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ImPALPable Tensions: How Darths and Droids Fixed the Star Wars Sequels' Worst Plot Twist


Lorekitten

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This entry contains spoilers for Darths and Droids' sequel trilogy chapters. Obviously.

Spoiler

So recently in my YouTube feed a video popped up titled "We Need More Political Superheroes," and while that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad statement, the thumbnail had the text "F**k Subtext" in it, and I took personal issue with that. While there is a time and place to be explicit with your point, there is also a time and place to be subtle with it, and it largely depends on the context. You hit people over the head with a point they find offensive, and they'll be almost certain to react as if you've just hit them over the head with a point they find offensive. But when you make them think about what you're saying by leading them down a trail of breadcrumbs while engaging them as an audience, you may have a better chance of opening their eyes to a point they wouldn't have considered normally.

And on the subject of trails of breadcrumbs in fiction, let's talk Darths and Droids!

I've mentioned in a previous article how I wasn't the biggest fan of Darths' take on the sequel trilogy. I won't go into all of that here, but I will say that rereading the sequel trilogy has given me new appreciation for the Comic Irregulars doing what they've been doing all along and building a work that only improves upon rereading. As it turns out, I didn't recognize a lot of the good stuff within the sequel trilogy until I reread it as a series rather than as a thrice-weekly episodic webcomic. In fairness, part of my apathy towards Darths' sequel trilogy could have been an unfortunate side effect of my own physical and mental health issues affecting my enjoyment of... a lot of things, really. Suffice to say that while the sequels still tick all the same boxes as Darths' earlier work -- recurring characters, interplayer drama, and incorporation of unnecessarily 'accurate' scientific explanations for a space opera TTRPG (I put 'accurate' in quotes because it's Star Wars and it's never going to be fully scientifically accurate, no matter how many hoops the Comic Irregulars jump through to try to prove otherwise) -- it didn't seem to have the same spark anymore, at least from my perspective at the time. It just felt like the story had reached a natural ending point at the end of the original trilogy and then kept going regardless.

Then, on Thursday, June 20, 2024, we got a bombshell.

But first off, some context. In Episode 1936, Nute Gunray (who in Darths has had his consciousness uploaded to a computer after his 'death' in the third 'movie' and is now leading the First Order) states that his bases on Caldota and Courtsirius were destroyed fifty years ago. (I'm guessing that Caldota and Courtsirius were actually taken from Star Wars lore somewhere, but if I bothered to look them up on a wiki I'd probably waste way too much time lore-diving and this article wouldn't be out on time. Which is ironic because this article wasn't put out on time anyway.)

In Episode 1982, General Hux reveals that the second Peace Moon, aka the rebuilt Forest Moon of Endor, aka the REAL Peace Moon that the heroes were supposed to destroy at the end of the original trilogy, is now operational, and that its Cataclysm Beam is set to destroy the capital of the New Republic in the Chandrila System. In Episode 1985, Snoke mentions Galen Erso, an Imperial weapons developer NPC that played a major role in the campaign based on Rogue One, who of course is long dead by now and who also was a traitor to the Empire the entire time. These are both traits of his canon counterpart, but unlike his canon counterpart, the Darths version of Galen Erso had some sort of unhealthy obsession with PowerPoint presentations.

All of this is important, I promise you. Well, important to the context of the article, which admittedly is an article about a plot twist in a screencap comic reinterpreting the Star Wars movies as a TTRPG, so consider that as important as you like. (Okay, so the PowerPoint part wasn't actually important, I just wanted to bring it up.)

In Episode 2038, the Cataclysm Beam is fired, aimed at the Chandrila System of course. But as Pete says in Episode 2040, it's impossible for the beam to hit a target 90 light years from the Peace Moon instantaneously, yet alone have the explosion be immediately visible on a planet 43 light years away like we see when it goes off. The GM doesn't reveal anything then, but in Episode 2098, it's revealed that several planets used to exist between Endor and Takodana, including Caldota and Courtsirius. In Episode 2099, Pete puts it all together and realizes that the Cataclysm Beam actually goes backward in time, and that while the First Order intended to destroy the New Republic's bases, they actually unintentionally destroyed Nute Gunray's own bases instead. Meaning that the GM actually got to pull off one of their plans for once without the players unintentionally derailing the whole thing. (Yet.)

As Episode 2102 shows, this was all Galen Erso's fault, as he made the beam travel backwards in time so his superiors could see the effects of his weapon immediately rather than having to wait a good many years for the light to reach them. This may have also been influenced by the fact that his superiors were evil villains who largely believed in the philosophy of 'you have outlived your usefulness'... although inevitably even that didn't save Galen Erso from that very thing, but that's another story.

In addition, throughout all this there are snippets of roleplay where time itself seems to warp around the players, sometimes ominously and sometimes to keep the plot from going off the rails. (Which, spoiler alert, it does quite frequently in this series.) It's highly probable that there's some overarching reason behind each and every specific instance because this is Darths and Droids, but we aren't yet far enough in the current series to know how it all pans out. I fully expect a few plot twists along the way that let us reread the series with a new perspective and understand more of what was going on all along, even if most mostly improvised TTRPG campaigns usually aren't quite this coherent (although that could be perception bias).

And then Episode 2481 dropped and we got this exchange:

Quote

 

General Phasma: Ah, the unerring appositeness of brute force, a hammer for every thorn in the side!

General Hux: Glad you agree.

General Phasma: Yet there are horrors that creep silently out of unknown gulfs of time, mocking the very concept of brutality.

General Hux: Speak plainly, Phasma!

General Phasma: Feign not ignorance. You know of what I proclaim.

General Phasma: Had something been groping blindly through time from some unsuspected abyss near Niima?

General Hux: Don’t mention that! We found nothing there.

General Phasma: Nothing? Or something too impalpable for mortal minds to comprehend?

 

Let that sink in a moment.

In the official Star Wars sequel trilogy, there was never any good reason for Palpatine to return. It was just pasted in to give Rise of Skywalker something that remotely resembled a plot -- and barely even just. But in Darths and Droids, they've been leading up to this from the start of the sequel trilogy, which was considerably more than we got in the official version. (To be fair, the Darths version already had the original sequel trilogy to work with, and has consistently been run by the same people. Of COURSE it would be more coherent. Although with Star Wars, 'coherent' might be relative.) Time distortions are naturally a part of the plot. Palpatine existed in the past. Therefore, the time distortions are how suddenly, Palpatine returns.

After reading that strip, my brother literally came down to my room to tell me how awesome a plot twist it was. He doesn't do this often. He's a pretty big media critic sometimes, but he can definitely appreciate a well-executed plot element, and this one warranted him personally telling me how great it was because our interests don't overlap in very many places, but we both love Darths and Droids and we can both appreciate all the things it does right.

Now I'm waiting to see what else the Comic Irregulars have left to reveal. And these are the Comic Irregulars we're talking about. I'm sure the hidden, hinted-at secrets have only just begun.

I'm just wondering how they're going to salvage the dumpster fire that was Rise of Skywalker.

Update: Recent allegations have surfaced claiming that the secret ingredient in Gardelade's Booster Energy Drinks is not Murkrow, but Smurf. Gardelade herself denies all charges, claiming that harvesting Smurfs would be a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act, and at any rate she doesn't believe in Smurfs. Upon further questioning, she admitted that since she is from the future, perhaps in her timeline all the Smurfs are already extinct, thus justifying their protection under the Endangered Species Act and explaining why she doesn't believe in them. At the time of this posting, the Smurfs have declined to comment, possibly because they don't believe in Gardelade either. Please share this article with your friends to raise awareness of Smurf exploitation.

(Special thanks to @Maple Syrupfor inspiring this plot development)

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