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Star Wars : The Saga Concluded

The year is 1983. Fraggle Rock is airing on HBO. Michael Jackson has just introduced the moonwalk. M*A*S*H has aired it's final episode, setting a still unsurpassed record for most watched television episode. Return of the Jedi, the final entry in the Star Wars franchise, is in theaters. The year is 2005. The classic science fiction show Doctor Who has been revived and is airing new episodes on BBC One. The first ever YouTube video, entitled 'Me at the Zoo' is uploaded to the site. Pope John Paul II has died, drawing over four million mourners to the Vatican. He will soon be succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI. I have a crush on the girl in my math class, she is wildly uninterested. Revenge of the Sith, the final entry in the Star Wars franchise, is in theaters. The year is 2019. WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested. Avengers: Endgame is the highest grossing movie of the year and soon, with the help of a bait-loaded re-release, of all time. The former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been sentenced to life in prison. Plus thirty years, for good measure, I guess. The girl from my math class remains uninterested. And forty-two years later, The Rise of Skywalker, the final entry in the Star Wars franchise, is in theaters. But that's not all.The year is 2045. Lobot: A Star Wars Story has just made 2 billion Republic Credits at the box office. It is one of four Star Wars movies, two TV shows, one video game and half a dozen Star Wars comics to be released this year. Your mother is bedridden. She has been diagnosed with a terminal case of the Star Wars. You call the hospital, they have her hooked up to a Disney branded Darth Vader ventilator. You hear the hospital PA in the background. They are paging Dr. Aphra. According to those in the know, Star Wars was always supposed to be nine movies. No more, no less. George Lucas might argue that those nine movies go hand-in-hand with merchandising, but more likely he'd be far too busy with his four billion dollars to give a singular damn what nerds like me say about him on the internet. But these days, if you're just watching the movies, you're only getting half of the story. Or a third. Three-fifths? I dunno, my seventh grade math class clearly did a number on me. But it's easy math to call out The Rise of Skywalker as one part of a nine part saga. I've been fairly vocal about my opinion that there are only three truly good Star Wars movies, the rest falling on the range of middling to genuinely enjoyable. The Rise of Skywalker (TROS from here on out because initialisms save time and this article is already past deadline) has the unenviable job of having to close out both a four year old trilogy and a forty two year old saga. It even manages to do one of these admirably. Most of TROS' fumbles lie in its almost pathological need to undo everything that The Last Jedi put into the universe. Kylo Ren's temper tantrums and finger pointing carry over from his Junior Mouseketeer days to his new position as Supreme Leader, Snoke was apparently grown in a vat like old kimchi, and both Rey's arm and the legacy saber have been bandaged and are back in working order. While Palpatine's return delighted many fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago last April (I was one of them!), it felt a little out of place at best, and entirely contrived at worst.  That isn't to say that TROS doesn't have it's high points, I'd actually put it in my top three favorite films of the franchise. In my opinion, Star Wars is at its best when its about a ragtag group of friends zipping around the galaxy to take down fascist overlords, all of which TROS has in spades. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, the audience is put in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Finn, Poe, and Chewbacca as Poe "lightspeed skips,' a dangerous maneuver consisting of repeatedly jumping to hyperspace in rapid succession. This sequence is not only dope as fuck, but it sets the breakneck pace of the rest of the film. For the rest of the movie, you're always zipping off somewhere. Ahch-To. Exegol. Pasaana. Kef Bir. Choco Taco. Del Farto. Okay, I made those last two up, but you wouldn't know it from the sheer number of planets in this movie. As the end of a trilogy, this movie triumphs. Finn is Force sensitive! Rey makes her own lightsaber! Poe becomes a Resistance General! But as the end of a saga, TROS falls flat. Finn's Force sensitivity is not explored onscreen, Rey cannibalizes Luke and Leia's sabers before burying them in the Tatooine sand, and Poe's ascendance in rank comes at the cost  of the Resistance's current general, Leia Organa. But how could TROS possiibly live up to the hype? Star Wars is more than a franchise now -- it's a mythos as vast as space itself, spanning every conceivable form of media  Of course, even if I'd never heard of Star Wars, I'd have to be living under a rock to have not been swept up in the Baby Yoda hype. It's hard to believe that anyone with any semblance of a life has made it this far into the article, but for those few lost souls, I'll try to explain. Baby Yoda is to Star Wars fans what the Minions are to middle aged suburban moms everywhere. We can post his giant, glistening eyes on her Facebook and sit back, content in the knowledge that we've put some cuteness out into the world. Where we were promised Sergio Leone, Disney Plus's The Mandalorian quickly morphed into a wacky hodgepodge of For a Few Dollars More and Three Men and a Baby, with Pedro Pascal, Nick Nolte, and Taika Waititi. It's really only a matter of time before these three lose The Child (Baby Yoda's real name, as of now) to a drug dealer, or have to fly to another planet to stop a wedding. Again, that's not to say it isn't a good show, because it is. Not only that, it's arguably the first Star Wars property since the Disney acquisition that the fandom can agree on as a whole. I grew up playing Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (don't revisit this game, it does not hold up) at my friend's house, so seeing a live action Mandalorian use a wrist cable, flame thrower, and jet pack is just as fucking cool as it sounds. And with it's tie-ins to the prequels, the original trilogy, and even the Holiday Special, it seems like Favreau and company have really done something special. Last month's season finale was cool, but undoubtedly more so to fans of Cartoon Network's The Clone Wars. In a feat that not even Marvel Studios could pull off, in the Star Wars universe, it seems it truly is all connected. But maybe the screens, both big and small, aren't enough for you. Maybe like a sansanna spice addict, you've had one taste of that sweet, sweet space stuff, but you need to keep coming back for more. Well, EA and Respawn Entertainment have heard your sweaty, itchy prayers, nerds. Set five years after Episode III and nearly fifteen years before Episode IV, Jedi: Fallen Order follows former Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis as he is doggedly pursued throughout the galaxy in his quest to restore the Jedi Order. Fallen Order puts you in the driver's seat of the Star Wars universe, so to speak. In Star Wars video games, you tend to know what you're getting when you buy the title. You're always running and gunning, wheeling and dealing, flying and dying, Battlefront II really put the 'Wars' in 'Star Wars', letting you experience life as a grunt or a war hero, but just about any sci-fi franchise will let you pilot a starship or fire a blaster. When you buy a Star Wars game, it's the mystical mumbo jumbo of the Force that you want at your disposal. And sure, The Force Unleashed games turned the Force into a broken superpower, capable of pulling Star Destroyers out of the sky. But damn if it wasn't fun to mind control a bunch of troopers to leap to their doom, or lift them into the air, electrify them, and then throw them at their brothers in arms with such force that you could hear the armor crunch. Even Battlefront II recently released an update with TROS skins, so you can feel that you're part of the action. Personally, I just updated my profile, and sent my boy FN-2187 on a twenty-four person kill streak, all while wearing a spiffy new vest. Fallen Order gives you a few familiar characters and settings, but it's main goal is to tell a new story, not tethered by or to any of the existing trilogies. And it's a good story -- as you play through the game, certain events trigger memories of your Jedi training, allowing you to unlock new and more powerful Force abilities in a much less sexy version of The Long Kiss Goodnight. The gameplay is pretty intuitive, taking cues from the Arkham series of games. Combat and movement flow beautifully in a fairly open-world environment, even if the game sometimes freezes briefly to catch itself up. Performances from Cameron Monaghan and Debra Wilson help ground the story, and while five planets may seem like the tip of the interstellar iceberg, I'm aware that video games only have so much data. Memory. RAM? Look, I don't pretend to be an expert.  Much like the Arkham games, most of the fun of Fallen Order lies in the story, and once you beat it, the continued game has little to no replay value, outside of exploring the planets for chests, which unlock cosmetic changes to your ship, saber, droid, and... sigh poncho. But with over a thousand possible color and configuration combinations for your lightsaber alone, you'll be slashing up Purge Troopers and giant monsters for most of the game's 60+ hour runtime (admittedly that number may be a little off, I got lost in the tunnels beneath Zeffo for a very long time).  But maybe even that is not enough.Maybe you love Star Wars. Like, reeeallly love it. Maybe you love Star Wars too much to just consume the media, but not enough to kill yourself on Facebook live at Skywalker Ranch. Star Wars by proxy isn't enough anymore and it's eight months until the next Celebration. Luckily, Disney has you covered. Sure, they wiped out the Extended Universe that you loved so much, but hey. It was bad anyway, and Disney knows what's best for us. At the very least, they're one of the only companies on Earth that could bring us Galaxy's Edge, a fourteen acre Star Wars wonderland. Galaxy's Edge drops parkgoers into Black Spire Outpost, a seedy settlement (briefly alluded to in Solo: A Star Wars Story) on the backwater planet of Batuu. But don't let Batuu's proximity to the Outer Rim fool you, it's not unusual to see Rey, Chewbacca, or Kylo Ren wandering around the outpost, the latter usually accompanied by a squad of First Order Stormtroopers.  While the two available rides (Rise of the Resistance had just opened when I visited) leave a little to be desired. Batuu is no small feat. If anything, it should serve as proof that Disney has enough money to create a small planet. The main attraction at Galaxy's Edge seems to be the Millennium Falcon, a recreation of the famous ship so life sized that you can seat eight people at it's iconic Dejarik table and it takes nearly five full minutes to exit it's winding corridors after the ride is over. If you're lucky, you may even get to fly the infamous hunk of junk, piloting the Falcon and your team of gunners and engineers to a successful heist in Smuggler's Run. I speak from experience when I say that activating the hyperdrive and pushing the Falcon to lightspeed is something every nerd should experience at least once in their life. But be careful! Your performance affects your status in the park. Do well, and you may find yourself with some extra credits to spend at the Cantina, Do poorly and you'll find yourself on a bounty hunter's list!  But if flying isn't your bag, take a stroll around the Marketplace. Batuu is meant to be explored. From the the A and X-Wings parked carefully around the park to the Aurebesh scrawled into the Cantina walls, Galaxy's Edge feels like a backwater waystation would. While grabbing a blue milk from the Milk Stand or a holocron from Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities, it's easy to feel as if the 135 foot black spires from which the outpost takes its name are actually the giant remains of a petrified forest, and not just massive partitions to keep you from seeing Frontierland and the rest of the park. As you wander, an original John Williams score is mixed in with the ambient sounds of Batuu. You can hear the droids whistling and beeping in Mubo's Droid Depot, where you can build and purchase your own custom droid. Porgs chirp across the way at Bina's Creature Stall. In the center of town lies Oga's Cantina. Oga kind of runs Black Spire and this is her place, so be on your best behavior (if you banged up the Falcon earlier, this is where you're most likely to run into someone looking to collect a bounty). But if you're not looking for any trouble this is the best place in the galaxy to kick back with a Fuzzy Tauntaun and enjoy the not-always-smooth stylings of DJ R3X, formerly Captain Rex of Star Tours. You see, besides being the best place to lay low after a job gone wrong, Oga's is the first location to serve alcohol to the Disney-going public, though if you ask the people at the Milk Stall nicely, they'll have no problem spiking your Bantha brew.  So, you've flown the Falcon, had yourself a Ronto Wrap, and toured the galaxy with C-3PO. If you don't feel like going home empty handed, and you have a few hundred extra credits to spend, you'll no doubt find yourself in Savi's Workshop. There, you can choose between different hilts and crystals to build the custom saber of your dreams. I won't spoil the process, because it's pretty damn special, but that first moment of ignition makes it all worth it.  George Lucas created the Galaxy Far Far Away and with it, a galaxy of ideas. Lightsaber. The Force. Gonk Droid. Domnhall Gleeson. These are all gibberish without the work of George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Ralph McQuarrie, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, and a hundred other like minded individuals. Thanks to those lucky few, millions of us have a place to call home, Their legacy has left us with a multi-billion dollar franchise, priceless memories, and a mantra that unites millions of us across the globe, and maybe even across the galaxy --  May the Force Be With You. Terrance Crawford 1.19.20