Luke Skywalker is NOT Kylo Ren (or a denizen of the dark side)

Luke Skywalker's hand on R2's Dome

A recent attempt to convince us all that The Force Awakens finds Luke succumbed to the dark side doesn’t make sense. The piece (which is worth a read truth be told) uses a lot of cues from the original trilogy to come to the conclusion that Luke has already flipped allegiances and joined the dark side. If we didn’t know anything about The Force Awakens, including what we’ve seen in trailers, then the theory would be worth some serious consideration.

Maybe.

But ultimately, it makes too many leaps and makes too many assumptions for it to be true. 

The story of the Skywalkers in the first six films ends with in Luke succeeding in walking the line where his father failed.  Yeah, Luke may have felt the sway of the dark side in his throwdown with Vader, but he ultimately rejects the call of the Emperor by throwing down his lightsaber and declaring himself a Jedi. Not for one second do I think he was lying about that, as the piece claims he is. To reveal, 30 years later, that he was lying, is to pull the rug out from a generation of fans, not to mention cheapen the entire original trilogy that now essentially has no hero. To claim Luke is lying is a massive leap.

Also, if you have followed spoilers, (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you haven’t), the story goes that Luke had founded a Jedi academy in the post Return of the Jedi era, (as expected he would) which gets sacked by some powerful thugs during a flashback sequence in The Force Awakens. The shot of a mechanical hand on R2’s dome is that of Luke’s after his academy was turned to ash, it’s pupils cut down. It is then that Luke goes in to a self-imposed exile, which is what The Force Awakens is pretty much all about – the search for Luke Skywalker. If these spoilerific plot points hold up, that’s a bit of a knockout punch to this entire piece. Dark Jedi don’t found Jedi academies. There’s also the small matter of the photo that circulated earlier this summer of Luke in his Jedi robes for The Force Awakens. The image was supposedly to be used in 3D scans of the character, but Disney moved mountains and issued every website publishing the image a cease and desist order. The outfit Luke was wearing in the image looked more like Obi-Wan from A New Hope than it did the robes of a dark Jedi, or Sith, or fallen Jedi, or whatever it is you think Luke has become.

But let’s pretend that the author knows very little about The Force Awakens. When Luke leaves Dagobah to face Vader and save his friends, Yoda tells Obi-Wan that “matters are worse”. He wasn’t saying that Luke was a lost cause, destined to join the Sith, another leap made by the author. This was simply the pessimistic side of Yoda being expressed; concern for Luke’s safety. Sure, Yoda could have also been worried that Luke would be turned to the dark side…after all, that was Vader and the Emperor’s plan. If Luke was already on his way to the dark side after his first encounter with Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, he would have resumed training under Vader once he embraced the truth about his lineage. He would have also skipped saving Han, and taken Vader to Dagobah to finish off a slowly dying Yoda. Of course. that’s not what happened. Before dying, the conversation Yoda has with Luke, and Luke’s ensuing conversation with the apparition of Obi-Wan clearly illustrate that Luke had every intention of saving his father instead of killing him. Someone drunk with the power of the dark side would not have even had the conversation and would have passed go, and gone directly for the kill.

The author of the HuffPo piece clearly put a lot of thought and effort in to his piece, but I think he’s suffering from a case of over-thinking things, by making leaps and assumptions that aren’t entirely reasonable.  With literally decades of time between the Star Wars films, there’s a lot of themes, and characters to toy with. But nobody can lose sight of the fact that the original trilogy (you could expand that to episode 1-6) will forever stand on their own. After all, up until a couple years ago we were all resigned to never seeing a new Star Wars movie again. Even if Kathleen Kennedy said that the upcoming trilogy is also about the Skywalker family, the first six films were created by George Lucas, and intended to stand on their own. The new trilogy will build off of that 6-part saga, not subvert it for shock value. For Disney, Lucasfilm, Abrams, Kasdan, and everyone involved with charting out the arc of the next trilogy to alter what George Lucas had delivered would be a cruel and unnecessary gut punch to generations of fans who live and breathe all things Star Wars, and who grew up with Luke Skywalker as their hero. It would be the peak of taking your fans for granted to go down this path. In turning Luke to evil, even for a little while, would risk alienating millions of fans who would justifiably feel betrayed. Why do that?

These movies have been around for so long and have been dissected in so many ways that it boggles the mind. Fan speculation is part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan, and with the internet always a click away, sharing theories has never been more engaging. I don’t think I’m being naive or unwilling to be challenged as a fan on notions I’ve held for 30 years, but to force everyone to bend to this “theory” that Luke was already well on his way to the dark side in the original trilogy is not clever storytelling. It’s an insult to loyal fans, and to the story of Star Wars itself.

Dealing With Death in Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars fans demand a tight continuity, with story lines that deliver emotion, action, and clearly defined endpoints for plots and characters. To be clear, none of that is an unreasonable expectation….except for when it is.

In extrapolating the eventual outcome for Star Wars: Rebels, we fans assume the body count among our heroes will be high. Very high.

The crew of the Ghost? They aren’t around in A New Hope, so they have to be dead, otherwise they’d be still be around to take on the Death Star, right? Hera was so involved and dedicated to the Rebel cause that something must happen to her during Rebels that explains why she isn’t around in the original trilogy era. Ezra and Kanan? If Luke is the only Jedi (with a potential Jedi in Leia), then again, something bad must happen to these two; either death or a turn to the dark side (which presumably also leads to death). Ahsoka? We all know how that HAS to end, right? Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper? Admittedly it is easier to write them out of the show without killing them. On the other hand, they are the easiest to kill on the show in terms of driving consequences without breaking too many hearts. Why not add to the growing pile of loose ends, with Rex & crew now joining the fray?

By my count, Hera, Ezra, Kanan, Ahsoka, and Rex will all bite the dust according to most fans of The Wars…or ought to bite the dust…or are expected to bite the dust. Whatever.

Nobody outside of Lucasfilm, Disney and Dave Filoni is quite certain how long Rebels will go on for, but the common belief is that season three will be the show’s last. After all, there’s only so much you can cram in to the time period that they’re playing with here. So if all of the above characters have to die in order to keep the existing canon clean, then we’re in for even more stress and heartbreak than a Walking Dead or Game of Thrones fan.

And then there’s the other side of the argument, which is gaining more sway with me. We have to keep in mind the very stark reality that Rebels is a show primarily aimed at children as an entry point to Star Wars lore. Yes, long time fans also adore the show but any time a show is aired on Disney XD, adults are NOT the target demographic. So, will Lucasfilm/Disney push a show that continuously kills off beloved characters? Maybe it’s “good” for continuity and in some cases it’s good for the overall story. But is that good for sales? None of these characters have been killed off yet, and it doesn’t appear that any of them will drop any time soon, so the longer these characters live, the more entrenched they become in fandom (especially with the younger set). It will be jarring, especially for younger fans when the dominoes do start to fall because the remaining runway to do away with them will become compressed. Try explaining to little Timmy and Susie why Hera was killed one week, then Kanan, then Rex, then Ezra, then Ahsoka. Kids don’t like seeing their favorites killed off. Just ask any Transformers fan who freaked out when Optimus Prime was killed in the 1986 animated movie. Fans had such a fit of rage that Optimus was eventually resurrected. Kids lose interest when their favorites are gone, and when interest is gone, sales follow. Maybe that’s not such a crime since the show will have a relatively short life, and sales will be finite anyway. But the longer Ahsoka sticks around, the more beloved and bankable she becomes. Want to know what Disney really likes? Bankable characters. In fact I think it’s already safe to say that regardless of whether or not Ahsoka dies in Rebels, fans will want more of her in some form after Rebels is in the can. They could explore her life between Clone Wars and Rebels, or they could get really, really creative and find a satisfying way for her to live on somehow and continue to be a player in the Star Wars universe.

I’m not naive enough to think that all of these characters are untouchable and I’m sure that at least a couple of them are as good as dead. But all of them? Possible, I guess. No doubt hard-headed fans will say that they all absolutely must go otherwise the original trilogy is cheapened, but as we know, only a Sith deals in absolutes. The Star Wars galaxy is a big place and there’s a lot of place for wiggle room.

We’re going to have to approach this week-to-week as Dave Filoni has taken a master class in how to mess with fans. Teasing Ahsoka vs Vader is as predictable as it is compelling, and there are countless other threats to dangle in front of us fans. Surely they want to walk the line of providing excitement and anticipation, while also having this show mean something through grave consequences for the good guys.

What’s your take? Do all of these good guys have to die? How do you reconcile the story “need” to have them dead with the fact that the show is for kids?

Let me know below, or @tumblingsaber.

 

Star Wars Rebels: Relics of the Old Republic Review

relicsoftheoldrepublic

If The Lost Commanders was considered to be a little bit slow, then Relics of the Old Republic made up for it with some throwback classic trilogy action, walker style! Picking up in the moments where The Lost Commanders ended, with our heroes trying their damndest to get lost before the Empire finds them. Of course, we know that’s a fruitless venture as the Empire quickly finds them and sends TIE fighters and AT-AT walkers after them.

Showing off some of the prowess that made the clones vastly superior to inept stormtroopers, Rex, Wolffe and Gregor take on three walkers with their old, tattered AT-TE. With the help of the crew of the Ghost, and the fortunate appearance of a sandstorm, the good guys find a way to outsmart Agent Kallus and escape to fight another day. During the episode we witnessed Kanan’s mistrust of the clones yet again, which was nicely juxtaposed against Ezra’s seeming adoration of the old warriors, who also appear to be enamoured with the young force sensitive kid. In the end, Kanan is far too good of a person to leave the clones behind to deal with a vengeful Empire, so he helps to rescue them and bring them in to the mix with the rest of the growing Rebel forces.

The winning moment of this episode by a country mile was seeing Captain Rex reunited with Ahsoka, further bridging the 20+ year gap between the time Ahsoka left the order and where we stand today with Rebels.

It was a brief and satisfying two episode arc that serves as yet more connective tissue between the prequel and original trilogy era, and now we move in to more pressing matters with the introduction of two new inquisitors. With the task of succeeding where the first inquisitor (and Kallus) have failed, the two inquisitors will no doubt be a menacing threat to Kanan, Ezra, and anyone else who sides with them.

If you had a hard time with the slow pace of the first instalment of this arc, then the second episode more than made up for it.

Let me know what you thought of the latest episode in the comments below, or on twitter @tumblingsaber.

Five Mini Series Marvel Needs to Run

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Marvel’s been furiously pounding out fresh Star Wars content for months now, and for the most part, it has all been embraced very well by fandom. The sales numbers are consistently good, which means that Marvel is going to continue pumping out content week after week for the foreseeable future. With movies planned out for the next several years, we can count on more and more comics coming our way. The story group has a large task in creating, and organizing the new ‘canon’ content, while at the same time leaving breathing room for other platforms to explore different storylines. And we can be sure that there will be tons of uncharted waters to explore once The Force Awakens brings us up to date with the goings on in the galaxy far, far away.

That said, there’s nothing quite like a comic book. The combination of art and writing is totally unique and when done right, can rival the best novel and feel almost like a movie, with the Star Wars score running through the theater of your mind. With so many story lines and characters to explore across three distinctly different Star Wars eras, here are a few things I think Marvel needs to take a look at in the form of a five-part mini series:

1- Count Dooku and Qui-Gon Jinn – Where did Qui-Gon get his rebellious streak from? Was he already a Jedi that marched to his own beat, or did Dooku warp him? And was Dooku already under the sway of Palpatine while he was teaching Qui-Gon the ways of the Jedi?  Qui-Gon and Dooku were two of the prequel trilogies more interesting, dignified, and compelling characters, but Qui-Gon didn’t make it through one movie, and Dooku really didn’t get that much screen time when you add it all up. A series highlighting their time together would give important glimpses in to how the Jedi order, as well as the Republic began to rot from the inside. Done well,  both of these characters could light up the pages of a comic and add some badly needed depth to two of the prequels’ best characters. This one’s a lay-up.

2- Palpatine and Plagueis – Admit it – you want to see how Palpatine outfoxed his master, and you DEFINITELY want to see Plagueis, if the amount of people thinking that Supreme Leader Snoke is in fact Plagueis is any indication. Over the course of six movies, we saw how devious, evil and cunning Palpatine really was. I don’t know if showing him murdering his master would serve to make him any more evil, but it would be cool to see.

3- Stealing plans for Death Star 2 – Yes, they’re currently producing a movie about a Rebel cell stealing plans for the first Death Star, so they likely won’t make a movie with the same premise twice. But why not explore the acquisition of the Death Star 2 plans in a different medium, and give it a different tone? If Rogue One is said to have gritty, realistic action (as far as that style can apply in the Star Wars universe), why not go with a spy/thriller tone for the comic? Maybe this is better suited to be a novel, or graphic novel, but it would be cool to see many Bothans die in color.

4- Formation of Rebellion – One of the angles that was regrettably cut from Revenge of the Sith was the group of Senators (including Mon Mothma and Bail Organa among others) secretly discussing the dark direction of the Republic, and how they needed to think about forming an alliance to oppose Palpatine’s growing power. Also, it would be interesting to include Padme in this series and give us a taste of how she went about hiding her pregnancy from everyone. Did anyone else know? Did she ever get prenatal care? Are records for that still around? Recently Darth Vader visited Naboo in order to look at the coroner’s report and confirm that Padme did in fact deliver a child before she died. If more tests were conducted during her pregnancy, where are they?

5- C-3P0 & R2-D2 – Post Revenge of the Sith – “I’m placing these droids in your care. Treat them well. Clean them up. Have the Protocol Droid’s mind wiped.” Why just wipe 3P0’s memory? Because he’s a big mouth? R2 can remember things the same as Goldenrod, so why the discrimination? Here’s a loose end that never quite sat well with me that should be addressed at some point. I think it could be a nice retrospective series where they revisit all of the things 3P0 has seen in the years since Anakin activated him on Tatooine, and show us what he’s like as he’s “reborn”. What were his first new memories?

There’s four series that I think Marvel needs to explore in the near future. I’m sure they have an entire slate of books ready to throw in to production, but I hope they eventually explore this material in some way.

What angle or storyline do you want to see fleshed out further? Let me know in the comments below, or @tumblingsaber.

Breaking Down The Force Awakens Trailer

Rey-BB8

In a word: breathtaking.

The excruciatingly long wait was certainly worth it, and more than ever it appears as though the Star Wars universe is in great hands. The closer we got to seeing the first full trailer from The Force Awakens, the harder it was to pass the time, but patience has paid sweet dividends and now comes the extremely painful 50 day slog until December 18th.

I was not sure what to expect, but to say I’m impressed is an understatement. Everything looks, sounds and feels right on. They still haven’t revealed anything from the plot, which makes this trailer more of an extended teaser but I’m perfectly okay with that. Some fans may be a little aggravated that we still don’t really know what the movie is about, but we got some fluid action shots, some dialogue, and some utterly fantastic new music from John Williams.

We hear the voices of Rey, Maz, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Han, who carries the load of the narration. What I find exceptional about what we hear from Han is how he explains to Rey and Finn that the Jedi and the dark side were in fact real. What this tells us is that the Jedi have seemingly passed from a mainstay in the galaxy, to almost a figment of imagination. It speaks to how effective Order 66 was, and how the galaxy as a whole rejected and forgot about the Jedi. It also raises questions about the paths of the two lead protagonists. Will they revive a religion that they’ve only heard about? Or do they take a different path? A standout moment is watching Finn’s reaction to Kylo Ren bearing down on him, about to engage in combat. It’s the face of a guy clearly engulfed in fear, knowing he’s in over his head. How he gets out of that mess is anyone’s guess.

What will certainly rub some fans the wrong way is the continued exclusion of Luke Skywalker from any promotional material leading up the film’s release. Yes, we see him (or what we believe to be him) in a recycled shot from the first teaser but no glimpse of the beard, no dialogue, nothing. Again, it speaks to the size of his role in the movie and as much as I had hoped to see him in a bigger role, what we do know of the story makes it necessary for him to be…away.

Nicely preserved are the full identities of Finn and Rey, and their lineage. Fan theories will continue to pour in until we learn for sure who they are and what their origins are.

No matter what you were expecting from this trailer, there’s no denying that Disney, Lucasfilm and Abrams went to extraordinary lengths to get this right, and it certainly appears they’ve done the job. Many feel like this film and trilogy will be a giant make-up-call for the prequels; in fact many fans have relegated the prequels to a collection of story beats that do nothing but inform Episodes 4-6. Lucasfilm also seems to have made a point of staying away from any prequel material or mentions in all of their marketing, in a pretty clear attempt to rebuild the trust of the casual fan who felt slighted by Episodes 1-3.

It’s been a great day for Star Wars fans. It’s exhilarating to see dog fights, lightsabers and stormtroopers on the big screen again while freshly rearranged John Williams music fills our ears. How it all comes together remains to be seen but every single sign is extremely encouraging. There are no more planned trailers until December 18th but I’m sure we’ll see clips, images and other various media that will keep the carrot dangling just beyond our reach.

It’s going to be a tough jaunt until December 18th but we’ll remember this period of our Star Wars fandom forever, which is quite something considering just a decade ago we thought it was all over and done with.

Oh Canada! Tickets for The Force Awakes On Sale Tomorrow!

By now you might be aware that in the moments after the trailer for The Force Awakens airs during haltime tomorrow on Monday Night Football, tickets for the actual movie will go on sale, two months before the movie’s release.

This news was obviously relating to American theaters, but what about Canadian theaters? It would be a safe bet that they’d follow suit, but when asked, Cineplex only said they’d give details when ready.

This morning they sent me a tweet (more than one actually), confirming that tickets will indeed go on sale for The Force Awakens tomorrow.

Fantastic news! I’ve never been so excited to watch a game between the Giants and Eagles!

Star Wars Rebels: The Lost Commanders Review

rexwolffegregor

Star Wars season two resumes with a fairly quiet but somewhat nostalgic turn in The Lost Commanders. The crew of the Ghost follow up on some advice from a coy Ahsoka about the whereabouts of some “help” in their struggle against the Empire.

It’s spoilers from here on in, so if you still haven’t seen the episode, it’s time to stop reading.

So who were these “mysterious” friends of Ahsoka? None other than Captain Rex, who has been holed up in an old Republic tank with fellow clones Wolffe and Gregor. How they finally located the former clones was a clever bit of old meets new, something Filoni is doing a masterful job of with Clone Wars and Rebels. Using the severed head of an old separatist droid, they followed homed in on “7567”, better known as Rex’ birth number.

The standout part of this episode was seeing how Kanan reacted to being confronted with three Clone Wars-era soldiers, in the flesh, right in front of him. After all, these are the same troops that suddenly and abruptly turned on their Jedi Generals. Of course, we wouldn’t have had this moment had Ahsoka not been so secretive about who she was sending them to meet in the first place, but that would have ruined the moment for a lot of viewers.

Not a lot happens in this episode, to be frank. Aside from an old fan favorite rejoining the fray (and all of the implications you want to glean from that) there’s not much here to chew on. Of course, we’re just getting started, and so it’s appropriate that the episode ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, as it’s clear that the Imperial probe droid did its job in reporting the Rebels’ location to the Empire. Star Wars fans know all too well that once a probe droid does its job, what follows isn’t all that pleasant.

The Force Awakens – First Official Poster!

TheForceAwakensPoster

The avalanche of all things Star Wars is just about underway. We’ve just been given our first look at the official poster, and it looks glorious.

For some fans who have griped and moaned about Luke’s reported role in the movie, this poster will unfortunately fail to please them, and they’re now going to have to accept the reality that the rumors about Skywalker’s involvement in the film are most likely true.

Other notable inclusions are the first look at the Starkiller weapon, as well as what is likely our first real look at Maz Kanata, the character played by Lupita Nyong’o.

In all, it’s a great looking poster, but it does look like a fan-art collage. I’m sure there will be plenty of other posters and artwork surrounding this film so if it doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t worry. More is to come.

And don’t forget to watch Monday Night Football during halftime tomorrow night to catch the full trailer. Yeah, like I said, the avalanche is in full effect!

Rebels Season Two – Hopes and Expectations

ahsokasabers

Potential Season Two spoilers below!

When we first started seeing the first images of Lucasfilm’s latest animated venture, Star Wars: Rebels, I wasn’t totally invested. At least not at the start. I was intrigued by the premise of the show, but the first visuals of the cast of characters left me lukewarm. I was going to watch the show regardless, but that’s because the Star Wars logo was attached, and it was canon. Even the short vignettes of each character didn’t fully grab me. That all changed in a hurry once I saw Spark of Rebellion. From the first moments, I thought it legit, and worthy of being an official part of Star Wars lore. I wanted the scope of the show to expand to beyond being a thorn in the Empire’s side, and in due time, it did. By the season one finale, the stakes were sufficiently raised that I was anticipating the conclusion with very baited breath.

Now that season 2 is just a couple days away, I am, like most Star Wars fans, anxiously awaiting the season two premiere. The trailers have been intense, and speculation over what can/will/must happen has been intense. Once fan favorite Ahsoka Tano made her long-theorized and hotly anticipated return to the show, the show’s stakes went off the charts. Now there was strong connective tissue between the prequels and the original trilogy era and suddenly *everyone* cared that much more. Now, there’s the feeling that Ahsoka’s storyline could overshadow everyone else’s, and I’m not sure if anyone would object to that. Of course, showrunner Dave Filoni runs a tightly focused ship and he will keep the spotlight on the crew of the Ghost while Ahsoka’s story unfolds (concludes?) as a thunderous undercurrent.

We’ve seen images of old faces, new faces, and new(ish) vehicles as a part of the season two trailer, and there’s just two more days to go until the second season kicks off for real. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and think that season two will be a episode after episode of Ahsoka vs Vader. With new Inquisitors involved, chances are we’ll see much more of them than we will of Vader, and we ought to be ok with that. Despite the return of James Earl Jones, and his amazing McQuarrie-esque design, Darth Vader is a villain best taken in smaller doses in this series if he is to be received as the galaxy’s most intimidating figure in Episodes four, five and six.

Season two is sure to crank up the intensity and cut closer to the core of the Star Wars universe that we all know and love, and if the direction of season one is any indication, future seasons are going to excite us in ways we didn’t think possible from an animated series.

UPDATED! Where’s Our The Force Awakens Trailer?

Darth Vader's Helmet in The Force Awakens

The first teaser whet the appetite, and the second teaser rang the dinner bell. But if you’re like most fanatical Star Wars fans, you want the full four-course meal. What I’m talking about, of course, is the full The Force Awakens Trailer, decked out with dialogue, new music, new characters, vehicles, locations and some not-so-subtle hints about the plot of the movie.

FuriousFanBoys.net posted this entry late last week and it does a good job of deciphering when we might see the trailer. What we do know for sure is that with each passing day we draw one day closer to not only the trailer, but the release of the movie itself. And on the week where the highly anticipated second season to Rebels kicks off, it’s pretty clear that soon things will be all Star Wars, all the time. With so many opportunities and platforms to promote itself, Star Wars is going to dominate headlines for weeks and months to come.

Also not to be missed is the date by which movie tickets go on sale for the Force Awakens. Apparently this is happening on the 19th, and that has been confirmed, so be sure to have your credit cards handy. Whether or not this is also applicable to Canada remains to be seen.

Stay tuned, because according to those in the know, more is coming very soon:

The first teaser whet the appetite, and the second teaser rang the dinner bell. But if you’re like most fanatical Star Wars, you want the full four-course meal. What I’m talking about, of course, is the full The Force Awakens Trailer, decked out with dialogue, new music, new characters, vehicles, locations and some not-so-subtle hints about the plot of the movie.

FuriousFanBoys.net posted this entry late last week and it does a good job of deciphering when we might see the trailer. What we do know for sure is that with each passing day we draw one day closer to not only the trailer, but the release of the movie itself. And on the week where the highly anticipated second season to Rebels kicks off, it’s pretty clear that soon things will be all Star Wars, all the time. With so many opportunities and platforms to promote itself, Star Wars is going to dominate headlines for weeks and months to come.

Also not to be missed is the date by which movie tickets go on sale for the Force Awakens. Apparently this is happening on the 19th, and that has been confirmed, so be sure to have your credit cards handy. Whether or not this is also applicable to Canada remains to be seen.

Stay tuned, because according to those in the know, more is coming very soon:

Edit: It appears that we now have our answer! The guys over at makingstarwars.net have confirmed that the trailer will be released some time on Monday, October 19th, the same day tickets go on sale. What an unforgettable day to be a Star Wars fan!

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