TLJ: Making Sense of DJ’s Betrayal

I’m taking a break from my posts about the characters in TLJ to talk a little bit about a conundrum in The Last Jedi. Specifically, the fact that DJ divulges a plan that Fin and Rose didn’t even know existed, in exchange for freedom and money.

After seeing the movie again and gradually becoming more aware of how amazing it is, I can’t accept this as a plot flaw at face value.

I mean even Fin is confused and he says so. Specifically Fin says, “Wait, cut a deal with what?”

And so I began speculating about possible explanations.

First up, did either Rose and Fin know the plan? Maybe they talked about it in the jail cell while DJ was trying to sleep. But how would they have known? Maybe Rose had an assignment that related to it some how that she abandoned. It didn’t sit right with me. It’s plausible, but I eventually came up with something that required less imagination and was more fitting with the movie.

It was a bad plan made out of haste and necessity and therefore almost entirely transparent.

So why didn’t the First Order figure it out? Well, I think they did. At least they probably figured out the planet was their destination. All DJ provided was how the rebels were getting there.

I’m going to expand on this idea/speculation a little more. First lets bring in some context. In the beginning of the movie the rebels/resistance are evacuating a base. There’s a battle but ultimately they hit hyperspace button and they escape. They are under the impression that they got away.

My hypothesis is that the abandoned rebel base on Crait (the salt planet) was the original destination of General Organa. They left hyperspace a safe distance from the planet, thinking they could stroll over to it at a comfortable pace. This plan was on a need to know basis, and our characters didn’t need to know. Which in hindsight, maybe they should have. But then again, this movie is all about decisions that carry some negative consequences.

This isn’t rock solid. After the rebels drop out of hyperspace and before the First Order shows up Finn asks Leia what the plan is. She responds, “We need to find a new base.” Then someone else adds “One with enough power to get a distress signal to our allies.”

Lets pick this apart a little. She’s basically stating that the problem isn’t finding a base. It is finding one with enough power. Basically, there are rebel bases all over the galaxy, but not all of them suit their needs right now. Later, when we are first introduced to Crait that same character says that it is both heavily armored and has enough power for a distress signal. So, it is believable (to me) that Crait was their plan all along, they just didn’t disclose it.

Is it possible this wasn’t the original plan? Absolutely. I didn’t make these connections the first time I watched the movie.  Even if the old base wasn’t in the original plan, the circumstances reinforce that it was the best plan they could come up with the time and resources they had. And therefore completely transparent to everyone.

In any case, Leia is injured and the chain of command falls to General Holdo, who sure as hell isn’t giving any info to Poe. Her objective is to reach the abandoned base, but under current circumstances that isn’t going to be possible. So she adapts the plan, but keeps the objective. They are using the smaller transports to shuttle rebels to the cruiser and generally the First Order ignores them. So they are perceived as safer and the best bet to reach Crait.

The relative safety is also reinforced in the opening scene when we are shown a solitary cruiser. When we zoom in we begin to see one transport, and then another and then a whole stinking caravan coming up from the planet that we couldn’t see before.

But, wait there is more. The rebels were cloaking the transports from the First Orders sensors.

During the reveal of DJ’s treachery the officer tells General Hux, “Sir, we checked on the information from the thief. We ran a decloaking scan, and sure enough, 30 resistant transports have just launched from the cruiser.”

The operative words here are “information” and “decloaking”. This implies that DJ knew the rebel ships were cloaked. Nothing more. In other words, he didn’t know the mission, or the objective. He knew one piece of information that he thought the First Order might find valuable.

So how did he know it? This takes one last speculative jump. I understand if you don’t want to join me any further because there are ways this could have been presented that made it obvious to the viewer.

DJ knew about the cloaked vessels because he ran a decloaking scan himself before they boarded the ship. Two things point me to this. First, DJ is constantly looking for people in desperate situations to exploit. Like, hanging out in a prison cell he could break out of at any moment but really waiting for someone who will pay him to do it. A fleet of ships making a run for a planet would be a mark for him. And again, their plan to reach the planet is rather obvious. It’s a matter of how they get there. Second, the first thing DJ says after Rose, Fin and him get out of hyperspace is, “Cloaking our approach. We should be off their scopes.” Cloaking was at least on his mind. I don’t know how cloaking works in the Star Wars universe, but I would easily accept that you need to run a decloaking scan before cloaking a ship of your own.

Honestly, this speculation is enough for me, but when I started writing this and viewing the scenes a little more carefully I noticed something else. To believe it at any level, you first need to believe that Rose is watching DJ. In my post about Rose, I suggested that she was watching DJ to learn from him but I would believe that she’s watching him because she doesn’t trust him.

In either case, it’s only important because Rose also knows about the 30 transport ships and Fin doesn’t. Remember Fin is confused. He doesn’t know what information DJ traded. Conceivably it could have been something unrelated to their current predicament. DJ probably knows a lot of things about a lot of people. Like, the identity of an arms dealer who is selling to the First Order and the resistance.

But Rose knows. She starts freaking out as soon as DJ turns his head to them. She calls him a lying snake and tries to break free of the storm troopers. It takes two of them to keep her down. It maybe the only time in the film that Rose acts impulsively. The important part here is that DJ has not confessed at this point and the officer has not announced an awareness of the cloaked vessels. And Rose clearly knows DJ traded information damaging to the resistance. Why else would she freak out? How would she know this? She watched him run the decloaking scan and noticed the readouts herself.

This is speculation, so the logic that holds it together isn’t unbreakable. For now it is what I’m going with.

Advertisements

TLJ: Hux

Continuing on my ramblings about characters from The Last Jedi comes a post about Hux. A character who was to be feared in TFA and to be laughed at in TLJ. What happened here? Did something go wrong? No, it did not. At least I hope not because I’m about to engage in some fan theory making that could ultimately bring me disappointment.

At the end of TFA and the beginning of TLJ, Hux is extremely confident. He oversaw a battle station that destroyed the republic. Even if that battle station was destroyed shortly afterward, it achieved it’s objective. After its destruction, the rebels are cornered as he cuts off their escape and is about to wipe them out.

And then, Hux experiences humiliation after humiliation. This includes, the loss of a dread naught and the rebel escape shortly after. But he comes back from that. He has them on a string. When he says it to Supreme Leader Snoke we get the impression that it’s bluster. But later we find out it was straight up truth. For most of the movie he has them cornered, all be it a little out of range of their laser cannons.

Hux’s war machine essentially dominated the first two movies of this trilogy, but he faces the ultimate humiliation: The rise of Kylo Ren to be the Supreme Leader, instead of himself. This was something Vader was never able to achieve. (Although I’m not sure if he wanted it… I have a faint memory of some political ambitions or notions in Attack of the Clones… I guess I’ll have to watch that movie).

Hux is extremely competent which is dangerous in a villain. And while it is relatively easy to laugh at what happens to him in TLJ, it doesn’t change him. Going into Episode IX he’s still as competent and every bit as dangerous… if not more so. I imagine he’ll be angrier and jealous of Kylo Ren.

The only reason Hux is not the Supreme Leader of the First Order is because he is not a force wielder. So, I won’t be surprised if he sets into motion some sort of plan to become one some how.

Continuing along these lines, it is conceivable that Hux could find someway to harness the force mechanically to weaponize it. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the midichlorians are discussed in Episode IX. I recently learned that George Lusas’s plan for the third trilogy included some form of microscopic adventure [Indie Wire].  So this angle might fit in well.

Or he may find another way to attack or betray Kylo Ren, say taking a page out the extended universe and find a way to neutralize a force wielders ability. Making force wielders vulnerable. I feel like this will be inevitable, if not in Episode IX, then in some other movie.

I find this speculation interesting, but ultimately… speculative.  I don’t want to be too attached to these ideas because I’ve been burned before by one of my own creation that turned into a massive disappointment. And since it is Star Wars, it is possible that he could be abruptly killed in the first 30 minutes in the film.

I have hopes that Hux will become an even more terrifying threat. But make no mistake. I’m not rooting for him.

TLJ: Rose Tico

In my ramblings about the futility and potential harm of Star Wars fan theories (and how at one time they sustained the fandom) I stated that I wanted to write more about the characters that appear in TLJ. And what better place to start than Rose Tico, a character that brought out the absolute worst in some Star Wars fans. It is disturbing to know that I like something that these people also like.

Some of the complaints about Rose are… I don’t really know what they are, but this is what I imagine.

  • She’s a Mary Sue
  • She’s not a bad ass
  • She personifies what people didn’t like about TLJ
  • Something that is either racist or motivated by racism

She’s a Mary Sue

I disagree on this. Rose is flawed like rest of us and we meet her when she is grieving. And the way she is coping is by stopping people from stealing escape pods. I assume that she has been ordered to do this and she clings to this duty in her grief. It is an outlet for her, to the point that she zaps someone she was fangirling over 2 seconds ago. Like almost every scene in the movie, I could go on about the implied stakes in the that scene. But I won’t because this is about Rose.

Bad things happen to Rose that she can’t escape from, without the help of others. It may be easy to miss because she appears optimistic and virtuous at practically every turn.

She is smart and learns quickly, but not the way a Mary Sue does. She isn’t master of her environment… yet. She knows her stuff, but she doesn’t get to really show us because when it’s her turn to contribute to the plan… in walk the storm troopers.

I’m assuming she kept a careful eye on DJ and picked up some of his tricks.

She’s Not a Bad Ass

I’ll give you that, but not every interesting character has to be bad ass. What Rose does, like every other character in the movie, is make tough (and sometimes very wrong) decisions. What comes to mind is the scene after Canto Bite when DJ is demanding her necklace for a deposit. She doesn’t object. Fin does. She waits a moment, snaps it off her neck and hands it over. This was something that connected her to her sister, who just died a hero’s death only hours ago. (Maybe longer. Time is funny in Star Wars).

She thinks about her choices, makes a decision and then commits to it. I concede this is not a trait of a bad ass. This is a trait of a grown up. She’s adulting.

Also, in case you missed it, she strait up shoots Phasma. Phasma! It’s a split second and totally missable (I did… twice) because nothing happens. That’s right nothing happens, the blast literally bounces off Phasma’s chest. Think about that. The First Order is sitting on blaster bouncing armor. I mean, it doesn’t even force Phasma to step backwards. Be scared people. Be. Scared.

But not too scared because Fin does eventually expose a vulnerability in the armor, the visors. Remember he knocks part of one off and we see her eye as she tries to stare him down. Ah… this is about Rose. Dang it.

One of the decisions that Rose makes is to help Poe and Fin. She helped come up with the plan, but it becomes very clear that the mission to Canto Bight is unsanctioned and possibly treasonous. Like using the escape pods she was just guarding, but more purposeful.

This leads to people dying (not really any of the characters on screen). She made the wrong call, like so many of the characters in the movie. She doesn’t doubt her decision, but she does express some remorse for what has happened. I’m specifically talking about the her line, “Is this all thats left?” She doesn’t dwell on it, because well there just isn’t time for it.

Nobody really comes out of The Last Jedi a hero. Which is perfect for the middle installment of a trilogy. There is supposed to be a loss of hope. I was expecting a lot of the movie to be really dark, and Rian Johnson (he’s the writer/director, not a character despite the spelling of his first name.) pulled off a movie that wasn’t dark but where hope was lost. There was despair and grief.

Bringing it back. I don’t care if the character isn’t raw. She’s real. That’s hard to pull off in a space opera.

She Personifies What People Didn’t Like About TLJ

She does personify the movie quite well. She experiences loss. She makes decisions that carry very grave consequences to them. Even after she spends time weighing the options, her choices don’t always come up… roses. (ugh, sorry about that).

She belongs in the movie because she is the movie. And she belongs in Star Wars, because the movie belongs in Star Wars.

The Last One

I’m specifically talking about the people who harassed the actress online. I don’t have the words to convince them that their actions were terrible and they should be terrified of their motivations. I wish I had an amazing power of persuasion to make courtesy and generosity seem appealing, and to make them aware that hateful words stem from an indifference to see humanity in others. Again, I know I don’t have the words to perform this miracle, so I have written these imperfect ones instead.

Theories

I’m going to be clear, these are things I would be interested in seeing. I’m not expecting any of them.

  • Rose in the next movie (her fate is a little unclear, but it didn’t really seem like a Star Wars death).
  • Conflict between Rose and Rey. I’m not talking about a potential love triangle between Rose, Fin and Rey. I’m talking more about Rose’s optimism and more grounded Rey. Rey has experienced some monumental disappointment in these movies. How much despair? So much she goes to Kylo Ren because she believes and says that “…he is our last hope.”
  • Some crazy amazing technical show off skills she picked up from DJ, (like maybe breaking out of prison cell, or using her medallion to short something out because it is highly conductive).
  • Continued collaboration between Rey and Fin.

I’m keeping this grounded. The thing I liked best about TLJ is that it left Episode IX to be a wild card. No one knows what is going to happen.

 

 

TLJ: Fan Theories

Completely on accident I discovered a portion of the Internet (or world) that is still discussing Star Wars The Last Jedi. I was drawn in.

My original review was written last December, but only posted last month. This was not necessarily out of laziness or indifference but more along the lines that his blog is a tiny sliver of my life. Since writing that review I have seen the movie again, and I admit it is growing on me. Not because the things that I didn’t like (itemized in my review) suddenly became appealing, but because I started seeing more and different things I enjoyed. And since other people are talking about TLJ, and I enjoy some of the things they are saying, I want to join in too. Bandwagon!

I don’t like engaging in fan theories, because they rarely fulfill themselves. And honestly, I was burned by one of my own. Back when the Phantom Menace came out I was convinced that Obi-Wan was a jedi tainted (at least a little) by the dark side. This was based on a few frames from A New Hope in the cantina scene where he dismembers someone who draws a weapon. In those few frames when we see his face, I thought (and still think) he is smiling. He missed this type of stuff. And then a friend suggested he was maybe grimacing and not smiling. Which resulted in a very long and passionate argument that ultimately was pointless. And not because I was wrong (still say he’s smiling… and BTW he shows zero remorse for it… I mean Han Solo at least tips the bartender after blasting Gredo… and now that I think about it he could have just mind tricked his way out of it… sigh)…

As I was saying, my heated argument with a friend was ultimately pointless not because I was wrong but because there was no way either one of us could make the choices or even influence the choices that were being made during the production of episode I. I know, a lot of us wish we had more influence to control that movie in particular.

My point is, fan theories can be a dangerous indulgence for the fans that make them. Even the casual fans that can count the number of times they’ve seen the original trilogy.

Part of the danger is that they sometimes we find them more interesting or engaging than what we actually get. And since some fans (I’m including myself here) go to great lengths to defend those theories and become they are emotionally attached to it. The more a person defends something the more that attachment solidifies. Which leads to serious emotional disappointment when those theories aren’t fulfilled. I’ll say it again, this can cause serious emotional disappointment. I’ll even bold italicize it: serious emotional disappointment.

Roll your eyes all you want and say it’s just a movie… but we all know Star Wars is not just a movie for countless fans. There are real people feeling real emotions over make believe aliens with laser swords, and that’s why fan theories can bring harm to those who make them. They We don’t understand the emotional stakes of making them until we get that enormous dose of disappointment.

To complicate things, Star Wars has a rich history of fan theories and there was a time when they were safe to make. There was so much time between some of the movie releases that at one time fan theories served a more benign purpose of sustaining the franchise when the people actually in charge of it were trying to move on to other projects. That’s more my opinion than an actual fact.

So what does this have to do with The Last Jedi? Good question. There were a lot of fan theories about TLJ and I don’t think any of them were realized. To be fair, The Force Awaken (I will not explain to you that TFA is the movie that preceded TLJ) left plenty of room for fan speculation. But just because a door is open, you don’t need to walk through it (It’s a trap!). Plus large gaps is kinda Lucasfilm’s jam (I think that phrase is still culturally relevant).

Lucasfilms tells a story, parts of which are not completely understood. Then they tell a different story to shed light on the part of the previous story that we didn’t completely understand. BTW that new story will also have parts that are not completely understood.

Do they do this well? Sometimes. The Clone Wars cartoon in particular was great, but C3PO’s red arm was… I didn’t read the comic.

Pause a second and think about the mystery of who Snokes was. This feels very similar to what was done with Count Dooku. A character who kinda appeared out of nowhere, seems really important and then abruptly becomes insignificant to the story. But then we got the Clone Wars (which I haven’t seen in its entirety) and we have tons of development for that character. In otherwords. Don’t complain about not knowing who Snokes is, because there is plenty of room for a movie, live action series, novel, comic book, cartoon or broadway musical (owned by Disney… they do this with other properties) for us to learn all sorts of things about this character. Some of it, may even become the best part of Star Wars.

This is where we get to the hard part for me. I want to talk about some of the characters that appeared in The Last Jedi, but avoid making fan theories about them. That is going to be a tough balance to strike. I should tell you to expect a couple posts about TLJ characters in the future because it is definitely my intent to write posts about TLJ characters, but instead I am telling you that you should not have expectations for this blog (but I will love you forever if you follow/subscribe… ya I know. Out of place Goblins in the Castle Reference).

My final thought is maybe we should be treating our fan theories, more like hypotheses. Something that we know can be disproven and we are capable of accepting of it when that happens.

But don’t be the sheriff that goes around correcting people by telling them it’s a fan hypothesis and not a fan theory. Please don’t be that person.