My favorite episode of Star Trek, any series, is Balance of Terror from the original series. It has absolutely everything that a Star Trek episode should have, and it, along with my favorite Star Trek movie, the Wrath of Khan, inspired the best episode of Strange New Worlds to date, Memento Mori. For some reason, Balance of Terror keeps coming up in my social media streams. Several people keep saying something that prompts me to volunteer this information.
But this post isn’t about Star Trek.
I set my mind to rewatch the episode but kept procrastinating. Yesterday, I was watching the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I love both of those movies. It occurred to me that none of the X-Wings, Tie-Fighters, etc. had any aft-firing weaponry. That would have been quite useful when being chased during the attacks on either Death Star. The Millennium Falcon sort of did, but only if there was at least one other person on the ship available to mad that blaster. (If I’m wrong, I’m sure Kessel Junkie will correct me.)
But wait! This post is about Star Trek!
This led me to finally re-watch Balance of Terror (re-watching Memento Mori will follow soon) in which I thought there was some background chatter stating that the aft-firing torpedoes are ready. (Note: I may have been mistaken, but there were mentions to aft-firing weapons in the background charter of several episodes, most clearly at 17:02 of Arena.) It also led to a cascade of thoughts regarding the hubbub about violating canon. I love the FASA Star Trek RPG, and it annoyed me that the Constitution Class starships didn’t have aft-firing weaponry. In fact, they made a big deal out of it. It was a glaring weakness in most Federation ships, and a big deal when some did. But it’s not all about an RPG. Star Trek the Motion Picture also suggested that the Klingon ship (also captained by Mark Lenard) having an aft-firing torpedo was a big deal. He thought it would surprise his enemy.
And then there are those star dates that were completely made up, and the fact that the Romulan ship in Balance of Terror wasn’t capable of warp travel (22:10) yet traveled in interstellar space. In the two episodes I mentioned, there was an inconsistency. In Arena, Kirk comments that diamonds are “perhaps the hardest substance known in the universe” (30:10), and Spock confirms this by stating, “diamonds, the hardest known substance” (41:32), yet Spock points out only four episodes earlier in Balance of Terror that “cast rodinium . . . is the hardest substance known to our science” (21:26). Canon is shit. That’s unfortunate in most (not all) cases, but it’s true. You can’t rely on it. However, one theory says that there’s no such thing as a canon violation because Star Trek First Contact rebooted the franchise, rendering “canon” a nonsense concept.
I love to see Strange New Worlds show aft-firing phasers, see everyone lose their shit for the canon violation, and then lay into them for their ignorance. If everyone now realizes that the Enterprise has aft-firing weapons, that’s fine too. It gives us one more reason to say Star Trek ships are better than Star Wars ships.
Just roll with it and be happy when stories are well-written.
Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s both. Just like in the prequels, we’re constantly learning about the extent of R2-D2’s utility.
Episode 3 of The Book of Boba Fett (“TBoBF“) touched off a storm of discussion on social media, and it’s continued through episode 4. I’ve engaged in that discussion quite a bit but am collecting my thoughts here.
First off, you can hate TBoBF. This post isn’t saying otherwise, which would be really stupid. You like what you like, and you can’t help that any more than I can help that I liked the Green Lantern movie. You can explain why you hate it, but that explanation might serve as the reason I like it. Different strokes and all that. I also don’t see anything wrong with expressing your opinion. Expressing hate is no or less moral than expressing like or love. It’s just your opinion, and if I open the door to hearing it, I shouldn’t shut it because I don’t agree. Frylock’s Gaming & Geekery is bubble-free.
But if you can state your opinion, I can state mine.
Here’s what I don’t get: Boba Fett isn’t a character. If this were a copyright suit, and I were the judge, I’d throw you in jail (even without the power to do so) just for suggesting otherwise. He has four lines of dialogue, six minutes of airtime, and a really cool-looking suit. Okay, maybe five lines if you count a childish scream.
Of all of that, his suit is the sole reason we liked him as kids. In copyright terms, he’s not a character; he’s a sculpture.
So in what way does this show “ruin” the character of Boba Fett?
It doesn’t. There’s nothing to ruin except the suit, but the suit’s still there. What it ruins is the head canon that you’ve created, representing your assignment of various traits to him, most of which contradict the few traits we see in him. For example, the one time we see him in combat in Return of the Jedi, he gets his ass kicked. He’s not the bad ass your mind extrapolated in childhood. To a child, no one in such a cool suit could possibly be so pathetic, but as an adult, you should know better.
This doesn’t mean that it would have been wrong to make him something other than a conflicted anti-hero. He could have been written as a straight-up villain, and even I’m getting a bit annoyed with Hollywood’s obsession with the anti-hero. There are so many of them that they collectively paint the cinematic world as a place with no heroes. That’s too close to reality. But Disney doesn’t give a shit what you’ve extrapolated onto the character. They can’t. There are too many of you, and you all have different extrapolations, ranging from subtle to monumental differences of opinion. They have to do their own thing, and so far there’s nothing inconsistent about the character because there isn’t enough “character” to contradict.
Now, if you want at least some character development, you could go to the prequels. Did you want this to be about Boba Fett as a child? Because that’s how you get a series about Boba Fett as a child. (Actually, some of you nerds would probably like that. Freaking nerds and your child protagonists.) I’m also aware that he appeared in one or more of the animated series, none of which I’ve watched. I can’t comment on that, but neither I nor (apparently) Disney care. My only concern is live-action media. In light of that, everything I said above stands.
The bottom line is that Disney has created an interesting character and story, and some (not all) of you could appreciate that if you didn’t place your head canon above all else and instead could just enjoy the ride. I appreciate that many of you would still not enjoy it. Well . . .
The world doesn’t revolve around you. If you don’t like it, you’ll just have to watch something else. I am, and I’m not angry at Paramount for it.
Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s some Star Wars memes (though mixed with a tiny bit of original content). Why? Because TNT was playing the Star Wars films in in-universe chronological order, and while I was organizing myself for my upcoming move, I had the movies playing in the background. I saw the tail end of Revenge of the Sith (from the point where Anakin tells Padme he’s headed to Mustafar), all of Solo: A Star Wars Story (see tweet below), Rogue One (my favorite Star Wars movie), A New Hope (for the first time in more time than I can remember), and Empire Strikes Back. After that, I had to go to bed.
To all you Star Wars lovers, don’t give me too much shit for the negativity. That’s always for Kessel Junkie’s benefit. Besides . . .
Anyway, here are some memes presented, appropriately I think, in in-universe chronological order.
NewbieDM is going through a similar journey to my own, only he’s looking at playing an older version of the Star Wars RPG. One of his recent threads caught my eye, in particular, this one.
This had me thinking, “What’s the greatest lightsaber duel in Star Wars cinema?” I’m referring to the movies only because I’ve never watched any of the animated series. I copied Kessel Q. Junkie on this post because I’m convinced he knows more about Star Wars than George Lucas. So, let’s look at each duel in movie-universe, chronological order within NewbieDM’s framework. I’m including only those combats that were between force-aware users because I don’t want to waste my time on wannabes. Snoke’s guards aren’t, to my knowledge, force-aware. Despite some quotes from those involved, Finn was never established as force-aware within the context of the movies, so his battle with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens also doesn’t count. Even the mass battle on Geonosis doesn’t count, which is a damn shame. We’ve never seen so many lightsabers in one place at one time.
Jinn v. Maul, The Phantom Menace
No conversation, no change of environment, nothing peculiar about the combat, and no force powers beyond a jump. They can’t all be contenders.
Jinn and Kenobi v. Maul, The Phantom Menace
This is the one that everyone — even Prequel haters — most often cite (as far as I can tell) as the best lightsaber duel, but I disagree. It probably made for the best display of melee combat, and used both force powers and a change in environment in that combat, but the social/psychological combat was no different than you’d expect in any on screen battle. To me, this criterion requires an attempt to convert someone to the other side morally speaking. That’s not present here. They never even spoke with Maul. Three out of four ain’t bad, but it ain’t perfect.
Anakin and Kenobi vs. Dooku, Attack of the Clones
No real force manipulation, and psychological warfare is only an afterthought based on a prior conversation with Kenobi, which took place a long time ago (pun intended). The entire fight took place in only one cavern. The combat was reasonably good, but none of this sounds like #1.
Yoda vs. Dooku, Attack of the Clones
Force manipulation, good combat (with damn funny special effects on Yoda), and mild psychological warfare (really, just shit-talking, though, which isn’t ideal). Hooray! But all within the same environment, with terrain not really playing a role at all.
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Count Dooku, Revenge of the Sith
Again, there’s no change of environment. Terrain is largely irrelevant and is subsumed within the category of use of force powers, which were used to pin an already unconscious Kenobi. Nope.
Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. General Grievous, Revenge of the Sith
Well, Grievous did say that he was trained in the Jedi (Sith?) arts, so this counts. No interesting psychological manipulation and only the most minor of force powers in play keeps this from the top spot.
Palpatine vs. Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin, Revenge of the Sith
Minor change of environment, a small use of force lightning, decent combat (but with two disappointingly easy deaths), and if you read the novelization, there’s a good about of psychological manipulation. But novels don’t count, so there’s only a bit of manipulation at the end directed towards a non-combatant, Anakin. Very close but no cigar.
Yoda vs. Palpatine, Revenge of the Sith
Change of environment, use of force powers, and psychological shit-talking, but the lightsaber aspect to combat was a bit undersold. I want that to be the foundation on which the other criteria are built. Still, this is very close, and it appears to me that, on the whole, Revenge of the Sith did a better job with lightsaber duels than any other movie.
Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Revenge of the Sith
Here’s some more proof of the assertion I just made. This duel had good melee combat, a change of environment with good use of terrain, and the use of force powers to supplement the combat. But the psychological warfare wasn’t true lightsaber duel worthy. This was closer to a hurling of insults than any attempt at conversion. No one was moving anywhere on the morality continuum. Everyone was set in place.
Kenobi v. Vader, A New Hope
The melee combat is dated, and there was no change in environment. It served it’s purpose, and a New Hope is arguably the best Star Wars movie, but this wasn’t the best lightsaber duel.
Luke v. Vader on Dagobah
Doesn’t count, but even if it did, it employed only the psychological weight of a lightsaber duel. No change in environment, weak combat, and no force powers. Let’s move on.
Luke v. Vader, Return of the Jedi
This duel gives us psychological manipulation and a decent combat, but the use of force powers is limited other than when Palpatine sticks his nose in it, and there’s no change of environment. Like the climactic Phantom Menace duel, this comes close, but only one can be the best. This ain’t it.
Ren vs. Rey, The Force Awakens
Minor use of force powers and manipulation, and no change of environment. Disqualified! Scene.
Ren vs. Luke, The Last Jedi
Force projection nonsense. I don’t even think this should count, but many of you will, so here we go. The combat was a bit boring, there was no change in environment, and the use of force powers wasn’t to my liking. YMMV. I will say this, though. The psychological manipulation wasn’t what I gave as basis for a good lightsaber duel, but it really worked here. Luke tricking Ren was a clever use of manipulation. I’ll allow it, but this still doesn’t win the top spot. Part of the scene.
Rey vs. Ren via Force Projection, The Rise of Skywalker
Again, I don’t think this should count, so I analyze it under protest. There were two environments because they were in different places, and the melee combat was mediocre. It should be the foundation of a lightsaber duel, but it played second fiddle to the psychological manipulation. That’s the only strongly satisfied criterion. Nope. Not the best. Scene.
Rey vs. Ren on the Ruins of the Death Star, Rise of Skywalker
Not much along the lines of a change in environment, but it was a neat environment. There was a weak attempt to convert Rey before the battle occurred, and the only use of force powers appears to be lip service. It’s as if they threw them in there just to make sure that they’d score a higher rating on a blog post like this. But the actual melee combat itself was pretty good. Not good enough to win though. Scene.
Luke v. Vader, The Empire Strikes Back
I skipped this one, and I’m sure you all know why. This is the clear winner. There was a noticeable upgrade in special effects from just one movie ago, making for a more interesting melee combat, and that fight involved a change of environment. Peppered throughout are the use of force powers beyond just jumping around, and multiple psychological ploys, all of which were designed to convert Luke to the dark side through appeals to his ego, greed, and need for family. The movement is a little stilted because it was the second-earliest movie in the series with dated special effects, but this lightsaber duel is the complete package from a dramatic point of view. Sorry, Maul, but you lose.
If I forgot any, please let me know. I apologize, but I can’t be expected to remember all of them. After all, . . .