Saturday, July 2, 2011

3681 BBY: Return

Because I’ve dealt with the Old Republic material in such a dis-jointed manner I’m finding it difficult to maintain a clear chronological line of historic events.

I think for my own sense of clarity I need to go over the dates of what we already know up to 3681 BBY. Starting with 5000 BBY, we know the surviving Sith on Korriban left the system after the Republic’s massacre of their people and destruction of their home world. The next time we hear about this particular group of Sith, it is 96 years later. It’s made clear to us by Master Gnost-Dural that any Sith during this 96 year gap threatening the Republic were “Fallen Jedi” and not “True Sith”. Also, it seems that Naga Sadow is now with this group of Sith, and no longer on Yavin 4. During this time the Sith were rebuilding on Drummond Kass and constructing their armada. We don’t know if Sadow has left Yavin 4 permanently at this point, or if he’s still using it as a base of operations. From there we move an additional 338 years into the future, and learn about the events of Eison Gynt and Master Baril Ovair. From the Republic’s perspective at this point, the Sith are still extinct, minus the “fallen Jedi” they are fighting. It is during this time the Sith empire infiltrates the Republic. It isn’t until the year 3681 that the Sith return in their full might. So, counting from their flight from Korriban to their return to Korriban a full 1319 have past. And all this time it has been, presumably, the same emperor leading them (tell me he’s not using essences transfer).

Now that I’ve cleared up that timeline for myself, I feel I can move on (and please, correct me if I’ve missed anything or have interpreted events incorrectly).

The cinematic Return brings to life the events of Master Gnost-Dural’s re-telling of the Sith Empire’s first onslaught on the Republic military (timeline #6). And what an onslaught!

Return is awesome. It’s beautiful, it’s visceral, and it crams so much story in the space of 6 minutes. I’m not sure what else to say about this piece of cinematic, except to ask the question so many TOR fans have asked already: why hasn’t Bioware and Blur made a feature length movie about The Old Republic? DigitalMaster, a poster at the swtor forums recently wrote an article over at Fragworld asking this very question. You can find his thoughts here. The three cinematic trailers released so far: Return, Hope, and Deceived, are by far the best Star Wars visual storytelling I’ve seen since the Prequels (The Clone Wars is a close second though). A feature length movie would be truly awesome.

I don’t know why Lucasfilm hasn’t decided to go completely CG for its movies. I believe the animated CG medium is the true home of Star Wars and where it should remain. I also don’t know why he’s trying to re-re-release all 6 movies in 3D. The speculation is he’s trying to raise funds through their re-re-release in order to begin production on his live-action TV series. Apparently for that endeavor he has 50 episodes ready to go, but I don’t know why he doesn’t simply make the series using all the CG infrastructure and talent he’s currently using for The Clone Wars and film it in The Clone Wars style of animation. Or, as was discussed by DigitalMaster, ponder why Lucasfilm is not turning to Blur studios and Bioware to make the new TV series. I really don’ think shooting it with live actors rather than voice actors and animation could be more profitable. What is more, it has to be prohibitively more expensive to shoot a live action series as opposed to an animation series. I know nothing of making films either live action or animated, so I may be wrong, but it seems to me the animated option is cheaper and less restrictive.

Personally, I’m really not that excited about the prospect of Star Wars being in 3D. I have nothing against the 3D technology; I thought Avatar was an awesome film, not only because of its visual effects, but also because of its story. Yes, Cameron simply transplanted Pocahontas into his movie, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The story of Pocahontas works. It has characters an audience is interested in and care about, and story and characters are THE MOST important thing when telling a story.

Like I said in my last post, A New Hope is simply the Hero’s Journey retold, and West Side Story is simply a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, which itself is a re-telling of Pyramus and Thisbe. We love these films because we love that story. There is nothing wrong with re-telling the hero’s journey again and again and again. As a species we’ve been doing it for literally thousands of years. My point is this: why not make new Star Wars stories, outside of the saga of Anakin Skywalker, done in a CG format? Which CG format is still up for debate. If Lucas is going to reboot all six films I’d love to see them all done in The Clone Wars style of animation or in a manner like Beowulf ( which is the style Blur studios and Bioware most closely emulates), not in 3D. Ok, enough about me blathering on about how Star Wars should exclusively go to CG animation.

The medium of Return is fantastic, and so is the new and exciting Star Wars characters presented for fans to enjoy. The most notable of which is Darth Malgus, who is the focus of the upcoming novel I’ll be looking at shortly: Deceived. But he’s not alone, we meet for the first time (from a chronological perspective) Satele Shan and her Master (whose name I don’t know), Darth Malgus’ Master, an un-named smuggler, and a Republic Trooper. The smuggler’s duel-wielding pistol scene was awesome. Each class of character looks unique, cool, and iconic, and the fight scene between the four force users was visually stunning.

What excited me most about Return was Darth Malgus. Watching his cold blooded murder of his Master has got me looking forward to exploring this character’s progression through the narrative. I’m also interested in watching Satele Shan grow from a capable padawan in this film (I presume she’s a padawan, she may not be), to the Grand Master of the Jedi Order we find in Fatal Alliance.

For my next post I’m going to look at Bioware’s second cinematic titled Hope. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I too had to remind myself of everything this Sith Empire has done between 5000 BBY and 3681 BBY, and the timelines are great in that. At the same time I tested your theory that Lude Kressh is the Emperor. There are points both for and against:

    -Kressh wanted to keep Sith Empire from expanding, fearing of what would happen to the Empire and to the Sith species. From The Lost Tribe of the Sith: Paragon:
    “My son looks like me—and so does the future of the Sith. But only as long as we’re here. Out there,” he’d spat, between bloody punches, “out there, the future looks like you.” (19)
    -The first Grand Moff of the Empire was a human.
    -Emperor sent his inflitrator to destroy Naga Sadow’s spirit 3756 BBY, so he wouldn’t have to fight against him during the war. We don’t know if Sadow still was there, since his fate hasn’t yet been cleared (some say Freedon Nadd destroyed him approximately 4400 BBY)
    -Ancient Dark Lords of the Sith (Marka Ragnos with them) proclaimed Exar Kun as a Dark Lord of the Sith. This tells that they were not fond of Emperor’s ways. We don’t know what they thought about Kressh.

    But if they want the moment of the Emperor being unmasked to be some sort of “No, I am your father” –moment, Kressh is the only one to go with, since we don’t even know other Sith from the original Empire who has had more than a couple of lines.

    About CG films, I agree that it would be great format for Star Wars. The Clone Wars has always been making visually the best series they could, and there’s a clear difference between Seasons 1 and 3. I have no idea how much animation will improve in a couple of years. There’s yet no way a weekly tv-series could be the style of Beowulf or Blur trailers, but a feature film is possible, I believe.

  2. After I checked sources we have from the Great Galactic War (namely trailers, timelines and comics) I have now Hope's date at somewhere between the years 3660 BBY and 3653 BBY. During that time the Empire got itself near the Core worlds, but had taken almost every territory it could, and its attacks were more desperate than before and ended up to be stalemates. Alderaan is a coreworld, and would have been one of the last of these targets.

  3. Kressh as the Sith emperor is definitely a problematic position. I'm not married to the idea, but it's an idea I think worth exploring. To be honest, I'm not sure how I'd feel if I was right because I found Kressh's presentation in The Tales of the Jedi narrative rather weak - always one step behind Sadow.

    Indeed, Kressh did want to keep the Sith empire hidden. I remember that line from Paragon, and I thought it was neat. But with that being said, a lot can change over 1000 years. Here's what I'm thinking: Kressh somehow escaped being blown up by Sadow's attack (the most tenuous part of my claim) and escaped to lead the remaining Sith Diaspora to Drummond Kaas. At some point he discovers, and then masters, the art of essence transfer, and begins transferring his soul into willing bodies: some Sith, some Human, some other (as is depicted in Blood of the Empire). It is here Kressh does away with his human prejudice, because his species no longer matters, what only matters is that he has a body to transfer into every few years.

    Though Kressh was an isolationist before the Great Hyperspace War, the Republic massacre of his people has forced him to change his philosophy about the expansion of the Sith empire. With his new ability to live indefinitely, Kressh takes it slowly, carefully building his empire, stabilizing his society and culture for the eventual attack on the Republic. After 100 years his plans have come to fruition.

    I'd bet that the Sith people themselves probably don't make the connection to their emperor and Kressh. It's a secret best kept by Kressh himself.

    I had totally forgotten that it was mentioned that Sadow's sprit was destroyed by Nadd, but I'm not sure how correct that assumption was. I remember having trouble with the details when I covered Nadd's story back into September 2009 in my post titled The Shadow of Freedon Nadd. I think I need some clarification on the Sadow/Nadd relationship and where the textual basis of this relationship comes from, and where exactly it was claimed that Nadd destroyed Sadow’s spirit. As it is, we known that Kressh and Sadow were rivals, and Kressh would want to do away with Sadow as part of his grand scheme for galactic domination.

    The spirit of the Sith Lord’s imparting the title of Dark Lord of the Sith on Kun could have been their way of distancing themselves from Kressh. You’re correct, we don’t know what their stance on Kressh was. Maybe they did not like his take it slow attitude, or the fact that he had somehow managed to cheat death, and instead chose to back a different horse.