Obi-Death-Wish-Kenobi

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K: Issue 7 of the Marvel Star Wars comic has a great moment in which Obi-Wan confronts some of Jabba’s minions on Tatooine during his exile there and one of them says “It’s too hot for death wishes, old man.” My immediate reaction to this line was “Clearly you’ve never met Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

M: Obi-Wan, amongst all of the other sad things of his life, seems genuinely unperturbed by death. Perhaps even eager to meet it.

K: Today, we discuss this phenomenon and how it makes us want to take Obi-Wan by the shoulders and shake him while demanding that he care about himself for once.

M: (Which Admiral Yularen practically does at one point in the EU, a moment that made me LOL.) I feel like we should start at the end and then circle back to the beginning. Obi-Wan’s presence in the OT is defined by his death. He gives himself up and disappears into the Force during his final duel with Vader.

K: That’s pretty much the culmination of the death wish. He “fights” (although, can we even call it a fight after watching the prequels?) with Vader until Luke shows up and then he just lifts his lightsaber and is like “Ok, I’m ready, let’s do this.” He gets this peaceful smile on his face too.

M: For him, it’s finally over.

K: Well, except for Force ghost duties, but that’s another topic.

M: (Haha I’m sure he’s not too pleased about that– “You stupid kids brought me out of my eternal rest!!!”)

K: But yes, he doesn’t have to keep dealing with the constant struggle that is his life.

M: I mean, in part you can hardly blame him, he does have a rather horrible life. But his death wish originates far earlier than that– it goes back into his mostly happy Padawan days.

K: We should clarify here that this thing we’re calling a “death wish” is not Obi-Wan being suicidal. He just never seems bothered by near-death experiences–in fact, he’s usually downright amused.

M: I’m reminded of that line from Peter Pan: “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” I think he simply views death from a very Jedi perspective: He’s ready to let go if need be and explore the next part of existence.

K: Yes, exactly. But the sheer number of times he almost dies… that’s something else entirely. A lot of the time, we hear about these experiences is because Obi-Wan is telling some “amusing anecdote” that makes the listeners all go “what the heck, dude, that’s not funny, you almost died.” Which seems to confuse him, haha.

M: There’s the instance in Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller when he’s on a mission with Bail Organa and has a terrible nightmare flashback of when he was a Padawan and fell into a pit of flesh-eating firebeetles. Bail is rightfully freaked out, as Obi-Wan screams in agony… but when Obi-Wan wakes up and reluctantly tells the story, he acts like it’s no big deal. Bail, horrified, says “It must have been… terrible.” To which Obi-Wan politely responds, “Not at all. It was hilarious.”

K: Bail’s response, and my own, is just shocked disbelief that the word “hilarious” would even occur to Obi-Wan when discussing such an event.

M: And Obi-Wan doesn’t really understand why Bail is upset at all– from his point of view, there was “no harm done” so there’s no use in being traumatized.

K: It’s like he doesn’t understand that to any ordinary person, a single event like that would be beyond traumatizing. While for him, it’s just any other field trip with Qui-Gon.

M: Yeah we’re not even started on examples. To quote from the Jedi Apprentice series: “‘I was unavoidably detained in a freezer,’ Obi-Wan said with a grin.” Oh, and this one, when Qui-Gon mentions that his attempt to free his apprentice from a torture collar could result in injury : “‘Or behead me,’ Obi-Wan pointed out cheerfully.”

K: *shakes head* Oh Obi-Padawan, you cheerful little dummy.

M: And it doesn’t end with sassy little Obi-Padawan. Obi-Wan’s go-to plan with Anakin is something like “I’ll be the punching bag distraction while you go take care of the main threat.” In Labyrinth of Evil, this is even referred to as their normal plan. For Obi-Wan to go into a death-trap as a distraction.

K: To be fair, it usually works. Well, as far as Obi-Wan and Anakin “plans” ever work. But that doesn’t make it less disturbing for Obi-Wan to be so chill about it.

M: Haha, I was sort of doing a catalog of Obi-Wan’s near-death experiences in Clone Wars, and honestly the only time he seems bothered by nearly dying is when he’s captured by the Death Watch on Mandalore, and even then I think he’s only annoyed because that means Satine was right.

K: Hahaha! Yes. He keeps telling her to hurry up while she’s trying to shut down the machine that’s supposed to crush him, but it’s not in a panicked “oh no, I’m going to die!!” kind of way. It’s more like “This is so inconvenient and I don’t want to have to hear you saying ‘I told you so’ once we’re out of here.”

M: He’s much more concerned about who gets the last word, and he can’t get the last word if he’s dead.

K: Having the last word is literally more important to Obi-Wan than actually escaping danger most of the time. What were some of the other instances in Clone Wars that you found?

M: Well, he faces death in just about every episode he’s in, but we really start seeing this “Screw it, I’ll go die if it gets us out of this mess” attitude in season 4.

K: Well that’s appropriate, since it sometimes feels like the entirety of season 4 is just Obi-Wan getting beat up over and over by various enemies.

M: Beginning with the Slaver Arc, which is terrible and amazing for SO many reasons. But it all starts off with Obi-Wan agreeing to engage in single combat with a giant tiger man just to stall.

K: I think my favorite bit of that particular fight is when Obi-Wan’s lying on the floor after being thrown across the room and he just mutters “Come on, Anakin, hurry up,” and then gets right back up and charges into the fight again. The thing is, once Anakin has done his part, Obi-Wan immediately turns the tables on the Zygerrian slaver–he was restraining himself through that whole fight just so it looked real that he was constantly an inch from losing.

M: Noble, of course. This is Obi-Wan Kenobi we’re talking about. Whenever I watch that episode I can’t help but think of what he’d look like if this animated kids show actually showed blood or injury. *shudders* And, this is only the first time Obi-Wan gets beaten up within an inch of his life this arc. By 10 minutes into the next episode, he’s caught by the Zygerrians again.

K: But, in a fascinating–and also really upsetting–turn of events in the last episode of the arc, the bad guys catch on that getting beat up doesn’t actually hurt Obi-Wan (well, I’m sure it does physically but you understand what I mean). So they stop–and they hurt other people in his name instead.

M: A wickedly smart move, and a horrid thing to hear explained, though in the end Obi-Wan and our heroes are triumphant. And throughout the rest of the season he continues to act as a punching bag (when he goes undercover, when he fights Maul and Savage, etc.) And this isn’t just Clone Wars Obi-Wan. He acts the same way in the movies. Just think of his fight with Jango Fett, or the arena scene in AotC, or his fight with Grievous in RotS.

K: The thing is, Obi-Wan doesn’t care what happens to him as long as the end result is good for the galaxy. Which brings us to Mustafar, where Obi-Wan’s death wish hurts me the most. He’s more than happy to perish in boiling lava with Anakin if it means that he doesn’t have to personally kill his best friend.

M: You need to take the reins on this explanation, because I love your analysis of their lightsaber choreography.

K: Haha ok. Throughout the fight, Obi-Wan puts himself in deliberately perilous situations–once again being the bait (although this time Anakin is acting as the main threat instead of dealing with it). For example, when the mining base starts collapsing and the part they are on falls in the lava river. Obi-Wan and Anakin are on this swaying, dangerous floating piece of metal, clinging on for dear life. But despite that, Anakin is still doing his utmost to kill Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan, instead of continuing to climb away, just starts doing increasingly dangerous stunts, like swinging out on a wire, because he knows Anakin will follow him. If he can get the lava to do this terrible job for him, he doesn’t mind dying as well.

M: Ok, my heart has broken over this for the millionth time. I can totally see that… Obi-Wan sort of lures Anakin out. Instead of playing offensive he spends the majority of the fight running from Anakin (well, Vader).

K: Exactly, he almost never takes the opportunity to attack–he doesn’t mind dying, as we’ve said. However he does know that he can’t let Vader live so if he dies, he can’t be the only one…gaah I hurt. But we’re getting off topic.

M: Well, what’s next is Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine. And this is when his death wish stops being this sort-of entertaining aspect of old-fashioned Errol Flynn heroism (as Dave Filoni might say), and turns into something completely tragic. Back to that same issue of the Marvel Star Wars comic we mentioned at the start, there’s this bit when he’s really struggling with the inactivity of life on Tatooine, and he writes (in his journal): “They were all gone. All the Jedi. And sometimes I wondered… if I should have gone with them.”

K: Dear Force, that’s painful. It’s such a switch in attitude, you’re right.

M: I think prior to RotS, Obi-Wan’s death wish is rooted in such noble instinct. He wants to save others, and as a Jedi he’s willing to let go of his life if it means helping others. He’s far more willing to die himself than kill another. But after RotS… he’s just guilty and sad.

K: Well and also, there’s this difference in the consequences of dying. Prior to RotS, if Obi-Wan died, then yes his friends would mourn him, but there would be others to carry on the work of the Jedi and it would be all right. But while he’s on Tatooine, dying would mean abandoning his mission–it would mean doing the wrong thing instead of the right thing. Which is why he can’t until Luke is on his way to joining the Rebellion and becoming a Jedi.

M: Obi-Wan won’t do anything selfish. UGH. Okay, one more example. Brace yourself.

K: Oh no.

M: This is from John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, easily my favorite EU novel.

K: And probably the source of the most poignant Obi-Wan feels.

M: SO MANY FEELS, PLEASE HELP I AM NOT OKAY. Kenobi takes place about a year after  RotS when Obi-Wan is first trying to just be “Ben Kenobi.” In this scene, Obi-Wan’s friend Anileen (another delightful Star Wars lady, who deserves far more than this parenthetical) is concerned about Obi-Wan. As are we all. She can tell that he’s hiding some sort of great sadness, but all he’ll tell her is that “something bad happened” to someone he knew.

K: Oh dear, is it that scene?

M: *through tears* Yes.

K: *chokes back a sob* Carry on.

M: I’ll just write this out all literary-like, beginning with Anileen:

“You’re lying to yourself. This thing, this bad thing– it may have happened to someone else. Someone you cared about, I’m guessing. And that means it happened to you, too.”

Ben resisted. “I don’t–”

“Yes, you do. Something horrible happened, Ben, and it’s ripping you apart. Maybe it’s why you’re here. But you’re trying to go on like you didn’t care, like you weren’t–”

She paused. His hands back on the railing, he looked up at her.

“You were there,” Anileen whispered. “Weren’t you? When this bad thing happened,” she mouthed. “You were there.”

Ben closed his eyes and nodded. “It didn’t just happen,” he said, hardly breathing. “I caused it.

Anileen’s mind raced. Raced and veered into dark imaginings that she wanted to dismiss. But Ben was serious about whatever it was, and she had to be, too. “You… you hurt someone?”

“They hurt themselves,” Ben said, “I came along at the end– the very end. But I was also there at the beginning. I should have stopped it.”

She shook her head. “You’re just one man.”

I should have stopped it!” The railing shook. “I failed! It was on me to stop it, and I didn’t. And I will have that on my conscience forever.”

Anileen’s eyes looked left and right. The fence quaked so hard under his hands that she thought the very posts might fly out of the ground. “Ben, you can’t blame–”

“You can’t know.” He turned and clutched at her shoulders, surprising her. “I failed everyone. Do you have any idea how many people have paid for that? Do you know how many people are paying, right now?”

“I only know one,” she said.

K: *curled up in the fetal position* Why do you hurt me in this way?

M: *attempting to pull it together* Okay, well, first of all this is just tragically beautiful and it sums up Obi-Wan so kriffing well. But also, I think it really puts Obi-Wan’s death wish in perspective. We can joke about how it’s amazing that he lived as long as he did, given his penchant for hanging off of precipices and making dangerously sassy remarks in front of terrible villains, but it all comes down to the fact that he seems mentally impervious to physical pain. What really tortures him is the idea that he might have caused harm to others. And that’s ultimately why Obi-Wan is such a tragic character… it’s the helplessness he feels on Tatooine and the knowledge that he’s hurt other people that haunt him, not pain or aging. It’s why he’s such a good Jedi.

 

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“When did you become the good guy?” “Don’t insult me.”

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M: Asajj Ventress’s first appearance in the Clone Wars movie is honestly what sold me on the series… She’s feminine, terrifying, and serves as such a good counterpart for Obi-Wan.

K: Their rivalry is hilarious to me because he just flirts at her every time they meet. But yes, Ventress is a seriously cool character. Lady villains are as awesome as lady heroes in the Star Wars.

M: It takes a special person to dismiss Obi-Wan’s flirtations with the coolness that she does. But, we’re not here to talk about their rivalry, or even Ventress’s role as a villain throughout the first few seasons of Clone Wars. Today’s topic… well, it came about like this. I see this meme popping up all the time featuring Hondo and Obi-Wan that says something like “Villains who turn into awkward friends are SO important,” which is funny enough in its own way, but if we’re talking villains who turn into amazing neutral sometimes-allies, Ventress definitely takes the cake. Or meiloorun.

K: Haha. I think “neutral” is the key word here. There are other characters who are supposed to be neutral, like Hondo (though his presence usually offends me, so it’s hard for him to come across as neutral) but I think Ventress’s arc takes her to a place where she’s truly neutral in a way other characters aren’t.

M: Quick disclaimer– we’re talking just Clone Wars here. Dark Disciple is for another day, because although I’ve placed it on hold at the library, I haven’t gotten to read it yet.

K: Good point, I don’t know what the EU has to say about Ventress so this is strictly Clone Wars-based analysis.

M: SO, truly neutral. I think to understand why Ventress fills the neutral role so well, however, we need to start by looking at her backstory and her time as a villain. I think one of the most fascinating things about her is how similar she is to our heroes, Anakin and Obi-Wan.

K: *Obi-Wan voice* Do tell.

M: This is only something I’ve realized fairly recently, but Ventress is basically an alternate reality version of Anakin. She, like Anakin, started life as a slave and lost her initial Jedi master all too soon (the impetus of her journey to the Dark Side). And although she eventually becomes Dooku’s minion, she’s operates on a similar sort of cold justice–an “eye for an eye” kind of thing.

K: That is a fascinating parallel. I’m thinking back to the Clone Wars novelization by Karen Traviss and how so much of what Ventress does is driven by this need for revenge against the Jedi for something they didn’t do (help her homeworld) and how that also kind of parallels Anakin’s eventual hatred for the Jedi. She has a sense that her grievance is justified.

M: Yes, exactly! In a weird way she’s motivated by many of the same emotions as Anakin is. Things need to be set right, even if that means using questionable means. I also think it’s interesting that, like Anakin, she’s always seen as inferior by her peers. She’s never quite accepted into the Sith inner circle, always referred to as “Assassin” or derogatorily referenced as Dooku’s pawn. Anakin, given that he is a different sort of Jedi, also feels constantly on the outside.

K: Part of the problem for Ventress is that Dooku probably isn’t supposed to be training her in the first place. After all, with the Sith there can be only two, so he’s breaking the rules by having this unofficial “apprentice.” Which I suppose is another backwards parallel to The Team because Obi-Wan wasn’t supposed to train Anakin either–he went against the Council and they just gave in and basically gave him retroactive permission.

M: Oooooh yes. Good point. And finally, one last parallel for Anakin: Dooku (at Sidious’s command) turns on Ventress because she’s becoming too powerful. That fear of power and the idea that she is dangerous for the Sith is (again, a backward parallel) similar to Anakin’s position as “The Chosen One” and the fear the Jedi Council has of his power.

K: Definitely. The lineup of that situation also parallels RotS, with the leader (Sidious/Yoda) demanding that the master (Dooku/Obi-Wan) kill their dangerous apprentice (Ventress/Anakin). And in both cases, the masters fail.

M: Whoa, this goes even deeper than I realized. GAH, the Star Wars.

K: They don’t mess around.

M: Poetry– it rhymes, as George would say. Okay, but I don’t want to leave Obi-Wan out of this, because I think that there are parallels between he and Ventress as well, albeit more in terms of personality rather than backstory. I love the chemistry between Obi-Wan and Ventress, as we’ve mentioned, and I love how they both have a love of the craft.

K: Ok, for Obi-Wan I see that, but I may need an example for Ventress.

M: Ventress’s obsession with power and her commitment to the Dark Side come about in part due to a fascination with the Force and its power. In the “Nightsisters” episode when we get all those cool flashbacks of Ventress’s story, there’s this really interesting moment when she goes and seeks out Dooku to ask for training. He agrees, on the condition that she proves herself. I think Ventress’s way of fighting (again, mostly coming from the Clone Wars novelization) is very intellectual. She’s seeking out knowledge and improving her technique constantly– in order to prove herself.

K: Which relates to both our heroes: the constant knowledge seeking is very Obi-Wan, and we all know how desperately Anakin wants to prove himself.

M: She’s also intensely interested in what motivates people, and the psychology of her enemies. Whereas Anakin is more about the general strategy and gets into this zone where it’s all about the win and the fight, I think both Ventress and Obi-Wan carefully weigh the motivations and psychological processes of their opponents– which is what makes them so fun to watch.

K: Oh that makes a lot of sense. And when they do it to each other, it makes them really good opponents and also allows for the level of banter they reach so comfortably.

M: Yes! For example, going back to the great novelization of the Clone Wars movie, I love Ventress’s thoughts about Obi-Wan: “He talked too much. Maybe he liked the drama, or used it to work himself up for a fight.” Uh, accurate.

K: Yes! She uses her observations of Obi-Wan every time they fight to get more and more of a sense of how he thinks, and how he operates. She knows him pretty well by the later seasons of Clone Wars. Probably better than Anakin does in some ways, since Anakin’s not very good at paying attention…

M: I think she certainly has a better idea of Obi-Wan’s weaknesses.

K: For sure–if it had come to a duel to the death between the two of them, I don’t think Ventress would have tried to do a flip over his head to take the high ground (sorry, Anakin).

M: Bahahahahahaha no, she would not have. She would have read that situation much better. And finally, one more Obi-Wan parallel… everything she loves DIES.

K: Ow that’s not a fun comparison.

M: Seriously though– her master dies. She’s thrown out of the Sith. Her entire people die (and Obi-Wan’s the “last of his breed” as he says). Basically she turns into this Ronin of sorts, an outcast, constantly hiding… much like Obi-Wan on Tatooine. Which brings us to the new Ventress we find in the latter half of season 4. A neutral Ventress.

K: I mean, sure, she’s not above seeking occasional revenge or joining up with bounty hunters, but she’s no longer actively evil. However, she’s definitely not “good” either.

M: I think we first see this, speaking of, when she teams up with Baby Boba’s gang.

K: Ah yes, Baby Boba. A character I often forget exists because I have a lot of apathy for Boba Fett in general. (Cue gasps from the larger Star Wars fandom.)

M: Haha dude, me too. Especially Baby Boba, I have about as much feeling for him as Mace Windu does. Back to Ventress: this is in Season 4, the episode is called “Bounty.” Basically she was hired to be part of this whole kidnapping operation, and it goes south quickly, given Baby Boba’s lack of planning. The princess they’ve kidnapped appeals to Ventress, telling her “I never asked to be ripped away from my home.” Which strikes a chord in Ventress.

K: Ventress knows all too well what it feels like to lose everything.

M: Which leads her to finish the mission in a really fascinating way. She does this acrobatic double-cross where she manages to both get the bounty and give the princess back to her people (though for a price, of course), and also does the honorable thing by sharing the bounty with the team as agreed upon. It’s fascinating because it’s both acting in self-interest (which is at her core), but has streaks of both cruelty and integrity.

K: She finds a weird kind of balance.

M: Basically, she stops being nihilistic.

K: Her next big appearance is one of my favorites though–a somewhat accidental team up with Obi-Wan, where we once again get to see that neutrality at play.

M: I am so obsessed with this episode, despite he-who-does-not-exist-post-TPM, because the Ventress/Obi-Wan chemistry is insanely good. Maul lures Obi-Wan out by killing innocents, and Obi-Wan is… well, not his usual self, because Maul knows exactly how to hurt him and throw him off balance (Qui-Gon, that’s how).

K: (GAAAH) Plus he has a heavily armed, ridiculously strong henchman in his brother Savage.

M: Savage is so OP it’s obnoxious. Obi-Wan doesn’t really stand a chance. So he’s getting completely slaughtered when Ventress arrives, planning to kill Savage and collect the bounty/exact revenge.

K: She could just wait for them to finish killing Obi-Wan before doing that (although since Maul is incredibly Extra™, that might take a while…)

M: (“Your death will be beyond excruciating,” etc. etc. )

K: …but instead, she lures the two Zabracks away and then gets Obi-Wan back on his feet.

M: Cue my favorite Ventress line: “Kenobi! Don’t tell me someone’s finally knocked the fight out of you!”

K: Look at her word choice, she knows him so well haha. Also, she’s clearly been watching season 4 and knows that it’s just Obi-Wan constantly getting beat up.

M: Ugh someone help him– oh wait, Ventress does! And there’s this weird respect between them because she knows he’s not a quitter and he knows she’s a valuable ally. And then she slaps him awake– she’s not being *nice* after all. Haha, I love his confused “Ventress?” when he finally wakes up.

K: This is definitely not something he expected, hence his question/teasing comment “When did you become the good guy?”

M: “Don’t insult me.” Ugh their banter here is ON POINT.

K: I like the idea that for Ventress, the implication that she’s on Obi-Wan’s side is as insulting as it would be for him to be considered on her side. But it’s not “I am a Sith and could never be pathetic like you,” the way it might have been before. She’s found her own path now. And that doesn’t involve being one of the “good guys” either.

M: Yes yes yes. She’s doing whatever is in her own best interest, so she’s quick to team up with Obi-Wan. And I love how their previous rivalry turns into an easy, almost practiced duo. “Ready?” “Like you even have to ask.”

K: Yes! They fight very well together, switching places a lot, tossing lightsabers around–it’s fun to watch.

M: Toward the end of their fight, when they decide to run (“I learned from watching you!”), Obi-Wan cues Ventress, and she jumps over Savage while he flings her up with the Force. They don’t even have to explain what they’re thinking. I mean, this is some Obi-Wan/Anakin level choreography, as short-lived as it is. And once they’ve escaped, Obi-Wan points out that now they’re sort of a team. Because, as he says, Maul and Savage are after both of them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

K: The old Ventress would have immediately turned on Obi-Wan once they got out of danger, but neutral Ventress…she just kind of nods tiredly like “yeah, you’re right Kenobi, see you around.”

M: And she is “around” one more time– this time to awkwardly partner up with Ahsoka.

K: Going back to how Ventress has parallels with our heroes, that’s actually how Ahsoka gets her to help–by pointing out that they “aren’t that different.” In this arc, Ahsoka is on the run from the Jedi Order, alone and hunted in the undercity of Coruscant. Ventress, having been kicked out of the Sith and hunted by the Jedi and the Sith alike, can relate. So, though she initially is just going to turn Ahsoka in and collect the bounty, she reluctantly agrees to help Ahsoka clear her name instead.

M: Granted, Ahsoka makes some wild promises about getting Ventress a full pardon as well.

K: That makes me laugh every time. Like Ahsoka, sweetie, you’re on the run for suspected treason, it’s not like you have power.

M: But hasn’t Ventress got to know that, too? I always sort of get the sense that she’s in for the fun of it, rather than Ahsoka’s actual “reward.” Ventress never even admits to being on board, she just says she’ll go wherever the tide is flowing.

K: And she does have fun, particularly when she and Ahsoka take out a platoon of clones–although Ahsoka insists they do it without hurting them, of course.

M: And Ventress isn’t too perturbed about the whole “not hurting” them part either. You get the sense that she’s bored out of her mind being a bounty hunter. Ahsoka’s an amusement, as well as a way to fight against the Jedi in one way or another. So, Ventress helps Ahsoka out briefly and leaves her with a cryptic “These are strange times” as a farewell.

K: All would seem to be well, but a lot of unfortunate events transpire, and Ahsoka gets caught again. Then, once in custody, she tells Anakin she thinks Ventress is behind the things she’s accused of, so Anakin, being Anakin, tracks Ventress down and demands some answers at lightsaber-point. Which leads to another really interesting conversation.

M: Ventress explains that she was only after Ahsoka for the bounty… but then she tells Anakin that she realized she has a lot in common with Ahsoka (again, this reveals that Ahsoka’s promised pardon isn’t what motivated the team-up).

K: Anakin gets really angry about that comparison (predictably) until Ventress explains further: “My master abandoned me…and that’s exactly what you did to her! You and your precious Jedi Order.” And then he’s just really upset (and so am I).

M: Ugh we can’t get into how this plants more seeds for Anakin’s fall because that’s terrible, and makes me sad, but eventually Ventress gives Anakin all the right info– that it’s really Barriss who Ahsoka last talked to. Anakin heads off to attempt to set things right, and that’s the last we see of Ventress in Clone Wars.

K: Her journey is a long, twisty one but very interesting in light of the other journeys highlighted in Clone Wars. In particular, Ahsoka–who also becomes a version of neutral, albeit significantly more skewed toward the Jedi than Ventress would ever be.

M: Very true. Ventress and Ahsoka’s similarities only deepen over time. And while Ventress spends the remainder of her life caught in the after effects of the Dark Side, she manages to be the most fascinating “villain turned awkward friend” of the series… and I think it comes down to the fact that she ends up having sympathy for the people she was previously fighting against.

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.

 

Meme Monday: Oldie-Wan Text Posts

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If you haven’t caught on already, I LOVE Obi-Wan. And not just beautiful-faced, sass-mouthed, sad-eyed, prequels-era Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan. I also ADORE weary-eyed, cranky-grandpa, dad-bod, 500% done Alec Guinness OT Obi-Wan. And maybe it’s just Guiness suffering through his annoyance with Star Wars to earn a few bucks, but I think OT Obi-Wan has got such a “WHY ME?!” way about him.

That, combined with my penchant for macabre humor, brings us today’s meme selection. These text-posts totally punch you in the feels and cause that delicious guilty-laughter and then SADNESS that is quite unique to the Star Wars, and Obi-Wan in particular. Seriously, someone give Obi-Wan a cup of tea and sympathy. *weeps*

–M

 

Now THIS is an inferiority complex!

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K: Today we tackle a subject I have a lot of feelings about–Anakin Skywalker’s mental/emotional health (or lack thereof). Specifically, the crippling amount of self-doubt our favorite Chosen One has. For someone who is so often chided for reckless arrogance, Anakin has one heck of an inferiority complex. But, if you look at it another way, it’s really not that surprising.

M: Just think of all of his cocky moments and translate them as cries for help. More often than not, Anakin’s hubris is a front to mask his self-doubt.

K: I mean, he definitely acts arrogant sometimes. But the guy is seriously powerful, so his claims about his abilities aren’t usually that far off. And yet, he spends a lot of his painfully short time as a Jedi worrying that he’s not good enough.

M: It’s this cycle of: “Oh no, I’m not powerful enough, everyone in the galaxy will die because of me,” to “OMG the Jedi Council/Obi-Wan just doesn’t understand how amazing I am, they’re such idiots,” to “BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE RIGHT.”

K: *radio announcer voice* This has been a brief insight into the brain of Anakin Skywalker. But seriously, that is so accurate. And Palpatine, master of manipulation, depends on this cycle in his plans for Anakin.

M: He feeds into both of those ideas– that the Jedi council are idiots and that Anakin needs more power– constantly.

K: It’s so awful. One minute, he’s stroking Anakin’s ego and the next he’s destroying Anakin’s self-confidence with some casual lament about the Jedi Council’s lack of faith in him. And it’s pretty clear that he also orders his henchmen to pour on the criticism whenever possible.

M: Hmmmm. Example?

K: Ok, you know the “Obi-Wan goes undercover” arc in Clone Wars season 4?

M: You mean, the “Obi-Wan finally gets his own arc but his beautiful voice and dashing good looks are rudely taken away” arc? Why yes, I do.

K: Hahaha, well, in the last episode of that arc, Dooku shows up and “kidnaps” the Chancellor. Anakin takes on the Sith Lord and three MagnaGuards in a long, involved duel. At the very end, Obi-Wan shows up to help, and he snatches the Chancellor off Dooku’s ship while Anakin keeps Dooku occupied for a little longer. Pretty standard Anakin and Obi-Wan adventure.

M: Yes, as I remember it, there’s plenty of Anakin’s typical flashiness and general awesomeness.

K: Indeed. Well, as Dooku’s ship pulls away, he calls “Well done, Master Kenobi. You are a worthy adversary. I cannot say the same for your young apprentice.” And Anakin just seethes.

M: Hey, yeah! It’s super unfair of Dooku to say that. Anakin just took out all the MagnaGuards and all Obi-Wan does is hop up onto the ship and drag Palpatine off.

K: Not only that, but during their duel, Anakin is doing much better against Dooku than he has at any point prior to this. Even though before the fight starts, Dooku claims that defeating Anakin is going to be easy, there are a couple of moments where Dooku’s usual calm sneer almost turns into a panicked look. He only gets away by pulling out the ol’ Sith lightning. In short, Anakin did a great job in that fight only to have Dooku just dismiss all of it and praise Obi-Wan (who, of course, Anakin already has a competitive problem with).

M: (that’s putting it mildly) Fascinating idea! We know that Dooku is the only one of Palpatine’s minions who has an inkling as to what Sidious has in store for Anakin. You almost wonder if they staged the fake kidnapping in such a way that Obi-Wan would get credit for the rescue rather than Anakin. They could have flown away a lot faster.

K: There was definitely some strategy to the encounter. Especially since Palpatine, galaxy’s worst Space-Dad, is there once Dooku flies away to tell Anakin he did a good job.

M: Well, and even then Palpatine only says he’s safe “thanks again to the heroics of the Jedi.” Palpatine was kriffing sitting there throughout the entirety of the duel. He knows that Anakin is the one doing the heroics, and intentionally does not thank him directly.

K: Also, friendly reminder, Anakin is like 22-23 at this point, which is younger than Obi-Wan was when he killed Maul in TPM (a feat that earns Obi-Wan no small amount of fame among the Jedi). Anakin is dueling Sith Lords/apprentices (and surviving) on a regular basis. But everyone acts like “eh, no more than we expected, no big deal.” Probably because he’s The Chosen One.

M: Well, it’s like in AotC when Anakin’s complaining that Obi-Wan won’t recommend him for the trials because Anakin is “too unpredictable.” While misguided, it is a true statement. Anakin is too unpredictable– the Jedi are terrified of his power being untamed! But because of that fear, the council constantly undervalues him. (I’m sounding like Anakin, haha)

K: (I would make a joke about whining but I’m kind of on Anakin’s side at the moment.) AotC has another moment that nicely illustrates just how much everyone casually expects of Anakin. After Obi-Wan jumps out of a who-knows-how-many-stories-high window to grab the assassin droid, Anakin has to get to a speeder, pilot said unfamiliar speeder through insane Coruscant traffic, find his master using the Force in said traffic, and then manage to get to him before Obi-Wan hits a vehicle or the side of a building. Anakin does all that and the first thing Obi-Wan says to him is “What took you so long?!” Which is banter, and Anakin responds in kind, but deep down that sort of thing has to have an effect on his psyche.

M: Ooooooooh the complications of Obi-Wan’s sarcasm with Anakin’s style of communication, a huge topic we’ll discuss in depth another day. Yeah, Anakin just wants a simple “good job” (although probably not the one he does get later in AotC). He’s just a kid. And because he hasn’t lived in the Temple his whole life, emotionally he really is just a kid compared to the rest of the Jedi.

K: The Jedi do show appreciation when appropriate, but they kind of frown on outright praise. They’re definitely never effusive in their compliments. And Obi-Wan, in particular, is not very good at making Anakin (or, to be fair, anyone else) feel validated.

M: Hence when Padme actually does get a *slight* compliment she responds by saying “A compliment? You should warn me next time, Obi-Wan. Give me a chance to sit down first” (Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller, pg. 135). You can see Anakin sort of making up for this lack of appreciation/praise in how he deals with Ahsoka. It’s not like he’s raining compliments on her, but “Good job, Snips,” is a very common utterance throughout Clone Wars.

K: Ooh good point. He’s determined to make sure Ahsoka doesn’t feel as unappreciated as he sometimes does. Although Ahsoka isn’t facing quite the same level of pressure as Anakin.

M: The poor guy was told when he was nine– NINE– that he was the Chosen One and that he has this huge destiny with the Force. That has to loom over him like stormclouds… I mean, what if he’s not prepared? What if he can’t do it?

K: It can’t help that no one can even tell him what said enormous destiny is. The Jedi are in the dark just as much as Anakin is about this whole prophecy thing, and so no one can guide him on what he’s supposed to do–if he’s even supposed to do anything. He just knows he has this power, which he doesn’t even know the full extent of, and that the other Jedi are slightly in awe, but mostly really worried about it.

M: He has no clue what to expect, or what to prepare for. It makes his future a void that feeds on anxiety.

K: Which Anakin has plenty of. And we haven’t even talked about what losing his mother did to this inferiority complex. Like, Anakin is complaining about feeling underestimated by Obi-Wan and the Council in AotC, and then he decides that Shmi’s death is entirely his fault because he wasn’t “strong enough” to save her. He switches from seeming arrogance to crippling inferiority so fast I get whiplash.

M: His introduction to the Jedi council probably had a lasting effect too. There’s this part in the EU novel Cloak of Deception by James Luceno where Obi-Padawan mentions that, because he nearly didn’t become a padawan at all, he’s always trying to prove himself and do more and be better, which Qui-Gon “Living Force” Jinn scolds him about constantly.. But this moment really sticks with me because Anakin’s beginning is 1138 times more traumatic. He was told by all of the most powerful Jedi that he was too old for training, that he’d never be able to do it. And the poor kid is just standing there, wondering if after everything that has happened he won’t even be able to fulfill his purpose. You’d constantly feel the need to prove yourself after that.

K: Which Anakin clearly does. Every stunt, every boast, every claim that he’s got everything under control–if you look at it in the light of a kid desperately trying to be what he thinks he’s supposed to be (unstoppable super-Jedi), it starts being more heartbreaking than amusing.

M: Look, space-dad! I CAN throw a lightsaber!

K: No hands!

M: (Literally, no hand.) Ok, sorry to keep bringing up novels but I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

K: No please, bring up the novels, I have a lot to say about them too.

M: In Clone Wars: Wild Space, Obi-Wan tells Anakin that he’s been given his first real command as a Jedi Knight (this is pgs. 105-111). He gets his own flagship and everything. Anakin’s immediately excited, and also immediately terrified. Then Obi-Wan tries to give him some advice… and it doesn’t go over well. Anakin’s response is: “You don’t think I can do this, do you? [ …] you still see me as a kid, your apprentice. Snot-nosed Anakin who can’t be trusted to get the job done.” I mean, Obi-Wan doesn’t think that– he just thinks Anakin is going to do normal Anakin things (and to be fair, he does). But what this exchange makes clear is that those words are Anakin’s. He’s saying those kinds of things to himself.

K: Exactly! He takes any sort of advice or warning as a direct criticism of his abilities, even when it’s usually not intended that way. Because that’s the only kind of advice or warning he gives himself. In the excellent novelization of the Clone Wars movie by Karen Traviss, there are an insane number of moments where Anakin, while doing his job to the absolute best of his ability, just beats himself up mentally. “[Anakin] wondered how long it would be before this numbness wore off and reality slammed him against the wall, screaming: Why didn’t you save Rex? Why can’t you save anyone who matters? What’s the point of being the Chosen One if you can’t save people you care about?” (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, pg. 148). That’s what “reality” means to Anakin–his brain screaming at him that he’s useless and a failure.

M: Again, textbook anxiety/depression. And probably a personality disorder or two, but I’m not a psychologist. Also, that book is MAJOR Anakin feels, sheesh.

K: ALL the Anakin feels and then some. I could keep pulling out examples like this all day, but it’s getting too kriffing depressing.

M: Yeah. *sniffles*

K: Honestly, if I see one more person saying that “Kylo Ren is everything Anakin Skywalker should have been” (implying that he has a deeper, more complex characterization) I will throw all of these examples and more at their heads.

M: You have to at least give Anakin credit for being seriously messed up. And yet he still manages to be the best villain in cinema history AND bring balance to the Force.

K: Proving that he really did have enough power to save the galaxy after all.

 

Zen to Sassy: The Jedi Spectrum

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M: K and I REALLY want to be Jedi.

K: Like REALLY BAD.

M: But, some aspects of Jedi-ism have us concerned. No, not the “no-attachments” rule. The only thing I’m attached to at this point in my life is my laptop and my favorite pair of fake pants.

K: The no attachments rule honestly sounds like the excuse I’ve been needing at every family gathering for the last five years to explain why I’m not dating anyone.

M: No, the thing that really concerns us is that whole… “accept everything as the will of the Force” thing–the whole “be chill” part. For while attachments we have none, chill we are not.

K: Preach. Lucky for us, there’s a bit of a, shall we say, spectrum within the Jedi Order. In an “on a scale from Anakin Skywalker to Luminara Unduli, how Zen are you?” kind of way.

M: Anakin “human disaster” Skywalker to Luminara “so Zen even Yoda rolls his eyes” Unduli. This wide of a range allows for a special specimen of Jedi. The Sassy Jedi.

K: The only kind of Jedi we could possibly be, because the Zen Jedi (even the ones we like) are just way too chill. About the good emotions as well as the bad ones. I don’t know that I could go without getting really excited as well as getting really angry.

M: You see, the Sassy Jedi do indeed experience this range of emotions. They just express all emotions as Sass. Obi-Wan, despite his severe emotion-repression, is about the perfect example. Instead of expressing his feelings, he either bottles them away… or lets them out in the form of extreme sarcasm.

K: He is the most obviously “sassy” of the Sassy Jedi. He can’t help himself, it spills out everywhere.

M: Flirting with Ventress, talking back to Dooku, being quippy with Anakin…

K: Seriously, it’s almost a problem. Except not, because we love him so much. There are a couple of other Jedi that fall more on that end of the spectrum too. For example, Aayla Secura, who, when asked if all Jedi are reckless, responds “Only the good ones.”

M: (*girl crushing so hard*) Yes, Aayla may not be as snarky as Obi-Wan, but she’s got style, is always up for a fight, and seems to acknowledge that emotions do, in fact, exist. I’d also put Even Piell on this list, now that I’m thinking about it. That one-eyed… thing *looks up species* Lannick has had ENOUGH.

K: Master Piell is another Sassy Jedi who doesn’t necessarily “sass,” but who isn’t so concerned with keeping his emotions in check that he won’t tell you what he thinks of you to your face.

M: That’s probably how he lost his eye, honestly.

K: I think Kit Fisto is also a Sassy Jedi. Like yeah, in that Clone Wars arc on Mon Cala, he’s super chill about the eels constantly shocking him, which is very Zen. But when he first sees them, he’s all “Ooh, eels! Very dangerous!” Like, he’s not…excited, exactly, but he is interested. Which is very Obi-Wan.

M: OMG, so Obi-Wan. “Which do you think it will enter? The ear or the nose?” (S2E7, look it up). Yeah, Kit Fisto takes on danger and life-threatening situations as if they’re a complete joke. He just grins through it all. It’s rather delightful.

K: What a gem.

M: I have a few Jedi I need help categorizing, but let’s move on to Zen Jedi to get a full idea of the spectrum first.

K: In that case, let’s start at the extreme Zen end of things: Luminara Unduli. It’s not that we hate Luminara…

M: Because hate is not the Jedi way.

K: And she does get the job done. It’s just… she’s the show off kid in class and sometimes that gets REALLY old.

M: I think an ANECDOTE is in order.

K: By all means!

M: So, in the Geonosis arc in Clone Wars (season 2, episodes 5-7, literally one of my favorite arcs), she is unbearably Jedi. The deal is that she and Anakin are going to create a distraction at the front gate of a droid factory, while Ahsoka and Luminara’s padawan, Barriss, sneak in through an underground system of tunnels and blow the thing up from the inside. A nerve-wracking situation all around.

K: Indeed. But guess whose nerves are not wracked?

M: Kriffing Luminara. Is she worried about Barriss dying? Nah, she’s willing to be unattached to her padawan.

K: *cue Anakin sputtering with shock*

M: Is she worried about the padawans getting lost? Nah, she made Barriss MEMORIZE the entire ancient tunnel system.

K: *cue Ahsoka sputtering with shock*

M: And then, when Ahsoka saves the day and everyone’s happily reunited, she doesn’t celebrate. NO, she just turns to Anakin and says something obnoxious about trusting in the Force or whatever. Such a goody-two-shoes.

K: The thing is, Luminara does EVERYTHING right, as far as the Jedi Code is concerned, but it’s super off-putting. In the movies, we see a lot of Obi-Wan and Anakin, and then later, Luke, as our Jedi protagonists, and we can understand and relate to them. But with characters such as Luminara, we see what the Jedi are technically supposed to be like. You can see why ordinary beings in the Star Wars universe find the Jedi a little bit cold and unreachable.

M: And why they see them as absolute mysteries. BUT, Luminara is an extreme. There are other Zen Jedi who are lovable as all hell. By which I mean Plo Koon.

K: Plo!!! Everyone’s adoptive Space Dad.

M: Plo does follow the Jedi Code diligently, but he does it with such intense compassion that he’s delightful. I seriously MELT every time he calls Ahsoka “little ‘Soka.”

K: It is TOO CUTE. And his relationship with his clones is the best. They call themselves “Plo’s Bros” for pity’s sake. But despite all of that apparent attachment (that most talked-about Jedi sin), Plo is very Zen.

M: Yes. He’s very calm and calculated. I’m thinking of that episode when he and Ahsoka go on a mission?

K: Haha and he’s like “what has Skywalker been teaching you, little one”?

M: Yeah! He’s just like looking cool as kriff in his really, really cool cloak and talking to people. P.S. I love his cloak.

K: Ahsoka spends a lot of that episode struggling to be patient–they’re tracking baby Boba Fett and a bunch of bounty hunters, and like her decidedly not-Zen master, Anakin, she doesn’t like waiting for the action to start. Through it all, Plo stays calm, thinks everything through, and makes all the right decisions. Because he is one with the Force, and the Force is with him, probably.

M: And his patience is also what makes him such an amazing adoptive Space-Dad! This is a more general observation, but I love that whenever the Jedi are considering an issue, he always seems to be the one asking more questions and looking at things from a different angle. He is definitely a think-before-you-act kind of guy.

K: Yes, for sure. It’s clear the rest of the Jedi Council rely on his patience and understanding when they’re struggling with all the decisions they have to make.

M: GAH PLO I LOVE YOU. Okay, also in the “Zen but cool” category: Shaak-Ti.

K: Shaak Ti, my actual queen. Hmm, she’s a little further along toward the Sassy side, but still definitely in the Zen camp I think.

M: Yes, she’s not quite as “emotions not allowed” as some of the other Zen Jedi, but she’s so incredibly… cool throughout all of her adventures. It would be very hard to get her riled up.

K: There’s a reason she’s in charge of the clones on Kamino–she has all the patience of a kindergarten teacher mixed with the take-no-crap attitude of a drill sergeant.

M: Dude, perfect comparison! I just love how she sweeps into a room, being this scary-beautiful, beautifully-scary entity, and takes charge. I think I’d find her as intimidating as crap.

K: But also I would trust her with my life.

M: In the deleted scenes of RotS, there is a scene from a discarded subplot at the beginning of the film when Anakin and Obi-Wan are tracking down Grievous. In this version, she was captured by Grievous during the battle of Coruscant. When they find her, she only gets to apologize and say goodbye before Grievous kills her. It’s not a long scene, but she does make an impression. She’s so calm. It’s that moment that really makes me think of her as Zen. Not even being faced with death will cause her to lose control.

K: But even though she’s so Zen, you do NOT want to cross her. (I’m looking at you, creepy Kaminoan doctor from Season 6.)

M: OH MOST DEFINITELY NOT. She’s on the justice side of the Jedi.

K: Exactly. So, we’ve got an idea of what the spectrum looks like. Who are the Jedi you struggle to place?

M: Well, the two headliners, Yoda and Mace. Yoda is very zen pre-RotS, but I mean… Senile Yoda is a whole other creature.

K: True, true, but consider the following: Yoda is the one who teaches the younglings. All of the prequels-era novels I’ve read describe Yoda as this unpredictable eccentric. And of course, there’s my favorite “Lost a planet, Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing.” He is sassy, that one.

M: Oooh, good point. He speaks in riddles and you have to guess that some of that is just him messing with people. I guess a lot of when we see him, especially in RotS, he really has the weight of the galaxy on him. So sassy he may be, but worried he is.

K: But when Luke comes along, he’s given up on worry–it’s too late for that, so why not freak the kid out by stealing his flashlight and hitting his droid with a stick?

M: “MINE!” I LOVE YODA. Mace is also an interesting one. He’s very Jedi, but he takes NO crap, and always seems level 1000 annoyed with Anakin.

K: With Anakin especially, but also with everyone in general. It’s almost like he’s the Sith version of Zen instead of the Jedi version. He’s got that “controlled rage” feel about him. Emphasis on the “controlled.”

M: (Speaking of Sith, I’d rate them on a scale of “Palpatine takes Anakin to the bubble ballet” to “Palpatine jumps up and does a 920 degree Force spin while shrieking.”)

K: (I approve this scale.)

M: To finish off, I think there needs to be some sort of… side category. This would be the “Jedi Troll.” Super Zen, definitely trolling you.

K: Ok, I’ll bite, who would be in this category?

M: Qui-Gon Jinn.

K: OH OF COURSE.

M: Like he’s too much of a Sassy jerk to be a Zen Jedi, but he’s also so sanctimoniously Zen with his “Living Force” stuff. And we love him.

K: We do.

M: WAIT, we’ve forgotten to place one important Jedi– Ahsoka! Where do you think she’d be on the scale?

K: Definitely Sassy. It’s just a matter of degree.

M: Yes. Because she is Sassy. She’ll always be, it’s very innate. But I think her decision to leave the order is about the most Zen thing a Jedi in her situation could do.

K: Hmm, yes, I can see that.

M: I mean, yes, it’s not a “JEDI” thing to do, but it displays the more pure traits of the Jedi Code. “Emotion, yet peace. Ignorance, yet knowledge.”

K: She also does have that more serious side that lets her be more Zen than she first appears.

M: Basically she’s perfect.

K: She’s probably the kind of Jedi I would want to try to match. Sassy, yet Zen.

 

Zen

Luminara Unduli

Plo Koon

Ki-Adi-Mundi

Adi Gallia

Shaak Ti

Mace Windu

Ahsoka Tano

Kit Fisto

Aayla Secura

Even Piell

Yoda

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Sassy

Extra Sassy Anakin Skywalker

Troll: Qui-Gon Jinn

 

Meme Monday: tag urself

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The “tag urself” meme is a special breed of internet humor that involves reducing beloved characters to a short list of characteristics/descriptions (often making liberal use of various forms of internet speak and meme vocabulary), giving each a funny name, and then inviting viewers to “tag” themselves as the one they most identify with. This often also means poking fun at said beloved characters. Of course, given that Star Wars memes are the best memes on the internet, Star Wars tag urself memes are some quality products. There are more where these came from, but these two are my favorites. The Obi-Wan one alone is just SO ACCURATE. Have you ever seen Obi-Padawan more perfectly described? The Rogue One meme is also generally perfect, with some subtle character analysis thrown in for good measure.

Tag urselves. (For the record, I’m “mullet” and either “good dad.jpg” or “apple pie-lot.”)

–K