Disney and LucasFilm have released the first of a series of shorts as part of the STAR WARS: FORCES OF DESTINY series. The canonical shorts are said to take place in all eras of the Star Wars universe, with the intention of them being canonical additions to the new expanded universe of stories. The animated micro-series has been made available on YouTube ahead of a two-part TV special featuring eight additional shorts on Disney Channel in fall 2017.
This first episode, ‘Sands of Jakku,’ features Daisy Ridley reprising her role of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The short appears to take place during the chronology of the former, with Rey and her new friend BB-8 making their way across the titular desert. When a subterranean creature attacks the cute robot, Rey uses her wits and unknown Force skills to save him.
‘Sands of Jakku’ is very much aimed at kids. Given how dark the last few films have been, including the deathstravaganza that was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it’s actually quite pleasant to have something that isn’t necessarily about keeping tabs on which classic character is going to meet the Force next. Think of this as one of those short picture books that comes out as a supplement to the theatrical releases, allowing a younger generation access to something that we adult all enjoyed as kids in the first place. Indeed, there is a series of youth-oriented books that are being released in concert with these shorts.
The predominantly visual narrative may not be the most satisfying of stories to people used to the grand saga of the Skywalkers, but it’s fair to say that the audience for this short may not be as broad. The animation style is a far cry from the days of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars shorts, seen by many as a high water mark of the animated expanded universe. It could just be that we’ve been spoiled by the CG animation of Rebels and its predecessors.
While we wait for the next chapter in Rey’s story, STAR WARS: FORCES OF DESTINY at least provides fans an opportunity to revisit a character that very quickly worked her way into popular culture. If this is one more moment in the saga that young girls and women can emulate, along with reinforcing Rey’s position as a central figure in the universe, then this short and its successors have done their job.