- "Let go of them you miserable weed!"
- ―Malani fights in the stranglethorn crisis
The stranglethorn crisis was a conflict on the forest moon of Endor concerning the fate of Bright Tree Village. The crisis began when a vial of plant growth formula was accidentally spilled on a stranglethorn, causing it to grow to an unreasonable size. The large vine began to overcome the village, surrounding the main structures and forcing the Ewoks into a panic. As the stranglethorn tried to reach the base of the village in order to take root in the forest, the Ewoks were forced into a furious battle with the vine, knowing that if it was allowed to take root in the forest, it would be virtually unstoppable.
To find an antidote for the stranglethorn's incredible growth, the young Ewoks Wicket Wystri Warrick and Kneesaa a Jari Kintaka undertook a quest to find the ingredients for the formula. After a long journey in which the two Ewoks were forced to infiltrate a hostile Keet Hive, the Ewoks returned to the village to face the out of control stranglethorn. Coating a bag of acorns in the antidote, the Ewoks fed the formula to each vine, causing the stranglethorn to shrink back to its regular size.
- "I don't know where it came from, but it looks like it brought its family."
- ―Wicket Wystri Warrick
During a daily lesson with her father, Chief Chirpa, the young Princess Kneesaa a Jari Kintaka began to learn the qualities of the three lessons, a moral code that each upcoming leader of the tribe would have to learn before taking their place as ruler. Although Chirpa tried to explain how each lesson would prepare Kneesaa for the trials ahead, the young Ewok was unable to grasp the importance of the teaching. Believing that his daughter just needed some extra time to study, Chirpa left his daughter in Logray's hut to pore over several old manuscripts.
However, immediately after starting to study, Kneesaa overheard her fellow Ewoks laughing and playing just outside the hut. Distracted by the obvious fun the others were having, Kneesaa decided that her father would understand if she took a temporary break and decided to join her friends. In her rush to leave the hut, Kneesaa inadvertently knocked over a vial of plant growth formula. The vial came to rest over a small stranglethorn plant that had been resting by the windowsill and began to pour its contents onto the plant.
The small carnivorous plant began to grow at a rapid rate when combined with the formula, and soon it was overpowering Logray's entire hut. The young Ewoks continued to play outside of the hut, unaware of the danger that was soon to overtake the entire village.
- "Stand back Ewoks! I'll save you! No vine is a match for the mighty Paploo!"
The stranglethorn vine continued to grow outward from its small pot, and eventually one of the stranglethorn heads interrupted the Ewoks' play area. Accidentally backing into the stranglethorn, Kneesaa was frightened to see the huge plant but was able to step out of the way quickly enough to avoid being eaten. The Ewoks quietly observed the movements of the vine but were unsure what course of action to take. The warrior Paploo tried to grapple the vine by himself and was able to vault himself on top of one of the stranglethorn heads. However, the massive plant was too strong for the Ewok, and he was thrown clear from the area.
The unsuccessful attack triggered the arrival of several other plant heads that began to chase after the Ewoks. Paploo was only barely able to escape after one of the heads managed to accidentally catch hold of his drum instead the Ewok himself. As the plant continued to grow, the Ewoks were thrown into a panic, fleeing frantically from the ever advancing stranglethorn. Kneesaa was able to reach her father and Shaman Logray to tell them of the turn of events. Logray understood immediately what had happened. He scolded the Ewok princess for her carelessness and devised a plan to obtain the antidote made of Keet nectar, ganga root, and Trome sap from his hut.
Quest for the antidoteEdit
- Wicket Wystri Warrick: "Chief Chirpa! The vine is blocking all the exit ramps!"
- Logray: "It's heading for the ground! If it takes root, there'll be no stopping it!"
- ―Logray and Wicket Wystri Warrick[src]
However, Kneesaa pointed out that the stranglethorn had begun its growth from Logray's hut, and trying to obtain the antidote would be near impossible. Just then, Wicket Wystri Warrick arrived to tell Chief Chirpa that the stranglethorn had cut off all escape from the village by blocking the village exits. Logray surmised that the plant was looking to take root in the forest floor, which would supplement its growth and allow it to become near unstoppable.
Realizing how dire the situation had become, Chief Chirpa ordered Wicket and Kneesaa to guard the supply lift, the only remaining exit left in the village. Chirpa and Logray then left to combat the vine and prevent it from reaching the ground below the village. The two young Ewoks remained where they had been ordered to stay, but as soon as Chirpa and Logray had disappeared out of site, a large stranglethorn head appeared at the supply lift. The vine was able to ensnare Kneesaa, but before it could devour the young Ewok, Wicket was able to knock Kneesaa out of the stranglethorn's grip, landing the both of them onto the supply lift.
The stranglethorn lunged for the two Ewoks, but the jaws of the plant found their way around the supply lift instead, causing the lift to plummet to the ground below. Wicket and Kneesaa were able to avoid a grisly death by jumping from the lift into a hay bale, but since the two Ewoks had abandoned the supply lift, the plant was easily able to take control of the last exit. With the supply lift controlled by the stranglethorn, the plant had blocked off the last of the exits to the village, cutting off all escape. Realizing that it was her fault that the village was in such danger, Kneesaa decided that it was her duty to obtain the ingredients for the antidote, and as Kneesaa set off with Wicket, the two Ewoks began a journey to obtain the necessary supplies.
- Kneesaa a Jari Kintaka: "Our village is in danger, and to save it, we need one of your nectar pearls."
- Wicket Wystri Warrick: "I don't think they care, Kneesaa."
- ―Kneesaa a Jari Kintaka and Wicket Wystri Warrick[src]
The first ingredient for the antidote was Keet nectar, a sweet juice that was procured by the hostile Keets, a race of large insectoids. Wicket and Kneesaa were eventually able to find a Keet Hive, but the opening to the structure was up several meters, and the sides of the hive were much too smooth for climbing. However, after watching a Keet walk up the side of the hive with his sticky feet, Kneesaa devised a plan. Using several leaves and coating them with a sticky substance that surrounded the hive, the two Ewoks tied the leaves around their feet, giving them the ability to walk straight up the outside of the hive.
Silently infiltrating the Keet Hive, the two Ewoks watched as a line of Keets slowly carried a batch of nectar pearls into a large storehouse contained in the hive. However, when the Ewoks tried to sneak in after the Keets, they came face to face with the Keet Queen, the largest Keet, who was ill-disposed to their attempt at stealing her nectar. The Ewoks fled from the Keet Queen and her warriors, eventually succeeding in escaping the murderous insects. Doubling back, the Ewoks were able to enter the nectar pearl storehouse. In Wicket's enthusiasm to obtain a pearl, he took from the bottom of the pile, causing the entire mound of pearls to collapse.
As a stream of pearls began to flow from the storehouse, the Keets finally located the trespassing Ewoks; however, the mass of pearls bowled the Keets over, and the Ewoks rode on top of the nectar pearls to freedom. Flying out of the front door on top of the nectar pearls, the Ewoks landed directly in the sticky bog surrounding the Keet Hive. Seeing that the Ewoks were covered in a sticky goo, the Keet Queen was stricken with laughter at their predicament, and she allowed the two Ewoks to escape with a nectar pearl.
After obtaining Keet nectar, the next ingredient on the list was ganga root, a colorful tuber that stuck the plant firmly in the ground. The two Ewoks luckily came upon a supply of ganga roots after leaving the Keet hive, but try as they might, they were unable to extricate even one root from the ground. Despairing that their quest might be over, the Ewoks witnessed a bobber bird that had come to feast on the ganga plants. As the Ewoks watched, the large bird poked its beak into the base of the ganga plant, spearing the root and driving a large amount of air out of the inflated tuber. The bird was then able to remove the ganga root with ease.
Realizing what they needed to do, Kneesaa and Wicket grabbed a sharp staff and thrust it into a nearby ganga root. Grabbing the deflated ganga root, Kneesaa thrust it into her pack, ready to leave the scene. Unfortunately, the bobber bird had finished eating the rest of the ganga roots in the area, and seeing that the two Ewoks held the last one, it chased after them, trying to eat their prize. The Ewoks fled through the forest and were eventually able to escape the bird when it accidentally thrust its beak into a log while lunging for the Ewoks.
- "Hey, what does this sign say? 'Welcome, to the famous Trome Tree! Now go home! Trespassers will be Tromed!' Tromed?"
- ―Wicket Wystri Warrick
After escaping the bobber bird, the two Ewoks made their way to the Trome tree, a large tree that sat on the top of a high cliff. Seeing that the Trome tree contained one final branch, Kneesaa climbed on Wicket's shoulders to remove the branch and take its sap. However, just before Kneesaa could grab onto the branch, a large Trome appeared. Claiming that the Ewoks were going to try and cut down the Trome tree, the giant Trome advanced on the two Ewoks, pushing them back against the precipice of the cliff. However, Wicket decided to go down fighting, and he lunged at the Trome, pushing him backward and collapsing him on the ground in a heap.
The giant Trome had in fact been three Tromes that were standing on top of one another. Since their scare tactic had failed and because of their small size in relation to the Ewoks, the Tromes briefly retreated from the Ewoks. With the Tromes no longer a threat, the two Ewoks returned to their task of removing the branch but were once again stopped by the Tromes, who had returned to confront the Ewoks once more. The three Tromes pleaded with the Ewoks to not take the last branch from their tree. The tree apparently also served as a home for the Tromes, and if the last branch was removed from the tree, their plant would die, leaving the Tromes without a home. Burdened with a moral dilemma, Kneesaa decided to not remove the branch. However, the young Ewok Princess requested that the Tromes return with them to their village to help save it, which they happily agreed to.
Back to the villageEdit
- "Praise the light spirit! You've returned!"
Back at the village, the stranglethorn had taken several woklings captive, including Nippet, Wiley, and Malani. The giant plant had placed the woklings on top of the highest tree where there was no chance for escape. Paploo had once again tried to fight the stranglethorn, but had once again been unsuccessful, finding himself in the grip of the giant plant as well, with the stranglethorn mercilessly tickling his foot with its vine. As Kneesaa, Wicket, and the Tromes entered the village, they found Chirpa and Logray in a struggle with the stranglethorn to keep it from reaching the ground. Chirpa was delighted to see his daughter, and asked her if she had obtained the ingredients to the antidote. Kneesaa sadly told her father that she had failed to get all the ingredients, but that she had come up with a plan to obtain the antidote that was still trapped in Logray's hut.
Using the Tromes as a diversion, Kneesaa hoped that the Ewoks would be able to sneak into the Shaman's hut and grab the antidote. However, Kneesaa also saw how deeply in danger the woklings of the tribe were and decided that she would be the one to save them. At the same time, Wicket decided to enact Kneesaa's plan and took the Tromes to Logray's hut. As the Tromes began to distract the plant heads by running frantically about, Wicket moved secretly inside of the hut and grabbed the antidote. Meanwhile, using the sticky shoes that she had used to enter the Keet Hive, Kneesaa scaled the tree that the woklings had been trapped on, rescuing them from the hungry stranglethorn. Equipping each of the woklings with a pair of sticky shoes, Kneesaa and the woklings escaped the large tree and reunited with the rest of the tribe.
Distributing the antidoteEdit
- "Okay guys! Grab a handful of nuts! It's feeding time!"
- ―Wicket Wystri Warrick
With the antidote in hand, Wicket and the Tromes returned to Logray and Chirpa who were in a fight for their lives against the stranglethorn. The plant had almost reached the forest floor and was fighting viciously to get past the two Ewoks. Struggling against a particularly brutal vine, Logray told Wicket that a drop of the antidote would need to be placed in the mouths' of each stranglethorn head. Devising a plan to feed the stranglethorn the antidote, Wicket gathered a bag of acorns and covered them with the antidote. With the antidote now in the form of a projectile, Wicket and the Tromes began to throw the acorns into the mouths of each head, causing them to immediately shrink.
As more and more vines were shrunk from the distribution of the acorns, the rest of the tribe began to come together to give the acorns out to the remaining heads of the stranglethorn. The stranglethorn was eventually reduced back to its original size, and the tribe erupted in cheers for Wicket's quick thinking. Wicket held the beaten stranglethorn above his head as the Tromes and Ewoks came together in celebration.
- "It was wrong of you to ignore your studies, but in fact, you've already learned the three lessons. By entering and escaping from the Keet hive, you showed agility, the lesson of the hand. By figuring a way to retrieve the ganga root, you learned the lesson of the head, by using it. And lastly, by sparing the Trome's tree, you learned the most important lesson of all, that of the heart."
With the crisis averted, Kneesaa went to Logray to swear to him that she would no longer avoid her studies and that she would learn the three lessons diligently. However, Logray revealed to Kneesaa that she had already learned all three lessons in her quest to retrieve the ingredients to the antidote. With this declaration, Chirpa congratulated her daughter on her accomplishment, declaring that she would make a great chieftess one day. The crisis also resulted in the discovery of the usefulness of sticky shoes, and even Logray, one of the oldest Ewoks in the tribe learned to use the leaf shoes to ascend the trees of the village.
Behind the scenesEdit
The stranglethorn crisis is the defining conflict in the eleventh episode of the first season of Star Wars: Ewoks written by Bob Carrau. The threat of the stranglethorns serves as a way for Kneesaa to learn the Three Lessons, an informal code that every upcoming Ewok leader must learn before assuming leadership. The plot line of Kneesaa preparing to be chief established during this crisis is continued throughout the rest of the Ewoks cartoon.