Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Star Wars EU: Where did Riina come from?

The impetuous for this particular article came from a thread over on the Literature boards at TheForce.Net. Basically the initial post was questioning the relationship between Ikrit's prophecy, Anakin, Tahiri/Riina and Jacen. Especially how it related to Tahiri's mental problems during the Force Heretic trilogy when her secondary personality began surfacing. A secondary question related to the kiss Anakin told Jacen to give to Tahiri and the possibility of that "activating" Riina in some way.

Of course, I answered that Riina was all Jacen's fault.

After all, it's only natural. He's responsible for every bad deed and thought in the EU since his granddaddy's birth. He can flow-walk remember.

Yet, when I was asked for a direct quote to prove it, I had to stop and actually think. For while I had no doubt in my little head that Jacen was responsible for Riina's emergence, I now had to think up a reason why. This was made harder by the fact that this was at the height of Del Rey's insane insistence that Jacen was the real true hero of the NJO . Despite the fact that he wasn't a STAR WARS Hero and he pretty much taught the Jedi Order a view of the Force which leads directly to the Dark Side. Way to go, hero-boy.

So, I was stumbling through my NJO novels, and enlightenment shone down. Kind of like how Jacen realized he needed to kill that innocent girl, just for kicks. Subtext! The proof is in the subtext! Thank the Force for subtext.

Basically, it worked like this. Jacen did it, while mucking about in Tahiri's brain trying to teach her how to use the Vongsense (which disturbingly sounds like some type of drug).

Anyways, there are a number of things that we know because they're displayed straightforward in the text of the novels:

  • Tahiri is fine in SbS
  • Anakin "Goes" in SbS
  • Tahiri is sad in DJ but is not suffering from her mental breakdown
  • Tahiri is fine in the Enemy Lines duology, even as she uses her knowledge of the Vong in the Jedi's fight against them
  • She's still fine in Destiny's Way and Ylesia
  • About two-thirds of the way through DW, Jacen starts trying to "help" Tahiri develop her Vongsense
  • At the start of the Force Heretic Trilogy, she's bonkers, and slowly gets worse

To me what is the most interesting is the fact that she uses her knowledge of the Vong so much in the Enemy Lines duology yet we don't get a single hint of blackouts or other representations of her upcoming mental breakdown. In my opinion, this should be where it started at. Far enough down the time-line that she's not quite as "broken" as she was in DJ, and additionally she's using her knowledge of the Vong-including a stint where that uber-Dark-Jedi-old-Corellian-myth-cyborg-thing recognizes her as a Vong rather than a Jedi.

But nope. There's nothing there. Not even a hint of mental instability.

We don't get any hint that there's something wrong with the girl until the start of the Force Heretic trilogy when it's discovered that she had went AWOL earlier (and oddly, no one bothered to look for her, guess she was hitting the Vongsense a bit too much) and abandoned her squadron, the Barefoots.

Additionally, it's during FH3 that we start seeing her blackouts and mental screwiness whenever she is faced with an aspect of her Vong side.

So, whatever activated her mental breakdown had to occur between the start of DW and the start of FH3, because it was right there at the beginning of FH3 that she popped back up, all coo coo for coco puffs.

So, we must ask ourselves, what activity is smacked dab right in the middle of that particular time frame? What activity seems the most responsible for the emergence of Riina.

You guessed it, Jacen mucking about in her head.

How it works is that during DW Jacen has this brilliant idea, one pushed by Luke if memory serves, to try and teach the Vongsense to other Jedi. He decided to start with Tahiri, because you know, the poor girl hadn't already been tortured enough, she also needed to spend some quality alone time with her dead boyfriend's older brother.

Anyways, the text has a lot of interesting things to say about their "meditations" but one of the things that is not said is that he is actively mucking about her head in the Force. But, then I read this:
He tried to build a bridge between Tahiri and the dhuryam, but he couldn't seem to bring the two closer together, and he could sense Tahiri's growing frustration.
I found this most intriguing because a few paragraphs earlier, Jacen ordered Tahiri to shut down in the Force. So basically she's sitting there, and is unable to feel anything from the Force. She's effectively shut herself down here. Yet, the text is clear that Jacen is connected to her enough through the Force that he can feel her growing frustration. Even though Jacen wants her to be shut down, he himself is not.

Basically, he's playing with his new pet.

Is Jacen the only option for Riina popping up? Not really. It could have occurred the same way that common wisdom among the fans implies, that Anakin's death blew some type of circuit breakers in her head. That just seems so Dark Phoenix to me though. Additionally, it's most likely that Jacen actually did it accidentally while playing around in her head-a side effect of him attempting to activate her Vongsense as opposed to any malicious purposes that he held.

But again, he Flow-walks, so we can't put doing something for the sheer meanness of it past his future self.

So, in the end that's what we're left with. Riina is a direct result of Jacen's meddling screwing things up. A concept which I find oddly comforting in view of his early NJO and YJK characterizations.

Of course, now I have to wonder how everyone else thinks that Riina came to be.


Thrawn said...

Nice post. I'm hoping Tahiri will be in the new Legacy series more soon.

Stephen Wrighton said...


As for Tahiri... well... I'm of mixed minds about it all.. I want her there more often, but at the same time, I'm scared of what they'll do to her character next.

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