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Listener Mailbag: February 22, 2012

Posted by Eric on February 22, 2012 at 01:25 PM CST

This week on the mailbag: clarification on Darth Plagueis and Anakin Skywalker, a response to our discussion of the Rako Hardeen TCW story arc, and a Star Wars poem!


Gungans in TPM

Hi chaps,

On the last ForceCast Jimmy was mentioning details in The Phantom Menace that he had only just noticed, like the Gungans who are riding in the opposite direction as their army advances, and he wanted to know more about them. I recalled that this had been questioned before and answered by Pablo Hidalgo in his Q&A section in what was then the Star Wars Magazine (subsequently renamed Star Wars Insider like the US version). It was in Issue 68 (March/April 2007) and goes like this:

"In Episode I, when the Gungan Grand Army is coming to attack the Trade Federation, I noticed there were two to three Gungans on kaadu. Are they fleeing from the battle or are they doing something important?" - Anonymous, Via Email.

To which Pablo answered:

"I'm assuming you mean the Gungans seen running in the opposite direction as the army is marching forwards. Those are messengers spreading orders from the front of the line to the rest of the army. Remember, Gungans don't have comlinks so these messengers are important to maintaining command lines."

So it was indeed an interesting little detail to note, which perhaps tells us something about the Grand Army at the time of Episode I and their traditional methods.

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin (from the UK)


Why Anakin Couldn't Force Sense Obi-Wan

Hello there guys,

As so often happens when I listen to your lovely (and surprisingly funny) Clone Wars Roundtables, you guys regularly make observations or ask questions that I so desperately wish to chime in on. Well, hopefully I’ll be able to satisfy that desire now. During the Rako Hardeen Arc Roundtable, there is the question of why Anakin doesn’t Force sense that “Rako Hardeen” is Obi-Wan. I believe I have a possible answer in the form of two examples: an example from the films and an example from Darth Plagueis. The first example is quite simply Palpatine; he walks, talks, and even comes in to physical contact with Jedi on a daily basis, so we already know it’s possible for a Force-sensitive to go incognito (however, it could be argued that this is because of “the dark side clouding the Jedi’s minds” that started during the time of the prequels). The second example comes from Darth Plagueis, when Plagueis arrives on the swamp planet of Abraxin and encounters two Jedi. In order to interact with the Jedi without revealing himself, he “calls deep into the material world,” or something along those lines. Plagueis even teaches this technique to Sidious so he can go about his business on Coruscant, where he instructs him to “absorb himself in the routine,” or something to that effect. So perhaps a well-trained Jedi like Obi-Wan could train himself to let go of the Force and hide his Force signature in this way. It’s just one possible answer in a galaxy full of ‘em.


Jake S.


Darth Plagueis: Anakin's conception explained

I listened with great interest to your discussion of Darth Plagueis, but was disappointed that only Jimmy Mac got it right about Anakin's conception, that the midi-chlorians acted in response to the actions of the Sith. The main problem with the discussion on that point is that the passage your read from Chapter 24, p. 280, about Plagueis reaching out with the Force, occurs after Anakin's conception.

As was mentioned in arguing that Plagueis was responsible for Anakin's conception, Sidious mentions in Revenge of the Sith that Plagueis could persuade the midi-chlorians to create new life. But it's neither Anakin nor any "Forceful" being to which he's referring. In Chapter 21, pages 248-249, "What did the droid mean when it said the Magister's pregnancies?"

Beneath the breath mask, Plagueis might have quirked a smile. "It means the pregnancies were not achieved by normal means of conception, but rather the Force."

Surprise and disbelief mingled in Sidious's blue eyes. "The Force?"

"Yes," Plagueis said pensively. "But I failed to exercise due caution. As we attempt to wrest the powers of life and death from the Force, as we seek to tip the balance, the Force resists our efforts. Action and reaction, Sidious. Something akin to the laws of thermodynamics. I have been audacious, and the Force has tested me the way Tenebrous sought to. midi-chlorians are not easily persuaded to execute the dictates of one newly initiated in the mysteries. The Force needs to be won over, especially in work that involves the dark side. It must be reassured that a Sith is capable of accepting authority. Otherwise it will thwart one's intentions. It will engineer misfortune. It will strike back."

This explanation of the dangers of meddling with the Force explains Anakin's conception. It was not Plagueis' doing alone, but he and Sidious together. First mentioned at the end of Chapter 23, p. 273, "Eight years ago we shifted the galaxy, Darth Sidious, and that shift is now irreversible." And then explained further in Chapter 24, p. 279, "...almost a decade earlier, they had succeeded in willing the Force to shift and tip irrevocably to the dark side. Not a mere paradigm shift, but a tangible alteration that could be felt by anyone strong in the Force, and whether or not trained in the Sith or Jedi arts."

"...On the fulcrum they had fashioned, the light side had dipped and the dark side had ascended."

The passage you read about Plagueis reaching out is on the next page. While you repeatedly referenced ROTS, you neglected The Phantom Menace:

QUI-GON: A boy... his cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I have seen in a life form. It is possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.

MACE WINDU: You're referring to the prophesy of the one who will bring balance to the believe it's this boy??

So as Jimmy Mac said, Anakin was conceived by the midi-chlorians. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Chosen One: a being conceived by the midi-chlorians to bring balance to the Force.

Plagueis knows that he failed to create a Forceful life. That is why, in the section that Kyle and Jimmy Mac read at the end, Plagueis is fearful that "the Force has struck back again, nine years earlier, by conceiving a human being to restore balance to the galaxy." This is the balance that he AND Sidious had disrupted.

As for what went wrong for the galaxy that allowed the Jedi to be wiped out, that's another complex discussion. It might be as simple as Qui-Gon Jinn's death. While meant to prevent Anakin from being trained, it instead allowed Sidious to take on the role of a father figure in Anakin's life and turn him to the dark side before fulfilling his prophesied destiny.

Nevertheless, it was a very interesting discussion.

Your friend in the Force and proud owner of a set of Count Dooku's pajamas,

Glenn Stein

Nashville, TN


A Star Wars Poem

Hello Jason and Jimmy!

My name is Lucas Seastrom and I am a film student in Monterey, CA. I am also a published poet here in the community. When I heard you guys were looking for Star Wars poems, I felt I just had to contribute. In this poem, "That Galaxy," I try to embody the epic place Star Wars holds in our culture and lives. Thanks guys for everything you do on the show and keep up the great work! May the Force Be With You!

That Galaxy

To the stars, oh not so far away:
that inevitable galaxy of my
Youth, to define my creed, my life.
In a world stained with empty and
lifeless projected nothings, here
Stands a mighty beacon of myth, a
story fit for all time, and
Cherished by peoples of vast diversity.
Abandon those absurd notions of
stereotypes, spectacle this is not;
It is life, all its aspects, its faults,
its philosophies, its wonders,
Its lessons, to inspire beyond boundaries.
I now escape to that galaxy, temple of
reason and light for our time,
Upon that silver screen, untouched by
evil and lies.

Lucas O. Seastrom
Monterey, CA


This is my best friend Zac. He is a true Jedi in my opinion. He listens weekly and has recently rejuvenated my interest in collecting again. I was wondering if you could give him a shout out on the show.

Rex Jaycox
Lincoln, Nebraska

P.S.: Even though we're in Nebraska I got two pairs of Darth Maul 3D glasses.


Watching TPM With Fresh Eyes

Hey Jimmy and Jason,

I just today finally made it to a theater to see The Phantom Menace. I must admit that I have been listening to reviews and opinions of the 3D adaptation, and the negativism that seemed to be the growing consensus from my regular roster of podcasts (excluding the ForceCast) was giving me doubts about how much I wanted to go. I have not watched it in its entirety in a number of years, I cannot even remember the last time, and have not yet acquired the Blu-rays. I enjoyed TPM when it was originally released (I was 15 at the time), and am happy (and relieved!) to say that I felt as if I was watching a "Star Wars" movie when I saw it today. I noticed, enjoyed, and laughed at things I have not before, and despite all of the negative criticism that I constantly hear of the prequels, I was able to consume it without all of that baggage influencing my opinion. I was even aware of one or two more "Yippee's!" than I remember, but I only laughed, not feeling the need to hate. It is much easier to go into one of these movies with a positive attitude, aiming to enjoy your time. If you go in trying to hate, you will be much more inclined to irritation. I enjoyed the 3D too, this being the first live-action movie that didn't make me dizzy or give me a headache (Tintin was great in 3D, by the way). People tend to deify the original trilogy, and don't get me wrong they are fantastic movies and without a doubt my favorite, but placing them on such a high pedestal results in nothing whatsoever being comparable, and it has set so many people up for inevitable disappointment.

Looking forward to 2 through 6 and thanks for the great podcasts.

Davin, in Arizona


A Message from Sweden

Hi Jimmy and Jason!

I'm a Swedish fan and I have been listening to the ForceCast now for a couple of months and I gotta say that you have helped me take the fandom to the next level. I watched all episodes of The Clone Wars back to back and after each episode I listen to your roundtable. It adds so much to be able to hear you guys insights and thoughts that the episode feels incomplete until I've heard the Roundtable to go with it. Anyhow, I just saw The Phantom Menace in 3D with my friends the other day, and I am halfway through the Darth Plagueis audiobook (I get
goosebumps when the John Williams score comes in, love it!!!!). As soon as I’m done with it, I am gonna listen to your roundtable of the book. Really looking forward to that. It really exciting to have all of this new quality Star Wars material coming out, exiting times to be a fan.

On another note, I saw a kind of depressing sight (see added picture) the other day in the window of a pawn shop here in Stockholm where I live. I can just imagine the diehard fan that had to sell all his collectibles to be able to pay the rent.

One thing that I came up while watching Episode I again: at the end there when Obi-Wan strikes down Darth Maul, isn't he fighting out of anger and hate? I sort of felt like he was only able to kill Maul because of those feelings. Seeing your master struck down can do that to you, I guess. Does Obi have a little dark in him? Inspired by that, I painted this Obi portrait for your Flickr gallery.

That was all. Keep up the good work, you guys are the best.

May the force be with you.

Robin Wiman


Star Wars in 3D

Hey Jimmy,

Just now listening to the ForceCast on my iPhone app. I also had a great opening weekend experience with Star Wars 3D, with the exception of the sound. You said word for for word what I felt, with the badass THX surround sound of the commercials and previews, then when the movie started, it sounded like one speaker coming from the right-front corner of the big screen. I actually thought there was a problem and went and got the manager, which was a waste of time. I get better sound from my Blu-rays at home. Anyways, glad you confirmed that it wasn't just me.

The picture quality for me in San Antonio was great, and that's saying a lot because I don't typically like 3D movies. I didn't think it was dim at all. Thought it looked great, very clear.

And I took the twin 5-year-old nephews for their first big-screen Star Wars memory. My three teenagers were too cool to go, but listening to the twins tell me their favorite parts afterwards with that gleam of awesomeness in their eye was just a really great flashback for me to when I saw A New Hope for the first time when I was 5 years old.

The one that loves attention even wore his Cad Bane Halloween costume and was the star of the crowd. It was so funny seeing all the smiles and "ahhhs" from both parents and teenagers alike. Sending you the pic.

Anyways, love the show. And tell Jason that video game canon is just as important as any other canon! The best canon from a video game is Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, which directly tells the back-story of Jango Fett and how Tyranus recruited him to be the template for the clones. It's worth watching the cut scenes even if he doesn't like video games.

May the Force be with you!



Episode I Bugaboo a.k.a. the Jedi Electric Slide - Thoughts on Episode One

First off, I've been on Phantom Menace overload as I've been swimming through the the galaxy far far away.

Recently I have:

1) Watched all the Prequels on Blu-ray.

2) Read Darth Plagueis.

3) Read the Darth Maul stories: "Shadow Hunter", "Restraint" and "Saboteur". (Haven't read "End Game" yet).

4) Started listening to the Audible audio-book of Episode I.

5) Saw Episode I in 3D at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywoood, CA. (Which is like double 3D as the screen curves around you).

6) Started reading "The Jedi Path" so I can have that done before reading the "Book of Sith".

Now I will say I thoroughly enjoyed Episode I on Blu-ray. I devoured Darth Plagueis like it might expire. Meaning it blew my kriffing mind! Also, I loved all the Darth Maul books. Him trying to follow orders and his fits of rage when things went awry were equal parts scary and funny. It was also good to see Obi-Wan clueless for once (in "Shadow Hunter") and to see the Night Sisters try to steal Maul back (in "Restraint").

But after ALL of that I was a little under-whelmed by the Episode I in 3D. It was great seeing Star Wars in the theaters again. The theater had the soundtrack to the OT playing beforehand which was a nice touch. But the 1st half dragged for me. And the audience was silent (which is unusual for a SW flick) until Darth Maul. I actually almost fell asleep during the 1st half!

To be fair, it was on a Friday night after a long week at work and I was tired. But I do have to say, I kind of feel that the PT is almost more of a TV show than a film. Especially Episode I. There are more many more straight-on or static shots than in the OT. And the shiny / CGI "pre-Empire" universe seems very holo-deck sometimes. Many of the set-pieces and costumes seem in Episode I (and Episode III) seem very "Star Trek" to me now. Especially the tea scene at the start of Episode I; the Neimoidians on their bridge in Episode I; and the Episode III scenes when the Jedi are trying to arrest Palpy. Episode II is much more "cinematic" as is a lot of Episode III.

I do like the prequels but I do have to say that even now, all of the "trade routes and taxation" still kind of grates on me. Especially as we really never find out what is being embargoed or see how it affects the Naboo people. If I read the books I know all about Naboo's plasma exports and the only folks in the movie dying it seems are Gungans. I want more "show" and less "tell".

I want Myth and Magic, War and Tragedy on a galactic and personal scale. But perhaps that is George's point. The Republic and the Jedi have suppressed the Myth and Magic to create order. The Republic is waning and is too bloated to support itself. Corruption and poison Snapple are everywhere. Which is what allows the Sith to flourish. They don't have to destroy the Jedi or the Republic. They just have to give everyone a little nudge so that they destroy themselves.

But I kind of love Jar Jar now. He is totally Star Wars. I used to think all his silly comments were just that, silly. But after
re-watching Episode I, I see he is the everyman whose eyes we should use to view the Episode I movie-world. He actually talks back and criticizes the Jedi! His "oh the Force is bombad" in the bongo is actually sarcasm!

And "When yousa thinking we in trouble" really is what a normal person would say if they too were trapped in a leaking space-sub with a failing engine and a giant monster gnawing on your sub like a chew toy. Jar Jar totally makes me see how perhaps a "normal" Star Wars universe character would see a Jedi. (Meaning the would seem strange, aloof, arrogant, reckless and crazy).

Okay, I've lost my train of thought now. So I will leave you both with a heart-felt thank you. You guys run one of best podcasts ever! Each and every week you deliver news, comedy and everything we could possible want to know about Star Wars. You guys are intelligent, quick-witted, insightful and hilarious. And from a technical side you guys are perfect! There are maybe three (out of 6 billion) podcasters that know how to mix a good podcast (that you can actually hear). And you guys are right on top production and tech-wise. (Even better, you all have important things to say). Thanks again for all the hard work you guys do.

Later days...

Adrian from CA
(Not Ben from CA)


Thanks to all of this week's mailbag contributors! Keep your emails coming to

Related Stories:

Listener Mailbag: March 21, 2012
Listener Mailbag: March 12, 2012
Listener Mailbag: March 2, 2012
Listener Mailbag: February 15, 2012
Listener Mailbag: February 9, 2012
Listener Mailbag: February 2, 2012
Listener Mailbag: January 27, 2012
Listener Mailbag: January 20, 2012



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