Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic — War #5
"WAR" PART 5
As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.
The concept from the beginning with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - War was to show again how much Zayne had learned during his months on the run — in a solo test, much like what he had to endure on the Rogue Moon in Commencement. We'd throw him not blind, but certainly into a situation that was out of his control — and by the time he got his feet under him, we'd pull out the rug again. And all along, we'd ask whether Zayne's combination of Force use, benevolence, and freelance pacifism had any place in a wartime context. Could he alter the conduct of the combatants while in uniform — or was operating on his own the only place for him?
As we see with War's conclusion here, Zayne makes some headway on both sides of the battle. Morvis, finally surrendering to the notion that someone else might have a better idea, has the forces to make victory possible, if Zayne provides the path. And while Zayne was never likely to change the ways of the Mandalorians, he does come to understand their curious code of honor — and within it, finds some common ground.
Dorjander Kace discovers too late that he's misread both what the Mandalorians are willing to do for victory — and what the Republic can be persuaded to do, with the right leadership. But as with Zayne's former Master, Kace is misguided rather than mad — and while he does not change his views, he can at least recant his tactics. The result is a different kind of ending than we had in Vindication; less explosive, by necessity. In a story about a pacifist, the only successful resolution was a peaceful one.
This story brings Zayne back to save his school after arriving too late in Commencement for the Taris school and much too late for the students in Demon. It's a good moment for him, as a result. Dantooine, as we see here, looks about as it does in the first video game -- right down to Zhar Lestin's presence. Zhar hadn't had scenes with Zayne in the previous series, as Vandar Tokare had, but I never really considered Vandar as the witness for Zayne's challenge here. Vandar had already witnessed Zayne's transformation to a degree.
With the ending sequence, we get a taste of how things have changed, and how they'll be in the future. We're in 3962 now; the war is moving into a much more serious phase. Zayne was never going to be able to return to Coruscant in good conscience. But after wondering whether he'd be a Jedi, a soldier, or a freelance hero, Zayne manages to find a way to meld all three. If the Navy can accept Jedi on its bridges without the full consent of the Order, it should also be able to accept Zayne as a specialist — especially with the Jedi owing Zayne and the Republic owing Morvis.
Thus, the ending is really a beginning of a new phase in Zayne's life — and a reminder that, during war, the sidelines is no place for a person with the abilities to make things better. One of my favorite movies of all time, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, captures this eloquently, and our last page here is partially inspired by that. Yes, Zayne has a good life back at the restaurant. But unlike the original Little Bivoli, it's a flightless restaurant. It's not going anywhere!
- I looked fairly carefully at the maps of the grounds of the Dantooine Academy from the KOTOR Prima Guide, but it's tricky to tell what areas are exactly where. The main idea here is that most of the action has taken place in the courtyard outside.
- Kace among the younglings is creepy indeed — but I imagined one of the things he had on his side was the neutrality still preached at the school. The kids weren't likely to have been told much about the Mandalorians — especially with Revan trying to lure students away himself.
- The Mandalorian Neo-Crusader armor raises the storytelling difficulty factor by quite a lot: unless helmets are off (and they couldn't be, here), it really is golden Zayne, red Morvis, and everybody else. Thankfully, All-Pro colorist Michael Atiyeh was great at making sure the right people got the right hues.
- Glomkettle, of course, is Gryph's mother's name, and his fake admiral name from Flashpoint.
- Zayne's up-and-down luck had been referenced again in #4, and here we show him playing off that. Kace's people had emerged from the ship, so they were close enough to be thrown for a loop but not killed. It's why Zayne waited to push the button.
- The prosecutor in the show trial is the same one from Demon.
- We finally reach the surface of Phaeda, which is as polluted as it's been described elsewhere.
- We see, at last, Zayne's sisters here; we'd learned he had four back in Commencement, and I think we revealed he was a middle child someplace. (What else would he be?)
- Scrope finally gets his hood back for the final page.
- The "wise sage" is, of course, known to readers of Demon.