Analysis

Bail Organa is not the minor Star Wars character you remember

A founding member of the Rebel Alliance, Bail Organa’s screen time is hardly a reflection of his significance to the overall Star Wars saga.
Meg Dowell
Jul 9, 2019
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"I keep an eye out for acts of kindness in this new galaxy of ours. When there's a concentration of them, I try to find out who is behind them, and then we have a talk." - Bail Organa

When most Star Wars fans think of their favorite on- and off-screen characters, major players such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo immediately come to mind. But here at Youtini, there’s a special place in our hearts for a much more subtle kind of hero.


In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Bail Organa technically has less screen time than Jar Jar Binks. In the original trilogy, he is mentioned only by name. We know him as a senator from Alderaan, a friend of Padme Amidala, and the adopted father of Leia Organa.


But his character plays a much larger part in this story than he lets on. Which is wise, since he and his colleagues may have been laying the early foundations of a rebellion long before they knew they were going to need one. With that much to hide, it’s only natural he remained in the shadows.


As a founding member of the Rebel Alliance, Bail Organa’s limited screen time is hardly a reflection of his significance to the greater timeline of the Skywalker saga. In fact, the expanded universe, in his defense, does what it does best: Shows us just how powerful this man truly was, even after his death.

The queen’s shadow


Organa and former Queen Amidala of Naboo first cross paths in Queen’s Shadow, the story of Amidala’s transition from local monarch to galactic politician. Hints of a future alliance between senators  jump off the pages, solidifying Organa’s vital role in the future struggle against evil.


Newly elected senator Padme Amidala is invited to attend a secret gathering of fellow senators -- Bail Organa among them -- at which point we witness Amidala and Organa bond for the first, but certainly not the last, time.


That’s right -- Bail Organa and Padme Amidala really were friends outside their shared hatred of decaying democracy. Her tragic death is, in part, the source of his motivation to stand against the evil he has witnessed. He agrees to raise one of her daughters as his own, to protect, love, and cherish her. But he also vows to use his connections, his resources, and his anger to form an alliance against the very thing he must pretend to serve.

Bail Organa’s army of spies

Bail Organa giving some orders to R2-D2 in The Clone Wars
Bail Organa giving some orders to R2-D2 in Star Wars: Rebels


Chronologically, the first time we hear whispers of a rebellion to come occurs long before Revenge of the Sith and the aftermath of Order 66. But it isn’t Padme Amidala who stands beside Organa in the fight against the Empire. Instead, it’s the one person closest to her who can’t stand to see her legacy fade.


E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow epilogue provides a clue about the fate of one of Amidala’s former handmaidens. In the final moments of the story, Sabe accepts a call from none other than Bail Organa -- and though we are not granted the privilege of listening in on their conversation, we can only guess she senator plans to recruit her to his cause.


But Sabe is not the only refugee Organa calls to action. In yet another brilliant Johnston epilogue, the senator and fan-favorite ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano join forces to propel a young rebellion forward. 


Together, the two form a classified network of rebel informants -- of which Ahsoka is the first -- known as Fulcrum. Fans of Star Wars Rebels may already know of Fulcrum, but may not have known the critical role Organa played in its origins. 


Fun fact: Cassian Andor was also a Fulcrum agent, information (and more) you can find if you pick up the Rogue One visual guide.


Bail Organa continued to serve as an Imperial senator while stealthily plotting to overthrow the Empire, even eventually agreeing to allow his daughter to participate. Leia: Princess of Alderaan narrates what happens when a young Leia begins to suspect her parents are up to something, by the end of the story not only discovering their undercover antics, but proudly joining them as well.


The Rebellion did not die when Alderaan did, thanks to Organa’s tireless efforts to build an unstoppable operation before succumbing to the might of the first Death Star. In fact, it’s quite possible that -- like many other galactic heroes we know and love -- he became more powerful beyond the living Force.

Bail Organa: Dead, but never really gone


Many people would crumble at the news of their loved ones’ deaths. Leia Organa would spend the rest of her life mourning the fallen of her destroyed homeworld. But losing her father did not break the princess turned general. Everything she did beyond that point, she did for the good of the galaxy, so no one would have to watch their loved ones disappear the way she had.


Perhaps it was never Bail Organa’s intention to leave behind an individual legacy -- he saw corruption poison the Republic and destroy people he loved. But his death would one day prove to set an entirely new set of critical events in motion. Once again, his daughter not only failed to forget him -- she also refused to let him down.


In Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, New Republic senator Leia Organa -- and all too quickly, the rest of the galaxy -- stumbles upon a pre-recorded message featuring none other than Daddy Organa himself. In this message, which he left for her in the event of his untimely demise, he reveals Leia’s true parentage -- that she is the daughter of Darth Vader, once the galaxy’s greatest threat.


A relative of evil surely can’t be trusted -- at least, that’s the initial outcry that forces Leia to come to terms with her own identity and purpose in the galaxy.


However, this upset shows Leia what the New Republic’s political landscape has truly become. And thus, a seed is planted -- a desire to be something more, to do something different. Eventually she will become a general in the Resistance, sworn to rid the galaxy of darkness, all thanks to -- you guessed it -- Bail Organa.


Not all heroes stand on the front lines with weapons at the ready. Some rely on stealth, secrecy, and deep trust in their greatest allies to do their part to save galaxies from evil. 


Bail Organa speaks few lines. Even in the books he is treated as a minor player in a much larger game. But he is a hero all the same. He is the source of our hope. The light in our darkness. The reason Star Wars lives.


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