Welcome Back Taris
**Mild spoilers to Rogue One and Knights of the Old Republic**
Ready Player One
First introduced in the Legends video game Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare (set thousands of years before The Phantom Menace) was the planet Taris. A planet that was divided by literal layers of society. The upper level consisted of mid to high level apartments, a cantina, Sith military base, and a gorgeous sky view! The lower level consisted of the seedy underbelly of delinquent activities, with two swoop bike gangs, a Hutt run cantina, and a charge by the hour apartment complex. Lastly, below the lower level was dangerous undercity, which consisted of outcasts thrown away after their last credit was spent, rubble leftovers of a society long decayed, and monstrous beasts known as Raghouls preying on those, who wander past the gates. At the beginning of the game, the player crash lands on the planet, and must find their missing Jedi friend, before the it is too late, and escape the lockdown by the Sith! Keep in mind that the rules of Sith during this time were different. There was a Sith Emperor, his/her council, enforcers, and an enlisted army of non-Force wielders. Before I go to far, let us back up to my other experience of Taris in Legends.
Released after the first two Knights of the Republic video games was the 50 issue comic series of the same name written by John Jackson Miller! Pencillers of the comic were Brian Ching, Travel Foreman, Dustin Weaver, Harvey Tolibao, Bong Dazo, Scott Hepburn, Alan Robinson, Dean Zachary, and Ron Chan. Inkers were Dan Parsons and Joe Pimental, and Colorists were Michael Atiyeh and Jay David Ramos. Set about eight and a half years before the first game was a story of an incompetent Jedi Padawan failing it up on Taris, before his whole world gets uprooted in sadness and betrayal. For more information on the beginning of the series, check out my Unfreezing Carbonite article here. What was wonderful about the comic was that it introduced more locations and history to the planet Taris. In a way it reminded of the video game Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, because they added new areas on the map to explore that had previously only been a locked door. On top of that were the additional back stories to minor characters that appeared in the first video game.
Back to the Future in Canon
Once the Legends announcement took place, I was very curious if or how we would see Taris again. Almost a year later, we got some confirmation that we might not get anything Taris in the future, during the Canon Panel at Celebration Anaheim. Basically, Lucasfilm was keeping the BioWare stories in their own contained universe, which was understandable. So much work went in, and continued to be ongoing to the MMO The Old Republic. I still held out hope that some version of Taris would live on, and it did!
The first glimmer of Taris arrived as a total surprise in the first Aftermath novel by Chuck Wendig! Set during the first year of the New Republic (after Return of the Jedi) was an interlude between a shady merchant dealer, his translator, and three Acolytes of the Beyond. The interlude was brief, and teased a deal of someone selling the laser sword of Darth Vader himself to those three black robed misfits. However, it was about Taris, and I remembered being excited to read it.
The next set of mentions were in the novel Tarkin by James Luceno and Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. In fact, so brief, they could almost have been overlooked! The name drop was a happy welcome, because it gave me hope that a future story from someone on Taris or about the planet would come to fruition soon.
Little did I know that Tarisians (is that how they are called) would sneak into the story of The Force Awakens and Bloodline by Claudia Gray. The movie does not out right state that there is a Senator of Taris, but can be found in the Visual Guide as one of the innocents lost on Hosnian Prime.
Rogue One happened.
Senator Pamlo of Taris was introduced as one of the skeptical members of the Rebel Alliance, who freaked out after it became clear a planet killer weapon existed. In the novelization of Rogue One by Alexander Freed she says to the other Rebels, “The blood of all Taris will not be on my hands. If it's war, you'll fight alone!" Now, on the surface it was a small role, but it connected in my brain something that stuck with me from the Knights of the Old Republic video game, and comic…
The Mandalorians invaded the planet Taris in the Knights of the Old Republic comic, and later the Sith army took over during the video game. In fact, it got so bad that in the video game, the Sith antagonist Malek chose to do something drastic to thwart the main character and his/her fellow friends…
That’s right. Malek ordered orbital bombardment on the planet Taris. So many lives lost. Something Senator Pamlo might or might not have swirling in the back of her mind. She could have just simply felt the crushing weight of pressure to preserve her people. ...or maybe she remembered the tales of such unnecessary destruction. Such cruelty. Suffering…
Ties That Bind In the end, I ask myself why I felt so invested in the fate of Taris, and it’s people. It is just another planet amoung thousands of other similar planets. Yet… I keep looking back, with rose tinted star shaped spectacles. Could be the amount of time spent playing the beginning of the game over and over. Yet the itch is still there to go back to those people, and follow the path of good. Give them all a little bit of hope, even if in the end it didn't matter. They would not survive. They would never survive in that story. Maybe that is why I felt for the canon incarnation. Why I felt the panic. The horror! Senator Pamlo felt, because she wanted desperately to save her people, but not at the cost of possible annihilation.