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Did G. Lucas ever intend to portray the Jedi as a flawed institution in the prequels? Or was it added later in the EU? — Page 2

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I absolutely agree with you OP and it’s one of the things that makes me irritated to no end about the current state of Star Wars and its fans. It’s tied up in prequel apologism, people not understanding the Force or what balance in the Force means, the concept of “gray Jedi,” the concept of the “light side,” and people thinking the entire series is cyclical and predestined. It’s a fake problem inferred into the movies.

Part of the issue is that modern western people have no cultural connection with Buddhism or eastern philosophy, so the idea of not being obsessed with romantic love is alien and scary to them.

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Vladius said:

I absolutely agree with you OP and it’s one of the things that makes me irritated to no end about the current state of Star Wars and its fans. It’s tied up in prequel apologism, people not understanding the Force or what balance in the Force means, the concept of “gray Jedi,” the concept of the “light side,” and people thinking the entire series is cyclical and predestined.

That’s part of the issue for sure. The other is this:

Stardust1138 said:

The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three “Star Wars” movies

It’s people believing he put anywhere near the thought into it back then that they continue to put into it 45 years later. He wrote A film. He didn’t write 3 films, 9 films, 12 films, or 6 films. Pick your interview because he gave plenty of them back in the 1980s, along with every answer he could come up with. If he had any thoughts on any other films back in the 1970s, he wouldn’t have hired two other people to write sequels.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Listen, it don’t really matter to me, baby.
You believe what you want to believe.

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 (Edited)

The unlikability of the Jedi as portrayed in the PT is the culmination of a process that seemed to start with TESB. In SW77 the Jedi are portrayed as a sort of intergalactic police; a cross between The Knights of The Round Table, the Samurai, and The Lensmen. In Empire we get the warrior monk view of the Jedi. I guess Lucas preferred this view…but I prefer his original concept.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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Servii said:

I agree with what SparkySywer said above.

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love. And we don’t really see much of the Jedi showing that compassionate love to people. And maybe that was intentional, but I don’t think it was.

I understand the resistance to the ideas about attachments but that’s really something to take up with Buddhism/Hinduism more than Lucas who is being a pretty loyal messenger to the eastern view on such things, rather than misinterpreting or inventing.

From the Bhagavad Gita, I’m sure it will sound familiar:
https://panindiahindu.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/love-vs-attachment-in-the-context-of-gita/

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - DV

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theprequelsrule said:

The unlikability of the Jedi as portrayed in the PT is the culmination of a process that seemed to start with TESB. In SW77 the Jedi are portrayed as a sort of intergalactic police; a cross between The Knights of The Round Table, the Samurai, and The Lensmen. In Empire we get the warrior monk view of the Jedi. I guess Lucas preferred this view…but I prefer his original concept.

I like it better too with the caveat that I don’t think ESB is where it started.

People say that about ESB because Yoda and Obi Wan tell Luke not to go save his friends. Some things with that:

  1. Not at all the same thing as the prequel prohibition on attachments. They never told him to not have friends or that having friends was wrong or not to get too attached to people.
  2. In this scenario they were absolutely right to tell him not to go: it was a trap, he lost his hand, his friends got away anyway without him, and he almost died (tried to commit suicide to get out.) The only thing questionable the Jedi do is Obi Wan not telling him that Vader is his father.

They’re still the same all the way through the original trilogy and remained the same in the expanded universe all the way until The Phantom Menace. The Tales of the Jedi comics and all the books (which Lucas signed off on!) depict them as decentralized knights in the context of sort of feudalism where they can take sides in conflicts and they work directly for monarchs, such as queens.
The prequels tried to bridge that it a weird way by having elected monarchs that are really just representatives or senators, and turning the Jedi into a cross between the FBI, secret service, diplomats, and modern military officers that are all centralized on the single capitol planet where they’re essentially a branch of government unto themselves.

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act on instinct said:

Servii said:

I agree with what SparkySywer said above.

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love. And we don’t really see much of the Jedi showing that compassionate love to people. And maybe that was intentional, but I don’t think it was.

I understand the resistance to the ideas about attachments but that’s really something to take up with Buddhism/Hinduism more than Lucas who is being a pretty loyal messenger to the eastern view on such things, rather than misinterpreting or inventing.

From the Bhagavad Gita, I’m sure it will sound familiar:
https://panindiahindu.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/love-vs-attachment-in-the-context-of-gita/

Exactly. It’s very difficult for a secular, materialist, western audience to accept the idea of not leading yourself by your emotions or what gives you “fulfillment” or sexual desire.

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Servii said:

I agree with what SparkySywer said above.

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love. And we don’t really see much of the Jedi showing that compassionate love to people. And maybe that was intentional, but I don’t think it was.

As for politics, yeah, I get what George was trying to say, but the historical parallels he makes don’t really work. The politics in the prequels line up more with modern American politics, or rather George’s personal view of American politics. George is a great creative mind and a great worldbuilder, but he’s not a great political analyst.

I actually think it’s way more possessive in AotC then afterward lol
That’s where all the “creepy” lines come from. “You are in my very soul, tormenting me,” and all that.

The politics make a lot of sense for the story, it’s just that their execution is a little baffling and inconsistent. They’re supposed to be Roman, it’s a Republic turning into an Empire with a Julius Caesar figure in Palpatine/Anakin. (It gets muddled with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War as well.) It’s meant to be Shakespearean in the Julius Caesar or Macbeth or Hamlet sense, which is where all the over the top dialogue comes in (“So this is how liberty dies.”)
But in concept it makes perfect sense that that’s what you would do if you’re doing a story about a Republic becoming an Empire.

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Vladius said:

act on instinct said:

Servii said:

I agree with what SparkySywer said above.

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love. And we don’t really see much of the Jedi showing that compassionate love to people. And maybe that was intentional, but I don’t think it was.

I understand the resistance to the ideas about attachments but that’s really something to take up with Buddhism/Hinduism more than Lucas who is being a pretty loyal messenger to the eastern view on such things, rather than misinterpreting or inventing.

From the Bhagavad Gita, I’m sure it will sound familiar:
https://panindiahindu.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/love-vs-attachment-in-the-context-of-gita/

Exactly. It’s very difficult for a secular, materialist, western audience to accept the idea of not leading yourself by your emotions or what gives you “fulfillment” or sexual desire.

Though this is muddled by George himself saying that Jedi aren’t celibate.

Really, if a Jedi has been raised in the temple all their life and has the necessary wisdom and mental discipline to avoid selfish attachment, I see no reason why they couldn’t get married.

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Vladius said:

act on instinct said:

Servii said:

I agree with what SparkySywer said above.

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love. And we don’t really see much of the Jedi showing that compassionate love to people. And maybe that was intentional, but I don’t think it was.

I understand the resistance to the ideas about attachments but that’s really something to take up with Buddhism/Hinduism more than Lucas who is being a pretty loyal messenger to the eastern view on such things, rather than misinterpreting or inventing.

From the Bhagavad Gita, I’m sure it will sound familiar:
https://panindiahindu.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/love-vs-attachment-in-the-context-of-gita/

Exactly. It’s very difficult for a secular, materialist, western audience to accept the idea of not leading yourself by your emotions or what gives you “fulfillment” or sexual desire.

Something which shouldn’t be ignored is that unlike the Jedi, the average Hindu/Buddhist can still practice their faith without having to become an ascetic. It’s not the doctrine that’s the problem; it’s the Jedi’s dogmatic adherance to it. Them taking children too young to give informed consent only compounds the problem.

90% blue, 10% pink.

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of_Kaiburr_and_Whills said:

I think its pretty clear that to Lucas, the Jedi were the ultimate good guys, and that they are not inherently flawed, but do not always make the best decisions. The more flawed view of them comes from the EU.

"As the situation develops in the Clone Wars they are recruited into the army, and they become generals. They’re not generals. They don’t kill people. They don’t fight. They’re supposed to be ambassadors. There are a lot of Jedi that think that the Jedi sold out, that they should never have been in the army, but it’s a though call. It’s one of those conundrums, of which there’s a bunch of in my movies. You have to think it through. Are they going to stick by their moral rules and all be killed, which makes it irrelevant, or do they help save the Republic? They have good intentions, but they have been manipulated, which was their downfall.” — George Lucas

“The idea was to establish Jedi as what they were, which is sort of peacekeepers who moved through the galaxy to settle disputes. They aren’t policemen, they aren’t soldiers; they’re mafia dons. They come in and sit down with the two different sides and say, “Okay, now we’re going to settle this.”
A lot of people say, “What good is a lightsaber against a tank?” The Jedi weren’t meant to fight wars. That’s the big issue in the prequels. They got drafted into service, which is exactly what Palpatine wanted.”
— George Lucas

When it comes to the Clone Wars, Lucas makes it clear in interviews that joining the war was not by their own will, but out of necessity to try to keep as much good and order as possible. They’ve also been drafted he says, and forced to fight, which aligns with the Vietnam draft that occurred during Lucas’ own youth.

As for their rules and beliefs? Lucas never intended for them to be wrong about anything like that, especially attachment. Lucas considers himself a Buddhist Methodist, and used Zen Buddhist Monks and their philosophies as the fundamental basis for the Jedi Order. One of those major ideas is forgoing attachments, which does not really mean the same in the Buddhist tradition as it means in the West.

“The message [of Attack of the Clones] is you can’t possess things. You can’t hold on to them. You have to accept change. You have to accept the fact that things transition. And so, as you try to hold on to things or you become afraid of – that you’re going to lose things, then you begin to crave the power to control those things. And then, you start to become greedy and then you turn into a bad person.” — George Lucas

“The fact that everything must change and that things come and go through his life and that [Anakin] cannot hold onto things, which is a basic Jedi philosophy that he isn’t willing to accept emotionally and the reason that is because he was raised by his mother rather than the Jedi. If he’d have been taken in his first years and started to study to be a Jedi, he wouldn’t have this particular connection as strong as it is and he’d have been trained to love people but not to become attached to them.
“But he become attached to his mother and he will become attached to Padme and these things are, for a Jedi, who needs to have a clear mind and not be influenced by threats to their attachments, a dangerous situation. And it feeds into fear of losing things, which feeds into greed, wanting to keep things, wanting to keep his possessions and things that he should be letting go of. His fear of losing her turns to anger at losing her, which ultimately turns to revenge in wiping out the village. The scene with the Tusken Raiders is the first scene that ultimately takes him on the road to the dark side. I mean he’s been prepping for this, but that’s the one where he’s sort of doing something that is completely inappropriate.
“He’s greedy in that he wants to keep his mother around, he’s greedy in that he wants to become more powerful in order to control things in order to keep the things around that he wants. There’s a lot of connections here with the beginning of him sliding into the dark side. [….]
“Because of that, and because he was unwilling to let go of his mother, because he was so attached to her, he committed this terrible revenge on the Tusken Raiders.”
— George Lucas

“The Jedi are trained to let go. They’re trained from birth,” he continues, “They’re not supposed to form attachments. They can love people- in fact, they should love everybody. They should love their enemies; they should love the Sith. But they can’t form attachments.” — George Lucas

“The thing with Anakin is that he started out a great kid he was very compassionate, so the issue was how did he turn bad. How did he go to the dark side? He went to the dark side, Jedi aren’t supposed to have attachments. They can love people, they can do that, but they can’t attach, that’s the problem in the world of fear. Once you are attached to something then you become afraid of losing it. And when you become afraid of losing it, then you turn to the dark side, and you want to hold onto it, and that was Anakin’s issue. Ultimately, that he wanted to hold onto his wife who he knew, he had a premonition that she was going to die, he didn’t know how to stop it, so he went to the dark side. In mythology you go to Hades, and you talk to the devil, and the devil says ‘this is what you do’ and basically you sell your soul to the devil. When you do that, and you’re afraid and you’re on the dark side and you fall off the golden path of compassion because you are greedy, you want to hold on to something that you love and he didn’t do the right thing and as a result he turned bad.” — George Lucas

“The fact that everything must change and that things come and go through his life and that he can’t hold onto things, which is a basic Jedi philosophy that he isn’t willing to accept emotionally and the reason that is because he was raised by his mother rather than the Jedi. If he’d have been taken in his first year and started to study to be a Jedi, he wouldn’t have this particular connection as strong as it is and he’d have been trained to love people but not to become attached to them." — George Lucas

Now, whether Lucas did a good job conveying these ideas, or whether one agrees with these ideas, is another debate altogether. I do not believe that Lucas meant the Jedi to be seen as a flawed institution, though they sometimes made mistakes, and many Jedi were prone to arrogance just like any other person. Again, whether he did a good job conveying these ideas is up to debate, and though I like what Lucas was going for, I think it could certainly have been brought out better within the films themselves.

EU authors like Karen Traviss for example, were the ones that really started the idea that the Jedi Order was inherently flawed within official (albeit EU) stories. I’ve seen authors like John Jackson Miller, Karen Miller, and others continue with these ideas, though not as critically. Dave Filoni also has his famous analysis of The Phantom Menace, which I have always viewed as him seeing what he wanted to see with the prequels, and him interpreting them his own way. To make it clear: this is perfectly fine, I’m not arguing against it at all and again I see validity to it since the prequels leave a lot open to interpretation as any good art should. But when we are talking about what Lucas himself intended, and how he views the Jedi, I think its very important to make this distinction.

I really appreciate your answer, and all the quotes you provided really help me better understand what Lucas was going for, even if I’m not sure I agree with his ideas lol. Thanks!

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My recollection is that the “intentionally flawed Jedi” idea evolved from fan discussion/debate on the Internet in the early 2000s, stemming from early criticisms of the Prequels. I remember SO many conversations on various old-school web forums that went something like this:

Person A: OMG the Prequels suck so bad, why didn’t the Jedi ever send anyone to rescue Anakin’s mother? It literally would have taken them a few hours to pick her up from Tatooine. I mean Qui-Gon wanted to do it anyway but couldn’t at the time, so why didn’t anyone just come back for her later?

Person B: OMG you’re so stupid you don’t understand George Lucas is a genius. Did you even WATCH the movie? The Jedi are SUPPOSED to be shown as flawed - they didn’t want Anakin to have any attachments so that’s why they never went back to pick up his mom. Idiot.

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Servii said:

I get what George is trying to say about attachment, but it bugs me that he considers emotional connection to your own mother, or simply the act of falling in love with someone, as something problematic. Anakin falling for Padme is portrayed as a dangerous thing, like it’s a “sin,” but Anakin’s behavior towards Padme doesn’t become overtly possessive until RotS. It’s hard to gauge what Lucas considers to be crossing the line from “good” love to “bad/possessive” love.

act on instinct said:

I understand the resistance to the ideas about attachments but that’s really something to take up with Buddhism/Hinduism more than Lucas who is being a pretty loyal messenger to the eastern view on such things, rather than misinterpreting or inventing.

The idea behind attachments, I think, is a good idea poorly executed. The Force gives mere humans immense power, and humans are fallible and make rash decisions based on emotion, greed, and self-interest. Trying to eliminate any potential motivation to slip away from righteousness is probably a good idea. The distinction between “good” love and “possessive” love needed to be way more clear, but if the PT leaned further into this idea, the distinction becomes more clear. Anakin’s love for Padmé isn’t healthy because of what it motivates him to do. Simply, it clouds his judgment. He isn’t making rational decisions because he’s afraid to lose her.

If I were to do the PT, I’d lean way further into the no attachments rule than George did. I’d even keep the idea that the Jedi are separated from their parents. The emotional connection to your own mother isn’t evil in and of itself, but humans are animals and the emotional connection to your family, especially between parent and child, is extremely strong and on a preconscious level. It comes from the id, and the id can be very difficult to reason with.

Imagine a Jedi in a trolley problem where they have to pick between allowing their mother to die, or allowing three other people’s mothers to die. A clear mind would see that there’s nothing special about your own mother, and that the three other people would be just as devastated as you would be if your mother died. But the whole point the trolley problem was originally meant to bring up is that people generally don’t make rational moral decisions based off of which of their options causes the least amount of harm. The Jedi would at least have an extremely difficult time weighing their options. Better to nip the problem in the bud and not have to cross your fingers and hope they don’t kill 3 people out of selfishness.

The problem with this, though, is that no human is capable of living a life without sin. George Lucas is a Buddhist Christian, and if heaven is where the righteous come to live with God in the afterlife, and sin is antithetical to God’s very being, heaven should be entirely unpopulated. An infinite being has infinite moral standards, and no human is perfect. Drinking soda is a sin. Driving a car is a sin. And those are just baby examples, there’s so much worse stuff that everybody contributes to simply for existing, it’s just that maybe it isn’t tone appropriate to bring that up on a Star Wars forum. Even being associated with anything like this, though, makes you partially morally responsible for great harm.

There’s some Hindu story IIRC about a guy who lived a perfectly sinless life, except for one time where he accidentally stepped on a bug, which is what sends him to hell. These kinds of stories were the action movies of their day so he fights his way out of hell, but you get the point. Even though it was a bug, a bug is a holy creation no different from a person. Even though it was a mistake, his carelessness still caused a death.

Maybe this would be resolved in the ST by whatever comes next focusing less on the unattainable goal of teaching people how to totally avoid the dark side of the Force, and more about teaching people how not to let it cloud their judgment. You could then ease up on the high restriction the Jedi put on the Force, allowing for the democratization of the Force which is a popular idea for the ST.

The Novelization of the Force Awakens said:

First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.

Death of the Author

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SparkySywer said:

The problem with this, though, is that no human is capable of living a life without sin. George Lucas is a Buddhist Christian, and if heaven is where the righteous come to live with God in the afterlife, and sin is antithetical to God’s very being, heaven should be entirely unpopulated. An infinite being has infinite moral standards, and no human is perfect.

That’s where the mitigating factors of infinite love and infinite patience would come in, presumably.

Maybe this would be resolved in the ST by whatever comes next focusing less on the unattainable goal of teaching people how to totally avoid the dark side of the Force, and more about teaching people how not to let it cloud their judgment.

Leigh Brackett’s TESB draft took this route, IIRC. I may be misremembering; it’s been so long since I read it.

90% blue, 10% pink.

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Vladius said:

theprequelsrule said:

The unlikability of the Jedi as portrayed in the PT is the culmination of a process that seemed to start with TESB. In SW77 the Jedi are portrayed as a sort of intergalactic police; a cross between The Knights of The Round Table, the Samurai, and The Lensmen. In Empire we get the warrior monk view of the Jedi. I guess Lucas preferred this view…but I prefer his original concept.

I like it better too with the caveat that I don’t think ESB is where it started.

People say that about ESB because Yoda and Obi Wan tell Luke not to go save his friends. Some things with that:

  1. Not at all the same thing as the prequel prohibition on attachments. They never told him to not have friends or that having friends was wrong or not to get too attached to people.
  2. In this scenario they were absolutely right to tell him not to go: it was a trap, he lost his hand, his friends got away anyway without him, and he almost died (tried to commit suicide to get out.) The only thing questionable the Jedi do is Obi Wan not telling him that Vader is his father.

Did they really get away “without him”? Vader probably could have kept them from escaping until Luke’s arrival, but once Luke arrived they had served their purpose, so why bother? He was busy with Luke. Let the troopers deal with his friends, and if they fail, no big deal.

 

Time is running out for the Rebels. Antilles upcourt to Skywalker. He’s being paced by Darth Va— the bone-jarring pick by Solo! He came out of nowhere! Skywalker’s open from way outside, he launches at the buzzer... Good! It’s good! The Rebels win on a sensational buzzer beater by Luke Skywalker! Let’s take another look at that last shot. He just does get it off in time. Wow, what a shot. That’s why they call him Luke Legend.

 

That may be the most exciting battle I have ever been privileged to broadcast. Certainly the most dramatic finish. We’ll get you an update on the Artoo Detoo injury situation in just a moment. Right now let’s go courtside where SuperShadow is waiting with Chewbacca.

 

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act on instinct said:

SparkySywer said:

act on instinct said:

There’s enough evidence for me that it was intentional, Lucas is fascinated by the fall of Rome and what happens to societies preceding their collapse.

There’s some quote by Lucas comparing the fall of the Republic to the fall of the Roman Republic (comparing Palpatine to Caesar), and he comments that dictators don’t come to power at the head of a conquering army, but by turning institutions in on themselves.

So this guy’s fascinated enough by the fall of the Roman Republic to base a trilogy off of it, but not enough to know that Caesar actually did come at the head of a conquering army? The Senate gave him dictatorial powers after he conquered Rome, and it was an attempt to limit his power, not to give him power.

Palpatine also seized power through a coup via order 66, and with an army he created. I’m not sure I see the contradiction.

I’m not sure that even counts as a coup. The Senate approved these of the Clone army, and I’ve always been under the impression (though it’s admittedly not established canonically) that the “emergency powers” they gave him authorized him to order the targeted killing of enemies of the Empire.

 

Time is running out for the Rebels. Antilles upcourt to Skywalker. He’s being paced by Darth Va— the bone-jarring pick by Solo! He came out of nowhere! Skywalker’s open from way outside, he launches at the buzzer... Good! It’s good! The Rebels win on a sensational buzzer beater by Luke Skywalker! Let’s take another look at that last shot. He just does get it off in time. Wow, what a shot. That’s why they call him Luke Legend.

 

That may be the most exciting battle I have ever been privileged to broadcast. Certainly the most dramatic finish. We’ll get you an update on the Artoo Detoo injury situation in just a moment. Right now let’s go courtside where SuperShadow is waiting with Chewbacca.