"I nerded just a little bit," This was my son's reaction to our first-nighter viewing of the latest Star Wars installment, Rogue One. He was referencing his experience of sitting in front of a movie screen full of images an ideas which he had grown up watching. He built the Lego models. He flew the ships across the living room. He battled his friends with various grades of light sabers, from cardboard tubes to the top of the line collector's model with built in sound effects. He watched the prequels on a loop while his parents were outside painting the house. He was one of those who rejoiced in the addition of a Star Wars theme to Disney's Space Mountain. He had a Clone Trooper's helmet before he was the age his father was when he got his Darth Vader mask. He read and can still readily discuss the technical manuals for all the hardware floating about a galaxy far, far away.
He was steeped in it. Hence, his nerding at the sight of a Clone Turbo Tank. And it wasn't just the machinery. There were bits of dialogue and references that made it feel just like going home. It felt to the three of us more comfortable than The Force Awakens. That was a great way to get reacquainted with the old crew, and be introduced to those who would be carrying the saga through. It was the event that thirty years of anticipation brings, and was a better way to bring things into a new generation than a story of trade embargoes. Episode VII was a space opera that had to deliver on so many expectations that it was often weighed down with its own myth.
Rogue One was built to fit inside the world where droids and Jawas and Sith Lords live. It is a war story that takes place in the stars. There are heroes and villains and sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. And there's a Death Star. Even though the events of the story are predestined by their existence within the canon, it still feels like a fresh adventure.
I sat next to my wife and son in the same configuration we occupied almost exactly a year ago when we went to that Thursday night show of VII, and I became aware that there was no number assigned to this episode. Somewhere between three and four. It was the necessary link between my Star Wars and my son's: Episode 3.5. For nerding purposes, this was definitely an upgrade.