A listener of Words With Nerds (as you all should be) proposed a question to me on Twitter. To avoid misstating anything, here it is:
Hey @kesseljunkie I have a Star Wars question for you. Why doesn’t ghost ObiWan send Luke to Yoda right after he blows up the Death Star 1/2
— @roberthayjr May 25, 2017
. @kesseljunkie 2/2 it accelerates his training and is a good time with Empire reeling a little. Also protects him from angry Vader.
— @roberthayjr May 25, 2017
It’s a decent question. That is likely to be enough for @roberthayjr to feel happy; he’s a good egg who likes to challenge.
As I thought about the question, though, it’s one that I think is rooted in the “accepted timeline” between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. That is currently accepted to be 3 years.
The first and easiest way to disregard the question, then, is to say that there’s nothing in the text of the film that mandates a long time between the films. It could be as little as a month between films. The only length of time required is for it to be long enough that they run into a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell, per the dialogue from Han. You can tweak that a little further by saying that it would also need to be enough time for Vader to get back to the fleet, discover Luke’s identity, and set off searching for him without telling the Emperor. (This triggers a new and intriguing thought that I’ll write about later.)
That’s a little bit of a cheat, though. It’s a way of “lawyering around” the question. I don’t want to do that….
The answer as I see it then, is two-fold:
- Luke wasn’t strong enough in the Force to see Obi-Wan until that near-death experience on Hoth; and/or
- Obi-Wan was waiting to step across the fabric of two realities until Luke was judged ready to take the next step; we’d heard him speak during the final act of Star Wars, he was likely waiting to appear until the right time.
I like both parts of this answer because they can, technically, function on their own.
The second point deserves a little more exploration, though. For if Obi-Wan could speak to Luke, why couldn’t he just tell him to go to Dagobah?
Refining the Answer
The refinement is that Obi-Wan was waiting to send Luke to Dagobah until Luke was could indicate a development and maturity in his Force abilities that was a clear sign that he was ready for the next, important step. After all, as soon as Luke goes to Yoda, it’s going to set off enough of a disturbance in the Force for the Emperor to sense it — hence him coming to Vader and talking about it in Empire.
Again, Luke had to be strong enough to see it, and Obi-Wan appeared when he saw that he was.
As a final “nitpicking interpretation,” who says that Obi-Wan didn’t speak to Luke between Empire and Jedi, dropping hints? Clearly Luke develops further skills like telekineses seen at the start of Empire.
He could have gotten there through meditation, too, but it’s equally valid to think that Obi-Wan spoke to him as Qui-Gon spoke to Obi-Wan while he was on Tatooine. This is, again, an accepted bit of knowledge, inferred from the text of Revenge of the Sith as much as anything else.
So, Bobby, how’d I do? Maybe it’s worth a discussion on Aggressive Negotiations….