“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.

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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

duh duh duh DUN DA DUN, DUN DA DUN

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K: The only Star Wars score John Williams has won an Oscar for is the original 1977 Star Wars. (ESB, RotJ, and TFA were all nominated, but none of the prequels were, which is a travesty we can talk about another day.) I love the ANH soundtrack, as I love all Star Wars music, but it’s missing something the other Star Wars scores have–The Imperial March.

M: Certainly the absolute most iconic bit of Star Wars music, one identifiable within a few notes. However, given that it’s woven so deep into the fabric of popular culture, it’s easy to overlook not only its individual brilliance but also how skillfully John Williams incorporates the theme as a leitmotif throughout the rest of the soundtracks.

K: Although it’s called “The Imperial March,” its subtitle is “Darth Vader’s Theme,” and that’s how most people know it: the stirring and evil-sounding music that blasts every time Vader makes an entrance. But if we follow the story chronologically, starting with the prequels, that’s not how it first appears.

M: No, it first appears in “Anakin’s Theme,” arguably one of the best pieces of Star Wars music EVER, given what we’re about to talk about. And to clarify, I don’t know music very well… I’m sure there’s a lot more here than we’ll discuss.

K: Oh for sure. I bet there have been Masters theses written about the themes of Star Wars and all of the brilliant things John Williams does. I don’t have the technical knowledge to write one, but I do appreciate what I have learned and noticed while listening to the soundtracks. So, “Anakin’s Theme.” It’s a beautiful, hopeful sounding piece of music, full of the promise and potential of this sweet kid from Tatooine. But there’s something darker lurking both in the child and in the song.

M: I love the sort of unsettled nature of the tune. Despite how intensely melodic the song is,  it’s hard to break up into segments. The notes carry into each other, rather impressionistically (Think Debussy). But at the very end of the melody, those notes tumble into the notes of “The Imperial March.”

K: Not, it should be noted, as sinisterly as the theme appears throughout the OT. It’s a lot gentler, easier to miss. But it’s a reminder of the approaching inevitable.

M: Once you hear those last few notes and make the connection to “The Imperial March,” it’s hard not to have that mood flavor the entirety of the song. Its unsettled nature, as well as the struggle between the upwardly moving melody and the melody’s inevitable fall  at the end of the tune… it all comes down to those last few notes.

K: It mirrors Anakin in the prequels as well–trying to rise but eventually being dragged down to the Dark Side.

M: But it doesn’t stop there. We get to hear the Imperial March throughout Anakin’s fall, as well as in The Clone Wars.

K: I was surprised, listening to the prequel soundtracks, at how sparingly John Williams actually uses the Imperial March. It pops up only at the darkest points in Anakin’s fall, highlighting the big turns in his journey to darkness. And even then, it’s usually pretty subtle. For example, when Anakin slaughters the Tusken Raiders in revenge for his mother’s death, the Imperial March plays not over the shots of Anakin slashing with his lightsaber, but over the scene where Yoda feels his rage and distress in the Force. It also appears in AotC in its less-widely-used function as the theme of the Galactic Empire–as Chancellor Palpatine and select senators look out over the gathered clone troopers and the new battleships of the Republic (so eerily reminiscent of stormtroopers and Star Destroyers respectively) we get that melody again.

M: I love that it isn’t used blatantly in the prequels for two reasons: First, I think it’s important that Anakin is not yet Vader. They’re not one and the same person, hence Obi-Wan insisting that Anakin Skywalker was killed when Vader was created. Not using it oppressively gives Anakin the constant chance for redemption–it’s really not until the end of RotS, when he rises as Lord Vader, that he has completely become that character. Second, it is used so liberally in ESB and RotJ when Vader’s presence and power is a constant. This in contrast to RotS, when Anakin potentially could have avoided becoming Vader. By the time the OT rolls around, the March is unavoidable, drowning out many of the other themes once it arrives.

K: The OT Imperial March is so great. It can be bombastic and in-your-face as it comes striding down a corridor, or it can jump out and surprise you.Going back to your point about using it sparingly in order to emphasize that Anakin isn’t Vader, let’s talk about Clone Wars!

M: GAH, literally my (and I think your) favorite moment in The Clone Wars is in the episode “Voyage of Temptation” (S2 E13). Obi-Wan and Satine are caught in a pickle… this crazy senator dude, Tal Merrick, is holding a detonator that will explode the ship they’re on, but neither Obi-Wan or Satine can bring themselves to kill the man. Merrick says “Who’ll strike first and brand themselves a cold-blooded killer?” Obi-Wan and Satine both hesitate… and BAM, the guy gets stabbed in the back by Anakin, who seems completely unaware of the implications of the situation. And in the background…

K: Duh duh duh DUN DA DUN, DUN DA DUN. We could write a whole other post about that moment, because it is my favorite of all time, but the use of the Imperial March there…gosh. Painful. The same sort of thing happens a few times throughout the show–any time Anakin drifts toward the Dark Side, that theme lurks in the background, reminding us of what’s to come.

M: Honestly, it’s a bit of a killjoy in that it’s this little reminder of the tragedy to come… Anakin will cease to be himself and will turn into Vader instead.

K: Thanks a lot, show–can’t just let us pretend that it’s all going to turn out fine, oh no. Interestingly, when Anakin really does fully commit to becoming Vader in RotS, the Imperial March still isn’t used nearly as heavily as it is in the OT. Probably because RotS is meant to show the absolute tragedy that is Anakin’s Fall, and the Imperial March is so entwined with this idea of Vader as a terrifyingly powerful force of evil.

M: I mean, it’s a march. It has this confidence and ruthlessness and drive to it that isn’t yet appropriate for Anakin. He’s not at ease with that level of evil until his transformation is complete and he leaves behind all traces of his former life.

K: But by the time we reach the era of the OT, the music fits perfectly with Vader’s persona. He is completely relentless and unstoppable, just like the rhythm of the march.

M: OOOH, which is why I love the little snippet of the March we get in RO. We don’t really hear it until the very end, when Vader has boarded the Rebel Cruiser and is watching the Tantive IV fly away, cape billowing in the “wind” (wind doesn’t exist in Space, obvs a bit of Vader using the Force to be extra), the literal definition of BADASS.

K: Dang, that Vader scene is still the coolest, most breath-taking (in the literal sense) 45 seconds I have ever seen on a theater screen.

M: *SHINK* Red lightsaber glows in the darkness as we listen to the same alarm sound from ANH… I DIE, we must change subjects before I talk about this all night. Back to the March in RO, I love that we only hear it, really, at the very end. We hear a few bars of it in the “Do not choke on your aspirations” scene, but using it in its full glory only at the end lets the audience know that the best/worst is yet to come… Vader is just getting started (additionally, this reflects the absence of the March in ANH). Also, I feel I must insert a word for Rebels here, which uses the March in a more Rogue One fashion (except for when they make it major during the Empire day celebrations?! Weird?!). He’s a mystery… scary, but not yet a direct threat to the entire galaxy.

K: I also like that, I think it works best to give the March its biggest and best incarnations during the movie that features everything going Vader’s way (well, until his son jumps down a death shaft rather than join him in ruling the galaxy): The Empire Strikes Back.

M: Exactly. And in ESB the March is kriffing everywhere. Every time we see an Imperial ship, every time we see Vader. I love how larger than life this makes Vader feel. And honestly, at this point, the gang don’t know what exactly they’re facing. They’re only now realizing how big of a problem he is.

K: And once they realize it, there’s no escaping it. Suddenly, Vader is everywhere: hunting the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field, appearing to Luke in a creepy tunnel on Dagobah, even sitting casually in a dining room in Cloud City. And his theme comes everywhere with him.

M: I especially love it in “The Battle of Hoth,” mostly because that’s one of my favorite tracks, but also because even amidst the thrumming of the AT-AT’s theme, the March STILL manages to be the scariest and most bombastic tune in the suite.

K: Gah so good. But, if the March manages to completely take over ESB, it has a much more complicated life in RotJ. It starts out as the same powerful theme, playing over Vader’s and later the Emperor’s arrival on the Death Star 2.0. But things are less clear to Vader these days. And his theme doesn’t always pound out confidently the way it used to. In particular, I’m thinking of the scene where Luke is brought to Vader on Endor. The Imperial March as we usually think of it IS present in the scene, but there’s this whole other section where bits and pieces of the March try to assert themselves only to disappear into the other melodies.

M: I think it’s a signal… Vader isn’t going to be Vader for much longer. It has less surety, more hesitance.

K: VADER isn’t sure anymore. Not sure about the Emperor, not sure about his decision to embrace the Dark Side, not sure what to think about his son–his son, who is insisting that there is still good somewhere inside of that black shell. It’s the Emperor’s theme, not the Imperial March, that takes center stage when Luke and Vader duel–it’s the Emperor Luke truly has to defeat, not his father. Which brings us to the last, really beautiful use of the Imperial March, during Anakin and Luke’s final conversation. As Luke helps his father take off his mask (literally and figuratively shedding Vader), a really high, haunting version of the March plays.

M: It sounds full of regret… just an echo of Vader’s evil and, really, the person he used to be. But also, and I’m just going to go ahead and assume John Williams did this on purpose, it sounds like Anakin’s Theme, especially with the harp at the very end.

K: Yes! It’s got that melodic quality again.

M: And because Vader has become Anakin again, Luke finally gets to meet his father.

K: *gross sobbing* Once it plays over Anakin’s death, the theme does not appear again. Instead, when Luke burns his father’s body we get a powerful version of the Force theme, and I cry and cry…

M: Vader is no more! Anakin is one with the Force. *weeps* Praise the space conflicts.

K: And praise John Williams for scoring them.

May the 4th Be With You

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It’s Star Wars Day! To celebrate, we have each made lists of moments that make us happy from each of the Star Wars movies. May the 4th be with you!

K

TPM: I love Obi-Wan’s face at the end because everyone else is smiling and triumphant while Obi-Wan is finishing the movie the way he started it—with a bad feeling about this.

AotC: I love the scene in the droid foundry when Anakin’s arm is stuck and there are blades chopping all around him because it seems like he’s going to lose his hand a la Luke in ESB, but that doesn’t actually happen until later.

RotS: I love the way the music goes away and it’s completely silent right as the mask goes over Anakin’s terrified face and then…the first Vader breath. Chills.

RO: I love the sight and sound of Vader’s lightsaber igniting in the black hallway. I think I stopped breathing in the theater.

ANH: I love Leia saying “Somebody’s got to save our skins,” because she’s supposedly the one being rescued and then she rescues her rescue party. Anyone who says Leia is a damsel in distress is just so, so wrong.

ESB: I love the tiny moment when Lando has to physically drag Leia away from shooting stormtroopers during the escape from Cloud City. She is going to make the Empire pay for taking her boyfriend, so help her Force.

RotJ: I love when Luke does a flip off the execution plank, catches his lightsaber, and just kriffing wrecks Jabba’s henchmen. It’s his biggest Jedi moment in the original trilogy and I cheer through the whole thing.

TFA: I love the way the Force theme swells when the lightsaber goes shooting into Rey’s hand. I about stood up and clapped the first time I saw this scene.

 

M

TPM: Padme: “The Queen will not approve.” Qui-Gon: “The Queen doesn’t need to know.” Padme: “Well I don’t approve.” He’s a troll, she’s a queen, it’s a great moment. Bonus points: the knowing look Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan share just after Padme reveals her identity.

AotC: Obi-Wan getting a drink after the chase on Coruscant. Never fails. I laugh every time.

RotS: So many feels in this movie, almost chose “You were my brother Anakin, I loved you.”  but we’re celebrating so I’m going to go with the moment when Obi-Wan wakes up to find he’s hanging from Anakin in an elevator shaft. I just love how big his eyes get and how he bear hugs Anakin.

RO: UH WHAT ELSE I love Vader igniting his lightsaber in the dark hallway. But, since K already chose that… I’ll have to go with just a few seconds later when Vader force slams the rebel soldier into the ceiling. It’s the most Anakin we’ve seen Vader and it’s beautiful.

ANH: Luke standing beneath the twin suns, the force theme playing… just the most Star Wars Star Wars moment, and a kriffing beautiful shot to boot. It’s where it all began.

ESB: YODA. YODA. YODA. More specifically, Yoda’s Theme is my favorite piece of Star Wars music.

RotJ: This film has the best dolly-in in cinema history. It happens when the Emperor is electrocuting Luke– he’s obviously going to lose or die if something doesn’t happen soon– and it cuts to Vader– and there’s this little dolly in. It’s this perfect moment that, because of the camera movement, projects so much emotion onto Vader’s mask. It’s the moment he returns to the light. The moment he decides to become Anakin again, and do the right thing– save his son! The whole series leads up to this moment, and it’s served, perfectly, by a dolly in.

TFA: Rey adding “and you will drop your weapon!” when she first does a Jedi Mind Trick.

 

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.