Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bite me, Yoda. (Or Spice Things Up!) by Wendy Russo

Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!

            Yeah, bite me, Yoda. That’s why the prequels sucked. I mean seriously. I think its because the Jedi, arguably the most important people in the Star Wars Universe were dead inside. Ask the question, how does any movie with a lightsaber battle suck? As evidence, I present the Execution of Zett Jukassa. You have no idea what I’m talking about, right?

Well, during Anakin Skywalker’s slash and burn mission at the Jedi Temple in Episode III, there was a padawan who almost escaped. Senator Bail Organa had landed at the temple. The guards sent him away, but before he flew out, a young boy, about ten years old or so, ran out of the docking bay doors. He swung his lightsaber with precision and grace, fending off the blaster shots until one got him. And Organa watched helplessly and cried as the boy went splat.

Zett Jukassa didn’t fail because he was outnumbered, though he was, or because he didn’t have the skills, because he did. He died because the Jedi had successfully squashed any desire for excitement and adventure. He had no fear, but he also had no joy, no creativity. Just a Force and a lightsaber, and in the end, they weren’t enough.

What does this have to do with spicing things up? Everything.

In Zett Jukassa, we have a perfect character. He’s young, handsome, gifted, powerful, rational, and well trained. He’s also ten-years-old, and when a kid gets shot, the audience should care. But, we don’t. We actually need Bail Organa in that scene to care on our behalf. You know whom we do care about?


That’s right. A rolling trashcan stuffed full of computer crap that emits beeps and fart noises. He gets fried and the whole audience takes a collective gasp. Why? Because the audience can relate to him. He’s weirdly shaped and put in horrible situations he’s not designed to handle. (He's a wheeled robot who treks alone through Tatooine sand dunes. There was a doubt my boy could handle the Death Star? Please.) R2-D2 says exactly what’s on his mind, often mortifying his comically uptight companion C-3PO.

I can’t tell you how to add spice to a story, but I can tell you what spice is.  Flaws. Snark. Normal people in extraordinary circumstance. Failure, and the consequences that follow. Surprises.

Humans are spicy, when they manage to shake off their Jedi training.


  1. Good stuff. Why do we care so much about the beeps and fart noises? Because of the timing? Because they seem to sound happy or scared? Because they make us laugh? I'm going to have to have another look and think about this. Thanks!