I am a Jedi, like my Father before me

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M: “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” But Luke is also like his father in many other ways…

K: …and boy does it freak Obi-Wan out.

M: Poor dear never stops stressing. Even after death.

K: He and Yoda both spend a large part of ESB and RotJ just panicking that they are going to lose Luke to the Dark Side the same way they lost Anakin. Which is understandable considering the parallels between the two Skywalkers.

M: Let’s start with the basics. Both Anakin and Luke grew up on Tatooine–which obviously messes a person up, all that sand–and both enter Jedi-hood late in life, after some serious trauma.

K: The Jedi Council thought Babykin was too old, imagine Mace’s face if he got a look at 22-year-old Luke asking to be trained as a Jedi.

M: And he’s certainly not the Jedi Council’s idea of an ideal student. He’s whiny and stubborn and has some sort of revenge/heroism dream when it comes to fighting the Empire. He is so incredibly normal, I can’t stress that enough. Just a stereotypical 19-year-old kid who isn’t quite sure what he wants to do with his life… he just knows he wants it to be *different.*

K: And off of Tatooine.

M: His initial Jedi crash-course is frighteningly similar to Anakin’s. He’s helping some random Jedi Master get off Tatooine and then said Jedi dies before he really gets to train.

K: Ooh good parallel. It’s not quite as bad as Anakin with Qui-Gon, because Luke wasn’t promised a Master and training at the Jedi Temple only to have it seemingly taken away, but the loss of Ben is a big turning point in Luke’s life.

M: Given that his aunt and uncle have just died, he transfers his need for guidance onto Old Ben.

K: And then he’s just left adrift with this vague knowledge of the Force, a lightsaber that apparently belonged to his father, and a disembodied voice that occasionally appears in his head (and for all he knows, that might just be him going crazy).

M: Luke is incredibly unprepared for being “The New Hope.” He’s got all sorts of attachments, and has a huge amount of power with very little idea of how to control it or even what it is exactly. The whole situation is so similar to Anakin’s that it’s no wonder Yoda immediately tries to say he is too “like his father” for training.

K: Despite that, I think it’s important to note that Luke has made a lot of progress by the time ESB starts. He’s a commander in the Rebel Alliance, leading a fighter squadron. He’s more mature, and he’s clearly been trying to practice with his lightsaber and the Force. He just needs some guidance. Which Yoda is wildly reluctant to give him.

M: Post-Anakin-Stress-Disorder.

K: Hahaha. Compared to the way he taught Jedi during the days of the Republic, Yoda takes a very different approach with Luke. Very little combat training, that we see anyway. Lots of open talk about the dangers of the Dark Side and practicing with the Force and meditation. He’s trying to learn from his (and Obi-Wan’s) mistakes.

M: Of which there were plenty. Luke’s training with Yoda is basically “Difficult, being a Jedi is, deal with it you must.” Yoda immediately teaches Luke not to give in to fear or despair, and does not give him violence as an outlet– no practice lightsaber duels or special missions. Luke’s outlet is… Yoda Backpack Obstacle Course.

K: “I can be a backpack while you run.” He even replaces “hate” with “aggression” on the list of emotions for Jedi to avoid. He does not want a repeat of Anakin. But let’s back up for a second and talk about that scene in Yoda’s hut when Obi-Wan intervenes to get Yoda to train Luke.

M: Oh yes, go ahead.

K: Up to now, Luke’s whole experience with Yoda has been a test of Luke’s patience, literally. Then Yoda asks him “Why wish you become Jedi?” and Luke says “Mostly because of my father, I guess.” Which, ow, my heart. But right after that, Yoda says he can’t teach him because he has no patience. And then the clincher, “Much anger in him, hmm. Like his father.” But what I love is Obi-Wan’s response: “Was I any different when you taught me?” I mean, we’ve all seen Obi-Padawan–he’s got some repressed anger for sure.

M: “Why do I sense that we’ve picked up another pathetic lifeform?” Obi-Padawan is no paragon of humility or acceptance. But back to Luke– Yoda straight up trolls Luke. He makes Luke eat his weird soup while chirping “patience” like 5 times, and then as soon as Luke gets frustrated Yoda gets hella serious… but this time, it’s Obi-Wan who comes to the young Skywalker’s defense. Which I love. Because Obi-Padawan was NOT on board with training Anakin… but this time, given Obi-Wan’s hard-earned wisdom, I think he knows that Luke’s natural emotions don’t mean he’s going to go slaughter younglings as soon as he’s unsupervised. It just means he needs some good-old-fashioned Jedi Master guidance in controlling his emotions.

K: But, the fact remains, Luke’s training begins like his father’s–with a lot of doubt about whether he can pull this Jedi thing off. (Also with a claim about not being afraid, which Yoda sees through both times.)

M: Luke is so focused on the future, which Yoda is quick to point out to Obi-Wan. “All his life as he looked away to the future, to the horizon, never his mind on where he was. What he was doing. Hm. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” Meanwhile, Luke just wants to get going on this Jedi training so he can save his friends and fight the Empire.  

K: And get going he does, in the ESB scene that probably most closely parallels Luke and Anakin. Luke has a vision of his friends in danger–and his immediate reaction is to run to the rescue.

M: Ugh, this scene kills me. I’m just sitting here like a Force ghost: “No, Luke, no!” (Though of course we know this ends much better than Anakin going to his mother.)

K: (Or trying to save Padme.) Before we really get into Yoda and Obi-Wan’s freak out about this situation, I have to make a quick aside about Vader. Embarrassingly, it took me the LONGEST time to figure out why he tortures Han on Cloud City. Because, as Han himself says, “they never even asked me any questions.” But getting information was never Vader’s goal–he wants Luke. And as the son of Anakin Skywalker, it is more than likely that Luke has an affinity for terribly upsetting Force premonitions. Vader just needs to create the scenario of danger and pain that will bring Luke to him.

M: And Vader also knows from experience that loved ones– and wanting power to save them– will likely be a terrible temptation to the Dark Side.

K: It’s so smart and so creepy. I love it. But the Jedi do not. Because they are worried, justifiably, that Luke is going to make all of Anakin’s  mistakes if he attempts to save Han and Leia.

M: Cue the freak out. Yoda takes a “go big or go home” approach to his warning: “If you leave now, help them you could… but you will destroy all for which they have fought.” Harsh.

K: But it could be true. And it’s a risk Yoda is not willing to take with someone as important as Luke.

M: I love how for once Obi-Wan just comes straight out and explains why they’re worried: “This is a dangerous time… You’ll be tempted by the Dark Side… I don’t want to lose you to the Emperor the same way I lost Vader.” (cue tears)

K: Gah, we don’t want you to lose Luke the way you lost Anakin either, Obi-Wan!

M: But back to the action–this is the Star Wars, and limb loss is imminent. A mistake on Vader’s part. One I’m sure he regrets later bahahaha.

K: Yeah, nothing gets a person on your side like cutting off their hand. Immediately after this obviously painful moment, when he’s been utterly beaten, Luke faces the same offer that Anakin gets from Palpatine: “Join me.” He’s offered a chance to overthrow the Emperor and have unimaginable power at Vader’s side.

M: But darling Luke rejects the Dark Side, despite that tempting power.

K: And parallels his other parent by refusing to join Vader in evil.

M: So, Luke refuses the offer for power, but after losing his hand and having a traumatic encounter with a parent… has some angst. Similar to Anakin’s situation at the end of AotC.

K: It’s not an exact parallel of course–Obi-Wan is the one Dooku offers a partnership to in AotC, and Anakin’s mother is dead not a supervillain, but the trauma and the clothing choices these separate experiences lead to are undoubtedly similar.

M: And that brings us to the beginning of RotJ when Luke arrives at Jabba’s palace. Which, admittedly, is my *favorite* Luke entrance EVER. Boy knows drama, like his father before him.

K: And fashion, like his mother before him.

M: 10 points to Hufflepuff for Jedi threads.

K: That scene where Luke comes to Jabba’s palace sets the mood for the rest of Luke’s journey in RotJ. Yes he’s our hero, but he’s a little…ambiguous.

M: He’s wearing all black, very Vader, hood up in a way that would make my suburban mother call him a drug dealer, and he freaking Force-chokes some Gamorreans.

K: It’s understandable if the audience is a little worried about Luke going forward. He’s in more danger from the Dark Side than he’s ever been before this point. Which is important from a plot standpoint–if we didn’t believe there was a chance Luke could fall, we wouldn’t be so afraid of him facing the Emperor.

M: I also want to point out that RotJ was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi. Obviously, George eventually changed his mind about that, but I think that title makes it even more clear that this isn’t the same innocent Luke who wanted to go to the Tosche station and pick up some power converters.

K: In the novelization of RotJ, there’s a ton of commentary throughout the Tatooine section about Luke struggling not to *enjoy* killing all of Jabba’s minions and blowing up the sailbarge. He knows that’s the wrong way to approach it, but he can’t deny that revenge is sweet. He’s rescuing his friend and getting rid of an awful criminal, which are good things, but he’s still feeling that pull to the Dark Side.

M: I can understand Luke’s struggle not to enjoy it, because I sure enjoy watching it. The skiff scene is the best. But he does keep his promise and go back to Yoda. And I love Yoda’s subsequent warning: Luke is in danger of suffering the same fate as his father.

K: Yoda’s right–Luke very nearly does suffer the same fate (presumably minus the horrific injuries though).

M: Backing up though, I want to briefly mention Obi-Wan’s conversation with Luke prior to the Endor sequence.

K: Oh yes, please. Especially because Luke’s angry at him–very Anakin.

M: And Obi-Wan responds in his typical roundabout way as well. But also, Obi-Wan (probably unintentionally) piles on Luke the same pressures Anakin faced. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he is their only hope, that he has an important destiny, and that if he doesn’t face that destiny then the Emperor wins.

K: Yes, Luke is facing a lot of pressure in that scene with Obi-Wan, and he’s feeling more alone than ever after watching Yoda die. Like, jeez, poor kid.

M: And so he goes to face his father.

K: His first tactic? Trying to talk Vader out of being evil. Gotta love Luke. He really is determined not to turn to the Dark Side. And he does a good job initially, even when they get to the throne room and the Emperor is there egging him on.

M: But, like Anakin does and Yoda warns against, he underestimates the Emperor, as his focus is on Vader. (Luckily, Vader finally doesn’t underestimate the Emperor.)

K: The fact that Luke tries SO HARD to do the right thing over and over (“I will not fight you, father”), and that he finally does tap into the Dark Side out of desperation to save someone he loves–can we say “Anakin in RotS”?

M: Again, like Anakin it looks like his fear is what will weaken him.

K: But instead, his compassion for his father coupled with his realization (thanks, robot hand) that he’s in real danger of becoming the very thing he hates saves him.

M: Meanwhile, Vader watches the Emperor hurt Luke, in a way that reminds me of the scene where Mace Windu confronts Palpatine…the very night that Anakin turned to the Dark Side himself. And just like on that night, he has a decision to make.

K: Only this time Anakin gets it right! He stops the Emperor! And I get super emotional about it!

M: And Luke does what Anakin wanted to do all along– save a loved one from a terrible fate.

K: Well, and Anakin gets to save a loved one too. Win-win.

M: And the Force ghosts can finally stop worrying. Until Kylo shows up… *grumble*

K: But that’s a topic for a whole different post.

 

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And Friends You Must Remain…

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M: Bonus points for noir lighting.

M: Let’s set the scene. We’re in Clone Wars Season 6 (The Lost Missions), episode…

K: 6?

M: 6. This is during the second arc that deals with King of Creeps Rush Clovis. About halfway through the arc, Obi-Wan “confronts” (as much as someone like Obi-Wan can confront anyone) Anakin about the whole ordeal. (For those of you following along at home, this particular conversation happens about 7 minutes into “The Rise of Clovis.”)

K: It’s after Padme has agreed to work with Clovis at the request of the chancellor. She and Anakin have a little bit of a fight over it…

M: Anakin’s jealous, Padme wants to be her own person and doesn’t need Anakin’s permission, etc. Additionally, Anakin’s at odds with the council again, but this time he has reason to be. Clovis is a creep.

K: A creep with no understanding of consent. And, in Anakin’s defense, last time, he DID get Padme poisoned. So, Anakin is a *little* upset.

M: Just a bit. And who comes to try and fix things? Obi-Dad Kenobi himself, space-dad original. This is the first time we’re seeing Obi-Wan this arc, which is interesting, as he’s usually not so MIA during Anakin’s relationship issues in Clone Wars.

K: He’s usually watching, with an appropriately raised eyebrow. So, when Obi-Wan strides in and calculatedly leans against the wall like an L.L. Bean model, Anakin’s messing around fixing droids (or something…)

M: *Yoda voice* Technically minded, we are not.

K: …which painfully calls back to the scene in AotC when Padme comes in while he’s fixing things after watching his mother die and killing all the sand people. Clearly emotions are running high.

M: “Running High,” a phrase which here means “should be approached with the help of a psychological professional.” Obi-Wan, being “Obfuscation Kenobi” as per usual (look it up, Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, prepare to cry), dances around the subject at hand.

K: Yeah, the whole “I sense anger in you when I say his name” instead of “Why do you hate this guy so much, are you jealous or something?”

M: “BRUH, simmer down, your crush is showing.” Actually, I think what he’s trying to do is leave Anakin an opening to bring the topic up himself.

K: A good strategy, as Anakin is so sensitive.

M: Definitely, “sensitive,” let’s call it that. Then, there’s the body language here. Anakin pulls away and in doing so the distance between them grows, literally, as they talk. I also love that at this point Anakin reaches for the model ship– a remnant of childhood and a symbol for a simpler time.

K: As well as a symbol of the one place he actually feels in control–the cockpit. But let’s go back for a second and talk about Anakin’s guilt/responsibility complex. He says, speaking of Padme’s previous encounter with Clovis, that “he [Clovis] almost got Senator Amidala killed, and I would have been responsible.” He literally says Clovis is the one who would have gotten Padme killed and STILL takes the blame for the hypothetical death. As is obvious if you’ve seen any part of the prequel trilogy, Anakin has a talent for blaming himself when *anything* bad happens. It’s always because he didn’t stop it, or he wasn’t strong enough. Which is heartbreaking, and also the way Palpatine gets to him in the end.

M: GAH, Anakin feels. This gives sooo much context to Anakin and his fall. Being a Jedi is about letting go– his abandonment/abandoning issues prevent that from happening. Someone give this boy a hug! (and professional help).

K: *throws therapist at space for Anakin Skywalker*

M: SO, Anakin is enshrouded in guilt and fear and jealousy when Obi-Wan comes in. Then, Obi-Wan eventually gets around to saying that Anakin needs to let his attachment to Padme rest, just a bit.

K: And then, he brings up Satine. A former flame of “Obi’s” who, at this point, is dead, partly as a result of her attachment to Obi-Wan. It’s a guilt party all around!

M: Again, I love the body language here. Obi-Wan sits down– he takes a more submissive role, and he turns his back toward Anakin. He feels guilty that he is not a perfect example for his Padawan, and he obviously is still upset about Satine dying in his arms after being stabbed by he-who-does-not-exist-post-TPM. Understandably.

K: Quite. Also, he doesn’t want to be threatening. He’s trying to get Anakin to open up, he doesn’t want him to be defensive. Which is another reason to bring up Satine–he’s trying to remind Anakin that maybe this is something Obi-Wan can understand “to a degree,” as he so wisely puts it.

M: Yes, I love that he says “to a degree” and so doesn’t push the “I know how you feel” button, a common mistake of well-intentioned people trying to be sympathetic. He knows he doesn’t, and he knows his relationship with Satine wasn’t at all like what Anakin and Padme have. Instead, he’s demonstrating that he’s sympathetic to Anakin’s relationship… again giving Anakin an opening.  

K: But Anakin is so entrenched in slightly hysterical fear and, consequently, this NEED to keep his marriage a secret that there’s no way he’ll take that opening. Also, Obi-Wan can’t help but give the Council’s line (“You can’t have attachments”), even if what he means is “You can’t let your attachment to Padme turn into possessiveness.” Obi-Wan, lifelong Jedi that he is, thinks and talks that way naturally. Plus, he’s a subtle guy. Anakin is not. Which causes more than a few communication problems that we don’t need to go into here.

M: It’s a line that brings Obi-Wan comfort and a language Obi-Wan understands. But it’s neither of those things for Anakin, so it doesn’t have the effect Obi-Wan intends. And then, a few seconds later, when he says that Anakin needs to do the right thing “for the order,” that’s when Anakin closes himself off and gets defensive (and also slams his model ship down like a toddler throwing a tantrum). From Anakin’s point of view, what has the order done for him? EXCEPT, back up, we skipped my favorite line of this whole conversation. Anakin insists that he and Padme are “just friends” and Obi-Wan responds: “And friends you must remain.”

K: Oh yeah! I love that line too, it’s so…double edged. It almost sounds like he means “in public,” like he’s warning Anakin that he’s in danger of exposing his relationship. Because, as Clovis says to Padme later on in the episode, “friends don’t argue the way I saw you two arguing.” Obi-Wan’s calling Anakin out for doing a bad job backing up his constant assertions that he and Padme are no more than friends.

M: Yes, that! Obi-Wan knows Anakin is more expressive in his anger and his fights with Padme could attract attention… but also I think it’s some sly relationship advice. He knows how much Anakin and Padme mean to each other, and he feels it’s important to keep their relationship intact, no matter what happens.

K: Oh dang, I really like that. Like “hey, bro, quit fighting with your wife, she’s a keeper.” Obi-Wan recognizes that Padme is not interested in Clovis (and honestly, who would be?). Anakin also knows that, deep down, but he has such a low opinion of himself. He sees Clovis as all these things he isn’t, and then there’s the fact that he had a relationship with Padme before Anakin himself, etc.

M: It’s back to the letting go. Anakin thinks letting go means ending his relationship or allowing Padme to be harmed by Clovis. Obi-Wan thinks it means trusting Padme to take care of herself, even with a creeper like Clovis creeping around.

K: It’s really Clovis that Anakin doesn’t trust, not Padme, but it just feeds into this jealous/possessive worry that comes off as him not trusting Padme. Which is why Padme is mad at him, and he’s pouting in his room in the first place.

M: Ok, we’re down to the last part of the conversation, where Anakin asserts that Clovis and Padme have no current relationship. Obi-Wan pointedly says “Then we should have no problems, should we?” and leaves. I feel like there’s a shift here in Obi-Wan… he came in very sympathetic and is leaving a little snarky, exasperated with Anakin, and maybe even a tad defensive himself.

K: He’s kind of moved from subtle advice giving to what could, for Obi-Wan, almost be an outright warning. Complete with ubiquitous raised eyebrows. And that brings us to one of my favorite parts in this conversation, which is that when Obi-Wan leaves, Anakin *almost* calls out/goes after him. He lifts his hand and everything, and he just looks distressed as Obi-Wan exits and I die every time.

M: SOMEONE FIX THESE EMOTIONALLY CHALLENGED BABIES. It’s like we’ve discussed before– Obi-Wan’s sarcasm is the worst thing for Anakin, though Obi-Wan certainly doesn’t mean it that way. That “should we” hurts Anakin to the core.

K: Yes! Because then Anakin feels guilty for not being able to control his feelings about the situation, and for not telling Obi-Wan in the first place, and for everything. As usual. Gosh.

M: Galaxy-sized guilt, which Obi-Wan is probably feeling a share of as well. The moral of every story, as my sister says, is either “People are awkward and should never speak to each other” or “People should just talk to each other.” The moral of this story is both.

K: But if Obi-Wan and Anakin did manage to say everything they needed to say without it being an utter disaster, we couldn’t cry ourselves silly over the ending of Revenge of the Sith. And then cry ourselves silly again over the ending of Return of the Jedi.

M: “And friends you must remain.” Take that to heart, you bozos.