Tag Archives: telekinesis

Book Review: Forerunner Foray by Andre Norton

Image result for forerunner foray by andre norton

And we are back in one of Andre Norton’s amazing stories, readers! Today’s title is one of her space novels, Forerunner Foray. This story focuses on a girl with the talent of psychometry.   For those of you who do not know, psychometry is the ability of someone with extrasensory abilities to see the history of any object they touch. The “sniffers” in the film Push are psychometrics. They touch an object, handle it, and can tell who used it before they picked it up. There are other characters in other stories that can do the same thing. Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos, for example, was a psychometric. This was not through any special skill of his in the Force but due to an inherent ability in his humanoid species.

Parapsychology and telepathy are standbys of Andre Norton novels, which you probably know by now, readers. Forerunner Foray is set in the far future, on a world called Korwar. A pleasure world, the wealthy come here to play, while the poor live in a place amid the splendor called the Dipple.

The Dipple began life as a “temporary” refuge for people fleeing some sort of war – or series of wars – in the galaxy. Gradually it turned into a permanent camp of poor people. It is a little like the Undercity on Taris in the Knights of the Old Republic game. If you are sent down there, you stay there, unless you are only visiting. No one born in the Dipple ever gets out on their own, either.

Ziantha was lucky. Her telepathic talent and psychometric ability attracted the attention of one of the highest members of the Thieves’ Guild: Yasa, a feline/humanoid Salarika. Yasa plucked Ziantha out of the Dipple and had her taught everything she needed to know to become a skilled thief. Because of this and the oath Ziantha took to become part of the Guild, Yasa as good as owns her.

At first, though, Ziantha does not really seem to mind this. Especially as she goes on her first major “foray” into the apartments of a member of the Guild who was kicked off-world. Yasa wants some information from the data cubes this guy keeps in his treasure rooms. What is the safest way to get the information without his knowledge? Psychometric readings.

So Ziantha is sent to retrieve the information on these cubes. She gets in safely, finds the cubes, “downloads”’ the information from them into her mind, and heads out…

Only to stop by a table filled with, presumably, other valuable artifacts. I say presumably because the one which has caught Ziantha’s mental eye is a nondescript lump of clay or stone. Whatever this thing is, it is dragging her attention toward it.

Ziantha reaches out to touch it, then snatches her hand back. These apartments and rooms are the property of a head honcho in the Thieves’ Guild. Just because the government caught him in illegal dealings and kicked him off of Korwar does not mean the booby traps littering his residence have been deactivated. If she so much as touches that object, she could set off an alarm.

And so Ziantha does not pick the object up as she desires. She instead escapes back to Yasa’s villa and delivers the information safely. The mission is so successful that Yasa promises Ziantha whatever she wants as a reward. While considering this in her rooms, Ziantha realizes that what she really wants is that lump of clay.

So she goes back to get it – and the adventure begins.

Forerunner Foray is a complicated story. You have to follow Ziantha carefully or you will get lost as her adventures take her out of herself and, perhaps, even out of time. During the course of her adventures, she learns what she is really made of – and what it means to be free.

That’s all you will be getting out of me, people! If you want to know more, then you will have to go on your own “foray” to find a copy of this novel to peruse at your leisure. This is as far as I am taking you. Happy hunting!

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch

So I saw Age of Ultron not too long ago, and I did a post about it. But I did not make mention of two of the most intriguing characters in the film: twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, better known in some circles as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

When was I going to get to the Maximoff twins? Well, now seems to be as good a time as any!

With everything else going on in the film, Whedon did not have a lot of time to squeeze Pietro and Wanda Maximoff into the story in such a way that everyone in the audience would get to know and like them on the spot. For those of us who did enjoy the characters, or who knew something about them from days past (X-Men reference! ;)), we saw, we knew, and we liked plenty!

First up: Pietro. Quicksilver is probably the character to get the shortest shrift in the film, after the Hulk, almost but not quite on par with how much screen time Hawkeye had in The Avengers. Most of the time he is running around so fast, you have to do what the Avengers are doing: “Where’d he go..? Oh, there he is.”

But what we do see of Quicksilver is very in-character. As shown in the movie, Pietro moves so fast that to him, bullets appear to be moving in slow motion. The nine millimeter bullet most commonly used and mentioned in TV shows and films travels at 1200 feet per second. That means this type of nine millimeter bullet will literally beat your hand to the door knob when you are standing next to the door and the person holding the gun is across the room.

But even this lightweight bullet is not faster than Quicksilver. Because he is so much faster than everyone and everything around him, Pietro has an impatient outlook on life. As an example, Pietro can race across town in a few seconds flat. Then he will have to wait fifteen or more minutes for the bus/train/tram/whatever Wanda is riding to catch up with him.

Now think about how hard it is for his opponents, who cannot see him to shoot him, to do battle of any kind with him. He is literally as fast, if not faster, than the wind. Put this all together and you have a kid with a cocky battle attitude wreathed with the impatience of a lightning bolt. He can be up, out, and gone in seconds.   Why can no one else just keep up? His impatience is spot on.

Wanda’s powers are also well rendered in the film. In the comics, her original power is probability manipulation. The probability of a new, well-built wall collapsing is something she can make happen with a little concentration and a gesture. Another post on this blog (which is frequently being read!), The Art of Probability Manipulation, goes into detail about the comic book Scarlet Witch.

In Age of Ultron, Wanda’s powers are described as telekinesis, hypnosis, and energy manipulation. In the film, she can telekinetically move or break things, and her hypnotic powers mean that she can make those she entrances see their worst fears or memories. She is telepathic/ empathetic, rendering her able to read the minds and emotions of those around her on some level. She can then use that reading to send those people into a trance, where they are temporarily trapped in a nightmare of their own fears/pasts, which she is privy to as well.

The twins’ strong sibling relationship is also well-demonstrated in the movie. Throughout the film, Pietro can be seen snatching Wanda up and running off with her in his arms. In the final battle, he does this to get her to the center of the city where she can use her powers most effectively. This is a tactic the two have been seen to utilize in the cartoons and probably in the comics as well.

The fact that they do not separate from each other until Wanda orders her older brother to help Cap and the others round up the last of the civilians and get them to safety is also true to form. The twins hardly ever separated from each other for any great length of time when they first arrived in the comics. Outside of recent TV shows like X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men, it is shown that the “brother-sister act” have always been close, as most twins are. It was nice to see them acting like they did toward each other in the original comics in this film.

As has been explained elsewhere, the Maximoff twins blame Tony Stark for the death of their parents. Because they hate Tony, the twins hate the Avengers, something made blatantly clear throughout the first half of the film. But once Wanda sees what Ultron really intends to do, the twins abandon him. Interestingly, before that happens, Wanda frees Dr. Helen Cho from Ultron’s control via the “glow stick of destiny” while in her lab where he is downloading himself into a new body. This proves that she does not simply want to run away from Ultron, she wants to stop him.

But it is only when it becomes clear that the Avengers need help to stop Ultron that Wanda truly chooses to get into the fight. Pietro naturally follows her into the battle, the way she followed him into their first skirmish with the Avengers at Strucker’s HYDRA base. (Again, this is in-character with their depiction in the comics; when one twin makes a choice the other follows him/her.) Once Cap assumes their help in stopping an out-of-control train in South Korea, making no mention or fuss of any kind about their previous allegiance to the mad robot, the twins come to see that they may have been wrong about the Avengers after all.

We do not know how the twins feel about everyone on the team, but it appears that Wanda warms up to Cap very quickly after helping him out in South Korea. This would be a nod back to the original comics as well; Wanda was fond of Cap from the moment she met him. In those comics, Hawkeye occasionally asked her if she had a crush on Cap, but Wanda never gave anyone a direct answer on that front.

If she did have a crush on Steve Rogers, she hid it well. But I think it more likely that she just admired him and felt safer having him as team leader more than anything else. Cap was often a father figure to her and the other, younger Avengers, as well as their team leader. Considering how long it was before she learned her real father’s identity, I think it may be safe to say that Wanda liked thinking of Cap as her “battle father.”

Another Avenger Wanda takes to fairly quickly in the movie is Hawkeye. In the “mainstream” comics, Hawkeye is roughly the same age as the twins, and they all joined the team at almost the same time. Hawkeye thought Wanda was gorgeous the minute he saw her and immediately tried to court her. But this did not pan out and he eventually settled for being one of her good friends instead.

That failed romance, though, is certainly not part of Age of Ultron. (Yay!) However their quick, strong friendship in this film is itself fairly surprising. Especially since Clint stuck an electrical stun arrow to her forehead to keep her from putting him in a trance earlier in the movie.

Though Clint clearly does not like her when he meets her again in Avengers Tower, in Nova Grad this changes dramatically. In the final battle, Wanda and Clint end up in the same street, fighting several dozen Ultroids as a team. When one of the droids prepares to explode, Hawkeye grabs Wanda and dives into the nearest building, getting them out of the way of the machine as it blows up and keeping them safe.

Wanda starts to become hysterical as the magnitude of what Ultron is doing – what she and her brother helped him to do, and the fact that she is in part responsible for his creation – comes crashing down on her like a ton of bricks. This is not what Hawkeye needs to deal with at the moment, and he does not spare Wanda, giving her one of the best pep talks I have ever heard.

Sometime after this, Wanda helps him out of a tight spot and the two destroy a group of Ultroids very quickly. Throughout the rest of the battle they not only continue their new teamwork dynamic; they begin working in better harmony with each other.

Later, when Wanda declares that she will guard the machine bringing half of Sokovia’s capital city skyward, Clint looks at her in surprise. “It’s my job,” she says, looking back at him. This is a reference to their earlier “chat,” where he told her that it was his “job” to help save the world – no matter how insane the situation became. By the end of the film, the two clearly have a good appreciation for each other. I will be interested in seeing where they go from here – though I am hoping the direction is a non-romantic one!

On the subject of Hawkeye’s relationship to the twins, while he and Wanda gain a mutual respect and understanding, it is a little different between him and Pietro. This is reasonable, since Quicksilver introduces himself to the archer by punching him at high speed and sending him flying. When Hawkeye prepares to fire an arrow after him, he is nicked by a shot from a HYDRA bunker and ends up having a lousy day.

This is not a good way to start a friendship. And it only gets worse when Hawkeye sticks his stun arrow to Wanda’s forehead to avoid getting mind controlled. While the Hawk is not in the habit of picking on women or girls, as he explains he is “not a fan” of mind manipulation, and he will do whatever he can to avoid having it happen to him again.

Pietro takes high offense whenever Wanda is hurt and is prone to angrily attack whoever harms his sister. He and the archer become rivals, and their enmity is based in part on their confidence in themselves. Hawkeye is confident in his shooting skills and his accuracy, while Pietro is secure in his speed. This would naturally lead to contention between the two, even if they started out as friends; they have often butted heads in the “mainstream” comics for this reason.

But there is another layer to the antagonism they direct at each other in the film. Hawkeye is not Pietro’s age, so his end of the challenge is not layered with that mindless, “I’m going to beat you because you beat me” juvenility. Pietro has power but little experience and skill. As Hawkeye says, he is a “punk.” His speed is a “big stick,” but he overuses and relies on it to get what he wants.

Their rivalry is instead edged with the antagonism some youths feel toward those with more experience; Quicksilver thinks his power makes him unstoppable. Hawkeye is confident in his skills, but he is not foolish enough to believe they make him utterly impervious to harm. He has experience getting hurt in a battle.

Pietro does not.

So when Cap returns to the Avengers’ Tower with the twins to pull the plug on Tony’s latest science project, Hawkeye seizes his chance to make this point to Pietro – not to mention get some well-earned payback for the speedster’s earlier attacks on him in the bargain. He shoots the glass floor under Pietro’s feet, dropping the boy through the hole and having him land on the floor in front of him. To make absolutely sure the kid cannot get away, he puts one foot on Pietro’s legs and asks, “What, you didn’t see that coming?”

The subtext of the message was, “Kid, I have been where you are and you are setting yourself up to get hurt. Get this and get it good: you’ve got power but that does not trump experience and common sense. You are behaving like a punk. Get over yourself, and yesterday.”

Pietro gets the message, loud and clear; Hawkeye is not useless because he uses a bow and arrow. And he (Pietro) had better realize that power does not make someone immune to all the unavoidable risks and fortunes of battle ‘normal’ mortals are subject to.

But, in the character of his confidence and impatience, Pietro does not admit as much. He still acts and talks tough. When Cap says they need help in the center of the floating portion of Nova Grad, Pietro zips in to the street where his sister and Hawkeye were previously fighting Ultroids. He picks Wanda up and runs off, adding over his shoulder, “Keep up, old man!”

Hawkeye seriously considers shooting the boy for this jibe. But in the end, he knows it will not work and puts his arrow away, muttering angrily. In my opinion, that was the closest he was going to come at the time to admitting that he thought Pietro was okay. The kid was annoying, but he had good in him.

Pietro proves how much good he has in him at the end of the battle. When Hawkeye goes back to pick up a Sokovian boy who got left behind, Ultron, flying the Aveng-jet, strafes the ground in a straight line toward him. Clint knows there is no time for him to move out of the way. He is tired, he has a child in his arms, and the air is getting thinner by the minute. The jet is coming toward him far too fast for him to get out of the way in time. Though it will do nothing, he does his best to shield the unconscious boy and waits for the bullets to hit them both.

Pietro sees the jet. He sees that his rival is doing his best to protect a little boy, and that there will be no protection from the incoming bullets. It takes him a split second to make his decision. He will die. Wanda will be left alone in the world. But his power was not meant to serve himself. It was meant to serve his people.

And Hawkeye, his rival, is doing his best to protect a Sokovian boy.

Blindingly fast, he covers the necessary distance and shoves Hawkeye and the boy he is protecting out of the line of fire of the jet’s mini-gun. To make the shove safe, Pietro had to have slowed down so that he did not hit Hawkeye at his highest velocity.

When Quicksilver runs at his higher or highest speed, he builds up force and momentum which he can use against his opponents. This is why he is able to send Hawkeye and Cap flying, and why he can smash the Ultroids to pieces. The force he collects as he runs is sent outward toward his target when he hits it. So Quicksilver shoving Hawkeye out of the mini-gun’s path at a dead run would have injured or killed Clint, and possibly the boy he was protecting.

Plus, as fast as he is, if Quicksilver runs into the path of a bullet, he is going to get hit. And his suit in this film is not designed to protect him from being shot or injured but to let him run as fast as he wants. Those conditions – combined with his need to stop in order to safely push Hawkeye out of the way – mean that he is the one shot and killed by Ultron. Hawkeye is nicked (again) but this time, Pietro was saving his life and a young boy’s. He was doing his utmost to help them both, not to hurt them.

I thought it was a really nice scene, since in it, Pietro proves he is more than a “punk.” He is a hero. Hawkeye realizes this at once. Kind of hard not to when Pietro’s last breath was used to say, “You didn’t see that coming?” He buried his hatchet right there. So did Hawkeye.

Having Cap carry Pietro to the waiting SHIELD shuttle was good, too. If Captain America shows such respect to a young, brash hero like Quicksilver, it is a sign that he thinks the kid is well worth the admiration. And having Hawkeye name his newborn son Nathaniel Pietro Barton was a real stroke of genius on Whedon’s part.

Despite the sadness of the scene, I still think it was a good one, in the same way that Kíli’s death in The Battle of the Five Armies was a good death. Pietro did well in Age of Ultron, and I have always thought he was an intriguing character. Perpetually impulsive, abrasive, and impatient, but intriguing nonetheless. I wish Quicksilver had lived through the film to be in later Avengers installments, but Whedon did not give him an ignominious send-off. He treated Pietro like a hero, and I tip my hat to him for that.

There is one other thing about Pietro’s death in the movie that deserves to be mentioned. Whedon is well-known for his penchant for killing off characters. He himself has said he does it “willy-nilly.”

However, the alternate ending for the film shows both twins, alive and well, as they join the new Avengers under Cap and Widow’s tutelage.  From what I have heard, Whedon made this ending as insurance; this way, if Disney did not want Quicksilver to die, he had a ready-made finale to Ultron which they would hopefully support. Disney approved Pietro’s death, obviously, and I can think of two reasons why Whedon chose to “get rid of” Pietro Maximoff at the end of the movie we saw in theaters.

First: apparently, in the Ultimate Marvel Comics (which I will never recommend to anyone), Wanda was killed when Ultron first appeared in the Ultimates’ universe. This left Pietro with a lot of anger issues. Instead of remaining a member of the Ultimates, he started running for the guys on the wrong side of the tracks. (Like I said, he gets angry when his sister is hurt, and he is much more aggressive than she is. Imagine how angry he would be if she died. His reaction would probably make Wanda killing Ultron look like a little girl’s temper tantrum!)

Whedon likes to reverse stereotypes and clichés, or completely turn them on their heads. He has to have read the Ultimate comics, because a lot of small things in the Avengers films relate to those comics: Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury; Iron Man’s attitude and the revelation of his identity to the world; Hawkeye’s suit and family, not to mention the twins’ initial allegiance to evil in Age of Ultron (Magneto had them working for him in the Ultimate comics before he was killed and they joined the Ultimates).

So Whedon had to know about Wanda’s death in those comics. And as I said, he likes to do the unexpected in these cases. Instead of killing off Wanda, as all those Marvel fans who have read the Ultimates’ stories expected he would, he knocked off Quicksilver.

Second: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the actor who plays Pietro Maximoff in the film, was very worried about signing on to play the character. He cited the fact that Marvel often has actors sign a contract to play a character in a series of movies instead of doing a one-and-done deal as the reason for his trepidation. Marvel’s modus operandi in this area is well established fact, as Chris Evans’ original contract still includes Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 and 2.

Sebastian Stan and Samuel L. Jackson are/were each contracted for nine films; Jackson recently had Marvel extend his contract so he can be in more Marvel movies. Hugo Weaving still has two more movies in his contract with Marvel, and Jeremy Renner was contracted for seven films, including a solo Hawkeye movie (which is still in writing limbo). Chris Hemsworth has three more movies in his contract and has stated that he would be quite happy to continue making Marvel movies for as long as he is physically able and as long as fans want more. (Bad thing to say, because when are we going to stop wanting more? We will always want more Marvel movies – as long as they are THIS good!) And Chris Evans recently extended his contract with Marvel so that he can be in five more films!

The only reason Aaron Taylor-Johnson signed on to play Pietro Maximoff in Age of Ultron was because Elizabeth Olsen signed up to play the Scarlet Witch. When she heard Johnson was worried about taking the part, she convinced him to be in the film. On her coaxing he did sign up. This is because, after they worked together on the latest Godzilla remake, he trusted her decision.

I do not know how many Marvel movies Johnson agreed to be in. As far as I know, he only agreed to Age of Ultron and would not sign up to be in more than one Marvel movie (at a time, anyway). So Whedon may have killed Quicksilver off in order that Johnson would have an easier way of getting out of his Marvel gig. Essentially, if Johnson did not want to be in Marvel’s Avengers films, Whedon knew he could fix the actor’s dilemma simply by killing off his character.

These are theories I have about why Pietro Maximoff does not survive Age of Ultron. I could be blowing smoke, of course, but they are the only theories I have which make any sense.

As a final note, I really enjoyed having the twins in the film. Johnson and Olsen did well as the Maximoff siblings and it is too bad Johnson did not sign on to be in more films. This does not mean that Marvel may not bring Pietro back into the Avengers movies somehow. It just means that we will have to wait and see what happens.

*Sigh…*

Anyone want to play tiddly winks while we wait?

Excelsior!

The Mithril Guardian

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Star Wars’ First “Spark of Rebellion”

Hey there, Star Wars fans!  Strap into your X-wings, grab your blasters, and hang on to your lightsabers, because today’s subject is Disney’s animated series Star Wars Rebels!

I had intended to write a post about this series not long after it aired. But, with so few episodes played on television, I feared that doing so would be premature. I still wanted to write about the series, but I thought it best to see the first season through before I said anything in favor of – or in protest against – Star Wars Rebels.

Now that the first season of the show has run its course, I am free to unleash my opinions about it. To start this post off, if you have not seen the series, here is the main cast of Rebels:

Ezra Bridger: Ezra is a street boy from the capitol city of Lathol, an Outer Rim planet, who is also Force-sensitive. Physically designed to look like Aladdin, but somewhat younger (fourteen at the beginning of the show, fifteen from the middle of the first season onward), he makes his living as a minor pickpocket who is not averse to stealing bits and pieces from Imperial officers. He is particularly fond of stealing Stormtrooper helmets, and is quite willing to pull pranks on the Imperials – when there is no chance of their realizing that he is behind the prank, that is.

In Rebels’ first episodes/introductory film, Ezra falls in with a small band (you can count their number on one hand) of rebels who regularly cause trouble for the Empire. Though Ezra at first has no intention of staying with the crew for very long, he soon becomes fond of them and joins the gang permanently.

 

Kanan Jarrus: Originally called Caleb Dume, he took on the name Kanan Jarrus after the fall of the Jedi, probably because his real name was on the roll of Jedi known to have been in the Order at the time of the Clone Wars.

Kanan was the apprentice of Jedi Master Depa Billaba, but his training was cut short when Order 66 was implemented. He was fourteen when he saw his Master killed by Clone troopers. Following her order to “Run,” he disappeared into the galaxy, letting his Force skills atrophy to nearly nothing and burying his past as a Jedi in the same drawer where he kept his lightsaber, becoming a fair shot with a blaster as a result.

Joining up with the pilot of the Rebels’ band, Kanan became the gang’s leader. Smart, cocky, and ready with a snappy comeback or piece of battle banter, Kanan’s Jedi history was a secret known only to his crew. Until the group had to save a band of Wookies in the opening film for the series, the Imperials were none the wiser of his existence, let alone his heritage.

Kanan’s past as a Jedi meant that he recognized Ezra’s Force-sensitivity fairly quickly. Knowing that sooner or later the kid could get caught and what the Empire would do to him once they discovered his connection to the Force, Kanan offered to train Ezra in the ways of the Jedi. This left him uneasy, however, since his own training was incomplete and he had avoided being a Jedi for some time. Now, he and Ezra are learning about the Force in concert, and Kanan has been told that this is his last chance to be a Jedi. If he fails now, he and Ezra are both toast.

 

Hera Syndulla: A Twi’lek and pilot of the rebels’ ship, the Ghost, Hera is the mother figure for the crew. Down-to-earth, firm, but also warm and kind, Hera keeps the rebels centered. She rarely loses her temper, but when she does, duck. She has a good right hook, and should not be underestimated in hand-to-hand combat. Hera’s friendship with Kanan may be more than a friendship, as she will refer to him as either “dear” or “love” from time to time. She seconds for him in almost every situation and he backs up her motherly discipline or decisions, as well as taking her advice on how he should deal with Ezra. Her piloting skills are just below Han’s as far as I can tell. Hera is the first member of the Ghost’s crew to take a real shine to Ezra.

Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios: A former Lasat honor guard from Lasan, Zeb is one of the few Lasats left in the galaxy, since the Empire forcibly “cleared” his homeworld for colonization. Gruff and grumpy, but a loyal friend once you earn his respect, Zeb is the team’s muscle. He is not your average heavy-hitter; he thinks when he gets into a fight and can come up with lots of clever maneuvers in battle. He hates the Empire for killing most of his people and forcing the survivors off Lasan. On a lighter note, though, Zeb also enjoys beating up Stormtroopers. Every chance he gets, Zeb smacks their heads together. He says something about the feel of their helmets just makes it more fun.

 

Sabine Wren: A sixteen year old girl from Mandalore, Sabine has some serious fighting skills for her age. She also enjoys blowing things up. Just how she joined up with the rebels we do not yet know, but apparently she went to the Imperial Academy on Mandalore and “it was a nightmare.”

Sabine seems to fill the daughter role in the crew, as both Hera and Kanan treat her more gently than they do Zeb and Ezra. Zeb usually partners with her in a fight, acting in an older brotherly-fashion toward her and making her safety his priority. Ezra has a crush on her. (Don’t laugh; it worked for Anakin and Padmé!) Sabine is also an artist. She is especially good at graffiti. She regularly spray paints Imperial hardware, and the phoenix symbol the rebels occasionally leave behind after a mission is her specialty. Her Mandalorian armor and even her blasters are painted as well.

Chopper: Chopper is Hera’s cranky C1-10P astromech droid. Cantankerous and a grumbler, Chopper is willing to pull pranks on every male member of the crew. Kanan is rarely the butt of his mischief; for the most part, that is directed toward Zeb and Ezra. Chopper is almost always in a bad mood; he only lowers his grumbling for Hera and Sabine. The guys get it with force, enthusiasm and, when the situation calls for it, volume. Chopper is not the friendliest astromech you are ever going to meet; the creators have apparently said that, “If R2- D2 is your favorite dog, then Chopper’s a cat.” He’s the grumpy grandpa of the gang. Where you can make a fuss over R2, Chopper would probably zap you for almost no reason at all.

 –

Okay, with the character list out of the way, we can get to the really important stuff. Initially, I was not sure I was going to like Rebels. I had skipped out on the Clone Wars series because I could not stand the prequel Star Wars films. Plus, I thought the animation for the series stank. Besides, it was not as if the Clone Wars cartoon actually tied into the bigger Star Wars saga, right?

Eh, wrong, as I have discovered. Turns out the Clone Wars series IS part of the larger Star Wars story’s history. Star Wars Rebels is like the Clone Wars in that vein, being set in the five years prior to A New Hope. In fact, both animated series are so far the only tie-in stories for the new Star Wars timeline coming out with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. All the previous books and stories from the past thirty years no longer relate to the films’ timeline, according to Lucasfilm. For us Mara Jade Skywalker, Solo children, and all-around Expanded Universe fans, that is a very lousy turn of events. I am not happy that thirty years of stories, especially the great ones written before this year, just got erased.

But what can you do, other than go on living? Maybe the writers will keep Mara and the Solo kids in the Star Wars epic after all. It is a big maybe, but unless they want a full-fledged riot on their hands, doing that seems more sensible than outright nullifying everything fans have had time to enjoy between the original Star Wars trilogy and the less-than-satisfactory prequel trilogy. Oh, well, c’est la vie!

Back to the topic at hand. Despite my initial misgivings, I can say I fully enjoyed Rebels’ first season. Mostly, this is due to the fact that we finally get to meet a Jedi in the same era as Luke and the gang! As you may have guessed, this was the part of the first season which really impressed me. The prequels had Jedi all over the place, I know, but hardly any of them got introduced to the audience in a meaningful way. Mace Windu, Ki Adi Mundi, Luminara Unduli – we hardly got to know any of them in the films or The Clone Wars TV series. They showed up for an episode or two and then they left.

Oh, yeah, and in Revenge of the Sith most of them were murdered by the clone troopers on the Emperor’s command. There is not much point introducing the audience to expendable characters, now is there?

So while the prequel Star Wars films, books, and The Clone Wars TV series are swarming with Jedi, most of them have about the same amount of screen time as unimportant background scenery does. If they get more time on screen than that, it is a rather pointless exercise because most of them die in Revenge of the Sith. How are you supposed to get to know characters that expendable and underwritten?

But in Star Wars Rebels, we have Kanan Jarrus. True, he is not your conventional Jedi. His training is incomplete (he does not even understand Yoda’s dictum “Do, or do not. There is no try,” until the third episode of the series) and he is more into the whole “I’m-the-guy-who-makes-the-plans-and-wisecracks” role. But if anything, that is what makes Kanan interesting. He is not some cardboard copy of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda. He is a character who stands on his own two feet and has his own style. It is really nice to have a “cowboy Jedi” who is willing to take risks, make minor mistakes, and crack wise for a change.

Yes, really important Jedi are and should be “one-with-the-Force-all-the-time.” But we had that with Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu. If all Jedi were like that, then the audience would lose interest in them pretty fast. It is one of the reasons why I never liked the prequels; hardly any of the Jedi in those movies had personalities more interesting than brittle wood. Kanan may have a dry wit but he certainly does not have a dry personality (in this writer’s/viewer’s opinion, anyway).

The other great thing about Kanan is watching him connect with Ezra.   I always thought that Obi-Wan and Anakin never quite managed to jive properly with each other in the prequels. Jedi Knights or Masters are practically the only parents their apprentices ever know, but this did not work out with Obi-Wan and Anakin. Anakin already had a mother, and Qui-Gon Jinn seemed to be the only man he viewed as a father-figure. I always thought he was uncomfortable and aloof with Obi-Wan, while Obi-Wan got as attached to him as any older brother would get attached to a younger brother.

So it is fun for me to watch Ezra and Kanan learn to get along in Rebels. It takes a while, of course. Like Anakin, Ezra was born and raised outside the Jedi Order. He knew his parents until he was seven, when the Empire took the Bridger couple into custody and left Ezra to spend the next eight years of his life on the city streets. Kanan saw his Master, the closest thing he had to a mother, gunned down by clone troopers. The last thing either of them wants is to get attached to someone again. Both have been hurt emotionally, and neither of them wants to suffer through losing someone they care about again.

Despite that, Ezra’s better instincts (and maybe the Force) prod him to join the rebel crew, while Kanan feels the need to protect another Force-sensitive – and maybe set about making sure that the Jedi do not completely die out. Of course, the Force may have had something to do with that, too. 🙂

Slowly, the two work out a Master/apprentice friendship that is a somewhat brotherly friendship, part father-son relationship, and a sort of teacher/student partnership. This is one of the things which make the Jedi so darn fascinating. Lightsabers, telekinesis, mind manipulation – that is all secondary; those are frills. The way the Jedi mesh is the interesting part. And in a way, Kanan and Ezra’s friendship is what Obi-Wan and Anakin’s should have – and could have – been. I am very interested in seeing where these two Jedi go from here.

Random observations/questions from here on, readers: first and foremost, the tone of Rebels’ first season is very reminiscent of A New Hope. Do not expect it to last; the creators have warned that season two is more akin to The Empire Strikes Back than A New Hope. So it is probably safe to say that season two sees the Rebels going up against greater odds and getting into even more dangerous situations. “How typical!” to quote C-3PO.

Oh, and Ahsoka Tano fans…she’s baaack!!!  That is all I am telling you.

Also, season one ended with the BEST lightsaber duel I have seen since Return of the Jedi! (I know some of you like other lightsaber duels more than that one, but I am a nostalgic Star Wars fan. I really cannot stand the prequels even long enough to admire the lightsaber duels in them. Sorry.)

Now for the questions: we saw very little of Hera’s, Zeb’s, and Sabine’s back stories in season one. And even though we saw a lot of our two new Jedi, there are hints that we have yet to learn everything about them. The creators have lamented that fact as well, and they are eager to explore the Rebels further. In which case, here is what I want to know:

What happened to Sabine’s family and why was her experience at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore “a nightmare”? I know we are dealing with the Empire’s brutality here, but specifics would be nice. Does Sabine have any family she can whistle up to help the crew, or are they dead? If they are not dead, can she ask them for help for the rebel crew, or do they disapprove of her anti-Imperial activities? Does she have any contacts on Mandalore?

Also, what does she think of Boba Fett? And what would happen if the two crossed paths – perhaps in a fight? It would be very interesting to see Sabine go up against Boba Fett. He is Star Wars’ most dangerous bounty hunter, and she is still green in some respects. She is not Boba’s equal, but could she still find a way to duke it out with him? And where exactly is Ezra’s crush on her going to go? I think I see an Anakin/Padmé romance somewhere in this series’ future. We can hope it will be a less sappy romance, but I am pretty sure an Ezra/Sabine love story is in the pipes for Rebels somewhere down the line.

Has Zeb got any family left? The Empire killed most of the Lasats when they took their homeworld. Zeb is one of the very few who escaped Lasan. Does he know where the other Lasats are? Does he know any of them personally? How many of those surviving Lasats are in the rebellion – and how many are Imperial spies, lowlifes, and who knows what else? Heck – does Zeb have a girlfriend out there somewhere? That would certainly be an interesting future episode!

Where did Hera come from? How did she get involved with the rebellion? Where is her family? If you saw The Clone Wars series, then you probably recognized Hera’s last name: Syndulla. Yes, according to everything I have hunted up, she is Cham Syndulla’s daughter. But that means very nearly nothing to me since I did not watch the Clone Wars series. Of the entire crew, the member we know the least about is Hera. We have at least a sliver of back story on everyone except for her. If the creators could explore her history in the next season, I would be interested to see it play out.

Where are Ezra’s parents? It has been teased that they may not be dead. If they are not dead, then where are they? In hiding? In Imperial custody? With the rebellion? The fact that his parents could be alive has been hinted at, so there has to be an answer for these questions somewhere in future episodes.

What else has not yet been revealed about Kanan? So far his real name has only been revealed in the Rebels’ prequel book Star Wars: A New Dawn. Did he make any enemies as a Jedi apprentice? Did these enemies survive the Jedi Purge, maybe to join the Empire as Inquisitors? Will he meet/find other Jedi? Is he going to be able to keep Ezra from falling to the Dark Side of the Force – not to mention himself? He never finished his training; he is risking falling into darkness as much as Ezra is by trusting him for training. What will Kanan do when/if the crew finds/meets Ezra’s parents? That could be an awkward meeting, to say the least!

Also, does Kanan have a family he does not know about? Jedi are taken into the Order as infants. They almost never know their blood family. What if Kanan has family members in the rebellion – or the Empire? What will he do if he finds out he does have family in either – or both – factions? Those are some interesting possibilities to think about…

So Star Wars Rebels writers, please do not keep us waiting too long for the answers to these – and other – questions!!!

And, readers –

May the Force be with you!

The Mithril Guardian

References:

http://borg.com/2014/09/02/book-review-the-new-expanded-star-wars-universe-begins-today-with-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2014/09/29/star-wars-rebels-and-big-hero-6-disneys-next-animated-sci-fi/

http://borg.com/2014/10/04/star-wars-rebels-premiere-lays-foundation-for-a-new-universe/

http://borg.com/2014/05/05/first-look-trailer-for-disneys-star-wars-rebels/

http://borg.com/2014/03/09/first-look-star-wars-in-the-hands-of-disney/

http://borg.com/tag/star-wars-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2015/03/25/binge-watch-many-great-high-points-to-be-found-in-season-one-of-star-wars-rebels/