Back in the olden days of Return of the Jedi, we were treated to a happy ending.
The second Death Star was destroyed, along with Vader and old man Palpatine. All over the galaxy, repressed citizens crowded the streets in jubilation. The last shot of the original trilogy had the heroes of the Rebellion celebrating while the force ghosts of Ben, Yoda and Hayden Christensen looked on.
Against all odds, the ragtag alliance won the war and ushered in the fall of the Galactic Empire.
The last time they will ever be happy together
After all they’ve been through, our heroes earned a well-deserved break, right? The old Expanded Universe thought so.
Luke started a new Jedi Academy, while Han and Leia settled down and pumped out Jedi babies. They had 3 kids, and Luke and his wife Mara Jade had one. Leia later became the New Republic head of state, and Han settled down to a comfortable life while occasionally going on adventures with Chewie and Lando.
With the release of The Force Awakens, the overlords of Disney wiped away all of that.
Instead, thirty years after the fall of the Empire, our heroes were actually worse off than before. Let’s take a look:
Luke – Tried to start a new Jedi school, but ended up with a wholesale slaughter of his entire student body.
He failed so massively that he fled from the rest of the galaxy. He abandoned even his own sister, best friend, and his loyal droid. And as the opening crawl says, it was in Luke’s absence that the First Order grew stronger and spread tyranny across more worlds.
Leia – Once a distinguished Senator, respected warrior, and royalty, she faded into political obscurity. In fact, she was considered a liability by the new government. According to the novelization,
Leia bit down on her lower lip. “So much time has passed. There was a time when they were at least willing to listen. And of course, the Senate’s makeup has changed. Some of those who were always willing to pay attention to me have retired. Some of those who have replaced them have their own agendas.” She smiled ruefully.
There’s even a scene where Leia straight up tells her envoy that if she went personally, something bad might happen to her:
“But why don’t you go yourself, General? An appeal of this nature is always more effective when delivered firsthand.” Leia’s smile thinned. “I might make it to the Senate, yes. I might even be able to deliver my speech. But I would never, never get out of the Hosnian system alive. I would have a terrible ‘accident,’ or become the victim of some ‘deranged’ radical. Or I would eat something that didn’t agree with me. Or encounter someone who didn’t agree with me.”
In short, Leia was coldbloodedly telling someone else to take the risks for her, and being frank about it. Now we know where Kylo Ren got his evil from.
In the end, we have Leia carrying on her lonely fight for freedom, after being abandoned by her husband, son, brother and the galaxy at large.
And what about poor Han Solo? He won the princess, saved the galaxy, and got his precious ship back from a suicide mission.
Thirty years later, he was estranged from his wife, disavowed by his son, lost the Falcon, and went back to his old conman-smuggler routine.
And after managing to survive a hand-to-mouth existence, he gets stabbed in the heart with a ragged lightsaber by his own offspring.
Then there’s our beloved droids: C3PO and R2-D2. As usual, nobody listens to Threepio, and nobody even gives a fuck to paint his replacement arm. Meanwhile, Artoo becomes a hermit just like his master — shoved under a dusty tarp in a forgotten corner, he is absent for most of the movie in favor of BB-8.
And in case you’re wondering about Lando, there’s no mention of him at all. It’s like the Hero of Tanaab and the Guy who Blew Up Death Star II didn’t exist. Maybe he died during a stimspice-and-hooker collision with a star cruiser. Or he got shanked in a dingy casino in Nar Shadaa. That would be the best outcome, so he wouldn’t see how low his friends have sunk.
And you know what? This may actually be better. It means that there is no fairy tale ending, and not everything has to end happily ever after. That is the cold, hard reality not just in the Star Wars universe, but our own.
Quite a lesson for kids, right?
You might argue that even the old EU had its tragic moments. One of the Solo brats goes dark, the galaxy gets invaded, and Chewie dies. And yet, at the very least our heroes never got sidelined. Luke was still Jedi Master, Leia stayed in the political limelight, and Han was a respected General. And most importantly, they never abandoned each other.
With The Force Awakens, we have a virtual Shakespeare tragedy: an emo recluse who gave up on the galaxy, a faded princess abandoned by her whole family, and an aging con-man back to his old tricks. Each one of them going on their own separate path.
I really hope Lando wasn’t around to see any of that.
“Look at them clueless fools. They have no idea what’s going to happen them.”