On Twitter, Bryan Young recently asked his followers what their favorite moment of the modern Star Wars era (the Disney era) is, and there are too many great ones to count. Inspired by that, we’ll be taking a look at this author’s top 50 moments from recent Star Wars material. Today, we look at numbers 46-50.
50. The Missing Leader
Mon Mothma’s contingency plan (“From a Certain Point of View”: “Contingency Plan,” by Alexander Freed)
When it comes to leaders in the Rebel Alliance, Mon Mothma stands at the top. She was involved in the very beginnings of the Rebellion back during the days of the Galactic Republic, she was the first major figure in the Senate to speak out against the Emperor publicly, her actions sparked the formation of the larger Rebellion as we know it, she served as commander-in-chief of the Rebel Alliance, and she was appointed to the office of Chancellor in the New Republic. Mothma’s leadership was crucial to the Rebellion, but we only see her in Return of the Jedi during the original trilogy. She gives the briefing on the second Death Star assault, but where was she during the first Death Star assault? This is a question that many have wondered. After all, in Rogue One, Mothma was on Yavin IV during the Battle of Scarif, and it wasn’t long after that when the Rebellion launched an offensive from the moon. So where was she? “From A Certain Point of View” answers that question with the chapter on Mon Mothma’s contingency plan – and it’s probably not what you’d expect. Mothma departs Yavin IV shortly before Princess Leia Organa was scheduled to arrive with the Death Star plans, leaving Jan Dodonna in charge of Alliance High Command for the coming battle. Mothma was leaving, with the plan for her to stay away in case the worst happened to Yavin IV and the rest of the Rebellion. The Rebel leaders assumed that Mothma would rebuild, that she was the crucial one to keep alive. But Mothma, who left with her aide and her pilot, didn’t plan to go to one of the Rebel safe houses to hide; she planned to go to Coruscant. Her aide assumed it was to rally other Senators to the cause, but Mothma’s real intention was to surrender to Emperor Palpatine. She couldn’t come to grips with the loss of entire planets, and she felt that if she stayed alive to lead another Rebellion that more starsystems would suffer the same fate as Alderaan. In other words, she was willing to sacrifice her life in order to ensure that other systems weren’t destroyed – even though they would be under the oppression of the Empire. While she was preparing her surrender speech, however, she got word from Yavin IV: they had done it! The Death Star had been destroyed! Mothma’s shuttle changed course, she prepared herself for the coming Civil War, and she never spoke of her contingency plan again. It’s really cool to read about what Mothma was up to during the Battle of Yavin, and it’s incredibly interesting that her plan was to surrender in order to prevent further loss. It’s just one of many examples of Star Wars storytelling expanding on and answering questions that many have had.
49. What if?
Luke Skywalker’s dream (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” novelization, by Jason Fry)
One of the most fascinating snippets that The Last Jedi novelization added to our understanding was a dream that Luke Skywalker had shortly before Rey’s arrival on Ahch-To. Though the Jedi Master had attempted to cut himself off from the Force, he couldn’t do so entirely. He didn’t know what this dream meant, but he knew the Force was involved. In this dream, Luke imagined how his life would have been different had he simply stayed on Tatooine. The dream begins with Luke standing on Tatooine with his wife, Camie (who was a childhood friend of Luke’s and who was in a deleted scene in A New Hope), looking up into the sky and seeing an Imperial Star Destroyer. Luke thinks back to the day where he had told his friends about the ships above them, and about his friend Biggs Darklighter, who had died fighting for the Rebellion. Luke and Camie knew the Empire wanted nothing to do with them, as they’d hit their quota for the Empire and paid their tax to Jabba. Luke thought back to the day when two droids appeared, one claiming to have a message for an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke remembered the stormtroopers arriving for the droids, about giving them to the Empire, and about the old hermit Ben Kenobi who had shown up to dissuade the stormtroopers. No one had ever heard from Ben again, though there were rumors about a gunship and a fire. Luke thought about what had happened to the girl in the message, as Princess Leia Organa was executed for treason. The Death Star had destroyed Alderaan, Mon Cala, and Chandrila. There was no more conflict. The Empire reigned.
It’s a fascinating way to start the novel, and even though none of that happened it’s still very interesting to think through what would have happened had Luke Skywalker never joined the Rebellion. And during his exile on Ahch-To, shortly before Rey arrived, Luke dreamt of that very possibility. It goes a long way to show exactly where Luke’s mindset was at: years earlier, he had been eager to do anything it took to get off of Tatooine; now, he dreamt of what life would have been like if he had only stayed. But it’s also a reminder to the reader: no matter how discouraging Luke’s antics in exile were, he was nonetheless responsible for ensuring that the Empire no longer reigned.
48. “Chewie, We’re Home”
Han and Chewbacca return (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Having stolen the Millennium Falcon from Jakku, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 begin to repair the ship in order to head to the Resistance… but they are soon taken in by a massive ship, which Finn says belongs to the First Order. They work to reverse what they had fixed, intending to release poisonous gas on the invaders, but as they are hiding, Han Solo and Chewbacca rush up the ramp and onto the ship, blasters drawn. Han takes it in and, with a smile on his face, says, “Chewie, we’re home!” They soon find the stowaways on board, and not long after that they get roped into the cause, helping BB-8 get to the Resistance. But the initial appearance of Han and Chewie (and really, of any of the iconic characters) in the sequel trilogy is awesome, and it’s also great storywise too – somewhere along the lines the Falcon was stolen, but now Han and Chewie are back for good.
47. Taking on a Dreadnaught
The evacuation of D’Qar (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
As the Resistance rushes to evacuate D’Qar, the First Order arrives. As Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix works to get the final transports evacuated, General Leia Organa commands things from the Raddus in orbit. Commander Poe Dameron comes up with a plan to be a distraction, jumping in his X-Wing and taking on the First Order by himself. He plays with General Hux (“General Hugs”) with a humorous exchange, stalling so that the turbo boost on his fighter can charge. Once it’s charged, he launches for the First Order Dreadnaught. He clears out the surface canons with the help of BB-8, paving the way for Resistance bombers. Disobeying a command from Leia to retreat once the evacuation was complete, the bombers move forward to attack. The Resistance engages the First Order in a space battle, during which all but one bomber is lost. That last bomber reaches the drop zone, and gunner Paige triggers the bombs to launch, destroying the Dreadnaught. It’s a fun, visually awesome battle that really gets things going in The Last Jedi right from the start.
46. Goodbye to a Legend
Han Solo’s funeral (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” novelization, by Jason Fry)
After blowing up Starkiller Base, the Resistance didn’t have much time; they knew the First Order would be coming after their base on D’Qar, and that meant that they had to evacuate. They sent Rey off to find Luke Skywalker and began the evacuation, with Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix overseeing the process. Admiral Gial Ackbar, a longtime friend of Leia Organa, insisted that the General take time to honor those who had fallen during the Starkiller assault anyway – including one very dear to Leia: her husband, Han Solo. Leia agreed as long as it wouldn’t slow the evacuation, and she did so because she didn’t want those who followed her to think she was drowning in her grief. She had to stay composed and inspire courage in the Resistance. They all looked to her. So she stood in the lot where the Millennium Falcon had sat earlier and read the names of those pilots who had perished during the battle. Then, accompanied by many allies including C-3PO, Ackbar, Caluan Ematt, Larma D’Acy, and Connix, the funeral procession moved into the woods. There, a small shrine to Solo sat: a wooden figure that Solo had carved on Endor of Leia, which she had retrieved and kept. And then it was Leia’s time to make a speech. Author Jason Fry records this speech in The Last Jedi novelization, and he does so by interspersing the speech with Leia’s thoughts to add to it, but here’s what we read of Leia’s speech in honor of her husband, the legendary Han Solo:
“Han would hate this ceremony. He had no patience for speeches or memorials. Which was to be expected from a man who was allergic to politics and suspicious of causes. … I once told Han that it was tiresome watching him do the right thing only after he’d exhausted every alternative. But sooner or later, he’d get there. Because Han hated bullies, and injustice, and cruelty – and when confronted with them, he could never stand down. Not in his youth on Corellia, not above Yavin, not on Endor, and not at Starkiller Base. … Han fancied himself a scoundrel. But he wasn’t. He loved freedom – for himself, certainly, but for everyone else in the galaxy, too. And time after time, he was willing to fight for that freedom. He didn’t want to know the odds in that fight – because he’d already made up his mind that he’d prevail. And time after time, somehow, he did. … Han didn’t want to know the odds when he and Chewbacca flew back to the Death Star in time to save my brother Luke – and the last hope for our Alliance. He didn’t ask abut them when he accepted a general’s rank for the ground assault at Endor. He didn’t want them calculated when he fought for freedom at Kashyyyk. And he refused to think about them when he saw a way to fly through the First Order’s shields and infiltrate Starkiller Base. … So many of you have offered me your sympathy, and I thank you for your kindness. But now I ask you to focus once again on the cause we all serve. … We face long odds. The New Republic is leaderless, and the First Order is on the march. I can’t tell you what those odds are – and I don’t want to know. Because nothing could change my mind about what we have to do now. … We must return to the fight. We do so because, like Han, we believe in justice and freedom. And because we will not accept a galaxy ruled by cruelty. We’ll fight for those ideals. We’ll fight for each other, and for the sacred bonds we’ve forged serving side by side. And we’ll fight for all the people in the galaxy who want to fight but can’t – who need a champion. They’re calling to us, in terror and grief. And it is our duty to answer that call. … We all have our sorrows. And we will never forget them, or those we have lost. In time, we will honor them more fully and properly. But we must save our sorrow for after the fight. Because right now, we have work to do.”
An incredibly beautiful, touching, and perfect tribute from one legendary figure to another.