If Darth Vader is more machine than man, then Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is perhaps more gift shop than it is theme park. The planet Batuu, alien as it is, understands the very human impulse of buying shiny things—but for all the very flashy things you can get there, my favourite memory of it might just be one of the smallest little trinkets.
Disney’s Star Wars land is unlike anything else at its plethora of theme parks across the world. It doesn’t feel like you’re in a theme park, even as people queue across the courtyards of Batuu for a chance to get to fly the Millennium Falcon. But as fascinatingly unique as that is, it already feels like it’s going to become a bit of a headache for Disney.
As readers of this website are more than familiar with at this point, I am a) a fan of shiny things and b) a complete and total idiot. In the deepest throes of my FOMO-laden pangs of desire to go to Galaxy’s Edge, these two points of order combined in deadly shopping lists of things I would very much like to be able to fly half-way across the world to buy. Aside from the more obviously expensive things—the ability to build your very own lightsaber or RC-operated droid—most of the things my Star Wars-poisoned brain coveted were things that just felt incredibly dumb yet also delightful.
Watto’s chance cubes from The Phantom Menace? Ridiculous, and sold (I have rolled them approximately 12 times since I got home). A magnet shaped like the restraining bolt Jawas put on R2-D2 and C-3PO in A New Hope? Absurd, I love it, it is now restraining my fridge. A USB stick shaped like the map fragment Lor San Tekka gave Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens? It is now filled with that very map fragment and my own personal documents. A wooden mannequin of Admiral Ackbar in the style of a small child’s toy? It’s a trap, I fell right into it, and you can damn well be sure I have him posed in the most ridiculous manner possible.
Paint me like one of your french squids pic.twitter.com/JA5IO6DT13
— James Whitbrook (@Jwhitbrook) November 16, 2019
But while my shopping spree in a galaxy far, far away was mostly stocked up by these absurdities (and pins, oh god, so many pins), my favourite discovery on Batuu wasn’t a big-ticket item or something that just felt silly in its very existence. In fact, despite my frenzied research beforehand, I had no idea it was even a thing.
Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities—run by the titular Dok, an Ithorian who’s not just present in the store as an incredibly detailed animatronic, but also starred in his own comic book, because synergyyyy—is home to some of the most expensive things you can buy at Galaxy’s Edge. It’s where you can find Holocrons of the Jedi and Sith varieties, and the mysterious kyber crystals that unlock their secrets (if they’re in stock, that is). It’s where you can, if you’re not building your own, purchase a replica lightsaber of one of the galaxy’s greatest heroes or villains, from Kylo Ren to Obi-Wan Kenobi. From grand busts of ancient Jedi to even an Imperial Credit chit, it’s where the collectibles of this Star Wars land can be readily found, often with an insane price tag to match. Princess Leia’s necklace from the end of A New Hope, the Chalcedony Waves? A cool two thousand dollars.
— James Whitbrook (@Jwhitbrook) November 18, 2019
But among all those audaciously priced items, I found two little bowls filled with tiny little rocks. $US4 ($6) (which is still a lot for a little rock, yes, but there’s the House of Mouse for you) could purchase you a token of Jedi or Sith wisdom—this tiny little rock that featured a symbol or carved character art on one side, and then a quote on the other. More often than not the quotes were from the Jedi and Sith codes, or a line of dialogue from the movies—“All is as the Force wills it” read one Jedi token, “Power! Unlimited Power!” read a Sith one.
I swirled through the bowls as if trying to let some hokey space religion guide my hand, and fished out a rock that, very conveniently for whichever carver Dok Ondar had tasked with etching out these tokens, was shaped like Yoda, bearing a lovely little rendition of the Jedi Master’s visage. “Well, I know what this one is going to say,” I thought to myself as I flipped it over, expecting one of Yoda’s Empire Strikes Back quotes to greet me.
It didn’t. Instead, it read simply this:
Yoda’s appearance in The Last Jedi is one of my favourite scenes in the entire film. It’s so beautifully done, but I love it for the lesson that he imparts to Luke as the dismayed Jedi reels with anguish at the thought that he has failed, and let down so many people. A reminder that while we can all pass on stories of success, of hope and heroism, that it is always vital to remind the generations beyond us to learn from the mistakes of the past as well as its victories:
Heeded my words not, did you! Passed on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm, but weakness, folly, failure also—yes, failure, most of all.
The greatest teacher, failure is.
As Ben Solo carves a firebrand’s path under the rallying cry that the past must be let go of entirely, burned to ash so that a new way might come forth, Yoda offers a vital counterpoint in offering Luke solace. Rey’s generation and the generations even beyond her will grow beyond her heroes, yes—that is an inevitability. But they will also carry with them the most important lessons of what came before, not just the rose-tinted successes that had doomed the Jedi Order to its stagnant state in the prequels, but the moments of failure as well. To better realise that these failures are neither permanent or to be feared, but accepted as part of the process.
And so, surrounded by highly-priced absurdities like I was at Galaxy’s Edge, I stood dumbfounded by this tiny little rock, hidden away in a bowl of similarly tiny rocks. It might not be the fanciest thing you can get at Disneyland. It’s far from the most ostentatiously priced indulgence. But that moment of humbled surprise will stick with me a lot longer than a fancy lightsaber or a silly fridge magnet might.