When it comes to long-term planning, you really can't beat Lucasfilm. As Rogue One proved, Lucasfilm is weaving a fantastic ongoing narrative through countless different mediums - from the blockbuster films themselves to New-York-Times-bestselling novels, from tie-in comics to animated TV shows. They're all canon, and - under the watchful eye of the Lucasfilm Creative Committee - they all tell one single, powerful narrative.
All of this means that fans must keep a close eye on the franchise in order to see just what Lucasfilm is setting up. Now, with the post-Return of the Jedi "Aftermath" trilogy finally brought to a close, we can see that Lucasfilm is carefully putting a lot of pieces back on the board — nods from the old Expanded Universe, hints at the return of much-loved characters, and tantalizing clues to the mysteries that will be unravelled in #TheLastJedi. Here are seven ways Aftermath: Empire's End has transformed the future of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away!
Although Empire's End is set in the, ah, 'aftermath' of Return of the Jedi, it features some pretty impressive flashbacks. In one of these, Palpatine throws out a word that will leave old-school Star Was fans thrilled:
"I have greater plans for the one on the shuttle - whether he will be a demonstration of my power or a slave to replace the one who has failed me. That remains unclear. But we are led to a moment in time, a moment of grave uncertainty. All things flow toward this moment. I sense... chaos. Weakness. I sense a shatterpoint."
Just as a crystal can be fractured if struck in just the right place, in just the right way, so a Force-user with the ability to sense shatterpoints can sense the flow of history around him. The idea was created by Matthew Stover when he wrote the (tremendous) novel Shatterpoint, and gave Mace Windu the ability to sense shatterpoints. Back in the Arena at Geonosis, for example, Windu sensed that Dooku was a shatterpoint; as a result, Windu would blame himself for the Clone Wars, since he chose to save his friends rather than act on his knowledge.
Bringing this concept back into canon by imbuing the Emperor with this power is a masterstroke. It's no wonder that the Dark Lord of the Sith was so powerful; through use of this ability, the Emperor would be fully aware of history flowing around him, and could then manipulate events accordingly. This adds new meaning to Palpatine's famous boast that everything was proceeding as he had foreseen; it suggests that Palpatine's awareness wasn't just a matter of Force-visions, but was rooted in his everyday experience of life.
Ironically, Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith novel hints at how Palpatine could finally be defeated through these very means after it was revealed that Anakin Skywalker was Palpatine's shatterpoint. Palpatine trusted Anakin Skywalker, and this trust would ultimately blind him to Darth Vader's betrayal.
2) The Legacy of Boba Fett: Freedom for Tatooine
In Aftermath, we learned that Boba Fett's Mandalorian armor survived the Sarlacc pit unscathed - a revelation that left fans fascinated. The sequel, Life Debt, finally explained how this occurred — The destruction of the sail barge critically injured the Sarlacc, and it died shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi. Scavengers flocked to the Sarlacc pit, extracting everything they could - including Boba Fett's famous Mandalorian armor.
Meanwhile, the trilogy began developing a small sub-plot about Tatooine, revealing that the chaos after Jabba's death and the Empire's defeat at Endor had given criminal gangs and slavers a chance to take over the planet. The Mandalorian armor, though, was sought out by a mysterious, self-appointed lawman - Cobb Vanth. In Empire's End, we see his campaign come to a successful close, with the criminals and slavers defeated.
But who is Cobb Vanth? In Empire's End we learn that he's an ex-slave, but there are hints that his past is far more complex. If the Sarlacc died shortly after Return of the Jedi, is it possible that he's actually Boba Fett, that he was stripped of his armor and taken as a slave, and has made his return? It's worth noting that back in the old Expanded Universe, he survived.
Whatever the truth may be, there are rumors that Benicio del Toro is playing the son of Boba Fett in The Last Jedi. That makes the timing of all this rather intriguing...
3) The Return Appearance of Lando Calrissian
Lando Calrissian makes his first major post-Return of the Jedi appearance in Empire's End, retaking Cloud City at last while also choosing a present to give to the baby Ben Solo. In typical Lando fashion, his choice is somewhat absurd:
"Tell you what. I'll write a note, kind of a . . . Hey, kid, it's me, Uncle Lando, you ever need help and don't wanna call your father, come find me, we'll sort it out. Put that in with the blaster, then secure it in a locker here on Cloud City, and give Han the key. Don't tell him what's in it - he'll pitch a fit if he sees it. It'll be for the boy when he's older."
There are rumors that Billy Dee Williams, a.k.a. Lando Calrissian, is set to reprise his role in The Last Jedi. If that's the case, Empire's End has clearly set up Lando's status quo ready for the film, and begun hinting at Lando's relationship with Ben. Looks like poor Lando is going to wind up caught in the middle once again...
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All in all, Empire's End is a must-read for Star Wars fans. On top of these three revelations, the book also reintroduces Lumpawaroo, Chewbacca's son, into Star Wars canon, hints at the disturbing truth behind Supreme Leader Snoke's identity; and offers a glimpse of a Dark Side cult who may just play a part in Ben Solo's fall. It's definitely worth picking up!
Do you think 'Empire's End' will have a large impact on the Star Wars franchise as a whole?
(Sources: The Sun; Poll Image Credit: Lucasfilm)