STAR WARS & Seasonal Depression, A IX-Part Listicle

I That STAR WARS IX trailer indeed comes out today during the Pats v.’ Jets game. UPDATED: The last final new trailer exists now.  (October 21, as it happens, is also Carrie Fisher’s birthday.) Advance tickets for the December 20 opening ought to go on sale simultaneously. So the all-new thing today will be, for some of us, the start of the end.

II – It seems apt for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (and its close closing-finale cousin, AVENGERS: ENDGAME) to come out in 2019, because 2020 is so guaranteed to be full of real-life American ridiculousness, every pop-cultural fiction might as well get outta the way right now. It’s hard to imagine any science-fiction/fantasy/superhero-spectacle that might trump (‘scuse the pun) the impending tumult of next year, what with impeachment proceedings, climate crisis, a possibly-apocalyptic U.S. Presidential election. Not that 2018 & 2019 were NOT crazy, but 2020 America seems a lock to become The Return/Revenge/Rise Of Real Momentous Events both revolting and revolutionary.  

III – Star Wars is often aligned with the Winter holidays, and I believe the arrival of each new film carries with it an associated strain of melancholy. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD-2BU, is a droid who comes visiting around mid-October, often with its companion estromech FML-3X. The Sad Droids bring an important message, as always, but in this case the data is not literal, but suggestive. It whispers to us in the opening legend: This thing which you love happened a long time ago and far, far away. It teases us with reminders of mortality and mocks our adult perspective. Star Wars remains a kid’s story. You will never be that kid again. The story resists moral nuance and layered interpretations, as THE LAST JEDI demonstrated with probably-unintended savagery. The whole thing only works if you don’t think about it too much.

IV – Speaking of the confounding Episode VIII, I am particularly rooting for Rose Tico to figure big into Ep IX. For my money, THE LAST JEDI was not exactly a bad movie, but it was several incongruent movies happening at once. Of all the storylines fighting to resemble what we consider a Star Wars movie, Rose’s was the most fascinating: the repercussions of her sister Paige’s sacrifice, her odd fangirlish-yet-judgmental crush on Finn, her hate-soliloquy about the casino planet. I mean, Poe, Maz, Holdo, BB-8, all fine and good, but as far as character intrigue, I’m not even as invested in them as say, Wedge.

Rose/Hope t-shirt design courtesy of The Nerds Of Color.

V – The high and low points of the recent Star Warses are, of course, subjective and debatable, but I like to think Rey is almost a consensus success as the primary Star Warrior, owing to Daisy Ridley’s committed performance, and the fact that she’s totally Miyazaki’s Nausicaa.

VI – On the villain side, Kylo Ren is still the most interesting (if infuriating) archetype introduced into The Force Froth. When we met Kylo, it was immediately telling how his fragile childishness somehow co-existed with his immense social standing as Evil Knight Who Commands Armies. Then later we find out that his Uncle Luke Skywalker tried to light-shank him in his sleep? I dunno how or if they’re gonna resolve that setup, but the whole concept is a bit depressing.

VII – On the other hand, John Williams (or, okay, his brother Don) has promised all the musical themes, from Duel of the Fates to the Imperial March. As long as they aren’t all played on top of each other, I can’t think of a stronger assurance of an immersive and fulfilling space opera experience.

VIII – At its time, EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI delivered more optical effects shots than any film previous, and this shot was considered extraordinarily complicated, because, y’know, physical models:

They’ve not quite achieved the massive space fighter battle trope in any of the new Star Wars, with Rogue One serving as the thrilling exception because they revived 30-year-old outtakes of Gold Squadron. J.J., as long as we’re excessively homaging the source material, it’s 2019, can we get a plussed-up climactic space dogfight? Because if not I will probably curl up into a little ball, S-foils retracted into fatalistically fetal position.

IX – I’m not sure I care if any specific person named Skywalker is revealed, avenged, born, re-evaluated, or otherwise lionized in Episode IX. But I do hope for Rey to find a sibling, or at least some substantive connection to somebody. One fan theory posits that Rey is a clone, and in a way, that’d also work. Royalist lineages aside, Rey has just gotta be from somewhere, even if only in the meta-sense that she’s in this sisterhood of dark-haired young women with totally Asian names and a tendency to be British (or Jewish), and who all, for whatever reason, make the Star Wars saga what it is .

Jyn & Padme & Leia & Rey & Qi’ra.

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