to put beside all the bad things he’s done. And he’s committed arguably the most heinous crime of all: he took Han Solo away from us. Let’s be honest, the majority of non-Kylo fans hate him, not because he killed his own father, but because he took something from the audience themselves, he took someone from us that we’ve had for almost a lifetime. He took our Han away. And that is unforgivable.

To most.

So, of our three troubled Skywalker men, no one needs more forgiveness from not only their own world, but from the audience and our world, than Kylo Ren. He needs something truly epic to shift the tide of favor but once it’s been done, he needs what no other redeemed hero has been given yet: the peace and healing that is found on Naboo. The story needs to complete itself, it needs to end with the fairytale quality that it’s always showcased so well, and loop back around to end at the beginning. Because that’s the beauty of Star Wars, whether you start at the beginning or dive in at the middle, you are always led back to the brightest hope for a happy ending, so that no matter how many times you tell the story, you are left with hope and a glimpse at what might be happily ever after.


 

 

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Attack Of The Clones: An Unholy Alliance

“What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a dark lord of the Sith?”  — Count Dooku
“No, that’s not possible. The Jedi would sense it.”  — Obi-Wan Kenobi
“The dark side has clouded their vision. Hundreds of senators are now under the influence of a Sith lord called Darth Sidious.”  — Count Dooku

After re-watching The Attack of the Clones for this month, I noticed something strange that I’ve never fully paid attention to before and it stuck with me throughout the entire film and that’s just how often Yoda and Mace Windu are in the same room with or in close proximity to Chancellor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious and the future tyrannical Emperor of the galaxy himself. I’m not sure how I missed it before, though it probably had something to do with me being preoccupied with the Ani/Padme affair or the Ani/Obi-Wan drama, but this time, right from the beginning I noticed that our two best known and loved Jedi Masters were definitely in the room with arguably the greatest evil in the galaxy…and they didn’t seem to register or notice anything odd…which when you think about it, is odd in-and-of itself.

As a politician, Palpatine is presumably used to keeping himself tightly under-wraps at all times, and as a Sith even doubly so, but Yoda and Windu are the best the Jedi Order have to offer and they’re sitting two feet from the metaphorical-font of all darkness and villainy and death, and they don’t notice anything? Not even a flicker of the Force saying that something is not right?! And this pairing doesn’t happen just once, but multiple times throughout the film – to the point we even see the Masters in the Senate itself during the vote that allows Palpatine to have emergency executive powers which he then uses to “create” the of the Republic army (i.e the clonetroopers)! They are in the epicenter of Palpatine’s powerbase itself, present for the moment he is given almost unlimited political power and still it comes as a surprise to them in the ROTS that he is the Sith lord they’ve been “searching” for? I’m sorry but I don’t buy it.

The Jedi are tapped into the essence of the Force itself, feeling it’s pull and sway and searching out it’s truth and defending the good in the galaxy and yet we’re to believe that it’s two best representatives and most learned, experienced, and wise Masters are blind to what’s right in front of them, because Sidious is that powerful? That may have been more likely had they not so often been in close proximity but again, we see them in the same room at the same time, several times throughout the film. The Force is something that is felt in and around all things but most especially it’s active users, we see this time and again in the movies. Luke even teaches Rey how to access and interprets it in The Last Jedi where within just moments she understands and feels enough to know that Luke has shut himself off from the Force and that there is a lack of something around him and it’s noticeable. So even if Palpatine was shutting the Force off when in the presence of the Jedi Masters, it should still have registered for them that this lack of connection was highly unusual considering the Force is in all things.

“And this is the lesson: That Force does not belong to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi dies, the light dies is vanity. Can you feel that?!”  — Luke Skywalker

“But I didn’t see you… Nothing from you. You’ve closed yourself off from the Force.” — Rey

Yoda notices Anakin’s pain from across the Galaxy when Shmi died, he feels the loss of each Jedi when Order 66 occurs, and yet he doesn’t notice what’s sitting across from him staring him in the face? Unlikely. And why were Yoda and Windu in the Senate that day anyway, do the Jedi have representation on the Senatorial floor, and if so, are they the Jedi Senators? Because considering how much overall disgust, distrust, and you-can’t-trust-politicians-because-they’re-power-hungry-monsters speeches are thrown around and repeatedly hinted at during AOTC and ROTS then that’s saying something about the Jedi Masters. Even if they are not elected officials, they are the only Jedi we see on the senatorial floor – if not the only non-political people we see in the Senate that I can remember – and that makes them the Jedi senatorial representatives to the audience if nothing else.

“And don’t forget: she a politician, and they’re not to be trusted.”  — Obi-Wan Kenobi

So again, if they supposedly harbor no real suspicion of Palpatine, why are the Jedi Masters present in the Senate…on the very day the creation of the Republic Army becomes legal. An army that was created by a Jedi Master (Sifo-Dyas) and recruited for by a Sith (Tyranus aka Dooku) ten years previous…just about the time that Anakin Skywalker was brought before the Jedi Council and acknowledged as the Chosen One… from the prophecy that foretold the destruction of both the Jedi and the Sith.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and nothing brings together warring fractions like the idea that they will both be destroyed by a third power now on the rise. For all the talk of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, we are shown our “heroes” and our “villains” together again and again and again and now an army that they both had a hand in making comes into play, just as Anakin becomes old enough to become disillusioned and noticeably dissatisfaction and angry. I mean talk about a coincidence of galactic proportions… but then “all is as the Force wills it” – there are no coincidences in Star Wars.

The greatest Masters of the Jedi Order knew their time was running out, their reckoning had come in the form of a child who had endured slavery and poverty and still faced the world with love and acceptance, and short of killing him outright and proving themselves to be the villains of the galaxy, they had no way of stopping him. So, they united with the only other people who had a stake in the game and were equally threatened: the dark lords of the Sith themselves. Together these two factions created an army that consisted of a cloned Mandalorian Bounty Hunter, i.e. one of the most dangerous sorts of fighters in the galaxy, all to keep themselves safe from a child created by the Force itself with one purpose: to restore balance to the force. In the end, the Jedi Masters made a deal with the devil to stay alive but didn’t pay attention to the fine print – Palpatine would help them, but he had a contingency plan of his own…

 

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Top 11 Revelations From Queen’s Shadow!!!

Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I’m back again for Part Two of my Queen’s Shadow review! Now Monday’s post was my overall “review” of the new SW novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, but today we’re breaking the story down a little more and delving into the actual details of the plot, so head’s up right now: SPOILERS ARE IMMINENT!!! So, if you don’t want to know anything that happens, or you want to read the book for yourself first then I suggest saving this post for later because I’ve got a lot to say about the details in this fantastic book!


Still with me? Good. Now I originally got this idea from a similar YouTube video that CT from Who Talks First (aka The Knights of Rant) did on her channel when Bloodline by Claudia Gray was released. I wasn’t sure it was a book I was going to read, I didn’t really like the cover or anything but once her video went up, I realized just how awesome the story sounded and it ended up being one of my most favorite SW reads ever. So, I figured I’d do something similar with the hopes that maybe this list will inspire someone else to give Queen’s Shadow a chance and maybe discover an epic new entry in the Star Wars fandom!

So, in no particular order as to importance, here’s my list of the Top 11 Revelations we learn from Queen’s Shadow:

1 – The occupation of Naboo in The Phantom Menace was A LOT more violent than we originally thought. Maybe this was just me and the fact that I first saw the movie when I was nine, but we never really saw too much of what was happening on Naboo before or after Padme left to find help, so I just assumed there wasn’t that much violence going on. How naïve, I was, let me tell you. I know they get that holo-message urging Amidala to come home because the “death toll is catastrophic” but I always assumed that was a ploy to get her to either come home and be captured or to send a message back and have the message traced to find out where she was. It never occurred to me, and we never really saw anything that made me think that the death toll was actually climbing, but in Queen’s Shadow we learn just how badly treated the people of Naboo actually were. The invasion of the droid army of The Trade Federation was devastating, and its impacts are still being felt 4/5 years later when the book takes place.

2 – Padme’s handmaidens were physically tortured during the invasion. This took me totally by surprise because I thought all of Amidala’s handmaidens were with her when she left the plaent to seek help from the Senate but apparently some of them had to stay behind. Sache, the youngest of the Queen’s handmaidens, was brutally tortured for information as to Amidala’s whereabouts. This brave young girl (who I think was twelve at the time) still bears the scars of their attacks all over her body, but despite their best efforts, Sache never broke. She kept her Queen’s secrets and saved countless lives, allowing Amidala’s spies to remain undiscovered by keeping the Federation’s attention squarely on herself.

3 – Qui-Gon Jinn is considered a hero and is honored by the people of Naboo. Considering Qui-Gon is my absolute favorite Jedi (which I know I’ve mentioned again and again) it was just nice to have his sacrifice be remembered and honored after the events of TPM. The way Padme describes her memories of Qui-Gon, her profound gratitude and respect, it just reinforces how much I adore this epic character and it makes me feel good to know that even after he was gone, his memory lived on with the thanks of an entire planet.

4 – The truth about Quarsh Panaka. I don’t know about you guys, but I really liked Captain Panaka in the first film, he was just so dedicated to Amidala and Naboo and was ready and willing to risk his life to help her help their planet. So I was always a little thrown that in AOTC we’re given a new character, Typho – who I also really liked – without any mention of our beloved captain. I assumed that he stayed with the new queen, that his role was specific to just guarding the Queens of Naboo, but then in Claudia Gray’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan, we see Panaka again but in a new light. In POA he’s a shiftier character, a wealthy/possibly corrupt overseer of Naboo and its moons, and he comes face to face with not only Leia, but the currant Queen and he is totally and tonally different. We discover that he is now working for the Emperor in some compacity and I was left flabbergasted at how we got from TPM Panaka to this dubious person who has no respect for the royalty he once guarded so fiercely. Queen’s Shadow shed a little light on the situation. His break from the royal house began during Padme’s reign, when after the invasion, he wanted a more militant approach to planetary defenses, but considering Naboo is a pacifist planet, this militarization was denied, and he and Padme’s relationship was irrevocably broken. It broke my heart to see them so uncomfortable with each other, but at least we now have an explanation as to how Panaka could end up being a man who would knowingly give Leia over to the Emperor once he figured out who she really was!

5 – Padme searched for Shmi Skywalker! This was one of the first times I really freaked out when reading Queen’s Shadow, and OMG I just love Padme even more even though I don’t think that’s possible! It always irked me that after the dust settled, no one thought to go back for Shmi, like I know Ani couldn’t because of the Jedi rules, but how hard would it have been for the Council to go back and free her, just to bring peace of mind to the one they’re calling their Chosen. But here we have Padme immediately sending people out to scour Tattooine for her (once her time as Queen officially ended and she could mettle in another planet’s affairs) and not only that, she wants to help all slaves! It didn’t even matter that she never found her, just the fact that Padme tried – the moment she was free to act for herself, she sent help. That means something. It means everything. And it reinforces the kind of character she really is.

6 – Padme doesn’t like the Jedi! I swear it’s like this book was written just for me! Padme mentions several times throughout the novel that although she like Qui-Gon, she doesn’t really feel comfortable with the rest of the Jedi as a whole. They make her feel uncomfortable and uneasy, as though they look through her and not at her (rough paraphrasing here). And considering that Padme is a moral guide throughout the prequel trilogy, I think it speaks volumes that she is one of the few heroes we see that doesn’t particularly like the Jedi Order!

7 – Padme’s entire wardrobe is weaponized/defensive! That’s right, we all know Padme has the wardrobe of a goddess, but apparently, it’s not all for show! Every piece of clothing, jewelry, and makeup –down to her shoes! – is an element of keeping her safe. Her clothes have all sorts of protections built into them and even her makeup is used to help hide her true face and make it easier for one of her handmaidens to take her place when they need to! For anyone who says that fashion has no place in Star Wars, I say read this book and think again!

8 – Bail Organa and Padme originally don’t get along! This one completely sideswiped me, I love Bail Organa and I was so waiting to see him and Padme become besties in the Senate, but damn, they sure didn’t start off that way. Not only is Bail dismissive and borderline rude, but Padme actually describes getting really angry with his attitude and I was like wait no, you have to love each other as friends forever and always…HE’S LEIA’S ADOPTED DAD, DAGNABIT!!! Thankfully we do see their relationship take a sharp turn towards the positive as the story continues and Padme even visits Bail and Breha on Alderaan, but those first few meetings left me biting my nails!

9 – There are more than one set of Handmaidens! It never occurred to me that the handmaidens we see in the first two films aren’t the same women guarding Padme Amidala, but damn if there weren’t two sets of these epic women in Queen’s Shadow. The Originals consists of Sabe, Eirtae, Rabe, Yane, and Sache, while the handmaidens that follow Padme to the Senate are Sabe (always), Dorme, Corde, and Verse. These women are so unbelievably loyal, brave, and powerful, and they utterly deserve the world! I want so much more information from these women, what are their stories, what truths do they know?!!!

10 – The Vote of No Confidence had unforeseen consequences! We all know that this epic vote led to the rise of Palpatine’s political career, bringing him a step closer to being “the Emperor” of the original trilogy, but what we didn’t know was how this affected Padme’s time in the Senate. What we see as the ultimate badass move on Padme’s part in TPM, actually leads to her being ostracized to an extent by her fellow senators. Because she flouted the rules and procedures of the Senate itself to save her own planet, the other members don’t trust her, and this is the first time we really see Padme struggle with not being accepted. She has to decide with is more important: her planet or the Republic and everything the Senate stands for. And that’s so much easier said than done. How can you defend something in the Senate that goes against your own planet’s best interests for the sake of the galaxy at large? How do you walk that murky ground of helping individuals and helping the masses?

11 – And finally, there is something truly suspicious about Padme’s death! Now I know personally, I always thought it was crazy that Padme just flat-out died in ROTS the way she did – like I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense. She was a dedicated fighter, even brokenhearted, she would have fought on even if only for her children. It almost seemed like Lucas just didn’t plan this part out well, as if she had served her purpose but she wasn’t seen in the originals so oh well, she has to go, but I like to think that such an elegant crafter of stories does better than that. There had to be something else going on and I’ve/we’ve just missed it. And I’ve heard countless theories as to what possibly happened and why Padme really died, but as none of them came from Lucasfilm, I wasn’t taking anything for sure. But the end of Queen’s Shadow definitely reinforced the belief that something wasn’t right about Padme’s death. This entire book we’ve seen just how much of a fighter she was, how she never quit, and yet suddenly she just gives up and dies of sadness? I don’t think so, and neither does Sabe. She speaks the words we’ve all been thinking for so many years: “She wouldn’t just die.” Sabe loves Padme more than anything in the galaxy and when the book ends, it’s with her setting off to find the truth, and with a new undisclosed identity waiting…

And there you have it my fellow Star Wars fans, my list of Top 11 Revelations from Queen’s Shadow! Did any of these spark anything for you? Do you plan on reading the book or have you read it already? Are there any revelations you gleaned from the story that I maybe missed? Make sure to let me know in the comments and remember: We are brave, your highness.

 

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Star Wars Book Review: Queen’s Shadow

Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I finally finished the new SW book: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston let me tell you…it was one helluva emotional roller-coaster. Seriously, I’m not going to lie…I cried. Like a lot. It’s probably sad how emotional I got, but I’m a crier and I’ve come to terms with that. Anyway, I told y’all a few posts ago that I’d write more of a review once I actually finished the book and that time has come at last! That being said…MAJOR SPOILERS ARE AHEAD – so if you don’t want to know anything about the book or are planning to read it yourself, maybe save this post for later because I have some serious tea to spill and I’m not great at keeping secrets!

First and foremost, let me just say: Thank the Maker and E.K. Johnston! As a prequel and Padme fan, this book is one I’ve been waiting for since I first saw Padme onscreen when I was nine years old! We get so little of our favorite Queen/Senator in the fandom (in official avenues or otherwise) so I was totally ready for this book, especially since I heard about it almost a year ago and have been frantically patiently waiting for it ever since. Not only does it have one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen, but damn if Ms. Johnston didn’t capture Padme’s voice perfectly! I literally had chills the entire first chapter!

Coming back to this time and place and people that I left behind so many years ago and knowing what was coming ahead for them but not how they were going to get there was insane. It was like watching Ani fall to the darkside for the first time all over again: here was Padme just living her life and it was almost as if we could reach out and touch her, warn her of the terrors and dangers ahead. A beautiful window was suddenly open to a time before death and darkness had settled over the galaxy, and maybe, just maybe we could make a difference. Alter fate. But no, no matter how much we want to save our beloved Padme, we’re left helpless, our words of warning remain unheard and we know, once the book is finished, Padme will still die. But still, for the first time we have her perspective, her voice, her words. Padme is telling the story for once, and not the story we already know, but one in that time in-between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, a time of trial and change where she is becoming the powerhouse political advocate we know her to be. This Padme is preparing to give up her Queendom and life on Naboo to take on her next great challenge: the galactic Senate.

But it’s not just Padme that we share this adventure with, it’s her handmaidens – those brave shadowy women that guard Amidala and put themselves in danger so that she may survive. Make no mistake about it, these women are ready to die for their Queen/Senator/Friend, and some of them actually do. To be a handmaiden is to stare into the face of death and say: take me.

Considering there are so few female characters in Star Wars, I have always been fascinated by these mysterious, brave women… I mean who are they? What are their stories? What are their truths? What have they seen and what secrets do they keep? Until now we’ve never known, but this book delves right into the heart of the handmaidens and their relationship with Padme and the outside world. Their voices and scenes with Padme are my absolute favorite part of Queen’s Shadow, they just radiate power and capability. These young women are badass, even if no-one else around them knows it – and when it comes down to it, that’s precisely how they’d prefer it!

It’s upsetting that the films never explored the lives of the handmaidens before, but in fairness, there was a much larger story to tell and only so much time to tell it. That’s why books like Queen’s Shadow are so important, they fill in the blanks for so many awesome characters and content that the films just don’t have space to. I truly hope that in the wake of upcoming shows like The Mandalorian, we get a live-action series about these fierce women who gave their lives and identities to their Queen and their planet. We are brave Your Highness.

Over all this book was everything I wanted it to be. It was empowering and emotional and I could hear Padme speaking through it. There wasn’t any huge flip-twist-surprise at the end like some other SW novels and I was completely ok with that. This reads as more of a character study than an action novel, we’re finally given time to understand how Padme thinks and feels and reacts on her own and in her own words. I would have been okay with more drama, but even without it, this story was superb! We don’t often get to see Padme outside of her relationship with Anakin or any of the other male leads, so with Queen’s Shadow she is finally given a chance to shine on her own, to dominate. And my God was she and her handmaidens fierce as hell.

**Stay tuned for the second part of this review where I breakdown the Top 5 revelations from Queen’s Shadow and their impact on the Star Wars legacy!

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Attack Of The Clones: Master and Padawan


“Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Don’t say that, master. You’re the closest thing I have to a father.”  — Anakin Skywalker

Hearing this exchange for the first time as a soon-to-be thirteen-year-old, I was dramatically shook. I mean the irony nearly bowled me over – I remember thinking, “No Obi, you don’t understand, HE IS GOING TO KILL YOU!” It’s one of those great little moments in the films where Star Wars itself goes a bit meta and speaks directly to the fans.

The relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker is something that drives the entire saga. In A New Hope we first hear Obi-Wan’s admittedly skewed version of events before we see them meet as enemies, duel, and watch in horror as we lose our first big SW hero when Darth Vader strikes down a willing Obi-Wan. This is in effect one of our true first moments of seeing how far Vader will go as a villain, Tarkin was the one that ordered the destruction of Alderaan, but Vader killed our beloved mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And even after this point their lives were entwined as Obi-Wan returned as a Force Ghost to help Yoda train Luke as a Jedi, preparing him to face and kill Darth Vader, Luke’s own father. It’s only after Luke calls him on his falsehoods, that Obi-Wan admits the full truth, but defends his previous story in true Jedi manipulative fashion, saying he told the truth, “from a certain point of view.”

So, after all the events and drama of the original trilogy and the very limited time they shared in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones was the first time we truly got to see this epic pair together before Anakin became Vader and Obi-Wan’s story gets a bit fuzzy. And it’s truly so Shakespearian. We ALL KNOW Anakin is going to kill Obi-Wan someday, we’ve already seen it happen, but here they are onscreen with a relationship that although complicated, is full to the brim with love and affection. It makes it so much more difficult to see them as friends knowing how their story ends, but that’s really what makes the saga itself so effective. If they had hated each other from the get-go then we wouldn’t really care that Vader killed Obi-Wan, but that’s not the case at all, and so when the inevitable happens, we suffer along with the characters.

At the end of TPM Obi-Wan fulfills Qui-Gon’s dying wish to train Anakin, even going so far as to threaten the Council with disobedience, but we’re left with the knowledge that Anakin was not Obi’s choice. Would he resent his new responsibility to train a boy he didn’t know and had no real connection to, is that what would drive them apart and lead them to the deathly events of A New Hope? But then we see them together at last in the elevator in Attack of the Clones and immediately, the sense of warmth and familiarity sweeps over us. Obi-Wan may not have chosen Anakin and may never have on his own, but he truly loves Ani, and Ani loves him in return.

In this movie especially we see their relationship as Master and Padawan, or rather Father and Son. From the get-go we see Obi-Wan trying to instill wisdom and the Jedi mentality and Anakin bristling under the constant scrutiny. They bicker and push at each other constantly, but beneath it all is the truth that Anakin so easily admitted.

“You’re the closest thing I have to a father.”  — Anakin Skywalker


Watching AOTC again as an adult, I see not only the aggravation that Anakin feels at being judged, commented on, and critiqued constantly, but the absolute fear that Obi-Wan feels about Anakin. Obi-Wan knows the members of the Council rejected Anakin, he knows they don’t want him in their ranks and yet they’re forced to accept his presence. He understands that unlike any-other Jedi before him, Anakin has no true allies amongst the Jedi other than himself, and that without him Ani would truly be alone and at the mercy of the Jedi Masters. He respects the Council of Masters as his peers and comrades in the Force, but he truly loves Anakin, and in that love, resides great fear of what will happen to Anakin when he’s no longer protected with Padawan-status.

I think that fear leads him to push Anakin, to constantly keep at him and press his own mentality and character onto his student because that’s the only way he knows to keep Anakin safe. If he could make Ani enough like himself then the Council wouldn’t feel so threatened, they like Obi-Wan, so therefore they would like an Obi-Wan-esque Anakin. But that’s not possible. Anakin’s personality is too set to be changed, and his destiny wouldn’t allow for it anyway. He is who he is and although he respects and love Obi-Wan he doesn’t like the constant strain of always being wrong or being labeled as second-best. He wants to shine, but Obi-Wan is terrified of what will happen if he does. Again, it’s so Shakespearian, Obi-Wan tries to protect Anakin but it only leads to resentment and in effect, drives a wedge between Master and Padawan.

In the end, I think we see a great foundation formed in Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Obi-Wan are almost nothing like we’d expect them to be after seeing the Original Trilogy, they aren’t enemies but rather a small family unit with tangible real-world problems. There’s such an abundance of love between them and it makes the story so much more relatable and heartbreaking knowing that their fates are already set in stone. Obi-Wan will die. Vader will kill him. But for now, they are family, they protect each other and face the same issues all families do – just on a galactic level. But more than anything, there is Obi-Wan’s fear for his Padawan, fear for his son, that one day he will not be there to protect Anakin when he needs to be. And Anakin interprets this fear as any teenager would: as judgement and understandably bristles as being so undervalued. And even here, right at the beginning we see the cracks that are forming around them, setting the Force’s plan into motion. One day Anakin will fall, and not even Obi-Wan’s love will be enough to save him.

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Delving Into Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow

Hello my fellow Star Wars fans, I know I usually have the third post of the week up by Saturday afternoon but I’m going to be honest with you… I got the new Star Wars book: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston and I am HOOKED! Seriously, first page in, I cried. Third page in, I cried again. There’s just so many feels!!!

The story follows Padme and her handmaidens after the events of The Phantom Menace as she leaves behind the mantle and responsibility of Queenship of Naboo and begins her new life as a galactic Senator in the bright media-laden spotlight of faraway Coruscant. Now I’m only halfway through so far, so I don’t know where exactly it ends but judging by the cover I’d say somewhere near Attack of the Clones so that’s pretty darn perfect for my monthly movie timeline!

I’ll definitely have more to say regarding the events and revelations of this book and how it impacts the story we know and the story we only think we know once I finish reading, but I’ll also definitely have my regularly scheduled third post up tomorrow! Between the book and the annual Celtic festival I go to every year, it’s been an wonderfully eventful few days and I am straight up exhausted 😂 Love you guys and thank you for your patience and I’ll see you again tomorrow!

P.S. Have you read Queen’s Shadow yet? WITHOUT SPOILERS…how are you liking it? Let me know in the comments!!!

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Attack Of The Clones: Stolen Moments and A Splintered Soul

No man has ever outrun his fate, and no protagonist either. Anakin Skywalker is young, charming, hopelessly in love, dedicated to his commitment to protect the galaxy and its inhabitants, and is an earnest, loving son. He’s gifted with a lightsaber, vivacious and sweet, with a kind heart not often found in such a harsh galaxy. But he is also Chosen.

No matter who he may want to be, what life he may choose for himself, Anakin’s fate is inescapable. It’s wound around his neck like a noose, choking the light, the love, and the happiness out of him as each second passes. With blood and betrayal and death, he will one day bring balance to the Force and thereby bring to an end the warring, unbending factions of the Sith and the Jedi, with their holier-than-thou dogma and uncompromising restrictions. The Force is neither light nor dark, good nor evil — it is the balance of all things and it demands balance in return, and the cost will be nothing less than Anakin Skywalker’s heart and soul.

It all sounds dramatic as hell, but this is a soap opera in space – if the stakes weren’t truly monumental then why would we even care. And we do care, because despite what he becomes later on, we all can relate to Anakin as he is now – young and in love, full of naïve hope that life can truly be all that he wants it to. It’s heartbreaking watching someone strive to do the right thing and make a difference in their environment knowing that no matter what they choose to do, one choice will never be theirs to alter.

AOTC opens with an attack on Senator Padme Amidala’s life, an act that brings a nervous and frantically excited Anakin Skywalker, now a Jedi Padawan-learner, back into her life. He’s older, more mature and handsome, and she’s as beautiful and defiant as ever. Immediately we all know where the story is going, but there’s a catch: one day, however far in the future, Anakin will become Vader… He will fall to the dark side and although we don’t yet know how or why or what the scope of that actually looks like yet (back in 2002), we know eventually he ends up alone, deep in space, scarred and mutilated, and encased in machinery. So, we’re left wondering… what happens to Padme? What happens to this love we see blooming? How can it all go so wrong?


“I’ve thought about her every day since we’ve parted…” — Anakin Skywalker

It’s hypnotic and disturbing to fall in love with a couple knowing that their future cannot possibly be bright. Their days in the sun are numbered and they don’t even know it yet. Every look, every thought, every gentle touch is one less that they had a moment ago – but we can’t help but to fall for them, just as they fell for each other. In the cool and isolated lake country of Naboo, Padme and Ani are given a handful of beautiful moments and memories before the twisting of the knife begins anew and Anakin is drawn further down the path of fate, this time unleashing his hate and destruction upon a limited populace in retribution for his mother’s stolen life. It’s only a taste of what’s to come but it’s a stark contrast to the waterfall picnics and candlelit dinners of just moments ago. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and it’s there to remind us – and Anakin – that his life is not his own. No matter what we may want for him, Anakin is not ours to save, and he is not his own to govern.

“You’re not all powerful, Ani.” — Padme Amidala
“Well I should be. Someday I will be. I will be the most powerful Jedi ever — I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying!” — Anakin Skywalker

The truth is Anakin was born a slave, and although he escaped physical bondage on Tattooine after the events of The Phantom Menace, he remained a slave to the will and desire of the Force until the day he died. And no Star Wars film better encapsulates the inevitability and inescapable nature of Anakin’s destructive fate than Attack of the Clones because in the end, the entire film is a love-letter to a life that could have been, to a love that could have lasted. It’s a collection of beautiful, haunting memories of a life that never truly got the chance to choose and a love that was doomed before it even began.

 

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Attack Of The Clones: The Last Rays of Light

With one month down and The Phantom Menace now behind us, I settled in to re-watch Star Wars Attack of the Clones yesterday afternoon. It had been a little while since I had seen this one and in some ways it felt like I was watching it again for the first time.

When it first premiered in May of 2002 I was in the soaring upswing of my complete and utter adoration/fascination/obsession of all things wildly romantic – I was about to be 13 and dramatic flair was my middle name. All these years later I’ve never really come down off that high of loving impossible romances. Yes, they’re unrealistic ideallic fantasy-dreams that don’t exist in the real world, but there’s still something about them that sucks me in. And at 13 everything seems possible – and plausible – so the more dramatic and impossible the love story, the more I adored it. Needless to say, when episode II hit theaters, I was MESMORIZED.

Attack of the Clones was everything I needed Star Wars to be at that time of my life, it was lush and beautiful, with sweeping scenes of waterfall picnics and sunshine-drenched lake houses. Padme’s clothes were to-die-for and the addition of a purple lightsaber just was sheer perfection. Add to that, Anakin was suddenly attractive – something I didn’t even know to expect – and he was in love with Padme and it was a forbidden love, which just made it all the better! My young heart beat to the tune of the Anidala theme my friends, and I never looked back. I was a shipper before I knew knew what shipping was and for me this installment was a love story plain and simple, and love stories were my bread and butter.

But watching it now almost twenty years later, what really struck me this time first and foremost wasn’t the actual love story –although it is still epic – but rather Anakin’s attitude during the first half of the film. When I think of Ani now, having seen the entire saga, I often picture the Jedi Knight in episode III, the closed-off, near-drowning man who can’t find the light to save himself. Or maybe the happy little boy winning the big pod-race and believing that all his dreams will come true. But this Anakin, this teenaged AOTC Anakin, struck me this time around as such a forgotten gem of a person. He comes across as sullen and argumentative and is therefore automatically panned as being a classic teenage whiner but that’s only when he’s in the company of Jedi. He’s spent the last ten years being told to contain his nature, to submit to the Jedi’s way of life and for someone who is so emotionally mature and expressive, it’s no wonder he chafes at such restrictive and harmful instruction. But the moment Padme enters his life again, all that meaningless chatter and chastisement visibly melt away and he is again that boy from the desert who can’t help but speak the truth.

“Ani? My goodness, you’ve grown.” — Padme Amidala
“So have you, grown more beautiful…” — Anakin Skywalker

Anakin has always been portrayed as highly emotive, especially in the previous film, what he thinks and feels he says, and he has no qualms about expressing to someone that they’re important to him. His honesty and openness are originally commendable but now set against the restrictive nature of the Jedi code – with their aversion to attachment and expression of emotions – is suddenly portrayed as wrong as we see it that way as well. He is chided and ridiculed by Obi-Wan for his display of obvious feelings, but it’s not in Anakin to lie. Not yet. There is still too much of his mother in him, too much of her teachings and love and wisdom to be beaten down completely by dogmatic rhetoric.

That’s why very time Anakin is with Padme he finds himself speaking his most inner absolute truths – things that most people would blush at or feel too embarrassed to speak aloud. Because she is not Jedi, and because he knows that somehow she understand him and he needs her to know the truth while he can still say it. He explains his love for her, his admiration and respect for Obi-Wan as well as the crippling frustrations with his Jedi training. It’s like he cannot help himself. Every time he speaks to her, the truth overwhelms him. After ten years of being encouraged to lock his old self away, and not give in to emotion or his own instincts, the real Anakin is dying to be recognized, to be understood. Even at his darkest, he hides nothing.  It’s incredibly beautiful to watch, but painful at the same time. Painful because honesty is actually frightening for most people and because it’s as if Anakin’s spirit is trying to purge itself of the last ten years of repressed emotion. He’s unconsciously attempting to shake off the shackles of Jedi mentality, but it’s too late, he’s completely surrounded, his fate is already sealed, and this is the last time we truly get to see Anakin as he was before. His time as Anakin Skywalker is fading fast, and it’s almost like some part of him knows it.

“From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again… I’m in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you — I can’t breathe.” –Anakin Skywalker

So after watching AOTC again for what is probably the hundredth time, what I see now is a boy who hasn’t yet been broken. What is often read as awkward and argumentative behavior, is in reality just Ani desperately pushing back against the Jedi’s restrictive nature and seeing Padme again immediately reverts him to his old self. He speaks the truth to her with no shame hampering him and for a short time becomes the person he wants most to be — someone capable of great deeds, and great emotions. Ultimately, he is still the Anakin we met on Tattooine, he is still Shmi’s son – but now time is running out, and the Anakin we know and love is coming nearer and nearer his final fatal destiny.

 

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