Jedi Fallen Order Part 19: Pay For Your Lack of Vision

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 7, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 111 comments

We arrive back on Bogano, which is where our MacGuffin is waiting for us. Essentially Master Cordova hid this supremely important and sensitive bit of intelligence on this secret planet that only Jedi know about, and then he created a planet-hopping scavenger hunt that would require us to brave treacherous territory and attract Imperial attention to get the Astrum to open the vault. Anyone could have showed up and grabbed the Astrum at any time. The Empire could have taken it just because they hoard relics. Malicos could have taken it just because it was a cool Jedi thing sitting in the creepy tomb where he ruled over the hapless locals. The locals could have taken it because it’s theirs and maybe they’re attached to it. 

This is like putting all your valuables in a bank vault, but then storing the key for the vault in the middle of a warzone, inside of a despotic nation, in territory controlled by a ruthless drug cartel. Those layers of danger aren’t protecting your key, they’re endangering it further

Well there’s no use crying over it nowHe said, just after spending two paragraphs doing Exactly That.. We have the Astrum, so let’s get this holocron thing.

Cal returns to the vault where this whole mess began and inserts the Astrum. A door opens, and Cal approaches the dark reflective surface hiding behind it. This causes him to…

Hang On, WHAT?

The door finally opens up to reveal... A NEW CAR! (Game show music plays.)
The door finally opens up to reveal... A NEW CAR! (Game show music plays.)

Yeah. The Astrum just opened a door. That’s it. It was a big stone door. Not only was the key “hidden” in a place that made it vulnerable to pilfering, but the door itself was completely mundane. Cal could have ended this ridiculous adventure before it started by just spending a couple of minutes cutting with his lightsaber. More importantly, that means the Empire could easily force the door open, drill through it, or blow it up. A single stone door is not an impediment to a galactic Empire armed with magical future technology. 

Worse, the door doesn’t even lead anywhere! Behind the door is a reflective wall, and when you touch it you have a vision. We basically just crossed the galaxy and fought three different Sith Lords so we could slip the dust cover off a touchscreen.

I’m not just nitpicking here. This will actually become important in a few minutes.

This is yet another place in the second half of the game where it feels like maybe there was supposed to be a big section of platforming and puzzle-solving, but instead we just jump to a cutscene.

So anyway…

The Vision

If I was composing the final message of my entire civilization, I would definitely try to get into more specifics than this.
If I was composing the final message of my entire civilization, I would definitely try to get into more specifics than this.

Cal finds himself walking through a Zeffo temple. An ancient Zeffo sage speaks to him about their fallen society. He tells Cal: 

“Dogma blinded us to the path of balance and gradually we allowed our pride to corrupt us. The greater control we sought, the further we fell into ruin.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this reveal. It’s just that it doesn’t really tell us anything interesting. It doesn’t answer a big lingering question. It doesn’t say HOW they were killed by pride. Did they start a war they couldn’t finish? Did they embrace technology they couldn’t control? Did they all starve to death because everyone was too proud to cook dinner? What happened beyond this vague idea of “We were too proud”?

This isn’t wrong, it’s just a missed opportunity. Maybe some of Cardova’s vague rambling could have made us curious about their fate, and this monologue could be the big reveal / payoff. Maybe Cere and Cal could have wondered where the Jedi went wrong, and the Zeffo’s message could answer that question. The story could have proposed some philosophical question about the Force, and the Zeffo’s last message could have contained some “Do or do not, there is no try” type fortune-cookie wisdom that resonated with our heroes.

The encounter on Ilos in Mass Effect 1 was a powerful scene because it answered questions that had been gnawing at us since the start of the game, and it brought meaning and resolution to Shepard’s vision. Here the Zeffo sage just shares some vague laments with no applicable lessons for our heroes.

I want to stress that this scene isn’t bad. It’s serviceable. But it could have been spectacular

But Think of the Children!

Cal watches a vision of his future self, teaching the kids. Also: Do these brats EVER age!?!?
Cal watches a vision of his future self, teaching the kids. Also: Do these brats EVER age!?!?

Cal proceeds past the sage and enters a vision of the future. His future self has evidently used the holocron to round up a bunch of children, who are still somehow children, even at this unknown point in the future. The Empire attacks and kidnaps all the kids. Cal evidently becomes an inquisitor. 

The cutscene doesn’t really show Cal’s conversion. He enters the vision as his normal self and then exits wearing an Imperial uniform. There’s no reason given for his conversation, which takes some of the bite out of this. I guess we just have to assume this is another case of conversion via torture. 

Cal then confronts this dark image of himself, and the vision ends.

Again, I think this idea of the Empire torturing everyone to make them evil is a less interesting idea than having the Empire offer a deal of “Join or Die”, and then slowly eroding a person’s will by pushing them through a series of moral compromises. 

To show you what I’m talking about, let me explain…

How I Would Do it

I like that Cal falls to evil without losing the derpy look on his face. As a Sith, he's really going to need that helmet if he wants his enemies to take him seriously.
I like that Cal falls to evil without losing the derpy look on his face. As a Sith, he's really going to need that helmet if he wants his enemies to take him seriously.

The Empire shows up at wherever Cal is running his Jedi school. Instead of shooting everyone, they talk to him. If you’ve ever seen the opening of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, then you know how tense this sort of standoff can be. 

On the Imperial side of the frame we have a nice bunch of perfectly reasonable bureaucrats. Looming behind them are  a couple of Inquisitors and a bunch of shock troopers. On the opposite side of the frame we see Cere and Cal with a bunch of young students behind them. These two groups sort of loosely mirror each other in terms of standing formation. The Jedi side of the frame is (say) grassy and warm, while the Imperial side of the frame has them standing on stone or bare ground. Maybe we set this scene at sunset and have the Imperial side backlit by a red sunset and the Jedi side be a fading blue sky. This is a dream / vision of the future, so we’re free to lean really hard into stylish presentations like this to set our mood.

The bureaucrats want to talk to Cal about this school he’s running. They don’t want Cal teaching any more Jedi heretics that will stab the benevolent Empire in the back, so Cal needs to run his school under Sith supervision.

Cal tries to argue, but the alternative is that they purge everyone. “But hey,” says the bureaucrat, “Let’s be reasonable here. Nobody wants to see anything bad happen to these kids. I’m on your side. I just want to see your school run properly. Don’t let your pride get all these kids killed.” (This dialog is obviously a paraphrase. I’m not going to bang out several pages of proper script for this thought experiment. You get the idea.)

Then we cut to sometime later. The Sith headmaster (just another inquisitor) is telling Cal that he needs to be harsher with the kids. He needs to inflict pain to teach the kids how to endure it. He needs to let the weak kids fail to motivate the strong ones to try harder. He needs to teach them obedience to make sure they stay in line.

Cal naturally objects. “No problem,” says the headmaster, “You can step down and we’ll give your teaching job to Darth Psycho Torture Face here and he can teach the kids. Now to be honest, I don’t think he’s a very good teacher. Sometimes he gets too worked up and we, uh…. lose a few students, if you see what I mean. I’d much rather you have the job. Just use a firmer hand. You’ll see. This is really best for everyone.”

Then we cut to later and see Cal being ruthless and cold towards his students. When they ask why he’s so mean, he explains that, “This is for your own good.”

We get a final conversation with an inquisitor where she tells Cal, “Your students are too attached to you. It makes them sentimental. Weak.” Cal asks what he’s supposed to do, and she hands him a helmet saying, “Keep yourself at a distance. Make them fear you.” Cal hesitates and she adds, “If you really care about them, you will do this.”

So then Cal slips on the black helmet. He turns to face the camera, revealing Kestus the Inquisitor. Maybe he can repeat the quasi-catchphrase of his late Master Jaro Tapal by greeting his students with, “It’s time for instruction,” but in a threatening voice to show how Jaro’s stoic firmness has been twisted into heartless cruelty. 

In my version he wasn’t instantly converted into a bad guy through torture, he was worn away by years of compromises, controlled by fear, and forced to choose the lesser of two evils so many times that choosing evil began to feel normal.

The idea of “conversion through compromise” feels more insidious and makes the bad guys more interesting. It’s more in keeping of the theme of the Empire being Space-Facism. And most importantly, it gives us drama based on characters rather than the brute mechanics of torture as a brainwashing tool.

Maybe this would make people uncomfortable, but it’s better than the lazy, nonsensical, and ultimately boring idea that all of the bad guys are recruited via torture. If you’re not comfortable examining what might make someone good fall to evil, then maybe you shouldn’t build your entire story around good people falling to evil. Do or do not. There is no try.

Anyway, that’s what I’d have done. Let’s get back to Cal.

Cal is back in the temple, and now the holocron is revealed. He approaches it, and Trilla appears.

Oh Shit

This is a really cool shot. And I love how Cal reaches for his lightsaber just before she reveals herself, showing that all his character growth is also manifesting as a closer relationship with the force. I ALSO like that he doesn't immediately ignite his lightsaber. He's being forward-thinking and defensive, not aggressive and confrontational.
This is a really cool shot. And I love how Cal reaches for his lightsaber just before she reveals herself, showing that all his character growth is also manifesting as a closer relationship with the force. I ALSO like that he doesn't immediately ignite his lightsaber. He's being forward-thinking and defensive, not aggressive and confrontational.

So not only does she know that the holocron exists, she also knows what information is stored in it and where it was being kept. Evidently the Empire knew everything? All along?

As presented at the start of the story, the holocron was secret, what information it contained was secret, the location of this planet was secret, and the entire Cordova Galactic Scavenger Hunt was a secret. Supposedly, Cere was the only one who knew about any of this. But now somehow Trilla knows everything

I am curious how they learned so much. If Trilla knew this before she fellOr rather: Was shoved. to the Dark Side, then they always knew everything and Cere was a massive idiot for not realizing this. It also makes us wonder why the Empire didn’t show up with a wrecking ball months ago and bash open this door.

On the other hand, if Trilla didn’t know from the start, then it forces us to ask how they learned about it. It’s established that Trilla can hack communications or whatever, but that doesn’t explain how she learned all of this. Was Cere broadcasting a livestream whenever we had private talks on the ship?

I suppose we can make little hand-wave motions and blame it on the Force. It’s not like this is a Star Wars first.

Back in 1977, A New Hope showed us that Luke was a nobody farm boy who eventually blew up the Death Star. Then when we get to the opening of Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader has somehow learned his name and is searching for Luke. The movie never explained how Vader gained such oddly specific intelligence on the rebellion, but we have the handy excuse that the Force can hand out plot-based premonitions as needed.

C'mon, Cal. Put the holocron in your pocket before she yoinks it away with the force. You putz.
C'mon, Cal. Put the holocron in your pocket before she yoinks it away with the force. You putz.

But this end-game reveal is a little more troublesome because it forces us to look back on the plot and reexamine it in light of this new knowledge. In doing so it becomes obvious that:

  1. There is no explanation for how the Empire gained all of this supremely important intelligence short of “A wizard did it”, except the writer didn’t even make this clear and none of the good guys think to ask, “How did the Empire figure this out? Do we have a traitor in our midst?”
  2. This retroactively makes all of the Empire’s previous actions nonsensical. If they knew everything, then why were they trying to kill Cal the whole time? Judging by the number of times I wound up on the Game Over screen when fighting Second Sister, she wasn’t “pretending” to try and kill him. She was trying to kill him. But now we learn that her plan requires that Cal’s adventure is successful so she can steal the Holocron at the end.

Our first problem is that the Empire seems to abruptly gain unexplained access to critical intel, the second problem is that they never use it, and the third problem is that the good guys don’t seem to notice or care. 

I think you could patch over this if you made it clear that the Empire is suffering from a bit of infighting. We could say that all the sisters are scheming against each other, because everybody wants to be the one to defeat Cal. Killing or capturing Jedi is the most direct path to advancement within the Sith ranks, and now that the galaxy is low on Jedi the sisters are fighting hard over who gets to finish them off. So the sisters are all keeping secrets and backstabbing each other. Then all we’d need to do is have the good guys hang a lampshade on this situation and let the audience fill in the blanks however they want. 

Anyway, once Trilla and Cal trade a few verbal jabs, they get out their weapons to trade lightsaber jabs. We’ll see where that leads next time.

 

Footnotes:

[1] He said, just after spending two paragraphs doing Exactly That.

[2] Or rather: Was shoved.



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111 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 19: Pay For Your Lack of Vision

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    Instead of shooting everyone, they talk to him. If you’ve ever seen the opening of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, then you know how tense this sort of standoff can be.

    A Star Wars version of the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds with Christoph Waltz in those Inquisitor uniforms would be amusing.

  2. Alex says:

    when we get to the opening of Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader has somehow learned his name and is searching for Luke. The movie never explained how Vader gained such oddly specific intelligence on the rebellion, but we have the handy excuse that the Force can hand out plot-based premonitions as needed.

    I think it’s a lot simpler than that: Luke has no living relatives to endanger, and he’d just struck a massive blow for the Rebel Alliance’s morale. Vader could have just intercepted rebel propaganda telling sympathisers Luke Skywalker destroyed the terror weapon that destroyed Alderaan, not knowing the unique significance of the name Skywalker.

    1. John says:

      There’s also a time-skip of significant but undetermined length between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader presumably had plenty of time–and plenty of resources–to figure out Luke’s identity between films. He could theoretically have figured it out using the Force, but there’s no evidence for that in the films and no particular reason to believe that he did it that way.

      1. Daimbert says:

        There’s also a time-skip of significant but undetermined length between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

        It’s three years.

        And if we don’t assume that Imperial intelligence are utter morons and so are actually semi-competent, it wouldn’t be all that hard to get information on the people who were responsible for the Alliance’s greatest victory, even if they weren’t using it for direct propaganda. Especially since they were all given medals at a very public ceremony. Someone who befriended pretty much anyone there should be able to convince them to let the names slip in general, and their roles. Vader clearly wanted to know who the person with the Force abilities was, and so had reason to try to figure it out even without knowing that it was his son, which then would also carry over to being able to justify the search and the interest to the Emperor: there’s a strong Force user out there, who either needs to be killed or converted to their side.

        And the interest on both sides works even in light of the Rule of Two, because you can see it like the events in Darth Bane where both Vader and the Emperor are planning to train him and then use him to supplant the other. If he can be turned, both of them see him as being able to tip the balance between them, and if he can’t, then he has to die so he won’t become a threat.

        1. Geebs says:

          I hate the Rule of Two so, so much. It’s become the ur-example of a tossed-off phrase (“always two there are…”) suddenly becoming some ridiculously restrictive rule that affects the entire franchise.

          Plus it makes no sense. If you’re in a sith-uation where the apprentice had just bumped off his master but not yet taken on their own apprentice, then, logically, Only One There Is.

          1. Alex says:

            I like the Rule of Two as a Sith attempt to curb their own excesses. It is a recognition that inter-Sith relations are only stable as long as everyone knows their place, and adding a third Sith upsets that balance – either by the two weak Sith conspiring to destroy the strongest, or one of the weaker Sith using the strongest to destroy their closest competitor.

            1. Daimbert says:

              That’s exactly how it’s set out in the Darth Bane novels: the only way the Sith can survive without that Rule is by deliberately weakening themselves and their connection to the Dark Side with false ideals of equality and brotherhood, which Bane feels violates the proper ways and attitudes of the Sith. That’s also why third candidates don’t get added until one side or the other feels that the confrontation is nigh.

              1. Gethsemani says:

                I hate the Bane novels. The rule of two has so many obvious weaknesses that it is utter dross all the way through. The most glaring is the fact that all it takes is one case of bad luck or Republic luck to have both Master and Apprentice die and the Sith are gone. The second is that it will inevitably lead to poorer and poorer Sith as the only way for the master to remain master is to withhold important information from their apprentice as to retain a power advantage (and if you don’t you’re a really bad egotistical asshole). So each succession represents a catastrophic loss of all prior knowledge of the Sith institution and each following apprentice will know less and less, especially if the apprentice is a typical darksider and strikes the moment they have an opportunity. Then there’s the problem that any master can transfer all knowledge but go the Jade Empire route and leave important but imperceptible flaws in their apprentice’s training so that they can stop and subdue any attempted coup.

                I mean, at its core the idea of you training someone you know will one day try to kill you is so stupid that the Rule of Two should have stopped and died right there. Why would you? Especially if you can do the Force thing and live for centuries. And if you are going to leave a lasting legacy, why not train a bunch of apprentices near the end of your life. If you handpick five apprentices when you’re a hundred years old it will still take literal millennia for the Sith to grow to a number that would be noticeable in a galaxy of thousands of inhabited planets. The entire thing is a major contrivance and Bane comes off less as intelligent and cunning and more as tripping major balls and not realizing the glaring flaws in his plan. That is until the writer obviously agrees with Bane about how masterful his plan is.

                1. skaybay says:

                  > all it takes is one case of bad luck or Republic luck to have both Master and Apprentice die and the Sith are gone
                  “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck”
                  You forget that Sith are by definition immensely powerful, clairvoyant space wizards who can sense danger. The odds of them dying in a random volcano eruption are nil.

                  Sith apprenticeship under the rule of two is more akin to a PhD than to a traditional apprenticeship – you are not going to be tought everything by your mentor, but you will receive guidance in your own research. You can see it with Zannah – Bane never tought her Sith magick that she used to defeat him.

                  1. Syal says:

                    You forget that Sith are by definition immensely powerful, clairvoyant space wizards who can sense danger. The odds of them dying in a random volcano eruption are nil.

                    Unless they were busy doing space wizard things and someone picked them up and threw them in. But what are the chances?

                    But the biggest problem with the Rule of Two is it necessitates the Jedi being toothless. Otherwise the severe numerical advantage of the Jedi would have wiped out the Sith. So now we’ve got a story where the villains auto-win against the heroes across all of history. Whoopie.

                  2. RFS-81 says:

                    Bane nearly died at the end of book 2, before his apprentice was ready. It didn’t seem to be all according to keikaku.

                2. GoStu says:

                  How does the Rule of Two actually work in practice? Is it an inflexible general principle that Sith Work In Pairs – or is it the catastrophically stupid “there are only ever two Sith – a master and a student”?

                  The former is sort of interesting and workable, but I don’t think that’s what it is?

                  The “there are only ever two Sith” rule is so ridiculous that I can scarcely believe it’d be included. Does this mean the Sith can never be in the same place at the same time, lest one lucky strike by the Jedi wipe out their entire order forever? Does it mean that if the master gets killed while their apprentice is fresh and new, that the ‘master’ knows jack shit? I can sort of get that the Master sends the Apprentice into danger and then gets a new Apprentice if shit goes south, but what if the Apprentice turns on the Master and rats him out to the Jedi – now the Jedi have a bead on 100% of all Sith everywhere. Hell, what if the Apprentice and Master run each other through in a mutually-fatal duel for supremacy?

                  Heck, the galaxy is a HUGE place. Are there really only two bad guys for the whole galaxy? The Empire alone was massive. Endless star destroyers and so on… is there just TWO Sith to go with all that?

                  1. RFS-81 says:

                    So, on the one hand, you have a off-hand remark by Yoda in Episode I. That’s completely up to interpretation. On the other hand, you have Drew Karpyshyn’s sanctioned fanfic, the Darth Bane trilogy, where it’s explicitly the second alternative.

                    At the start of the story, there’s a huge Brotherhood of Sith. Bane figures that weaker Sith will repeatedly gang up on the strongest because they’re compulsive backstabbers. That way, the Brotherhood must ultimately weaken and destroy itself. Therefore, he decides that there must be exactly two Sith. When the apprentice can kill the master, they deserve to be the new master. He then proceeds to murder all the Sith and find an apprentice.

                    He doesn’t rule out the possibility of the master having weaker force-using minions that he can feed some table-scraps of training, though I don’t think he ever actually does that. Plus, there are other people that studied the Dark Side after the fall of the Brotherhood.

                3. Joe Informatico says:

                  I think the Rule of Two is pretty dumb too, but maybe it’s intentionally so? Asimov didn’t create the Three Laws of Robotics to be an actual model of ethics for artificial intelligences, he made them so he could write scenarioes where robots caused harm without technically breaking the Laws and thus create drama for his stories. The Rule of Two ensures that no matter how effective a team they are, a Sith Master and apprentice will always be at odds, demonstrating the ultimate weakness of the Dark Side and allowing for dramatic betrayals and turnarounds.

                  1. ivan says:

                    Does it though? You could achieve the same thing by writing a story with dramatic betrayals and turnarounds. All the rule of two does, it seems, is make those betrayals expected, and thus obligatory. Predictable. Ordinary. It makes the story less interesting, by making it rote.

            2. Henson says:

              This makes me wonder if the ‘rule of two’ would encourage a situation where there are a bunch of Sith pairings all over, master and apprentice, acting individually to spread the influence of the dark side. It would certainly be a different threat than a concentrated, wide-reaching empire. Hell, you could maybe have a neat inversion of the whole ‘Vader searches the galaxy to exterminate the Jedi’, where the Jedi send people all over to deal with the multiple Sith threats.

          2. Daimbert says:

            The obvious answer is that the apprentice is not a master until they kill the previous one, so they can seek out and start to train their own replacement before making the final move. This is what Zannah does in the Darth Bane novels that tried to explain it. They do have to take out their master themselves, though, or through their own machinations. But once that’s done, they become the master and their recruit becomes the proper apprentice.

            1. Geebs says:

              Assuming that there’s one Sith about 10% of the time (killed master/apprentice but not yet recruited another apprentice), two Sith about 40% of the time (Apprentice doesn’t have own Apprentice yet) and three Sith about 50% of the time (Master + Apprentice + Apprentice’s Apprentice), the it should be the Rule of About Two Point Four.

              1. Daimbert says:

                The ideal as per Darth Bane would actually be more like 10% one of them with no Apprentice, 10% Master+Apprentice+Apprentice’s Apprentice and then 80% just the two of them. The Apprentice needs to learn what the Master knows, and the Master needs to train a replacement since the Master will die eventually and if they don’t train a worthy replacement that’s the end of the Sith. So long periods of time where the Apprentice learns from the Master are the norm.

          3. galacticplumber says:

            And also WHY the FUCK do you want to TAKE a new apprentice?! Think about it. If this rule holds all that does is invite whoever you pick to inevitably either kill you, or be killed by you thus wasting your effort. In a scenario where taking an apprentice is that bad a deal nobody should WANT one.

            1. Daimbert says:

              Because no one can live forever — the mind transfer abilities in Darth Bane seem to show a way to circumvent that — if the Master doesn’t train a Sith to replace them then when they die there are no more Sith and everything dies out. The idea is that the only way to be sure that the Apprentice is worthy of being a Sith Master is to find a way to kill them in a “worthy” manner, and then to also kill off the Sith Master before they weaken too much from age or illness and so become their own betrayal of the Sith principles, holding on to power far past the time they were strong enough to hold it. If they truly held Sith beliefs, Bane would argue, they wouldn’t want to hide from having an apprentice kill them, but instead would want to ensure that one existed to ensure that they themselves were always really strong and not hiding their weaknesses. That’s also why they would ensure that their apprentice is trained properly (although not necessarily without some flaw that they can exploit if their apprentice doesn’t pick up on it), because defeating an ill-trained apprentice is a sign of weakness, not strength.

              Of course, a Master who ends up there and just wants to use the power for shallow self-interest won’t see any reason to keep to those principles, and the self-interested nature of the Dark Side will tend towards those sorts of people, and there are all SORTS of ways for an improper Apprentice to kill off the Master or through other mishaps end up in charge. So it’s an interesting question of whether Bane’s idea of the Sith was EVER stable.

              1. RFS-81 says:

                I liked the Darth Bane trilogy, but Darth Bane’s and the Siths’ believes really seemed incoherent to me, in a way that I don’t think is intended. All this talk about breaking chains, and then you shackle yourself to the goal of having your great-great-grand-apprentice rule the galaxy, for the greater glory of the Dark Side. The Dark Side can take care of itself. Otherwise, it is weak and it deserves to die.

                There was this fallen Jedi character in the third book who just wants to live (a) in luxury and (b) forever. He’s quite ruthless and ambitious about it. But to the Sith, that’s not an appropriate thing to be ambitious about.

                1. galacticplumber says:

                  Precisely. The Sith mindset is inherently selfish and power seeking in all ways except random benevolence towards the viability and power of an apprentice you likely tortured or otherwise cruelly manipulated into being an apprentice. Everything is spikes, and self interest until suddenly it’s not in the most incoherent way possible.

                2. Daimbert says:

                  There was this fallen Jedi character in the third book who just wants to live (a) in luxury and (b) forever. He’s quite ruthless and ambitious about it. But to the Sith, that’s not an appropriate thing to be ambitious about.

                  Well, the problem with that is that he only bothered to learn what he needed to in order to get what he wanted from most people, and to stay ahead of the Jedi. That’s why despite being relatively old and having some training and the time to learn new techniques, he was entirely outclassed by both Zannah and Bane despite being powerful enough in the Force to be a candidate for the Sith. His decadence, Bane would argue, made him weak, and being weak is obviously an impediment to enjoying even those simple desires of his.

            2. Alex says:

              Having an apprentice to enact your will increases your own power, at the risk that if their power ever exceeds your own, they will destroy you. This is an acceptable risk to a Sith who has no intention of resting on their laurels and letting their apprentice catch up.

            3. Rob says:

              Don’t forget, the Sith aren’t just Dark Side users, they’re literally a cult. I’d imagine that every new member is thoroughly indoctrinated for years before they’re taught anything beyond the basics, probably with a heavy focus on the Rule of Two and how it (supposedly) leads to greater power.

              And for a schemer, the main benefit of an apprentice is that you can send them off to perform tasks without risking yourself or your cover, as seen in the prequels.

          4. Philadelphus says:

            I find the Rule of Two interesting, and I think the Sith Academy on Korriban in KotOR does a decent job at illuminating why. Much like another famous Dark Lord, the Sith do not (like) shar(ing) power—their entire philosophy is about personal aggrandizement to the exclusion of others. That’s an inherently self-destructive philosophy, and the Sith Academy shows that put into action: a school full of power-hungry, ruthless, highly-motivated people who are encouraged to take whatever their power allows them to is an inherently unstable, self-destructive system. KotOR 2 shows the logical conclusion: the academy has collapsed as all the Sith (or Sith wannabes) there turned on each other after Revan takes out the headmaster in the first game. “Sith cooperation” is ultimately an oxymoron, at least among people who are roughly peers; having lots of Sith around doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t; Star Wars media often lets them enjoy advantages they shouldn’t logically have) mean the Sith are stronger, it just means there are that many more people all scrabbling not just for their share of the pie, but for everyone else’s share too.

            In that light, the Rule of Two sort of makes sense; it’s the only really half-way stable configuration that exists, or could ever possibly exist given the Sith philosophy. The master takes an apprentice for self-serving reasons: they like the feeling of being a master, it gives them an increase or extension to their power, someone they can teach/abuse/whatever, a patsy to send on dangerous missions, etc.. And for a while it’s stable, until the apprentice inevitably grows powerful (or foolish) enough to challenge the master (i.e., there are now two peers [theoretically]). If the master survives, they’re “obviously” powerful enough to survive taking another apprentice, so end up taking another apprentice and repeating the process sooner or later. If the apprentice wins, they’re “obviously” more powerful than their master was, and could thus easily survive a future apprentice turning on them, and take one themselves eventually (if they haven’t already done so to help them off the master). You can start the simulation off with any number of Sith you like, but eventually this is the only half-way stable equilibrium that can possibly exist under Sith philosophy. It might take a while—if you have someone orders of magnitude more powerful they might be able to keep some subordinates in check for some years, but it’s just an inherently unstable equilibrium as people grow or decline in power—eventually the backstabbing will start (whether within the apprentices, or between one of them and the master), until it’s down to just a master and (possibly) a subordinate apprentice.

            The obvious rejoinder is, “But surely it just takes one reasonable Sith to realize that an apprentice is his or her death warrant to wise up and opt out of the cycle,” but that’s the point—Sith philosophy isn’t reasonable. (The Sith Code explicitly glorifies rage and emotion as a source of power over rationality, after all.) At the risk of belaboring my point, it’s a self-destructive system which can never be stable in the long term, and which will always eventually devolve down into the situation described by the Rule of Two. I’m only familiar with the term from the Prequels (where it can be interpreted as a simple description of this quasi-equilibrium) and not with the Darth Bane mentioned elsewhere in this thread, but if he actually codified it he might just be the rare reasonable Sith who was able to grasp this particular game theory scenario (and presumably then got offed by an apprentice, because just recognizing the situation doesn’t exempt you from it!).

            1. Daimbert says:

              In my view, Darth Bane is similar but he justifies it more from a Sith perspective, especially noting that for both him and Zannah they went to the Dark Side not for strict personal gain but as victims for whom the main benefit of the Dark Side was the strength to break their chains, giving them a far more strength-based attitude.

              You can have Sith like we see in KotOR, but that weakens the Sith overall because a pack of weaker Sith can and will join together to take down the more powerful. There’s no way for the Sith to advance if anyone that stands out is killed by those who want their position or power and knows that they can’t take them out themselves because they are, in fact, weaker.

              At the time, to face the Jedi the Sith had tried to form a Brotherhood, and Bane rejects that because it fosters an invalid idea of equality. The strong SHOULD be seen as superior and the weaker as inferior. To do anything else betrays the basic principles of the Sith.

              So he concludes that the only stable Sith system that can promote stronger Sith is that there should be only two Sith: One to possess the power, and the other to crave it. The apprentice keeps trying to learn all the can and gain enough power to overpower the Master, and their conflict should, hopefully, always leave the stronger of the two after it is resolved.

              The obvious rejoinder is, “But surely it just takes one reasonable Sith to realize that an apprentice is his or her death warrant to wise up and opt out of the cycle,” but that’s the point—Sith philosophy isn’t reasonable.

              Doing that is actually a violation of the Sith philosophy, because it is refusing to take the apprentice because you’re frightened that they are more powerful and stronger than you, and so admitting that you just aren’t strong enough, and instead of trying to be more stronger or facing the real consequences of your weakness you instead decide to cheat your way around it. A true Sith only gains real victory or security by BEING the strongest, not through those sorts of tricks. We can see hints of this in KotOR as the head of the Sith Academy notes that many people didn’t feel that Malak had truly won in his confrontation with Revan because he didn’t face him from a position of strength, but instead with a trick that only proved that he was actually weak and afraid of Revan.

              As for Bane, he at least in theory DID end up being killed by his apprentice, but that actually showed one of the main flaws in the system. He was becoming old and ill from things done in the past and worried that Zannah instead of confronting him out of strength was waiting for that weakness to kill him, which was unworthy of a Sith in his mind. So he was researching a mind transfer spell, and that made Zannah feel betrayed and worried that he was going to betray Sith principles and seek to preserve his own life at her expense. Who won the final clash isn’t revealed in the book, but essentially the confrontation was pushed by neither of them trusting the other, even when they agreed on the philosophy itself.

              (Philosophically, there’s a lot, likely unintentionally, that links to Hobbes’ State of Nature. The Sith philosophy advocates for that sort of thing, but runs into the same problems in that there is no one powerful enough to maintain their desires against everyone else, as they can be ganged up on or outsmarted or tricked or a host of other things. So the only times the Sith actually manage to be a real threat is when there is some kind of Social Contract between them that keeps them together long enough to accomplish things. As you noted, about the only stable one is the Rule of Two since the apprentice won’t depose the master until they’ve learned all they can, and the master is usually the more powerful and so can accrue the benefits until the apprentice becomes stronger than them. And, as noted, it WILL still break down eventually for at least one of them).

              1. RFS-81 says:

                Who won the final clash isn’t revealed in the book

                Word of God says that Zannah won. I don’t want to nitpick, or say that it’s relevant for how you should read a story. I just wanted to share this because I find it so weird that Drew Karpyshyn didn’t think it was ambiguous. (No, Drew, you don’t get to blame Shyamalan. You never established that “some small part of Bane imprinting itself on her” was a possible outcome.)

                1. Daimbert says:

                  Yeah, claiming that we’d have to consider him an unreliable narrator for not noticing the pronoun usage when at least just before that it was from the perspective of a character that would use those pronouns even if wrong doesn’t work. That would make it unclear (although, to be fair, the people analyzing everything and arguing over it in detail might well be people who would do that, but most people are like me and won’t). And as you said, he never established that anything like the hand shake could happen or be the result, and also in general the only reason for such a scene there would BE to make it ambiguous, so it’s hard to blame the reader for believing that that might be what’s going on.

              2. Syal says:

                refusing to take the apprentice because you’re frightened that they are more powerful and stronger than you, and so admitting that you just aren’t strong enough, and instead of trying to be more stronger or facing the real consequences of your weakness you instead decide to cheat your way around it.

                One of my problems with the Rule of Two is that this idea applies to multiple apprentices just as well as one. “I can’t handle three apprentices at the same time, so I’ll cheat my way around my weakness by not having three apprentices at the same time.”

                1. Daimbert says:

                  But if those three apprentices gang up on you and kill you, there’s no reason to think that any one of them are STRONGER than you are. You’d have been dragged down by numbers, not by a Sith of greater strength,

                  1. Syal says:

                    Considering they’re apparently unconcerned about being vastly outnumbered by Jedi or ordinary non-Force users, numbers are no excuse for defeat.

            2. RFS-81 says:

              Reasonable is a bit of a stretch. For Bane, being killed by his apprentice is a good thing. Apprentices surpassing their masters is how the Dark Side is supposed to become stronger. (I’d ask why he wants to sacrifice himself to make the Dark Side stronger. Self-sacrifice seems like the opposite of what pulls people to the Dark Side.)

              He tells his apprentice from the start that she has to kill him when she feels that she has learned everything he can teach. In book 3, he’s quite distressed that she seems to be content to just wait for him to die. But Zannah is a good girl and kills him in single combat at the end.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Well, I think the point is that he has to die sometime, and he feels that it is the perfect fulfillment of the Dark Side that it’s part of a system where he only dies when he has been surpassed and now is technically “weak”. From the start the push is not that she should kill him, but that she has to BEAT him. If she loses, he was the more powerful and she is a failed apprentice.

                (And yes, there IS an issue here with a failed apprentice who fails when there isn’t time to find and train a new one …)

                To be honest, for me even though there are flaws I do like the books and approach to the Dark Side, and as noted it’s hard to think of any other sort of Sith Philosophy that isn’t more flawed than that one.

              2. Philadelphus says:

                Maybe “reasonable by the standards of a philosophy which is explicitly unreasonable”? :)

                That’s part of my general point: Sith philosophy is intrinsically unreasonable, which leads directly to its self-destructive tendencies when brought to its logical conclusion. By eschewing rationality for rage in pursuit of freedom and personal strength it rejects the ideas of cooperation (and the attendant necessary self-sacrifice) which would allow it to persist.

                My post was inspired by what I saw as complaints that the Rule of Two was unreasonable. My thesis is essentially twofold, that A) Sith philosophy is inherently unreasonable and self-defeating, so Sith acting unreasonable is not necessarily a case of bad writing, it’s a logical outcome of the philosophy itself (which is not to say that bad writing is impossible, of course!). And B) whatever else it is, the Rule of Two is really just the logical outcome of Sith philosophy followed to its end.

        2. Agammamon says:

          I think a real issue here is how the *Rebellion* did not know that Vader was Anakin Skywalker and make the connection between him and Luke.

          Sure, the Emperor was going to make some pretty strong efforts to keep Vader’s origin quiet but Vader’s his number one hatchetman – there’s no way that a semi-competent Rebellion Intelligence Service wouldn’t have found out. The had around two decades.

          When Luke showed up out of nowhere hanging around Leia, *both* sides would have been interested in where he came from and who he was.

    2. Crimson Dragoon says:

      It took almost 40 years, but they did finally give a canon explanation for how Vader learned about Luke. It was in Kieron Gillen’s run on the Darth Vader comic, which takes place between episodes 4 and 5. Vader hires Boba Fett to track down the pilot that blew up the Death Star. Fett has an encounter with Luke, who manages to get away, but Fett brings back the name “Skywaker” to Vader.

      Admittedly, its a little hokey that they shoehorn in Boba Fett before his appearance in Empire Strikes Back, but the reveal to Vader is one of my favorite moments from what was already a really good comic. Vader starts flashing back to Padme when she was pregnant and her subsequent death, and is caught between feeling elated that he has a son, and being absolutely pissed at Palpatine for lying to him about his child’s death. It acts as a big turning point for the character and partly explains why he’s looking to overthrow the Emperor by episode 5.

      1. Daimbert says:

        It is clear, though, that Vader knew Boba Fett before Empire, since he directly instructs him not to disintegrate the target, so it’s not that hokey, and if it was paired with a hint of what spawned that comment it could be really cool.

        1. John says:

          Shoehorning a fan-favorite minor character into an explanation for something that didn’t really need an explanation in the first place is the very essence of hokey. (It is unfortunately also the stock in trade of Star Wars spinoffs.) Also, it is not at all clear that Vader knew Boba Fett prior to The Empire Strikes Back. When Vader says “no disintegrations”, he’s talking to all the bounty hunters present rather than just Fett. But even if he were talking specifically to Fett, the remark doesn’t imply a prior acquaintance. Fett or bounty hunters more generally could simply have a reputation for disintegrations. Or, most plausibly of all, Vader just doesn’t want a bunch of mercenary goons to screw up his chance of capturing his long-lost son.

          1. Daimbert says:

            At least in the Special Editions, Vader points directly at Boba Fett when giving the line and Boba Fett directly answers him. That’s so well-known that in the Star Wars: Demolition game that’s Fett’s special ability. Yes, Fett could just have a reputation for it, but it’s also pretty reasonable that Vader would know him by reputation and his willingness to use bounty hunters there gives plenty of reason to think that he’s used them before.

            As for hokey, looking it up I think that what we’d be using here is “noticeably contrived”. But this case isn’t contrived. There are many, many good reasons for Vader to be looking for that pilot, wanting to keep it out of the official Imperial command structure, and why hiring a bounty hunter like Fett would be a good way of doing that. If you want to insist that using a fan favourite character to explain something that doesn’t really need an explanation is hokey, then pretty much all prequels are going to have hokey scenes. That might not be inaccurate, but at that point calling it hokey will be meaningless in terms of deciding whether it was a good scene or not.

            1. John says:

              I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you seem to be arguing that the premise of a scene is unrelated to the quality of the scene. That’s absurd. A competently shot and acted scene that’s based on a hokey premise is still a hokey–and therefore bad–scene.

              Ask yourself this: is there any good reason to have a scene in which Darth Vader discovers the identity of the rebel pilot who fired the kill shot on the Death Star? The answer is no, not really. If such a scene were essential or even a little bit important there would have been one like it in The Empire Strikes Back. So why did someone write a scene in which Boba Fett tells Darth Vader that the rebel pilot’s name was Skywalker? Because Boba Fett is a fan-favorite character. If that’s not “noticeably contrived”, then I don’t know what is.

              1. Daimbert says:

                I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you seem to be arguing that the premise of a scene is unrelated to the quality of the scene.

                Well, what I’m actually arguing is that a scene where something that doesn’t need to be explained is explained by referencing a fan favourite character is pretty much the whole raison d’etre of prequel scenes, and so if any scene like that is hokey then all prequel scenes are hokey, whether or not they are scenes that work well and aren’t contrived in a prequel context.

                Which might actually reveal the problem:

                Ask yourself this: is there any good reason to have a scene in which Darth Vader discovers the identity of the rebel pilot who fired the kill shot on the Death Star?

                The Darth Vader comic is a prequel comic describing what happened specifically to Darth Vader in the time between ANH and ESB. In that context … yeah, there’s VERY good reason to show it. While we don’t really need an explanation, it’s going to be one of the more interesting parts of that timeframe for Vader, and so something that fits neatly into that work and is something that people might even wonder about if it wasn’t there. And while the fact that Boba Fett is a fan favourite and so existing character is the reason for them to have decided that FETT was the one to discover it, the reason the scene exists is that it’s important to the character of Vader in that timeframe, which is what the work is focusing on. So in that context, it’s not contrived at all, but is creating a scene like most of the scenes in that work in a way that answers an interesting but not necessary question in a way that makes sense in the context of the original works that this work is filling in the details of.

                1. John says:

                  Well, what I’m actually arguing is that a scene where something that doesn’t need to be explained is explained by referencing a fan favourite character is pretty much the whole raison d’etre of prequel scenes.

                  Yes. And that’s bad. The Star Wars prequel films are all too often like that–I’m looking at you, Jango Fett–and the spinoffs are even worse, but they didn’t have to be. There’s a difference between, on the one hand, telling the earlier history of the setting or certain characters in that setting and, on the other, lazy pandering to fans. If the point of your prequel or spinoff is to just make a bunch of cheap references, then you shouldn’t be making a prequel. I’m saying “X is bad.” You are saying “But if we ignore the fact that X is bad, X is not bad!” I think you and I have passed the point where we have anything useful to say to one another on this matter.

        2. Jabrwock says:

          Could be just by reputation. “Boba Fett is one of the best, but you better be explicit in what you want or he tends to get creative in order to get the job done.”

          1. Daimbert says:

            More likely with Fett it’s less “creative” and more “expedient”. If the easiest thing to do to take out the target is disintegrate them, that’s what he’ll do.

        3. Agammamon says:

          That’s not necessarily directed at Fett though. I can be read as a more general ‘you guys are kinda trigger happy, keep it under control’ where he’s just so happens to be looking at Fett.

      2. Joe Informatico says:

        It’s the best kind of Expanded Universe nonsense:

        1) It’s plausible it could have happened without warping existing film continuity,
        2) It’s true to the characters involved,
        3) It’s completely unnecessary–you don’t need to know this bit of marginalia even exists to follow the story from ANH to ESB.

        The films-only viewer can assume Vader, who already sensed Luke was strong in the Force at the end of ANH, eventually learned the identity of the lucky Alliance pilot (which the Rebels will be trumpeting for their internal morale and propaganda purposes–why else give Luke a medal?) and put two and two together. Meanwhile if this bit of technically-canonical-but-completely-unnecessary-side-story wants to flesh out the hows and whys some more while indulging in fan service, well that’s kind of the point of these things.

    3. Syal says:

      The movies don’t show it, but the walls of major cities are covered in graffiti of an X Wing flying toward the Death Star with the caption “Duke Luke says, ‘Up Yours’ “.

    4. Jabrwock says:

      Exactly. Hero of the Rebellion, I doubt they’re doing a great job of hiding his name.

      Vader also knew something was off about this pilot, he sensed it in the trench. “The Force is strong in this one…” And the he finds out the guy has a similar last name? That’s gotta pique his interest.

  3. MerryWeathers says:

    I personally think the problem with your version of how the Force vision plays out is how contrived and convoluted it is.

    The Empire would never go through this much effort and do something so intricate as to allow a fake Jedi Academy to exist just to wear a Jedi down and turn him over to the dark side. They’re not pragmatic, they’re evil. It’s more believable they would think he wasn’t worth the effort and would just kill him.

    Of course it’s all just a Force vision but it feels less like one and more of one of those “trapped in a fake alternate crapsack version of your world and life” stories.

    1. John says:

      I don’t know about contrived, but you’re right in that it doesn’t seem like something that the Empire would plausibly do. Another issue is that the proposed vision isn’t particularly, uh, vision-y. It’s too mundane. I’m sure that’s deliberate on Shamus’s part but I don’t think it’s a good fit as either a mystical vision or altered state of consciousness.

      1. beleester says:

        The vision in-game isn’t that vision-y (link for reference). It plays out as a series of “frozen moments” – Cal walks past a series of scenes with the characters frozen in place as dialog plays – Cal teaching the padawans, stormtroopers sweeping the area, then Trilla demanding his surrender. Then the scene transitions to the inside of an Imperial prison, scenes of your poor, scared padawans, and then it goes dark. You activate your saber to get some light, revealing – shock and horror! – you’re holding a red saber and wearing an Imperial uniform! You’ve fallen to the dark side! (Except they don’t explain how or why.)

        Having one of the “frozen moments” be an Imperial bureaucrat (with some menacing Stormtroopers in the background to show that the alternative is having his academy wiped out) would work pretty well in this format. Or just rewrite the dialog in the surrender scene to make it clear how they’re going to turn him to the dark side – “Don’t worry, your padawans will be safe. In fact, we’ll let you teach them yourself…”

        You could even keep the surprise uniform change, which is a legitimately clever bit of gameplay integration. Have a Padawan in the room and the “It’s time for instruction” quote Shamus suggested, and suddenly, instead of just being “oh no, I’m evil now,” it becomes “Cal got corrupted because he became a servant of the Empire to try and save his students.”

    2. Asdasd says:

      I’m not so sure. That’s a bit like complaining that in Nineteen Eighty Four, The Party doesn’t just kill Winston Smith instead of sending him to Room 101. Re-education camps exist IRL for a reason, which I guess is that ideological totalitarians want to dominate and convert everyone to their ideology, and don’t like to actively kill dissenters because in a way that’s letting them win the argument (if you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine?).

      And even if this isn’t the reason, we can surely make some allowances for the sake of drama.

      In terms of plain pragmatism, though, sure, I see your point.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Seconded…part of how effective totalitarian governments work is by still being better than the obvious alternatives. Sure, they’ll actively take away the alternatives if they can, but it’s far more effective to run a governemnt long-term if you’re actualy providing something to the people.

        If you offer people the choice between a crappy job with little-to-no security, or starving to death…a lot of them will actually be grateful for the job and buy into the system. If you just beat and oppress them all the time, they’ll be far more rebellious.

        Merryweather’s not wrong in saying that the Empire is evil rather than pragmatic; and it’s one of the things I don’t like about Star Wars.
        I mean, would YOU join the First Order, if you had a choice?

      2. Jabrwock says:

        In 1984 they still kill traitors, but ONLY after re-educating them. The idea is that they must have total thought domination. Merely executing him means he died a man of free thought. They must break him first, and then kill him because forgiveness is not allowed either.

        1. Asdasd says:

          Neither of the principle characters in the book are killed after re-education – they’re released back into the world, broken and loyal to the party.

          1. Agammamon says:

            The ending of 1984 shows that Winston understands that he *will* be executed – but they’ve been waiting until the moment when his conversion was complete. He will be killed *and he will be grateful to be sacrificed* – because total and utter submission has been the Party’s goal all along.

            Now that he is utterly loyal the Party has no more use for him.

            It also goes back to the speech about the purpose of power – once the will of the Party becomes Winston’s will, they no longer have any power over him, or at least no way of knowing so as he can no longer be forced to do what he doesn’t want to do. He can not be oppressed.

            In a weird way, his total submission makes him the most free – and so he has to be destroyed.

    3. Matt says:

      I prefer Shamus’ version because I think a pragmatic, sinister Empire is more compelling. You’re probably correct that the Empire, as written, would just ham-handedly blast everyone and call it a day, but isn’t the alternative more interesting? I’d prefer to have an evil Empire that seems reasonable, both to prevent a more authentic critique of fascism and to make the fictional world have more verisimilitude.

      1. Syal says:

        It’s the kind of scene you have to build the story around. An Imperial Bureaucrat who breaks people by slowing adding unlimited straws would make a good villain, probably a refreshing one in a Star Wars universe, but not this far into the game. The opening scene from Inglorious Basterds works because it’s the opening scene, and that villain is the central villain.

        Plus as a Force Vision it doesn’t have enough to do with Cal. Luke’s face in Vader’s helmet is because Luke has been letting his emotions control him. Cal as an Inquisitor should be playing into Cal’s weaknesses, not the Empire’s strengths.

        My version: Cal’s just really bad with children. He can’t handle the pressure of teaching them, gets caught by the Empire because he’s too stressed to cover his tracks properly, and when he’s turned he finds it’s a relief because he doesn’t have to deal with the children anymore. Now, knowing that, what do you do, Cal?

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          I’m sorry, but your version is way, way worse. It basically sounds like the plot of a Star Wars satire by Adam Sandler.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            It basically sounds like the plot of a Star Wars satire by Adam Sandler.

            I’d watch it

            1. Agammamon says:

              I wouldn’t watch anything Sandler’s donesince 2005.

          2. BlueHorus says:

            Pretty sure that’s intentional; Syal likes their silly jokes. But I think the idea’s got potential…

            Cal and Cere are standing in a classroom with a load of kids. There’s a very load hammering on the door.
            Gruff Voice: Open up! Imperial Inquisition!
            Cere: Oh no, how did this happen?!
            Camera zooms in on Cal’s gormless face as a ‘slide whistle’ sound effect plays, followed by a laugh track.

            1. Syal says:

              No, not intentional. A Force Vision of “even if you find the children, you’re not mature enough to save them” strikes a chord in my mind. Maybe it needed different wording.

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    On the Imperial side of the frame we have a nice bunch of perfectly reasonable bureaucrats. Looming behind them are a couple of Inquisitors and a bunch of shock troopers.

    Ironically, Imperial bureaucrats are much more crueler than the Inquisitors in other media.

  5. jurgenaut says:

    Haven’t played it. Just thought I’d mention that Trilla means “To fall” in Swedish. Which she seemingly did. To the morally grey side.

    1. Henson says:

      Man, the Swedes get all sorts of spoilers in their Star Wars, don’t they?

      1. Christopher says:

        What’s the thematic significance to Boba Fett being Norwegian for Boba Fat tho
        Or Greez Dritus sounding like Pig Crapus

        1. RFS-81 says:

          Same in German, for Boba Fett. Always makes me think he must be hiding an immense beer gut under the armor.

          For Greez Dritus, I don’t even have to go to a different language, he already makes me think of “greasy detritus”.

  6. Thomas says:

    The ‘find an item that would give the bad guys too much power and then nearly give it to the bad guys’ plot is too weak a structure to hang anything good on.

    You could explain why the bad guys know where it is, but it’s just reinforcing your matchstick support beams with chewing gum.

    At least in Uncharted, Drake is looking for the treasure for personal glory. Then when he inevitably destroys what he finds to keep it out of the hands of the bad guy, that’s character growth.

    You can’t make this plot work with a good guy searching for an item that is lost.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Also, in Uncharted, there’s the sense that the evil mercenary armies are swarming over the archeological site where the McGuffin is, so they were bound to find it sooner or later.

      Drake’s inability to close doors behind him just makes them progress faster, so they’re always right behind him. But damn if it isn’t annoying.

    2. Joshua says:

      I think there’s an even worse example in the seventh and final season of Buffy the Vampire. Apparently, the villain’s minions have been hard at work searching for and digging up a legendary weapon that is only really of use against them, which is the only reason why the good guys get access to it.

      1. Fizban says:

        Well it did eventually get used as a focus for an uber world-altering spell, conceivably the enemy could have had something similar in mind- the scope of their overarching plan was on that level. Or just to get it out of reach of the relatively immobile good guys’ base.

        1. Joshua says:

          IIRC correctly, it’s supposed to be somewhat of a holy artifact, made by all of these pure as light witches. And there’s not even a suggestion in the show itself that the bad guys have some purpose like this in mind- they’re just digging it up for whatever reason.

          1. Fizban says:

            As I recalled it, the weapon and a Slayer were part of a package deal, that deal being decidedly not pure as light, but it could have been two groups. I’m willing to concede odds are against me on the bad guys having a plan though, that season had a couple things it wanted to to do and not much of a plan for the rest by my feeling.

            1. Joshua says:

              It’s been almost 15 years since I’ve watched it, but I seem to recall the weapon was created and hidden by some coven that was a female counterpart to the Ur-Watcher’s Council, and was hidden because they didn’t trust the men in that group.

              And yeah, Season Seven had a lot of issues with its design. However, they were mostly completely new issues than the ones plaguing Season Six, and in some ways, completely opposite ones in my opinion.

  7. ShivanHunter says:

    I think the vault just needed more going on mechanically – it already has a “strange geometries” thing going on with the entrance. This could help sell the idea that only the Astrium* could open it, just like only a Force user can use a holocron, and it’s not just a plot-driven door.

    Your idea for the fall of Cal is very good for his character, but I’m not sure it’s realistic for the Empire to even bother keeping him around. It’s a hard thing to resolve, but would have been worth the effort – the vision had zero weight for me at all, I was just left thinking “wait, how’d that happen?”

    * I just realized you’ve been calling it “Astrum” this whole time, when it’s actually “Astrium”. Funnily enough, I think your version sounds better. “Astrium” sounds like a made-up element that powers warp drives.

    1. Syal says:

      Astrium: it’s like an atrium, but just for your ass.

  8. Joshua says:

    As presented at the start of the story, the holocron was secret, what information it contained was secret, the location of this planet was secret, and the entire Cordova Galactic Scaver Hunt was a secret. Supposedly, Cere was the only one who knew about any of this. But now somehow Trilla knows everything.

    Unfortunately, this is pretty standard stock tropes for stories, especially for second-act setbacks, and even more especially for videogames. Just once, I’d like for the protagonist to get to the secret location of the McGuffin, brave all kinds of traps, guards, and other obstacles, only to find the bad guys actually in front of them with the McGuffin in hand.

    The protagonist asks “How did you find it, and how did you get past all of the obstacles?!?”

    *beat*

    The villain replies, with a smirk, “We followed you”, lampshading the absurdity.

    1. Nope! says:

      Does the trope of the Badguy somehow circumventing all the traps and puzzles of the level, for the sake of having an end dungeon boss, because of some offscreen back door count for this?

      “How did you get here?”
      “I took the stairs.”
      “There were stairs!?”

      1. Asdasd says:

        ‘Megaman, have you ever considered using your teleporter to arrive inside the Robot Master’s chamber?’

      2. Thomas says:

        I liked how in Uncharted 4 Drake went through a series of traps and puzzles to get to the secret chamber, and then the bad guys just blow a hole through the wall.

        1. Olivier FAURE says:

          These assholes did that a lot, even compared to the other Uncharted games.

          The most egregious part is that the second-last location you go to is this big, glaring shipyard next to a port town, meaning the bad guys could have easily found the treasure first if they’d just circled the island instead of blindly running after you.

        2. Jason says:

          Isn’t that basically the beginning of Rise of the Tomb Raider also? You finally get through all the traps and obstacles in the first tomb and then a bunch of Trinity guys rappel in from the ceiling?

        3. James says:

          I felt the same thing about the good guys – why does the path/ladder/handhold always break just for me and not my companion. I know its for ‘exciting gameplay’ reasons, but it annoyed me how they always end up on the easier path to the destination.

          Even if its just once, they could have had a setpiece where your brother is on the difficult path. There will be you, twiddling your thumbs and playing Crash Bandicoot on an in-game PSP, while in the background out of focus is your brother doing all the crazy jumps and falls.

    2. CrushU says:

      “Izma! How did you get here first?!”
      “I– … Kronk, how did we get here first?”
      *Kronk pulls down the map showing their paths* “I got no idea. By all accounts it just doesn’t make sense.”

    3. Fizban says:

      Hell, “we followed you” is still some sort of justification. The part that makes me furious is when they just read the script. Especially if it’s say, an adventure in DnD 3.5, where the players have access to nearly all the mechanics and you can prove that the only way the enemy knows X is because the DM gave them the script.

  9. Asdasd says:

    Having not really been paying altogether much attention (although enjoying the series as always!), I assumed at first glance that ‘Zeffo Sage’ was just a particularly on-the-nose piece of Star Wars character naming.

    Unrelatedly, I’m sure I’ve seen number 2 (if the baddies were to have succeeded at what they were trying to do this whole time, they’d have failed) in so many plots that I’m not sure whether to be baffled, maddened or tired by it anymore.

  10. Dennis says:

    At least the nü-Star Wars team is good at designing/picking out masks.

    Also typo patrol: Scaver Hunt is probably Scavenger Hunt? Although I’m sure there could be a Wookieepedia page for Scavers.

  11. Christopher Wolf says:

    Not a complex comment, I just like your idea of how to make a Jedi fall over time.

    1. Kincajou says:

      Same here, the only concern i’d have is how well it would merge with gameplay.
      On the one hand you need to leave player agency otherwise we drift into a railroaded “best of” clipshow which would be jarring at best and boring at worst… On the other hand you need to have some very precise story beats, the player can essentially have little to no agency (or their agency has to have barely any impact) or the well crafted story will likely collapse and have less impact.

      On reflection what could be interesting is to keep the “vignette” format between a series of interconnected rooms in the temple (allows the player to do some parkour/platforming to keep them engaged) and each vignette will lead to two clearly marked rooms, on one side you follow the story of cal’s fall on the other, the “rebellion” option always leads to collapse (i suggest just a dark room in which the player can move indefinitley in any direction with the entrance door always visible)… This would give interactivity whilst allowing the idea that this path only leads to death or Cal’s descent into darkness.

      (incidentally this last idea comes from the godauful ending of the prince of persia “the two thrones” game where you met your dark self and could just do nothing other than leave the room- i imagine it was essentially a case of budget cuts)

  12. Cyranor says:

    I like the slow fall to the darkside you present Shamus. I think realistically this is how most Jedi fall, over time, its just the big fall we only get to see is Anakin Skywalker and they had to cram it into two, 2-hour movies so it ends up feeling a little rushed. Slowly conditioning someone to chose the evil choice until it is natural its an approach I would like to see more often. Even KOTOR had Bastila turn from torture which always felt kind of flat, but at least there was some foreshadowing in the game for it.

  13. Sleeping Dragon says:

    For the record I didn’t play the game, seen a friend stream it once but I definitely missed some bits of lore. Anyway, someone might have commented along these lines already but I assumed that Cordova had a vision of “future” Force sensitive children, ones that could have been too young for Jedi training or even not born yet when he was making the holocron but would be in just the right age at the time it was likely found (I may not like it but I’d be willing to accept a “Force guided him in this” explanation). But before I posted to that effect I’ve decided to check the timeline and…

    Well, according to Wookiepedia his vision was simply of the “fall of the Jedi”, the whole thing with the children? His own initiative, or more specifically that of his friend who “went into the Jedi archives and made a copy of a holocron” listing potential Jedi trainees and “gave it to him for safekeeping”. I honestly think this might raise more questions than it answers. Like I said, I was willing to buy a “Force did it” explanation simply because sometimes that’s just how the SW universe works. Heck, I don’t want to spoil ahead but it would even fit that it’s not really about the children but about the named characters with the children just being an excuse to put them o this path, but seeing how he did it without such foreknowledge? Also, from the same Wookiepedia page “Cordova sent BD to find the saviour of the Jedi”. Like… how?! It’s a droind the size of a human fist, left on a planet that’s supposedly either uknown to or ignored by most of the galaxy, was he supposed to be sending smoke signals?! Spent centuries making marks on the surface? I mean, yes, Cal did stumble upon BD and we can still argue that “the Force works in mysterious ways” but apparently Cordova just left it to such a chance.

  14. PPX14 says:

    If you’ve ever seen the opening of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds

    Ahem, or the opening of The Good The Bad The Ugly to which it is an homage! :D

  15. Dreadjaws says:

    There’s one thing this analysis glosses over, and it’s something that absolutely infuriates me. I know having the enemy constantly on your toes is a way to keep the tension, but for the love of God, could they at least make the effort of not making the heroes look like idiots?

    Every single time in one of these games: the hero finds the McGuffin, and the villain shows up immediately to steal it. The hero never even considers the idea of trying to prevent this. They don’t close doors, they don’t put any guards or lay any traps. They don’t even bother to look around to see if they’re being followed. And it’s even worse in Star Wars, where you can sense people from the other side of the planet. Sure, Cal senses Trilla, but only when she’s a few feet away.

    Once, just once at least, I’d like to see the villains trying to get the drop on the hero after they grab the McGuffin and find them being prepared for it. They could have secured a different exit beforehand, so they’re already on the run when the villain shows up. They could put some trip wires or cans or something to alert them of the enemy presence. They could carry a fake McGuffin to give the enemy (unless they happen to know exactly what it looks like, I guess) while they keep the real one. Anything to prove they’re not complete and utter idiots.

    Uncharted 3 was especially bad about this. Drake would constantly be reaching a treasure, or item or secret door and the villain would then show up and take their place, and the idiot would never think about at least bothering to check if there was someone in the vicinity before yet again falling for the same crap. God, how I hate that stupid game’s story because of this. It became so predictable and irritating I swore off playing that game ever again.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Fuck. Goddammit. Shit. Only thinking about that stupid game made me curse-slingingly furious. Cutscene incompetence is bad enough once, but when it happens all the goddamn time, how do you expect me to root for this brainless moron of a protagonist? Fuck that game.

      1. PPX14 says:

        To be honest I thought the plot and characters so laughably bad that I was zoned out by default and only zoned in if things got interesting, so didn’t find logical issues too annoying. Like Titanfall 2, I’m not sure Respawn is very good at stories, for me anyway.

        1. James says:

          I don’t recall Titanfall 2’s story specifically, but what were some of the logical issues? (aside from time travel, which is fine since its cool gameplay and only stays for that level).

          1. PPX14 says:

            Oh sorry I didn’t mean that there were logical issues in Titanfall 2 just that it seemed similarly poorly written, especially the dialogue.

  16. DarthVitrial says:

    The funny thing is, Rebels kind of referenced the whole “the empire could just dig through the stone” thing.
    In the final season the empire is trying to dig into the Temple on Lothal to reach the World Between Worlds, but its shown that the digging just doesn’t work – no matter where they dig they can’t ever get to the actual interior of the temple, all they find is more rock.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      On a related note, my immediate thought upon reading this (not having played the game) to “Why can’t Cal just cut open the door?” is that if what’s behind the rock door isn’t a space, but a…touchscreen-wall, then cutting the door with his lightsaber (or blasting through it for the Empire) would just immediately destroy the screen behind it. It’d be like trying to remove the curtain in front of a mirror with a pick-ax, you’d just destroy it in the process of revealing it. So in that light, it actually makes a bit of sense as to why the McGuffin is needed to safely remove the door/cover.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Except that Cal doesn’t know what’s behind the door, so no-one knows if forcing the door is a good idea or not. It only makes sense if they know what’s behind.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          Hmm, a fair point. Erring on the side of caution, perhaps?

  17. Smosh says:

    > armed with magical future technology.

    I want to say it once again: Star Wars is not in the future, nor is it Sci Fi. It’s a fantasy story with knights, wizards, magic, empires, spirits, dragons, princesses and kingdoms, and it literally starts with the words “A long time ago.” Physics work nothing like in our universe, ships and droids behave more like magical artifacts than computers, and none of the themes of the stories are even remotely about science fiction, which is all about the “What if [technology]?” – instead we get an orphan on a Hero’s Journey trying to save the princess. As Yoda would say: The Fantasy tropes are strong in this one.

    I mean, I’m not saying that makes Star Wars worse, quite the contrary, its charm comes from the clever twist of playing a straight fantasy story in a non-traditional setting. But I feel we shouldn’t put a story into the wrong genre, because it leads us to look at it the wrong way: In fact, many of the worst things in Star Wars come from a misunderstanding of its genre, for example Midichlorians.

    Not to say the Empire couldn’t drill through a stone door, of course. Even in the fantasy parallel universe with wonky physics story that is Star Wars, clearly they would have basic power tools from what we can tell of how the world works. As you say: We have been shown even in the first 3 or 6 movies that doors can be cut through multiple times.

    That was my somewhat-nitpick of the day.

    1. beleester says:

      It’s a question of worldbuilding consistency, not actual physics. “Why didn’t the space empire solve this problem with their magical space technology?” is the exact same question as “Why didn’t the wizard solve this problem with his magic?”, and it’s a valid question in both cases. You can handwave an answer – the wizard can say “There was an antimagic field on the door” and the space empire can say “The door was reinforced with Unobtanium,” but you should still answer it. Saying “This is a fantasy, stop asking questions” is just choosing to ignore the plothole and hoping your reader does too.

      Even in the Lord of the Rings, that most fantasy of fantasy settings, the reader is allowed to ask “Why didn’t the Eagles just fly them to Mordor?”

    2. Syal says:

      and it literally starts with the words “A long time ago.”

      When there were knights, and they got into fights, using sabers of light.

    3. Shamus says:

      So… I called it “magical future technology”, and you tell me I got it all wrong, and then explain to me that it behaves more like “magical artifacts”? You “corrected” me by expressing the same idea in different words?????

      Like, I’m aware that it’s set in the past. I’ve even quoted the “Long, long ago” line in this very series. But it’s obvious from context that when I say “magical future technology” I mean, “Technology more advanced than what we have now, that has very few rules and can therefore be treated like magic”.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I think his comment is less that you’re naming it wrong and more that you’re treating things in the Star Wars universe like they were technology and in general treating the Star Wars story like it’s science fiction when Star Wars is far more like fantasy and so those things work far more like magic does. The point would be that the mystery of Star Wars things would not be that they are sufficiently advanced technology, but that they are magical in and of themselves. So it isn’t that the rules aren’t explained enough, but that there aren’t the sort of rules that we would see for technology at all, and so questions like why the villains don’t use what we think would be the obvious technology that they’d have to have given what other techs they have aren’t really valid since that’s not how the universe works. And that thinking of Star Wars tech as tech instead of technology risks doing stupid things like introducing midichlorians.

        Still, I agree with beleester that I don’t think it invalidates your point. While you may not be able to derive the question of “Why don’t they just drill through the walls?” directly from technologies that they’d have to have and that should be able to deal with what looks like standard metal/rock, the work still might have a need to explain why doing something like that isn’t an option. As you noted with Drama First vs Details First, that answer might be as simple as noting that the walls/metal are harder than normal, but if it’s an obvious question the work should probably answer it (although many Drama First works try to avoid those questions by ramping up the drama so that we just don’t stop to think about them at least until after we’ve finished with it).

  18. megabyte01 says:

    To be honest, I think the Zeffo temple on Bogano works as a hiding place for the holocron. I suspect Cordova wanted whoever obtained it to understand why the Zeffo fell, in their own words no less, and why the Jedi would also fall – speaking at the time of his recording.

    If I understand Cordova correctly, the Jedi and the Zeffo fell because of an adherence to dogma and tradition. This fault didn’t lead them to become obsolete, like once-dominant tech companies in our world. It let them to become isolated from the world (galaxy) and unable to see changes that were right in front of them.

    For the Jedi, it was their insistence on protecting the system of the senate and the republic, not realizing until it was too late that a Sith lord was operating in the guise of a senator and as the chancellor.
    For the Zeffo, it was their over-reliance on a caste system of force users guided by influential sages. When Sage Miktrull turned to the dark side and started oppressing people, it was, somehow, too late.
    (I suspect the writers left the ultimate fate of the Zeffo implicit rather than explicit so they might be able to use it in a future story, which is fine. This game is about Cal’s journey after all)

  19. Agammamon says:

    It doesn’t say HOW they were killed by pride. Did they start a war they couldn’t finish? Did they embrace technology they couldn’t control? Did they all starve to death because everyone was too proud to cook dinner? What happened beyond this vague idea of “We were too proud”?

    Haven’t played the game, but from what I’m seeing here – it sounds like they Jim Jonesed themselves.

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