Chewie Chewie

Kashyyyk, home of the Wookiees. It was featured in the Star Wars Holiday Special, and slated to make an appearance in Return of the Jedi before it was replaced with the Forest Moon of Endor. Fans had been dying to see it for years. They finally got their wish in 2005, where the planet features heavily in Revenge of the Sith.

Also featured was the unexpected return of Chewbacca, reprised by Peter Mayhew. His role was little more than a cameo, but it served as another way to connect the Clone Wars to the Galactic Civil War.

Of course, as we’ve learned, some people aren’t as easily pleased. Many have viewed Chewie’s appearance as not only useless pandering, but as causing major continuity problems. They say it makes absolutely no sense that a decorated military strategist that hobnobs with Yoda would ever drop to become a lowly sidekick to a space outlaw.

I’ll admit, the movies themselves give us very little, but it didn’t have to. The point may in fact have been to emphasize how bad things got under the Empire that a young warrior has to become a criminal to survive.

That hasn’t stopped people from claiming that, because they can’t figure it out, Lucas and the filmmakers are at fault. I’m sure the Expanded Universe has an entire detailed timeline, but I don’t know it and the argument that nobody should need to in order to make sense of things has validity. Other so-called “apologists” have come up with convoluted theories to possibly explain the “discrepancy,” but they all suffer from complexity addiction.

Actually, I think the explanation is extremely simple if you take two things into account.

  • 1. As stated before, the Empire is extremely anti-alien. This is handled extremely subtly in the films despite the filmmakers stating it more than one. For instance, look at the reaction Chewie himself gets in the Death Star detention level. Or consider the fact that the Rebel Alliance is extremely diverse while the Imperial forces are all humans. The line from Return of the Jedi regarding Shuttle Tyderium: “I don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her, Chewie.” I’ve spoken before about the significance of the Separatist Leaders save Dooku being alien species. Finally, after Order 66, the Clone Troopers are seen rounding up the neutral Utapauns and implied to be searching for live Wookiees to process.

  • 2. When I was a kid, there were two huge Star Wars rumors that circulated in the schoolyard that was supposedly canon. The first was naturally the classic “Vader fell in a volcano” meme that Revenge of the Sith ended up delivering spectacularly, but only slightly less well-known was this: Han Solo met Chewbacca when the former freed the latter from slavery, causing Chewie to pledge a life-debt to Han just as Jar Jar would to Qui-Gon later (later, of course, meaning I heard this rumor well before The Phantom Menace was released, hence why that exchange never had the unfortunate implications for me that it did for some others).

With this in mind, the storyline is easy enough to extrapolate. The Empire made non-humans second-class citizens at best and slave labor at worst. Chewie was captured after helping Yoda escape and was put to work, where Han rescued him and the two have been a pair ever since. Simple, makes enough sense, and even goes to prove that Han did have a heart of gold before ever getting mixed up with the Rebellion (and Chewie probably served as an external conscience on more than one occasion).

Of course, Disney will probably have to make a spin-off dealing with just that to make certain hardcore haters even begin to consider this, and even then they’d be loath to give Lucas and his team any credit. Ah well, C’est la vie.

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Adam lives with his wife in Providence, Rhode Island USA (a wife who was gracious enough to allow “Across the Stars” as their wedding processional). Adam plays World of Warcraft, writes and manages the self-indulgent blog “Nilbog’s Storybook Land”, and attempts (often in vain) to complete his novel. He secretly hopes that the production of the new Star Wars films will lead to open auditions.