Star Wars: Battlefront II is here and, thank the Force, it has a single player, story-driven campaign. Once you boot it up, you take control of Commander Iden Versio, the leader of the elite Inferno Squad. Christie Golden’s prequel book, Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, gives a wealth of background about Iden and her squad mates, so here are some insights about Iden that we gleaned from the book.
First Daughter of the Empire
Iden Versio is the poster child of the Empire. Born to Garrick and Zeehay Versio on the planet of Vardos, Iden learned from her family to live and die by Imperial pride. Her father, Garrick, rose through the ranks of the sinister Imperial Security Bureau to become an Admiral. Her mother, Zeehay, was an artist who made propaganda material for the Empire, including at least one poster featuring Iden. From a young age, Iden’s father drilled into her that her only worth was as a servant to the Empire.
Iden lived up to her father’s expectation where she rose quickly through her class at the Imperial Academy on Coruscant. She distinguished herself as an accomplished pilot, outpacing many of the senior students. After a brief tour of duty on the Death Star, where she witnessed the destruction of Jedha City, Scariff, Alderaan, and the Death Star itself, her father recruited Iden to serve on the Inferno Squad. In the book, Garrick says the name “Inferno” is a promise of what the Rebels can expect.
A Ruthless Tactician and Fierce Warrior
As the leader of Inferno Squad, Iden has run missions that range from stealing incriminating documents and blackmailing a crooked Imperial Moff to infiltrating and disrupting rebel cells. Whether behind the controls of a TIE Fighter or gripping the handle of a blaster, Iden has no compunction against killing when the mission calls for it. She is one of the true believers in the Empire’s mission to bring order to the galaxy. To her, anyone who doesn’t fit into the Empire’s goals of stability and control is undeserving of mercy.
So, too, is anyone who must die to serve the greater order. While on an undercover mission to gain intel about a cell of Rebels (and, incidentally, to expose the abuses of a local administrator), Iden doesn’t hesitate to kill four stormtroopers who are guarding the compound. She justifies the act by reminding herself that they died serving the Empire so that she can continue with the mission.
More than violence or patriotic zeal, Iden’s defining characteristic may be her curiosity. Iden has a lust to know. She craves being at the center of the action and bristles when she is not involved in decisions. We see it early on in our journey with her, when she continually questions the need for ship-to-ship combat as the Rebels pose no obvious threat to the Death Star. This craving for knowledge has a tendency to get her into trouble with her Imperial superiors, including her father, who prize blind obedience above all else.
A Questionable Hero
She’s skilled, she’s tough, and she’s smart, but can we root for Iden Versio? Considering that Imperials are the villains of the Star Wars saga, it’s difficult to empathize with her. She celebrated the destruction of Alderaan and considered all of its inhabitants traitors. She even callously feigned misgivings about the massacre to gain admittance to the Dreamers, a splinter cell faction of Saw Gerrera’s defunct or destroyed Partisans.
While infiltrating that group with the rest of the Inferno Squad, she performs some questionable acts. She conspires to have a former Imperial agent murdered for fear that he will rat them out. She sanctions a plot to bomb what amounts to an Imperial high school field trip to help preserve their cover, and when one of her squad mates deliberately sabotages the effort, Iden kills her to preserve their secret.
Time and again, Iden proves that she is almost irredeemably Imperial. It’s nearly impossible to see her as anything other than a ruthless automaton until she reveals that her deepest motivation is her resentment and outright hatred of her manipulative, distant, and emotionally abusive father. By the end of her time with the Dreamers, she has achieved some measure of affection and empathy for those rebels, but it is difficult to see if that is just by virtue of her forced closeness to them.
Perhaps there is room for Iden to turn her back on an oppressive regime, but it seems unlikely that this scion of Imperial power will give up the trappings of her privilege without a very good reason.