Question from a Listener: “Why doesn’t Ghost Obi-Wan send Luke to Yoda right after he blows up the Death Star?”

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:

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….

…this time.

Ghost Obi-Wan is Emphatic
Luke! Don’t give away the secret recipe. That leads to the dark…fried.

My Answer

The answer as I see it then, is two-fold:

  1. Luke wasn’t strong enough in the Force to see Obi-Wan until that near-death experience on Hoth; and/or
  2. 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….

Yoda is a many-colored being.
I also come from an era when we accepted both green AND purple (AND blue) Yodas.

2 thoughts on “Question from a Listener: “Why doesn’t Ghost Obi-Wan send Luke to Yoda right after he blows up the Death Star?”

  1. I appreciated the comments and you make a good point about the timeline – you don’t really know what originally the intended time between New Hope and Jedi was. However, your analysis I think falls short in one area and I will use an analogy to illustrate.

    Let’s take Kessel Junkie’s favorite sport of soccer. You are running a local club (county soccer association) and during the travel tryouts this kid signs up onsite and starts dominating. They are raw and immature, but this kid has skills more developed than everyone else in the tryout. Do you say to that kid, “listen, you’ve got good stuff. Go spend the next 1-3 years playing rec soccer with unpaid, volunteer coaches without training and, when we get around to it, we’ll bring you on to a travel team. There you can learn from paid, certified coaches on the right way to play soccer.”

    That’d be insane.

    All Gamblin’ Ben Kenobi had to do was ghost whisper to Luke to go to Dagoba. Luke listened in the cockpit of his fighter when his life was on the line, so he would listen to just “Go to Dagoba and find Yoda”. I know from a movie making perspective that would have made for a less perfect movie, but we are in how many angels are on the head of a pin territory here.

    All I’m saying is you should be protecting the last hope (according to Old Ben) instead of letting him putz around the galaxy until you feel like giving him a mission or build up your ghost energy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coach,

      First and foremost, I won’t be dragged into a soccer debate. I’d much rather spend the time asking how you can misspell “Dagobah” — they even had the name on a playset when we were kids. Come on, man.

      Second, let’s just accept on the face that you are going to remain unconvinced of any argument I present. That’s fair enough; I’m used to discussing things with people intransigent in their opinions. No worries.

      Third, let’s consider the very real possibility that Ben and Yoda – as I state in the blog! – are conscious that Luke’s training will trigger a tremor in the Force to be sensed by the Sith. After all, it causes a Great Disturbance, per Palpatine.

      It’s completely fair to argue that you need to pick your time very wisely in that case – when you can see some sort of pattern of events maybe – dictating when the right time is. Also, knowing that the kid is the progeny of one of the most powerfully evil people in the known galaxy – which is a big place! – you’d want to choose a time when he’d be ready for the responsibility.

      Now, an even more interesting spin is really the question of weighing his readiness versus his True Belief. You will never get Luke more ready to run off and join Yoda than right after he’s blown up the Death Star. He’s seen a demonstration of what he can do, of the truth of the Force, and won’t be in a position to question anyone.

      HOWEVER, as a counterpoint to that, they likely considered it inevitable that Vader would drop the “I’m your dad” bit on him, and had to weigh that against his ability to resist the call to join him.

      You could also pose an interesting question about Ben and Yoda being willing to place the suffering of the galaxy as secondary to the precise timing of Luke’s readiness.


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