After what I felt was a pretty dull misfire last week, this week’s “Trespass” was a really wonderful bottle story about imperialism, the true role of the Jedi, and the brutality of war.
Arrogance diminishes wisdom
1. A different setting
While there is certainly precedent for having a snowy Star Wars adventure, this show, thus far, has stuck to deep space and warm climate planets. The visual differentiation is a nice touch, as it also helps set this episode apart from the rest of the series, to a degree. This episode really is a totally stand alone episode, with only the most basic understanding of the Star Wars universe to fully understand. I believe the only character that a non-regular viewer may be unaware of is Rex, and he’s pretty easy to grasp.
Plus, as my friend Ed Kelly used to say, winter jackets look great on screen.
2. Bureaucratic nonsense
This episode had a high level of bureaucracy, and all of it fell into one of two categories. I’m calling the first category “prequel shit,” and the second category “good shit.”
On the “prequel shit” side, the episode begins with a dull as cardboard conversation about jurisdiction, and who is really in charge in a situation. This is an important scene, as it sets up the conflict that gets resolved at the end of the episode, but it borders dangerously close to trade federations and blockades and all the other stuff that made The Phantom Menace super boring.
On the “good shit” side, this episode, perhaps more than anything else in the Star Wars canon, gives the viewer an understanding of how the Republic actually works. We see volatility between the senate and those who rule the systems themselves, we see the role of the Jedi clearly explained, and we see how all of that is an imperfect fit.
3. Jedi as keepers of peace
Yes, this was just the name of a prior episode, but this episode – and I sound like a broken record, I know – more than any other really shows just what that actually means. We see Anakin and Obi-Wan (well, really only Obi-Wan) negotiate with a species that doesn’t share a common language, and truly stick their necks out for peace. Even when war seems inevitable, Obi-Wan tells the clones to protect Chi Cho at all costs, but not to engage.
For dudes who walk around with weapons on their person, it can seem a little odd to call them peacekeepers, but this shows just what that actually looks like. We usually see things that are either further progressed, and therefore calling for violent force, or we see the Jedi surprised, and reacting instinctually. I would argue that if their first instinct is violence then, perhaps, they’re not the finest peacekeepers around, but that’s a conversation for another day. Here, we see them placed in an incredibly volatile situation and, if everyone had listened to them, it would’ve been resolved peacefully.
4. The Empire’s roots
Chi Cho’s attitude and characterization make it very easy to see how the Empire could have taken power and held it for so long in this universe. Cho is an imperialist who thinks himself better than other creatures, and who values his people over everything else. While pride in our backgrounds is obviously not an inherently bad thing, you need look no further than the rise of nationalism around the world to see how dangerous it can be.
While the Empire’s beliefs and tactics are not explicitly stated, it is clear that it is a totalitarian organization, and pitted folks against each other. This shows how the seeds for that were sewn years earlier.
5. Brutality of war
Two sides, neither of whom really want to be fighting, neither of whom have any real vested interest in destroying each other, save for one man, are engaged in battle. And people die. Lots of people die. This is one of the most violent and, in a way, needlessly violent, episodes of the series, and it stings a lot. It’s such an effective episode in so many ways, and really continues to show what the prequels could have been, if someone other than George Lucas had been at the helm.