Jedi Fallen Order Part 9: Evil Wins Because Good is Dumb

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 15, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 108 comments

We’re back on the planet Zeffo, but this time we’re going to be exploring the back 9, which wasn’t reachable on our last visit. Apparently the Empire has resumed their efforts to dig up old artifacts, and this has opened up a fresh batch of obstacle courses for us to navigate.

Let’s just skip past the next half hour of platforming, puzzling, and stormtrooper-murdering. It’s all good stuff because the base mechanics of this game are usually strongThe quicktime events can go die in a Sarlacc pit, though., but I don’t have anything new to say about that.

Ha! You only scratched me with that vertical lightsaber stroke through my chest!
Ha! You only scratched me with that vertical lightsaber stroke through my chest!

At the end of the road, we come face-to-face with the Second Sister, who we fought back in the tutorial. As before, the fight is cut short. The two combatants find themselves on opposite sides of a force field.

So now it’s time for them to exchange some words. But before we do that, let’s back up a bit…

Earlier…

Oh, a lost padawan kidnapped by the Empire? I'm sure that will never come up again.
Oh, a lost padawan kidnapped by the Empire? I'm sure that will never come up again.

Earlier in the Story, Cere and Cal had a talk about her commitment issues with the force. Cere revealed that before the purge she had an apprentice named Trilla. When the Empire came for them, Cere told Trilla to hide out, and then Cere attempted to lead the Empire away. 

Cere got caught and tortured. Things get a little vague here, but she admits that somewhere along the line she used THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE. It’s clear there’s more to the story, but this was all that Cere was willing to tell.

So now let’s jump back to our showdown in progress…

Surprise!

Yeah? Well, you kinda betrayed everyone you've ever known, so... glass houses, and all that.
Yeah? Well, you kinda betrayed everyone you've ever known, so... glass houses, and all that.

The Second Sister takes off her helmet to reveal that she’s Trilla. Cere evidently broke under torture and “betrayed” Trilla by telling the Empire where she was hiding. The Empire captured Trilla and turned her to the Dark Side. (Presumably using more torture.) Then – just to be dicks – they brought the now-evil Trilla to Cere to show her, “HA HA! Look what we did to your apprentice!” 

THAT’S when Cere cracked and used the Dark Side.

Trilla explains all of this to Cal, trying to convince him that Cere isn’t trustworthy since she “betrayed” her apprentice.

I have several problems with this entire argument:

  1. This is NOT betrayal. That’s being broken under torture. There’s a big difference!  I think it’s generally understood that breaking under torture is more or less inevitable. It’s not like they offered Cere money to give up Trilla’s location. 
  2. Cere didn’t use the Dark Side until she saw what happened to Trilla. This, along with the fact that she endured torture for an unknown length of time, proves that not only did she not “betray” Trilla, she endured much hardship for her apprentic and clearly loved her very much. 
  3. Even if we accept the notion that Cere’s breaking was a betrayal, Trilla is guilty of the same thing! She broke to become a Sith. If enduring torture is so easy, then why couldn’t YOU do it, Trilla?
  4. Trilla offers all of this as “proof” that Cere is an unreliable ally. “She’ll betray you too!” Trilla taunts. Except, Cere is not currently being tortured by the Empire so why would she?

Games should let you emote during cutscenes. I really want to roll my eyes and make a jerk-off motion while Trilla is talking.
Games should let you emote during cutscenes. I really want to roll my eyes and make a jerk-off motion while Trilla is talking.

So Trilla’s entire argument is deeply irrational. You can argue that she doesn’t need to make sense because she’s a brainwashed slave now. That’s… fine. I guess. I mean, I think it’s more interesting to have an adversary that makes decisions based on a coherent point of view that you can examine and argue over, but whatever. Trilla has a get-out-of-rational-thinking-free card.

But Cal is apparently scandalized by this revelation, and there’s no excuse for that. Cal gets all worked up over this, and later he even repeats the accusation of “betrayal” to Cere’s face. It feels less like Trilla can’t think straight and more like the writer really does think that breaking under torture is a betrayal. 

Trilla spends the rest of the chapter calling Cal on the communicator and taunting him about this, and he never has an answer for it. I found it maddening that Cal couldn’t offer even the most obvious counter-argument to any of her gloating and taunts. It made Cal seem like a complete dimwit.

My other problem with this line of thinking is…

That’s not How Evil Works

Bloody peasant.
Bloody peasant.

In a storytelling sense, the Dark Side is supposed to represent temptation. It should appeal to your weakness, your vanity, your selfishness. As Yoda explained in Empire Strikes Back, it represents a quick and easy path to power. As a storytelling tool, this is delicious, since it lets us reveal character through action. 

In Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir’s betrayal was a classic example of this. He was a generally good guy and he wanted the best for his people. But he’d been worn down by years of gradual defeat and he’d lost all sense of hope. He began to covet the ring because he believed it was his best chance to save his people. Yes, The Ring was persuading him. But that’s sort of like the devil on your shoulder. The devil can’t change your desires, it can only persuade you to act on them in foolish ways. Boromir didn’t hate Frodo. He didn’t taunt Frodo like a mustache-twirling villain. He’d rationalized his plans as simply his only hope to save his people.

That made for wonderful, heartbreaking drama, and showed just how dangerous The One Ring was. 

You don’t get that kind of drama when you just torture someone into falling to the Dark Side. If some distant third party tortures Pandora into opening her box, then it’s no longer Pandora’s fault / weakness, it’s the fault of this absentee devil. That’s a fundamentally less interesting story because it takes all the agency away from our established character.

Also, the mechanics of torture on the human psyche are fairly dark and not something that an adventure story can really grapple with. The question of “To what degree is Trilla actually responsible for her actions?” is incredibly complicated and is more about psychology and physiology than it is about her personality and the Force. And to be clear, this is a drama-first story so her personality should be the driving forceNo pun intended. for the antagonists. Not only do I disagree with the writer on the culpability of these two characters regarding their supposed betrayals, but I think this brainwashing stuff winds up being a dramatic dead-end because neither of these characters are fully responsible for their actions. 

I also disagree with the premise that Cere necessarily “used the Dark Side” when she threw her fit and escaped her prison. To explain why, let’s revisit…

Return of the Jedi

It'll be fine once these two kill Palpatine so he can never bother them ever again and will stay dead forever.
It'll be fine once these two kill Palpatine so he can never bother them ever again and will stay dead forever.

So Luke surrenders to Imperial forces and allows himself to be taken to Darth Vader. He’s not here because he wants to fight Vader, but because he believes he can redeem him.

The Emperor tries to goad Luke into fighting his father. His father tells him that it’s useless to resist. Obi-Wan told him that Vader is beyond redemption. Everyone is telling Luke that his only hope is to kill his father. 

Luke eventually retreats into the shadows, refusing to fight. Vader prods his mind and discovers that Luke has a sister that he cares for. So Vader announces that she will be the next target.

This is what propels Luke into action. He’s not fighting for hatred of his enemies, but for love of his sister. This passion energizes him, and he overpowers his father. Then, once Vader has been disarmed, Luke relents. 

This is the light side of the Force. It’s fighting for love and compassion, and showing mercy whenever you can. 

How appropriate. You fight like a space-cow.
How appropriate. You fight like a space-cow.

Luke essentially refutes the Old Ways of the Jedi, who thought that being stoic and distant was the path to enlightenment. Luke shows that the opposite of the Dark Side isn’t detachment, but love and compassion.

This is how I’ve always interpreted the filmI mean, not ALWAYS. I certainly didn’t give it this much thought when I saw it at the age of 12. But this is what I put together once I was old enough to do some sort of analysis., and I’ve always been irritated by the newer thinking that suggests that the difference between Light and Dark has to do with fighting style rather than motive.

“I never choke people or shoot lightning, and the piles of corpses I leave behind are always Bad People, therefore I’m Light Side.”

Ew.

Going strictly by what we’ve been told, I reject the idea that Cere “used the Dark Side”. She saw what happened to her beloved pupil, and that passion allowed her to break free. Sure, she killed everyone present who wasn’t Trilla, but how many people is that? Later on we’ll see it amounts to a half-dozen troopers. Cal kills that many dudes about every five minutes. If her killing a few stormtroopers qualifies her for the Dark Side, then Cal is a straight-up Sith Lord. In my view, Cere breaking free and killing her captors isn’t any more Dark Side than Luke attacking his father to protect his sister.

Also, Cere didn’t suffer any consequences as a result of this supposed brush with the Dark Side. You can call it the Dark Side if you want, but she only used it to accomplish something good and heroic. It freed her, spared her friend, and didn’t harm any innocents in the process. 

Let’s get back to our chat with Trilla.

Cordova the Ridiculous…

...and so I decided to make everything worse. Enjoy the scavenger hunt, idiots!
...and so I decided to make everything worse. Enjoy the scavenger hunt, idiots!

This conversation also reveals that the Empire knows our holocron MacGuffin exists, they know what it’s forIt has the location of a bunch of force-sensitive “children”., and who created it. So they know essentially everything.

Once again, this entire mess was caused by Eno Cordova, the magnificent dumbass. He created this huge convoluted scavenger hunt, which wound up being a bigger obstacle to the Jedi than to the Empire. If he’d just put the stupid thing on his desk back on Bogano then none of this would have happened. I’d feel better if just one of the good guys would lampshade this. But no, Cordova is supposedly a wise and clever man.

At the start of the game, we were faced with two possibilities:

  1. We don’t look for the holocron. Nothing happens. Things stay as they are.
  2. We find the holocron. We gain access to a bunch of young people to recruit, and can begin to rebuild the Jedi order.

But now we’re faced with a horrible and terrifying third option: If the Sith find it, then they can gather up these young prospects and balloon their ranks further. This outcome is so terrible that we can’t just walk away and hope for the best. Option #1 is no longer open to us. We must race against this massively superior force to recover an item, because allowing them to have it would be too devastating to overcome. We’re trapped in this terrible no-choice situation because Cordova had to be cute and concoct this ridiculous fetch quest.

In the words of a very wise leader: “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.”

#TheJediHadItComing

Cringe Kestis

Dude! This is the third time you've lost to Trilla. I'm thinking maybe you need to quit with the bravado until you've won a fight.
Dude! This is the third time you've lost to Trilla. I'm thinking maybe you need to quit with the bravado until you've won a fight.

We need to spend the next section of gameplay exploring the second puzzle-tomb on Zeffo. During this adventure, Trilla keeps calling up and taunting Cal about what a betrayer Cere is. Cal allows himself to get worked up over Trilla’s irrational jabs, which really wore on my patience. His dialog here just exists to set up taunts for her. That’s fine. I imagine playing Sith politics within the Inquisition can sharpen your tongue, and I imagine being an introverted scrapper on a remote would wouldn’t give Cal much of an opportunity to practice witty banter and comebacks. But after the fourth or fifth prank call from Trilla I began muttering at my screen…

“Dude! You are terrible at this. Just turn off your communicator. I can’t stand to hear any more of your cringy attempts at bravado.”

I do wonder what the writer was thinking with Cal. His character concept is good on paper, but in terms of personality he suffers from a terrible case of “normal guy”. No apparent flaws. No great virtues. That’s fine if you’re making a blank-slate RPG protagonist or an empty vessel silent protagonist, but this guy is the leading role in a linear cinematic style story that employs full performance capture. This character needs to be vibrant and exciting.

Also, he really should be the driving force in the plot. That’s what protagonists are for. But instead the Sith chased him out of his old job, leaving him with nothing else to do with his life. So now he’s obeying Cere by obeying Cordova. 

This is yet another example of a designer making the protagonist a passive character. It would make much more sense if it was Cal’s idea to go on this questThis would obviously require a re-write of both Cere and Cordova.. It would also ramp up the tension. Right now we have:

“Hi, I’m Cordova. If you can solve all my riddles, I’ll give you the prize!” 

A straightforward promise like that isn’t inherently wrong, but compare it to having Cal say something like, “Okay, the holocron isn’t on Bogono like we hoped. But we can’t give up now. Maybe if I retrace Cordova’s steps I’ll be able to find some clues about where he put it. I know it seems like a long shot and I know the Empire will be after us, but we have to trust in the Force. If we give up, then the Empire wins!”

With this change, the challenge seems larger, and Cal is in the driver’s seat instead of a dead guy.

Building a Better Protagonist

The only time he's not boring is when he's embarassing.
The only time he's not boring is when he's embarassing.

Cal has a good backstory and a unique visual design, but in the first half of this story he’s got almost nothing going for him in terms of personality. He’s not witty, incisive, wise, or patient. He doesn’t come across as virtuous the way that (say) Spider-Man, Captain America, or Superman do. He doesn’t overcome any great temptation. He doesn’t do the right thing at great cost to himself. He doesn’t have anything clever to say. At the start of the story he makes it clear he’s joining Cere because he can’t go back to being a scrapper and he doesn’t have anything better to do. He doesn’t have a major personality flaw like arrogance or fear that’s preventing him from reaching his true potential. He eventually has an arc in dealing with the loss of his master during the purge, but it takes forever for the story to bring it up and it doesn’t seem to be driving his character the way that (say) Luke was driven by his fiery idealism.

Even if we decide we’re going to do this scavenger hunt plot as Cordova intended, I think it would be much more dramatic if (say) Cere was pushing him to kill so-and-so to advance their goals, and Cal resisted her guidance and chose to take a slower, more idealistic approach. This would solve two problems:

  • It would help sell the notion the Cere had been somehow compromised by the Dark Side, and frame this failing as a Bad Thing. It would sell the notion that her emotional outburst had perhaps given her a  bit of a vindictive streak, and that she’s currently blind to it.
  • It would give Cal agency within the story. This is our main character. The main character NEEDS to be a driving force in the story because you reveal who characters are by their actions. As it stands, Cal joins Cere because that’s his only option, and then he does everything she tells him. Like having Sheapard surrender his agency to TIM in Mass Effect 2, making our player character a puppet of an NPC is a great way to make the story less interesting while at the same time creating frustration for the audience. 

Also, there’s something about his default expression that makes him seem mildly derpy. His voice and face are based on a real actor and that guy looks fine, but something got lost in translation. Cal always looks mildly befuddled.

In any case, Cal Kestis really needed a little more personality spark – particularly in the early game – to make us love him and cheer for him.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The quicktime events can go die in a Sarlacc pit, though.

[2] No pun intended.

[3] I mean, not ALWAYS. I certainly didn’t give it this much thought when I saw it at the age of 12. But this is what I put together once I was old enough to do some sort of analysis.

[4] It has the location of a bunch of force-sensitive “children”.

[5] This would obviously require a re-write of both Cere and Cordova.



From The Archives:
 

108 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 9: Evil Wins Because Good is Dumb

  1. Rariow says:

    The whole “torturing someone into the Dark Side” trope has never worked for me. It’s used in KotOR as well, and I spent years trying to justify it in my head and never managed to. Whichever of the million ways the Dark Side is explained you subscribe to it just doesn’t make sense that torture would turn you to it, nor that it would make you loyal to whoever tortured you. Being reductive, the Dark Side has been explained as either giving in to negative emotions and letting them control you (anger and fear and all that jazz – this is what the Original Trilogy mostly says) or as using the Force to feed your lust for power and getting lost chasing that power, whatever your intentions (as is shown in the prequels with Anakin trying to get power to save Padme, or a lot of the Korriban dialogue in KotOR, or even the comically over the top evil of Dark Side player characters who presumably just want money or loot). The latter has nothing to do with torture, and I guess for the former being tortured would definitely provoke a lot of fear, but like… You can’t really act on it, and even if you could why would you then turn to the jawless Sith Lord who’s strapped you to a rock and electrified you for days and swear loyalty to him? Even if you’re fully on board that this whole Dark Side thing is cool and controlling your emotions is for nerds wouldn’t your first instinct be to freely let out your anger on the people who are torturing you, as Sith are wont to do?

    It’s a plot point that I’ve always found to be exceedingly stupid, and I find it interesting that as far as I know it’s only been used in the Star Wars games – I used to be pretty into the EU and don’t remember anything like this. I guess it’s easier than showing an insidious process of slow temptation, but it’s not an acceptable substitute as faras I’m concerned.

    1. Daimbert says:

      If I recall correctly, Malak explicitly states that he’s trying to get her to feel those negative emotions and the power that they can give, and so she’ll enjoy that feeling and that power and want to maintain it. Once she’s “seen the power of the Dark Side”, then she’ll forgive Malak because he will have indeed taught her the truth and taken her to power, and also since he knows more of the Dark Side than she does he’ll be able to teach her more and give her more power. Once she’s fallen, her mindset will completely change and she’ll cast things in the mindset of what gives her power, and so will no longer simply want vengeance. In short, having been taught that the Jedi methods will fail her, she will embrace the Sith methods … and the one person who can teach her those methods.

      Also, Shamus’ interpretation of RotJ is a bit off:

      Luke eventually retreats into the shadows, refusing to fight. Vader prods his mind and discovers that Luke has a sister that he cares for. So Vader announces that she will be the next target.

      This is what propels Luke into action. He’s not fighting for hatred of his enemies, but for love of his sister. This passion energizes him, and he overpowers his father. Then, once Vader has been disarmed, Luke relents.

      Literally disarmed, actually, which is the key there. Luke fights Vader using anger and rage. It’s clear from the frenetic pace of Luke’s attacks that he isn’t trying to kill Vader because he needs to, but because he WANTS to. THAT’S what drives his attack and the attack that’s powerful enough to pretty much kill Vader. He stops in part because of love, but mostly because after cutting off Vader’s hand he realizes the Emperor’s trick: if Luke strikes Vader down in anger, then Luke will BECOME Vader. That’s why he looks at the mechanical remains of Vader’s arm and then looks at his own artificial hand, and then stops. He realizes that giving in to anger will result in him falling, and he refuses to fall. And at that point, the Emperor tries to kill him.

      Shamus’ interpretation aligns with a common idea that feel anger and rage at injustice can provide motivation to right that injustice. But emotional motivation can run amok as well. Seneca the Stoic philosopher used an example of a military commander who when a soldier went missing and it was believed that he was murdered by another solider, grew enraged and ordered the execution of that accused soldier. When it was revealed that the soldier had instead been AWOL (I think), another centurion hastened to stop the execution, and the commander, still in a rage, ordered the original soldier, the AWOL soldier, and the centurion all executed: the AWOL soldier for being AWOL, the original soldier because they had been condemned, and the centurion for stopping the execution. While most angry people won’t do things that insane, the point is that anger justifies itself, and so using anger to motivate action can easily result in us being motivated to do bad things. We WANT to do the things anger motivates us to do, and it can be difficult to reign anger in so that we can do the RIGHT things. If our angry reactions were always right and always proportionate, we could rely on it, but they aren’t, so we can’t.

      This can also tie back to Cere’s brush with the Dark Side. If she killed those troopers because in the moment she wanted them dead instead of merely wanting to escape, that would be Dark. And the fact that she killed everyone except the one person that she really wanted to save suggests that her motivation was revenge, not escape.

      1. Thomas says:

        I agree with all this and I love the stoicism example.

        If you’re lashing out because of your pain then that’s dark side even if the pain was generated by good intentions.

        The specifics in the game though feel a it weak as justification for the distrust of Cere and her retreating from the force though. Star Wars has lots of examples of Jedi struggling with moments of anger and acting like this one moment was final feels flimsy.

        She needed to do something truly regrettable in her anger / despair for us to empathise with her position. Taking it out on someone who has surrendered or using torture herself.

      2. Rariow says:

        I do remember that explanation being given about why Bastila would join up, (probably should’ve mentioned it, in fact) but it always seemed more like a handwave than anything else to me. It’s sort of a nonsensical “well once you’re Dark you think differently” thing. No real human being would join up with their torturer, no matter how power hungry they were, and it’s made worse by the whole conceit of the Dark Side is being driven by your emotion. It’s one thing to say there’s space magic and that it’s powerful to use it while you’re angry, it’s a whole other thing to then tell me that figuring out that using it while you’re angry is powerful makes you forgive people who torture you – especially since you’ve already figured out step one of gaining power is to give in to your anger. The Force can be used as a handwave for massive coincidences, but as soon as characters act in ways that no person would you’ve lost me.

        You’re spot on with all the rest, and in fact Cere’s behaviour as you describe it is exactly what I would expect out of torturing a Force user. Assuming torture is a way of turning people Dark (which I can concede to some extent – it’ll cause fear and anger for sure) it’s also a really, really good way of pointing all their newgained power straight at you.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          The “tortured into Dark Side” thing isn’t as far-fetched and impossible as you seem to think.
          With the risk of going somewhat political – though I’ll stay far away from American bipartisan stuff – it’s actually fairly common for people to fall.
          The amount of people who abuse children who were themselves abused is somewhere north of 30% – it’s the most common “reaosn” given/found for abuse, even more so than actual personal pleasure. “You hurt me, now I want to hurt you back” makes sense…But if you believe the one hurt you can’t be hurt back, the Next Best Thing is to work it out on others -and often in a similar way. See also: children with a parent with substance abuse issues.

          The ways of the Dark Side are clearly open for discussion – there’s at least 3 or 4 different ways of looking at it, as has been shown in the articles and comments here. Whether the Jedi are The Good Guys or another bunch of extremists who take it too far is yet another matter. In any case, in the OT, we are clearly given a contrast: the Jedi try to be peaceful, calm, centered, rational and a bit empathic. The Sith are selfish, power-hungry, and callous. There’s lots of ways to become Dark – the Emperor is a completely different beast from Vader.
          Being controlled by your emotions – good OR bad – leads to being myopic, easily goaded or used, unfair. You lose sight of the big things – which is why Anakin loses Padmé, why Qui-Gonn loses, and why Obi-Wan is the crappy mentor to Anakin that he is. They’re all acting out of personal feelings, thus losing sight of bigger matters.

        2. Syal says:

          No real human being would join up with their torturer, no matter how power hungry they were,

          Remember, the very first thing Bastila does is try to get Revan to join her so they can both go kill Malak. She’s not actually loyal to Malak.

          The best part about the Bastila/Revan conflict is when you realize both of them have been brainwashed into their current position. Kind of kills the drama.

          1. John says:

            I’ll grant you Revan, but it’s not clear that Bastila is actually brainwashed. There’s an (I believe) unavoidable conversation between the player character and Bastila that takes place before the Ebon Hawk is captured by the Leviathan in which Bastila talks about being tempted by the Dark Side. If the player character leans Light, Bastila’s tone is something like “I know it’s wrong and I shouldn’t be thinking about this, but . . . ” while if the player character leans Dark, it’s a little more “I know it’s wrong, but on a scale of good to great, how does being evil feel?” The implication is that Bastila has been tempted by the Dark Side all along and that when she does join Malak it actually is willingly.

            Unfortunately, I think this is a case of Bioware flubbing the execution a little. This conversation is really the only time we actually see Bastila struggling with the Dark Side. (We’ve seen her be bossy and occasionally arrogant, but that doesn’t seem like the same thing to me.) The build-up just isn’t quite there, and so the torture, which mostly exists in order to show you that, yes, Malak is indeed a very bad man, seems more effective than Bioware probably intended.

            1. Syal says:

              If that was the intent, they whiffed real hard. We’ve just learned Revan was mindwiped, and the only thing we see Malak do is torture her, and we’ve already brought Juhani back from much more than anything Bastila’s done so far. Everything suggests this is an unnatural turn.

              1. John says:

                I wouldn’t say quite everything.

                There’s also a second conversation, this time without Bastila, that occurs when Revan, Jolee, and Juhani return from the Rakatan temple to the Ebon Hawk. In that conversation, Jolee suggests that Bastila has been heading towards the Dark Side for a while. I find his arguments, brief as they are, plausible if not necessarily compelling. The problem, as with the earlier conversation, is that this is still too little to really sell the idea to the player.

                But the most compelling argument against Bastila being brainwashed is that she just doesn’t seem that brainwashed to me. (It’s possible that you and I mean different things when we say “brainwashed”.) Revan had a head injury and was re-programmed with new memories. Bastila may have been shocked a little but she still knows who she is. It seems to me more that she’s got the zeal of a new convert and less that she’s been psychologically damaged until she cracked and accepted Malak’s view as her own.

                1. Syal says:

                  That’s the problem with mind control/brainwashing stories, there’s no actual rules for how the character turns out. Half the time it’s just flipping their Evil switch to turn them into Hyde.

        3. Daimbert says:

          No real human being would join up with their torturer, no matter how power hungry they were, and it’s made worse by the whole conceit of the Dark Side is being driven by your emotion. It’s one thing to say there’s space magic and that it’s powerful to use it while you’re angry, it’s a whole other thing to then tell me that figuring out that using it while you’re angry is powerful makes you forgive people who torture you – especially since you’ve already figured out step one of gaining power is to give in to your anger. The Force can be used as a handwave for massive coincidences, but as soon as characters act in ways that no person would you’ve lost me.

          Remembering that Dark Siders aren’t completely consumed by emotion and so can indeed think rationally and plan ahead, there are two arguments generally used for that:

          1) They argue that they only tortured them to show them the truth, and so that it was actually for their own good, which once they’ve accepted the Dark Side isn’t an unreasonable argument. They can get bonus points for arguing that the people truly responsible are the Jedi for brainwashing them into the Light in the first place. That ties in with the abuser example mentioned by Bubble181.

          2) They argue that they’ve experienced Dark Side power and liked it, and want to learn more. Where else are they going to learn more? Not from the Jedi, obviously. This would fit with Bastilla trying to turn Revan and learn from him instead, but defending Malak if Revan won’t turn.

          Ultimately, being converted that way usually results in their victim wanting to kill that person as soon as they’ve served their purpose, but that’s the way of the Dark Side anyway.

          1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

            And a third: use the anger from the torture to turn the person to the dark side -even if they want to kill the master. I mean, Rule of 2 -the apprentice always wants to kill the master, so it’s not like Malak is gaining something by turning her in a non-torture way.

            I think there are good ways to read the dark side -I like the abusive relationship metaphor, myself -but I also think this is more work than Lucas put into it, which is basically off-brand emotionlessness and stoicism. In the director commentaries, he flatly denies that love has a redeeming quality in Star Wars, despite that being the most obvious read of Return of the Jedi.

            1. RFS-81 says:

              KOTOR is before Darth Bane so there is no Rule of Two. I mean, Korriban is crawling with Sith! And even given that, it doesn’t seem smart to give the apprentice a reason to kill the master right now. The apprentice should try to kill the master when they feel that the master is no longer useful for them.

              (Which is another thing that doesn’t make sense. If the dark side runs on passion and emotion, why are the Sith supposed to be so utilitarian? But I guess that’s a thing you have to blame Drew Karpyshyn for, not Lucas.)

            2. SkySC says:

              That’s what I assume you’d really have to lean into if you’re writing something like that: if a villain tortures someone into joining them, they basically accept as a given that they’re only joining under duress and will betray them the first chance they get. I think that setup really works for the Sith, thematically. The apprentice resents the master and seeks to destroy them. They know they need to grow stronger so they can accomplish this. The only way to gain power is to learn from the master. Thus the only way to destroy the master is to obey the master. The master is aware of all this, and uses the apprentice while also being wary of their eventual betrayal. Of course, this only works if the apprentice is either ambitious or vengeful. Otherwise they’d just run away.

              But if the villain just tortures people into joining them and at that point they become willing pawns, then the story probably will probably fall apart. I think most people would agree to do basically anything after suffering enough pain, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stick to that agreement afterwards.

              1. Daimbert says:

                In KOTOR the Sith lecturing the students in the spaceport specifically states this, as he asks them what they’d do if he spared an enemy and they all fawningly say that they’d do whatever he says, and he angrily calls them fools, pointing out that if their commander shows weakness it’s their duty as Sith to take advantage of that and kill or at least discredit him. So it is in fact a key component of the Sith that the ones below are always scheming against the ones above.

                The arc with the head of the academy and Yuthura is based on that as well. And I think if you spare the head of the academy by revealing that you’re Revan and talk to him, he notes that some people aren’t happy with Malak being leader because he didn’t actually overcome you, but instead took advantage of the situation with the Jedi to win without ever facing you.

  2. John says:

    I really wonder sometimes where people got the idea that a villain can simply torture a Jedi until they turn to the Dark Side and become the villain’s willing minion. (I didn’t like it in Knights of the Old Republic any more than I like it here, but at least in that game they tried to show that Bastila was at least a little tempted by the Dark Side before the torture took place.) I mean, I doubt that’s how the Emperor recruited Dooku. It’s not how the Emperor recruited Anakin. It’s definitely not how the Emperor tried to recruit Luke. The Emperor didn’t start torturing Luke until he realized the recruiting wasn’t going to work.

    When the Emperor gets Jedi to turn to the Dark Side it’s through good old fashioned psychological manipulation. I imagine he spent a lot of time playing to Dooku’s ego. The Emperor’s a pretty patient guy, after all. Heck, he spent a decade or two grooming Anakin. I get the sense that the Emperor either got overconfident–it is his weakness–when dealing with Luke or else wasn’t all that invested in recruiting Luke in the first place since he already had Vader. While it might have been nice to replace Vader with a younger, healthier model, it wasn’t really necessary.

    The point is that torturing someone until they turn to the Dark Side is a stupid idea. It’s probably not going to work and even if it does it’s unlikely to produce a reliable, loyal minion.

    1. Stephen says:

      I kind of like that the point the game effectively adds to is that the problem with the Sith brand of turning to the dark side is that at some point you’re going to have to test your new apprentice by making them do something terrible to someone they love. And that’s like the number one point where all your torture conditioning might suddenly fail and they’ll instantly turn on you, and you’ll have to put them down before they can just fully go over to your opponents.

    2. The Puzzler says:

      Princess Leia got tortured all the time, and it never did her any harm.

    3. Lars says:

      For Jason Todd it somehow worked. But that is because it was established beforehand that that Robin is more violent than Dick Grayson was. And the Joker is much more cunning than any Sith I’ve seen so far.

  3. Zaxares says:

    Not saying that I agree with them, but I think the reason why the Jedi forbade emotional attachments and promoted stoicism was because it was also quite easy for things to swing the other way. Because you like someone as a friend, or as a romantic interest, you are more tolerant of their shortcomings, you go out of your way to assist them, to smooth their path, and because you are a Jedi, you have a great deal more power at your disposal to make that happen. In real life, the combination of temporal power with emotion usually winds up leading to things like nepotism and dynasties and the consolidation of power into an elite class linked by blood. Considering that the Jedi literally have mind control powers that can make non-Force users do what they want, the Jedi Masters of old probably thought this too great a temptation.

    The other half of the argument is that it’s very easy to allow “righteous anger” to morph into something a lot darker. We saw this with Anakin Skywalker when he massacred the Sand People. Yes, the Sand People ARE quite savage and brutal, by our standards, and they killed Anakin’s mother. Did that give him the right to pronounce judgment and kill them all though? What about other races like the Hutts or Gamoreans who are inclined towards “evil” as we humans typically tend to think of? Considering that most of them tend to go into crime or violence as a lifestyle, could one then not make the argument that it would better to simply exterminate them before they can bring harm to others? Or conquer their race and enforce a more “good” civilization upon them?

    I do think that the general policy of non-interference by the Jedi goes too far, but I can see why they embraced their philosophy all those years ago.

    1. Syal says:

      It’s also a world where your enemy can read your mind. Vader learns about Leia because Luke brought that knowledge with him. Abandoning attachment is the Jedi equivalent of a superhero disguise.

  4. Stephen says:

    Also, annoyingly, the force field that saves you in the fight with Trilla never comes down later. I kept trying to backtrack through the map to clear up things I’d missed and getting trapped on the wrong side of that stupid force field. It’s in no way obvious on the map.

  5. Gethsemani says:

    I have a totally different interpretation of Luke’s actions in RotJ. My reading is that Vader bringing up Leia and threatening her causes Luke’s anger to flare and with the power of the dark side he drives Vader backs and defeats him. This is seen in how his strikes are quicker, harder and more aggressive. Once he has driven Vader into submission he keeps hitting and hitting until Vader can no longer parry his blows and he cuts off Vader’s hand. At this point the Emperor laughs (and even says “The Dark Side has made you powerful” and goads Luke to kill Vader and take his place. It is then, hearing the Emperor talk and seeing Vader with the same wound that Vader inflicted upon Luke in ESB, that Luke realizes that the roles are now reversed. That he’s maimed an inferior foe by using the dark side and relents. This is the high point of Luke’s arc: He has faced the temptation of the Dark Side but has resisted it. So he turns off his lightsaber and turns to the Emperor and declares “You’ve failed”.

    The drama in this scene comes from how close Luke comes to falling to the Dark Side, Darth Vader is basically a pushover after Luke attacks again, but ultimately resists once he realizes his mistake. Not from Luke showing the strength of the light side.

    1. Crimson Dragoon says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure how that scene could be interpreted as Luke fighting with the Light Side. He is pure rage and aggression after Vader mentions his sister, and the Emperor is smiling and laughing the whole time, because this is exactly what he wants. Luke let his emotions get the better of him and temporarily gave into the Dark Side.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        His goal of saving his sister is noble / Light Side, but the Dark Side emperor twists that goal just like The Devil as Shamus mentions.

        1. Decius says:

          Goals aren’t dark or light.

          Methods are.

          The Star Wars Universe is literally deontological.

          1. Mousazz says:

            Maybe this is why Shamus has such distaste for nu-Star Wars – perhaps he just naturally morally leans towards a consequentialist outlook, and simply doesn’t see any rational sense in the morality of the Prequel trilogy from that perspective?

            1. Shamus says:

              I think you’re onto something here.

              I’ve never really gone for philosophy, so I had to look up Deontology. (And my spell checker STILL doesn’t know about it.) In reading it, I’m mentally folding my arms and scowling. This goes very much against my grain. I have no idea how I could talk about this more without getting pretty deep into religion.

              But I think the combination of:

              Philosophy that doesn't make sense to me + clumsy storytelling + inconsistent characters

              …is the triple whammy that keeps me from parsing the movies. I get stuck in a loop trying to untangle Lucas’ snarl of character goals and motivations and then just throw up my hands and say, “Screw it. Imma go watch Luke’s arrival at Cloud City for the 100th time.”

    2. Abnaxis says:

      I was just reading through the comments to see if someone else brought this up, is whether I was going to have to type it in a phone. I too agree that I don’t think Luke overcoming Vader was supposed to show Light beating Dark, it’s supposed to show just how powerful and tempting the Dark Side is.

      +1

  6. Chris says:

    What i never understood in ROTJ was why vader didnt kill the emperor. In empire strikes back he tries to convince luke to join him and rule the empire as father and son (and presumably kill the current emperor), but then in ROTJ he is a willing lackey of the emperor and seems fine with getting replaced by luke.

    1. Syal says:

      Assuming Vader actually meant it when he said it, it’d be because he knows he needs help to kill the Emperor. ROTJ has the Emperor distracted, and he still kills Vader on the way out.

    2. Daimbert says:

      He can’t kill the Emperor until Luke has turned to the Dark Side, and there’s an explicit line somewhere that it will take both of them to turn Luke. The only time he seems to accept it is when Luke has him at his mercy at the end, but he doesn’t have much choice there. The only questionable part is why he blocks Luke’s attack on the Emperor, but Luke hadn’t fallen at that point.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        He didn’t realise you can just use the force to turn on a lightsaber beside your master while they’re monologuing. Gets them every time.

        1. GloatingSwine says:

          Seems to have been something of an oversight for the Sith for thousands of years, frankly.

          If you’ve got the fine control to pinch someone’s windpipe closed without materially affecting them in any other way, you should be able to do all sorts of shenanigans, making people’s guns go off and shoot them in the foot, turning lightsabres on at their belt and chopping your opponent’s leg off, and so on.

          An unimaginative bunch, frankly.

  7. raifield says:

    Complete aside: Star Wars operates on the opposite principle: Good Wins Because Evil is Dumb. We’re expected to believe that the Empire is a) evil and b) galaxy-spanning, yet with a galaxy of resources the Empire pretty much never makes any headway in any media in which it is featured, with the exception of the few games in which you can play on the Empire’s side and not be forced to switch (looking at you, Battlefront II…).

    I just started Star Wars Squadrons and one of the first Rebel missions is to commandeer a damaged Star Destroyer. This thing is supposed to have a complement of nearly 40,000 crew members and 10,000 storm troopers, yet the Rebels can send three shuttles worth of marines into a hull breach, take over the whole ship in ten minutes, repair it, and fly it away.

    The Empire never stands a chance because magic/The Force gives the Rebellion superpowers.

    1. Thomas says:

      The bad guys are doing pretty well at the end of episode 3

    2. Fizban says:

      It’s a spaceship: if someone is foolish enough to have designed it so the bridge has absolute door and oxygen control, then taking the bridge means you can just space the rest of the ship. Or, if the crew are neccesary, you can hold their lives ransom for their cooperation- the maintenance staff probably doesn’t care much who’s running the thing, might even prefer the rebels if they weren’t under threat. And if the crew is of questionable loyalty the bridge can’t broadcast anything that might let them know that threat is slipping.

      I’ll absolutely agree that there should be a hell of a lot more nuance and action in the takeover of what should essentially be considered a whole battlefield with a standing army and support staff, but that can cut both ways and being in space has its own problems. But it’s also a videogame where your a handful of players discreet combat actions are supposed to turn the tide.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        if someone is foolish enough to have designed it so the bridge has absolute door and oxygen control

        Ah, I see the Empire went to the FTL school of ship design.

      2. raifield says:

        True, only the Rebels don’t board the ship via a breach in the bridge. They board via a breach between two engines, pretty far away from the bridge. It’s just a contrived bit of nonsense. The moment before the Star Destroyer was firing all its cannons and launching all its TIE fighters, so obviously someone is in control. Then you open a hole in the hull, three shuttles land, and the ship is immediately yours.

        It’s like, what the hell happened in there all of a sudden?

        1. Decius says:

          If you gain control of the engines and have spacesuits, you can just threaten to blow the entire ship up.

          If your marines are stupid enough that the command staff believes that they will sacrifice themselves, it’s reasonable that they might submit.

          If the marines get cut off from their retreat and have the engines rigged to blow up, there’s no way for any number of stormtroopers to clear them out without everyone dying.

  8. Philadelphus says:

    At the start of the game, we were faced with two possibilities:
    1. We don’t look for the holocron. Nothing happens. Things stay as they are.
    2. We find the holocron. We gain access to a bunch of young people to recruit, and can begin to rebuild the Jedi order.
    But now we’re faced with a horrible and terrifying third option: If the Sith find it, then they can gather up these young prospects and balloon their ranks further. This outcome is so terrible that we can’t just walk away and hope for the best. Option #1 is no longer open to us. We must race against this massively superior force to recover an item, because allowing them to have it would be too devastating to overcome. We’re trapped in this terrible no-choice situation because Cordova had to be cute and concoct this ridiculous fetch quest.

    Reading this, I’m struck by how much this reminds me of the Lord of the Rings and the Council of Elrond: there they also have essentially two choices, to hide the Ring or try to destroy it (as using it is ruled out), but they’re also faced with the terrible possibility that Sauron finds it as long as continues to exist, which forces them into trying to destroy it by the only means available to them. And yet there, the situation came about because of the cunning and guile of a terrifyingly superior foe, who’s got plans stretching back millenia, who is immortal and willing to wait forever for his plans to come to fruition while he gather all his pieces together into an overwhelming, unstoppable force. Whereas in this game, it’s caused by their own side being “cute”. It’s like if Isildur decided not to destroy the Ring to “give future people a challenger” rather than because he fell to temptation. It’s just interesting to me how a nearly-identical plot can work very on the one hand and not so well on the other.

    1. Thomas says:

      Lord of the Rings is perhaps one of the only times I’ve liked this plot. It’s generally one of my least favourite plot tropes, because if you realise it’s coming you spend the entire film kind of hating the protagonists for being so dumb.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Hello, Uncharted! The series where each game the protagonists could save the world several times over by simply not going after the macguffin de jour. At least it’s partly justified by their greedy, shabby, prideful and otherwise believably flawed.

        1. zackoid says:

          JUST ONCE CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND YOU NATHAN

          1. Olivier FAURE says:

            Oh my god, that pissed me off so much by the third game.

            Like, there were entire sections where I was like “Huh, we’ve got a solid lead on $TREASURE_PLACE. So when do the bad guys find us, steal the magic key we just found, take us prisoner for 30 seconds, then let us escape by acting like complete idiots?”

  9. Crimson Dragoon says:

    I know you dismiss the fact the Trilla is thinking irrationally, but that’s kind of the whole point. She was a child, scared and alone, and she was captured because her master, the person she trusted the most, gave her up. The hows and whys of it don’t matter, just that it happened. That leaves her hurt and angry, which is exactly what the Sith need to emotionally manipulate her into giving in to the Dark Side (along side some physical torture to weaken her mind further). Sure if she sat down and thought about it rationally, she probably would have realized Cere never had a choice. But years of trauma and psychological manipulation don’t train a person to think via cold logic.

    I’m not saying Trilla is any kind of great villain, but her heel-turn and continued anger at Cere are believable in the context of the story.

    1. Shamus says:

      “I know you dismiss the fact the Trilla is thinking irrationally, but that’s kind of the whole point. ”

      I didn’t dismiss it. I very explicitly allowed for it. I didn’t say it’s implausible, I said it makes for a lousy story by moving all of the agency to external characters.

      1. Fizban says:

        With a protagonist that has agency, there’s a pretty obvious direction to go from there of course: you reveal that X foe was actually tortured and broken (or abused from the start, etc), and the hero adds a new quest objective to save said victim, possibly even as more important than whatever their original mission was.

        I suppose we’ll see if this ends up happening. I’d say odds are high that this Trilla breaks from the empire by the end, but it won’t be handled any better than it is now. You probably wouldn’t mention the author sounding like they think the victim (Cere) is at fault if there was a whole thing later about the victim (Trilla) deserving rescue.

  10. Echo Tango says:

    Is this a particularly bad angle during a cutscene, or is Cere depicted in the Earlier… section emblematic[1] of Uncanney Valley in the rest of the game? Her eyes are the worst part looking like glass (the whites are far too specular), but the rest of her isn’t much better. Her clothing looks pristine and brand new, but with many more precise cuts and scratches than clothing sold to trendy teenagers. Her skin’s actually relatively good, although her eyebrows look like they were put on with a grease-pencil. She looks a bit better back in entry four of this series, but she’s farther back from the camera, and the lighting is softer in the scene.

    [1] Everyone else is too far away to see these details. Looking back at entry three of this series, Cal’s got a bit more work put into him, with believable scuffs and stains on his clothing, although his headphones are pristine, and his hair looks fuzzy. He also looks good in the picture under Games should let you emote during cutscenes., but that just means they budgeted for the protagonist.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Cere’s definitely got a bad case of Bulging Eyes….At first glance I thought she was some kind of frog-alien!

      1. modus0 says:

        She looks like a muppet to me.

  11. Asdasd says:

    I mean, I think it’s more interesting to have an adversary that makes decisions based on a coherent point of view that you can examine and argue over, but whatever.

    It’s sad that this is the sort of preference that is going to lead to the majority of popular media being disappointing.

    the mechanics of torture on the human psyche are fairly dark and not something that an adventure story can really grapple with

    Agreed; I really wish writers would learn to temper their use of super edgy story elements like this in ostensibly light-hearted advetures. Using themes of torture or rape in a story is like using ghost pepper in a recipe; even if you only use a tiny amount, it’s probably going to be the only thing the person who consumes it will notice. I get that you’re trying to be clever, I get that you’re going for tonal dissonance, for a wham episode, but please, be careful with this stuff.

    Think about that episode of Firefly, where the bounty hunter infiltrates the ship. He stands out as the most horrible character on the show to me, even though he ‘only’ uses rape as a threat against one of the other characters, and the episode stands out in my memory as the darkest in the run, even though the word is only mentioned once (and other episodes are much more violent in terms of actual displayed content.)

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Using themes of torture or rape in a story is like using ghost pepper in a recipe; even if you only use a tiny amount, it’s probably going to be the only thing the person who consumes it will notice.

      I’m so stealing that quote.

      And yeah, rape and torture is seriously overused in these kinds of “find the treasure, defeat the bad guy, save the villagers” stories. Even The Owl House has the first episode’s villain try to coerce Eda into going to a date, and it’s treated as funny and cute and not as something that could be seriously traumatic (well, seriously traumatic if the good guys didn’t pummel him pretty immediately). That was probably my least favorite plot point from the season.

  12. The moral preening of our media industry would be more tolerable if it weren’t so often being done by moral pygmies.

    I’m not even talking about recent political issues; this goes back for a while. The classic one is mowing down mooks by the literal dozens to get to the Big Bad guy, only to have a sudden attack of “But if I kill them, won’t I be as bad as them?” It may be a cliche, but it’s a good example even so. You can’t (You win! 3 mooks dead, +453 experience & a happy dance) have a conversation about (You win! 5 mooks dead, +892 experience & and a snarky quip!) the sanctity of life in the middle of (You win! 12 mooks dead, +1293 experience & a level up party!) casually gamified murder.

    Another one of my favorites is trying to have some serious conversation about power dynamics in a world in which everyone is born with the idiot ball. “Oh, isn’t it terrible that the rich oppress these poor people?” Well, yeah, I suppose, but, in this particular world you’ve created, the poor people have no reason to be stuck there, their burning hate for their oppressors isn’t matched by security from the rich person so there’s no reason the poor shouldn’t just murder the rich, the rich isn’t actually getting anything out of the poor people whose jobs it seems to be to move muck from one side of the field to the other or something equally useless… it’s not a bad topic you’ve opened there, Game Designer, but you’ve constructed a drama stage that demonstrates your complete lack of understanding of the real world issues involved beyond “it’s bad, mm’kay?” and your drama is very uncompelling as a result.

    Coherently presenting a philosophical position I disagree with is one thing; being simply incoherent is another.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      My fondest memory of Watch Dogs was watching my brother play through a radio cutscene where the protagonist and the mission control lady discuss the morality of murdering a rapist to impersonate him at some plot-relevant event, while my brother was casually headshotting random guards with a silenced pistol.

      1. Decius says:

        Dishonored and Thief:The First Three at least let you decide not to murder random people.

  13. Retsam says:

    I’ve always been irritated by the newer thinking that suggests that the difference between Light and Dark has to do with fighting style rather than motive.

    “I never choke people or shoot lightning, and the piles of corpses I leave behind are always Bad People, therefore I’m Light Side.”

    I made a similar comment last time, but at the risk of being repetitive, it seems like this idea of the “newer thinking” is almost exclusively a “video game adaptation” thing.

    Games want to give players the choice between Light Side and Dark Side, because “choice” is a cool thing that you can put on the back of your box, but don’t actually want to force the characters to commit actual atrocities, so it largely just becomes a shallow choice between drinking Red Flavored Kool-aid, wearing black and shooting lightning, vs. drinking the Blue (or Green) Flavored Kool-aid, wearing brown, and… not shooting lightning.

    I’m being slightly unfair, I think there are some people pointing out that KotOR had a bit more nuance than that; but I do think that games are a lot more guilty of “trivializing” the Dark Side vs. the Light Side choice; certainly more so than the actual movies that have come out since RotJ.

  14. Rick Sanford says:

    Is it me or does that character in the first screenshot look like Gary from “The Muppets” movie?

  15. Meiam says:

    While playing I though it would have been a lot more interesting if Cal had been trying to turn Trilla to the light side. Something along the line of “Well since you’ve been tortured into the dark side I’ll do the opposite and will be nice to you to try and turn you to the good side”. Part of the reason is because Trilla is constantly checking up on Cal, she’s always calling him and asking him how he’s doing, if the people she sent to check up on him have found him and such. Sure she’s trying to find and kill him, but that’s way more than Cere ever does since she’s usually completely silent and offer no help. Of course he’d be really bad at it cause like Shamus mentioned, he’s been a semi hermit all these years while Trilla has been trained (presumably in psychology too), but every once in awhile, while verbally flaying around, he’d land a solid hook on Trilla. There could also be a few time where you’d arrive at some spectacular (natural) vista and he could call her with some sort of “look how beautiful this is without the empire destroying all the nature”, which would be nice since there’s quite a few good vista in the game.

    For the light vs dark side, I think an interesting aspect would be if the force was split amongst every force user, so that the more there are, the weaker every one is. Would help explain why the Dark side is constantly trying to kill the light side and other dark side user, since they want to be stronger, which means wiping out everyone juts strengthen them, even if they’re on the same side of the force.

    1. Syal says:

      “look how beautiful this is without the empire destroying all the nature”

      Ha, I’m imagining Cal pointing out pretty things and then just constantly ruining it with potshots at the Empire.

      “This forest really makes you think about your place in history, and it all grew without a dime from burdensome Imperial tax hikes.”

      “Have you ever seen a more beautiful sunset? You know a Clone could never appreciate this.”

      “Take a breath, and appreciate this air. Clear, and fresh, and without sticking in your clothes and following you around like the exhaust from the Empire’s factories would.”

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I don’t think this kind of “Highlander dynamic” fits the Force concept (or what I consider “the Force concept” since it differs strongly even between ostensibly canonical authors). The way I see it narratively Force is more about exploring the mushy concepts like emotions, conscience, morality, redemption and so on and I disliked it when stories tried to put it down to some “mechanics”.

      But if you want more of that some, other than Highlander, examples that I can think of that touch on this are some old Larry Niven’s fantasy stories collectively titled “The Magic Goes Away”, which deal with magic as a finite resource, and there is a comic book series (tags as it’s not something that’s immediately revealed as a story point) Rising Stars.

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      There could also be a few time where you’d arrive at some spectacular (natural) vista and he could call her with some sort of “look how beautiful this is without the empire destroying all the nature”,

      “… You do realize you’re helping me pinpoint your location, with these holos you keep sending me?”

      But yeah, that sounds like a nice idea.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        “I regularly cross these things in a matter of minutes to hours, I’ll be off the planet soon ANYWAY, I routinely meet your soldiers in ambush positions regularly again, and you don’t exactly have a good track-record for finishing the job. Say what you want about your old master, but she actually successfully killed the people she intended to.”

  16. Jack V says:

    The masked villain is secretly the apprentice of the mysterious mentor with a troubled past, now turned against them to the dark side? YOU DON’T SAY!

    Ok, actually that’s pretty well done. It speaks well of starwars that they can use basically the same plot again and it feels really interesting.

  17. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

    Fun story time. When I was in college we played a Star Wars D20 game -set in the New Republic where we were all Jedi. In the course of the game, we all started chaffing against the dark side rules -I specifically remember getting a dark side point for force-pushing an attacker off of one of the other apprentices, because “A Jedi uses the Force for Defense, never for attack.”

    Apparently lightsabering the guy was fine, but telekinetically putting him in a body-bind was just wrong. (Yes, the DM was probably being over-literal about the dark side point rules).

    Anyway, this led to a discussion of the powers that were considered per se evil. The use of force lightning is instant dark side points.

    “I mean, what non-evil use does force lightning even have?”

    I responded: “Now dead power cell… you will… CHARGE!”

    Still among my favorite gaming 1-liners.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      Hey, it’s 1st edition D&D morality all over again! Hacking an orc to pieces with a sword can be a good act, but using a poison that kills them in a fraction of the time with far less pain is EVIL!

      (I’ve played them all, and I don’t know that any edition of D&D has ever really explained alignment in a coherent way. But 1st edition was really the weirdest combination of ostensibly late 20th century Midwestern American values and some theme park version of medieval chivalry.)

  18. Khwarezm says:

    I think I disagree with a lot in this post and I’ll detail why here.

    I don’t really have enough of a deep understanding of torture to comment on the moral implications of breaking to it, but I do know that as a way of actually getting useful information from people torture is notoriously unreliable, notoriously unreliable the general consensus seems to be that under heavy torture people will say essentially anything to make it end, but that tends to mean that the information they give is extremely unreliable since they say anything to stop it (funnily, Nice Guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs accurately notes this when the other gangsters are torturing the cop when he says “If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he’ll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don’t necessarily make it fucking so!”). It also seems as though torture takes on a purpose as a crude display of power for the torturer, with the expectation that it plays to their preconceptions, that’s why torture often entails forcing the victim to agree to a pre-determined conclusion as laid out by the person torturing them.

    I don’t know if its scientifically accepted that absolutely anyone will break to torture if given enough time and pressure, but certainly in culture at large there’s a particularly heroic association given towards those who seem to resist torture all the way to the bitter end, in Russia for example Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya gained a heroic status after being killed in horrifying torture by the Nazis all the while refusing to give up anything. This regard for resisting torture takes new heights when it comes to religious icons, many christian saints and martyrs reached great heights of acclaim for not buckling to torture, mental or physical, and maintaining their faith till the end, Saint Lawrence is famous for being literally cooked to death, but still saying to his torturer while on the spit “I’m done on this side, turn me over!”. And the badass who never folds to torture no matter how hard they get pushed and instead comes back with a funny quip when his jailer demands him to talk is a constantly recurring trope to this day in all kinds of media, especially action movies.

    All of this is to say that not buckling under torture is an expectation of people that would be considered ‘Heroic’ in culture going back millennia, and that torture isn’t a good way to reveal actually useful information in the first place. I think this is what they were doing with Trilla and Cere, the expectation is that Cere is a Jedi and a good guy, in most other works of media that would suggest that the story would have her resist the torture and not say anything that would put others in danger because that’s just what we expect from our protagonists, for better or for worse. Instead it (Drumroll please) *Subverts Expectations* and shows that a Jedi like Cere can break just like anyone else, she didn’t have special plot armor and she wasn’t some unbreakable rock like we’ve come to expect, instead she relented and gave information that directly hurt people who depended on her. Yeah its extremely unfair that she be held somehow accountable for that considering this is a very human reaction and she can’t really be expected to do anything else in that kind of scenario, but I know from what I’ve read with regards to real life people who broke under torture and informed to the likes of the Nazis that this meant little to the people who were part of the fallout of this, they were still often branded as traitors, or weak and self interested. It sucks, but its how it often goes with people’s reactions, especially if they live in a culture where resisting torture is the height of heroism.

    I think this is what they were doing with Cere, sure its unfair for Trilla to hold her accountable when you really step back and look at it, but it doesn’t matter, Trilla feels as though this specific person (who presumably she looked up to as a parental figure her whole life) sold her out at to the worst possible outcome she could have imagined. She’s not thinking 100% logically but its kind of hard to blame her if she feels as though she can blame her personally for what happens. Its not meant to be commendable so much as understandable on her part, Cere breaking essentially destroyed her world, its probably why she went to the Dark Side so thoroughly since it suggested that the Jedi were ultimately weak and unable to stand against the brutal power of the Dark Side and the Empire.

    I think Cal’s reaction is colored by his personal experiences and, again, aren’t meant to be 100% rational, he has had 2 different people essentially die to save his life, older people that he looked up to, so I think he looks at Cere and has a harsher diagnosis than she deserves because he’s measuring her against people he knows sacrificed everything to save others, something she was unable to do. Additionally I think he’s also projecting some of his guilt on to her (it was likely an intentional part of the writing that they are both guilty about not saving those closest to them but with Cere being a master failing her pupil and Cal being a pupil failing his master, ultimately their arc is overcoming these feelings of guilt for things they never really could control). He’s also angry that Cere did not tell him this earlier and withheld such information (which only highlights her guilt in his mind), and fearful that if she was captured again that he couldn’t rely on her not do the same to him (especially since he has far less of a personal connection to him than she did to Trilla). That’s how I see it all anyway, I think it mostly makes sense in terms of the overall characters and isn’t meant to be taken as something where everyone is behaving perfectly rationally.

    As a side note, all of this is one of the reasons why Star Trek’s “Chain of Command” episode is one of the best explorations of torture I’ve ever seen.

    Also, I disagree with your interpretation of Luke’s fight with Vader, in the movie Vader mentioning Leia is thing that drives Luke to go on the offensive, and it ends with him having crippled and mutilated his father and with the Emperor very happy that things seem to be going to plan. That’s the perverse thing about the dark side, the Emperor is very happy that Luke has such strong feelings towards his sister because he sees this as a gateway to manipulate him into taking drastic actions that he might otherwise regret because he’s blinded by the fury of his emotions, Luke’s love of his sister is causing him to give into his hatred, its only when he fully stops himself from taking the next step and finishing off Vader that the Emperor sours. The ultimate point seems to be that violent aggression, even if its for a good reason, blinds one to Light side and makes them vulnerable to the temptations and easy solutions of the Dark Side (like just killing people in hot blood). As bad as the Prequels are, the way that this is expanded on with Anakin seems to suggest that this is how Lucas always envisioned the Dark Side. I don’t know if this really impacts Jedi: Fallen Order, but I just thought I’d mention it.

  19. Fizban says:

    It feels less like Trilla can’t think straight and more like the writer really does think that breaking under torture is a betrayal.

    I’m pretty sure quite a few people actually do believe that. Probably about as many as believe that torture always works. If you’re raised on stories where the heroes are tortured but never break, and surrounded by role models who (at least seem to you like) would never break, and maybe throw in a dash of never having actually faced such a challenge (pain caused by something or someone that has absolute control over you), then yeah.

    Or to make it short and pithy, people with good happy soft lives could and probably often do believe that breaking under torture is a failure of the victim. Just how people with hard enough lives probably often believe that absolutely anyone can be broken eventually. And the truth will of course be in the middle with a huge grey area based on the individual victim, torturer, and means available.

    “Honorary” related mention of the Sword of Truth series, which has a whole faction of “dominatrix” styled torturers who can totally break anyone (except the main character) and were all recruited this way and totally love their new jobs, but are also strong independant women who don’t need no master (except the main character they decide to serve), but are also fluffy and tragic, and hell those books are effed.

    1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Eh. The Romans lauded people who died rather than break under torture. The Books of the Martyrs are filled with people who died rather than break under torture. Jennifer Snow points out below that Cal’s own backstory is his master dying to protect Cal.

      The Jedi are a religious order -it is entirely reasonable to expect members of a religious order to prefer martyrdom to apostasy -CF the book Silence, among other literary treatments. See also the Donatist heresy.

      Whether this is the story the game tells, I can easily see Cal (and by extension, Trilia) believing that Cere should have died. And the fact that she didn’t is the betrayal. It would be a very good arc to have one or both of them realize that failing to live up to expectations (and to be clear -as the Master in the Religious order, Cere actually should have died rather than let the Empire take her apprentice -even if that means doubling back and charging them to give Trilia even more time to escape -just like it was actually required of the non-apostasizing priests to die rather than give up their Bibles and churches) is not unforgiveable. The Donatists (Cal in this story) were wrong.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        If the victim dies, that’s more of a failure on the torturers part than anything else though. They’re not actually supposed to kill their victim. So expecting people to die under torture is kind of making them responsible for something they can’t control.

  20. Sweawm says:

    Having enjoyed so many retrospectives before, I really wanted to follow this one along, especially since I did quite enjoy Fallen Order, but man, is it absolutely clear that Shamus can’t actually see the game or even Star Wars itself through anything but a lens of years of baseless reinterpretations. This whole ‘righteous anger’ take on RotJ, as others have already explained here, just ices the cake of just how completely and utterly opposed these reinterpretations have become to the actual movies themselves.

    Going all the way back to part one of this series, and the whole original trilogy purism. Jedi are isolated pacifist monks? They weren’t called the Jedi Order in the OT, they were the Jedi KNIGHTS, knight being a highly militaristic title, and claimed to have kept ‘peace and justice’ in the Republic for a thousand generations. The idea the Jedi were meant to be these little known monks is absolutely unsubstantiated, its pure fanon. It originated in Prequel criticism, from those wanting to view the already praised OT through even rosier glasses. They built up this more supposedly ‘intellectual’ and ‘sophisticated’ version of Star Wars that never existed to try to separate the original movies they liked from the flashy action of the Prequels. They forget at its core, Star Wars is meant to be an adventure, with a simple, yet effective moral centre.

    The two differing styles of the Sequels are both guilty of this misguided OT worship. Whether it be Force Awakens / Rise of Skywalker who think Star Wars can only be an aping of the original’s atheistic and beats, and the Last Jedi, who think the future of the franchise is to become a deconstruction of itself, although a deconstruction based on the aforementioned fanon of the saga.

    1. Shamus says:

      “years of baseless reinterpretations”

      Uh, I give my basis for the interpretations, right in the article? It’s fine if you disagree or see it through some other lens, but I’m not making ship up for some nefarious reason. And of course, I first saw the movies through the eyes of a child, and then through the eyes of an adult, and then later I saw the prequels as I entered my 30s. That’s going to result in a very different interpretation compared to someone who saw them all together. And like I said at the start, the prequel and sequel trilogies feel alien to me. So of course my interpretation is going to diverge as the series runs on, adding more and more episodes that feel like bad fanfiction to me.

      It’s fine if you don’t like my take on it, don’t don’t project bad faith arguments onto me.

      1. Sweawm says:

        Okay, I may have put it very harshly, but I think more so my point is I don’t see why you want to put the franchise, and particularly Fallen Order, on trial for not living up to as what you say is merely an interpretation of the source material. There’s a lot of dumb stuff in Fallen Order to be sure, but most of the time, you seem to be stirred to an almost state of maliciousness because of those biases, like #jedihaditcoming, and all.

        In Fallen Order, they want you to think Cordova as a wise scholar, at least one who didn’t have the foresight to know the Empire that had not risen yet would make his planet hopping treasure hunt a lot more dangerous. Knock that as you will, its really just a device of the plot to justify the adventuring around. As you write it through, you cast qualities like arrogance and stupidity onto him. It makes this critique feel less like you’re indeed poking holes into Fallen Order, and instead feels more like a very mean spirited bashing about something you already decided you dislike.

        1. Shamus says:

          “I don’t see why you want to put the franchise, and particularly Fallen Order, on trial for not living up to as what you say is merely an interpretation of the source material.”

          Well, I’m a critic, and I can’t look at the series through anyone else’s eyes. And it would be silly for me to try.

          And yes, the artifact hunt is just silly video game tropes and completely harmless. I’m going to continue to poke holes in it for most of the rest of this series, because sometimes tropes are funny.

          “maliciousness because of those biases, like #jedihaditcoming”

          Spoiler: This is a running joke, which I thought would be obvious when I called Dark Helmet a “wise leader”. It’s also a setup for something later, which I don’t want to spoil.

          1. RFS-81 says:

            What’s the connection between Dark Helmet and #jedihaditcoming? It’s been a while since I watched Space Balls. (Actually, I don’t remember if I ever watched it in English…)

            EDIT: Or did you just mean that it was obviously a joke because it came after your line about Dark Helmet?

            1. Shamus says:

              Yes. The second option.

  21. I still think that the major issue with the storyline and some of these huge, glaring character issues is that they didn’t introduce Cal’s backstory until WAY late in the story.

    See, Cal’s overreaction about Cere’s reveal makes sense when you know that Cal’s mentor *literally died* to save him *after he screwed up* and that Cal’s been carrying unresolved guilt about this. Once you realize that’s been going on in the background, Cal’s behavior suddenly makes sense. He WORSHIPS his mentor. Cere basically showed up while he was all alone and offered to mentor him again. So, yes, of course he’s super-upset when it turns out Cere botched taking care of her previous apprentice. It’s clear that the concept of torture is just an abstraction to Cal at this point. He can’t see it in a realistic light. He’s just a barely-grown traumatized kid who lost their parent, acquired a new one, and that one turned out to be flawed.

    It’s actually a really good arc but they BOTCHED it because they TOLD THE STORY IN THE WRONG ORDER. If we’d known about Cal’s personal experiences his motivations and reactions would make sense. Since we don’t, he seems irrational. Just not letting us witness Cal’s escape until way late in the story blew a giant hole in everything that didn’t have to exist.

    Later on, when Cal experiences his own failure and traumatizing experience, he’s able to forgive Cere because he now has a more realistic view of what life is actually about.

    Also, Cal looks derpy because his eyes are too big. It’s subtle and if you’re not an artistic type you probably won’t pick up on it, but for some reason they slightly increased the eye size on Cere and Cal, possibly in an effort to make their expressions a little more readable, and it had the result of making them look a little . . . off.

    1. Smosh says:

      One of the more shallow reasons I never got into this game was because Cal looks like a complete moron. Funny that this is just eye size.

    2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      How do they mess up a shot that easy?

      1. It’s actually been a recurring problem with EA games and I have a suspicion it’s because they want a playable-trailer-friendly initial section, so they keep doing these godawful in medias res openers to their games that are literally designed NOT to properly introduce the story because they are set up to avoid spoilers.

        The opening of Jedi: Fallen Order was very obviously designed to be a playable demo. It has your PERFECT demo arc and tells you absolutely frick all about what’s actually going on.

        This is just speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they initially HAD it set up so that you do Cal’s backstory first and then some marketing wonk from EA came in and was all “but we can’t demo this, it’s not exciting enough, do something that’ll grab ’em by the testicles” so they re-worked the game setup but didn’t have the time or money to re-do all the stuff they’d already done, so the hole in the story that was caused by not doing Cal’s background early enough didn’t get fixed.

  22. camycamera says:

    Honestly, Cere should’ve been the protagonist. She is the one with all the agency in the story, who recruits Cal and tells him where to go. She has an emotional connection to the central villain that, if re-written to suit her being the protagonist, that could be interesting.

    Plus, she fights with a blaster AND a lightsaber, which is pretty fucking cool. Her character in this game suffers from a little bit too much Way Too Serious All The Time syndrome for my taste, but she’s certainly a far more interesting character than Cal. (No offense to Cal’s actor, he gave a fine performance for the script he was given).

    Unfortunately though, she doesn’t tick the design-by-committee’s prerequisite of the protagonist needing to be a Generic White Male because the stats say that sells more and we won’t risk the outrage like we had with Battlefield V.

    Thanks EA.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      The irony of you mentioning representation checkboxes without realising the that’s what CERE was, not Cal, is kind of amusing. Less amusing is your disgusting racism.

      1. Shamus says:

        Hey hey hey! There’s REALLY no reason to come out swinging here.

        Look, I get why you’re making this argument. There are indeed people who curl their lip and say “Straight white male” like a pejorative. And yes, that’s a Bad Thing. But not everyone who says it, means it as a pejorative. Like, camycamera didn’t say anything bad about hetro pale dudes. They just expressed frustration at the current demographics of protagonists. If I complain that there are way too many military shooters, it doesn’t mean I hate military people, or people that like shooters.

        Be careful with the R-word. It should not be tossed around carelessly.

      2. MelTorefas says:

        The irony of you mentioning representation checkboxes without realising the that’s what CERE was, not Cal, is kind of amusing. Less amusing is your disgusting racism.

        Cere has good reasons to be in this story, as the original poster indicates, whereas Cal is, at least at this point, narratively irrelevant, as Shamus points out. The fact that you see Cere as being the one who is fulfilling the checkbox requirement says more about your particular biases than about the original poster’s. That you immediately proceed to an inflammatory personal attack only seems to confirm this.

    2. Asdasd says:

      Have you considered how redheads might feel about seeing you calling for the erasure (not to be dramatic about it or anything) of one of the few ginger protagonists in games? Doesn’t strike me as hugely empathetic.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        FWIW Horizon Zero Dawn also has a ginger protagonist on a high budget release, thought she also suffers from a good bit of bland personality typical of design-by-committee

    3. SpurdoSparde says:

      Recently the Baldur’s Gate 3 devs complained on their twitter that the most popular character created was a handsome Straight White Male. Which I find funny, because it implies they thought it would be anything else. The people who are willing to drop $60+ on an action RPG are almost entirely Straight White Men. Representation of your audience is important, and Cal Kestis is exactly what that representation looks like. Straight White Men are here to stay. We’re not going anywhere. Get over it.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Did they really? What could they have hoped to achieve with such a complaint, beyond stirring up division and anger in their own community?

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Okay, so I went and looked it up and for the record, here is the post’s text in its entirety:

          Congratulations, you’ve basically made the default Vault Dweller. What the hell guys. We gave you demon eyes, horns, and even tails. We are sorely disappointed. Go crazy. We worked hard on this!

          accompanied by the picture of a very bland white male character. This really isn’t some kind of “everybody make queer black halflings or GTFO” that some people seem to treat it as.

          1. Asdasd says:

            Fair enough!

            This is basically what happens with all games featuring customisable PCs mind you. The self-insert is the overwhelmingly popular option, often with a dash of photogeniality thrown in.

            1. Syal says:

              And of course the default. Most people don’t actually want to make something.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I seem to recall Larian weren’t making the comment in the context of racism or sexism but more in the context of fantasy races and various exotic bits you can add to the character. I do wonder what the spread looks like for, say, D:OS2 ((a relevant Ctrl+Alt+Del comics*) or for Morrowind (where I know I’ve always played either Dunmer, Khajit or Argonian). Additionally, if we want to treat it as a launching point for A Big Talk I feel that, unless there was a followup, they did not discuss the exact methodology of arriving at that character other than “these were the most popular choices”. Apologies (sorry, not sorry) for bringing academic approach into this but here’s some examples of things to consider:

        -Even if white male humans are the dominant choice what exact percentage are they? How does this reflect the gender and racial division in the playerbase?
        -How many of these characters have been played to the (current version’s) completion or even just for a significant amount of time and how does that percentage compare to other character types? For example I made a bunch of “default” characters in Pathfinder:Kingmaker when I was testing various class mechanics and later mods because I’m not going to spend an hour fiddling with the settings for something I’m just going to run through the tutorial.
        -What is the consensus on the mechanics of a given race in this particular game? For example in some version of D&D humans were popular with many mechanically oriented players because of their greater flexibility that could outweigh many contextual racial bonuses.
        -If we want to go the “white male” route this is not limited to humans, white male elves, white male dwarves etc. would also apply.

        To be clear I do not disagree with what I believe is the core of your statement, that “most players are white males and they will create a white male”. I also don’t see a particular issue with that. I just feel like people on both sides are blowing this one statement, made in the spirit of jest and maybe friendly ribbing, out of proportion and trying to use it in a way that it was not inteded, nor does it have the necessary qualities, to be.

        And finally, if I were to be really nitpicky I’d mention that at no point (again, unless there was a follwup) do Larian mention straight, that is entirely on you.

        *Although for the record D:OS2 specifically has a very strong “our elves are different”, also you can play an undead of any race.

        1. Syal says:

          My first Morrowind character was a Khajiit, but the Nords in that game are immune to ice and the Bretons have 50% magic resistance which can be increased to 100% fairly easily, and they’re both generic white classes.

          1. Decius says:

            Morrowind’s mechanics and worldbuilding simply acknowledge that the fantasy racism exists and don’t try to moralize.

            I actually like that some races can’t wear boots or gloves, even though it creates a gameplay disadvantage that makes those races suboptimal.

      3. Gethsemani says:

        I have a problem with Larian’s response for the simple reason that all the “cool” or “unique” customization options are for Tieflings. Humans, Elves and the others don’t get nearly as much customization (and definitely not as much radically different or strange) as the Tieflings do. Tieflings are also, in lore, the offspring of demon-mortal relations and are often shunned, so there are many reasons why someone might not want to play a Tiefling. Playing Human, especially in a first playthrough for a new game or in an unfamiliar setting, is also a way to keep something familiar while you get acquainted with the game world or setting. For someone who’s never done D&D or Forgotten Realms before (or just ain’t sure where and when BG3 takes place) it makes sense to choose the race option that you can always relate to. Later on, when you understand the game world it is far more common that people pick the “out there” options, because that’s when people feel they can relate to what being a Tiefling, Aasimar or Dragonblooded means.

        1. Gautsu says:

          Two things:
          1) I find it interesting that how both sides of the idealogical divide have latched on to the statement by Larian as an example of the opposite thinking
          2) I miss 2nd Edition Tieflings when it wasn’t just horns and tails, but maybe your character had digitigrade goat legs, or your skin was half ebony, half ivory directly down the middle, webbed toes and fingers kind of stuff. Not just generic demonic/devilish/daemonic appearances

  23. Dreadjaws says:

    It would help sell the notion the Cere had been somehow compromised by the Dark Side, and frame this failing as a Bad Thing. It would sell the notion that her emotional outburst had perhaps given her a bit of a vindictive streak, and that she’s currently blind to it.

    I’m sure this was sort of the intention of the game. That’s why the story has Cere cutting herself from the Force, as the moment she regains use of it she starts falling into the Dark Side again. Properly done, it’d be an interesting idea (if not particularly original) as it shows Cere has stopped believing in herself and deliberately cut herself off as a last resort, so the Dark Side couldn’t tempt her anymore. This is clearly what the game intends to show, but I think it does a terrible job of it.

    For one, it would, as you say, work much better if the story had Cere’s brush with the Dark Side come with lasting consequences, such as bloodlust or a willingness to use others for her personal goals. I get that the Dark Side wasn’t able to tempt her anymore, but cutting herself from the Force altogether would surely mean the Light Side wasn’t there to guide her either.

    Also, this would make Cal’s lack of trust against her have something to stand on. Previously he might have noticed the signs but ignored them, and only puts the pieces together once Trilla tells him what happened. Cal realizes Cere is compromised and her cutting herself off from the Force could have been counterproductive, so he tries to convince her to let the Force back in, so she can welcome the Light Side back but has to fight the Dark Side out. She refuses out of fear, so he gets upset at her.

    Damn, I wrote this comment about 24 hours ago, but I forgot to send it. *facepalm*

  24. Radkatsu says:

    “It made Cal seem like a complete dimwit.”

    More accurately, it makes the writer seem like one.

  25. Dev Null says:

    “I never choke people or shoot lightning, and the piles of corpses I leave behind are always Bad People, therefore I’m Light Side.”

    Ew.

    The problem with the more interesting take on the force is that it makes for terrible videogames (at least in most common genres.) The player in an RPG or shooter is basically the definition of the Dark Side Force; “I’m just gonna kill as many of these mooks as possible in order to get power faster.” Explain that away with speciesism all you like, it’s pretty Dark Side (“It’s ok, I only murder robots and faceless clones. Robots and clones that can clearly think, and feel, and have personalities. I murder those too.”) So while I totally agree about liking the more nuanced version from the first trilogy of the films – back when their stoicism and denial of emotion is showcased as the Jedi Order’s flaw, not a feature to be emulated – I think a game that really embraced that model might make the player’s actions feel really jarring and incongruous.

  26. “It feels less like Trilla can’t think straight and more like the writer really does think that breaking under torture is a betrayal”
    For a Jedi to not resist the darkside is considered a betrayal of the light side. Remember that the Jedi is a religious order.

    “the Dark Side is supposed to represent temptation. It should appeal to your weakness, your vanity, your selfishness. As Yoda explained in Empire Strikes Back, it represents a quick and easy path to power”
    It does, but it’s also “alive” and it’s addictive, like a drug.

    Remember when Darth Vader says to Luke ” It’s too late for me son” when Luke says he could bring him back to the light side.
    Vader knew he was drawn too far into the darkside to ever escape, he had given up/surrendered to it (probably years ago).

    “Vader prods his mind and discovers that Luke has a sister that he cares for. So Vader announces that she will be the next target”
    What Vader is doing here is what the Emperor also does when talking to Luke, using the force to envelope the target jedi with the dark side. Those are not just words, they carry the dark side with them.

    I kinda wish George Lucas had visualized the darkside when the Emperor speaks to Anakin for example (or Luke for that matter). We would probably have seen dark smoke tendrils or something reaching out from The Emperor and around Anakin or Luke, enveloping them in a fog that gets darker and darker.

    If you have ever been around certain storms you might have noticed that the air can feel a tad heavy at times, almost oppressing.

  27. Abnaxis says:

    Cal gets all worked up over this, and later he even repeats the accusation of “betrayal” to Cere’s face.

    My reading was that Cal was scandalized because Cere lied by omission about what really happened. Cere said she was tortured, but she didn’t say how or why Trilla got caught.

    I think the idea is that the reveal is supposed to parallel Like funding out about Vader bring his father. I’m pretty sure Cal literally does an ESB-style “why didn’t you tell me” right after the “reveal”.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      OMFG phone typing ahoy above

  28. Decius says:

    Any game with lightsabers and health bars has a pretty huge dissonance.

    A graze with a lightsaber is a third-degree burn, requiring hours in a bacta tank to treat. A hit is going to be a severed limb or worse.

  29. John V says:

    I’m pretty sure the betrayal is that Cere didn’t tell Cal about Trilla being the second sister. Cere clearly knows that they’re being hunted by Trilla and made the conscious decision to withhold valuable information about her.

  30. Dennis says:

    I definitely didn’t think as much about Trilla’s anger as you did. Good point that her perceived issues with Cere are the same as herself.

    Also, typo:

    >Luke attacking his Father to protect his sister

    While Vader did essentially return from the dead, I’m not sure he’s heavenly or warrants capitalization mid-sentence

  31. Tamsin says:

    Cere says she used the Dark Side because she used the Dark Side. The Dark Side is a part of the Force that exists, and she tapped into it in order to do what she did in that torture room. The Light and Dark sides of the Force aren’t just about intentions, they are literal extant manifestations, and Cere delved into the Dark to pull out the power to do that. *That’s* why she retreated from the Force afterwards, because she found in herself someone willing to use the Dark Side when desperate. She doesn’t care about killing the troopers, she cares that she was willing to access the part of the Force strictly forbidden for good reason and she doesn’t trust herself not to do that again.

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