Episode 390: Star Wars: The Millennial Falcon

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams’s reboot of the classic George Lucas franchise.

Ben Adams, Matt Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, John Perich, Ryan Sheely, and Matt Wrather join to discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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24 Comments on “Episode 390: Star Wars: The Millennial Falcon”

  1. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Thinking more about the film, I am increasingly horrified by Captain Phasma’s cowardice. Finn asks her to lower the station’s shields, and she just DOES it, directly resulting in its destruction. If she somehow survived Episode VII, she should be cleaning space latrines for the next couple of movies. But maybe there’s a message in there, about how the First Order’s scary troops will crack under pressure.


    • Chimalpahin #

      I’m so glad y’all’re doing a second episode because Captain Phasma infuriated me so much. You can cut all of her scenes and not lose anything.

      There are scenes where she should be in that she’s just not. It goes to show how late of an addition she was. Like the scene where the baton trooper yells “TRAITOR” why wasn’t that Phasma? WHy does that nerfherder care so much? I expected that guy to have known Finn and be an old squad mate! But no he was just some dude who’s waaay into his job.

      @Wrather SInce you asked last episode, What does it mean when “they got in trouble” when a movie or show runs afoul of those terrible SJWs. Well Captain Phasma is a result of “getting in trouble” that original photo of the line reading infuriated a lot of fans who didn’t want to see another Star Wars movie with so few women, so her character was changed into a female captain… then they forgot to include her into the movie…. *grrr*


    • Mike O #

      Comment reminds me of a British officer being disgusted with a Nazi traitor during WW2. “How can you betray your company, your superiors!” If there weren’t this jingoistic culture, we’d have more defection, and less “empires”.
      Phasma, as a space Nazi, did good. Give her a medal. Give her ALL the medals.


  2. Mark Kalzer #

    Wait why do we think Han and Leia didn’t eat the meal Lando prepared for them?

    As I recall, Vader’s line was “I would be honoured if you would join us.” Vader was asking them to take a seat! It’s the old James Bond technique of dining with the heroes before torturing them. I mean, it’d be a shame to let this food go to waste right?

    Obviously, Vader can’t EAT any part of the meal, but he could just watch right?


  3. Lemur #

    Why Star Wars was the Most Depressing Movie of the Year

    Listening to this podcast episode after having seen the movie yesterday, I was really grateful for the “geopolitics” discussion. I had not paid any attention to the new extended universe, so for me, filling in the gap between ROTJ and this new entry seemed kind of important for my understanding of the playing field. In that light I thought it was really interesting that the introductory text crawl started right off with “Luke Skywalker has disappeared” – in this case that personal focus seemed to leave out a lot of necessary background, and I found myself bothered throughout the movie by exactly the issues you guys discussed – how did the “winners” in the original trilogy turn into a “resistance” in the new environment.

    Even more than Leia’s presumed crushing realization that she’s in the same position of near-annihilation 30 years after the Rebellion’s supposed triumph, the thematic construction of this movie was what really got me depressed. Wrather made a few references to WWII in the course of this podcast conversation, and to me this is the crux of the whole franchise. We are all very familiar with the WWII imagery and parallels in the original trilogy. What essentially happens in this movie is that, thirty years after the Allied victory in World War II, the Nazis return and we have to fight that war all over again.

    Did it have to be that way? After all, in order to be a Star Wars story, we had to have the Dark Side come back somehow as the enemy. But I think there would have been other possible ways to do that. For inspiration, just take a look at what really did happen about a generation after WWII – the division of the world into two rival blocs dominated by the winning powers, and the proxy war between those blocs in Indochina. I feel like there may even have been an attempt to go in that direction in some early draft of the script, which left lingering traces in the whole scene with Maz Kanata, with her obviously Southeast Asian-inspired character design and the destruction of the building that looks like Angkor Wat and so on. Personally, I would have been much happier with the idea that new enemies will arise and that freedom must always be defended from new threats, rather than the somewhat hopeless message that we will never be able to defeat the enemies that face us right now (the Nazis).


    • Chimalpahin #

      Well that’s not addressed because JJ and Kasdan didn’t care. This is more or less a “soft reboot” of the franchise. I feel that something was lost in translation tho.

      It reminded me of Jurassic World in this way. Both sequels to groundbreaking and game changing movies that are at once shackled and trying to break free from their predecessor. With JW the script wa changed a lot and I don’t think Treverow fully understood what the script was going for. It’s not as bad with TFA but something feels off.

      It feels like a modern comic book or comic book movie, more Avengers AoU than Avengers, that has a lot of setup to a payoff that may or may not be up to snuff.


  4. Margo #

    I enjoyed the film, but I would have liked to see a rebuilt Republic, with the balance of power reversed. The remains of the Empire could now be the Rebels.

    So is the battle for power for the control of a whole galaxy? It must be a pretty small galaxy, with the average galaxy thought to have a 100 billion stars or so.


    • Chimalpahin #

      I would’ve too but JJ and the current handlers must’ve thought that explaining or showing any of that would be too much like Prequels. In this way they’ve underexplained it, I feel for the worse.

      This movie is just the cliffnotes version of the original trilogy and highly quickly.


  5. Tom D #

    I have two contributions I hope to make to the discussion, one is about artistic representation, the other is about conflict and power in the Star Wars universe.

    1. Kurasawa Influence:
    Artistically, this is a return to Kurasawa. The lightsaber fight at the end is done outside in the forest, in the snow. There isn’t a bunch of flips and spins, it’s a much more emotional fight, and I think it is much more samurai than we have seen in a while. Also, at the end Rey must go to the far away place and literally climb thousands of stairs to find the wise master.
    I think that fact that the governance of the galaxy is split up is similarly evocative of the feudalism we see in Kurasawa films. These are not well developed states yet, but regions with their own autonomy that are trying to loosely pull themselves together.

    2. The lie told to the young Villains:
    In all three sets of movies (123, 456, and now 789), the antagonists have a fascinating power dynamic with each other. We see Count Duku, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren as the ‘big bad guys’ that our heroes must face, but in all three cases, they are just lap dogs to the one pulling the strings; Darth Sideous, Emperor Palpatine, and Supreme Leader Snope. But even though our ‘big bad guys’ have so much power in comparison to our heroes, Duku, Vader, and Ren don’t have power within their organization. They still must comply with the orders of the Trade Federation, Grand Moff Tarkin and General Hux.

    Duku, Vader, and Ren are promised by their respective puppet masters that they are going to be groomed for more power to ‘complete’ their training, but that never happens. Sideous sells out Duku for Anakin, Palpatine sells out Vader for Luke. The puppet masters here are not grooming heirs, they don’t care about their pupils, because these puppet masters are war lords who have around them a cult of personality. ‘The big bad guys’ are seduced by the promise of power from their sacred leaders, only to find that they were never seen as students, but as pawns.

    There is no organization of Sith, just one puppet master, and a pupil who has been manipulated into taking orders, and is never given enough power to supplant their master. This is because the point of these supreme villains is that they don’t care about anything but their own legacies. The conflict in the movie comes from the fact that these supreme villains are unwilling to hand off power to the next generation because they want to pretend that they will live forever, and they never plan on promoting any agenda other than their own supremacy, they just use the Force and the Empire and the First Order as tools to achieve that end.

    I think this is also is reflected in the fact that Abrams decided to make Stormtroopers child soldiers instead of clones again, I feel there is a parallel there, but I can’t articulate the parallel beyond that.


    • Margo #

      If I may, the parallel or comparison you may be looking for are the Unsullied of Game of Thrones.


    • Chimalpahin #

      I felt that too, about the troopers I mean. It felt really odd that he was taken from his parents. I kind of don’t like that. Like at all.

      Also the origin makes no sense when the cheap gag about Finn being on sanitation. Why was a sanitation worker on such an important mission with Kylo and Phasma? It’s a cheap ******** joke like the trash compactor “scene” with Phasma. A BS joke that angered me.


      • Devonin #

        I think Finn wasn’t making a joke, I think he was understating his role to seem less like a bad guy to Han, and to cover for the fact that he was terrified and didn’t know what to do.


  6. Chimalpahin #

    Man I’m glad y’all liked it but damn I had some major problems with it. I had fun watching it, it was intense but a little too fast. I didn’t feel they had time to breathe for certain parts. While I really liked John and Oscar’s chemistry they became friends super duper quick, I was a little putoff by him just renaming him was a little odd. WHy didn’t he choose his name? Phasma’s absence in spite o her introduction was glaring. She had a prescence and I was waiting to see her again and I got nothing. She’s even worse than Boba Fett or Darth Maul! Out like a punk. As was Poe’s disappearance. On Finn I’m not a big fan of his backstory that he was kidnapped and made to be a soldier. I would’ve preferred that he was a guy who enlisted , It feels like a fusing of the Clone Troopers and the old Storm Trooper concepts.
    I liked Kylo but less so as the movie went on. I like that he took his mask odd and he’s a whiny pretty boy like Luke and Anakin but I didn’t get why he took it off for Rey. He claims to be tempted by the light but I never saw it. It’s a quirk of the prequels to tell and not show that slipped into this movie. I felt that Snoke aka Palpatine light was fine but they showed him too many times. All he’s doing is sitting down, why was he CG? he can be a practical effect!, so why do we need to see him twice? All he does is sit and do nothing. Did we need two scenes of that? I felt once was enough to convey a sense of mystery and intrigue but the second time I just thought what do you even do President Snow!?

    It wasn’t terribly off but it felt like the movie was rushed to get it out on time for Christmas. You can tell by the trailers that a lot was cut or altered. Still I never felt the time tho, actually I was expecting more like it could’ve gone on for another hour and I would’ve stayed. I liked it and I want to see more. SO I hope Phasma doesn’t go out like a certain Mandalorian or Sith punk


  7. Charlie X #

    The Overthinking It podcast is normally part of my Monday morning rituals but I’ve had to delay it until I’ve seen the movie. Luckily now I’ve done both.

    I’m surprised that the Otyugh from Dungeons & Dragons had a cameo as the monster Han Solo was smuggling. They’re often used in sewers as they eat pretty much anything, so I assume wherever Han was transporting it was using them as trash compactor monsters.

    Also thinking of Dungeons & Dragons, I took the ‘frontier’ element of it to be something akin to what D&D 4th Edition had as a tonal flavour, namely, “Points of Light”. If you’re in a widely populated place there are likely to be more people ergo more heroes. If you have a good person (Finn and Rey, for instance) then they stand out more in a place where there’s little else or little else good. A lot of the people in Jakku are moral pragmatists, doing whatever to survive. In theory Rey would be in the same boat, trading anything for portions, but she doesn’t. Finn’s the same with the massacring of the town. It’s easy and expected to just be jaded and survive and in a place with more social mobility they could escape, in a place with more people there might be more resistance, but here’s where they’re stuck in a bind and need to escape.

    I do feel quite sorry for Hux and Phasma. Hux was trying to do his job and his boss hired a zealot with no real qualifications to be co-assistant to the Supreme Leader. He’s just trying to do work while Kylo’s quest is jeopardising all of them. Phasma’s a coward but also a jobsworth, she’s probably great when the regime’s doing what it’s doing but the moment all this chaos breaks out she’s a bit screwed.
    Despite his hissy fits, I enjoyed Kylo’s presence as a villain. A silent, stoic badass doesn’t have much depth but this kid cut the cord from his family way too quickly, is being seduced by the light side which is something I don’t remember us hearing about as a concept in the films. He wants to be Vader and really, really isn’t. His weakness and fear drove him to the dark side and make him vulnerable. He’s an idiot and possibly made too-hasty steps to the dark side when he wasn’t prepared and hadn’t thought any of this through.


    • Chimalpahin #

      Hey man “Otyugh” has paid their dues. It’s Otyugh’s time to shine baby! Guy’s got a great agent ;)

      “Phasma’s a coward but also a jobsworth,” Really? I didn’t even perceive it as cowardice. Gwendolyn’s voice still has gravitas in that scene. It just reeks of bad writing. Why was she even in the movie? Where was Constable Zuvio?!


  8. Crystal #

    I wasn’t big on the plot stuff in the movie, but I take like Kylo Ren. He has more potential for depth and nuance than any pervious SW villain. The idea of being torn apart by the light and dark side is intruiging. I bought my SW fan father a SW and psychology book for Xmas and it had an interesting section about how Anakin’s path to the dark side was caused by his inability to process grief and how he was torn by two gender roles (strong, obidient man and protective father) when Luke was threatened by the Emperor. Which got me thinking (well that and the discussion last week): how do Jedis process their emotions? The force is clearly and intuitive thing but that doesn’t mean it’s emotional. There’s an idea of letting go but life happens (even go Jedi) and human beings are going to have feelings. You have to deal with them somehow.


    • Margo #

      Fascinating point Crystal. The climax of The Empire Strikes back has Darth Vader trying to goad Luke to “Give in to your feelings”. Jedi Training should ideally give potential Jedi the ability to acknowledge their feelings but not be ruled by them. So the Jedi Council in The Phantom Methods telling Anakin that he had “Much Fear” was not helpful!

      Also not helpful was the concept of a celibate Jedi. Analogies can be made between celibacy amongst Jedi and various religious authority figures in our own world. This is a topic so fraught I dear not comment further. Suffice to say that the Lucas prequels were three of the least sexy films of all times.


  9. Edu #

    Any idea on why I can only listen to older episodes?


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