Leia’s been sharpening her knives since the betrayal of Queen Trios. While our heroes were stranded on Hubin, Leia spent her time meticulously planning how she’d get retribution while dealing a blow to the Empire at some time. The plans have been made and it’s time for the whole team to rally behind her and take down Trios. On the queen’s world of Shu-Torun, the scourging is about to begin. SPOILERS AHEAD….
Queen Trios and an Imperial officer you might recognize from the “Ashes of Jedha” arc, Kanchar, consider Shu-Torun’s place in the Empire. From the perspective of a tributary world, Shu-Torun is thriving. They’ve made a place in the good graces of the Empire and the queen has proven her loyalty to it’s most deadly servant. While Kanchar and Trios discuss the events of Jedha and the subterfuge used to get the queen into the Rebel Alliance, she expresses regret for ultimately betraying Leia. Trios and Leia were kindred spirits and the queen says she genuinely felt friendship for Leia but had to make a choice to protect her people. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth regarding Trios’ morality and as far as I’m concerned the destruction of Mako-Ta Base is her legacy in the cannon. I’m no fan of Trios and whatever morality she has left is useless.
Quite a sight to behold, especially from where Leia stands. I’d forgotten how hellish the environment of Shu-Torun was. Leia’s plan to turn the ore-rich planet into an unremarkable and useless rock for the Empire to toss aside makes more sense to me after seeing this. That’s Leia, with her back turned to us, gazing up at Trios’ Ancestral Retreat, the fortress Trios is hidden away in. The art in this issue by Angel Unzueta and colorist Guru-eFX really sets the tone. It’s grand and bold, but at the same time solemn and gives a feeling of how isolated this small pocket of Rebels is from the rest of the galaxy as they carry out this mission. The scale is also very important, as it’s easy to forget how massive a network of tunnels and structures the Shu-Torun have carved out in their planet.
So, the stage is set. We’ve got our heroes, the droids, the Partisans, slicer Meorti, and changeling Tunga. Leia is going to turn the resources of Shu-Torun against its queen by breaking the harness their structures hold over the planet’s fuel. To do that, she’s using the same strategy Trios used against the Rebel Alliance at Mako-Ta Base. She’ll get control of everything from the inside and then watch the planet fall outside. To do that, they need Trios’ retina that functions as a two-factor authentification for the codes they already have. Kidnapping Trios would attract too much attention, so instead, Leia proposes they infiltrate a reception the queen is holding for her Ore Dukes and scan her retina. Meorti, the most intellectual of the group, is skeptical and sees capturing an Ore Duke as the next challenge.
This issue reminded me a lot of the Mission: Impossible franchise. There’s so much work that goes into just pulling off one part of the plan. It’s very cool to see our heroes working with such a dynamic cast of characters, trying to bring down the Shu-Torun and strike a victory against the Empire. This speeder heist in a subterranean network of tunnels leading to the Abyssal Rooms beneath the palace is a nice piece of action. Han pilots the speeder in pursuit of an Ore Duke who is ridiculing his pilot for their tardiness to meet Trios. He’s got bigger problems as the speeder catches up to them and our heroes board it. Leia quickly stuns the duke and his reluctant pilot asks if Leia could stun her too, but thanks her for putting down the unruly boss.
While Tunga morphs into the Ore Duke, Meorti outfits Threepio with this scanner to capture Trios’ retinal identity. The changeling and droid are bound for yet another party reserved for the aristocracy to get information to those less privileged. The speeder makes its way for the arrival at the grand ballroom of Queen Trios.
We learn the name of the Ore Duke Tunga has assumed, Lord Or-Tar. In a hasty move, Tunga gets close to the queen by pretending he’s excited to show her a new luxurious earpiece he’s had made. The queen is unimpressed and scolds the Ore Duke for vanity, mentioning his quotas are down. It’s mentioned at the beginning of the issue that Empire has rapidly increased the quota on Shu-Torun, which makes me think the construction of that second Death Star has picked up. Pretty much everything the Empire did between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One militarily was to consolidate resources for the first Death Star. I’ve been very interested in seeing how the construction of the second Death Star would ripple across the galaxy and it sounds like we may be getting our first whispers with this quota increase.
Gotcha! Threepio gets a good look at Trios, feeding a clear scan to Meorti aboard the stolen speeder. Leia tells Tunga to get out of there – they’ve been using the earpiece to communicate, but wants him to deliver a message. A line Leia has been waiting to say, as she watches Trios (you can almost insert popcorn into the frame), informing Trios that whatever is about to happen “I did this”.
That seems to get Trios’ attention! The plan begins.
I loved this issue. Writer Kieron Gillen gave this titular series a much-needed dose of action and intrigue, in my opinion. Over the last few issues, these characters have come across as a bit lost and bewildered by everything that’s happened to them. That feeling is gone and now they are completely focused on this mission. I don’t doubt some things aren’t going to go as planned but I love that Leia is the mastermind behind this plan and so far it’s being executed perfectly. Remember, the Partisans, as well as Luke and Chewbacca, are waiting patiently to play their roles. I can’t wait to see what they are. This arc, “The Scourging of Shu-Torun” is out of the gate and I feel like it’s going to be a sprint to the finish. I look forward to the race ahead!