Vampires. Darth Vader. How are they connected?
Let me explain.
One of the things that Star Wars fans of the cynical stripe have had a hard time reconciling is the idea of Darth Vader’s redemption. It’s a telling thing among some of my friends. They don’t accept the idea of redemption as possible for anyone, just for people to whom they wish to extend the courtesy.
There’s also talk of the fact that there was a distinction drawn between the two sides of Anakin Skywalker’s spirit. There was Vader and there was Anakin. The “good man” was gone for good and only Vader remained. At least, that was how Obi-Wan saw it.
But then, you ask, how was it that Anakin spoke to Luke when the helmet was removed?
This is where vampire logic comes into play.
On a recent watch of Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, an old Hammer Horror classic, I was reminded of how things worked with vampires. Every hero face confronted with a loved one who’s been turned into an undead creature hesitates because they see their loved one and do not want to do them harm, even if they have been turned to evil. Some wise guide then has to remind them that the turned are not acting of true free will, but as an extension of the will of Count Dracula.
See, those who Count Dracula converted were like possessed souls. They were not really themselves. They appeared to be their old self – like, say Lucy Westenra in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker – while being an undead creature.
But it was best to think of their good selves as trapped, unwilling hostages to the possession. That was why killing their mortal body was necessary to restore the good in them so that the split could be resolved and the light side could be freed.
In essence, the “two sides” would be resolved in death and the complete person could pass to the next life.
So in a sense, though Obi-Wan was wrong that Luke had to kill Vader, he was still in the general vicinity of truth that the conflict within Anakin had been resolved to the point that only evil remained. Vader did have to be “defeated” so Anakin’s spirit could regain control.
It’s all fairly metaphysical and I understand why it’s a weird one to debate. It gets back into all those questions of duality, destiny, and free will. It’s got a Manichean philosophical flavor, but it works in this context.
The conflict had to be resumed (Luke was the catalyst), and the outcome made uncertain again. It also gets to the idea that this conflict could have happened more than once in a variety of ways, or maybe happened so regularly that while the “evil” side was dominant every morning was a new battle to maintain control and assure himself that he was on the correct path.
Fortunately for the galaxy, at the end of Return of the Jedi the good man was restored and the complete person could act once more and make a difference.
It’s vampire logic.