Ranking the best moments of modern day Star Wars: Numbers 26-30

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 26-30.

30. R2’s Message

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R2-D2 plays Princess Leia’s message one more time (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

In an emotional moment, Luke Skywalker boards the Millennium Falcon for the first time in years.  He clearly misses his friend Han Solo, removing Han’s lucky dice from the cockpit, and then sits down somberly in the Falcon.  But it’s then that another dear friend of Luke’s awakens: R2-D2.  The droid springs to life and reunites with Luke, frantically letting out a series of beeps to communicate with Skywalker.  Luke places a hand on R2 and says softly, “Old friend.  I wish I could make you understand, but I’m not coming back.  Nothing can make me change my mind.”  But at that moment, R2 simply turns his head and projects the hologram of Princess Leia Organa that had first gotten Luke into the fight so many years ago.  As Leia asks Obi-Wan for help, Luke mumbles, “That was a cheap move” to R2, but Mark Hamill conveys a real sense of emotion as he looks down and then longingly looks up again at his sister.  R2’s message doesn’t change Luke’s mind about his exile, but it does change his mind about training Rey: he’ll teach her about the ways of the Jedi – and why they need to end.  His loyal droid had a way of getting through to him once again, with a message that is incredibly touching and nostalgic for Star Wars fans.  With Hamill’s terrific performance, it’s clear that Luke Skywalker feels the same way.

29. Kanan vs. the Grand Inquisitor

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Kanan Jarrus duels the Grand Inquisitor above Mustafar (Rebels season 1, Episode 15: “Fire Across the Galaxy”)

Near the end of season one of Star Wars Rebels, Kanan Jarrus is captured while allowing the others to escape, and he’s taken to Mustafar – which, according to Hera, is the place where Jedi go to die.  He is being taken to Darth Vader’s castle to die, but before that happens the Ghost crew stages a rescue attempt aboard the Star Destroyer orbiting the planet.  Ezra rescues Kanan, but they then confront the Grand Inquisitor.  Kanan borrows Ezra’s lightsaber and uses it proficiently (utilizing both the lightsaber and blaster portions of the weapon) as he combats the Grand Inquisitor, and Ezra uses the Force to draw Kanan’s lightsaber from the Inquisitor’s belt.  The two Jedi battle the Inquisitor, but the Inquisitor soon deals Ezra a blow, throwing his lightsaber at the young boy and cutting him, causing him to fall off the catwalk – presumably to his death.  Kanan is devastated, and tells the Inquisitor that it was a mistake.  “Why,” the Inquisitor responds, “because you have no one left to die for you?”  “No, because I have nothing left to fear,” Kanan responds as he uses the Force to grab both lightsabers.  The two battle it out, and Jarrus quickly gains the upper hand.  He manages to cut the Inquisitor’s lightsaber in two, causing it to fall into the reactor and create an explosion.  With the Inquisitor hanging off the ledge, he says, “You have no idea what you’ve unleashed here today.  There are some things far more frightening than death.”  With that, he lets go and falls to his death inside the explosion.  The Grand Inquisitor was a great villain and this duel was great as well, and the hint of something far worse to come would come true (Darth Vader would hunt the Jedi in the season two premiere).

28. Training with Yoda

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Luke trains with Yoda (Forces of Destiny Season 2, Episode 7: “The Path Ahead”)

While the Forces of Destiny shorts have for the most part been enjoyable, there’s one episode that really stands out: “The Path Ahead.”  Typically, Forces of Destiny does a short video filling in some of the gaps for some beloved characters, and they did one about Luke Skywalker’s time on Dagobah training with Yoda during The Empire Strikes Back.  With Mark Hamill returning to voice Luke, we see the young Jedi training with the old Master.  Luke is training on jumping from the tree branches but falls, with Yoda and R2-D2 watching.  Yoda tells Luke that this time he’ll go with him – on the Jedi’s back.  Luke climbs the tree and begins to fall, but catches himself.  Yoda tells him to close his eyes, and says, “Concern yourself not with what you see.  Feel the Force around you.  See inside the land, the trees, the branches.  Feel the air.  Breathe.  Good.  Now run.”  Luke begins to run and weave through the tree branches perfectly, even without the aid of his vision.  Luke tells Yoda that he can see the branches in his head.  This is a really cool scene for a number of reasons.  First, it’s awesome to see more of Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah, like we did in the original trilogy.  Second, it’s great that Mark Hamill is voicing Luke again.  And third, it’s interesting to note that Yoda’s lesson to Luke seems quite similar to Luke’s first lesson for Rey on Ahch-To decades later.  It’s cool to think that the lessons Luke learned from Master Yoda he was passing on to Rey.  All things considered, this is a real heartwarming episode that is sure to please Star Wars fans.

27. The Liberation of Kashyyyk

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Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and others fight to liberate the Wookiee homeworld (“Aftermath: Life Debt,” by Chuck Wendig)

One of the biggest things we know about Han Solo in the post-ROTJ world is that he fought to liberate Kashyyyk from Imperial control.  In the Battlefront II campaign, Leia dispatches Inferno Squad to find Han, who had gone missing while looking for information pertinent to the mission.  The events of “Aftermath: Life Debt” then closely follow the quest to liberate Kashyyyk, as Han and Chewbacca spring into action… only for Chewie to be captured and Han to lose communication with Leia.  The New Republic hadn’t gotten involved because they were busy focusing on other things, plus Han had resigned his commission as a General.  His wife sends trusted agents to find him, and they work with Han to free Chewie and come up with a plan to liberate the planet.  However, as they boarded a Star Destroyer they were captured.  Before they could be executed, though, Leia Organa arrived in the Millennium Falcon demanding an Imperial surrender.  As the Imperial admiral wonders how a politician could possibly face multiple Star Destroyers, Han grins and says, “You’ve never seen a politician like this before.”  And as the Imperial attack begins, suddenly New Republic X-Wings drop out of hyperspace, led by Phantom Leader Wedge Antilles, and shortly thereafter Home One arrives, commanded by Fleet Admiral Gial Ackbar.  Even though the New Republic did not condone a mission to Kashyyyk, and even though it could (and did) result in reprimands for those involved, Leia, Wedge, Ackbar, and others rallied for an urgent mission to help Han Solo and Chewbacca – their friends.  Kashyyyk was liberated, thanks to the efforts of Han and Chewie and the timely arrival of New Republic forces thanks to Leia.  It is truly thrilling to read about so many of these beloved heroes fighting together post-ROTJ (since we have gotten very little of that), and it’s especially great to think about how it happened: fighting for the liberation of Chewie’s homeworld, which in turn meant a great deal to Han as well.

26. The Battle of Jakku

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The final battle of the Galactic Civil War (“Aftermath: Empire’s End,” by Chuck Wendig; Star Wars Battlefront II; “The Legends of Luke Skywalker,” by Ken Liu; “Lost Stars,” by Claudia Gray; “Star Wars: On the Front Lines,” by Daniel Wallace; etc.)

A year after the Battle of Endor, the remnants of the Empire had taken several losses and had retreated to Jakku.  Aware of this and sensing the opportunity to end the Galactic Civil War for good, Mon Mothma attempted to mobilize the New Republic fleet for battle, but she did not get enough votes in the Senate to pass.  Thanks to the work of Han Solo and his team, however, upon a re-vote the movement passed: the New Republic was heading to Jakku.  Fleet Admiral Gial Ackbar commanded the offensive from his flagship Home One, but the New Republic was unable to break through the tight Imperial blockade.  Wedge Antilles and Phantom Squadron flew during the battle and wound up helping escort U-Wings to the surface for the ground battle.  Eventually, one of the Star Destroyers made an ill-advised aggressive move to take out New Republic ship, which allowed the rest of the fleet to capitalize.  Commodore Kyrsta Agate guided her ship (the Concord) toward the Empire’s flagship Star Destroyer Ravager, using her tractor beam to lock onto the Ravager.  Ackbar deployed forces to take out the Destroyer’s engines, and then both the Ravager and the Concord crashed to the surface of the planet, pulled down together.  Meanwhile, on the surface, Norra Wexley, Brentin Wexley, and Rae Sloane managed to stop Gallius Rax’s plan to blow up the planet, fulfilling the late Emperor’s contingency plan that stipulated that the Empire be destroyed if its Emperor were to be killed.  Having successfully defeated the Empire in space, on the planet surface, and in the Emperor’s Observatory, the New Republic scored a resounding victory.  In the aftermath, New Republic Chancellor Mon Mothma and the Empire’s Grand Vizier, Mas Amedda, signed the Galactic Concordance, a peace treaty between the New Republic and the Empire.  The Concordance resulted in the end of the Galactic Civil War and a galaxy-wide disarmament.  The Battle of Jakku was the last major military engagement of the Civil War, and it is a battle that has been featured in plenty of Star Wars media – and three decades later, scavengers were still going through the wreckage on Jakku.

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