Star Wars: Rebels

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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Themightytom » 2018-03-08 01:00pm

I don't know how terrified the Empire could be of the space whales, that mining facility seemed to have them under control and Thrawn was really just taken by surprise. He had Sabine and Hera's art but I don't think he expected Ezra to suddenly unveil a force vision inspired plan. It waa compartmentalized and everyone actually participating thought it was crazy.

When the Empire figured out what happened with surviving witnesses or whatever they'd probably conclude correctly it was a one off, especially since Bridger disappeared and no one else can talk to wolves and space whales. Vader probably SHOULD have prioritized capturing Hera, as a source because based on her participation in major battles she WAS in touch with Mon Mothma's cell through it all.

I wonder if Hera's son will be the new youth protagonist for a future series?

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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-08 01:02pm

Would be nice to have more non-human (or part-human) protagonists in Star Wars.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-11 01:35am

Just finished the series. Thrawn was defeated the only way he could be, by a force he had no knowledge of in the first place. It's kinda interesting to see that Star Wars races can interbreed if they wanted to. Pryce's fear of Thrawn, as well as the Rebels having to plan around him not being there was enjoyable. The rebels know that they can't win against Thrawn, so they pin everything on winning against Pryce.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-11 07:43am

I also just managed to finally watch the last mission. I still feel that getting the space Whales was quite an asspull, especially how they just overpowered a mayor military vessel. Still, not the worst ending for it.

I was really confused about the hybrid thing.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-11 02:19pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-11 01:35am
The rebels know that they can't win against Thrawn, so they pin everything on winning against Pryce.
Perhaps, but I personally think that Thrawn is overrated. Don't get me wrong- he's capable, and an interesting character. But I don't really like the idea that he is a perfect commander who can never be beaten except by bad luck. He makes numerous mistakes and suffers multiple defeats during his debut story, the Thrawn Trilogy. He's just a man, an educated, perceptive, self-controlled man with a talent for thinking outside the box, but just a man.

Thrawn might be nigh-unbeatable when you combine his skill with the superior resources of the Empire at his disposal, but I like to think that there are other commanders in the galaxy who could match him, if they were operating with comparable resources.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-11 04:02pm

The Thrawn in Rebels is not the same Thrawn in the books. And the Thrawn in the books is unique more out of the general standards and settings of SW writing then rather than because he was a totally unique character. He was a refreshing anti-thesis of what the standard template of Imperial commanders (who in turn are meshed caricatures between terrible commanders and Nazis) who was a formidable adversary that pushed the heroes out of their comfort zones of competence. It shook up the templates of SW writing at the time. He was portrayed not only as technically capable of command but as an actual leader.

The thing is that we already seen an example of that in the form of the Inquisitor. A calm, collected, educated and calculating adversary (of course, that varied later on). The Inquisitor forced Kanan to get out of his swashbuckling rebel routine and reconnect with his Jedi past, for example (and what I remember, it has been some time since I watched those season). Rebels-Thrawn is scaled-up version of that without the Sith baggage. He counters one of the Rebels's strengths in being anonymous by studying them closely and going after what they hold dear (the episode with Hera on her homeworld comes to mind).

But the thing is that in the books, Thrawn was actually a good person (to an extent) ,another thing that shook up expecations about SW in the era. Rebels-Thrawn is... just cold, observant and ruthless.

The biggest difference that comes to mind is the scene with book-Thrawn investigates why his tractor-beam failed to capture Luke, despite all odds. He goes to the heart of the problem and down the chain of command by personally interviewing the tractorbeam operator that lost Luke. Instead of going rabid-evil parody of an officer looking for someone to blame and vent his psychopathy on, Thrawn calmly speaks to him as a man trying to solve a problem. He finds out that the operator did his job best he could and Luke simply pulled something unexpected that the operator couldn't compensate. Instead of shooting him for failure, Thrawn doesn't punish him at all and solves the problem by having the officers run training drills so this doesn't happen and all the tractorbeam operators are thankful that's all that happen rather than get grizzly punishments. The operator walks away knowing he is trusted and eagerness to prove that he can be trusted.

It establishes Thrawn is very competent, self-controlled and a good leader that is focused on his work. That he knows how to do very well. His obsession and analysis of art is an expression of that, combining his appreciation for art and taking heed to the wisdom of "know your enemy". He is shown valuing his own people, sacrificing them only when absolutely necessary and generally being not a douchebag.

Contrast that with, well, this:

Thrawn cannot be a good guy because he is the villain and he has to do villainous things. His self-control, his amazing ability of analysis and problem solving is still there. But his lack of ego (or rather, lack of crippling emotional insecurities) is just replaced by cold, ruthless psychopathy. He cares more about art than actual people. He counters the Rebels's plans with calculated moves of strategy that is superior to that of the Rebels's. But he isn't a leader, he isn't remotely a good person.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-11 04:18pm

I'd actually disagree strongly that book Thrawn is in any way a good person. Sure, he has theoretically admirable goals (to an extent)- peace, order, stability, etc. And he is not as pointlessly brutal or cruel as some Imperials. But he makes two fundamental mistakes: first, he believes that stability and strength can only come through authoritarian power. In other words, he falls into the classic fallacy of believing that it is a choice between freedom and security, rather than understanding that the two are necessary to compliment each other. As a consequence, he makes what is basically a deal with the devil, supporting Palpatine- a man who could not give the slightest shit about the peace and stability of the galaxy or anything besides his own power, as evidenced by the fact that not only did he not set in place a stable line of succession, but that he actively pit his subordinates against each other and set up the Empire to collapse without him.

Secondly, Thrawn is arrogant. Not as obviously or cartoonishly arrogant as some Imperials, but arrogant on an even more fundamental level. He seems to genuinely believe that he alone can bring order to the galaxy once Palpatine is gone (note him basically asking C'Baoth in The Last Command whether he can see any future in which victory is achieved without him). He also chronically overestimates his ability to control subordinates and allies who's reliability/loyalty is doubtful, and this bites him in the ass again and again, ultimately fatally (see the Noghiri, C'baoth, and that idiot ship thief he tried to employ in one of the subplots).

The irony is that the only institution in Star Wars that actually managed to maintain a peaceful, stable, and secure galactic government for any length of time was... the Old Republic and the Jedi Order (probably largely due to the Jedi's ability to head off conflicts before they got out of hand). Thrawn is intelligent and educated enough that he ought to know this- indeed he probably does, since he actively tried to recruit Force users, and even wanted to clone C'baoth. But he wasn't content with building an Order of benevolent Force-using protectors- he wanted an order of Force users under his control. Because he's arrogant.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-11 04:47pm

This is why in old Canon(Outbound Flight), and in New Canon(Thrawn), he is doing this because the Chiss will need a stable ally for whatever outside force is coming. In the old EU, it was the Vong, and the fact that the current way of Republic defense, the Jedi, would have been totally unprepared for their tactics, weapons and armor. The fact that the Republic utterly leans on the Jedi to fix any significant problem is a huge crutch that will make the unprepared and unwilling to prepare for what's coming. That, and Palpatine pulled a fast one on him regarding why Palpatine was forming the Empire.

In the new EU, he wants to use the Empire as a force to break against whatever enemy the Chiss have coming, for similar reasons. Good motivation, less noble as the Old-EU Thrawn. Rebels Thrawn is more villainous than his Disney book interpretation. Possibly because he has Governor Pryce instead of Eli Vanto as his sounding board, and doesn't have to pretend to be a good person, or because he is coming to worse methods due to his current companion.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-11 05:03pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-11 04:18pm
I'd actually disagree strongly that book Thrawn is in any way a good person. Sure, he has theoretically admirable goals (to an extent)- peace, order, stability, etc. And he is not as pointlessly brutal or cruel as some Imperials. But he makes two fundamental mistakes: first, he believes that stability and strength can only come through authoritarian power. In other words, he falls into the classic fallacy of believing that it is a choice between freedom and security, rather than understanding that the two are necessary to compliment each other. As a consequence, he makes what is basically a deal with the devil, supporting Palpatine- a man who could not give the slightest shit about the peace and stability of the galaxy or anything besides his own power, as evidenced by the fact that not only did he not set in place a stable line of succession, but that he actively pit his subordinates against each other and set up the Empire to collapse without him.

Secondly, Thrawn is arrogant. Not as obviously or cartoonishly arrogant as some Imperials, but arrogant on an even more fundamental level. He seems to genuinely believe that he alone can bring order to the galaxy once Palpatine is gone (note him basically asking C'Baoth in The Last Command whether he can see any future in which victory is achieved without him). He also chronically overestimates his ability to control subordinates and allies who's reliability/loyalty is doubtful, and this bites him in the ass again and again, ultimately fatally (see the Noghiri, C'baoth, and that idiot ship thief he tried to employ in one of the subplots).

The irony is that the only institution in Star Wars that actually managed to maintain a peaceful, stable, and secure galactic government for any length of time was... the Old Republic and the Jedi Order (probably largely due to the Jedi's ability to head off conflicts before they got out of hand). Thrawn is intelligent and educated enough that he ought to know this- indeed he probably does, since he actively tried to recruit Force users, and even wanted to clone C'baoth. But he wasn't content with building an Order of benevolent Force-using protectors- he wanted an order of Force users under his control. Because he's arrogant.
Before you read anything else, a disclaimer: I am speaking with the bias of foggy memory on the subject. I don't remember every episode of Rebels all that well and I don't remember the books 100% either. So I may be forgetting important things about both and can't be bothered to look up respective wikis for everything I say.

Unto your post:

So, book-Thrawn's biggest faults are: A, he's a believer in a bad beliefs and B, he refuses to let others take on the tasks he finds the most important (or, he is a believer in his own greatness). Your criticism of him is that he is not enlightened in a certain way. That's... not a criticism I would expect of a bad person. That's a criticism of a good person not being good enough. Or rather, that comes across as flawed rather than outright evil.

Considering he's an Imperial Admiral point A seems to come naturally to someone in his position (and situation) and actually expected. And considering how he's actually really competent and the events of the galaxy at large in his time (a relatively small force shattered a galaxy-spanning Empire), point B does not seem that delusional (unlike point A). As a commander, believing and even trusting your own people is not a flaw. Considering the fascistic beliefs that the Empire had about individual heroism, point B seems to naturally stem from point A.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an apologist for book-Thrawn or his actions. It's just that Rebels-Thrawn seemed to have missed the point and a reason why book-Thrawn was a good antagonist. Book-Thrawn was several steps above the common, rabid Imperial officers and commanders we typically see that seem to take their cues from (the most rabid of) WH40k Commissars. Book-Thrawn managed to be menacing by not being monstrous but by being someone you could actually believe to be a good commander and whose motivations do not stem from negative emotions. I feel that Rebels-Thrawn was steered away from this direction, by replacing his lack of monstrous behavior by psychopathy.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-11 05:17pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-08-11 05:03pm
Before you read anything else, a disclaimer: I am speaking with the bias of foggy memory on the subject. I don't remember every episode of Rebels all that well and I don't remember the books 100% either. So I may be forgetting important things about both and can't be bothered to look up respective wikis for everything I say.
Fair enough, and I should probably note that my knowledge of Thrawn, and particularly Rebels Thrawn, is rather patchy as well.
Unto your post:

So, book-Thrawn's biggest faults are: A, he's a believer in a bad beliefs and B, he refuses to let others take on the tasks he finds the most important (or, he is a believer in his own greatness). Your criticism of him is that he is not enlightened in a certain way. That's... not a criticism I would expect of a bad person. That's a criticism of a good person not being good enough. Or rather, that comes across as flawed rather than outright evil.
But those flaws lead him to making choices that were deeply immoral, and also counterproductive to his actual goals.
Considering he's an Imperial Admiral point A seems to come naturally to someone in his position (and situation) and actually expected. And considering how he's actually really competent and the events of the galaxy at large in his time (a relatively small force shattered a galaxy-spanning Empire), point B does not seem that delusional (unlike point A). As a commander, believing and even trusting your own people is not a flaw. Considering the fascistic beliefs that the Empire had about individual heroism, point B seems to naturally stem from point A.
No, believing and trusting his people (when that faith is warranted) is not a flaw, nor would I suggest that it is. But that seems beside the point to me.

Note that he only became an Imperial Admiral after deciding to throw in with Palpatine, though- so that is a consequence of point A, not an explanation for it. His views might be more likely to be a product of his position in Chiss society, combined with the shock of discovering the scope of the threats and the degree of chaos in the larger galaxy.

I do think its fair to call him arrogant, as well- its not a delusion, per say, but his ability to control everyone around him is much less than he seems to believe, and his seeming inability to see that only make it more difficult for him to maintain control. I do think it stems naturally from his authoritarian views, yes.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an apologist for book-Thrawn or his actions. It's just that Rebels-Thrawn seemed to have missed the point and a reason why book-Thrawn was a good antagonist. Book-Thrawn was several steps above the common, rabid Imperial officers and commanders we typically see that seem to take their cues from (the most rabid of) WH40k Commissars. Book-Thrawn managed to be menacing by not being monstrous but by being someone you could actually believe to be a good commander and whose motivations do not stem from negative emotions. I feel that Rebels-Thrawn was steered away from this direction, by replacing his lack of monstrous behavior by psychopathy.
Not much to say here, except that I think there is a fine line between ruthless amorality in pursuit of a larger goal (which definitely applies to book Thrawn), and psychopathy. Though I do recognize of course that book and show Thrawn are different characters.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-15 02:02am

For what it's worth, the Yuzzum Vong story with Thrawn was not in any way a meaningful part of his canon - it is not in the New York Times bestsellers, but in a (relatively) obscure book written after twenty years of adoration had enshrined Thrawn as a fan favourite. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that when he wrote His Last Command, Tim Zahn had any intention of justifying his actions in this way.

If we accept canon-is-canon then it must be added that although Thrawn thinks he has good intentions, he is a tool and no more than that because Dark Empire is also canon and by the time the Vong got there, if the Emperor had his way, everyone in the galaxy would be licking the walls and getting their life force drained by a galaxy-scale (inspiration for) Darth Nihilus, and Thrawn was never more than a tool for the Reborn Emperor. At best in such a canon-is-canon take on the Legends universe, he is a self important commander who never wondered where all the heavy ships went (Byss) which makes his intelligence at best selective and never concerned himself with anything but making the New Republic's life difficult.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-15 02:43am

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-15 02:02am
For what it's worth, the Yuzzum Vong story with Thrawn was not in any way a meaningful part of his canon - it is not in the New York Times bestsellers, but in a (relatively) obscure book written after twenty years of adoration had enshrined Thrawn as a fan favourite. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that when he wrote His Last Command, Tim Zahn had any intention of justifying his actions in this way.
Yes, I remember Leia straight up asking him why he was doing this, and he had a line akin to, "For the glory of the Empire." Or somewhat along those lines. If you want to be straight up Doylist about it, that is Thrawn's motivation, further elaboration, development, and/or retcons be damned.

However, Zahn seemed to have changed his mind about the character, and evolved him to have a more noble side with later writings. It's noteworthy that Thrawn isn't given a focus with his thoughts, instead we are witness to it from Pallaeon's or other's perspective. This allows the character to be more malleable in intention by further works. It certainly gave the later writers room for how to portray the character, and giving him more depth regarding his decisions and motivation.

Is a character not allowed to evolve by the writers, or is it best that Q remained an enemy to Picard and company, and not evolve into a sort of harsh teacher/mischievous trickster in addition to the Judge character he was in his first appearance?
If we accept canon-is-canon then it must be added that although Thrawn thinks he has good intentions, he is a tool and no more than that because Dark Empire is also canon and by the time the Vong got there, if the Emperor had his way, everyone in the galaxy would be licking the walls and getting their life force drained by a galaxy-scale (inspiration for) Darth Nihilus, and Thrawn was never more than a tool for the Reborn Emperor. At best in such a canon-is-canon take on the Legends universe, he is a self important commander who never wondered where all the heavy ships went (Byss) which makes his intelligence at best selective and never concerned himself with anything but making the New Republic's life difficult.
Yeah, there's a definite gap in his concerns there. One that could potentially be justified by other parts of the canon if one wishes.

Thrawn also built his own, more egalitarian empire outside of the Emperor's clutches, and was making himself the ruler of it(with his own plan in place for a clone replacement if needed). His actions against the New Republic also seemed, motivationally, to be built on taking them off the board while making The Imperial Remnant self sufficient after the chaos of Palpatine and Darth Vader's Death and the subsequent in-fighting. Either he was going to hand over these forces to Palpatine when asked, was about to be gobsmacked by the Emperor's new body, or he had some plan to take down the insane wizard when ready, likely involving ysalmari.

Thrawn is such a character that depending upon execution, any of those could be true.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-15 03:58am

Well ultimately Outbound Flight was written to harmonize the original C'Boath story with the prequels and leaned into this by giving a Thrawn backstory too. The upshot of that though is that Thrawn really has no reason to trust that Palpatine will protect the Chiss. The man is a double-Archtraitor, who betrayed the Republic and Confederacy both and Thrawn is one of the few who knows this for certain. It is charmingly, hopelessly naievefor Thrawn to think that Palpatine would go out of his way to protect the Chiss from invading species unless it is directly and personally to his benefit; indeed Truce at Bakura shows that Palpatine will sell his own people to what are (Doylistically) proto-Vong without any qualm.

Thrawn is basically Nute Gunray, except without even the excuse of not knowing how totally Palpatine will betray his followers.

It's almost a shame we never got to see Thrawn begging "But you promised..." as we did Gunray, when his notion of Palpatine's personal integrity falls apart.


That of course is not my only problem with the 'Space Rommel' angle on Thrawn, but really, by giving Thrawn specially intimate knowledge of Palpatine/Sidious the guy should as a supposedly critical and intelligent thinker be skeptical of any promise Palpatine gives.

The evolution of his character was ultimately, placing him in a central role where it only makes him more special and also undermines the idea that he is a professional officer and not much more. As a republic-era co-conspirator he is almost unique in being someone outside the Dark Side inner circle of Mas Amedda and so on who has knowledge that Palpatine is an Archtraitor, yet he still has trust in the man?

The Empire of the Hand would not have lasted ten minutes against the Reborn Emperor, if Thrawn wanted to set himself up in opposition of course, which is perhaps simply a gap between Cam Kennedy & Tom Vietch's conception of the universe and Zahn's, but is militarily indisputable. Yasilmiri cannot stop a Galaxy Gun.

And that's assuming Palpatine couldn't just call up the Chimera from his desk and say "Execute Order 66" - Zahn heavily used WEG lore that established that stormtroopers are machine-indoctrinated Palpatine fanatics after all (making them acceptable targets for RPG violence of course!). It is unlikely they would permit Thrawn to disobey a direct command, even if that command was suicide.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-15 05:22am

You are assuming that Thrawn was being naive here, and expected Palpatine to give more than he already did. It may have been his experience with Jorus that made himself wary of Force users and looked for ways to deal with them if necessary. It's only in Disney Canon that we really get Thrawn's attitude towards the force and what he is thinking. Palpatine got what he wanted from Thrawn, and Thrawn seemed to get what he wanted from Palpatine. Thrawn seemed on par with the likes of Prince Xizor and Vader in terms of Palpatine's favorability.

If nothing else, it seems the Empire was stacked with people plotting against each other for an advantage or some sort of leverage. It seems that Vader had no counter to the Clone plans on Byss old pruneface had, and he had the gift of the force, and was on the planet to teach young Padawans to make them into dark force users. I guess no one really knew or cated about what was going on there. Where's Vader's scene of being utterly flabbergasted about Palpatine ruling forever from one clone to another?

If Thrawn was planning on rebelling, Thrawn may have stood no chance, especially with Palpatine's fondness for superweapons. But his motivation seemed to be having a force to deal with the Vong, hence the Empire of the Hand. Palpatine, for whatever reason, agreed and gave Thrawn the latitude to make his own empire beyond known space. Thus Thrawn had his goals fulfilled, thereby surpassing Gunray in getting what he wanted while making a deal with the devil.

If Palpatine is or is not duping Thrawn, he revealed a lot of potentially damaging Intel to Thrawn regarding his tricks for power. Note how Delta Source, Palpatine's 'listening device' in the Senate/Palace, was known to Thrawn. That's a heck of a potential weapon to reveal to someone you're screwing over. Who didn't know about Delta Source? Who did? Makes me wonder how much Palpatine talked about his plans for Byss while in the palace.

Maybe that's why Thrawn had Noghri, Chiss, and built loyalty among his crew, so he could deal with fanatically loyal Stormtroopers if needed? He also had a track record of getting rid of the incompetent and dead weight. Maybe he kept on transferring the Imperial bootlickers off his ship so that he could sleep at night? I have no idea. We could also say that Clone Palpatine's plans were different from the original when it came to enslaving everyone, due to the problems in cloning. Jorus seemed to be a bit different compared to his clone in what he wanted to do.(Very similar, but different). I doubt it though, Palpatine was an evil bastard.

But, evil bastard or not, he gave Thrawn a force to be used against the Vong. It sounds like Thrawn got what he wanted out of the deal, and Palpatine couldn't renege on the deal, as he had already given Thrawn all he had wanted. Was Palpatine planning on surrender to the Vong? Did Thrawn care about what happened to the Empire after the Vong were defeated as long as the Chiss were safe? We don't know, or if things had gone differently, he knew how to deal with the evil clones popping out of the woodworking, or he was first to die when Palpatine started purging his military of non-sycophants?
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-15 05:37am

Palpatine in Legends is duping Thrawn, because Darth Nihilus esqe consumption of the galaxy including the Chiss is his goal and was his plan long before his death at Endor. This is beyond dispute at least with reference to the whole of the Legends texts.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-15 06:07am

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-15 05:37am
Palpatine in Legends is duping Thrawn, because Darth Nihilus esqe consumption of the galaxy including the Chiss is his goal and was his plan long before his death at Endor. This is beyond dispute at least with reference to the whole of the Legends texts.
I'm kinda surprised Vader wasn't aware of this situation, and wasn't dealing with it at all considering his presence on Byss to train kids. You'd think Vader would be against the idea of being force drained by his master, as that would be the end of him. Was Vader dealing with it? Or was planning on training Luke as his apprentice his big plan to stop the enslavement of the galaxy?

If not, if not even Palpatine's apprentice knew, how should Thrawn have known?
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-15 06:30am

My claim isn't that Thrawn knew the Chiss were going to get ate so he was an idiot.

My claim is that Palpatine left a slew of corpses of people who thought their species' special interests were considered by Palpatine.

Thrawn may have been blinded by his militaristic visions and his belief in strong leadershipTM (which he evidences in every incarnation) into thinking the same wouldn't happen to him that happened to Gunray, but the rational answer is not to trust the double Archtraitor...


In actual fact known to us the readers he was going to eat the Chiss (and everyone else) before the Vong arrived, so all his promises were worthless, and the Empire of the Hand would be knocked over in short order by the Byss based Empire with its multitude of superweapons letting Palpatine feed at his leisure.

The rational answer of not trust Palpatine one bit would it seems have been proven reliable if it weren't for those meddling Skywalkers.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-15 07:05am

Oh, I forgot, DESB says that Palpatine's operatives were responsible for Rukh learning of the fraudulent decon operation on Honoghr after its discovery, in order to eliminate Thrawn.

So. Palpatine did in fact betray Thrawn. No need for speculation.

He was a fool to trust the sith.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-15 02:00pm

If you wanted to make Thrawn something more than a dupe and a fool, I think the way to do it might be something like this:

-Thrawn is raised in the aristocracy of a the fairly isolationist Chiss society- this upbringing creates the foundations for his arrogance and authoritarian worldview. Upon discovering just how big, and dangerous, and chaotic and corrupt the larger galaxy is, Thrawn begins thinking about how to bring order to the galaxy, and decides to ally with Palpatine's Empire. At this point, Thrawn is legitimately idealistic, albeit in a fairly authoritarian way. He believes that the Empire will bring peace and security to the galaxy (as much of the galaxy did back in RotS), and while he may have some qualms about some of the Empire's more ruthless actions, he believes that the results are worth the price, maybe even that he can moderate the Empire's excesses. Maybe he even sees himself rising up the ranks, becoming a more benevolent successor to Palpatine (remember: arrogance). As time goes on, however, he is pressured to make more and more compromises, and his idealism slowly erodes. Maybe he simply learns to rationalize these things away as "necessary" for the "greater good". Or maybe he begins to realize that things are out of place: the lack of a clear chain of succession, the constant in-fighting, the Dark Side experiments... Slowly, he puts the pieces together- the Empire was not created to bring order to the galaxy. It was in fact designed, from its inception, to turn everyone into batteries/pawns for an immortal Dark Side demigod/fall apart the moment Palpatine died (depending on the scenario/which continuity we're dealing with). Maybe Thrawn even considers turning against Palpatine at some point, trying to put himself or another Imperial on the throne- only to conclude that he isn't good enough. However smart or careful he is, Palpatine is two steps ahead of him. His spies are everywhere. He can see what you're planning before it happens. There is no other Imperial the rest of the Empire could unite around, by design. Everything he has worked for is in vain, and he can either die, knowing that all the compromises were for nothing, or keep serving loyally, and tell himself that it was the only way.

By the time we meet him, Thrawn is a broken man inside, his ideals thoroughly ground into the dust, serving an Empire he knows deep down is monstrous, because he believes that there is no other choice. He sees only a choice between galactic chaos/genocide by the Vong, or eternal slavery, and chooses peace through slavery. His story thus becomes both a tragedy, but also a cautionary tale about making compromises with fascism in the name of a "greater good".

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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-15 02:28pm

Weren't Dark Empire and the Thrawn Trilogy released roughly about the same time? And Zahn kind of deliberately wrote TTT as rather minimalist because he didn't like the direction Kennedy and Veitch were going with DE?

I mean, I know that's out of universe and doesn't count for canon, but I dunno, maybe it's suggestive of what went into Thrawn's character in his original incarnation, that he's good enough that he doesn't NEED superweapons (ysalamiri and cloaks notwithstanding)?
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-15 02:31pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-15 02:28pm
Weren't Dark Empire and the Thrawn Trilogy released roughly about the same time? And Zahn kind of deliberately wrote TTT as rather minimalist because he didn't like the direction Kennedy and Veitch were going with DE?
Can't really fault Zahn there, to be honest.
I mean, I know that's out of universe and doesn't count for canon, but I dunno, maybe it's suggestive of what went into Thrawn's character in his original incarnation, that he's good enough that he doesn't NEED superweapons (ysalamiri and cloaks notwithstanding)?
One of Thrawn's most consistent traits as a commander, at least in his original trilogy, is that he tends to use older tech. in unfamiliar ways, rather than relying on new experimental superweapons.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-16 07:37am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-15 02:28pm
Weren't Dark Empire and the Thrawn Trilogy released roughly about the same time? And Zahn kind of deliberately wrote TTT as rather minimalist because he didn't like the direction Kennedy and Veitch were going with DE?

I mean, I know that's out of universe and doesn't count for canon, but I dunno, maybe it's suggestive of what went into Thrawn's character in his original incarnation, that he's good enough that he doesn't NEED superweapons (ysalamiri and cloaks notwithstanding)?
His original characterisation doesn't rustle my jimmies the same way later ones do, where he is not just a top tier naval commander but a special forces soldier par excellance and a co-conspirator of Palpatine from the start for whom the rank of Grand Admiral was invented as a cover story because he was so much better than all others.

You also can't say 'defend from the Vong' and then 'I don't like silly superweapons.'

The other thing that annoys me about the Thrawn-Vong defence is that it is often used as an argument to justify the Empire, and it needs statign every time that there would be no one defended from the Vong, there would only be Darth Nihilus II and his sith knights their immediate thralls, shooting the Vong with galaxy guns.
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-15 02:31pm
Can't really fault Zahn there, to be honest.
I can. If you haven't read DE it sounds super goofy. When you actually read it it is one of the few EU products that makes you go "THIS is Star Wars" right away. But Zahn was a professional and really ought to have stuck to the timeline he was given that his trilogy would happen after DE - which would obviate all of this. He didn't because he didn't want to have to reference it happening. All he needed to do was mention the rebuilding of Coruscant and a few things like that.

And that is how he got someone writing that the Reborn Emperor killed his Grand Admiral.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-16 06:03pm

...we'll have to agree to disagree on Dark Empire.

Star Destroyers aside, there was little about the series that particularly identified it as Star Wars to me. It could well have been some random French sci-fi tale from Metal Hurlant. The artwork was atrocious (particularly the noxious green and purple so prevalent throughout, making entire pages barely readable), the Emperor Reborn is little more than a cartoon caricature of the Sith Lord from the OT/PT, and Luke Skywalker oscillates from traitor to the Republic to conflicted Jedi Master wannabe with a fridged girlfriend, no less. Plus... steam-powered starships in a special star system, governed by an ex-Jedi who's been turned into a hovering volleyball.

Sorry, I have read Dark Empire, DE II, and Empire's End. It's pretty fucking goofy and was a shit direction to go. The basic idea of a Emperor Reborn, okay, I can live with, but Kennedy and Veitch were just absolutely the wrong people to give that to. Luke having a temporary fall to the Dark Side... is not really a direction I would go with the character, but it's possible. But the writing just wasn't great. I mean... compared to a lot of the EU, it was pretty average, but that's not saying much.

Mind you, part of the issues with it are actually Zahn's fault because he was supposed to set TTT *after* Dark Empire, which was supposed to happen more or less immediately after ROTJ. That mostly explains why Palpatine's forces around Byss are so powerful, he was keeping all the Imperial forces for himself... but with the reshuffling of the timeline that Zahn caused because he refused to play along (plus a number of other books that came out after TTT before the DE series was finished), canonically Dark Empire is this sort of 'lol Palpatine's back and he has ALL THE SHIPS, never mind that the Republic is winning up to this point' thing. It simply doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Never mind that if they had played it out as planned they would've had to explain how the Rebellion that -just- won at the DS2 is suddenly at Coruscant being kicked out by the Empire?

Zahn's writing is far more solid and well constructed. Yes, 20-30 years down the road, his trilogy suffered from constant additions to the canon changing the background of the events he depicted and altering our understanding of the character of Thrawn, but is that really his fault?

Also:
NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-16 07:37am
The other thing that annoys me about the Thrawn-Vong defence is that it is often used as an argument to justify the Empire, and it needs statign every time that there would be no one defended from the Vong, there would only be Darth Nihilus II and his sith knights their immediate thralls, shooting the Vong with galaxy guns.
You say that like it's a GOOD thing...
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-17 11:12am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-16 06:03pm
...we'll have to agree to disagree on Dark Empire.
Done.
Also:
You say that like it's a GOOD thing...
I say it because that is how the Emperor would perceive it.

Because ultimately the motivation for Thrawn wishing to defend his homeland from a terrible foe (TM) is crucially undermined by the fact that he knows all about Sidious, having been a conspirator of his in the Outbound Flight debacle.

Essentially by giving him a background that is as an intimate of the Emperor means he should not trust the Emperor. Good judge of character, friend of a Sith Lord, expects not to be betrayed - choose two.

I think the HTTE trilogy is one of the few truly memorable works of the Expanded Universe, but I think that Zahn's desire to make Thrawn intimate with the Emperor prior to the Galactic Empire undermines much of the value of him as a 'badass normie' which is part of his character in the original HTTE trilogy. He is no longer merely a very talented admiral who applies critical thinking to the issue of the Force. Instead he is now an early confidante of the Emperor who is also a special operations grade personal combatant (!) and founded his own huge empire (Vision).

By returning to the Thrawn well it makes him more and more capable and badass on each occasion, but also makes it more questionable that he trusts the Emperor to fulfil his pledges and promises.

Once he knows that his own employer is the Mastermind who betrayed the Confederacy of Independent Systems, why would he rely on that same man to protect the Chiss?

I keep going back to the Darth Nihilus element because it is positive proof that if the Emperor had won, the Chiss would not have been protected - dying to the Sith is not much different to dying to the Vong.

In short, two objections:
  1. Making Thrawn a confidante of Sidious undermines his 'badass normie' cred which is part of his original appeal.
  2. Making Thrawn a confidante of Sidious means he really should not trust the man.
These are both certainly Zahn's fault, but in fairness to him, writing more Thrawn stories is a living so I hardly resent or disapprove of him. But those stories make Thrawn's motivation into gross naiveté.

The greater distaste I have for the protect-the-galaxy-with-militarism idea is the way it is presented (and taken by the pro-Imperial fandom) as credible and true. It's not, militarism is dangerous, this is the theme of Star Wars and sadly it is sometimes necessary to resort to the anviliciously unsubtle argument of the Emperor Reborn to point out why this is so. Because people like cool Nazi uniforms and cool wedge starships. That's not Tim Zahn's fault, but Thrawn is a totem to a lot of imperial-apologist fans - "This one is reasonable. This one isn't evil. He has plans to save the galaxy from an immigrant threat with an alien culture, and the Republic could never have done that (quite deeply wrong!) therefore the Empire is... the only hope."

Thrawn's backstroy leads heavily into that perspective. Particularly for an uncritical reading. But then, that is the fault of the reader, not the writer.
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Re: Star Wars: Rebels

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-17 10:44pm

I think part of the issue is that during the Vong War, and plenty of examples before and after that, the New Republic as written, becomes a great example of why Democracy doesn't work. The Senate micromanages the war, nothing gets done unless our heroes act against the NR's wishes, millions die due to political incompetence, etc. As it stands, it seems that the only reason the common people of the galaxy should side with the NR instead of the GE, is that Palpatine was secretly planning on eating them all. It's one dark note in a sea of stories about why things are worse due to the Empire falling apart. If the multitude of EU material had given the New Republic a more flattering reputation, this wouldn't be as big an issue as it is in either Canon.

This is also why people side with Thrawn, because maybe Zahn would have had him pull some wacky 'Kill Palpatine by before he eats the universe by yadda yadda yadda' scheme. Because the alternative is 'Democracy is the only thing preventing you from being eaten by a dictator or killed by his lackies, but you'll still be killed by alien Jihadists'. Thrawn is the capable leader without the incompetence or the discrimination.

When we try and look for competence in the New Republic, it's always our plucky heroes, who because of narrative desire to always be at the action, can't become the ones who lead the New Republic correctly. Leia can't ever be Chancellor, Han can't ever be head of the military, and Luke, while head of the Jedi Order, always seems to be the one getting involved.

The needs of the story almost always advocate that the New Republic is about one crisis away from falling apart, and it's only due to the will of the force or just plain luck that they don't.

In the Disney EU, it's that things will just get worse, no matter what our heroes achieve, so I'm not sure that Disney improved on the theme.

Thrawn is the logical answer, because for whatever reason, our heroes can't be in charge.
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