Ask a Star Wars Geek 07

This week I received a question which follows up on last week's post about clones in the Impiral armed forces. What a great way to get started. But before we jump in with both feet, keep your eyes open for my review of Star Wars: Shadow Games tomorrow, the first real SW mystery/thriller, and one that kept me flipping the pages at that :D

Ariel C. asks:

"So... if at the time of Episode IV both clones and conscripts were being used as stormtroopers, why is Leia's line, 'aren't you a little short... etc.' relevant? I assumed it was because they were the same height, as they were cloned."

There are a couple ways this problem needs to be approached to fully understand the context of the answer. The first (and possibly the most important) is the actual historical context of the 1977 film, "Star Wars", which hit the silver screen as an oddball space western that nobody thought would go anywhere.

The clone wars were a vague concept, plot device even, at that point. They were mysterious and cool, and added some depth to this universe far, far away. When Leia said her famous first remark about Luke, it was merely a shot she was taking to show that she was an empowered character, not easily threatened or cowed.

It also points to the very uniform nature of the stormtroopers as they were portrayed in the movie: faceless villains, identical, lethal, and replaceable. At that point, I think the idea of the stormtroopers as clones probably hadn't occurred to Lucas. They were just big faceless tough guys.

Luke was on the short side for a human in general, and his armor was clearly too big for him when he walks into the cell to see Leia for the first time.

Now view that same scene after SW has built itself into more of a franchise: we have Episodes V and VI, and more importantly, we have the Thrawn trilogy[1. If you haven't picked up on how often I refer to this trilogy, it really is the foundation of the EU as we know it, and it can be hard to get through a post without bringing it up. EDIT the format of this paragraph was altered because of a problem with the footnote program. -- Watson].

In the it, the idea of the clone wars is expanded upon, and we learn that they were a dark time, and that the clones were likely sinister, and furthermore they were prone to madness.

At this point, you'd be lead to believe that the clones were the bad guys, and the war was against them, and that the Empire is around at all is probably because all the mad clones were destroyed. Furthermore, we have books which talk about the military academy at Carida and the like, and it's pretty easy to assume there aren't clones in the ranks of the stormtroopers.

Of course, this is shown to not really be the case when finally solid fiction was released about the clone wars, and now we know it as the Republic versus the Separatists, with the clones being the good guys... until, well, that whole Episode III thing, but at that point they were being used as the tool to help fully sculpt the fledgling Empire, which we know is bad.

Feed this information in, and we get that the Grand Army of the Republic was a clone army, it became the start for the Empire's military, and was supplemented with clones which actually were more in line with the clones described by Zahn in the Thrawn trilogy: clones made from Spaarti cloning cylinders, with the possibility of clone madness and all that goes with it. They plus academy trained conscripts join up and ta-da.

Actually, I think it'd be really interesting to get some books between Episodes III and IV which deal specifically with how some of those early stormtroopers might've had clone madness. It gets my inner geek reeling...

I digress.

So, in the complete, in-universe context of Leia's line, it may have in fact been influenced by the presence of clones in the military, though still more likely just a wise-crack at a rather short guy in ill-fitting armor, whom she still would've thought to be an enemy when he first burst through the door.

 

And while we're talking about lines said on the Death Stars...

An anonymous questioner asks [SPOILER: STAR WARS: TAILS OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS]:

"How would the complexion of the SW universe have changed if IG-88A's plan to take over the Death Star 2 had worked? What happened to the empire after the destruction of the Death Star 2, it didn't just go away right? Bonus: The film Clerks has the funny scene about contractors working on the Death Star, whose side do you take?"

These questions are all wonderfully related, and probably deserve a whole post to themselves, but I'd like to answer them now and am running dreadfully short on time this week[1. I'm working full-time as a theatre technician, and as great a job as that is, it's not getting paid to write (though caveat here: I'm writing this while at work, so I am kind of getting paid to write this).], but here are my thoughts:

Firstly, in relation to the spoiler in the question: in tales of the bounty hunters, a short story cycle written about the various bounty hunters we see with Vader after the battle of Hoth in their various pursuits of Han Solo and the rest, we have a short story about the mercenary robot IG-88, who is actually four robots, unbeknownst to pretty much every one else--IG-88A, IG-88B, IG-88C, and IG-88D.

The IG-88's aren't really as interested in getting the bounty as everyone else in these stories, because they have another, more sinister plan at work: they want to download themselves (or at least one of them) into the mainframe of the Death Star II, thus becoming the DS-II. After that, IG-88 would be the most powerful droid in the galaxy as a sentient battle station which can destroy planets and lead a droid uprising to make droids the rulers of the galaxy.

As to whether the plan worked, I need only refer you to the large explosion at the end of Episode VI, and say if you want the details to pick up that and the other tales books, as they're a lot of fun, especially if you're interested in short SW fiction.

If the plan had worked, I'm willing to bet that the Empire would've rallied its forces to destroy the rogue battle station, likely by building another one and sending their whole fleet to it. I think that while some mechanicals would harken to the call of IG-88, that most would prefer to maintain the status quo, mostly because droids are kind of programmed that way. In fact, droids have to be specially programmed to be able to kill sentients. Battle and assassin droids are, but other droids are prohibited by central design to kill anything.

The Empire certainly would've been weakened by a defecting Death Star, but I don't know it would even get that far as the millions of people living and working inside the Death Star could likely find a way to fight back, up to and including the Emperor himself, who was on board at the time.

And speaking of the loss of the Death Star II, the Empire didn't just crumble. It continued as the legitimate governing body of Imperial Center (AKA Coruscant), until it was taken back by the Rebels around 7 ABY, who then legitimized the New Republic. What was left of the Imperial loyalists largely moved out into the Mid Rim and Outer Rim, forming the Imperial Remnant. They continued to exist throughout the reign of the New Republic, until it eventually turned into the Galactic Alliance, along with the Imperial Remnant, the Hapes Consortium, and the Chiss Ascendancy.

As far as that scene from Clerks, while the comments in the movie may make that subject seem not thought out, it is dealt with a lot in universe. Particularly in the book Death Star, co-written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Death Star actually follows a diverse cast which includes a cafe owner and her employes who signed on to operate a cafe in what they are lead to believe is an Imperial base. Also worth noting is that it is established elsewhere in the cannon that the Death Stars were mostly built with slave labor, very commonly Wookiee slave labor, as they're particularly strong and the Empire really liked enslaving them.

Which isn't really a problem for the Empire, but I'm sure it had to weigh in on Luke's conscience, and the consciences of all those involved in destroying both Death Stars, that there were a large population of slaves (particularly the second Death Star, which was still under construction) aboard who died for the greater good.

Conclusion:

There you have it. Another week, another couple questions. If you have your own questions, or maybe contest something I've said or have your own theory and you'd like to bounce it off someone in the know, send it all along to starwarsgeek@txwatson.com and I'll see what I can do.

-Michael DiTommaso, the Star Wars Geek