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Episode 6: City

[🎵Accessing] Hello! I’m Anika AKA Pixie and you are listening to the Endless Anakin Playlist Podcast, in which I use popular music as a frame to discuss anything and everything Star Wars and Star Wars adjacent.

This episode is inspired by the song “City” by Hollywood Undead. 

Two years ago, April 2019, I changed my twitter profile name from ‘Anika Dane’ to ‘Anakin Daenerys’. Star Wars Episode IX had gotten a title and teaser the same week the final season of Game of Thrones premiered. Anakin and Daenerys were — and still are — two of my favorite fictional characters and they conveniently created a play on my name when put together. I was excited when I thought of it and honestly I still find the whole thing delightful. 

Anakin and Daenerys actually have a lot in common. The more I thought about it, the more things I could add to the list.

  • From birth, Anakin and Daenerys were marked as special. Anakin was intimated to be a direct descendant of the Force and Daenerys was the youngest princess of a dynasty that ruled Westeros for 300 years. But despite this proximity to power, both were born into poverty and anonymity.
  • Each began their story as pawns. Anakin was a slave whom Watto and Qui-Gon haggled over. And Daenerys was sold into marriage by her brother. 
  • But they crossed the board and became something more: Anakin won his freedom, trained to be a Jedi Knight, and became a hero of the Republic and the youngest person ever elected to the Jedi Council. Daenerys broke free from Viserys, birthed three dragons and amassed power across more than seven kingdoms to reclaim her birthright as Queen. 
  • Both were generals who led armies of men born to be nameless killing machines. The Unsullied and the 501st, and particularly Grey Worm and Rex, were unflinchingly loyal to Daenerys and to Anakin because Daenerys and Anakin treated them as individuals. As people.
  • Both Anakin and Daenerys were betrayed by a mentor who conspired to kill them. Jorah’s betrayal of Daenerys happens early on and he chooses to save her rather than kill her. Obi-Wan’s betrayal of Anakin happens much later in the story when Anakin has already turned to villainy, but notably, Obi-Wan also chooses not to kill Anakin. Jorah and Obi-Wan are also similar in temperament and they have complex personal relationships to Daenerys and Anakin as teacher, protector, confidant and someone who is as close or even closer than family or lover.
  • They each have additional advisors and allies — Palpatine, Tyrion, Yoda, Olenna, the Order, the Masters etc. etc. None of whom truly trusts Anakin or Daenerys and some of whom are actively manipulating them. 
  • They both have a connection to beasts. Daenerys, of course, has three dragons which are a huge part of her story. Anakin uses the Force to tame the reek in the Geonosis arena, which ends up a nice parallel to Daenerys’s escape on Drogon in Mereen. 
  • Then there are the plot elements. Desperate to save her husband, a pregnant Daenerys made a pact with a practitioner of Dark Arts just like Anakin, desperate to save a pregnant Padmé, made a pact with a Dark Lord of the Sith. Neither Drohgo nor Padmé survived and both Daenerys and Anakin ended up on fire.
  • Both Anakin and Daenerys were plagued with dreams. Both were the central figure in a prophecy. Both had more power than even their status as Jedi or Targaryen provided them. Both teter on the edge of madness.
  • On the precipice of happiness, of professional success, love and family, and an end to the war, Anakin and Daenerys instead lose everything and turn to the Dark Side.
  • In the snow of Winterfell, and the fire of Mustafar, Daenerys and Anakin were offered an escape with Jon and Padmé, but it was too late.
  • Even their names are similar: Anakin Skywalker and Daenerys Stormborn. A unique fantasy name followed by a descriptive surname — Anakin walks among the stars, Daenerys was born during a storm. And they both have a string of titles: Anakin is called Jedi Knight, General, Master, The Chosen One, The Hero with No Fear, and Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith. Daenerys is Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and finally, the Mad Queen.

So, it makes sense that I love both these characters so very much. What I loved in one I found again in the other. But there’s also this. Anakin and Daenerys are angry. They are so angry at the state of their society, at all the broken systems that failed their loved ones. Those systems that preach order and patience when confronted with poverty and slavery and injustice and trauma. “Trust the council, trust the senate, the rules of succession. Trust capital, king, court. Trust trial. Trust your elders, your superiors, your teachers. Trust the system. And embrace powerlessness.” 

Anakin and Daenerys refuse. They let their fury burn the world.

That level of rage is something I understand. Something I identify with, It’s present in all of my favorite characters. Wanda Maximoff gets angry and changes the genetics of everyone on the planet with one sentence. Jean Grey’s ultimate super power is literally rage. Ro Laren and B’Elanna Torres and Kara Thrace cannot conform to rank and file, cannot give up their resentment. They don’t want to. Seven of Nine and Gamora have so much anger they’re willing to fight the entire galaxy. Jessica Jones and Emma Swan will punch you in the face nine out of ten times and Selina Kyle will scratch your eyes out. All of my spies — Bucky Barnes, Natasha Romanoff, Fiona Glennane, Maddie Jonson, Etta Bishop, Nikita, Seska, all of them a powder keg waiting to explode.

Whatever the story, whatever the genre, I will find the character who wears their anger like armor and I will embrace them with my whole self. Soryu Asuka Langley and Blair Waldorf and Clary Fray and Joanna Mason … Olivia Benson and Alicia Florrick and Betty Draper and Joe Macmillian … Blacklady and Nightmare Moon … Cersei Lannister and Arya Stark, Qi’ra and Ben Solo. 

The Jedi say anger is the path to the Dark Side. Anakin and Daenerys and at least half of the other characters I mentioned would seem to bear that out. But I think it’s the suppression of anger that messes them up. The fear of it. Anger is not light or dark. It’s natural and normal. And it’s justified in reaction to trauma and injustice. In fiction it’s heightened, exaggerated. These characters, even the mundane ones, have access to levels of power that I never will. But I understand their rage. Their anger that the world is unfair, unbalanced, that there is so much suffering and we all just … let it happen.  

Daenerys chose the path of anger pretty early on. She stands up to her first abuser, her brother Viserys, in the third episode of the first season. But until the very end she focuses her hostility on the abusers. On slavers, rapists, killers. In contrast, Anakin doesn’t choose the path of the Dark Side until midway through Episode 3, but he kills innocents the first time he loses control, when he murders an entire village after the death of his mother, not just the masters who kidnapped and killed her.

Neither Daenerys’s conquest by fire nor Anakin’s participation in the creation of the Empire is good or healthy or warranted. But there is a through-line to the story. They were victims who became villains because being a hero didn’t help them achieve their goals of revolution. Like Magneto, another one of my favorites. Or Regina Mills. They reached a breaking point and chose to break.

I was disappointed with the finales of both Game of Thrones and the Skywalker Saga — 2019 was a rough year for me and fandom. I found both “The Iron Throne” and The Rise of Skywalker to be confused, unimaginative, and bleak. Daenerys and Ben were deemed too evil to live and Rey had to give up her anger in order to become “all the Jedi”, something I never wanted for her in the first place. Or for Anakin to be clear. It all left me empty.  

But my super power is coming up with how it works for me. That’s part of what this podcast is. Daenerys’s fate can be read in a few different ways. It was genetic, the obvious consequence of inbreeding. Or she was corrupted by power as we’re told everyone is. Or she was experiencing post traumatic stress, suffered a string of losses that triggered abandonment issues she had from birth. Or she, like Anakin, was isolated. She lost hope, and reacted out of fear, and fury, and desperation. After years of war and a lifetime of being different and dangerous and molded into a weapon of mass destruction. 

I used to blog about comic books and in my bio I talked about the different things I would do if money didn’t matter. Basically a list of my dream jobs. Marine biologist, children’s therapist, holographic pop star. But the last sentence was “But if Anika was a billionaire she would be Batman.” Bruce Wayne does fit into my ‘rage monsters who want to make the world better’ aesthetic. Anakin and Daenerys don’t want to “just watch the world burn”. They want the world to change and fire is the only way they know how to do it. 

I wrote a fusion fanfiction where I transplanted Daenerys, the Lannister twins, and Jorah Mormont into the Star Wars prequels. I’ve mentioned that I love alternate universe or timeline stories because they reveal who the characters are at their core. With Daenerys’s help, Anakin could free all the slaves on Tatooine. And she would be an Empress he loved, the ruler he wished Padmé or Luke to be. It wouldn’t solve everything or anything, it would create all new problems. But isn’t it fun to imagine?

My next episode will be released during PadMay! You’ve heard of May the Fourth be with you and Revenge of the Fifth and/or Sixth, but You’ve heard of May the Fourth be with you and Revenge of the Fifth and/or Sixth, but PadMay is a month long annual event to celebrate Padme Amidala. You can read more on my blog as well as on tumblr, twitter, and instagram at @politicalpadme. . 

Follow my playlists on YouTube and Spotify and after the episode, the song I’ve discussed will immediately play. Links can be found at anakin.me. That’s A-N-A-K-I-N-dot-M-E. Please follow, like, subscribe and tell all of your friends to do the same. [🎵Accessing] See you next time and may the Force be with you. [ 🎵]

My single “Robots Don’t Cry” is now available on iTunesSpotify and more. To celebrate the release, I commissioned the artist Danielle Balanqua, who you can find at balangawa, b-a-l-a-n-g-a-w-a, on instagram, to create a series of ten artworks featuring droids and their best friends. 

Today’s droid is C1-10P with Hera Syndulla.  

My Chopper feels are all tied up in my Hera feels because their relationship is completely perfect. He’s her oldest friend, she saved him from the junk heap and they started heroing together.

Chopper acts like he’s superior to everyone but he clearly loves Hera and protects her and I just love it so much. And she treats him as a person, relying on him and listening to him and caring about his needs and feelings and because she does, everyone else does, too. It’s just too cute!

But also Chopper has the best personality. I love how sassy and snarky he is, and then there are the quieter moments when he is brave and compassionate. Chopper is the best, he’s my favorite droid.

 Enjoy the art, and please, give “Robots Don’t Cry” a listen. 

Endless Anakin is a Manic Pixie Dust production. Song: “Robots Don’t Cry”, Anika Dane

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