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Episode 12: Ready As I’ll Ever Be

[🎵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. Today’s episode is brought to you by the song “Ready As I’ll Ever Be” from Tangled: the Series.

I’ve decided to throw out my outline for these episodes and skip to the part where I tell you why this was such an amazing experience. I’m going to tell you about my story, my favorite character, and my successful mission.

I’ve described the starcruiser as a multiverse and I love a multiverse. I love it in Star Trek, I love it in Marvel, I love it in Evangelion. It’s a powerful concept. I don’t have to choose whether a book or its film adaptation is better because they’re not in competition, they are two versions of the same story. In Star Wars there are the films and the television series and the comic books and the novels, both Legends and the current extended universe, there are the games and there’s the starcruiser and Galaxy’s Edge. It’s a whole galaxy of stories. And if some of them contradict each other that’s okay because it’s a multiverse.

But the starcruiser is special. The starcruiser’s story is retold every two days with a whole new group of people. Multiple actors portray the characters, and put their own spin on it, and the passengers are constantly changing. It’s also live. There are no second takes, and while there are scenes and beats and an underlying structure, there’s a great deal of improvisation. Every reset, every voyage, creates another timeline. And we get to take an active role in shaping it.

As you recall, I portrayed a handmaiden of Naboo as a Black Widow type spy and I planned to infiltrate the First Order on behalf of the Resistance. Now, Disney is savvy enough to know people like me would want this as an option. So I did get to interact with Resistance members on my datapad. But for the most part I was on the First Order track working for Lt. Croy. At the beginning of the voyage, in the introductory scene everyone on ship participates in, the First Order stopped and boarded the ship. Lt. Croy had intel about Resistance activity on board the Halcyon and he chose to remain and root it out. And I chose to help him.

Now, it’s well-established that I love complicated villains. I fell in love with Darth Vader when I was seven years old and Anakin Skywalker remains my favorite fictional character in all of fiction. I love Ben Solo. I love Loki. I love Magneto and I love Wanda Maximoff. I love Halbrand and the Lannister twins and every Targaryen. I love Gaius Baltar and I love the cylons and I even love the Borg. I expected to like, love, and to enjoy and even to find the seeds of a potential redemption and rehabilitation in my First Order contact. But those expectations pale in comparison to the reality of Lt. Harman Croy. From his introduction I was all in.

I cannot stress enough how talented everyone in the cast was. My second favorite performance and character was Lenka, the cruise director. She literally made me cry twice. But Croy fit perfectly into the story I wanted to tell. He projected the false confidence of authority from the get go. He was playing to the audience with purpose, convincing himself along with us. There were layers. It wasn’t just an actor playing Croy, it was an actor playing Croy playing an officer of the First Order. Just like Ben Solo plays at being Kylo Ren. It’s an identity and it’s armor and it’s a coping mechanism. It sounds counterintuitive but Croy’s over the top performance and declaratively shallow personality gave him so much nuance and depth. 

Complication requires contradiction and the first night gave me two important Croy moments. During dinner I caught him making eyes at Gaya, the superstar-slash-Resistance-fighter from Ryloth. This was adorable. Just straight up cute, and more to the point, humanizing. Croy may be a goose-stepping heel but he is moved by music and by beauty. Now, there is a romance track on the starcruiser and the two involved are absolute sweethearts. However: petition to create a new storyline where Croy’s crush on Gaya is not merely a way to distract him but his path to redemption through the power of song because I am Here For It.

The second moment showcased Croy’s devotion to, dare I say Imperial precepts— he forces a restraining bolt onto Lenka’s droid, SK, so he can scan them for Resistance plans. Throughout the scene and the voyage Croy treats SK as a tool, calls them it, and shows no care for or interest in their relationship to Lenka or their position as a member of the crew. This is honestly the only time I was entirely opposed to Croy. I love droids, I stand for droid rights, and it was like watching someone kick a puppy. And yet, this short video I have from that moment is one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip because it’s such a PERFECT representation of how Croy wants to be seen.

I went to bed that first night already enamored of the experience. I had so much fun with the trainings and the dinner show and just wandering around the ship chatting with people. My favorite was: one of the people I was traveling with had mentioned in our group chat that there was quote-unquote “secret merchandise” in the store. But he didn’t mention you needed code words to get access. Of the eight of us in my party I was the only one playing the First Order track. There were a couple scoundrels and the rest were Resistance. Sam and Jeanne were on board with me being a spy for the Rebels but the little girl in our party did not trust me at all. And in fact told other passengers and even cast members not to trust me either, which honestly, good for her. But because of all this, I was alone when I inquired about the secret merch at the gift shop and when asked for the code words I didn’t know them, so they couldn’t show me. But encouraged me to talk to the crew. That didn’t work for my storyline though, I had to keep my distance from the Resistance in public in order to come off as a good soldier. So instead I talked to other passengers. And it worked. I successfully got them to tell me the code words, returned to the store and got my pin. 

The cast members in the shop were so excited for me, too. I love that they played along with the story that we were all on a ship in deep space, but also encouraged me to interact. I think it’s very easy to be intimidated by this process, especially when you first arrive, and I appreciate that the cast are looking out for that, and making it easier for us.

So day two we visited Batuu, and were asked to complete various tasks while there. This was my first trip to Galaxy’s Edge, it was under construction the last time I’d been to the park, and It’s an incredible experience. I’ll talk about that more another time. But I had fun even when I was completely lost trying to find the various landmarks on my tasklist. I spent some time with my friends, and some time off doing my own thing because, again, I was the only one working for Lt. Croy. They also did not want to leave Galaxy’s Edge, to remain immersed the whole time, but I wanted to ride Star Tours. I have a good deal of nostalgia for it — the last time I’d been to Hollywood Studios we’d ridden it five times in a row during Extra Magic Hours. And I’m really happy I did because I got to be the Rebel Spy, and we landed on Naboo, which was all perfect for my story. I’d seen Kylo Ren arrive in Batuu, so I played out my own little extra mission to send notice to the Handmaiden network.

Once my tasks, and my side trip to Endor and Naboo, were complete, I returned to the Halcyon. I had lunch and my photoshoot and then I dressed for dinner and met my friends in the lounge. And here’s the moment that perhaps defines my experience on the starcruiser.

Lt. Croy was on the balcony in the atrium having an ongoing conversation with a group of children. All of the cast members were brilliant with the kids on board. And these kids loved to heckle the bad guy. They latched on and followed him around making fun of his uniform and yelling that he should be ashamed. And there was a running gag where one of the older kids would reenact the famous scene from Empire Strikes Back by insisting to Croy that he was his father. This time in the atrium they were all yelling up at Croy and he was making fun of the lobby snacks. I’ve since learned that this is a recurring character beat — that Croy doesn’t like spicy snacks. But at the time, I was just enjoying the kids giving Croy a hard time, and Croy telling the kids that none of them would make it in the First Order.

So Croy is on the balcony, there’s a group of hooligan kids getting snacks at guest services, and a small crowd of other passengers mingling about, including me and my friends. Croy leans over and asks the kids “what’s your favorite snack on the ship?” But a beat goes by and none of them answer. Nor does anyone else in the room. So, I did. I shout up, “You.” This went over very well. The crowd laughed, my friend was practically doubled over, even the kids were giggling. I smiled like the cat that ate the canary because the timing was so perfect and the reaction was so intense. And Croy flashed his own smile and said “Well, unlike all of those snacks I’m not spicy”, which only made us all laugh more. For the remainder of the trip Sam and Jeanne referred to Croy only as “Your Boyfriend”. And I threw myself into the role.

For the second dinner, we were seated at the Captain’s table and I ended up in the seat directly across where the captain would sit. As the rest of our group arrived and sat they said they’d heard there had been a change of authority and Sam rightly inferred that instead of Captain Keevan we would be joined by my boyfriend. Again, I didn’t know anything about the story going in so this was another example of serendipity and I am so grateful for it.

I requested the Lieutenant give us a toast and after he obliged he asked if anyone would be joining him in the Engineering Room after dinner. This was a secret mission for First Order loyalists. I raised and tipped my glass in response and he echoed me and then winked. Here is my reaction. 

After dinner was the aforementioned event in Engineering. My Jedi friend Sam was not invited but decided to tag along to watch me with my boyfriend. We had to give our names at the door but Sam was able to infiltrate anyway, which, again, fit perfectly with my spy storyline. Croy thanked us for our loyalty and singled out one kid who was alone because the rest of their family was traitors. He was assigned a special task and Croy asked if there was anyone else who was all alone surrounded by traitors. I raised my hand, despite Sam standing right next to me, and Croy selected me to join the kid. Later when he asked who hadn’t been assigned to a group yet Sam answered, “Well you stole my friend” and they glared at me but I immediately said “I don’t know them.” The whole thing was truly delightful. The kid I was helping was entirely unimpressed with my video game skills but after we successfully sabotaged the ship Croy posed for a selfie with me so on balance, I won. 

Also, before dismissing us all Croy ordered us to tell no one about the operation, because the Resistance were everywhere. And Sam leaned in to tell me they were off to immediately tell the Resistance all about the operation. Seriously, I couldn’t have scripted this better.

After the Engineering operation we were ordered to the bridge to help defend the ship — from the Order, as it turned out, which is important because it means that Croy valued the people on the ship, and the mission that we were working on. But after the battle, we got a missive from Supreme Leader Kylo Ren himself, telling us he was coming aboard. Croy fell to the floor in a charming display of physical comedy and well, we were barreling toward the finale.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the end, because it’s where all the tracks collide so it’s the most spoilery part of my story. I just want to mention two moments. The first was when Croy confronted the Resistance about the heist and the passengers were encouraged to pull an ‘I am Spartacus’ to protect them. I was by chance, or more serendipity, standing next to Lenka and got the request directly from her. That means when it came time to reveal my true colors it was at her order. And second, when back into a corner, Croy revealed a lot of himself, too. I said at the top I’m predisposed to finding hidden good in villains, but in this case, plenty of other people see it, too.

To wrap up, here are five headcanons I have for Harman Croy:

One. Lt. Croy’s role as an analyst blinds him to the suffering the First Order perpetuates.  I imagine Croy’s day-to-day pre-Halcyon life to be somewhat like the Syril Karn office scene in Andor. He’s a tiny cog in a giant machine. He experiences an event like the destruction of Hosnian Prime as a report. And all the dead as numbers of Resistance fighters who have now been contained. Because to the Order, the Resistance and the Republic are synonymous. And if there were any Imperialists or First Order loyalists who also died, they were necessary collateral damage. But when he boards the Halcyon and interacts with loyalists, resistance, and the full spectrum of people in between, as individuals he can no longer ignore the reality that his actions and his beliefs result in harm, destruction, and death. 

Two. Croy’s crush on Gaya suggests that he’s lived a sheltered life. There was no color in the Empire. Twenty years ago fans complained that the prequels didn’t ‘look like Star Wars‘ because the aesthetic of the original trilogy is so muted in comparison. But that’s the point. Croy grew up in the remnants of the Empire that ultimately became the First Order. I imagine it to be a highly regimented life with very little color or pop music or overt joy and certainly without rebellion. Which is also another way to say without conviction. Gaya represents the opposite of all of that. She’s the most alive person he’s ever seen and he is instantly attracted to it.

Three. Related, Croy suffers from a lack of choices. He was raised to respect the ideals of the Empire. An authoritarian government that values order and duty and blind obedience. He was told explicitly that rebellion is deviant behavior so he would feel shame anytime he questioned authority. This is one of my favorite kinds of villains; the ones who are products of the violent, imperialist, xenophobic cultures they grow up in. Those are the ones who have the best potential for growth. 

Four. To quote Croy’s superior he has a “desperate need for approval”. To me, that suggests a lack of affection in childhood. At our dinner he brought up his mother and he talked about respect and fortitude but not warmth. His father barely got a mention at all. The subtext was an austere childhood. And children who do not have demonstrative and supportive parents tend to have lower self esteem and to feel more alienated, hostile, aggressive, and anti-social. 

Five. As I mentioned earlier, I see Lt. Croy of the First Order as a character that Harman Croy puts on. In the Tangled song, Valerian, a vengeful antagonist at the time, says “I’m the bad guy, that’s fine, it’s no fault of mine and some justice at last will be served. It’s time to step up or it’s time to back down and there’s only one answer for me. I’ll stand up and fight ’cause I know that I’m right and I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” Put all together Croy’s time on the Halcyon is his first real interaction with the Resistance in opposition to the Order, and how it all falls out makes him question his upbringing, his job, his decisions. Whether or not he makes better choices going forward is a question for fanfiction. But I believe in Harman Croy’s atonement arc. 

So I went in being a Resistance member posing as a First Order loyalist but I disembarked a Croyalist through and through. 

Thank you for listening to Endless Anakin. Follow my playlists on YouTube and Spotify and after the episode, the song I’ve discussed will immediately play. Links can be found at 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. [ 🎵]

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

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