Within the last several months a dialogue has risen in the Star Wars fandom about this new term “gray Jedi.” Just like most speculation, it’s born in the bowels of some discussion forums or social media platform. There, it builds up enough awareness that eventually a clickbait lighthouse rises from the shore, shining its beacon for internet entertainment publications to hone in on. Those writers rush to the light, pick up this devilry and run it up the masts for all to see. Then, unfortunately, and unscrupulously, it ends up in the Hollywood Trades giving many of us a headache in our eye.
As I watched The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration last week, I was struck by the noticeable lack of a certain character. No, it was not the purposeful dearth of Darkside characters or even the missing mysterious new additions played by the extremely talented Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern. My ultimate disappointment was caused by the absence of the best pilot in the resistance, the always witty and charming, Mr. Poe Dameron himself, Oscar Isaac.
Oscar Isaac’s absence was distressing on multiple fronts. First, it was a lost opportunity to have another hilarious and engaging (not to mention handsome) guest on the highly anticipated panel. And of course, it signals a potential departure from his status as a leading figure in the Skywalker Saga. While nothing has been officially confirmed and there are many reasons for him not to attend Celebration, there is always plenty to speculate. Furthermore, the addition of newcomer Kelly Marie Tran with a prominent role in the resistance presents an opportunity to reduce Poe to a side figure permanently.
So in this, my moment of despair, I make a plea to the forces that be– we NEED MO’ POE.
The air is cold and the floor scattered with bodies in what feels like a job of war correspondence embedded in an over-joyous makeshift refugee camp. The attendance for this sleep-over of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel didn’t disappoint. Within hours, hundreds lined up wrapping themselves around the sprawling complex. With gear in tow, I found my first spot, and within moments the new friends and memories began. First was meeting some outrageously cool people Hallie, Elizabeth, and Gary. The former, part of the impressive ensemble from Blabba The Hutt podcast. Conversations about the day’s events took over, and we found ourselves happy in our little ecosystem floating along a line paved in concrete. Hours later we would finally proceed past security and into the sleep-over waiting area which would be our home for the next 13 hours.
During the future filmmaker’s panel at last’s year Star Wars Celebration London convention, Lucasfilm Executive Pablo Hidalgo asked the Director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson what films were his inspiration for the next chapter of our saga. That panel was one of the golden moments of the festivities during that week that educated and inspired attendees to think beyond Star Wars and dive into the art of storytelling. Rian responded with six films that he felt were so important for his vision of Star Wars: The Last Jedi that he encouraged the production staff to watch them as well before cameras started rolling. The films, Twelve O’Clock High (1949), 2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), 4. Letter Never Sent (1960), Gunga Din (1939), Sahara (1943) was the challenge laid down by Rian Johnson, and one that we were eager to accept.
The goal of this challenge is to understand storytelling better so that I could be a better viewer and critic. Not only in its business and mechanics but in its different styles of prose and techniques used to elicit feelings from the audience. My aim is to learn and drown myself in the lessons of storytelling to be a better viewer and listener. I want to dive into the deep end of the pool and learn from the masters who craft the stories we love. If Rian Johnson believed these films are important enough for the production crew, then they are equally important for this blogger and his respectable readership.
The chasm that divides the lovers and haters of Star Wars Rebels is far and profound. After the great upswing of season one, the steep fall and recovery of season two and now a skyrocketing season three, the breath that divides those two groups hopefully has changed. I am guilty of this pendulum swing as many others in the fandom. I enjoyed season one and had a rocky relationship with the series in the mid portion of season two. So much so that I wrote an editorial at the time that I felt was constructive, but was a tad scathing. Like a tiger taking a swipe of your bare back. It was one of those written pieces that you think about now and again and wished you didn’t.
A big part of my coming home to Jesus moment for this series was the sink in realization that this is a show for children that adults could enjoy. When you put on your magical turn into nine years old glasses, the series is a phenomenal achievement that surpasses anything else in that entertainment space. Whether from the superheroes of Marvel to even the fighting tigers of Voltron, nothing comes close to the visual eye candy, story depth and character portrayals provided by Star Wars Rebels. This couldn’t be more evident in the season three capper.
In today’s finale “Zero Hour” we witness what I have been clamoring for in the Star Wars Galaxy for a long time, the feeling of pure unadulterated dread. The gleaming white of the Empire is but a reflection of your pretty face after all the blood is drawn out. Even in this Y-7 childrens animation show, the fear and hopelessness should be pushed to the point where Mickey Mouse covers his eyes. In this season-ender, we get lucky as it’s a dreaded coated episode with dreaded filling.