Tag Archives: luke skywalker

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Before and After: Instructions Regarding Skywalker’s Son

Star Wars: Before and After the Special Editions
Instructions Regarding the Son of Skywalker

When we first saw The Empire Strikes Back in theaters, none of us was expecting Darth Vader to reveal that he was Luke’s father.  To be honest, even after the reveal, some of us were clinging to the hope that Vader was lying — biding our time between the second and third movies in discussions and debates about whether the Dark Lord of the Sith could actually be the father of Luke Skywalker.

Before telling Luke what really happened to his father, Darth Vader spoke to his Master about this “son of Skywalker”, revealing the plot to turn the young Jedi to the Dark Side.  In this brief holographic communication between Vader and the Emperor, we were treated to our first glimpse of this mysterious ruler of the galaxy.

When George Lucas revisited his classic trilogy, fans expected the voice and image of the Emperor to be altered to match the character as he was portrayed by Ian McDiarmid in Return of the Jedi.  What we didn’t expect was that the text of the transmission would be altered, as well.

In what was one of the best changes in all the Special Editions, the dialog between master and apprentice both conceals and reveals the reasons behind the plot to turn young Skywalker to the Dark Side or destroy him.  Consider the original version of this scene:

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Darth Vader
What is thy bidding, my Master?

Emperor
There is a great disturbance in the Force.

Darth Vader
I have felt it.

Emperor
We have a new enemy, Luke Skywalker.

Darth Vader
Yes, my Master.

Emperor
He could destroy us.

Darth Vader
He is just a boy.  Obi-Wan can no longer help him.

Emperor
The Force is strong with him.
The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.

Darth Vader
If he could be turned he would become a powerful ally.

Emperor
Yes.  Yes.  He would be a great asset.  Can it be done?

Darth Vader
He will join us or die, Master.

From the beginning of the movie, we know that Darth Vader is obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker, dispatching probes throughout the galaxy.  What we didn’t know was that he was doing so without the knowledge or consent of the Emperor.  When he tells Vader that they have a new enemy, he calls him by name — Luke Skywalker.

After repeated viewings, made possible by the technological innovations of movie channels and videotapes, once we had accepted that Darth Vader had once been Anakin Skywalker, we began to question the reasons behind the Emperor’s transmission.  Had he truly only discovered the name of the pilot who had struck the fatal blow to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, or was he testing Vader to see if his search was spawned by less-than-Sithy motives?  Was he simply letting his apprentice know that he knew about the boy as well, warning him not to betray him?  What had first been simply a matter of plot exposition and foreshadowing began to reveal shadows of the Emperor’s devious scheming and manipulations as we watched the movie over and over.

When the Special Editions were released, the insidious nature of the Emperor became more pronounced as his references to Luke were less focused on the boy himself and emphasized the man behind the mask who now wore the name Darth Vader.  Notice the differences in the transmission in the 1997 version:

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Darth Vader
What is thy bidding, my Master?

Emperor
There is a great disturbance in the Force.

Darth Vader
I have felt it.

Emperor
We have a new enemy.
The young rebel who destroyed the Death Star.
I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.

Darth Vader
How is that possible?

Emperor
Search your feelings, Lord Vader; you will know it to be true.  He could destroy us.

Darth Vader
He is just a boy.  Obi-Wan can no longer help him.

Emperor
The Force is strong with him.
The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.

Darth Vader
If he could be turned he would become a powerful ally.

Emperor
Yes, he would be a great asset.  Can it be done?

Darth Vader
He will join us or die, Master.

In the newer rendering, Luke’s name is never used.  He is called a “young rebel”, a “boy”, the “offspring of Anakin Skywalker”, and the “son of Skywalker”.  Although the Emperor considers young Skywalker a threat, perhaps it is not so much because of the boy himself, but due to the relationship between his own powerful apprentice and this newly discovered Force user.  Perhaps he had foreseen, either through a Force vision or simple deduction, that Vader would try to forge an alliance between father and son in an effort to overthrow the Emperor and rule in his place — which was exactly what Vader told Luke in their conflict at Cloud City.

When Return of the Jedi is viewed in light of this less personal interest the Emperor had in Luke, we can understand why he sought to have Luke kill Vader, taking his father’s place at his side.  If Luke won the battle, striking down his father in anger, he would have completed his journey to the Dark Side, and the Emperor would continue his new apprentice’s training.  Had Vader prevailed, the last link to his past would have been removed, making Darth Vader fully devoted to his master.  Either way, the Emperor’s apprentice would be more powerful from the conflict: a Vader no longer weakened by emotional ties to the past would be more capable of carrying out the Emperor’s orders, or an untrained Jedi would be more malleable than his father, able to be manipulated by his new master.  In either case, the victor would be the Emperor.  (Unless, of course, father and son work together against the Emperor — a proposition unimaginable to the arrogant dictator.)

In my opinion, the alteration in the Emperor’s dialog gives deeper insight into the machinations of the Emperor’s plan: to be the most powerful being in the galaxy.

What do you think?  Is the earlier version sufficient or does the Special Edition better show the motives behind Palpatine’s character?  Comment below or take the conversation to social media @shazbazzar on Twitter.

 

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Jedi Visions: Insights or Opportunities?

Jedi Visions:
Mere Insights into the Future or Opportunities to Change Course?

In the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, “Vision of Hope”, Ezra Bridger has visions of fighting alongside Gall Trayvis, the self-styled “Senator in Exile” who has been the source of information (or misinformation) for the Ghost’s small band of rebels.  Despite Kanan’s warning to refrain from taking the visions too literally, Ezra chooses to act upon his insights, hoping to meet and work with this man he idolizes as a celebrity among rebel insurgents.

The events that transpire during this episode of Rebels has caused speculation among fans about whether acting on visions is encouraged among the Jedi.  (Check out RebelForce Radio’s Star Wars Rebels: Declassified episode from 4 February 2015 for their discussion about Jedi visions.)  Citing Yoda’s advice to both Skywalkers in the movies, it has been asserted that using Jedi visions as a guide for action is frowned upon by the Jedi Order.

Ezra's Vision 1

From the perspective of the movies’ initial release order, our introduction to acting upon Jedi visions is during Luke’s training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.  While balancing in a handstand and levitating cargo crates and R2-D2 through the Force, Luke experiences a vision of Han and Leia suffering at Cloud City.  When Luke prepares to rush to their rescue, Yoda issues a warning: “Decide, you must, how to serve them best.  If you leave now, help them, you could, but you will destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.”

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Yoda, aware of the machinations and deceptions of the Dark Side, tries to persuade Luke to choose his path based on wisdom and discretion instead of emotion and attachment.  He beseeches him to continue his training instead of hurrying away to confront unknown threats unprepared.  Obi-Wan weighs in on the discussion, warning Luke that temptation awaits him if he leaves before he is fully trained.  Adamantly, the two Jedi Masters, Luke’s mentors, sternly attempt to steer him from acting rashly as he is spurred on by his visions of his friends’ pain.  Some see this as a possible judgment against acting upon Jedi visions of the future.

Anakin's Anger

In other instances, more blatantly foreboding in its decrying reliance on Jedi visions to govern one’s actions, are Anakin’s visions of his mother’s pain on Tatooine and later of Padme’s death in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, respectively.  Anakin’s nightmarish visions of his mother in peril causes him to leave his assigned post on Naboo in order to find and rescue Shmi from her Tusken captors.  When he discovers her, nearly dead at the abusive hands of the sand people, he erupts in a wrathful rage against the Tusken encampment, slaying men, women, and children indiscriminately.  Certainly, his willingness to allow himself to thoughtlessly follow his visions led to a growing darkness in his person — something that would manifest itself in the eventual rise of Darth Vader when he later acts on his visions of losing his wife during childbirth to the point that he betrays the Jedi Order and slaughters younglings in the temple in a vain attempt to save Padme’s life.

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For those who remember these bleak examples of the dangers of allowing Jedi visions to dictate a course of action, it seems reasonable to assume that the Jedi are not only cautious when it comes to such premonitions, but even to rationalize that acting on those visions is forbidden in the Jedi Order.

That is, until we consider what was revealed in the third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars…

TCW Assassin Fortune Cookie.001In Season 3 of The Clone Wars, Episode 7 “Assassin”, Ahsoka has visions of Aurra Sing threatening to assassinate someone.  When she tells Yoda of her dreams, he informs her that she is having premonitions which can only be seen more clearly through meditation.  In saying this, he encourages her to focus on the visions — to seek to understand what they are telling her.  When she does so, she realizes that Senator Amidala is the one who is in danger of being assassinated.  She brings news of her visions to the Senator, who insists on going ahead with her plans to go to Alderaan in spite of Ahsoka’s warning.

Ahsoka's Vision Aurra Sing

Determined to get a better understanding of what she has seen, Anakin’s padawan returns to her chambers in the Jedi Temple to continue her meditation, resulting in further confirmation that Senator Amidala’s life is in danger.  When she tells Yoda of her concerns, Yoda responds with the familiar words, “always in motion is the future”.  Similar to his direction to Luke many years later, he provides Ahsoka with a choice of whether to act upon what she has seen: “Choose you must, how to respond to your visions.”

Ahsoka Consults Yoda

As she accompanies Padme on her mission to Alderaan as additional security, she is plagued with uncertainty about her visions and how she should act upon them.  Her dilemma is punctuated by a rash response to her vision that turned out to be either misunderstood or a possible variation of the future of which Yoda spoke.  Yet, when she is convinced to act upon a vision a second time, she interrupts an assassination attempt by deflecting Aurra Sing’s shot sufficiently to save Amidala’s life.

Later, when Ahsoka realizes that the would-be assassin was about to make another attempt on the senator’s life, she prevents the second attack and enables the capture of Aurra Sing.

When Ahsoka and Senator Amidala return safely to Coruscant, Yoda congratulates Anakin’s padawan for her choice to act upon her visions in defense of the senator’s life,  “Served you well, your visions have, young padawan.”  He then encourages her to peer more deeply into the matter through her increased insight to discover more about the plot to assassinate the senator from Naboo.  The additional details she provides brings about the confession of Ziro the Hutt who was already imprisoned on Coruscant.

Although Ezra’s visions in Star Wars Rebels “Vision of Hope” turned out to be misleading, it is not a blanket condemnation against using Jedi visions to determine an appropriate course of action — rather it is an admonition to beware of allowing emotions to cloud one’s insight and discipline oneself to spend time and thought in meditation in order to better interpret one’s visions.  As Kanan teaches Ezra in the epilogue, “Visions are difficult, almost impossible to interpret,” Jedi visions do not forbid action, but are to be considered in view of the complexity of an ever-changing future.

“Sorry”: The Wedge Antilles Problem

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by: Joseph Tavano

Wedge Antilles is a beloved ancillary character in the Star Wars universe. He appears in all three movies in the original trilogy and in numerous Legends works. He is honored in cosplay, fandom, and pop culture.

Everyone loves Wedge. I love Wedge, too! He’s the everyman of Star Wars. The rebel soldier you wanted to be. The pilot in Red squadron you could see as yourself. The ultimate wingman, literally. He rolled deep with Luke Skywalker. He may not be able to use the Force, but he could whip the Empire with the best of him. He’s the friend you’d want with you in the trenches.

But, it wasn’t always that way.

Stay with me through this. There’s a happy ending. I promise.

If you think about the events of A New Hope from Wedge’s perspective, he wasn’t exactly the greatest hero the Rebel Alliance could have. There’s a reason he didn’t get a medal, even though he was one of only three rebel fighters that came home that day (excluding Han and Chewie).

Part I: The Battle of Yavin

Let’s walk through that fateful day and get into the head of Wedge Antilles.

Wedge 01

***

You wake up early. The atmosphere at Yavin Base is tense. The top brass is talking confident, but you can tell they’re worried. The Alliance just won their very first victory just a few days ago, and just barely escaped. It was a tough battle, but you made it through, even when others did not.

You’ve been training for this for a long time, and even though you’ve seen action, it’s all been in vain until now. The Rebels finally won one—a big one, for that matter. The Empire’s plans for their secret weapon were stolen! There may be a chance for victory yet. But in a stroke of terrible luck, Princess Leia’s ship was captured!

You didn’t know Leia personally, but you knew she was one of the leaders of the rebellion. As a member of congress, her top-secret missions for the rebels were important to the success of the entire effort. But now she is captured, and just yesterday Alderaan was destroyed. Things are NOT looking good. Leia is presumed dead, and the plans never made it back to Yavin. Your future and the future of the Rebel Alliance is in serious jeopardy.

Then, like a prayer answered, Leia returns to Yavin later that day, accompanied by a naive Outer Rim farmboy, two droids that look older than your parents, a wookiee with a crazy look in his eye, and a dirtbag who owns one of the ugliest ships you’ve ever seen.

She has the secret plans, but what happened to her?! This is getting weirder by the second. Oh, and the Empire is on their way to kill us all, so hopefully those plans will give us something we can use to fight back!

In the briefing, you sit next to that dopey farmboy. Why was he in here with the pilots? There’s no way he’s ever flown an X-Wing before. If that kid’s going into battle, the situation must be serious. But, he did help rescue the princess, so maybe he’s got something up his sleeve.

Then you hear the plan. It’s insane. You’re supposed to attack a huge battle station and hit an insanely small target with proton torpedoes? Only two meters wide?! In the middle of the entire room, you exclaim, “That’s impossible, even for a computer!”

The farmboy quips that he can hit womprats back home. You bite your tongue at the ridiculous comparison. Space battles and womprats don’t have much in common. It’s time to focus on the mission, not argue with a know-nothing kid who just showed up on base. You’re a soldier, and you’ve got a job to do.

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A little while afterwards, Red Squadron is assembled. It’s funny; once you’re in your X-Wing, you feel like an entirely different person. An entirely different person. You’re Red Two now, and you’re flying to victory, because defeat is not an option this time. The entire rebellion rests upon the edge of a knife, and if you fail, you and all your friends will be destroyed.

Unfortunately, things don’t go well. Rebel fighters are getting picked off like flies. Death is all around you. The rebellion is getting crushed at an alarming rate. Even Red Leader, the best pilot you know, couldn’t make the shot. There’s no way you’re going to make it through.

That farmboy is a liability. You’ve bailed him out already, taking out a TIE fighter for him because he couldn’t even shake it. And now he’s attempting a trench run with Darth Vader at his tail! He has to be nuts.

And, what’s he doing giving you orders?

This kid has been in an X-Wing cockpit for literally only a few minutes—you’ve been training for years! You had better help him out. This is crazy, crazy, crazy. You call him boss with hopes of giving him a confidence boost. If he doesn’t get blown up, it will be up to you and Biggs to finish the job.

Skeptical to the end, you still can’t pick up the exhaust port on your scanners. There’s no way a computer is going to hit this. Plus there’s that tower firing on us! This whole plan is shot! It will never work.

The kid’s fighter is busted up. He’s got a broken stabilizer. He’s a goner.

Now Vader’s on my tail. Screw this. If I’m gonna die, it’s not going to be on a fool’s errand like this.

Whoops! I got a little hit! Ship’s flying just fine, but it’s a great excuse to bail. The kid will never know otherwise. He’s even telling me there’s nothing more I can do.

“Sorry!”

***

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Biggs gets killed seconds after Wedge leaves the fight and Han Solo, a smuggler who has no business fighting this fight, bails out Luke, leaving him clear to make the deciding shot in the battle.

Let’s get a few things clear:

  • All of Red Squadron gave their lives to give Luke his opportunity to make that shot. All except Wedge.
  • Biggs acted as a decoy and a shield, sacrificing himself to buy Luke the time needed to get to the exhaust port.
  • Luke almost gets killed himself from a shot that takes out Artoo, but he doesn’t give up.
  • The only thing that bought Luke the time he needed was the Millennium Falcon saving the day.
  • Wedge’s ship shows absolutely no sign of damage or malfunction at all. In fact, Luke’s ship clearly takes more damage.
  • Wedge was a pessimist from the very start. Nearly every line he says in A New Hope is negative.

Wedge should not have left the trench run. Biggs didn’t fire another single shot, but he didn’t abandon the mission. Wedge could have bought Luke much more time than he had. He could have provided much needed interference between Vader and Luke. Artoo wouldn’t have been fried. Perhaps if Wedge didn’t bail, both he and Biggs would have made it out.

What kind of wingman bails at the last minute?!

This was a win-or-die battle. All the cards were on the table. And Wedge bailed because of a minor hit, and because a teenage boy told him to?! He could have at least doubled back. He was a seasoned pilot and a veteran rebel fighter. Wedge Antilles should have known better.

Part II: The Battle of Hoth

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I mentioned it at the beginning of the article: I like Wedge Antilles. And here’s why.

The Wedge Antilles that we meet three years after the Battle of Yavin is not the same soldier. He is confident, strong, and positive, almost to a fault. He’s right there leading the charge with Luke as the Rogue Squadron snowspeeders take on those AT-ATs. You see and hear a pilot ready for action.

Ready to prove himself.

The energy is palpable in his every line.

“Cables out; LET HER GO!”

“Nice shot, Jansen!”

Wedge Antilles is not only one of the most heroic fighters in the Battle of Hoth, he is also one of the great morale boosters for the Rebel Alliance. It is here that we see Wedge at his best; the true wingman we know and love.

Something clearly happened to the character between the films. Wedge must have deeply regretted how little he did at the Yavin. He must have doubted his decision to leave Luke in the trench. I can envision a scenario where Wedge Antilles realizes he has a lot to learn about being a hero, and over the course of the Star Wars saga, we see him grow and change into a true leader.

Wedge Antilles is on his own hero’s journey.

Wedge is anything but a static character. He grows and develops in the background and off-screen. He is always changing, always developing, and always rising to the challenge. The films may not be chronicling Wedge’s story, but his is no less a classic tale of heroism than Luke’s.

Not convinced yet? There’s more.

Part III: The Battle of Endor

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By the time of Return of the Jedi, Wedge has fought alongside Luke Skywalker for four years. He is a true believer and a leader of Rogue Squadron. As a veteran freedom fighter, he is looked upon as a hero of the Rebel Alliance. They’ve never stopped talking about his bravery and ingenuity at Hoth.

But, there is a lingering doubt still with Wedge. His personal failure all those years ago at the first Death Star is still in the back of his mind. But, there is one thing that he feels can redeem him, and it looms in the distance half completed but fully operational.

And there is Wedge Antilles, barreling through the superstructure with the Millennium Falcon literally flying into the belly of the beast, the heart of darkness, the most dangerous of missions. He was there when it exploded. He was right there racing out against the firestorm. Wedge would be right there till the end with Lando and Nien Numb, and this time, he saw it all the way through.

Conclusion

As the party raged on Endor all through the night, Wedge was finally able to greet his compatriots as equals—finally, a fearless and heroic wingman. He’s the perfect example of a dynamic character that has his own trajectory through the films: a complex, flawed man that goes on his own hero’s journey to achieve a status far greater than where he started.

And it’s done almost entirely in the background. Wedge’s story is told through his actions. His very little dialogue is only the cherry on top, so to speak. It only adds extra flavor to his character. If you were to watch all of Wedge’s scenes on mute, you’d see the same story. That is Lucas storytelling done right.

There’s a reason Wedge’s character was a pessimist at the beginning. Lucas saw an opportunity to develop one Rebel pilot to represent the entire rebellion. He started flawed and, by the end, came out of the fires of battle to be immortalized as a hero. Why else would it be Wedge who emerged as a hero of Hoth? Why else would he be right there in the middle of the second Death Star? The story doesn’t necessitate his fighter be there—Wedge was there to fulfill his own destiny, as laid out by the story.

But, don’t take my word for it. Watch the original trilogy again, and pay attention to Wedge’s trajectory through the films, from chump to hero. It’s all there, and it is truly amazing.

Nice shot, indeed.

See, I told you it would be a happy ending!

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