Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina: “Greedo’s Tale,” Part 2

will: Welcome back, readers, to “A Hunter’s Fate: Greedo’s Tale,” wherein…ugh.

z: This should have been my week to start, but I had three rehearsals and a lesson on Sunday, two today (Monday), will have two tomorrow, dress rehearsal on Thursday, and need to do arranger-chasing to continue tying down next season’s repertoire as the librarian, so in conclusion eeeee I’m sorry Will I owe you.

Lots and lots, it seems.

will: No, no.

More than that.

*crash*

Huh?

will: Oh, hey, Future Will here. Z hasn’t seen this. It’s now Friday morning and the post goes live in ten minutes.

This post was locked and loaded by Tuesday night, but then Thursday came around and San Diego Comic-Con started. I couldn’t let this post go up without saying that while Zahn bringing Thrawn back was enough to get me off the fence in favor of the new canon, there was an announcement yesterday that pushed me to active approval:

Canto Bight, a story collection on the runup to The Last Jedi, will have a story by Mira Grant, who is a close personal friend who somehow kept this secret.

So yeah, that’s happening.

Anyway. Back to the past!

will: We pick up part 6 of the story with Greedo walking sullenly into the cafe where Goa is counting his money, but when Goa calls the Rodian over, he tries to look more adult–and apparently at least one old Twi’lek jumps out of his way, so that’s something.

z: Aw, our baby thug-wannabe is growing up?

will: The older hunter tells Greedo not to sit too close; apparently there’s a smell mismatch. At any rate, Greedo watches the money, hoping that maybe he can still buy that ship…until Goa gives him 200 credits. In bills, which may be the only time we get told about note-form currency. Doesn’t fit.

z: Hmmm. Zahn only always wrote about credit chits, as I recall, which I had mentally defined to myself as a cross between refillable gift cards and USB sticks, with network access so that they could in fact check that the person loading them had that much money to load onto them.

will: Warhog (who prefers that name over “Spurch,” though the narration still calls him Goa–just pick one!) is surprised at Greedo’s disappointment, and then explains:

Now, you think I train bounty hunters for free?

Uh-huh. Here it comes.

Greedo is shocked and embarrassed by the realization that he never thought about that, and Goa pulls more credits out of a bandolier pouch. That’s the 20,000 credits that make up a real third of the bounty on the Rebels. Goa offers it to Greedo, but says, “that’ll be it,” that he’ll never want to see Greedo again. Or, he can take the lower amount, but become Goa’s apprentice.

Greedo weighs it in his mind; he wants that ship, but more, he wants to hunt…”to be like his father.” Yes, it’s italicized in the story.

z: That’d be the father issues with the father that was killed before they left their home planet, you’ll recall.

will: Greedo, the sucker, takes the deal, holds out his hand, and the narration goes to Goa’s head without any sort of cue. See, the Rodian still smells, by Goa’s standards. But he gingerly shakes the kid’s hand, and in his thoughts we get told exactly what we all already knew: this is a setup. Now, Goa gets to keep Greedo’s share, and since he never saw a Rodian worth a damn at bounty hunting or anything else, Greedo’ll probably be dead in a month. He’s willing to accept he might be wrong, but still.

Deep sigh.

z: Third-rate villains are gonna third-rate villain, amirite.

will: Amirate?

Section 7 opens in an entirely new angle, but just as overwritten: a Star Destroyer arrives insystem and orbits Nal Hutta, and Vader orders that the Rebels be taken alive.

z: The overwriting starts with the section title, actually. The previous section’s title was “Teacher.” This one is “Vader.” Insert the Imperial March here.

will: Somehow, despite a Star Destroyer showing up, the Empire figures that disguising their insertion forces as light freighters will give them the element of surprise…

z: …and that’s where I choked on my drink.

will: And sure enough, a “Rebel SpecForce sentinel” notices the “freighters,” and simultaneously ignores them, but also twigs to that “the sheathing is wrong, the cargo doors are small, and that the cooling towers are wrong,” paraphrasing barely.

I mean, I think we’re supposed to get that he twigged to them without realizing it at first, but… ugh.

z: There’s a right way to convey that sentiment, and it’s to establish your character is fairly experienced with that sort of thing (assuming you can’t just use Wedge and be done with it), then have him or her think something like “Something’s not right about that thingy there…”

will: Anyway. Shockingly, the raid goes south in a hurry, for the Empire anyway; the two not-freighters get shot down and most of the “shocktroops” (yes, they’re called that, but we’re told they’re in white armor, so they’re stormtroopers) die, the remainder surrendering. (Yeah, right.)

z: {looks at this page}

{looks at that page}

{looks confused}

{looks at the name of the editor of this book}

{looks dismayed}

will: Greedo is looking with his bounty hunter “friends” into a bounty list that a Hutt has released when the alarms and fires start, and only then does he figure out that maybe the other people besides the Rebels on Level 88–like the rest of the Rodians–might be caught in the crossfire.

He races off, but Goa says that he and Dyyz are leaving for Tatooine tonight, so…

Greedo puts the pieces together–he hadn’t been invited, Goa hadn’t trained him at all–and then “starts to turn back, to beg Warhog and Dyyz to take him to Tatooine,” and can the Call just hang up for once?

z: Nah, not even when it’s patently the wrong number, it seems.

will: Greedo heads to Level 88 and from the turbolift sees that it’s a smoky, flaming mess. Then, he sees “a massive black war machine,” a giant mechanical crab that starts cutting through the area and the Rebels, doing mop-up. Greedo pounds on the door to the turbolift:

“It still wouldn’t open. Part of him was glad it wouldn’t open. Part of him wanted to leave. That part of him punched the button for Level 92.”

So I guess it did open, somewhere in that tangled mess of semisentences?

z: Nah, I read it as it didn’t open, and part of him was relieved because it’s safe behind closed doors and hit the button for level 92.

will: Oh–he was still on the lift. Gotcha. Shows you how closely I was reading; I hadn’t realized he never disembarked.

Greedo tells himself that his family will be all right, only the Rebels will die, making him the only person stupid enough to believe him, and he makes it to where Goa and Dyyz are.

They tell him, in short, that bounty hunters don’t have families anyway, he should just write them off, and “they’ll probably be okay,” and Greedo decides to go with them.

As they leave, twenty levels of the Corellian Sector of Nar Shaddaa collapse behind them, and Greedo just watches the smoke as they jump away.

z: Because of course it does.

Will skipped over it, but earlier on we got a very brief scene from the point of view from Greedo’s mother, when the first assault shuttle blew up–the apartment was close enough to the Rebel headquarters that she was almost blinded by the blast, or maybe literally blinded, I’m not sure and the wording doesn’t make it clear. But the point is, the apartment was close enough to the center of the assault to be line-of-sight.

The face you palm is probably your own.

will: Pick up section 8: Mos Eisley Spaceport, Chalmun’s Cantina. Dyyz sees Gorm, the cyborg that Greedo blasted, and that’s when Goa points out that Gorm would need to be completely vaporized to die. Dyyz asks what I’m asking: “why the hell wouldn’t you say that before?” Goa says don’t worry, Gorm has the best bounty on Jabba’s list, on another bounty hunter. We get a brief review of all the species in the cantina, including Han and Chewie popping in long enough for Greedo to recognize them, and Dyyz to give their names and say that Han is on Jabba’s list.

z: And to add commentary in the form of an impressively bad line: “If I were [Han] I’d make like a space frog and jump to some other galaxy!”

…you’re in a cantina full of three dozen species, you’ve just listed some of them out loud, and the best you can come up with is “space frog…”

…”jumping to some other galaxy” doesn’t work for me at all for some reason…

…anyway, if I had to suffer so do you.

will: Goa explains that Gorm’s target, another bounty hunter, was hunting some spicejackers, and there was a Hutt in the crossfire, whose palanquin carriers got shot. The Hutt ended up landing on the hunter, who had to kill the Hutt by internal thermal detonation. Yup, that’s what they say happened. Ugh.

At any rate, now the hunter has killed a Hutt, so her life is basically forfeit and she knows it.

In the interim, though, Greedo is nursing dreams of revenge against Han Solo, and the three of them realize they’re late for their appointment with Jabba.

If it seems like I’m trying to get through this all as fast as I can, that’s because I am. This stuff is…you know what? It feels like a comic book. Not a good one. Maybe that’s one of the problems, given Veitch’s work on comics.

z: Good case in point: The whole story of why the bounty hunter now has a bounty on her head, which Will got through in one sentence, is told over two and a half pages of dialogue that’s meant to be someone telling an exciting story in a bar and getting himself bought drinks and such, but the only reason the reader knows it’s supposed to be exciting is that we’re told so. In the meantime, no one is buying drinks for us, so all we’re thinking is “get on with it.” The only salient thing in those pages is Greedo’s interspersed thoughts about getting revenge on Han.

will: Right. And in a comic, we’d see the sequence in a flashback (or, well, flash-side) sequence where we got to watch the action happen.

Section 9! The three hunters arrive at Jabba’s town house, Goa fearlessly shouting a password to the guards while Greedo and Dyyz are more careful. But they follow to the audience chamber, a scaled-down version of the opening of Return of the Jedi, and Greedo almost passes out from the smell.

There’s some “banter” (term used loosely) about Goa speaking Huttese and mistranslating what’s being said to be more crude, not to mention insulting two other Rodians for smelling bad which Greedo decides to take as a poor-taste joke, and some really retch-inducing descriptions of Jabba, but the upshot is, the first contract Jabba offers them is Han’s. Specifically, the money Han got from selling the load of spice he claims to have dumped.

Dyyz says no, Han has too many ways of getting revenge even if dead, but Greedo says Han’s just a small-time smuggler and he stole my jacket, I’ll take him.

Idiot.

z: Thing the first: I’m… really curious about how Dyyz knows what Han can or cannot do when he’s dead, given that he has not really been dead so far that we know; thing the second, about Greedo, I agree with my esteemed colleague from New York City.

will: At any rate, they get the contracts, and “exclusive hunting rights” for the relevant quarries, then they back off to join the crowd at the bar. Greedo sees Dyyz and Dengar (another hunter we’ll meet in other works) exchanging notes, and then Goa talking with another Rodian, and realies they’re talking about him. “Greedo the Bounty Hunter.”

z: yaaaaaay three cheers

will: Section 10, and we switch POV to Han.

Who is arguing with Chewie as they work on the Falcon, that they need deflectors or they definitely won’t survive leaving Tatooine, wondering why he’s stuck here instead of “the oceanside breezes of any gambling resort in the galaxy,” and then remembers he’s not good at sabacc, just lucky sometimes–he has to work for a living, and who the hell replaced Han Solo with this walking cliche pile?

z: I mean, in a novel we can just blame the author, but this is an edited anthology so you’d think–

{remembers who the editor is again}

{subsides into a sulky silence}

will: A Rodian arrives, asking for Han through a translator, identifies himself as Greedo, Han recognizes him as the kid who tried to steal those power couplings. He tells Greedo to turn off the translator, and grabs a rag (that has a blaster hidden inside) and cleans his hands off. Greedo throws threats and insults at Han, who ignores them and simply says, I have the money, it’s just not simple to get at. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have it.

Greedo says, no, get it now.

Han responds, wait until tomorrow and I’ll throw in a few thousand extra.

And Greedo believes him.

Oh, you sour Tatooine-summer moron.

z: Well, that laugh was worth it.

will: After Greedo leaves, Han says, “well, now we need to leave tonight. Great.”

We shift back to Greedo, drinking with Goa–who lays the truth on the Rodian. Han is stalling.

He then says that Greedo should meet those other two Rodians, they can teach him things. But Greedo gets caught up in the Rodian clan war problems…until he remembers that he’s a bounty hunter now, he’ll get some respect and maybe he can be treated as an equal by those other Rodians. Once the job is done.

Greedo says don’t worry, Han will pay, and if not, they’ll kill him. Goa can be his backup.

The next day, the Falcon is still docked. Don’t ask me why. Han isn’t there, he’s having breakfast in a cafe. Greedo arrives, threatens Han, Han makes fun of Greedo in the process, Greedo snaps and starts shouting and that’s when Chewie puts Greedo in a headlock. Han takes Greedo’s blaster power cell, and advises Greedo to find a better line of work. Oh, and the guy in the alley, Greedo’s backup? He’s scampered.

Jabba is furious, Goa is groveling and desperate and suggests that Jabba should let Greedo kill Han, and take the Falcon for the debt. Jabba agrees… oh, and it’s now an open bounty of 100,000 credits, so work fast.

z: Goa, surprisingly, is being nice here, and is actually trying to protect and promote Greedo as his protege. Because otherwise there’d be no story, and also, if Jabba killed Greedo we’d be in direct conflict with actual movie canon. What chance does “consistent characterization” have against that?

will: Section 11, The Cantina. Goa and Greedo are in the cantina, Greedo unsure, Goa saying don’t worry, just stick to the plan. Dyyz is off dealing with a different job, so it’s just the two of them.

That’s when the lightsaber scene happens.

z: And Greedo doesn’t even wonder what the shiny sword is, instantly identifying it as a lightsaber because of course he does. Maybe there are a lot of comic books about Jedi, where he came from.

will: Goa notices the Jedi and “the kid” talking to Han and Chewie, and says “wait your turn.” Which is pretty ridiculous–but I precede myself.

The two other Rodians arrive, and Greedo does talk to them as equals, and they to him.

And then the stormtroopers come through, and Han and Chewie are alone. As Greedo starts to walk toward them, though, he gets a vision of himself and his mother and his brother, back home in the jungle. And he sees his mother is crying–sad for what must happen, she says, but “happy that he is coming home.”

His vision clears, he approaches, and…then we get the first half of Greedo’s scene, up to “over my dead body,” rehashed.

At that point the scene shifts to Goa, who sees Han draw under the table, and thinks, “poor Greedo.”

He watches the rest.

Blam.

Shortly thereafter, Goa meets with the other two Rodians, who thank him for taking care of their little “we can’t be seen to be hunting our own but this clan was sentenced to die” problem.

Goa says, he isn’t proud of this, but at least he didn’t have to pull the trigger himself. He knew Solo would kill Greedo.

And we’re out.

What a waste.

(Which is also funny, ish, in light of a later story.)

Don’t ask me if I mean the story, the idea, or Greedo’s life. Certainly the last one is a waste by design. But the other two…I don’t know if I’m more disappointed by the idea of spending a “let’s tell side stories!” story on a story we already know the end of, or if I’m disappointed at how paint-by-numbers the result was.

Speaking of, I stand by wondering if the problem is a comic background doing prose storytelling. They’re very different skill sets, after all.

Z?

z: I’ve got no comments on the comic book/prose question, but I actually liked the “twist” ending, because it gave rise to a couple of “oh, so that’s why” moments re: why there were Rodians hanging around and why Goa was acting as if he was an actual mentor sometimes and goading Greedo to Solo. As far as justifications go, it’s not a bad one.

…except we didn’t need a justification. Jabba sent bounty hunters after Han Solo, one of them happened to be a Rodian with an unspecified past grudge and one stupid enough to let Han put a hand under the table. End of story. If we were supposed to feel for Greedo… newsflash: It’s really hard to empathize with teenage punks. If this was supposed to be a story of a decent guy falling in with the wrong crowd and therefore seriously becoming “what a waste…” …too little time was spent on the decentness in question. In conclusion, if the first story about the band suffered a little bit from “there’s no real conflict here so we have to make up one,” it was at least inoffensive conflict. And the authorial voice was entertaining. This… has unnecessary conflict that is pastede on yey, with very weak glue at that, and the authorial voice is clunky enough at places to make you wonder who the editor–

Oh.

Nevermind then.

Next week, we–

{eyes grow big}

{an involuntary grin intensifies}

–well, well, well. Next week, we rejoin Timothy Zahn in the tale of the Tonnika Sisters.

will: Grumble. Though strictly speaking it’s the tale of the “Tonnika Sisters,” and you’ll see what that one means next week.

z: I’m sure you’re just imagining the choirs of angels singing praise.

…almost sure.

In the meantime, may the Force be with you.

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