Star Wars, Episode IV, Part III: A Wretched Hive of Smug and Absurdity

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Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, Part III

May I share with you all, briefly, an insight into the sort of thing that goes through my mind while I prep these entries?

Me: I can cover a decent amount of runtime in the next entry without it getting too long.
Me: [writes 3,000 words about what turns out to be approximately 7 minutes of content] Oops. OK, fine, so this is going to be long.

As it turns out, I have a LOT of feelings about this movie. Even more than I already knew. Settle in; we’re gonna be here a while.

Previously, on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Life is Fucking Terrible and the Skywalkers Are Up To Something Again, Luke tracked down our favorite, saddest Space Dad and learned that this strange old man who has been saving his life repeatedly for TWENTY YEARS is not, in fact, just a weirdo who lives in the middle of nowhere. No: he’s a weirdo who lives in the middle of nowhere and he once led the strangest, most unreasonably depressing life ever! And he was Luke’s Dad’s eternally-suffering boyfriend! That’s right: Obi-Wan Kenobi knew Anakin Skywalker. They were both Jedi Knights who fought in the Clone Wars! Did you guys know? Luke was sure surprised!

It was Artoo who had reconnected Obi-Wan with the Skywalker clan this time, because he’s got Information: Leia Organa has handed off the plans to the First But Not Last Death Star to him, and is hoping that Obi-Wan will help her out by getting Artoo over to her well-dressed dad on Alderaan. She can’t do it herself because Anakin is having one of his typical Vaderian tantrums and she’s unable to get away from him at the moment. I presume Obi-Wan can relate. Also, please note that we are now a mere half an hour into THE FIRST OFFICIAL STAR WARS CONTENT THAT WAS EVER MADE, and already Obi-Wan has had to save Luke’s life, tell him about several of his most painful memories and then listen to Luke complain at him, and now here’s Leia asking him to risk his life to get these plans over to Bail. Good Lord, this family is dependent on this man. They better hope Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost is still around in the Sequel Trilogy Era or they are all SO SCREWED.

All right: today we forge ahead to go check in on the cattiness and infighting going on in the Empire, the gang adds another Super Smug Little Shit to the roster, and Obi-Wan hits the sauce and gets back to what he does best: separating people from their limbs.

Recurring Theme: Bad Guy Team Meeting

While Obi-Wan is busy trying to pressure Luke into being a Jedi, over on the Bad Guy side of things, we find Vader sort of struggling to NOT be one. But first, Team Evil is having a meeting in a Death Star conference room, where they are treating us to some bickering with a heaping side order of Backstory.

Commander Tagge is all bitchy, because he thinks the Empire’s too vulnerable to Rebellion attacks until they can be assured that the Death Star is fully operational. Now, I feel like I should mention that this cracks me the hell up now because, given what happens in Rogue One, “fully operational” or not, the Death Star seems PRETTY DAMN IMPOSING TO ME. It did vaporize chunks of multiple planets like 15 minutes before this movie started. (I love when backstory they add later makes canon funnier and/or sadder. Which in Star Wars happens basically ALL THE TIME.)

The Imperial Dudes snipe at each other about what’s most at risk blahblahblah, and Tagge is like “well the Rebellion is just going to keep gaining support in the Senate –” and that’s our deliciously eeeeeevil friend Grand Moff Tarkin’s cue to enter the room with Vader in his wake.
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Two things:

  1. Tarkin is yet another wonderful Star Wars villain, and Peter Cushing is amazing in this role. I will never get over how perfectly-cast literally ALL of Star Wars has been to date. (You heard me.)
  2. I love how in Lucas’ script, he describes Vader as Tarkin’s “powerful ally”. This is fantastic, only because pretty much every single person in the Empire OBVIOUSLY DESPISES EACH OTHER. Vader and Tarkin have lowkey hated each other SINCE THEY MET DURING THE CLONE WARS. Tarkin is the one who was the prosecutor at Ahsoka’s murder trial! Tarkin and Krennic spend the entirety of Rogue One mean-girling at each other and trying to steal each other’s spotlight, Vader almost murders Krennic, and Vader and the Emperor’s dynamic cannot be described as a loving relationship in ANY sense of the word. I adore this and I would watch an entire TV series where all these guys do is stab each other in the back.

OK, so Tarkin comes in and Vader is cape-ily swooshing behind him, and Tarkin announces that the whole Senate thing won’t be an issue anymore because the Senate isn’t a THING anymore: they disbanded it! The last remnants of the Old Republic (but not like, the OLD Old Republic, just to make things extra confusing,) have been swept away!
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Recurring Theme: Star Wars Dialogue Is An Actual Gift To Humanity

So then Tagge is like BUT BUT BUT how will Sheev keep control of the universe? And Tarkin is like “we’ll just point the Death Star at anyone who tries to fuck with us.” Tagge is unconvinced: do you guys not remember that the Rebellion just stole some data from us? What if they have the specs on the Death Star, and they discover that it has a weakness? THEN WHAT?!
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Vader is like “relax, we’ll get the data back in a minute” and then Motti suggests that it doesn’t even MATTER if the Rebels know of any fault in the Death Star: if they get close, they’ll just blast them into tiny pieces! This Death Star is FUCKING BADASS!!

Now, here is where I pause to once again lavish praise on Star Wars’ endlessly endearing, eternally-quotable dialogue. The scripts for Star Wars have taken a beating for as long as Star Wars has existed, but I will never be one of the people adding to the pile-on. Star Wars is at its goofy and charming best, for me, when it’s making Bold Pronouncements or Earnest Declarations or even when its hero ends up talking about how he doesn’t like sand because he is a human disaster who is super nervous around a girl. I’m not going to wade into this topic too much because God knows the internet has done it to DEATH, but there is a style that was intended here — if you’ve watched a lot of old B-movies, you’ll recognize it — which may or may not work for you. I’ll just say that for whatever personal reasons I have, it works for me.

The other thing I love about Star Wars Dialogue is its delivery: Star Wars is ridiculous and the LINES are ridiculous and the UNIVERSE these characters are in is ridiculous…but the best part is that the characters don’t know that. And so hearing some of these bananapants lines being delivered with total sincerity just KILLS ME DEAD. This scene includes a favorite exchange of mine, and you will be completely not surprised to learn that Darth Vader is involved in bringing the cheesy goodness:

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“Technological terror”? “Sorcerer’s ways“?! WHO THE HELL TALKS LIKE THIS EVER, LET ALONE IN A MEETING AT WORK? (Answer: no one. Except here in Wacky Space Land! We will do what we must!)
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Please also note — really, don’t ever forget it — that Darth Vader looks and sounds like Darth Vader. This makes literally every single thing he says about 600 times more entertaining. SHEEV PUT ANAKIN IN A SUIT THAT LOOKS LIKE THAT AND HIS VOICE SOUNDS LIKE JAMES EARL JONES NOW. SHEEV GAVE HIM A PERMANENT CAPE. Ugh, you guys, I could seriously just talk about how much I love this for the rest of the entry but I won’t.

Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Still Loves The Force And Also Obi-Wan

OK so what was I even talking about? Ah, yes: so there’s Anakin, being all “hey guys don’t forget that the Force is way better than any of you,” and, as Motti attempts to trash-talk both Vader AND the Force in response, Anakin is like HOW DARE YOU and starts Force-choking him, throwing out yet another Famous Star Wars Line of Hilarity by proclaiming that he finds Motti’s lack of faith disturbing.
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The highlight of this exchange, of course, is that Tarkin gives exactly zero shits about the fact that Anakin is maybe about to murder one of his coworkers right now here in Death Star Conference Room C or whatever this is (as we will learn, Vader is pretty much always choking people, so I guess Tarkin is just used to it at this point.) Tarkin chides Vader to let him go, and Vader does, and I throw a shoe at his helmet because SERIOUSLY, Skywalker: you won’t take orders from Obi-Wan, the best and handsomest person who has ever lived, but you’ll take them from this creep? FFS! He’s not even a Sith!
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Tarkin concludes this scene by reassuring everyone that Vader will get the plans back (LOL) and that they’ll Crrrrrush the Rrrrrebellion!

Recurring Theme: Wait Stop No Come Back.
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Back on Tatooine, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids are about to get around to dropping Old Ben off on the starting point of his intended journey to Alderaan when they get sidetracked by something they discover: the smoking heap that was the Jawas’ sandcrawler. Oh no!

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Luke, because he is Anakin’s son, is immediately like SANDPEOPLEDIDTHIS and Obi-Wan is like “ehhh, wait a second: this was a frame job! Sand people didn’t do this, but someone wants us to think they did…” DUN DUN DUUUUUUN! Obi-Wan then makes himself look like an idiot by proclaiming that the blaster shots here were too “precise” to have been anything but Imperial stormtroopers. Which, if you’ve been paying attention to this series…well, it’s not saying much for the Sandpeople’s blaster skills, I’ll say that much, since I think the stormtroopers land about three shots in the entire saga. (God, the remaining Clones must be so appalled.)
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So Luke is like “wait…if they killed these Jawas because they were looking for the droids…and they found out they sold them to my uncle…that would mean…OH SHIT” and he tears off towards home. Obi-Wan yells after Luke that it’s too dangerous and warns him not to go, but I need you all to know that he says this with no conviction at all whatsoever and doesn’t even try to go after him. This either means that:

  • Obi-Wan is trying to use reverse psychology because he wants Luke to see the destruction of his home so he will be properly motivated to Go Jedi, AND he knows that the best way to get a Skywalker to do something is to tell them NOT to do it (see also: EVERYTHING up to and including “Don’t try it!“);
  • Obi-Wan has completely given up on life at this point and can’t even muster the energy to try and stop a Skywalker from doing something now.
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Someone please give this man a day off.

Recurring Theme: Some Things Have Been There Since Day One

So Luke gets back to his house, and it’s been burned to the ground — and Owen and Beru have perished in the flames. Good grief, this saga has been dark from the get-go. Luke stands there looking dazed and stricken. I would like to mention that in the script, Lucas makes note of the fact that Luke’s “fear” in this situation is replaced by “hate”, and “a new resolve overcomes him”. And it is at this point that he heads back to go find Obi-Wan. Oh Jesus: a Skywalker’s turned their fear into hate and now they’re headed in Kenobi’s direction. God help us all.

(I do like that this concept has apparently always been there. This reminds me that some day I need to do some more ranting about The Making of Star Wars, because the process of how this movie — and the crazypants universe that it unleashed — came to life is fascinating. It’s a book that should have been subtitled “George Lucas Sets Out To Make a Silly Space Movie With His Nerd Friends After He Accidentally Made a Successful Film, and It Ends Up Breaking His Brain And Taking Over The Entire Rest of His Life”. You watch them all gradually go from “huh, it’d be fun if like a kid went on a space adventure idk?” to “Darth Vader looks like THIS and maybe OBI-WAN THREW HIM IN A VOLCANO ONE TIME ALSO HERE ARE SEVENTEEN TRILLION DRAWINGS OF MADE-UP SPACESHIPS AND TONS OF DETAILS WE THOUGHT ABOUT FOR SOME REASON.” I maintain that the type of nerds who truly love Star Wars are exactly the same kind of nerds who made it, whether either side wants to admit it or not.)

Recurring Theme: Darth Vader, Worst Dad Ever

We’re back now with Leia and her Mean Dad, and Vader’s settling in to get to the bottom of where that Hidden Rebel Base is once and for all. And he’s going to do it by trying to torture it out of her.
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Yes, Anakin Skywalker is going to torture HIS OWN CHILD in this movie. And really, ever since the Original Recipe Trilogy was made, Star Wars has just been PILING ON THE SADS here. If you don’t believe me, I ask you to look no further than this excerpt from Bloodline, a canon novel set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens that ABSOLUTELY DESTROYS ME FOR SO MANY REASONS:

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Leia carries around all KINDS of grief and angst towards Anakin Skywalker and this book spends so much time grinding shards of glass into my wounds. It is terrible and I love it.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Warper of Minds

Luke returns to the smoking heap of rubble that he left Obi-Wan and the droids at, and tells Ben that WELP, looks like I’m going to Alderaan after all. I know everyone grieves on their own schedule, but Luke is REALLY not wasting any time wallowing here.

He tells Obi-Wan that he wants to learn to use the Force and become a Jedi “like my father”, and once again I am treated to Obi-Wan making a Face Full of Stifled Emotions in response. Chin up, Kenobes! A Skywalker just wants you to teach them how to be a Jedi! WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!

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Deep breaths, Kenobi, you can do this…

With that, they’re off to Mos Eisley Spaceport! And, really:

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I repeat: “A wretched hive of scum and villainy.” DO YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I LOVE THE SCRIPT FOR THIS MOVIE??? DO YOU?!?! Ohhhh my GOD, what a dweeb. I love that Obi-Wan and Anakin have always talked like completely pompous nerds. MARRY ME, STAR WARS.
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Ahem. So as they pull into Mos Eisley, a couple of stormtroopers stop them, seeking the fugitive droids. Oh no! Whatever will they do to get these guys off their trail?
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…ahh, yes: the very first appearance of Obi-Wan’s unparalleled ability to scramble someone’s brain on full display. He sends the troopers obliviously on their way, and Luke is like WOW OMG COOL HOW COME THEY LET US GO!? Obi-Wan replies that you can use the Force against the “weak minded”, and I absolutely love that Luke HAS NO FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS. Luke: this man just controlled someone else’s BRAIN AND USED THIS ABILITY TO SAVE YOUR ASS. How is this NOT BLOWING YOUR MIND AND FREAKING YOU OUT. YOU REALLY HAVE NO FURTHER REACTION TO THIS?!

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sure Knows A Lot About Bars

Nope, instead of having ANY additional comments about this insane thing that just happened, Luke instead is like GOLLY BEN: do you really think we’ll find a pilot to take us to Alderaan here? So, Luke is MORE skeptical of the idea that they can find themselves a glorified Uber driver here than he is about the fact that this old dude he’s traveling with just told him HE CAN CAUSE STRANGERS TO DO HIS BIDDING USING MIND POWERS? What the hell is going on here?
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Obi-Wan is like oh, SURE: all the best pilots hang out here at this bar I know about for some reason! Right, Kenobes, because that’s what I’m looking for when I’m in the market for a ride anywhere: who’s been sitting at a bar getting tanked in the middle of the goddamned day? He warns Luke, as they enter, that “this place can be a little rough”, and all I can think about is how many bar fights we HAVEN’T been told about Obi-Wan’s gotten into in the last 20 years.
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Recurring Theme: Cantina Band!

OK, so now they’re at the Famous Cantina, and I need to tell all you people reading this right now who did not first experience Star Wars as children, that this scene was an EXPERIENCE for a kid. The aliens! The costumes! This shit looked awesome even when I first saw it, and by then this movie was already over 10 years old. And, of course, this scene also includes the unforgettable goofiness of the Cantina Band song, which now that I’m thinking about it, I kind of hope is played at my funeral.

Recurring Theme: Yet Another Scene That Didn’t Used To Cause Feelings But Now Does

As Luke and the droids stand around awkwardly in the doorway, Obi-Wan wastes no time sidling up to the bar, where he’s directed towards Chewbacca, whom he immediately gets into a serious conversation with.
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Now, you might recall that Revenge of the Sith introduced the fact that Chewbacca, and his home planet, were well-acquainted with the Jedi — particularly Yoda, one of the only people other than Obi-Wan who walked away from Order 66. So I’d suppose that Obi-Wan had himself a bit of an “in” with this Wookiee if he were to namedrop effectively. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is my headcanon and you will pry it from my cold dead hands because I am ALL about this kind of crap.

Recurring Theme: Separation of Arm and Its Owner
BONUS Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Lives For This Shit

Blahblahblah I need to cover more than ten minutes of this movie today so TL; DR, the droids get sent out to wait in the car, and Luke sits at the bar looking SUPER out of place because hello, Luke Skywalker looks like the hardest thing he’s ever had to drink was Yoo Hoo, and he ends up getting into an argument with those random thugs who cameo’d in Rogue One for no apparent reason.
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Obi-Wan tries to smooth things over but fails, and ends up busting out his lightsaber and slicing one of the guys’ arms off. Obi-Wan is a MENACE TO SOCIETY, people, and I don’t just mean in the “sexual menace” way (though he is also that, obvs.)

The most important part here is that Obi-Wan’s face looks like he is just BARELY holding back the slightest bit of glee about all of this. He’s in a bar! With a Skywalker! Cutting off some bad guy’s arm and he’s going on an adventure again FINALLY! It’s all his favorite things all over again. Awww. My little badass Prince Charming. 💙

It’s A Smug-Off

Obi-Wan leads Luke to a back table: Chewbacca’s got someone in mind who might be able to help them get to Alderaan. Oh: look who’s here, and he’s brought his attitude problem with him! Get cozy, Solo — you’re going to fit right in with the assemblage of assholes, hotheads, drama llamas and smug bastards that comprise the “good guys” in this series.

Han is like SO: I hear you’re looking for a ride. Obi-Wan tells him that they are, as long as it’s a fast one. Han is like PFFFFT: I fly the Milennium Falcon? HELLO?! Have you never heard of it?
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Oh my God, this scene gives me life. Obi-Wan, looking like he is trying to hold off INCREDIBLE amusement, is like “uh…should I have heard of your shitty ship?” and Han explains that DUH, he should have, while making this smug bastard face:
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I NEED EVERYONE TO PLEASE APPRECIATE OBI-WAN’S REACTION HERE:

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Recall that Obi-Wan Kenobi is an actual living superhero. He has fought the greatest evils in the galaxy, survived torture and imprisonment on a number of occasions, jumped out of moving vehicles, and endured the experience of having had to take care of Teenage Anakin Skywalker without losing his will to live completely — the last of which ALONE would break a mere mortal. The fact that Han Solo, Doofus King of Smugglertown, is sitting here pulling this “ha ha OLD MAN, my ship is too good for you or ANYONE I AM SUCH HOT SHIT” routine TO OBI-WAN KENOBI will never, ever not be funny to me. Oh my God, Solo. I love you, but I’m begging you: STAHP. You are embarrassing yourself.

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Anyone else feel like he took great pleasure in knowing that jackass ends up being Anakin’s son-in-law?

At last they come to an agreement: Han will get a big ol’ stack of cash, and they’ll get to Alderaan while avoiding the Empire. Oh, sure, like I believe Obi-Wan doesn’t at least kind of want to run into Anakin. It’s a deal! They’ll meet up later and leave whenever they’re ready.

Obi-Wan tells Luke that he’ll have to sell his speeder to help pay their way, and Luke is like FINE whatever, I’m never coming back HERE again, and I laugh because he ends up back here at LEAST twice again in canon. Skywalkers: please stop declaring that you are done with this place. No one is going to believe you.

Recurring Theme: Thing I Don’t Give A Shit About

Before Han can get his end of things prepared, he runs into Greedo, a bounty hunter that Jabba has sent after him. And, of course, they have their PAINFULLY INFAMOUS face-off where Han USED to be shown shooting first, and then later in the Updated/Special Edition of this film Greedo shoots first. I cannot possibly emphasize to you all enough how very little I give a crap about this. The internet has completely drained every single fuck I might have ever had to give about this debate, of which there were extremely few to begin with, out of me.
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Having killed Greedo, Han strolls out of the cantina, apologizing for the mess and throwing the bartender a couple bucks. I feel like it’s worth noting that our heroes spent about 20 total minutes in this establishment and in that time Obi-Wan lopped off someone’s arm and Han killed a guy. I love that the heroes of Star Wars pretty much leave a trail of death and destruction and discarded limbs (and robes) everywhere.

Bad People, Bad Ideas

Vader has finished with his “interrogation” of Leia for now, and even though all of this is horrible I love that he seems SO EXTREMELY PEEVED to report back that Leia did not break: she is so STRONG WILLED! Gaaaaaahhhd! LOL. Oh Anakin.

Tarkin looks like he has a lightbulb light up over his head, before saucily being like “HMM. Well MAYBE we ought to try a different tactic to get her to talk. Set course for ALDERAAN!” NOOOOO BAIL JUST WENT BACK THERE HOW VERY DARE YOU YOU GUYS ARE THE FUCKING WORST.

Recurring Theme: Let’s Get The Fuck Off Tatooine
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Meanwhile, Luke sells his speeder, and Han Has Words with Jabba, which pretty much boil down to: Han doesn’t have Jabba’s money yet, but he will soon, he swears!! Jabba is annoyed with Han! Han leaves! The end.

The crew reunites to get away from all this sand once and for all. A Shadowy Figure is trailing them as they head towards the Millennium Falcon, and said shadowy figure tips off the Empire. (Also important and funny: Luke is now wearing a poncho from the Qui-Gon Jinn Collection.)
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Luke lays eyes on the ship in question and immediately is like HOOOOOLY SHIT THIS THING SUCKS:
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Han is all How Dare; I Have Made Many Modifications Myself, and I’m basically Obi-Wan in this scene, watching it all with a sly smile of “OK guys what the fuck ever, can we please move on.” Now, I SHOULD point out that Obi-Wan looking amused by any of this is also pretty damn rich coming from the guy who spent the ENTIRE CLONE WARS sassily arguing with his pilot boyfriend (as well as with every single other person in the entire galaxy.) Maybe Obi-Wan’s having some fond flashbacks; I don’t know.
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Away We Go!!
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The gang start to board JUST as a gaggle of stormtroopers arrive on the scene. They haul ass out into space. The Imperials are on to them, and Luke is like OH MY GOD HAN I THOUGHT YOU SAID THIS THING WAS FAST SO GO FAST NOW and Han’s like SHUT UP IT IS GIMME A MINUTE OR I WILL HURL YOU OUT INTO THE VOID FARMBOY and just…the Star Wars cast is SO dysfunctional, oh my Lord. Everyone stop YELLING AND WHINING.
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I was right: Obi-Wan is absolutely having flashbacks, except now they seem less fond and more like “oh God, it’s all coming back to me.”
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Han, grinning, announces that This Is Where The Fun Begins, and then there’s even MORE arguing and then FINALLY they jump into lightspeed, and we’re well and truly on our way now!
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This…seems like enough words from me for this installment! (Phew!) Join me next time, where Leia will be given yet MORE reasons to hate Anakin’s guts, Obi-Wan learns what fun projects his ex-husband’s been working on since their messy divorce, and Anakin subsequently senses a handsome disturbance in the Force.