Ranking the best moments of modern day Star Wars: Numbers 36-40

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 36-40.

40. The boss of Crimson Dawn revealed

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Maul makes a cameo in Solo (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

In Solo, Beckett, Han, and Chewie are hired by Crimson Dawn to complete a mission, and Dryden Vos is portrayed as the ultimate ‘villain’ so to speak, as the supposed leader of this crime syndicate.  But midway through the movie, Vos mentions to Beckett, “you know who I answer to.”  It’s a vague reference to establish that Vos doesn’t actually run the syndicate, but the average viewer might think nothing of it.  That is, until later in the movie, when Vos is dead.  Qi’ra, having killed Vos, sends Han away to save Chewie, promising that she’ll be right behind him – but she instead stays behind in Vos’ yacht to contact the true leader.  As she puts Vos’ ring in the slot to bring up a hologram, Maul is revealed.  Portrayed one again by Ray Park (who played the character in The Phantom Menace) and voiced by Sam Witwer (who is the iconic Maul voice, playing the character in The Clone Wars and Rebels), Maul is the boss of Crimson Dawn.  It’s a legitimately shocking reveal that leaves audiences stunned and immensely curious at the same time.  Maul tells Qi’ra to come meet him on Dathomir and that the two of them will be working much more closely together in the future, and he ignites his lightsaber (the inquisitor’s blade that he has in Rebels) to further intimidate her.  It’s a great and unexpected reveal of a fan-favorite character that fits in perfectly with what we know of Maul post-TPM.

39. A Foul Stench

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Grand Moff Tarkin appears in Rogue One (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

A problem that Lucasfilm faced with Rogue One was that, from a timeline perspective, it was very hard to tell this story without Grand Moff Tarkin involved, but Peter Cushing passed away in 1994.  The solution was something quite bold: to digitally recreate Cushing’s character for the film.  It is something that could set an unfortunate precedent, but in this situation made a lot of sense.  It worked out really well, and Tarkin had more than a cameo in the film.  He first appears on board a Star Destroyer overseeing the final touches of the Death Star preparation when Director Krennic comes to meet with him.  As this figure stands facing the window and then slowly turns around, it’s great to see Tarkin on the big screen once again (for just the third time in a Star Wars film and just the second speaking role).  But Tarkin continues to have a major presence in the film, being present during the weapon’s test above Jedha and then taking command of the Death Star from Krennic following its’ success.  Then, near the end of the film, Tarkin is alerted about a Rebel infiltration on Scarif and brings the Death Star to orbit above the planet, firing on the surface in an attempt to eliminate the threat (and also eliminate his rival, Krennic).  It adds to Tarkin’s characterization in A New Hope, is important to the story timeline-wise, and it’s really cool to see him on the screen again.

38. Learning the ways of the Force

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Obi-Wan Kenobi speaks with Qui-Gon Jinn (“From a Certain Point of View”: “Master and Apprentice,” by Claudia Gray)

In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda took a moment to let Obi-Wan Kenobi know that Qui-Gon Jinn had learned the path to immortality and returned from the netherworld of the Force.  Yoda taught Obi-Wan how to commune with Qui-Gon, as training for Kenobi’s time in exile.  In the book “From a Certain Point of View,” Claudia Gray writes a chapter about a conversation Kenobi had with Jinn.  After Luke Skywalker rushes back to his homestead and Kenobi is left burning Jawas with the droids, Kenobi talks with his former Master.  It’s a really well-written chapter and it’s heartwarming to see Kenobi and Jinn talk once again (and it’s not the first time, either), and it’s really interesting to see how Jinn views Kenobi.  After Obi-Wan says that he’s been waiting two decades to become a Jedi again, Qui-Gon responds, “Battles and wars aren’t the measure of a Jedi.  Anyone can fight, given a weapon and an enemy.  Anyone can use a lightsaber, given due training or even good luck.  But to stand and wait – to have so much patience and fortitude – that, Obi-Wan, is a greater achievement than you can know.  Few could have accomplished it.”  Jinn goes on to marvel about how Obi-Wan, despite all the horrific things he has experienced, hasn’t turned to the dark side.  And then, of course, there’s Qui-Gon teaching Obi-Wan about how to take on a corporeal form through the Force (which Kenobi doesn’t realize he’ll have to do sooner rather than later), and there’s Qui-Gon encouraging Obi-Wan that Luke won’t die today.  It’s great to hear Qui-Gon’s perspective on his pupil’s exile, and it’s really cool to read a conversation between them once again, decades later.

37. The Senate returns

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Ian McDiarmid reprises his role as Sheev Palpatine (Rebels season 4, Episodes 13, 14, and 16)

One of the many, many highlights of the final season of Star Wars Rebels was the appearance of Sheev Palpatine during the final episodes – and it was an even greater thrill because Ian McDiarmid reprised his role as the villain for the first time since the prequel trilogy.  Palpatine appeared in three episodes of Rebels, and his primary focus was on the Force (which is a cool aspect of the Sith Lord we haven’t seen much of): he wants to unlock the secrets of the Lothal Temple, and he wants to use Ezra Bridger to do so once the young Jedi finds a way in (and into the world between worlds).  In the series finale, Grand Admiral Thrawn brings Bridger before Palpatine aboard the Chimaera, though the Emperor only appears in holographic form – and as his younger, Chancellor self.  He shows Ezra what the young boy wants – his parents – and offers him that life, but Ezra realizes that it’s a trap and destroys the temple ruins.  This leaves Palpatine furious, and the hologram transforms from the friendly Chancellor Palpatine to the fierce Emperor Palpatine, with his hood and robe.  He then orders his Royal Guards to defeat Bridger, but the Jedi manages to get by them.  Rebels used Palpatine well, and McDiarmid returning to voice the character was an absolute treat.

36. Escape from Kessel

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The gang flees Kessel with the precious – and dangerous – coaxium (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

In order to try to appease Dryden Vos, Han, Beckett, and Chewie propose a plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines of Kessel.  Together with Qi’ra, they recruit the help of Lando, L3, and most importantly, the Millennium Falcon.  The plan on Kessel goes smoothly… except for L3 freeing the droids and causing a mass prison break.  By the time Han, Chewie, and the other Wookiees get the coaxium within sight of the Falcon, there’s a massive battle ongoing involving the prisoners, and the Pykes.  The Pykes see the gang attempting to steal the coaxium and turn on them, so Han and Lando begin firing to hold them off while Chewie and the Wookiees get the coaxium on board the ship.  Unfortunately, L3 is shot in the battle, and Lando goes after her – only to be shot himself.  Han goes to save the both of them, and Chewbacca turns down leaving with the Wookiees to stay with Han and help him.  They get Lando and L3 aboard the Falcon, but Lando is too distraught to fly – so for the first time, Han Solo takes the controls of the Millennium Falcon.  Once in orbit, however, they encounter an Imperial blockade sending TIEs after them, and they realize the coaxium will blow soon.  So Han plunges the ship into the maelstrom – which, as Lando says, is a great way of killing himself.  As Han – and soon, Chewie – flies the ship through the malestrom avoiding the TIEs and the storm, they soon encounter a massive beast.  Chased by the beast, they then find the maw and begin getting sucked into it.  Beckett puts a drop of coaxium into the Falcon‘s fuel line, which (after stalling the ship for a moment) propels the ship forward out of the malestrom and into hyperspace.  The whole escape from Kessel – from the escape from the mine and the Kessel Run itself – is thrilling and really exciting and entertaining minutes that are well worth it.

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