Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Gunpowder & Lead editor Jimmy Sky, though really all credit goes to his sons Kid A & Creep.
My eldest son has reached the age of seven. The age at which I determined it was my solemn duty as a father to teach him the ways of the Force (minus the part where I have to lop off a hand). Conveniently, I had this epiphany going into a long weekend while my wife was out of town.
I was pretty tortured about how best to approach this. I have two boys, seven and four, who have, for the purpose of the Internet, been nicknamed Kid A (7-yo) and Creep (4-yo). I say that I was tortured, because like most people with a functioning cortex, I really, really disliked the prequels. However, I recognize that they are now canon and since my kids had already watched some of the Clone Wars cartoon, I didn’t really feel like I could completely excise the prequels.
However, I did decide to utilize something called ‘Machete Order’ for viewing. There is a much longer post on Machete Order here, but the basics are that you watch the series in this order:
1)A New Hope (Episode IV)
2)The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V)
3)Attack of the Clones (Episode II)
4)Revenge of the Sith (Episode III)
5)Return of the Jedi (Episode VI)
If you know anything at all about trilogies and multiplication, you will quickly see that this cuts out one entire movie. However, since it is the one with Jar Jar Binks, the Midichlorians, the Virgin Birth, and the Pod-racing Jake Lloyd, it didn’t seem like much of a loss. At some point in the future I’ll show them The Phantom Menace and they can watch it with the same sense of bewilderment and betrayal that I felt upon watching The Star Wars Christmas Special.
While part of my motivation in showing them these movies was to be able to share a formative experience from my own childhood, I also wanted to monitor their reaction to the movies upon seeing them for the first time and interview them on some of the places where I thought they may have “unique insights.” I let them watch the whole movie, without much pausing and then jumped back through the movie to gauge their reaction, especially from a military and policy perspective.
Creep was in and out of the room for both the movie and the post-movie interview portion, so his participation was substantially less than Kid A’s.
Sky: So how does the movie start?
Kid A (7-yo): Darth Vader’s ship and the Princess’s Ship are going past.
Sky: Which ship is the princess’s and which is Darth Vader’s?
Kid A: The big one is Darth Vader’s cruiser and it’s big cuz it was built for war because it has to have all the things for people to live on, for like, a thousand people. The smaller one wasn’t built for war; it is like an escape ship.
Sky: An escape ship? What is it escaping from?
Kid A: A big cruiser. Duh.
Sky: What happens in the first scene where Darth Vader comes onto Princess Leia’s ship?
Kid A: The good guys are not gonna win. They don’t have any kind of armor and the clone troopers…
Kid A …[annoyed pause] The stormtroopers have all kinds of armor, so they can get shot and not get hurt. They only thing the other guys have…
Sky: The Rebels?
Kid A: Yeah, ok. The only thing the Rebels have is that silly helmet. It looks like it could maybe protect your head from a rock or something, but nothing else. Plus, they just look like scared old guys.
Plus, the clone troopers…
Kid A…[sigh]….They look big and tough and they have good armor and good guns.
Sky: So, who won that first battle? Why?
The stormtroopers, because the rebels weren’t prepared. The bad guys have like, a regular army. The good guys just have just a team, kinda. Plus, I think the bad guys had better training. They just beat like, a thousand of the good guys and they only had like 5.
Sky: Ok, so what do you think of Darth Vader?
Kid A: He is super tough and super awesome. He has better training. He is like the ultimate storm trooper.
Sky: What does Princess Leia give to R2D2? Why?
Kid A: She gives him secret plans to the Death Star. She gave them to him because the bad guys can’t track robots, because they use fingerprints to track people and R2D2 doesn’t have fingers.
Creep (4-yo): Yeah, and C3PO doesn’t have a way to put it in his body and R2 has, like, a DVD player and that’s where she put the secret message.
Sky: What is Darth Vader doing here?
Kid A: I think he was trying to find out where the plans are. He tried to get him to talk by choking him, but it’s really hard to talk when someone’s choking you and then the guy died. So…that didn’t seem to work very well.
Sky: Why are R2D2 and C3PO leaving on the escape pod?
Kid A: R2 has the secret message and he doesn’t want to get caught or it would be all over and it would be a really short movie.
Sky: If Darth Vader wanted you to tell him where the plans were what would you do?
Creep: I’d take my light saber and I’d…[this is followed by a 30 second light saber pantomime sequence complete with sound effects]
Sky: What if you didn’t have a light saber?
[Creep thinks for about 4 seconds] I’d swing around behind him and grab Darth Vader’s lightsaber and…(here there is another 30 second light saber sequence with completely different moves and sound effects)
Sky: What if you couldn’t get Darth Vader’s light saber?
Creep: I’d tell them they were on…THE DEATH STAR. That would confuse them.
Kid A: There are lots of planets in the universe. I would just make up the name of a planet. That would confuse them for a little bit.
[There is kind of a lull in the movie here where C3PO and R2D2 land on Tattoine, separate and are both captured by Jawas. They also introduce Luke Skywalker and his aunt and uncle. R2 escapes to find Obi-wan Kenobi and Luke has to follow him. When we watched the first time, Creep got bored and went upstairs to play with Legos]
Sky: How did R2 get the restraining bolt off?
Kid A: He tricked Luke into taking it off by telling him he would replay the video of Princess Leia, but he doesn’t, so I think that he is pretty much smarter than Luke.
Sky: What do you think about Luke Skywalker?
Kid A: He is cool once he gets a lightsaber,
Sky: What about before?
Kid A: Not cool. He is just like any dumb teenager.
Sky: What does Luke think about the rebellion?
Kid A: Awesome, because they are the good guys. He wants to be one of them, but a flyer guy with a light saber. Not one of the guys in the blue shirt that just gets shot by stormtroopers.
Sky: What does Luke think of princess Leia in the hologram?
Beautiful, but I think, YUUUGH. (in unison) [Creep has wandered back in by this point]
Sky: What do you think about Obi-wan Kenobi?
Kid A: He is way cooler than Luke. He just did a crazy voice and something with his arms and he made those guys [the Tusken Raiders] disappear.
Creep: Obi-wan Kenobi was his name, like when he was in battle and stuff. When he is just an old guy they had to change it to ‘Ben.’
Kid A: He says that he fought in the Clone Wars with Luke’s father. Wait, how does Obi-wan end up with Luke’s father’s light saber?
Sky: …uhh….there are 5 movies, I think that is in one of the other ones. Anyway, what do you think of the lightsaber?
Kid A: Awesome, but probably just for fighting another guy with a light saber. If you had to fight a guy with a gun I think you’d have a hard time.
Sky Which is the better weapon?
Kid A: Blaster is better because you don’t have to get close to them. …
Creep: The best thing to do if you are going to get shot is to duck. Its not like anyone could block shots with a lightsaber. That’s just impossible.
Kid A: Wait, when can we see Jango Fett? He is awesome because he throws these bombs and he has a jet pack and a missile that he fires out of his jetpack [they have deduced this all from playing Lego Star Wars]
Sky: He is not in this one.
Kid A: Ok, he may be the only person cooler than Darth Vader.
[I have to bite my tongue here to avoid explaining that Jango Fett is just a pathetic attempt to capitalize on the popularity of a character from the original series and that shoehorning him into the prequels was a huge mistake.]
Sky: What does Luke say when Obi-wan asks him to come with him to rescue the princess?
Kid A: Luke is saying that he can’t go save the princess because he has to do his chores. Wait, that is a really bad reason.
Creep: Did Luke just say he was going to go be a farmer instead of learning to be a Jedi? That is really dumb. [Creep likes to copy his older brother]
[At this point the movie cuts back to a staff meeting on the Death Star with a dozen grey suited officers seated around a circular black table. Darth Vader comes in with Grand Moff Tarkin, late apparently. NOTE: This is how all staff meetings start.]
Sky: So who are these guys sitting around the table?
Kid A: They’re bad guys too, but not like the stormtroopers. They don’t do real fighting, I think they just argue at meetings and stuff. The stormtroopers do all the work. Oh, and these guys are the ones who decide what planets need to be blown up.
Sky: What do you think about the stuff on their unjiforms?
Kid A: I guess that is their rank and stuff?
Sky: Yeah, the blue and red squares show what rank they are.
Kid A: Ohhh…so they are all officers, right?
Kid A: You were an officer, right? [I realize here that I just tipped my hand as to what most of my military career consisted of]
Sky: So, who is the boss of the Death Star? [This was something that confused me as a kid]
Kid A: That other guy with Darth Vader, the old man [Grand Moff Tarkin]
Sky: Good. How do you know he is in charge?
Kid A: Because he is the oldest, by a long, long way.
[I should also point out that the first time we watched this he immediately recognized Tarkin from @brettfriedman’s avatar]
Sky: What did Darth Vader do at the meeting?
Kid A: He Force choked that guy that was saying that they needed to use the Death Star and making fun of the force. That guy was stupid. Making fun of the Force is a really bad idea.
[At this point it cuts back to the stormtroopers searching Tatooine for the missing drioids]
Sky: What did the stormtroopers do back on Luke’s planet?
Kid A: Blew up that big tank thing [Jawa Sand Crawler] and killed his aunt and uncle. Now he is all alone. Well, except for R2 and C3PO and that old guy [Obi-wan Kenobi]…and in a few minutes the hairy guy and Han Solo… and then they go and get the princess, so I guess not really all alone.
Sky: How do they get past the stormtroopers looking for the droids?
Kid A: He uses the force to make them confused.
Creep: Actually, he didn’t use the force, he just didn’t say their names right, so they didn’t know they were the ones they were looking for. He said, like R-THREE-D2 and C-FOUR-PO.
Sky: What do you think about Mos Eisley?
Kid A: There are a lot of crazy aliens and everybody seems to want to start fights. It seems like it would be hard to stay open when people are getting killed all the time.
Sky: What happened with Han and Greedo?
Kid A: I guess Han didn’t deliver something that he was supposed to and somebody sent the green guy…
Kid A:…yea, Greedo, to kill Han, unless Han gives him some money or something. So, Han figures out that Greedo is going to kill him and he kind of sneaky takes his gun out and then Han shots him right as Greedo is getting ready to shoot.
Sky: So Han shot first?
Kid A: Uhhh…yeah.
Sky: Exactly. Han shot first.
Kid A: …Ok….
Sky: I just want to make sure that we are perfectly clear on the fact that Han shot first and it wasn’t some kind of ‘Greedo shot and when he missed, Han shot back’ because at that range, you’d have to be the first person to shoot or there would be no way to react fast enough, because this is precisely the kind of situation where a preemptive strike is not only justified, but necessary…
Kid A: Dad, you’re being weird about this. Can you just unpause it?
[Cuts back to a scene where the stormtroopers are going house to house looking for the droids, but they skip the houses with locked doors. This is one of the few scenes that I did not remember prior to rewatching.]
Sky: Why do the stormtroopers not search the houses where the doors are locked?
Creep: Because you never know if the person inside has a gun. If you go in somebody’s front door that’s locked, you have to expect you are going to get shot. [Can you tell my kids have grown up in Texas?]
Sky: What do you think of the Millennium Falcon?
Kid A: Well, Luke thinks it is a piece of junk, but its not really because it can go past lightspeed. That is like 1000/mph [Its actually 186,282 miles per SECOND, so I’m a little disappointed in the Loudoun County school district’s first grade curriculum]
Creep: He [Han] is smart. He knows that he can’t fight the cruisers, so he just runs, but its ok because he knows the best time to attack someone is when they aren’t paying attention.
Sky: What do you mean?
Creep: You know, at the end, he shoots Darth Vader from behind when he isn’t paying attention. That’s the best time to attack.
Sky: What do Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader want Princess Leia to tell them? How do they get her to tell them what they want?
Kid A: They want to know where the Rebel base is so that they can go and get their secret plans back for the Death Star, but I guess Princess Leia is pretty good at keeping a secret, because they already tried that black ball thing [Interrogation Droid] with the needle on the side and she still didn’t tell them.
Sky: So how do they get her to tell them?
Kid A: They say that they are going to blow up her planet unless she tells them and it has like, 3,000 people on it, so she goes ahead and tells them where the base is.
Sky: Basically, they gave her a choice, but neither one was very good, right?
Kid A: Yea and then after she told them where the base was, they still blew up her planet.
Sky: Why do you think they did that?
Kid A: I don’t think they were ever not going to blow up her planet. If you have a laser that can blow up a planet, you are probably going to want to use it at least once.
Kid A: The thing is, she kinda tricked them because she didn’t tell them where the secret base actually was, she just told them where some old base was.
[In case you don’t remember, Princess Leia did actually lie to Tarkin. She said the base was on Dantooine and it was really on Yavin]
Sky: Is it ok that she lied?
Kid A: In a war I think you probably have to lie all the time.
[The ‘Let the Wookie Win’ scene of R2D2 and Chewbacca playing holochess on the Millennium Falcon was a favorite. We rewatched it 3 or 4 times.]
Sky: Who is winning that game that R2 and Chewbacca are playing?
Kid A: It seems like R2 must be winning because Chewbacca is getting really mad.
Sky: What does C3PO say when this happens? What does Han Solo say?
Kid A: C3PO tries to explain to Chewbacca that he shouldn’t be mad because R2 is playing fair and as long as everybody plays fair then there is no reason for anybody to get mad.
…but, Han Solo says that Chewbacca doesn’t really care about playing fair and that when he loses, he sometimes pulls people’s arms off.
Sky: Then what does C3PO say?
Kid A: He says, “Let the Wookiee win.” Because R2D2 doesn’t really have arms and he’s afraid that Chewbacca will pull his arms off instead.
Sky: So once they get pulled into the Death Star, how do they get off of the Millennium Falcon without getting caught.
Kid A: Well, first they hid in some hiding spaces inside the ship and since they knew that the stormtroopers were pretty dumb they thought that they would think the ship was flying itself or something.
Sky: Ok, but how did they get off the ship?
Kid A: They had some Stormtroopers guarding the ship and they tricked them into coming on board and then they knocked them out and stole their costumes.
Sky: Seems like a pretty good idea. Then what happens?
Kid A: The old guy [at this point, I’ve kind of given up on them using proper names] goes to shut off the Uni-beam…
Sky: [but I couldn’t let this one go] Uh…Tractor Beam
Kid A: No…I’m pretty sure it was called a Uni-beam…
Sky: No, the Uni-beam is what Iron Man shoots out of his chest.
Kid A: Dad [exasperated] Iron Man is not in this movie….Anyway, the old guy goes to shut off the thingie-that-pulled-them-into-the-ship so they can get away and Luke and Han pretend like they caught Chewbacca so they can get nearby Princess Leia without getting caught. That is a kinda good plan, but I’d want to go around the other way. It’s a pretty smart plan, but maybe not the best plan.
Sky: Really? What do you think would be a better plan?
Kid A: Why are you asking me, its not like I know my way around the Death Star.
[Princess Leia Rescue and Escape Scene]
Sky: What do you think about Princess Leia?
Kid A: She’s not my favorite, but she is kinda cool…for a girl [From a 7-yo boy, this is probably the closest thing you are going to get to an endorsement of a girl]
What do you think about Luke and Han’s plan to rescue Princess Leia?
Kid A: Well, after they rescued her they escaped through the garbage disposal. That seems like a pretty bad plan.
Sky: So, who do you think is in charge when they are escaping?
Kid A: I think that Leia thinks that she is in charge. I don’t think she is, but Han and Luke don’t seem to want to tell her that she isn’t.
Kid A: So, how many words are in that thing you are writing now?
Sky: Over 3,000.
Kid A: Wow. I didn’t know I could say that much.
Sky: [I’m trying to get them to focus on the aspects of the rescue plan]. Can you think of anything else about their rescue plan?
Kid A: Well, it’s a good thing that R2D2 can talk to the Death Star or they would have gotten squashed in that thing. Wait, if R2D2 can tell the Death Star to do anything he wants, why didn’t he shut off the Uni-beam thingie…or shut the guns down or tell the ship to blow up?
Sky: Uhh…I don’t know. That’s actually a really good question.
Kid A: Also, it seems strange that Obi-wan Kenobi just gets to walk around the hallways in the Death Star. He’s not even a Stormtrooper or a droid? Why doesn’t anyone stop him?
Sky: What do you think about the fight between Darth Vader and Obi-wan Kenobi.
Kid A: Obi-wan kinda let Darth Vader beat him so that Luke and everyone could get away.
Creep: I don’t understand why Darth Vader didn’t just Force choke him to begin with. If I could do that I would Force choke anyone that tried to fight me.
Sky: What about the fight between the Millennium Falcon and the Tie Fighters?
Kid A: It seemed pretty easy for them to get away. The bad guys had a whole Death Star to fight them with and all they sent was 4 of the TIE Fighters? It seems like they should have figured out that Darth Vader and the old guy [this time he’s talking about Grand Moff Tarkin] let them go.
[FTR, I don’t think he determined this himself, Princess Leia said it right before I paused the movie]
…but if they knew that there was a tracker on the ship, why did they go back to the secret base? I would have gone to a different planet, and take it off of the ship, and then I’d put it on a different ship, and I’d fly it to a far, far away planet to throw them off the trail.
[I was a little mind-blown by this, because I’d never actually considered the fact that once they escaped, by flying directly to the secret base on Yavin, they provided the Empire with exact the information that they had been seeking for the entire movie. Since the information in the secret Death Star plans hadn’t yet been analyzed, there was no way for them to know that it even had a weakness, much less put together a plan that provided them the opportunity to exploit said weakness.
At this point they cut to the Death Star Mission Briefing. There isn’t any real indicator of how much time has passed, but it seems to be 24 hrs. Luke is suited up as an X-Wing pilot (apparently a short training pipeline) and Han is preparing to leave with his reward.]
Sky: What do you think their chances are against the Death Star?
Kid A: I would say, ‘Not good.’
Kid A: Well, since they don’t have any big guns that can really hurt the Death Star, they kinda have to sneak past with the X-Wings and aim for the weak spot. I think they would probably rather have a ‘good guy Death Star’ to go against it, but then you’d probably have to come up with a different name.
Sky: Ok, but which side has the best ships?
Kid A: Rebels
Creep: Bad guys.
Kid A: No way! [arguing with his brother] The X-wing is better because they have 4 shots. One on each wing and the Tie fighters only have 2 shots. Plus the X-wing has that target computer thing.
Sky: Yea, how well did that computer thing actually work?
Kid A: Oh yeah. Well, the X-Wings carry the droids and TIE Fighters don’t. That makes them better too.
Sky: Why do you think that they X-Wings carry the R2’s?
Kid A: I think it is to fix the ship in case it breaks.
Sky: Do you think they fly the ship?
Kid A: No. There is no way a robot can fly a ship. That doesn’t even make sense.
Sky: Ok. [to Creep] Why do you think the bad guys have better ships?
Creep: Who could have a better ship than Darth Vader? [at this point he does the hands out and shoulder shrug]
[NOTE: I don’t have any kind of rebuttal to this]
Kid A: Actually, the bad guy pilots’ uniforms are much cooler…
Creep: Yeah, cuz they’re all black and they look super tough.
Kid A: Yeah.
[At this point, it sounds like they are basically ready to join the Imperial Navy.]
Sky: Ok, so what happens when the officer tells Grand Moff Tarkin that there is a chance that rebels could destroy the Death Star?
Kid A: The old guy says “I think you have lost your mind.”
Sky: Who do you think is the best X-Wing pilot?
Kid A: Duh, Luke. He is the only one still alive. [technically I think there are 2 others]
Sky: So what happens here?
Kid A: Darth Vader comes out in his own ship, because he is like, “I guess I have to do this myself.” Then, when he is about to shoot Luke, Han and Chewbacca come back and they shoot Darth Vader’s ship and he flips out into space and then Luke can use the force to shoot the torpedoes and blow up the Death Star.
Sky: So why do you think Han came back?
Kid A: I think he probably felt bad, since it was kinda his fault that the bad guys tracked the Millennium Falcon back to the base. Plus, he didn’t want Luke to get killed.
Sky: What about Leia?
Kid A: Ugh. I don’t really wanna say it.
Sky: Say what?
Kid A: You know….[at this point Creep has covered his face with his hands]…I see the way he winks at her. I don’t like it.
Sky: So what happens at the end?
Kid A: Well, they all go and get their medals. Well, not all of them, because actually the only people that get medals are Luke and Han. I’m not sure why Chewbacca doesn’t get a medal. That seems pretty messed up. Also, why didn’t R2 get a medal? He got shot and everything. Don’t you automatically get a medal for that?
Sky: What about C3P0?
Kid A: Uhh…no. I wouldn’t give him a medal. I don’t think he did anything to earn one.
Sky: Ok, one last question. Who was your favorite character?
Kid A: Luke Skywalker
Creep: Han Solo___________________________________________________________________
We watched the rest of the series over the course of the next 2 weekends and it was a complete success. So far, the elimination of Episode I has only led to one, slightly awkward interaction…
Kid A: I can’t wait until the new Star Wars movies come out
Kid A: Because I bet they are going to have that guy with the double-sided lightsaber from our Lego Star Wars game. His name is Darth Maul and he is awesome.