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Why the post-ROTJ era sucks!


Beniboybling's Avatar


Beniboybling
04.18.2013 , 12:40 PM | #1
A controversial title yes, and perhaps a little exaggerated. But nonetheless, the post-ROTJ period as Star Wars is collectively flawed, and for many reasons, however I feel there is one that stands out from the others.

And that is the lack of that construct inherent to Star Wars – good and evil.

Some of the most successful and popular Star Wars productions are those that draw on this construct. The Original Trilogy is the most iconic of these, with Luke Skywalker and his band of rebels representing ‘good’ and Emperor Palpatine, Vader and the Galactic Empire representing ‘evil’ - clearly defined through the notion of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ sides of the Force. The Prequel Trilogy and the Clone Wars series continues this, we have inherently good characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and various clone troopers, and then he have inherently evil characters such as General Grievous, Count Dooku and of course, Darth Sidious. Yes, there are those characters that seem to blur the boundaries, the Jedi Order as a whole seems to have lost its way, the Republic is corrupt, the Separatists aren’t always that bad and Anakin Skywalker becomes something of an anti-hero. But nonetheless, they all exist within the clearly defined bounds of good and evil.

The Old Republic era is perhaps most successful because is so effectively translates this into its own works. The opening crawl to Knights of the Old Republic reads like A New Hope, Darth Malak is a clear villain whereas Revan as his companions represent light and good. Of course, you can choose to eschew that by pursuing the path of the dark side, but many of your companions remain dedicated to the light, which is also represented by the Republic and the Jedi. Knights of the Old Republic II seems to exist more in the realm of the prequels, it’s filled with darkness and nobody quite seems ‘good’. But nevertheless the constructs remain, Sion and Nihilus are clear representatives of evil and the story itself seems more about a rediscovery of good, even if you turn to the dark side, the story merely changes to a mourning of its loss. SWTOR has a clear definition between good and evil, the Republic and the Empire, with the criminal underworld in between, that is how Star Wars should be done.

And then, we have the post-ROTJ era, which seems very much to have lost its way. In the New Republic era we have Luke Skywalker and the rest of the heroes liberating the galaxy from the evil Empire, oh but wait, it doesn’t quite go like that because the Empire, without Sidious, isn’t that evil anymore. Thrawn, Isaard, Paellon – are they really evil? Or perhaps just morally misguided, or perhaps simply leaders of another faction fighting for different ideals. And without the Sith, is the Galactic Empire really that bad? No it’s not a democracy, but the primary focus of Star Wars was never politics, it was far more mythical than that. And yet throughout the post-ROTJ era we find ourselves thrust into the quagmire of politics reminiscent of The Phantom Menace’s famous senatorial scenes. From this we are given a brief reprieve when the Emperor returns but this is negated by the fact that well, the Emperor returns.

But moving swiftly on, behold! The New Jedi Order era! Finally were going to get back to the roots of Star Wars right? Back to that epic conflict between good and evil? Right? Wrong. Instead of the dark side we get a Zerg rush of creepy aliens, the Yuuzhan Vong, who literally go around the galaxy trashing just about everything. And these guys simply don’t fall into the category of evil, but rather parasite, plague and virus. But anyway the result of this the formation of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, an amalgamation of God knows what and who. Indeed the excessive number of factions fighting over the galaxy makes the situation even worse, the Imperial Remnant, the Chiss Ascendancy, the New Republic, none of these factions seem either good or evil.

And the confusion continues into the Legacy era, where innumerable factions continues to fight over the galaxy, with no clear definition of who is good and who is evil. The Galactic Alliance becomes split in two and the Jedi Order ping-pong between both sides, the Sith have a brief resurgence, lending a deal of good and evil back to the franchise, but we still have the Imperial Remnant running about and the Confederation proving equally difficult to pin down on the moral compass. Altogether the outcome off the Second Galactic Civil War is... well I really have no idea. But 100 years later the Sith are ruling the galaxy but wait no, they’re not quite, but some sort of revision of the Imperial Remnant this time with a non-Force sensitive Emperor called Fel who has a cadre of grey Force sensitive knights, who all get overthrown by Darth Krayt and his lackeys. Oh and meanwhile the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances is doing... something. Don’t even ask me who’s meant to be good and evil in that mess, because I have no idea.

So, to conclude. Disney, Lucasarts, JJ, if you really want to create a successful Star Wars trilogy make sure that if has the key constructs, don’t think you can just chuck some lightsabers, blasters and fancy starships in there and go tada! It doesn’t work.

Wolfninjajedi's Avatar


Wolfninjajedi
04.18.2013 , 12:48 PM | #2
There are some rather interesting ideas though, and remember its all opinion so there is no really saying that something is good or bad because were not all wired the same way. I know you said it doesn't, but just throwing it out there.

Now early post-ROTJ, that was to be expected because while the leader of the Empire died. You are still gonna have all these Moffs and everything fighting for control over what is left.

Later on though, with the 2nd GCW and all that noise...I mean the Imperial Knights were an interesting concept...but they just can't work given there is no grey side of the Force.

There were a bunch of different ideas, for different authors though who wanted to write a piece of Star Wars history. Good ideas, but the way those ideas presented themselves in their forms were....eh. They weren't bad, but the ideas could have been thought over more.

Now with the OR era, that entire place was untouched and so therefore the reason it did so well. Was because....it was a blank clean slate, in which things could happen the way authors wanted them to.
"There is one lesson you've yet to learn. How to become one with the Force!"
―Cin Drallig to Darth Vader

Maucs the Tauntaun King, former SWG player.

Beniboybling's Avatar


Beniboybling
04.18.2013 , 01:08 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Wolfninjajedi View Post
There are some rather interesting ideas though, and remember its all opinion so there is no really saying that something is good or bad because were not all wired the same way. I know you said it doesn't, but just throwing it out there.
I'm not necessarily saying post-ROTJ is bad (although in my opinion it is) but as Star Wars it is flawed.

Although I'd disagree that OR is anymore clean a slate that post-ROTJ on which there are practically no restrictions, as canon in that direction simply doesn't exist. Whereas the OR era has to slot into place correctly, and so restrictions are placed on it.

After all, post-ROTJ hasn't exactly respected the boundaries has it?

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
04.18.2013 , 01:22 PM | #4
First, remember that you think it is bad, and that everyone has their own opinion.

Second, I think I'll partially agree with you in terms of the natural good vs. evil thing. We get the feeling that the Vong are evil, and what they do is evil. For the Swarm War, we know that the ultimate mastermind behind it all is evil, but the Killiks themselves aren't evil. It's more of a seudo-mind control thing that happens there.

When we get to the Second GCW, it is more difficult to see who is good and who is evil. It's obvious the Jedi are the good guys, but the Galactic Alliance has been corrupted (especially after Caedus' fall).

We do know that there is an eventual bad guy found in Darth Caedus, but even then his actions seem just, albeit gone about the wrong way. Abeloth was one of the few moments of good vs. evil in post-ROTJ. We can clearly see that she is evil.

However, we do know that there is a constant force for good in the EU: the Jedi Order. From there, evil becomes subjective in such an environment.

As to the title. Does post-ROTJ suck? No, it simply has some poorly implemented ideas. Personally, I find many of the stories to be well done. It's just that other ideas simply weren't implemented correctly.

However, the old wisdom in this regard remains the same: Entertainment is subjective. Some of my favorite books (Thrawn books, Outcast) come from this era. Some of my favorite characters (Kyle Katarn, Thrawn) come from this era.
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Wolfninjajedi's Avatar


Wolfninjajedi
04.18.2013 , 01:25 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by Beniboybling View Post
I'm not necessarily saying post-ROTJ is bad (although in my opinion it is) but as Star Wars it is flawed.

Although I'd disagree that OR is anymore clean a slate that post-ROTJ on which there are practically no restrictions, as canon in that direction simply doesn't exist. Whereas the OR era has to slot into place correctly, and so restrictions are placed on it.

After all, post-ROTJ hasn't exactly respected the boundaries has it?
Well Post-ROTJ was a clean slate, after dealing with the remains of the Empire and all that. It seemed the authors, just wanted to pick up where it all left off and from there well....there ya go. Boundaires? Hm? You mean like bringing in the Vong, Imperial Knights and all? Then ya.....I mean, the concept of the Vong(a completely different species/organization etc and so forth) was interesting, the Vong themselves...were...meh, the only thing that bothered me about them was they were immune to The Force entirely.(They were right?)

As said, the concept of all these things were interesting. Just the way the authors panned it all out, not so much...
"There is one lesson you've yet to learn. How to become one with the Force!"
―Cin Drallig to Darth Vader

Maucs the Tauntaun King, former SWG player.

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Kilikaa
04.18.2013 , 02:28 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Wolfninjajedi View Post
Well Post-ROTJ was a clean slate, after dealing with the remains of the Empire and all that. It seemed the authors, just wanted to pick up where it all left off and from there well....there ya go. Boundaires? Hm? You mean like bringing in the Vong, Imperial Knights and all? Then ya.....I mean, the concept of the Vong(a completely different species/organization etc and so forth) was interesting, the Vong themselves...were...meh, the only thing that bothered me about them was they were immune to The Force entirely.(They were right?)

As said, the concept of all these things were interesting. Just the way the authors panned it all out, not so much...
The Vong were interesting, and I quite liked them as the bad guys. They weren't immune to the Force. Powers could still be used on them but the Jedi had to physically see them. The Vong had been cutoff from the Force. This made made them undectable in the Force. Unlike everything else, Jedi could not feel them. Because of this Vong could sneak up on Jedi if they were quiet enough, and they were very cunning warriors. Aurbere may be able to shed more light on this as I am doing it all from memory, but I believe the Vong were orginally from Zonama Sekot and that planet had stripped them of their Force connection.

TalonVII's Avatar


TalonVII
04.18.2013 , 02:37 PM | #7
I'm more with Aurbre on this one. Many of what was done post ROTJ was trying to restructure the galaxy up until the arrival of the Vong.

then it wasn't good or evil. It was defense against annihilation and assimilation. I honestly think when the standard good vs evil gets blurred, you get to see some very interesting choices and outcomes.

I mean cadeus/Jacen solo. Guy who saved the Galaxy, then turned around and tried to take it over. His motives were pure, but his means, were just all wrong.

It also kicks the pedestal out from under heros and HUMANIZES them. The fight for the control of the jedi between Kenneth Hammer and Seba Sebytine, showed again that jedi can be HUMANIZED and show to make rash and sometimes wrong choices.

I think that part was a good thing. Implementation however, was not done so well.
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Beniboybling's Avatar


Beniboybling
04.18.2013 , 03:30 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Aurbere View Post
First, remember that you think it is bad, and that everyone has their own opinion.
I never said it was bad, but as Star Wars I find it flawed. Of course this is my opinion, you don't have to agree.

In fact I'm not saying that all of post-ROTJ is poor quality, I'm very well aware that the Thrawn Trilogy is very well written, that the characters are excellently established etc. but so is Lord of the Rings, and yet if that entered Star Wars canon it wouldn't really work. If you see what I mean. And I think their is an objective truth for what makes Star Wars what it is, good and evil is one of those vital characteristics - just ask George Lucas.

Quote: Originally Posted by TalonVII View Post
I'm more with Aurbre on this one. Many of what was done post ROTJ was trying to restructure the galaxy up until the arrival of the Vong.

then it wasn't good or evil. It was defense against annihilation and assimilation. I honestly think when the standard good vs evil gets blurred, you get to see some very interesting choices and outcomes.

I mean cadeus/Jacen solo. Guy who saved the Galaxy, then turned around and tried to take it over. His motives were pure, but his means, were just all wrong.

It also kicks the pedestal out from under heros and HUMANIZES them. The fight for the control of the jedi between Kenneth Hammer and Seba Sebytine, showed again that jedi can be HUMANIZED and show to make rash and sometimes wrong choices.

I think that part was a good thing. Implementation however, was not done so well.
I see what you mean, but I disagree that you can't have humanised characters with these grounds. Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and various characters in the KOTOR series (Bastila Shan, Carth Onasi to name a few) come across as very human, and yet they still represent good. Even though they sometimes make rash and wrong decisions, ultimately they have good intentions. Likewise, the lines between good and evil can be blurred, and that works well as has done in prievous works. But when approaching the concept of Star Wars, those standards have to exist in some form. KOTOR 2 is a good example of this, the lines were most certainly blurred, and yet the Exile represented good and the Sith (Sion and Nihilus) represented evil.

Darth Vader is another example of a very human character, who started of good and turned to the dark side, yet still appealed to the constructs of good and evil. Mace Windu and Quinlan Vos likewise walk the line before good and evil, but those definitions still exist, while in the post-ROTJ I feel they are all to often lost completely.

Indeed if you dispose of them entirely, while it would be effective in any other universe, in Star Wars all it does is draw away from the mysticism that underpins its core.

But like you said, its a great idea, but it has been implemented ineffective way - a balance must be struck. I for one, am very interested to see how Abrams and Ardnt will handle it. Ardnt for one seems very much a traditionalist will likely uphold these values.

Kilikaa's Avatar


Kilikaa
04.18.2013 , 05:59 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Beniboybling View Post
Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and various characters in the KOTOR series (Bastila Shan, Carth Onasi to name a few) come across as very human, and yet they still represent good..
Maybe because they are human? I see what you did there.

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YoshiRaphElan
04.18.2013 , 06:32 PM | #10
Here's the way I see it:

Thrawn, Isard, Pellaeon: Thrawn and Pellaeon were definitely good, or at the very least gray. They were heroes, not villains. Isard, on the other hand, was a complete nutcase who hated every alien species and even invented a virus to wipe them out ("All of them" - Sidious). The reason there's no clear-cut evil here is, evil is dead, and its henchmen, even the "good" ones, are reeling. However, evil really isn't dead, because for every Thrawn and Pellaeon you have a Black Hole or a Desann or a Jerec or a Tavion; a representation of the dark side (note that all these come from video games, which do require a clear-cut villain for the hero to face). (note 2: I refuse to acknowledge Hethrir or the cloned Palpatine. Hethrir should never have existed because Crystal Star is an abomination to all that is good and right, and the clone Palpatine is, IMO, just that: a clone, not the true Palpatine reborn.) Also, there's the Dark Fleet Crisis, with the Yevethans (which almost seem like proto-Vong as far as the hating of all other races). They were most definitely evil.

Yuuzhan Vong: The Yuuzhan Vong were, simply put, a good idea gone bad. From the outset they were planned to be Force-sensitive Dark side users, the lot of them. But George Lucas nixed the idea, and they became Force-dead instead. That was a mistake, IMO–the first mistake. The second was giving them organic technology. If it was proto-organic, fine, but totally organic? A little ridiculous. However, I did enjoy Tsavong Lah as a villain and I regretted his death at a fairly early point in the series; he had been built up as a major baddie and now we had to turn to Shimrra, who had no development whatsoever, as our bad guy, and then found out Onimi was actually the real bad guy (double-double jeopardy, anyone?), who was Force sensitive. The Vong were good in the first three to five books, but they got really ridiculous after awhile. (Sidenote: However, the series did spawn one of my favorite villains and/or antiheroes of all time, Nom Anor, who was written spectacularly in The Unifying Force.)

Second Galactic Civil War: What starts out as a simple almost-second-rebellion turns into open war, only our heroes are supposedly on the tyrannical side. And get this: Han and Leia go with the rebels. Say what now? That's a little annoying. More annoying is Jacen Solo's turn to the dark side. It just makes me sad that they built this guy up to be a hero, and then this happens because Troy Denning had a brain spasm. Darth Caedus was a believable enemy toward the end, but that's just the thing; for at least six or seven of the nine books, he wasn't even really bad. He was sad about all the things he was doing, but he was doing them anyway. That's not evil, that's punkish. He was a jerk, another whiny Skywalker. And his motivations were a wreck, so the crew of FOTJ had to go in and fix them. Lumiya was great as a villain, but she only lasted until Luke killed her in cold blood because he had no evidence that she'd killed his wife.

Lost Tribe of the Sith: Remember that the Lost Tribe were only the secondary villains of the series, behind Abeloth (who was pure evil). I didn't like the Daala-as-chief-of-state thing (would you elect Osama Bin-Laden as president?), but it worked out eventually. The galaxy had just gotten over whining about how the Galactic Alliance was evil and tyrannical, and now you put an ex-Imperial obsessed with wiping out the Jedi in charge of the government? Wynn Dorvan was a great character, and a foil to Daala's "villain." As to Abeloth, starting simple was good. She was bad, she messed up some Jedi's minds, and she killed big time. Then they had to come in and make a big story with her past and connect her to the Mortis arc from TCW. That was a little much, though I did kind of enjoy it. And this series made a huge thing about developing Raynar Thul into something of a secondary hero, only to snatch him back to bug-brain at the end. What is that? Sure it was supposed to be a heroic sacrifice, but it was a silly thing to do.

Overall, I think post-ROTJ was a lot of good ideas churned out wrong. I loved FOTJ, I really did; it read more cohesive than LOTF, where you could distinctly tell "this novel is Traviss'." Not that that's a terrible thing, because I like Traviss' work, but in a nine-book series with three authors the book-to-book transition should be nearly seamless–which it was in FOTJ. LOTF, not so much. I will be a little disappointed, but hopeful, when VII inevitably overwrites these series. Especially the character of Ben Skywalker, because he's an awesome character. I hope he can have a part in the ST.