Empire’s End: Cowards, Fake Deaths and The Galactic Hatch

A few months before the release of The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm published Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath, the biggest storytelling element in the ‘Road to TFA.’

Aftermath wasn’t received that well. Mostly because fans were expecting to hear about the further adventures of Han, Luke, Leia and Wicket. Instead, those and other main characters were on the periphery, while Aftermath focused on a group of rebels (and recent converts to the cause). It wasn’t a bad book (although it did have a few too many fake deaths), but it wasn’t what people wanted.

The second book, Life Debt, was better by every standard. Han and Leia were main characters again, the main plot was more developed and the new characters actually had a history.

Empire's End

The final volume in the trilogy, Empire’s End, was released last week and is the best of the three. It really puts an end to the Empire (even if a small group goes off to form the First Order) and brings the story to a close for most of the new characters we met. While Luke is mentioned only a few times, there’s appearances from Han and Leia and cameos from other Original Trilogy mainstays. And Jar Jar.

But there were a few things about the book that I want to call out, probably not any deserving of a post on their own, but I’d have more to say here than I could get away with on Twitter.

And away we go…

Most Disappointing Development

Senator Jebel is alive.

Who is Senator Jebel? This guy:

Senator Jebel

That’s guy from Rogue One who wants to surrender after learning of the Death Star. The most cowardly character in the entire Star Wars universe. I’m no fan of Ki-Adi Mundi, but as big an idiot as the unfortunately-headed Jedi is, at least he rushes head-first into battle.

Jebel, on the other hand, probably went into hiding right after the Yavin Conference and only came out when it was apparent the second Death Star was long gone. And then he was the first to take his shirt off and got the most drunk and crazy at the victory party. And here he is in Empire’s End being horrible. I suppose his still being alive is proof that not every story has a happy ending.

Lando is Still the Man

Lando Calrissian returns for his second (so-far) post-Jedi appearance, getting ready to re-establish his business on Cloud City. In between talking down some stubborn Imperials and trying to decide what to get Han and Leia for their soon-to-be-born child, Lando decides to hire some refugees. Because they’ll need work, he’ll need employees and it’s the right thing to do.

And Lando suggests getting little baby Solo a little mustache and cape. Which Lobot shoots down.

Think of how differently TFA would have been had Lobot just said ‘great idea boss!’

My Snoke Theory Sucks

General MadineAs mentioned earlier, one of the failings of the first book was the overreliance on faking character deaths. Near the end of the second book, an attack by brainwashed Rebels kills several characters, including General Crix Madine (who also died one of the chumpiest deaths in Legends chronology). But there was one line that suggested that maybe Madine was still alive.

I was holding out hope for this. That at some point in Empire’s End, Madine and his awesome beard would come out, guns-a-blazin, having faked his death and ready to singlehandedly win the Battle of Jakku.

It didn’t happen.

Madine is still dead.

Or maybe he’s still faking his death and it will be revealed that he’s Snoke after all.

Nope, Snoke Wasn’t Him Either

Before the release of Empire’s End,  my money was on Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax being Snoke, Supreme Leader of the First Order. Rax was hidden away during the Empire only to take command sometime after the Battle of Endor. There was a line in Life Debt that made it seem like Rax could use the Force. This, plus the Jakku connection made me think that Rax was Snoke.

Well, he didn’t have the Force. And Rax died. So we’ll have to keep looking. But what Rax did do is get the strongest (in his view) of the Empire out of the galaxy to set up what would become the First Order, led by Admiral Rae Sloane (one of the best characters of the new canon). Sloane is joined by a very young (soon to be) General Hux and his army of killer children.

Galli’s In The Hatch

After being recruited by Sheev Palpatine as a kid, Galli Rax spent his early years doing the Emperor’s dirty work on the planet of Jakku. We learn in Empire’s End that meant staffing and protecting the Observatory, an underground facility on Jakku with a bunch of computers that controlled when and how energy was vented from the planet. If the energy was not vented, then the planet and things orbiting the planet would be destroyed.

So Galli was basically Desmond Hume.

And the Observatory was the galactic version of the Swan Station.

No wonder I like this book.

Rax, I’ll see you in another life brotha.

Snoke and The Future of the Dark Side

Appropriately, The Force Awakens relaunched the Star Wars franchise with some new mysteries. One of the big ones being who is this Snoke character and what is his connection to the Force?

The movie itself doesn’t say much about who Snoke is. But he has some control of the Force and seduced Kylo Ren to the Dark Side. It’s clear that he’s not a Sith like Emperor Palpatine or Darth Vader, but a whole new type of Dark Side user.


The new Star Wars novel Aftermath: Life Debt introduces a character who many believe is an earlier version of Snoke. The Star Wars Post lays out a great case for why Gallius Rax is Snoke. Going along with this theory and looking at some clues from the first Aftermath novel could fill in more about where Snoke’s tie to the Dark Side.

In Aftermath, during a conversation between some of the remaining leaders of the Empire, Tashu, who at one point served as advisor to The Emperor, says they must look Palpatine’s beliefs for inspiration:

We must instead move toward the dark side. Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our maps was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and women beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds.

In Life Debt, Palpatine was doing some excavation on Jakku, home to Galli, later Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. Galli stows away on a ship departing Jakku and meets Palpatine, who tells him:

You will go back to Jakku. The spot there in the dirt where my droids were operating is precious. Not just to me, but to the galaxy at large…It is significant. It was significant a thousand years ago and it will be significant again. You will go back there and you will monitor my droids excavating the ground. Then I will send more droids and they will build something there below the ground.

And where was Jakku?

It lies at the margins of the Western Reaches, flung so far into the galaxy [Admiral Rae Sloane is] not really sure if they’re even in the galaxy anymore. The system is close to Unknown Space—the uncharted end of the galaxy, beyond which lurk terrible nebula storms and gravity wells. Those who have tried to traverse the space outside the galaxy have never returned, though distorted, half-missing communications have come back—messages warning of geomagnetic anomalies and slashing plasma winds.

Putting the two books together a case can be made that the power on Jakku preceded the Sith. That it came from whatever was outside the galaxy that gave the Dark Side its power. And because he was so close to it through his formative years, Galli/Rax learned this power himself.

If Palpatine did teach Galli (in the book, he refers to the boy as a friend) some of the ways of the Dark Side, it’s possible that Galli combined these teachings with what he learned from whatever was on Jakku (or outside the Galaxy). It would be these teachings combined: the ways of the Sith and the ancient secrets of the Dark Side  to present the galaxy with a new, evolved Dark Side threat.

Personally, I like the idea of an extra-galactic threat. They messed it up in the old Legends canon (“Oh, they just sense the Force at a different frequency”), but it seems as if now, the Star Wars Story Group is planning these things out and not making them up as they go along.

Of course, if Rax isn’t Snoke than this is all just a crazy theory. But there are plenty of those to go around.

Who Did General Madine Piss Off?

The following contains a spoiler for Aftermath: Life Debt, which was released this week

Growing up, one of my favorite Star Wars action figures (well, one of 15 or so favorites) was the General Madine figure. 

Madine was the guy in Return of the Jedi who developed the plan for Han Solo to lead a team of commandos to take out the Death Star shield generator. I don’t know if it was that he had the coolest beard this side of a hipster convention, or that his figure’s accessory was a battle staff, but Madine certainly commanded my attention. 

Like other characters, Madine’s backstory was expanded in the post-Jedi Expanded Universe. In the Star Wars Role Playing Game, it was explained he was a high-ranking Imperial who defected. In the Dark Forces video game, the player rescued him from the Empire. And then in the 1995 novel Darksaber, Madine was killed. By a Hutt. While on a mission to stop the construction of a bootleg Death Star. 

Madine was one of the first characters with a speaking role in a Star Wars movie to be killed off in the then-Expanded Universe. After Disney bought Lucasfilm, they announced all ancillary material was invalid (no longer an Expanded Universe, but now Legends), giving Madine, Chewbacca and all the other characters who suffered lame deaths a second chance at life.

Madine was mentioned in the Shattered Empire comic series. But he didn’t last much longer after that. In Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt, Madine gets three mentions, all short and none good, especially the last:

They killed members of the New Republic government, too. Madine is rumored to be dead.

Maybe the “rumored” part is setting up something else for the future. But it doesn’t sound good. At least in Darksaber, Madine went down fighting. In Life Debt, he was shot watching a parade.

It’s not like Madine had a one-word part in a Star Wars movie. He passed along some major exposition to set up the Empire’s downfall. But in both the Legends and new canon universes, authors killed him off swiftly. 

In a universe with as many characters and spanning as large a timeline like Star Wars, sure, characters are going to die. In Darksaber, Madine had a good death in a bad book. In Life Debt, he had a bad death in a good book. 

Oh well. At least they gave him an awesome action figure. 

The Four(ce) is With Luke

Each day I have a conversation with my son Luke.

He tells me he’s a Jedi.

He tells me he’s a Wookiee.

But he’s quite insistent that he is not a Wookiee Jedi.


Because he’s never seen a Wookiee Jedi in any of the Star Wars movies.

Luke turned four and his knowledge of Star Wars scares inspires me. He can make Star Wars jokes. He can quote lines of dialogue. And he loves to point out errors in his Star Wars books (of which there are plenty).

But Luke’s abilities this past year have not just grown in relation to Star Wars. He’s a lot better able to carry on a conversation. He can tell stories and jokes. He can clean up after himself. He’s going to school every day and he likes it. For the most part.

I hope this next year is a good one for him. And that he eventually gets to see a Wookiee Jedi in a Star Wars movie.

Hope’s Sixth Crazy Year

I feel it says something that Hope’s sixth and fifth birthday posts are on the same page.

Well, it’s been a busy year. Since Hope’s last birthday, she:

  • Went to the beach for the first time
  • Went to her first Weezer concert
  • Started Kindergarten
  • Learned to read
  • Learned to write
  • Has become a regular helper in the kitchen
  • Has seen her first Star Wars movie in the theater (six times)

So yeah, she’s growing and becoming this awesome little person who’s fun to hang out with (and is already asking me when the next Weezer concert is).

Happy Birthday, Hope!

Returning to the Galaxy Far Far Away

When I was five years old, I anxiously awaited the arrival of Return of the Jedi to the movie theater. And I wanted to fly the Millennium Falcon.

Thirty-two years later, I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sequel to Return of the Jedi to the movie theater. And I still want to fly the Millennium Falcon.

As the release date of Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens gets closer, the hype keeps increasing. I was a fan during the dark times of the late 80s and early 90s. I couldn’t wait to see the prequels. But that was different. We knew where the Star Wars story was going. The prequels were all history. The story ended (discounting Expanded Universe) with Return of the Jedi.

Now, here we are, 30 days out from the debut of the official continuation of the Star Wars saga. A new entity owns the Star Wars universe and has big, long-term plans for the saga and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve read a few articles recently similar to one published in Wired, which claimed that the story is ongoing, I’ll never see its end.  You know what? I’m fine with that. Star Wars has been a huge part of my life. It’s fueled my imagination and taught me to dream and to be an optimist. It’s been with me throughout good times and bad. And I’m happy the story won’t be ending. I’m happy that I’ll be able to share it with my kids.

The next 30 days can’t go by quickly enough.

The Birthday Luke’s Been Waiting For

Don’t tell my son Luke this, but his third birthday is today.

He’s keenly aware of the fact that he’s three. It’s just, according to him, he’s been in birthday mode for a few weeks. It all started a few weeks ago, when we were talking about birthdays and telling him his birthday is coming up, to which he replied that that day was his birthday. That led to him repeatedly singing “Happy Birthday” to himself. In an effort to have some fun with him, I told him that day was my birthday and started to sing to myself. He promptly cut me off, looked me in the eye and said “Happy birthday to not you.”

Every time since then, whether it was in a restaurant where the wait staff sang to a customer or at the zoo where we passed someone telling a kid happy birthday, Luke has told me that that day was his birthday. I’ve dreaded/anticipated the follow-up, him going up to the person and giving them a “happy birthday to not you,” but mercifully, that hasn’t happened. Thankfully, he’s kept that to just me. So it makes me feel special.

Anyway, happy birthday, Luke!

Happy Birthday Hope!

Happy birthday to Jedi Knight*, mermaid* and the snappiest dresser in her family, Hope.

Just today, Hope and I were gardening- she was actually helping me put some plants in the ground and I thought to myself it’s amazing that she’s not just mimicking me, she’s actually performing a task. And I realized how much trouble I’m in now that I have a five year old on my hands.

The past year has been a blast. And looking back at last year’s Hope birthday entry, there is an item to update- Hope has seen all six Star Wars movies, so we’re ahead of schedule on that**. Nice to know I’m doing one of these parenting things right.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the next year. And not just because I’ll be watching a new Star Wars movie in the theaters with one of my children.

Happy birthday, Hope!

Hope is five


**going to have to write about this sometime.

Only Kids Can Make Bad Jokes Funny

Yesterday I was drying Hope off after bath time. She was complaining that the towel was too rough, so I told her the old joke about the guy and his talking dog. If you’re not familiar with it, here it is:

A guy has a talking dog and brings it to a talent scout. “This dog can talk!” he says. “Okay, Spike, what’s on the top of a house?” “Roof!” the dog replies. The agent grumbles. The guy then asks the dog “what does sandpaper feel like?” “Rough!” the dog answers. The talent agent tells the guy he has one more chance or he’ll throw the guy and his dog out in the street. “No, hang on,” the guy says. “This one will amaze you. ” He turns and asks the dog: “Who was the greatest home run hitter of all time?” “Ruth!” goes the dog. The talent scout boots them out of his office onto the street. And the dog turns to the guy and says “You think I should have said Hank Aaron?”

Hope clearly didn’t get the joke. But she laughed.

A few minutes later she asked if we could tell the joke together, with her supplying the dog’s answer. I said yes, so we told it to The Civee and Luke. The joke went normally, with her going “Roof” and “Rough.” But when I asked “Who was the greatest home run hitter of all time?”, she replied ” Derek Jeter.”

She may very well be funnier than I am.