Episode LVII: MAD About Star Wars

Episode LVII: MAD About Star Wars

Episode LVII: MAD About Star Wars

Recorded 3/22/14

Bobby, Bryan, and Mike talk about the latest official news about Episode VII. Then, they set their sites to a new edition of “Late to the Party.” How did Bobby react to some of the best episodes in Season 1? After, a discussion about the nature of the force and force ghosts ensues. The episode caps off with an interview with John Ficarra, the editor of MAD Magazine. He talks with Bryan about MAD, Star Wars, and what interesting inspirations MAD may have had on the prequels.

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  1. Darth Bane was not a force ghost according to Dave Filoni. He said Lucas said the Sith can’t force ghost.

  2. Adjua Adama

    Hey Full of Sith Crew,

    I wish to challenge the idea that we would see Palpatine (or any other former Sith) as an apparition of the Force in Episode VII, or any future Star Wars film. Although, technically, Disney and JJ could do whatever they wish at this point, they have invited George to be their technical adviser on the films — precisely for matters such as this. Indeed, George himself has gone on record that the ability to retain one’s consciousness after death, and to appear to the world as a blue glowing force ghost, requires one to become completely selfless; the Sith can never do this, as they are selfish in their quest for greater corporeal power. In fact, it has been articulated clearly that the Sith don’t even believe in an existence after death, and that death represents the complete loss of one’s power.

    The Lucas/Filoni Collaboration

    First of all, the discussion as to whether the Sith could also revisit the corporeal world, to advise “present-day” Sith masters of the Dark Side, was first associated with Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ season three Mortis arc — the story in which Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka are pulled into a dimension of the Force that governs the overall balance the mystical power has over the galaxy. There, the foreshadowing of Anakin’s destiny as the Chosen One, along with the shift of dark consuming light, was exposed, as the trio met with the holy trinity of the Force — a son that personified the Dark Side, a daughter the Light, with their father, who maintained the balance of power between the two. It was here in which apparitions appeared to the heroes, either warning them of pitfalls their nebulous futures might entail (Ahsoka’s future self, and Anakin’s deceased mother, for example), or exposing them to the truth that Anakin was, indeed, meant to act as the concordance within the Force; the latter of which came twice in the form of Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn’s old trilogy-style force ghost, voiced by Liam Neeson. Of course, viewers of this story arc, brilliantly written by Lost and Six Feet Under writer Christian Taylor, soon realized that many of these were tricks that emanated from either the Son or the Daughter, who were able to manipulate the Force to change their shapes into anything they wished. The Jinn spirit was never explicitly explained, though Jinn himself says that he could appear to them on Mortis because it acts as, “…a conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows…,” unlike any other, while Anakin says to Yoda, in the season six episode Voices, that they all agreed it was a trick that amplified their feelings and emotions brought into the Mortis realm. In that arc’s final episode, Ghosts of Mortis, Anakin is corrupted by the Son, in a lava pit reminiscent of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept of Had Abbadon, the layer of Emperor Palpatine, originally to have been used for Return of the Jedi. Supervising Director for the Clone Wars Dave Filoni, who consistently consulted with Lucas in the development of Clone Wars episodes throughout the life of the show, scripted and constructed a scene in which Sith apparitions for Darth Bane and Revin would appear to advise the Son in the ways of the Dark Side within those scenes on Mortis. Ultimately, that idea was pulled because both Lucas and Filoni had misgivings about its implications. Within the Ghosts of Mortis online documentary [Ghosts of Mortis, Episode Featurette #3.17, http://starwars.com/watch/ghostsofmortis_commentary.html, Filoni essentially articulates that these episodes contributed to the greater mythology of the Force, and that they should remain consistent with the vision that the Sith never return when they die.

    Dave directly addressed this macro vision of the Force within the last few weeks, not only for IGN’s Eric Goldman, but last Friday during his latest appearance on Rebel Force Radio, dated March 21, 2014. During the latter half of the interview, covering the series finale episodes, which detail Yoda’s journey to discover the power of retaining one’s consciousness after death, Filoni discussed what Yoda, and subsequently viewers, actually see on the Sith home world of Morriband. The Force Priestesses, the dead spirit of a powerful Force wielder who is also able to retain her consciousness postmortem, pits Yoda through a series of trials, using the Force to create visions that test Yoda’s inner-resolve— if he is to be exposed to the wisdom of living beyond one’s physical existence. These trials continue on Morriband at first, where they resurrect Sith images that unsuccessfully endeavor to generate fear in the ancient Jedi master; until the final test, which will come from Darth Sidious and Count Dooku directly. In fact, Filoni says it was the Priestesses who directly contact the Sith of the current era, enlisting them in Yoda’s final test. But concerning the visions of the Sith worms, the horsemen, and even Darth Bane specifically, Filoni explicitly said, “…That’s the important thing that I would bring up…Sith don’t live on after death; that doesn’t happen. So, that’s kind of your big clue that that instigation, Bane’s apparition, those are things — and the priestesses say as much — they [the priestesses] have been in control of, and have brought into being, much like the Father on Mortis brought things into being, different states of reality. So…it’s only when Yoda goes down into the pit of the execution chamber that the Force Priestesses have no role in the outcome of what’s going to happen.” [Rebel Force Radio: March 21, 2014, 1:42:51 – 1:43:36]

    In essence, the concept of “resurrecting” Darth Bane specifically for the Clone Wars series, an idea that began with Mortis, was finally realized in a way that meshed with what George ultimately intended for his fictitious religion: only practitioners of the Light side, who were pure at heart, and totally selfless, would achieve the power to defy death, and directly influence the living.

    The Yoda Episodes Themselves

    The four series finale episodes that comprise what most define as the Yoda Arc, from season six of the Clone Wars TV show, provide specific, and very definitive clues as to the nature of Sith deaths being a final step in their loss of power. This episode features Yoda and R2-D2 venturing to the Sith home world of Morriband, at the behest of the Force Priestesses — who have been testing Yoda’s worthiness of the knowledge for consciousness retention after corporeal death. At one point, Yoda leaves R2 and his Jedi starfighter behind, venturing into the reaches of an ancient Sith temple. Prior to venturing in, Yoda sits quietly and meditates, while the sky clears and the fierce winds calm, revealing numerous worms that emanate a voice appearing to personify the Dark Side itself. Eventually, these worms give way to Sith knight spirits, which appear to have been modeled after West African stilt performer costumes. These “knights” ride around Yoda, speaking to him with one unified voice. “There is no life after death; only nothingness awaits you, Jedi! Your fear feeds our hunger for power. They will know you are here…we will tell them…you will die…and be nothing!” As we later learn, and as Dave says specifically in the aforementioned interview, this is the Force manipulation of the Priestesses, who personify the Dark Side for Yoda’s continued trial. They speak from the view of the Sith view of the Force, and of their beliefs concerning the acquisition of power as the ultimate goal. They also reveal that the Sith of the modern era will be told of Yoda’s visit to the planet, which segues into Dooku’s meditation being interrupted by a Droid general, who informs him that Sidious has requested his presence on Coruscant.

    In the next scene, Yoda enters the tomb of Darth Bane, where an apparition that appears to be a giant manifestation of Bane himself, encased in fire, asks if Yoda wishes to become his latest apprentice, to which Yoda declares, “…Dead are you…an illusion! Real, you are not…” Bane’s image gives way to his screaming extinguishment after Yoda professes his lack of fear for someone who no longer exists. From there, the Priestesses call Yoda deeper into the temple. From there, they reveal that all the imagery up to that point was their doing. Once he ventures into the chamber where ancient Sith used to sacrifice Jedi, they will not be responsible for what he sees, nor experiences. And the first image he sees is Darth Sidious’ trick, appearing in the person of presumed deceased Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas. Shackled by energy binders, and tattered from assumed decades old torture and imprisonment, he promises to reveal the identity of the enigmatic Sith lord Yoda’s been looking for since the death of Qui-Gon Jinn if Yoda frees him. When Yoda refuses, the ersatz Jedi continues: “He knows how to achieve what you seek,” to which Yoda importantly replies,
    Captivated by the physical realm the Sith are.” Immediately, Sidious — as Sifo-Dyas’ —responds with,
    What else is there?…

    Again, with the blessings of Lucas himself, and from the guidance of Filoni, writer Christian Taylor articulates the spiritual beliefs of the Dark Side: There is no life after death, there is no power after one leaves their corporeal existence, ergo no Sith ghosts allowed in Star Wars. And before this false image reveals its true origin, it is obsessed with gaining power, and that the key to gaining this power to, “…affect the future” is finding out the identity of this Sith lord. Indeed, the Sith seek to seduce new prey with the knowledge, or power, they wish for the most. Palpatine certainly captivated young Anakin with the feigned promise of saving his wife, much like the Devil personified as Mephistopheles, who similarly seduced Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s version of Dr. Johann Faustus.

    Darth Plagueis

    Finally, if one is to venture into EU literature, post Episode III and Clone Wars Mortis trilogy, the James Luceno Darth Plagueis novel is perhaps the definitive source for the mind set of Sith masters. The end of chapter five, titled Homecoming, deals exclusively with Plagueis’ obsession with living corporeally for as long as he can. He previews the many legends told within the Sith cannon, pertaining to these failed attempts at achieving power through manipulation of the Force, but none of them interested him. In fact, he attributes the ability to transfer one’s essence into another body, just before death, as sorcery — something Darth Bane’s apprentice Zannah had possibly honed, using knowledge from a previous lord’s holocron. But Plagueis trivializes this possibility as, “…the most powerful of the ancient Sith Lords [who] survived death to haunt and harass those who would infiltrate their tombs.” [Luceno, Darth Plagueis (iBooks digital copy), 55]

    Luceno goes on to say, “But none of this amounted to corporeal survival. Plagueis had no interest in being a lingering, disembodied presence, trapped between worlds and powerless to affect the material realm except through the actions of weak-minded beings he could goad, coax, or will into action. Nor did he seek to shunt his mind into the body of another, whether an apprentice, as Bane was thought to have attempted, or some vat-grown clone. Nothing less than the immortality of his body and mind would suffice,” emphasis mine.
    Indeed, the teacher of Palpatine/Darth Sidious believed there was nothing beyond the physical world, and that the ability to survive death itself was the work of, “…sorcery and alchemy.” Instead, Palpatine was instructed to, “…reject compassion…” rather than be selfless; recognize that the Force, “…must be broken and made a beast of burden…,” and to, “…answer to one’s will.” [130] The true Sith do not look upon the Force as the ultimate source of their power. The Force is merely one tool in a long line of weapons at their command. As Plagueis instructs his young apprentice: “This is why we encourage star system rivalries and the goals of any group that aims to foment chaos and anarchy. Because destruction of any sort furthers our own goals…Remember, though, that a cunning politician is capable of wreaking more havoc than two Sith Lords armed with vibroblades, lightsabers, or force pikes.” [135] You must, “Give order to the future by attending to it with your thoughts…,” emphasis mine. [139] This is their method of achieving ultimate power — teachings even Maul exhibited within the Clone Wars himself.


    So, unless Disney and JJ are willing to completely contradict George’s vision of the Dark Side, and the Force at large, if we are to see Sidious at all in the new films, it will come from a pre-recorded hologram. After all, Palpatine was a master strategist, and only his overconfidence got the best of him in the end. He was always willing, and patient enough , to use every tool at his disposal, to achieve power. Though he wielded two lightsabers at one point, his true weapons were always others under his control: the Senate, the military, apprentices, and the criminal underworld. Therefore, perhaps he reasoned that, in the event of his death, the teachings of the Sith could survive if he tendered them into technology that could survive his downfall, along with that of his most recent apprentice Darth Vader. A red Force ghost in Episode VII, as Bryan intimated, would be blasphemy in the eyes of George.

    Adjua Z.M. Adama


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