EU Action/Reaction (Fall Annual): Death in the EU

Sithspawn

It’s pretty rare – not unheard of, but rare – for a Sith to get a decent death in the EU. Usually, it’s because the Sith villain exists solely to challenge the Jedi. It is expected for the valiant Jedi to engage in swordplay, and the hero must eventually win. The Sith are truly one of the few villains capable of matching a Jedi in terms of raw power and Force ability, and so their ending is written from the start. The most obnoxious examples of lame Sith deaths come from pretty much any Star Wars video game. Take the Knights of the Old Republic games. You’re not likely to find a more eclectic (and interesting) group of Sith than Darth Malak, Darth Nihilus, Darth Sion and Darth Traya. Yet as varied and intriguing as each Sith is, particularly Darth Traya, all require a standard lightsaber duel to be defeated. These are villains who are visually memorable, but their deaths lack any sort of justice to their character. No matter their actions, they are ultimately designed to stand between the player and the final goal.

Exar Kuns Spirit

Exar Kun's final death

The Sith are also notable for their near limitless amount of lives, rivaling even the most daring of felines. When it comes to a type of character that defies death, the Sith certainly take the cake. I suppose it can be a little annoying to see villains return again and again from the clutches of defeat, but it sometimes works well. Other times, though, it can end up replacing a great death scene with something much more lame. Take Exar Kun, from the Tales of the Jedi series. He was a brash Jedi Knight who fell to the dark side, leading the Sith Empire and waging war against the Republic. When the tide of battle turned, he used Sith alchemy and separated his spirit from his body to avoid capture. The Jedi, however, were able to create a wall of light to trap Exar Kun’s spirit on the planet and seal him inside the walls of his own temple. It was a particularly poignant ending for the Sith, and I took much satisfaction in watching him call out to characters and going unheard. There was something very fitting about him being forced to spend an eternity trapped at the location of his final failure, with no hope of ending his torment. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the Sith. Exar Kun returns in the Jedi Academy trilogy and really just spends the books as something of a minor annoyance. His final death? Luke’s Jedi apprentices band together and use the Force to banish him into chaos, and his temple is then destroyed. Here was a character who got a very chilling ending, easily one of the more unsettling fates in the EU. But rather than leaving it at that, he gets defeated by a bunch of meddling kids Jedi apprentices. Yuck.

But not every villain gets a lame redemption. Just look at Lumiya. During the Marvel Comics run of Star Wars, this Dark Lady of the Sith ended up being a major thorn in Luke’s side as the comics came to a close. And hey, she had a pretty cool lightwhip. Her connection with Luke was an interesting one too, something of a scorned lover. In the final issue of the Marvel comics, Lumiya is shot in the back in the third-to-last page. Frankly, she was killed. As the comic clumsily draws to a close and wraps up the entire series, no one exclaims that she’s alive. Because I don’t believe she was meant to be left alive – I think that she was supposed to be killed in the last issue and tie up the loose ends. For whatever reason, though, the EU decided that she had simply been left for dead. I guess the readers are supposed to believe that our heroes would be dumb enough to simply leave her body and assume she was finished. But honestly, it was a really stupid death for an interesting character. Her return, this time in the novels, was the second chance that her character truly deserved. Yes, Lumiya comes back to cause trouble for Luke Skywalker in Legacy of the Force, but her lengthy backstory from the Marvel Comics had never been translated to the novels and it was handled very poorly in the series overall that an unknown character would suddenly be thrust into the limelight with so much history with Luke and company. Her final showdown with Luke in Sacrifice, though, was a definite highlight for her character. She’s older, she’s tired – and most importantly, she’s finally had some semblance of revenge on Luke by turning Jacen Solo to the dark side. It is clear when Luke confronts her that she has no chance of surviving. The duel that follows is very brief, allowing the readers to see the determined side of Luke following the death of his wife (more on that later in the column). Luke drives her to the edge of a cliff, and Lumiya falls. But the thrill of her death is cut short as Luke reaches out and saves her. “I’ll never let you fall,” he tells her, and the reader experiences a moment of shock that Luke could save the woman he believes killed his wife… and then he decapitates her. It’s a cold blooded death, and one that suits Lumiya well for all the trouble she caused. Sure, her demise comes during a duel. But it’s that brief moment of possible redemption, something she laments from time to time in the series about wanting, that makes the death so perfect. What she wants most is right there, and then it’s brutally taken from her – just as she brutally took Jacen from his loved ones.

Alema Rar

Alema Rar

Of all the villains that just refused to die, though, one sticks out above all: the Twi’lek everyone loves to hate. Alema Rar. When first introduced in Star By Star, Alema was a young Jedi who suffered through great tragedy by losing both her master and her sister to the Yuuzhan Vong. That past, with all the pain and hurt, would eventually corrupt her in the Dark Nest trilogy. The beautiful Twi’lek wouldn’t keep her looks for long, though. In various duels with both Luke and Leia during the Dark Nest books, she runs up a real laundry list of injuries: a lightsaber blow to her left shoulder which renders her left arm useless, the loss of her right lek and the loss of half her foot. Finally, a Tenupian spidersloth half-swallows Alema during a fight with Leia before falling into the river below. Frankly, it should have been the death of her. Alema had gone from an intriguing character at the start of the trilogy to a truly odd one – one that I was glad to see perish. But it would appear that the old rule for comic books (If no body is found, the character isn’t dead) also applies to the EU, because Alema returns in Legacy of the Force. She serves a really disjointed role in this series, and defies death even more, but she does finally meet her end in Fury. She battles Jagged Fel, who ultimately snaps her neck with crushgaunts. I’m of two minds about her death. On one hand, I hated how her character had evolved and constantly found myself hoping that she would meet her end soon. The fact that she finally died and would torment me no more in future books is something I was very pleased about. On the other hand, I didn’t much care for her death. It was definitely more imaginative, dying at the hands of a hero I didn’t expect, but her final moments try to humanize her character. She ends up wanting to be remembered for the person she had been before turning to the dark side, and I frankly found her completely undeserving of any sort of redemption. But hey, she’s not around to cause more trouble now… so I guess that’s good enough for me.

Do’rik Vong Pratte!

When it comes to Yuuzhan Vong characters, none are more memorable than the villains. Throughout the New Jedi Order series, they were relentless in pursuing their quarry. I’ve included this section in this column because the Yuuzhan Vong have the unique position of appearing in many more books than villains normally appear in, allowing them to be fleshed out more and giving readers more reasons to hate them. There were four Yuuzhan Vong that I felt rose above all the others and truly earned their place among the best of the Star Wars villains. I knew that the deaths were fairly inevitable, but I wanted the deaths to stand out and serve the characters justice. What readers of the NJO got, however, was more of a mixed bag.

Take Tsavong Lah, for instance. He appeared in 11 NJO books, starting with Dark Tide II: Ruin and finally meeting his end in Destiny’s Way. In many ways, he was one of the biggest villains in the series. He was the warmaster, and was really the face of Yuuzhan Vong leadership for most of the series. He was the architect of the capture of Coruscant, and it was his idea to bring about a great Jedi purge. He was bad to the bone, and that’s what made his lackluster death so disappointing. We know that Tsavong Lah was a religious fanatic, and he was obsessed with killing the Solo twins. Despite that, I had come to believe that his final battle would be with Jacen Solo. After all, Jacen ended their battle in Balance Point by removing the warmaster’s foot. What readers got instead was a three page duel with Jaina Solo, who had her feet stuck to the ground by blorash jelly. Even though Tsavong attacked her from behind, where she was unable to see him, she was able to defend against his attacks and finally use the Force to drive her lightsaber into his neck. Tsavong Lah never even had any final words. It was a quick battle, and it was a shame to see his character tossed aside so carelessly and with such a cheap (and rather embarrassing) death. While Tsavong Lah received (arguably) a pretty lame death for his character, Supreme Overlord Shimrra and Onimi were the recipients of deaths that were much more epic.

Onimis death

Onimi's death

Shimrra, the leader of the Yuuzhan Vong, was the unseen mastermind behind the invasion for most of the books. Though he had been mentioned since Agents of Chaos I: Heroes Trial, it wasn’t until Destiny’s Way that his character, and his court jester Onimi, took center stage. A pretty good plot twist involving Shimrra being a puppet leader under the influence of Onimi didn’t diminish Shimrra’s character, though. In the final NJO book, The Unifying Force, he engages in a one-on-one lightsaber battle with Luke Skywalker that turns out to be one of the best battle sequences I’ve ever read in any of the EU books. The two combatants really give it their all, and although Luke comes close to defeat, he ultimately proves that he is the most powerful Jedi and decapitates Shimrra. It was a death so worthy of him, going out like a real Yuuzhan Vong warrior with a battle of epic proportions. The death also enhanced Luke’s character as a powerful Force user who was no longer going to sit on the sidelines. In the same way, Onimi’s death really enhanced Jacen Solo’s character is the next generation of Jedi. Onimi used every trick and battle technique available, and Jacen – who evolved throughout the series to become the true hero – matched every single blow that the Yuuzhan Vong threw at him. Jacen eventually achieves a state of oneness with the Force, basically melting Onimi as the Force pours out of Jacen in a form of pure energy. It is a shocking death that highlights our hero wonderfully, and it seems fitting that the true mastermind behind the Yuuzhan Vong invasion would be defeated by a living conduit of the Force.

Nom Anor

Nom Anor

And, of course, there’s Nom Anor. I’ll be honest, he’s my favorite EU character. In some way, he managed to appear in every NJO book. He was the real villain of the series, truly the character that everyone loved to hate. He escaped death many times over, to the point where even I was (pleasantly) surprised that he survived until the final book. Of all the villains I have read, few have come close to amount of characterization that Nom Anor received. He helped pave the way for the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, he served as a devious spy, feuded with Tsavong Lah, unified Yuuzhan Vong heretics and served as a prophet to them and then turned his back on the heresy movement to regain favor with the Yuuzhan Vong leadership. Truly, Nom Anor was a spineless character, an atheist and a coward. He cared only about himself and his continued self-preservation, with no love or respect for the Yuuzhan Vong culture, ideals, religion or leadership. Even now, though, I’m not sure how I feel about his death. He was a devious guy, to be sure, but even his continued attempts to kill the heroes didn’t diminish my enjoyment of his character. In the end, he was offered a chance to escape Onimi’s dying ship but turned the offer down. Stating he did not want to be a part of the new Yuuzhan Vong order, he chose death. The ship explodes above Coruscant, and the actual death is “off-screen.” For a character that I really loved to hate, I was sorry to see him go. On one hand, his death was somewhat poetic. Here was a character who had evolved so many times, and finally reached his breaking point. Our heroes even lower their weapons and offer him safe passage, despite the countless number of times he had attempted to orchestrate their deaths. On the other hand, we don’t actually see his death. As a reader, I felt like I missed out on closure. He simply died in an exploding ship, and we never get to share his final moments before death. Some of Nom Anor’s internal monologue would have gone a long way toward making me feel more comfortable with his death. It was definitely an unexpected way of dying, though, and Nom Anor was truly the master of the unexpected.

The Final Curtain Call of Minor EU Heroes

In Star Wars, it’s not uncommon for the heroes to suffer setbacks with deadly results. It’s rare to pick up a series and not have at least one of the good guys perish. These are the minor heroes, though I use the term “minor” in reference to some of the EU heroes with decidedly more appearances. In fact, not every character even fits the definition of what it means to be a hero in the literal sense. Just look at Darovit, who first appeared in the graphic novel Jedi vs. Sith. He was just a child, drafted into the Jedi/Sith war – and like a child, was unable to find a path on his own. Even though he was weak in the Force, he tried his hand at being both a Jedi and a Sith. He’s a major player in the story, which shows the real sadness behind a war that would recruit mere children. At the end of the story, he cousin (Zannah) joins Darth Bane to become his apprentice and actually uses the Force to explode Darovit’s hand. The boy is left alone, and he decides at the end of the story that perhaps he will simply choose to live his life as a man. I loved the ending of this story, and I thought it was the perfect fate for this young boy who had been through so much and had so much taken from him. What I didn’t like, though, was his death. Yes, Darovit actually returns in the EU during the Rule of Two book. He meets his cousin again, now Darth Zannah, and foolishly believes that she can be redeemed. She ends up twisting his mind with Sith sorcery to drive Darovit insane, leaving him to suffer illusions and madly attack Jedi when they arrive. The Jedi quickly kill him, and believe him to be the Sith Lord they had been searching for. It was a very sad ending for the character, and I still don’t think it was necessary for Zannah to have to kill him in order to prove herself to readers as being worthy of the role of villain.

Darth Bane

Darth Bane

While we’re on the subject, let’s take a look at Darth Bane. Here’s a Sith who is surely anything but a hero, but he was nevertheless the star of the Darth Bane books… and even though he was a real bad guy through and through, he was the character that readers were rooting for to win. I thought he was a fascinating character, and I thoroughly rooted for him to come out on top in his third novel, Dynasty of Evil. You see, Darth Bane started the Rule of Two when he took Darth Zannah to be his apprentice. Throughout the second and third books of the Darth Bane Trilogy, Zannah struggles with the idea of having to kill her master and take an apprentice of her own. My problem with Zannah, though, was that I thought she was just an awful character with very poor judgment. I never grew to like her, and was hoping Bane would school her in their final showdown. So yes, I was very disappointed when Zannah defeated Bane… but at the same time, I really loved it. Zannah defeated her master by using the one area of the Force that Bane was not strong in – Sith alchemy. In fact, Drew Karpyshyn repeatedly drops hints throughout the novels that Bane is somewhat ignorant of that area of the Force. I absolutely loved the idea that Bane was beaten because his apprentice used her superior knowledge against him… but at the same time, I just never really believed that Zannah was more knowledgeable than Bane. The actual ending was sort of left open to interpretation, regarding whether or not Bane was able to transfer at least a portion of his consciousness into Zannah prior to his death… but Darth Bane is dead. He won’t be coming back. It was a death that I didn’t want to read, but ultimately I expected it to come sooner rather than later. My advice to those still upset about it is to try not to think of who it was that killed him, but instead focus on how and why he died. That’s really what’s important.

A death that I never expected was Etain Tur-Mukan’s, the main Jedi in Karen Traviss’s Republic Commando novels. There’s so much I’d love to expand on, particularly regarding Etain’s character, but this just isn’t the column for it. Instead, let’s just focus on Etain’s death. She was the young, impressionable Jedi who ended up falling in love with a Republic Commando and giving birth to their child. She dies during Order 66… but it’s a twist death that I definitely didn’t see coming. As she is attempting to flee Coruscant, she watches as some young Jedi attack clone troopers. When one of the Jedi moves to strike a killing blow, she steps in front of the Jedi and is cut down. Now, I’ve read a lot of hate regarding this death – it seems to me that how one reacts to the death is directly correlated to how much you enjoy Traviss’ writing. For me, though, the death works. It was clear early on that Etain was very impressionable. She wasn’t particularly strong in the Force, and she had almost served in the Agricultural Corps. She was constantly portrayed being insecure of herself, especially in the role as a leader, and so her future course makes perfect sense. She ends up befriending Omega Squad, really her first interaction with clones. She grows close to them, and when she meets their father figure, the gruff Kal Skirata, he takes his own personal hatred of the Jedi out on her. Now here is an insecure young woman, and the father figure of the only people she can call a friend essentially hates her. It’s no surprise that Etain goes out of her way to please him, to gain some semblance of respect and importance. Being impressionable, her time among that small group leads her to question her own moral code and the choices she has made – though she never leaves the Jedi Order. When she meets her end, she doesn’t know a thing about Darth Vader or Darth Sidious. She doesn’t know about Sith plots, or why the clones are turning on the Jedi. All she knows is that it is too dangerous for her to stay on Coruscant, and when she watches the Jedi engage the clone troopers in battle, all she sees is one family turn against the other. I have no doubt that if a clone trooper had been about to shoot one of the Jedi, she would have stepped in front of the blast – though it would have been a tougher scene, given her strong love of her clone husband. No, Traviss actually takes the easy way out by having the Jedi kill her. This isn’t a case of the author hating Jedi and deciding to have Etain die to protect a life that would have very well killed her. This is about a young woman who now sees the face of her husband, the father of her child, on every single trooper. It may not be the most perfect of deaths, but it certainly is poignant. This Jedi, once so insecure and impressionable, finally takes a stand for what she believes is the right thing to do… and it kills her.

Of course, you can’t discuss the death of one of the most controversial EU heroes without discussing the death of one of the most beloved EU heroes. Yes, I’m talking about the oh-so-lovable Ton Phanan. He was a classic comic relief character, while still embracing the heroics that made him a character we could all cheer on. But that was just all his shell. On the interior, readers of the Wraith Squadron books got to learn more about Ton. He was actually a sad character, with enough cybernetic parts to make him question the extent of his humanity. He spiraled into depression, with only the help of friends like Garik “Face” Loran to help see him through it.

Ton Phanans death

Ton Phanan's death

If you look at Ton’s death as just the death, it actually isn’t anything memorable. He gets shot down on a mission, crawling away and evading potential captors before Face finds him. As Face tries to move Ton to safety, Ton eventually succumbs to his wounds and dies. What makes his death so powerful, though, is the charged emotion behind it. In many ways, Ton and Face were extremely alike. They were both physically damaged, both felt they didn’t have much of a future and both hid their shame from others. In Ton’s final moments, he helps Face to realize the one thing that his friend never could – that he could overcome his past and create a better future for himself. As a true friend, Ton uses his dying words to help ease Face’s pain and essentially helps him to stop punishing himself for his actions earlier in his life. It is a beautiful, cathartic moment for both men – so alike, and yet so dissimilar. Ton dies in Face’s arms, watching the stars above them. At that point, the two men aren’t fighting a battle. They are simply bystanders, coming to terms with that which they fear the most. In that respect, Ton’s emotional death and the impact it has on Face, makes it one of the most memorable deaths in the entire EU.

Once in a while, a book hits the EU where the reader already knows what the final outcome will be. In that regard, perhaps no character before or since has quite the sad existence as that of Lorn Pavan. He’s the hero in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, and falls victim to the most ironic of ends – even at his moment of supposed salvation, readers know that he’s only sealed his fate. Here’s a guy who has a holocron detailing the Sith plans to blockade Naboo, and Darth Maul in hot pursuit. Lorn is just a regular guy, but he manages to outlive two Jedi, gets frozen in carbonite, loses his faithful droid companion and even gets a hand chopped off. Yes, we don’t catch Lorn on a good day in this book. But right at the very end, when it seems like Darth Maul will finally catch and kill our hero (and he has to, right?)… Lorn stumbles upon none other than Senator Palpatine. He hands Palpatine the holocron, informing him that it contains information vital to the Jedi Order. Palpatine promises to deliver the holocron, and Lorn passes out. He awakens in a hotel, and when he goes to leave… Darth Maul stands in the doorway. Tired of running, Lorn accepts his defeat and receives a quick death. It’s a truly masterful ending, even if the guy really just gets gutted like a pig after believing that he saved the day. It’s one of those deaths that resonate with the reader for the knowledge we have, like that Palpatine will never deliver the holocron because he’s a villain too (and what a huge hint, given that EU books never revealed that Palpatine was Darth Sidious until after Revenge of the Sith). It’s one of my favorite moments in the entire EU, when Lorn Pavan says, “Thank you… Senator Palpatine.” Yes, the death was expected… but the execution was flawless.

Ulic Qel-Dromas death

Ulic Qel-Droma's death

Ulic Qel-Droma is another character who receives, in my opinion, a truly fantastic death. Like many tragic figures in the EU, Ulic first served as a Jedi before being seduced to the dark side by Exar Kun. It was during the Great Sith War that Ulic met his Jedi brother, Cay Qel-Droma, on the battlefield. The two fought, and Ulic killed his brother. The death, though, was too much for him. As he grieved for his brother, his former lover Nomi Sunrider used her power to actually strip Ulic of the Force. Though he would help the Republic to defeat Exar Kun and the Sith forces, he would forever be unable to touch the Force again. Ulic spends the next decade learning about himself and trying to achieve a sort of internal peace. In the end, though, he is shot in the back by a spacer who saw the murder of such a hated figure as Ulic Qel-Droma to be an opportunity to enter the history books. Once Ulic dies, he becomes one with the Force and vanishes – despite no longer having a connection to the Force. It’s definitely a sad ending for such a complicated character. Ulic starts out as a man who has everything, and he becomes a man who has nothing. But his death, as shocking as it is, does bring his character full circle. It shows that he was able to redeem himself, that even a mere man could have the heart and wisdom of a Jedi – of a true agent of good.

Passing the Torch… And Why It Sucks

Once characters in the EU reach an advisory role, it seems that their purpose has come to an end. It has to be true, because how many times can a character show up after the new guard has taken over? The problem is that it means that some of the more memorable minor film characters get the real shaft in the EU. Take Mon Mothma, for example. She was an elegant woman who served as Chief of State until her body was infected by nanomachines that almost killed her. She survived, however, but was rarely featured in any sort of real capacity. In fact, her death was never even featured in a book. It took the New Essential Chronology to inform fans that she passed away in her sleep shortly before the Yuuzhan Vong War. She’s but just one example of a minor, yet memorable, film character whose death was an insult to the potential of the character. Admiral Ackbar was another such character, and this is a death I hate even more because his “It’s a trap!” has become the stuff of legends.

Admiral Ackbar

Admiral Ackbar (Editor's note: It's a trap!)

Unlike Mon Mothma, Ackbar had a decidedly more prominent role in the Bantam books – but suddenly faded into obscurity without any real explanation or reason. I suppose old age can do that to a character. Still, he makes a sweeping return in Destiny’s Way and leads the Republic forces to a major victory against the Yuuzhan Vong. His return was masterfully written, and the “ACKBAR IS BACK!” moment is one of my most favorite scenes in the entire EU. Despite his glorified return, it was almost as if the NJO planning team had heard the grumblings of fans wanting Ackbar’s inclusion and gave us the scene to satisfy us. Ackbar never appears in the EU again, aside from an awful scene in The Unifying Force when a meeting is interrupted with news that Admiral Ackbar passed away. Like Mon Mothma, he died of old age… and off-screen in a pathetic manner. Sure, not every character needs to go out in a blaze of glory. But these are two characters that, although minor, still stick with fans for their memorable lines. How many times have you uttered “It’s a trap!” or mentioned that many Bothans died to bring you whatever you needed? The bottom line is that these characters deserved a better, more memorable fate.

You know what job apparently really sucks to have in the EU? The Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance, because the former leaders love to commit suicide. In fact, I’ve already got a running bet going that Daala offs herself before Fate of the Jedi is through. Take Cal Omas, a character who has been around since Vector Prime. He ends up serving a long time as Chief of State before finally being arrested and deposed by Jacen Solo. Omas’s method of suicide? Death by throwing yourself on an active lightsaber. It’s just one of the seemingly countless scenes in Legacy of the Force that are so ridiculous and over-the-top that I had to stop and figure out what was happening to my beloved Star Wars universe. Seriously, it’s an oddball scene and a terrible way to go that did his character little justice. Cha Niathal, the Mon Calamari who eventually succeeds Omas, ends up killing herself too – in one of the few weirdly out-of-place moments in Fate of the Jedi. Daala, the new (and current) Chief of State decides she has no choice but to charge Niathal with dereliction of duty and being implicit in helping Darth Caedus rise to power. Seeing the writing on the wall, Niathal kills herself by carbon monoxide poisoning – another weird way to go. Niathal was actually one of the few characters that I really grew to like as Legacy of the Force continued, probably because I could relate to her very tough position of being stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to her service to the Galactic Alliance and her alliance with Caedus. Although she had taken a break from the spotlight in Fate of the Jedi by retiring, I had hoped to see more of her character – in many ways, I may have been hoping she could somehow succeed the brilliant Admiral Ackbar. Instead, she returns to simply off herself. Her death, like Omas’s before her, passed the torch of leadership solely to Daala. Blah, how lame.

Of course, I couldn’t discuss deaths that exist solely to pass the torch to a younger generation without mentioning some Jedi Masters. And like the other deaths in this vein, they’re often just as ridiculous. In cases like Ikrit, who was (really) a silly Jedi Master in the Junior Jedi Knight books, it was obvious that he was used as a nod to fans of the young reader books. But in the first adult novel he appears in, Edge of Victory I: Conquest, he sacrifices himself to save Anakin Solo and some of the other Jedi on Yavin 4. It’s hard to say whether Ikrit had any legitimate potential for future stories, given his goofy and childish appearance, but it had to be heartbreaking for fans of the earlier books to see a familiar face appear – only to be killed off without much thought. Knowing the future of the next generation of the Jedi, it also makes his sacrifice a little hollow when looked back on now.

Shaak Ti before her real death

Shaak Ti before her real death

In that manner, Shaak Ti can also be looked up similarly. Here’s a character who escaped not only death during the Clone Wars, but also two different deaths in Revenge of the Sithone at the hands of General Grievous aboard his flagship, the other at the hands of Darth Vader as he storms the Jedi Temple. She does meet her death, though, at the hands of Starkiller in The Force Unleashed. Yes, somehow this bland apprentice became so powerful in the Force that he was able to hunt down Shaak Ti, a surviving member of the Jedi Council, and kill her. Shaak Ti, who had the opportunity to die by the hands of some truly awesome villains, instead gets stuck with possibly the worst of the three. Even in defeat, she thinks nothing of the planet and her apprentice, both of which fall to the dark side following her death. It is a death undeserving of her character, and it is clear that her inclusion in the series was simply to excite fans of the EU with the promise of what would surely be an epic battle.

And then… there is Vergere. I love Vergere. Not the Sith retcon, which gets it all wrong, but her original character as someone who had transcended the ideals of both Jedi and Sith. Unfortunately, Vergere’s existence was also a huge problem in terms of storytelling. You see, she had once been a member of the Old Jedi Order – something no character could claim until she came along. In essence, her continued appearances would serve to suck away the authority that Luke Skywalker established in his very different Jedi Order. Vergere wasn’t simply a character who taught Jacen about aspects of the Force he had not even contemplated, she was also a walking history lesson. She could help Luke and the Jedi with her expansive knowledge, and it was clear from the get-go that the authors didn’t consider that an option. No one puts Luke Skywalker in the corner, right? To save Jacen’s life, Vergere crashes an A-Wing into a legion of Yuuzhan Vong – killing herself. Her death was a selfless act to protect Jacen, though some would argue that she wanted him protected so that he could later inherit the Sith mantle she was preparing him for. I would disagree, because she appears to Jacen as a Force ghost and speaks with him for a short time. Clearly, her mastery of the Force was great enough to achieve that ability – something that even few Jedi Masters of the Old Jedi Order could claim to know. Vergere’s death… well, I suppose it was decent enough. Her “blaze of glory” death did seem a little off, though. Probably because she was the last character I would have thought would ram a spaceship into enemy forces. Still, her death was necessary. Jacen needed to lose his master and grow into the hero he would become on his own, and Luke needed to continue to lead the Jedi without any ramifications of Vergere’s continued presence. It’s a bit of a disappointment to lose such an intriguing character – especially given the controversy that still surrounds her – but Vergere’s death is really one of the few times that a “passing the torch” moment actually works.

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About the Author

Chris Carey contributes to EUCantina as a writer and editor. He pens our popular column, EU Action/Reaction, and also contributes to our novel and comic reviews. Chris joined EUCantina in 2010 to help edit articles, but it quickly became obvious that his writing skills needed a more visible platform. He currently resides in Maryland, and has a degree in journalism.