I’ve come to an idea about how Vader should have dealt with the situation on Mustafar.
He should have surrendered!
Let me take you through the reasoning why this not only makes sense, but would have resulted in Anakin becoming an even greater Sith Lord than Palpatine. Hell, he would have been the greatest Sith Lord since the legendary Bane.
Surrender to Victory
The situation as we all know it is that Obi-Wan showed up to bring Anakin to justice, and depending on your point of view (see what I did there?) that’s what he did. However, it left Anakin a broken shell (some could argue a zombie of sorts) to be reconstructed by Palpatine and to continually ponder his existence in terms of what could have been.
Had he surrendered, though, it would have been a master stroke that would have won the galaxy as his. It would have left the Jedi decimated still, and it would have been a stroke of genius to get the galaxy to back the Sith as the leaders of a thousand thousand worlds.
Surrender would have allowed Anakin to continue destroying from within, without having to bloody his hands further.
So How Would That Work, kesseljunkie?
Let me explain.
Palpatine had engineered the senators to surrender their peoples’ freedoms in exchange for power. He reorganized the Republic into a Galactic Empire to “thunderous applause.” This monstrous being had sold those not on the bureaucratic take on the idea that the Jedi had gone rogue, become extremists and threatened to overthrow the government.
Very obviously, the Sith had the intelligence and wisdom to turn a beneficent system against itself by working from within. They worked in shadow to get to a point of primacy that gave them complete control. When Palpatine addresses the Senate in Revenge of the Sith, the need to hide is erased. His true face is known now and the system has been reshaped to support him.
Anakin surrendering corners Obi-Wan into coming back to Coruscant, to present him to a system he knows is rigged against him. The Jedi have been destroyed by that point and Yoda cannot offer public assistance. Political allies will cow in fear rather than be portrayed as supporting traitors.
Palpatine would have likely given Obi-Wan diplomatic leniency in public and then jailed him “for his own protection.” And when the show trial that only goes further to portray the Jedi as ignoble renegades, Obi-Wan can then either stand trial for the Order’s “crimes” or be “killed while attempting escape.” Heck, Palpatine could have kept him alive as bait to draw out other Jedi who wanted to rescue him, or lure sympathizers into the open so that his enemies make it easier for him to eliminate them.
To be honest, I’d started writing this half-heartedly and am pretty sure I’ve convinced myself now.
Hiccups in the Plan
Sure, there could have been inquiries about the timing of certain events. People may have been curious as to how or why Anakin was sent in secret to assassinate the entire Separatist leadership while the Jedi were supposedly turning against the Republic they’d sworn to defend.
They would have been distracted by propaganda though. Their curiosity would have been deflected by the portrait of a hero who remained loyal to Palpatine, and the Republic by default, since Palpatine’s cult of personality was the new order of government.
Who would have had the courage to bring him to trial though? Even if Bail Organa stood tall and insisted on it, Palpatine had control. At a key moment in the movie, Mace Windu flatly declares that Palpatine “controls the Senate and the courts” before he attempts to assassinate him. So a trial would have been actual good PR for the new Empire since it would have been a terrific chance for Anakin to declare his loyalty, evidence could show he had single-handedly gone to finish off the Separatist threat after a long war and he would have been exonerated.
At that point he becomes Palpatine’s face. Handsome and young, he is more able to persuade by coercion than fear. He would have been a supreme leader instead of a mysterious monster prowling the lanes of space and forcing Palpatine to continue personal interactions. After all, a withered and evil face is still more compelling than an implacable mask.
Anakin surrendering would have been the ultimate move to ensure Sith power for many lifetimes to come.
At the end of it all, this is all conjecture based on a fan’s frenzied fantasy. Star Wars isn’t structured for this sort of courtroom drama, but I can’t help but wonder.
Have I stumbled accidentally onto a “better fate” for Anakin? Or am I just tilting at windmills?