Were the Jedi Vegetarians?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. In the gaps between important thoughts that impact the family, as usual I start to wonder about Star Wars questions no one asked.

The Jedi could sense suffering and death. All living things were a part of The Force.

Therefore, I wondered if it would necessarily follow they were vegetarians.

We have on-screen evidence that the Jedi can sense the large scale suffering of beings. However, we don’t know that it has to be sentient life.

When Alderaan explodes, Obi-Wan gets heartburn. To extend this specific speculation, he merely says “millions of voices cried out” (which seems kind of low for a planetary population, but whatevs); maybe he was also sensing the forest creatures and house pets that the Alderaanians had.

Adding to that is the on-screen evidence of a link Jedi have for animals. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin can “connect” to the Reek so that he rides it. This implies some sort of affinity with creatures regardless of species.

Further pursuing the thought of heightened sensitivity, perhaps they were vegans. Living in a galactic culture where just about everything can be synthetically produced, it seems to follow that they’d have become vegans. If you feel the death of an animal through The Force, I imagine it dissuades you from consuming or killing it.

In an existence full of hyperspace and city planets, they’d have access to all the resources necessary to eschew animal-based products of any sort.

However

The strongest counterpoint is that the Jedi do seem to have their sensitivities tuned to the sentient. Luke kills the Rancor without so much as a light headache. Obi-Wan slices and dices the Acklay piece by piece. Mace Windu kills the Reek without a pause. For goodness’ sake, other Jedi drop like flies on Geonosis and the ones left standing are doing fine.

If they were that sensitive, then the Rancor eating the Gamorrean should have made Luke curl into a little ball and cry like an abandoned child.

In short, the animals of Star Wars can go screw. The Jedi obviously had barbecues.

Luke Skywalker: Crisis Manager

It’s been a point of contention on this blog as to how “convoluted” Luke’s plan to save Han from Jabba was. I won’t go step-by-step because, if you haven’t watched Return of the Jedi, please go watch the movie and then come back.

Plan “F.”

Some have observed there were a lot of unnecessary layers, especially when he could have just shown up with his lightsaber and kicked a ton of exhaust port.

Of course, that action isn’t necessarily Jedi–like. And that plays into my new thinking on this matter, because I think we need to start drawing the distinction between Luke’s intended plan and his crisis plan management.

Always In Motion, the Future Is

A lot of people forget that Jedi cannot see into the future with any reliability. To presume that Luke knew for certain that his plan would end with the sail barge fight is fooling ourselves.

As a result, Luke was executing several plans in succession, not one ridiculously ill-conceived one.

“Surprise, surprise! It’s Lando in disguise!”

To wit, Lando was planted as a scout. This is really good thinking, as he could let Luke know the strength of numbers, who was armed and how closely-guarded our favorite frozen Corellian was.

The one hitch with that, and I freely admit it, is that Lando should have given some sort of heads-up about the Rancor pit trap. But let’s presume he didn’t want to blow cover until things went down.

Luke may have also misjudged his ability to get at Jabba before the trap was sprung. In which case, he was just rolling with one more piece of the plan going wrong.

And this plan starts going wrong from the beginning. But we’ll fast forward to the key component.

The Lightsaber

Luke is testing Jabba at each stage to see if he can find a peaceful resolution to everything. The lightsaber is not on him for three possible reasons in this scenario, all of which I think make a lot of sense. You could also take two or all three in conjunction with each other.

    They are:

  1. Luke wants Jabba to underestimate him.Think about it. The Jedi have been extinct for decades by that point, at least so far as the public knows. Better to have Jabba believe he’s a crackpot that presents no threat.
  2. He doesn’t want to rely on the weapon as it sends a more-antagonistic signal than walking in unarmed. Sticking to that pacifist ideal, Luke wants to project that he is unarmed and so avoid escalation. As Lucas repeatedly demonstrates unintentionally, pacifism never works.
  3. There’s not a chance they’re letting him walk in to see Jabba with it on his belt. This is the obvious one. No need for explanation.

So, he puts it in Artoo as that last-resort option. He does not know that last resort will be on the sail barge. He likely thought Artoo would be in the throne room (Artoo gets places) and he could get the saber in a pinch if the last negotiations fail. Of course, this opens up the question of why no one ever thinks of searching Artoo since everyone hides vital things in him constantly, but at that point you’re nit-picking.

Dealing With Things Going Wrong

So with this cascading waterfall of miscues, Luke doesn’t count on Leia being captured and displayed in the way she was.

Remember, she sneaks in to Jabba’s palace to get Solo. Jabba catches her, but instead of imprisoning her with Han and Chewie, he chains her up. You could make the argument her presence makes it more difficult for Luke to threaten Jabba with the gun, since he has to take greater care about firing.

Han, Luke, Chewbacca, Lando, and various thugs on the way to the Sarlacc Pit
“Is this the time to tell you that everything I’ve tried to do up to this point has gone horribly wrong?”

R2 isn’t where he expects him to be. Lando is unable to assist, because he wants to make sure Leia is safe once Luke is sent to the Rancor (notice he was positioned to help if things had gone differently). Threepio is useless in a crisis. Han and Chewie are in the dungeons.

So basically, it’s not that Luke had a convoluted plan, it’s that things constantly went sideways and he kept trying to adapt the plan. He should be lauded for adapting in such a way as to guarantee victory. We never get clued in as the audience because like Qui-Gon, Luke maintains an even keel even in the worst storm.

I think all of us, who manage people and/or projects, should admire this.

Darth Vader’s Poop

I backed away from the biological questions after being lightly chastised for asking “Does Darth Vader Need to Eat?” I specifically placed the publication of this blog on hold because I care about your feelings and feedback!

But really only to a limited extent, because I’d written this out and had every intent of coming back to it.

(Side note: I appreciate all the comments lately. I’ve enjoyed having actual discussions on these insane topics and promise you this is all far from over! And of course if you want to pitch an idea for a blog question, let me know!)

But the next logical question about the Dark Lord of the Sith needing to eat is…

Does Darth Vader Need to Poop?

Every living thing creates waste. This waste must be expelled or sepsis sets in, because the toxins in the body build up and it can’t get rid of them.

GIVEN: Vader’s body is badly damaged, but kept alive. There is a biological process at work. Any body will create waste.

GIVEN: Vader’s technology for life support is presaged by General Grievous’ horrific bag-of-organs and robot skeleton.

So, given all that, we can clearly see that Grievous has no…”exhaust port”…as it were. It’s just a (plastic?) bag of organs hanging in the middle of a (vulnerable) protective cage. So did he have to get a “flush” every couple of days when his armor got a wash-and-wax?

Perhaps that was the reason for his cough. He was actually expelling microbes of waste with each one, meaning he was a walking virus factory. Also, that his breath would explain Anakin averting his head when Grievous got in his face early in Episode III.

So how did Vader expel this waste? Was there a colostomy box on his belt, and if Luke had hit that instead of Vader’s shoulder in the Bespin duel we have a different ending?

I’m strangely, bizarrely curious on this one.

I am completely aware of what that says about me.

Can Droids See Force Ghosts?

Netflix recently unleashed the entire run of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, including the sixth and final never-before-seen season, which dominated my weekend watching habits and has doubly reinvigorated my mental pursuit of esoteric Star Wars questions on top of the recent exchanges on Words With Nerds.

Often I promise these sorts of blogs will be brief musings, but then I start writing and I can never predict their final length. I like to think as I write on these things instead of coming into it fully-formed. Let’s see where we go this time!

What I’m Wondering This Time

One topic I’m not sure has ever been explored fully, is whether ‘droids see Force Ghosts. For those who don‘t immediately understand that phrase (really?), I mean things like the ghostly blue apparition–figures that appear after certain Jedi deaths.

Obi–Wan is of course the first we ever saw as an audience. Yoda followed by the end of Return of the Jedi, along with Anakin. The prequels later teased out the fact that this was a rare occurrence. I think that as an audience most presumed all Jedi could come back in this form. After all, our sample size of Jedi was fairly small, and they had a 100% return rate.

So anyway, I was wondering while watching one of the season 6 Clone Wars, could R2 see Obi–Wan on Dagobah? Yoda was talking to Luke as he boarded his X–Wing and he was joined by Blue Ben® trying to impel the youth from rushing off to face Vader at Cloud City.

Luke spoke to both, and Ben’s voice is heard very clearly by Luke and the audience. But if Obi–Wan is using some ancient art to communicate with another Force User via his connection from the Cosmic Force to the Living Force, could a ‘droid even hope to hear or see him?

As Obi–Wan explained to Luke, the (Cosmic) Force is generated by all living things. The living things are loosely explained in the prequels to be the Living Force, emphasizing the theme of duality Lucas was exploring in The Phantom Menace.

The key function of all this is, of course, the fact that the physical aspect of the Force is living.

As endearing as the ‘droids are, as key as they are to the motion of the story, they are not alive. There is no “living circuitry” to them. They may have intelligence artificially engineered into them, but they are in no way organic. Therefore, they are not alive.

If you want to play semantics, they are less alive than fire, which eats, breathes and grows. (Thank you, Backdraft!)

No Ghosts For R2!

So to my mind, R2 would be ruled out from seeing Obi–Wan in either The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi. He does not possess the correct antenna to see him, which is a connection to the living Force.

R2 can feel the effects of the Force when he is lifted in the air. He has personally witnessed the tremendous abilities of the Jedi. So he is aware of the Force, and has seen evidence of its existence, but cannot ever hope to participate with it on an intimate level.

This has to be troubling to a sentient machine. R2 would even see Luke conducting conversations with the dead while seeing nothing except a living person talking to thin air. That has to be maddening, even possibly causing logic conflicts that a mere ‘droid cannot resolve!

That opens other possibilities as well with ‘droids that would develop a deep resentment of living creatures in general and Force Users in specific. So perhaps, though I’ve spoken about the unfair treatment of ‘droids in the past, there was a practical reason for the bartender (Wuher) in A New Hope to have a “no ‘droids” policy.

After all, people couldn‘t know whether seeing someone doing one more thing they couldn’t would cause automata to snap finally. Imagine how messy it could get if a bunch of machines wigged out and started killing patrons. Very bad for business.

Loopholes

The one loophole I see in this would be that possibly a ‘droid could see the Force Ghost but not hear it. Then, at the very least, it would be able to reconcile why otherwise–sensible beings occasionally sat down on logs and talked into space.

Or perhaps there is a threshold of impact for Force Ghosts at first, but the more they exert their influence on the physical realm the more non-Force Users can interact with them. But then they become full–on poltergeists and then we have to speculate that possibly there is some Star Wars version of the Ghostbusters out there, whose actions inadvertently cause them to be evil since they’re interfering with the “light side” interacting with the living.

See? I never know where I’m going with these things either.

Love Song for R2D2

Tonight I got a hankering to sit down with a Star Wars film and the spinning wheel landed on The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe it’s because of the Polar Vortex, or maybe I just loaded a search term into a post. This isn’t about your silly questions.

When I get these hankerings late at night, it’s typically to watch just part of one of the films. It settles me and brings me peace so I can silence the raging beast within and sleep through the night.

But before I retire to my dreams, I was inspired to write about R2D2 because like Lucas himself, I’m a big fan of the little astromech droid. The inspiration naturally spurred from once again seeing my favorite moment in The Empire Strikes Back, when Artoo lays the smoke screen so our heroes can escape Cloud City.

It’s all sorts of amazing that what hit me most this time wasn’t the fact that R2 is arguably the most–consistently heroic character in all six films. It isn’t that he bridges the divide between father and son, and the small ’droid‘s® “humanity” mirrors what the son can master which the father cannot.

It’s that Artoo was originally Padmé’s (or at least transferred to her after her reign as Queen ended), and he continually screws up Vader’s chances to become completely, fully evil.

Had Vader killed Luke in A New Hope, he would have been able to overthrow the Emperor and become the Master of the Galaxy. He would have had a Death Star at his control with which to challenge and topple Palpatine.

Had Artoo not gotten our heroes out of Cloud City, they never would have been able to rescue Luke. Luke was then able to return, as a Jedi, to end the Old Order and bring balance to the Galaxy.

A certain Jedi would have been unable to slaughter Jabba’s henchmen at the Sarlacc pit if Artoo hadn’t spirited his new lightsaber in his dome.

So say what you will. Artoo is a remnant of the passion and humanity that Vader lost and a visible tie to his dead wife and mother of his children. He keeps making sure that evil never wins. In other words, a symbol of Anakin’s love makes sure that the darkness never snuffs out the light.

Was it intentional? Maybe not. But it’s beautiful, and it makes the movies speak to me in a new way. That is art.