Revenge Of The Sith: Fear And Darkness

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“Yourself you speak of, or someone you know?” — Master Yoda

“Someone.” — Anakin Skywalker

“Close to you?” — Master Yoda

“Yes.” –Anakin Skywalker

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Three years have passed since nightmares of his mother’s unceasing pain and death tortured young Padawan Anakin Skywalker, heralding the death of the only person who truly knew him in the galaxy and setting him on the path that would lead him to the darkest part of his destiny. Blood and death, the nightmares brought only blood and death and hatred in their wake. Time has passed since the devastation and loss of Episode II and Anakin is now a Jedi Knight, a loving yet secret husband, and a General in the Galactic Civil War, but inside he is still the little boy who had to leave his mother behind to live the life they both dreamed for him and then held her as she died in his arms and promised her grave he wouldn’t fail again. Years have passed since that night, since Ani tasted blood and death in the desert air, years have passed…but now the nightmares have started again — and this time the person dying in them is the one person Anakin Skywalker cannot survive losing… his wife Padme.

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Desperate to save her from his prophetic dreams, Anakin makes one last attempt to reach out to his fellow Jedi, putting aside his wounded pride and the sting of their mistreatment to beg for help protecting the one he loves most. He seeks council from the greatest of Masters, the epitome of the Jedi Order itself: Yoda, and tells him of his fears, of the death he sees looming on the horizon.

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Visually, Anakin is emotionally upset, shaken. He’d endured these dreams only a few years ago, dreams that lead him to find his mother only moments before her death. He’d cradled her broken body as she drew her last breath, unable to save her himself… so he made her a promise. He would not fail again. But now the dreams have returned, sent from the Force itself or Palpatine, to torture Anakin into madness and still his first innate instinct is to turn to what should be the light and ask for help. His mother’s teachings ring true in him, and in his darkest fears he reaches for the light, despite it’s snubs. In truth, he has no reason to trust the Jedi, their contempt of him is and has always been glaringly obvious, but he has sworn his life to their humanitarian cause and has asked for nothing from them in return until now. He will not let his wife die the way his mother had… he promised. And so he looks to Yoda – to save him, to save Padme, to save the Jedi Oder from the fate it is bringing down upon itself…and is met with no more than placating children’s rhetoric. You fear losing something… well don’t, you shouldn’t be attached to it in the first place. Let it go.

“Attachment leads to jealousy… the shadow of greed that it… Train yourself to let go… of everything you fear to lose.” –Master Yoda

Watching the saga as a while, this is the moment the Jedi unapologetically and irrevocably seal their own fate. They have had countless opportunities to practice what they preach in terms of compassion and at every turn they fail to do so. They failed Padme in the Phantom Menace, they failed Anakin from the very moment they met him, and now when not only the fate of another innocent is on the line, but the entire galaxy itself, they fail themselves and those who look to them for Light.

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For all his strengths, Anakin is not a good liar, Shmi did not raise him to be, so he’s about as subtle as a flashing neon sign. And let’s not forget that Yoda himself was present when Padme ran to Ani at the end of Attack of the Clones and threw her arms around him, embracing him without conscious or shame for all the world to see. It doesn’t take a genius to realize something is going on between them… and Yoda is far from unintelligent — so there is no conceivable way he did not know that Anakin and Padme were at the very least, lovers. Even Obi-Wan knew (a fact we learn from a deleted ROTS scene). And his response to Anakin’s plea highlights the stark contrast between simple, common decency and the unbending Jedi morality: Yoda offers no help or reassurance, merely passive-aggressive judgment and we call him the hero for it, for withholding empathy from someone in need — empathy, the link that connects all living beings.

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How easy would it have been to drop the pretense and reach out to the boy that’s clearly terrified in front of him – even if he had no real advice for how to help – and just say: I am here for you. The Jedi – your family – is here for you. 

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Common decency, not dogma — that’s all that was being asked for here. You can speak platitudes and hold your actions and thoughts as superior to everyone around you but if you cannot act with the basest of humane kindnesses in the face of abject terror and suffering then how good can you possibly be? Tears streamed down Anakin’s face. He was shaking. He was terrified. But still Yoda remained unmoved. A Jedi feels no fear… a Jedi feels nothing, just as stone feels nothing. And stone men cannot know balance, they cannot lead, because they cannot feel the difference between right and wrong, they only think they know it. Anakin was mature enough to let go of his pride and ask for help from those he knew hated him. He knew pride, understood it for its complexities, and chose to set it aside for the greater good. But someone who’s never admitted pride, or fear, or anger, or love, or joy, never taken the time to understand them, cannot put them aside for any cause. Because these emotions that encompass both good and bad, light and dark, are nothing more than a fairy story, a rhetoric that can be learned but never understood. Any emotion can be a fault and a virtue, it can save or it can destroy, but only those capable of expressing empathy, of understanding emotions, can understand their importance.

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Yoda condemns fear as darkness, but he had known fear since the moment he met Anakin Skywalker all those years ago, but instead of expressing it, understanding and moving past it, he feigns ignorance of its presence and is therefore consumed by it. He sits as unmoved  in the presence of anguish, fear, and love, watches as a ward of his Order cries for the life that may be lost and is stone. Fear can break a man, twist him into something he is not, but he can rise again with empathy in his heart, but eventually all stone crumbles into dust and is scattered by the wind — eroded by all things.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker Teaser Trailer Breakdown!!!

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Alright my awesome fellow Star Wars fans, I don’t know about you but damn yesterday’s teaser trailer has my mind freaking buzzing nonstop!!! There is just so much we’re given in this short two minute clip and I promised you that today we’d take a closer look at all the epic reveals and possible theories revolving around this finale of the Skywalker saga! Are you ready?! Let’s GO!!!

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So first off, the title: The Rise of Skywalker!!! I mean how fitting is it that the saga will end with the name of it’s most influential and tumultuous family. Now, I’m not going to lie, my first instinctual gut-reaction to the title reveal was not the most positive. Perhaps it was because the title was shown next to a newly released picture of Daisy Ridley as Rey, but my first thought was oh crap, this is really going to feed into those Rey-is-a-Skywalker theories and give them a lot of support. But like I always say, to each their own, no one sees Star Wars the same way as any other fan and for all we know, this could be the case — but for me, I personally do not want our heroine to be a lost daughter of the Skywalker line, it just doesn’t make sense at this point and it serves no point now that both possible fathers, Han and Luke, are dead.

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If this young girl we have come to care so much about has spent her whole life waiting to be reunited with the family that abandoned her as a child only to met the two men that might be her father and neither of them acknowledge her before they die, that just seems pretty harsh. So in all honesty, my first thought was not the most positive. But upon taking a few minutes to calm down and reflect on the title as a piece of the whole saga and not just the sequel trilogy, I found great joy in the thought that this reveal was leading us not only back to Luke, but back to Anakin and Shmi, the first Skywalkers known in our galaxy far, far away. The title may have nothing to do with Rey other than the site I was looking at placed her picture next to the title card. For the last eight movies leading up to this epic finale, we have watched our Skywalker heroes lose themselves to the darkness in one form or another: Vader falls to the darkside because of fate and love, Luke abandons the galaxy after unleashing the next wave of evil because of fear, guilt, and judgement, and Kylo Ren turns to it to survive in a world where even his own family wants him dead because of the mere possibility of what he may do in the future.

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Each one of our Skywalker men have fallen, each one has tasted darkness and death in the Force’s pursuit of righting itself, but now it is time for them to rise, to become the heroes we know they can be. The Force called upon Anakin to be the greatest darkness borne from the greatest light, and now I think it’s balancing itself by calling upon Kylo to become the greatest light borne from the greatest darkness. The Skywalker line had a hero taken from them to enact a terrible fate upon the galaxy, but now they will have one restored to them to bring the balance back into all things.

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Which leads me on to the trailer itself… which ends not only with the maniacal cackling of Emperor Palpatine himself (OMFG am I right!) but also with Kylo Ren’s thematic music playing as the title reveals itself. Only this time the key has changed and the notes end not with the boom of death but with a triumphant ring that leaves me filled with so much hope!!! Music tells the story of Star Wars just as much as the actors, the script, the setting, or the color palates, it evokes our senses in the most primal way and makes the story and it’s characters so completely real to us in a way that nothing else can. When we hear the Force’s theme we know magic is real and that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Anakin’s speaks of tragedy, first love, and the inescapability of fate while Han and Leia’s embodies romance and possibility and a lover’s spat. We know these characters and their place in the story by the music that surrounds them, and until now Kylo’s theme has been a projection of quicksilver temperament and descisive darkness, but upon the proclamation that the Skywalkers will rise, his theme turns victorious and bright, triumphant at last! To me this signals that the family I’ve known and loved all my life will find their way back into the light. We may finally get the see Ben Solo become the man that Anakin Skywalker never got to be.

Next up is the backflip seen round the world, and let me just say, I was sitting in my back room at work attempting to eat lunch and ended up shrieking out loud when I first saw this!!! Rey from Nowhere is one badass heroine, a fact she’s proven time and again in this sequel trilogy, but NEVER IN ALL MY LIFE HAVE I SEEN SOMEONE BACKFLIP ONTO A MOVING TIE-FIGHTER WITH A BLAZING LIGHTSABER IN HAND AND I AM SHOOK!!!  I never knew I needed that in my life but apparently I was mistaken because that scene is LIFE! With a tie-fighter screaming it’s approach, Rey ignites the legacy saber and looks over her shoulder as if to say, Now, I am ready before sprinting dead ahead of the deadly craft and throwing herself in the air, presumably to land on the top of the fighter itself. We don’t see the face of the pilot but at this point we know those black gloves well and it’s easy to assume that it’s our Skywalker/Solo son racing towards Rey in this heart-stopping feat and I could not be happier! It looks like after all this time, our two next-gen’s are finally working together, training in the desert for whatever battle lies ahead and if Rey come into the finale fight atop a screaming tie-fighter in all her raging glory then I may just pass the f*ck out! The films have said time and again that Rey needs a teacher and considering the ship was only advancing on her and not firing, I see this as some epic training happening at last and I am here for it! Kylo Ren is the heir of two of the galaxies best pilots ever known and Rey is the burning light and ferocity of the desert itself. Together they will be unstoppable!!!

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The rest of the trailer goes by in quick flashes but we see a misty blue planet ringed with mountains and clouds that just screams Alderaan-before-it’s-destruction to me so I am hella excited to see what exactly this place is! There’s also a shot of Kylo’s mask being reforged with searing red lines by some rather hairy hands — which makes me wonder if it’s Chewie’s handiwork here, the reintroduction of our favorite charmer and old smoothie Lando Calrissian (or Unca Wanwo to Ben) who I am hoping to see interact with Kylo/Ben in some fashion. Of all people in the Star Wars universe, Lando knows how it feels to betray those you love and care for, Han Solo in particular, and find your way back to honor and a good life. Ben will need him as an example and Lando will finally have someone who understands his past actions.

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Kylo also fights unmasked in a red-tinged scene, troopers at his side, and I find myself wondering what side they’re fighting for? I firmly believe the troopers will switch sides, that they will follow Finn’s lead and find the humanity inside them that the First Order tried to snuff out and will rise up in revolt, and how badass would it be to have Kylo lead them away from the Order as they all decide to find Rey and the Resistance!! Again, this is all strictly theory at this point, but it’s the way I see things and the direction I want the storytellers to follow 😀 Finn and Poe look dashing as ever and I’m so happy to see this film reunite this pair and I cannot wait to see what shenanigans they get up to as the film progresses! BB-8 also has a new little buddy who makes a quick appearance, D-0 (hoping that’s spelled right) who looks like a one-wheeled, cone-headed rubber ducky with the face of a hair-dryer and I must find him on a t-shirt quickly because he’s too freaking adorable for words! I had high hopes for BB-8 and BB-9E being lightside/darkside besties and so far those haven’t been fulfilled so by-thunder BB needs a bestie already and D-0 won my heart in two seconds flat!

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We also see Leia (!!!) not only hugging Rey, but holding the medal she awarded Han after the battle of Yavin in A New Hope — excuse me while I sob my eyes out —  and then finally our heroes approach the watery remains of what appears to be the fallen Death Star! That’s right people, THE DEATH STAR ITSELF RETURNS!!!  I cannot express how eerie and unexpected and heart-pounding seeing this onscreen was for me, and it really just drives home the point that we are going back to the beginning, back to the original great evil in the galaxy: Darth Sidious himself, and I hope beyond hope that this time when our heroes face him they will face him with not only Ben Solo, but his grandfather Anakin Skywalker (as a Force Ghost of course) at their side. Anakin and Ben had their choices taken from them in one fashion or another, and now they need to be allowed to become the men that they always should have been. Great light and great darkness combined, Skywalkers rising at last.

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And there you have it my fellow SW fans, my take and analysis of the newly released teaser trailer for Star Wars episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker! What did you guys think of the trailer and what theories did it inspire in you? I’ve seen people mentioning the return of the Senate but I must have missed it somehow so if you see what they’re talking about please let me know because I hate missing something so crucial! Was there anything else big I missed, if so please let me know in the comments because I love discussing this stuff with you all and I am just so excited for this release of new info! Hope you guys have an awesome weekend and I’ll talk to you again soon!

But before I go here’s a bonus picture of the new character (not seen in the trailer) Jannah!!! She looks freaking epic does she not!!!

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Revenge Of The Sith: A Mind At War

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I know I said this earlier this week you guys but I just have to repeat myself, I cannot believe we’re already in the third month of our countdown to Episode IX!!! I don’t know about you, but it’s been a hell of a lot of fun exploring these films one at a time, and Revenge of the Sith is one of my all-time favorites — because let’s be honest, it’s dramatic as hell and I live for that kind of over-the-top madness in my mythic lore! What really drives home the tone and emotion of this prequel finale is our fallen hero: Anakin Skywalker himself. The little boy who escaped slavery and devoted his life to the people of the galaxy and became the the young Jedi we’ve come to love and care for now has to die so that Vader can be born in his stead. His ultimate fate was known since the very beginning but now it’s time for him to finally fall beyond our outstretched fingers and plunge into the place where only true villains dwell. And dear god, does Hayden Christensen deliver an emotionally devastating performance.

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The Anakin we meet in the beginning  of Revenge of the Sith is definitely not the same as the reckless, eager-to-prove-himself-but-often-to-his-own-detriment one we left behind at the end of Attack of the Clones. A few years have passed and with the assurance of Padme’s love and support and a more confident and sedate maturity borne of experience and lessons learned, Anakin has settled in his role as a Jedi Knight despite the continued spite of the Masters of the Order. Within the first twenty minutes of the film we see Anakin calmly and resiliently save Obi-Wan’s life twice, council patience while urging greater kindness for those around him (specifically the clones and R2), and engage in combat with a previous enemy with far more control and level-headedness than was previously displayed. For all intents and purposes, Anakin has grown up into a kind, intelligent, compassionate human being and Star Wars goes to great lengths to establish that fact as soon as possible. So many fans and viewers identify Anakin as whiney, immature, and power-hungry but that’s not the character we’re given at all. That’s the Jedi’s tainted version of him, the propaganda slogan that’s hardwired into our perceptions as we watch our supposed heroes fall from grace. Yes, Anakin’s personality changes over the course of ROTS, and it’s important that we see it, but not for the reason so many of us think.

“I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate. You have anger. But you don’t use them.” — Count Dooku

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As I said, Anakin’s introduction in this film is as an unmistakable hero —  he saves his former Master from not only buzz-droids and a failing personal space-craft, but from being left behind unconscious on an enemy vessel, is willing to risk his own life and his Jedi-mandated mission to save the lives of his Clone troops, and even urges Obi-Wan to be kinder and more considerate to their droid companion and fan-favorite badass: R2-D2. This is a stark and immediate change from the nervous, uncomfortable-in-his-skin teenager we last saw — this is an adult and a leader taking charge to save lives. Lucas even goes so far as to show Anakin advocating patience instead of action, urging that they wait for help instead of surging ahead blindly fighting their way out of a situation… a far leap from the boy who rushed headlong into a fight against an unknown enemy and had the lower half of his arm sliced off within seconds. This is the man Anakin truly is, or is as close to that person as we’ll ever get without Jedi or fate involvement. This is Shmi’s son, the boy who thinks only of others, who knows nothing of greed, and who faced down almost certain death to help complete strangers stranded on a desert planet. This is the Anakin we mourn for when he makes that final fatal choice, and this is the Anakin that is stolen from us and from Padme by the Force itself.

“Something’s happening. I’m not the Jedi I should be.” — Anakin Skywalker

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But alongside this new maturity and growth is the sense that something is very wrong with our hero. We see it in brief flashes of unexplainable violence and even sense it in the quiet moments between he and Padme. The boy who spoke the truth of his feelings at every turn is suddenly more subdued, more uneasy with his thoughts and actions and words and doesn’t know what is happening to himself and the world around him. With each new outburst Anakin slowly begins shutting down, spiraling into himself, unsure of how to communicate what is happening inside of himself and no matter how he explains it to those around him, no one understands enough to actually help. Ultimately he is older, he is wiser, and sadly for him and everyone around him, he is closer than ever to succumbing to his fate.

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Moments after his defeat of Count Dooku, something unexplainable comes over our hero and in a fatal flash he beheads his unarmed opponent — to the urging of Chancellor Palpatine. It’s easy to dismiss this as evidence of Anakin’s already submissive state to his future Master of the darkside of the Force, but this shocking lack of control is shown directly after Dooku comments on Anakin’s refusal to connect to his darker and more human instincts. If Anakin was nothing more than a walking monster waiting to happen then there is no point in stating that he doesn’t fight with the most dangerous and effective aspects of himself, the audience would be all-too ready to watch Vader come out to play, but that’s the whole point. Vader is not wholly Anakin. Vader is the representation of the darkest part of Ani’s human nature and despite himself, his beliefs, and his own choices, that dark energy is being forced to manifest not only by the actions of those around him, but also by the Force itself. Anakin is destiny and fate made real. The Force has watched as it’s users misused it’s energy for thousands of years, as even the good fell prey to corruption and power-mongering and it has finally said enough… and sent Anakin to wipe clean the slate. These flashes are only the beginning of the Force making it’s will known.

“Something’s happening…”

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For Anakin, the small glimpse of happiness and peace that was granted to him is over. The Sith are taking over the government of the galaxy and the Jedi have proven complicit to their crimes, allying themselves with their mortal enemies to stave off the Force’s judgement, ultimately justifying the Force’s need to cleanse itself. Both the Jedi and the Sith are morally corrupt, tipping the scales towards intolerance, hostility, and even death. There is no balance to be found in the Force any longer, so Anakin must create it anew. But in doing so he will lose himself in the process because he is the balance. To wipe away the tarnished light, he will become darkness and death incarnate, and only when it’s time to destroy the dark will he find the light inside himself again. Until his fated task is complete, Anakin’s cries for help will go unheard and ultimately unanswered, even by the audience themselves. We can only watch, and suffer along with him, as he slowly descends into madness and step by painful step loses himself completely to the will of the Force.

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Nixxa And The General

You guys voted and the result was unanimous! So today I’m posting the first small snippet of my Star Wars themed story, Nixxa and the General, a collection of short stories about a stolen ship-rat who knows nothing but darkness and the menacing man who might just give her the galaxy… Now this isn’t exactly a fanfic because there are no cross-over characters or locales or anything, it’s just more of the basic setting and the sci-fi feel that I don’t usually work with (I’m a historical fantasy romance writer so space is a big change for me!) and FULL WARNING: this is a steamy story so it might be posted on A03 in full instead of my actual analytical blog, I haven’t quite decided yet, but if the response is positive then f*ck it, we’ll just post it here lol! So if you like the intro and want more on the blog itself be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Nixxa and the General

She lay across the bed, her heart beating like a siren in her ears. The silken wisps of silver-grey cloth they’d clothed her in glided across her newly scrubbed skin, touching her in a thousand intimate places yet leaving nothing truly covered. Not that there was any point in hiding her body now, she reasoned, her eyes flickering to the door as her breath quickened instinctively. When would he arrive? this man whose bed she now occupied, the stranger she’d been chosen and stolen for.

The man, whoever he was, would be someone of little importance. That much she knew. Anyone of consequence could afford the experienced beauties of the Courtesan Class, those beguiling women born and bred to give up their bodies in the most carnal fashion. Only men of the lower ranks, soldiers too poor to rise or too cheap to pay, stole women from the bowels of the Dark City. She’d known many who’d disappeared for a day, two, maybe three before returning with a few coins or bruises or stories to tell around the glow of the photon beams. It was too common an occurrence to be frightened of, but still, she’d never been taken. Until now. With hair the color of dirty grease and skin coated in twenty some-odd years of grime, she faded into the blackness of the Dark City effortlessly and was easily over-looked. Or so she thought.

She looked at the pale skin of her exposed wrist. She hadn’t known the color of her own skin until they’d stripped her bare and bathed her to within an inch of her life, scrubbing her places she never thought needed scrubbing. Plunging her in pools of water – actual glistening water – before dousing her with some sort of bubbly concoction that was supposed to clean her from the outside in while the drink they gave her worked from the inside out. She’d felt funny then, itchy as though a thousand insect legs crawled across her, inside her, eating away at something she hadn’t even known was there. Though once it passed, she felt better, stronger than she ever remembered feeling before. Then they’d started over, scrubbing, dousing, and cleaning every inch of her until someone pronounced her clean.

They’d then attacked her hair, meticulously brushing and drying it before pressing one more strange drink into her hand. It was white with a sharp bitter smell rising from the metal cup. She’d hesitated, but the woman giving the orders was unused to being questioned. Drink it, she ordered. She drank. This time it was a needle piercing her belly, penetrating into the very depth of her femininity and she understood without being told that she would produce no children in her lifetime. It was a sudden loss, and not one she felt too keenly, at least not yet. Perhaps she would feel differently when all this was over, but just now she had other things to occupy her thoughts beyond the thought of phantom children she’d never wanted.

Now she waited, alone with her own thoughts in this strange place, so far beyond the world she knew. He was no one, she reminded herself, no one. But the quiet splendor of the room, the softness of the bedding that molded to her, and the pleasing scent that still clung to her skin and hair spoke of wealth, and wealth inevitably led to position, even someone as lowly as she knew this. She wasn’t sure why, but this thought more than any other frightened her. Why would someone with means, with power want a ship-rat for a bedfellow? Who was waiting on the other side of that damnable door?

**********

The door of his chamber opened with a soft whir, illuminating the darkness within, the silence he craved, and the woman stretched across the far side of his bed. He paused, confused until he remembered ordering a woman to be brought to him this evening. He’d been in a temper  and spoke before thinking about the reality of coming home to a stranger in the only private space he had aboard this blasted starship. He bit back a groan, what the hell was he to do with her now. She couldn’t stay here. He wouldn’t allow her fear to contaminate this space, his space. Damn it.

A curt dismissal was on the tip of his tongue when she moved suddenly, rising up on one arm, watching him as he watched her. A dark nimbus of ebony hair fell in gentle waves around her face, sliding down her neck and spilling over her shoulders, a stark contrast to the otherwise paleness of her skin. But it was her eyes that grabbed him, silenced him even before he spoke. There was no fear in their depths, just curiosity, intelligence, recognition, and just the smallest portion of apprehension. She knew him, or knew of him, and still there was no fear. One black brow raised questioningly and he realized he was still in the doorway staring. He stepped inside and the door closed behind him, taking the light with it, plunging them into absolute pitch. Only the darkness wasn’t complete, she marred it, radiating light from her crystalline skin. Stars, but he could see every inch of her.

A familiar tightening pulled from the pit of his stomach. With a silent growl he strode further into the room, tired of feeling like a stranger in his own chambers. She didn’t stir, but watched him. Let her watch. She’d get nothing from him. Let her watch.

 

Alright guys, make sure to let me know if you want more Nixxa and the General on the Whimsical Mutterings page!

The Journey Continues: Revenge Of The Sith

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It was an epic year of high school firsts and personal discoveries, of big victories and small failures, and over-all great change in the weeks and months leading up to the release of Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith. And throughout it all, my house was chock-full of minutely detailed fan-theories and wide-eyed conspiracy theories regarding the final fate our galactic heroes and supposed villains. I remember having countless detailed conversations with my dad as to what exactly was going to make Anakin turn to the darkside and become Darth Vader. We all figured it had something to do with Padme dying since we’d all seen what happened with his mother and the rage that lurked beneath the surface, especially considering he loved her so intensely and she definitely wasn’t in the originals. so as sad as it was, it was a safe bet that our badass Queen turned Senator was going to be taken from us somehow. But by whom? How? And why? These were the million-dollar questions and dear god did we have some crazy ideas.

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Looking back at it all, the entire lead-up to the release was completely nerve-wracking and thrilling – the stakes had never been so high for me before with regards to a movie franchise. The only thing that came close was waiting for each new Harry Potter book (and let me tell you was a whole-other level of stress, especially after The Goblet of Fire), but Star Wars was something I had literally been born into, I had lived and breathed with theses character and their stories my entire life, and now with this final episode on the horizon, we were going to be given the answers to every question we as fans had ever asked ourselves. What were we going to do with ourselves once it was all over?!

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I remember when the Sunday paper released the first detailed images of Episode III and Anakin, I was eating breakfast with my family at one of our favorite diners and I just couldn’t take my eyes off the haunting image of Ani surrounded by the black and red of Mustafar. This was it… it was actually finally happening. The Anakin I had fallen in love with over the last two films was about to face the thing that was going to break him, that was going to turn him from the bright happy boy who loved an amazing woman, to the black-clad mechanical monster that terrorized the galaxy. I was going to be with him every step of the way, but this was a perilous journey and I knew we weren’t all going to make it through to the other side. I was almost 16, and this was the first time I had to let a character go. I’d known going in that there was no saving him, but over the course of two films and six years, I had forgotten somehow that Anakin was not mine to keep. That I had to give him back to fate so that he could become the villain he was meant to be. Because the end of his story had already been told, it was the cliffhanger of a middle that was about to be revealed.

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When the film finally soared into theaters May 19th 2005 my parents, my little brother, and I took our seats and I held my breath. This was the last time we wouldn’t know the whole story…or so we thought. It didn’t surprise me to learn that I had been right, that it was the loss of Padme, or rather the fear of losing her, that lead Anakin down the darkest of paths, but I was blown away by how intense every second of the film was. I cried in anguish as Anakin made that fatal decision to leave the Jedi temple to stop Mace Windu from arresting Palpatine, and then again in horror as he marched back into the temple to wreck the destruction of Darth Vader. That scene shocked me more than any other. My Anakin was gone, I had watched him leave, watched him blur into Darth Vader before my very eyes, and no amount of begging and pleading from either Padme or myself could get him to stop and come back to the light. I left the theater stunned and absolutely amazed, telling those waiting in line for the next showing that they were in for a heck of an emotional roller-coaster!

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Fourteen years later and I still feel utter shock and devastation every time I watch Revenge of the Sith. Every time Anakin stands alone in the temple, feeling the weight of Padme’s life on his shoulders I want to scream at him not to leave, not to make this horrible decision. Even as I’ve gotten older and my love of the Jedi Order has faded into a much harsher viewpoint, I still find myself wishing that Anakin could have found another way, that he had just waited for Obi-Wan or something, I don’t even know what really! But his fate was sealed long before his birth, and this was the path the Force set him upon and no amount of tears or wishes was going to keep him from bring balance to the galaxy in the most brutal way possible.

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And in the end that’s what makes this film so epic and timeless. No matter how much time has passed since its original release, fans still find themselves interacting with the moments playing out onscreen, hoping time and again that this time the story changes, that this time Anakin makes a different choice. We sit there entranced as the events unfold before us, the way that they always have ever since 2005 and still we can’t help but have hope. Hope that this time, we can rewrite the story, that we can defy fate. Hope that this time, maybe if we’re strong enough, we can reach through the Force and save the characters we’ve come to love.

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End Of The Month Review: Attack Of The Clones

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I can’t believe the second month of our year-long countdown to Star Wars Episode IX has come and gone my fellow SW fans and we’re already gearing up for round three! We’ve happily spent the past two months together exploring the fandom and breaking down the themes, characters, and meaning behind the first two films in the Skywalker saga: The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones – and I don’t know about you, but I feel like we covered some hella fun topics along the way!

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Before we jump headlong into Revenge of the Sith and all its epic heartbreak and darkness, I figured it’s only fitting to tie up our experience with AOTC with a little end of the month review! So, if you’ve missed any of March’s posts or are new to Whispered Mutterings in general, now’s the perfect time to explore the site and get all caught up before Episode III begins! Thanks for coming on this Star Wars journey with me – thank you for every view, like, comment, and share. You guys are amazing, and you make SW and the fandom amazing too!

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May the Force be with you ❤

February’s Attack Of The Clones Posts:

The Journey Continues: Attack Of The Clones

AOTC: The Last Rays of Light

AOTC: Stolen Moments And A Splintered Soul

AOTC: Master and Padawan

AOTC: An Unholy Alliance

AOTC: Naboo — The End Of The Fairytale

AOTC: Once Upon A Cautionary Tale

AOTC: A Voice Of Reason In The Darkness

AOTC: Shades Of Morality

AOTC: Fallen Heroes

Bonus Posts:

Delving into Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow

Star Wars Book Review: Queen’s Shadow

Top 11 Revelations From Queen’s Shadow!!!

A (possible) Star Wars Story

Attack Of The Clones: Fallen Heroes

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“I’m a Jedi… I know I’m better than this…” — Anakin Skywalker

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is beginning of the dark fall for the Force’s Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. No longer the sweet, eager child that we first met on Tattooine, restrictive and emotionally suffocating dogma paired with constant suspicion and unrelenting correction have left our once-happy Ani with tattered nerves, shaken confidence, and the overwhelming will to prove himself. Often coming across as grandiose or whiney, Anakin’s dramatic shift in mood and temperament is a cry for help that remains unheard. The ground beneath his feet is crumbling, he knows something is wrong and everyone casts the blame in his direction. No one hears him save for Obi-Wan, who’s terrified and misunderstood help only exacerbates the problem, and Padme, the woman and influence he is not permitted to have. The Jedi don’t care if Anakin is floundering, they’ve built up an army to protect themselves against him, and Palpatine knows his best time to strike is when Anakin is at his lowest point.

“Young Skywalker is in pain. Terrible pain.” — Master Yoda

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Empathic by nature, Anakin is struggling right from the beginning of the film, with nerves, anxiety, and even nightmares – reoccurring dreams centered around the one person who he loves most in the galaxy, the person whose guidance and wisdom he is struggling to hold onto… his mother. Are the dreams a message from his own consciousness, alert to the fact that his mother is in peril, or are they sent by the darkside, by Palpatine to terrorize a child with the one thing he fears the absolute most? I’m not sure myself, but both instances have merit and either way, no matter their source, Anakin is being slowly and methodically tortured, every night, every day with the possibility that the person who loves him most might be taken from him more than she already has been. And having lived ten years surrounded by people who don’t trust him and blatantly do not want him amongst them, Shmi is one of the only people in Anakin’s young life who he truly feels safe with, who he knows truly loves him. Either he abandons her to her fate and must live with the knowledge that he has done so or he must go to her and in doing so prove himself unworthy of being a Jedi. The fact that he chooses his mother over the Jedi goes to show just how loving and pure Ani is at his heart, and how twisted and dangerous the Jedi mentality is when love is turned into an enemy.

“I know I’m disobeying my mandate to protect you Senator, but I have to go. I have to help her!”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have a choice.” — Anakin Skywalker

In the end, Anakin spends the length of AOTC apologizing for his actions, to Obi-Wan, to Padme, his mother… everyone he holds dear and cares about. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s an endless stream of apologies and the desperate need for forgiveness. He is drowning in the unceasing waves of fate, reaching out for some sort of lifeline and the only person who reaches back is Padme, and she keeps him above water…for a time. Because no matter how romantic the notion, one person is not strong enough to bear the weight of another for a lifetime unaided. Had Yoda and the other Jedi put aside their fear and rallied around Anakin, determined to at least let him know that they were there for him, that they appreciated him, Anakin might have survived. They all might have survived. But they didn’t. And that’s why they had to fall, why the Force sent Anakin to live this unbelievably hard and unfairly painful life, because the Jedi were not as they should be. The balance was skewed.

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And with the last episode of the Skywalker saga looming on the horizon, we find ourselves back on similar ground…with a boy, a girl, and a choice. Even before his birth Ben Solo was being hunted, his mind invaded by Snoke (a fact we learn from the Aftermath trilogy), and with our knowledge of Snoke’s maniacal cruelty, it is safe to assume that in one fashion or another, Ben was being tortured from the inside out… just like his grandfather. There has been little released regarding Ben as a child and no doubt that is purposeful, but we do know is that his parents sent him away to Luke because “there was too much Vader in him” and they kept the truth of his heritage a secret (Bloodline) which leads to the loneliness, isolation, and fear that Anakin endured at the same age.

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It’s little wonder that Ben became Kylo, that after enduring the same things his grandfather did, that they shared the same fate. If anything that teaches us that how you treat someone has a direct correlation to how they treat themselves and the world around them. Ben and Anakin were made to feel dangerous, they were treated with suspicion by those who should have loved them most and that isolation and fear of am I am bad person? drove them to disaster. And much like Padme before her, we now have Rey, a beacon of love and hope standing in Kylo’s path, the only one who hears the cries of help in the darkness. And valiantly, she does try to save him, but this time our heroine has some darkness of her own that she has to face, this time the journey is not completely one-sided. Rey and Kylo both need to be saved to some extent, they have reached out to each other, across time, the galaxy, and a war, but like Anakin and Padme they are not enough to save the other alone.

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This is where I hope the story of Star Wars has been leading us, to the lesson that still hasn’t been learned yet… that it isn’t enough to call yourself a hero. You have to actually be one. Poe, Finn, Rose, the Resistance itself needs to do what the Jedi failed to do which is show compassion, forgiveness, and the determination to let go of their own fears and prejudices in the effort to help someone they perceive to be an enemy. They need to be real heroes, not battle victors, and act with the qualities they so loudly proclaim to defend. This time if the lightside is going to win the day they need to deserve it, they need to have earned it, and do what the Council of Jedi Masters failed to do: act with decency and love. This time, they need to be worthy.

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Attack Of The Clones: Shades Of Morality

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“Clear your mind must be, if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot.” – Yoda

Earlier this month we discussed the political nature of the Jedi and the origins of the Grand Army of the Republic – those genetically modified soldiers better known as the Clone Army, who were created to “protect” the republic until Order 66 had them turning their weapons on their Jedi Generals, effectively setting the stage for a Sith-ruled galactic empire. We delved into great detail discussing the creation of the army and the motivation behind it, both for the Jedi and the Sith, but that was only half the story for these expendable clone warriors and our “beloved” Jedi knights.

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Despite the metaphorical elephant in the room, the Star Wars films never openly discuss the questionable morality of our heroes using living beings as disposable fodder for war while the supposed bad-guys make use of engineered mechanical droids. Tabling the question of whether droids do in fact have life, because that’s a whole other post in it’s own, the fact of the matter is that our kind and compassionate, peacekeeping Jedi heroes – who won’t even send a force beyond two men to stave off the annihilation of the peoples of Naboo – suddenly have no words of wisdom against or qualms about being given millions of lives to fight a war that in all honestly they have no right to even be in.

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Although trained in combat since their youth, the Jedi Order are renowned peacekeepers, only fighting when absolutely necessary. But yet, by the end of AOTC they are not only fighting in, but leading, an army of genetically engineered, living and breathing men, in a political war. But why? Their allegiance is to the people of the galaxy…not the government. Right? And you can say they’re fighting to keep the Empire and all it’s evil from rising but if that’s the case then they failed utterly, and moreover, there is no conceivable way that Yoda sat two feet from Palpatine and didn’t realize the level of darkness emanating from the master of the Sith himself.

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In the end, whether or not the government is a Republic, an Empire, or something else entirely, the Jedi are not supposed to takes sides – because if that’s not the case then why is there still mass corruption and slavery on planets like Tattooine? If the Jedi have enough stake in the political arena to go to war over planets leaving the Republic and are willing to risk millions of clone lives to enforce that decision, then why do they not have enough stake or motivation to confront star systems that allow people like Shmi and Anakin to endure slavery, degradation, and the constant threat of death?

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The Jedi Masters are more than willing to allow the Senate to decide when and how to deal – or not deal – with these injustices in the galaxy, but why allow such darkness to flourish if their purpose is to preserve and fight for the light? Why not fight for the enslaved mothers and fathers and children of Tattooine? Why not fight to liberate the people of the Naboo when its peaceful citizens were being tortured and mutilated? Amidala begged and fought and risked her own life to ask for help and unmoved, the Jedi still refused to send more than two men to help.

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“Now that they’re extinct, the Jedi are romanticized, deified. But if you strip away the myth and look at their deeds, the legacy of the Jedi is failure. Hypocrisy, hubris.” – Luke Skywalker

By their inaction, their refusal to risk their lives to help those truly in need, the Jedi Order failed Padme Amidala, they failed Shmi Skywalker, and they failed even their own proclaimed Chosen One: Anakin Skywalker. Their lives were more important than others and they did not feel compelled to risk so much, but given an army of non-Force users, they are surprisingly quick to lead an army into a war that they have no place in. Ultimately, surrounded by replaceable troops of clone men, Jedi lives are in very little danger and they are suddenly comfortable with sending men to die for a cause that they wouldn’t send more than two of their own to defend before. And we proclaim them as our heroes. They are who we strive to be.

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It’s little wonder the Force itself sent Anakin to redress the issue.

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A (possible) Star Wars Story

Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I hope you’re having a delightful day — especially since there appears to have been some promotional leaks abounding on twitter regarding Episode IX 😀 Now I’m not one for massive spoilers myself, and in all honestly I didn’t get much out of the “leak” whether it was real or not, but it brought a lot of excitement to the fandom so yay for that!

Now down to tonight’s post… I’m going to level with you — I tried, but it just wasn’t happening. No matter how much I sat down and stared at the open Word doc, the words just were not flowing. And instead of freaking out, I’m choosing to find another option for when this invariably happens again — because let’s be real, even if you love something to distraction, you’re going to falter every now and then. It happens — or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

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Now I know my Whimsical Muttering’s family isn’t familiar with my creative writing efforts because that’s all usually posted on my moonstonemaiden blog, but I do have a Star Wars-esque story that I’ve been working on for sometime that I’ve been debating sharing nor not anyway, so my question for you guys is this: would you be interested in a reoccurring creative piece that would be updated on those days where I don’t want to disappoint by not posting anything, but the analytical muse is just not cooperating with me? No worries if it’s not something that interests you, I just want to make sure the site continues to grow and expand and has something to offer to everyone, even myself when I just need a helping hand 😀

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So if your don’t mind, make sure to vote and let me know what you think and thank you guys so much for taking this epic Star Wars journey with me! Even though I stumble from time to time, I’m having so much fun breaking down this story and finding incredible new SW truths with you all!!!  ❤ Tara

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