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Star Wars Week: The Reader's Digest version and how to explain the saga to newbies

Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo are key characters in the original Star Wars trilogy and make their return in The Force Awakens.

20th Century Fox

Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo are key characters in the original Star Wars trilogy and make their return in The Force Awakens.



Editor's note: With the seventh part in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, arriving in theaters this week, we're celebrating all things geeky from a galaxy far, far away this week here on the Feed. From helping get you up to speed on what you need to know to offering recipes for a Star Wars marathon and joining the debate on which order to watch the movies in, we've got you covered, rebel scum.

This weekend, we got together for a Star Wars marathon. Partly because we needed to collectively geek out a little more before The Force Awakens and partly because we discovered that among us was a self-proclaimed "Star Wars virgin," Brittany.

Somehow, there are still people in this world who haven't seen Star Wars, despite its resonance in pop culture, and these n00bs need to be educated. There's no replacement for actually getting such folks to watch the movies, but if you just don't have time, here's the absolute Reader's Digest version:

In the days of the Old Republic, there was a Jedi named Anakin Skywalker who turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader, turning on his once master Obi-Wan Kenobi, helping wipe out all the other Jedi and all but killing his pregnant wife. As the Empire comes into power, the kids survive, hidden away and not knowing the other existed. Surprise: They end up running into each other, turning into the heroes of the Rebellion against the Empire and EVENTUALLY figuring out they're related. Luke becomes the new last Jedi and turns Darth Vader back into Anakin Skywalker right before he dies (after killing his master the Emperor).

Now, that's very condensed. So if you need more explanation, or if you're familiar and just want a refresher, here's a breakdown of the saga's high points in each of the six movies:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Set 32 years before A New Hope (the original Star Wars), The Phantom Menace shows us where the story of Darth Vader, the Empire, the Jedi and the Force all started. Anakin Skywalker was a wee little Tatooine slave before he became Darth Vader. The Sith try to do bad things and the Jedi try to stop them. Pre-whiny Anakin also meets his future wife/mother of his future children, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), the queen of a planet called Naboo. In politics, Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) becomes Chancellor Palpatine over the whole Senate.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

The Galactic Republic is on the brink of civil war because politics, and the Separatists are led by the Sith Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus (Christopher Lee, RIP). Anakin is a grown up Jedi-in-training (Hayden Christensen) and enters his whiny stage, especially when his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) tries to control him and when Padme first refuses his advances. Politics, more politics, Obi-Wan discovers a secret army of clones and they fight Count Dooku. Anakin and Padme secretly wed on Naboo with R2-D2 and C-3PO as witnesses.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Hayden Christensen whines a lot more and becomes Darth Vader after going full evil and then getting hacked up by Obi-Wan and catching on fire. Oh, yeah, and Chancellor Palpatine declares himself Emperor and puts an end to the war he started in the first place. More politics, the Jedi are basically destroyed, Anakin is seduced by the Dark Side of the Force and Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia, who are then hidden as she dies.

Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

This is the point at which you should start paying attention because this storyline is most relevant to the new movie. The Empire has been in full force for 20 years, yet still faces opposition from the Rebel Alliance. Leia (Carrie Fisher) is a princess/senator working with the Rebels. Luke (Mark Hamill) is a farmer on Tatooine until he meets crazy old Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi and casually buys R2-D2 and C-3PO off some Jawas.When Luke's only home is destroyed by the Empire, he and Obi-Wan set off with smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and first mate Chewbacca on the totally cool Millennium Falcon for Alderaan. Joke's on them, Alderaan was blown up by the Empire and the Falcon's crew is pulled aboard the "that's-no-moon" Death Star. Because stormtroopers are terrible marksmen, the men and their droids rescue Princess Leia and escape the Death Star, which Luke blows up a few scenes later as he joins the Rebel Alliance.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Hoth! Tauntauns! Wampas! Yoda! Luke almost freezes to death, gets rescued by Han, leaves the Rebels in search of Jedi Master Yoda and becomes a Jedi Knight just in time to help the Rebels again. Han, Leia and Chewbacca are captured by Darth Vader, with help from a betrayal by Han's old pal Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Han is frozen in Carbonite and shipped off to Tatooine; Leia, Chewie, Lando and the droids barely escape; and Luke finds out Vader is his father and loses his hand in a gruesome duel. But he too escapes on the Falcon.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Han is being held in carbonite by Jabba the Hutt, so the crew stage a dramatic escape featuring a famous metal bikini on Leia. Luke completes his Jedi training and says goodbye to a dying Yoda, who reveals in his dying breath there is another Skywalker. Then we get back to Rebel business as usual: The Emperor arrives to see his new half-built second Death Star and the Rebels make plans to destroy it. With the help of the cutest creatures in the galaxy, the Ewoks, the Rebels defeat the Empire and destroy its battle station while Luke is on board facing an attempt by his father and the Emperor to get him to the dark side. Vader turns good for just long enough to kill the Emperor and die. In not-so-many words, Luke and Leia find out they're siblings and Han Solo is the only one who is shocked by this news.

The end. J/k, not really. This is where The Force Awakens will pick up and continue the saga.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at Follow @chelseatatham. Contact Caitlin O'Conner at Follow @caitoconner.

[Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2015 2:14pm]


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