Vader Should Have Surrendered to Obi-Wan

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.

In Conclusion

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?

The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Here we are, the final chapter in the Chosen One saga.Obviously, my focus through the previous blogs was on the dilemma of the Chosen One. My three candidates are obvious: Qui-Gon, Anakin and Luke. The official take on things is that it’s Anakin, Luke is something of a fan-favorite choice and Qui-Gon stems from what could be called my unique perspective on things.

I’m living evidence that you don’t need to be in college, drunk or near weed to spend time to analyze small details. I’d hope, actually, that everyone’s figured out that my love for Star Wars is legitimate and more than just a nostalgic joyride. There’s no ironic act here; it’s simply that I see it through these eyes.

But instead of approaching the smattering of left-over tidbits like why Obi-Wan doesn’t qualify, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration with the rigid format of the previous, I’m just going to go with an FAQ approach. Hopefully it encourages some of you to build on it in the comments section.

Why Doesn’t Obi-Wan Qualify?

Simply, because there’s nothing special about him.

This is not to say he’s not a pivotal character. Of course he is. He is instrumental in screwing up Anakin’s training and beginning Luke’s. But there’s nothing to Obi-Wan that says someone else couldn’t have been there in his place. Would it have changed the variables? Affected the outcome? Of course.

But changing the type of car I drive doesn’t mean I changed my destination.

Why Don’t I Consider Leia to be the Chosen One?

[For the people who like to be outraged and take screenshots out of context for their social media pogroms:JOKE FORTHCOMING.]Because women ruin everything. [It’s a joke.] The Chosen One is supposed to save it.[THAT WAS A JOKE.]

I kid, I kid. I don’t consider Leia to be a candidate for the Chosen One for two simple facts.

She’s not strong in the Force. Luke’s out there flying, able to skim Beggar’s Canyon thanks to some seriously innate Force skills. Vader can torture Leia at point-blank range and not even sense a disturbance (but does the Emperor?).

Second, so that I can drain some of the fun out of this for The Boy Wonder, Leia wasn’t Luke’s sister until story conferences for The Empire Strikes Back. The concept of twins was in the original script, but Lucas didn’t write Star Wars with the brother-sister thing fleshed out. This doesn’t bother me the way it bothers other people who were fine with it until the 1990s, but I do consider it sort of a DQ here.

What is Meant by “Balance of the Force”?

This is one that can’t be completely clear to anyone, I think. You have the immeasurably metaphorical balance of light and dark. In the TPM era, there’s too much light. In the original-trilogy era, there’s too much dark. Luke is the Superman, a blended balance of light and dark personified, and Leia will be the virtual well-spring of future Jedi.

There are two Jedi and two Sith (film character-wise) from the end of Revenge of the Sith to the end of Return of the Jedi, when the meaning of Jedi and Sith are rendered irrelevant. Technically the Jedi remain, but in a drastically different way.

Do I think that there were only two Jedi and two Sith in play until Luke came into his own? Frankly, yes.

This doesn’t mean there weren’t other Force users. Vader and Palpatine were described by Lucas as a dysfunctional couple always looking for something better, but they never found it until Luke offered the real potential. So yes, Balance was also for a time the strict 2-2 count between Jedi and Sith.

But ultimately I take “Balance” to mean, the eradication of the old order and the birth of the new (hope). Basically, the old system was broken beyond repair and had to be scrapped completely. This was the destiny. How that happened was determined by the actions of the major players.

One Final Note

The last theory I entertain is that the Prophecy wasn’t misread. It was read properly. But it was bungled by the Jedi (and specifically, Anakin) and so the Force intervened to put pieces in place that would ensure its fulfillment. It’s that whole “Free Will but within a Framework of Destiny” argument.

To wit: Anakin should have been left on Tatooine. Qui-Gon seriously screwed up by taking him away from his loving parent and putting him into the very system that would lead to his corruption. At the moment Qui-Gon works to influence Destiny (the chance cube with Watto), he sets off a chain reaction of events where The Force/midichlorians have to bat clean up. Then, as punishment for being a colossal douchebag, the Force keeps Anakin alive when he should be dead.

So..and here’s where I get weird…Anakin was the Chosen One until Qui-Gon dies/the Jedi reverse their decision about his training/he kills the Tuskens. The exact flashpoint doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Jedi initially recognized they shouldn’t train him. They even say he may be the Chosen One, but his training carries grave danger. In other words, let the Force have its day.

Instead, they act out of self-preservation to make the Chosen One influence the galaxy the way they see fit. Qui-Gon influences the die roll out of hubris and the desire to be “right.” So the midichlorians create the twins (Anakin and Padme as the conduit) as Plan B. One of those children then becomes the Chosen One; or they are the Force’s way of splitting the prophecy in two to make sure not all the power is concentrated in one vessel.

Like I said, it’s a little weird. But I kinda dig it.

Fin

Well, there you go. What say you?

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

Sorry for the delay: child injured, stitches, horror, it’ll probably take me longer to recover from the experience than her. Jar Jar Hater’s heart is completely hardened to my pain, but seriously, the fact that I had to hold down my own child, screaming at a pitch and volume that I’ve never heard come from another human, as they turned her chin into a knitting project is just one of those horrific moments of complete helplessness that will haunt me for years to come.

Speaking of children, let’s get to who I consider to be our final legitimate candidate for Chosen One in the Star Wars galaxy.

I’m speaking, of course, about Luke Skywalker. He was mentioned in the comments when this series first started, and I think for a lot of the same reasons I’ll list here (plus a few others that I’ve collected after obsessively musing the question for the better part of the last 13 years).

But given all the other speculation, what compelling arguments exist that Luke is the one who was prophesied?

As it turns out, a fair number. But it’s not so straightforward in my mind as others might take it, and let me tell you why…

Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

The prophecy is specifically about one who will “bring balance to the Force.” The tip to the Jedi that it might be Anakin and that the prophecy may be coming true is that Anakin is apparently a directly-conceived child of the Force. Divine conception is a big tip that someone is a wee bit special, traditionally.

But the full text of the prophecy is never stated in the films and honestly, I don’t think it’s ever been spelled out anywhere. Even looking at a source that takes into account the expanded material never has specific text listed. And as with most of my examinations of the text of the films, the EU is discounted from these discussions. It is worth noting, however, that it would provide a fascinating supportive argument for Luke being The Chosen One by the mere existence of light/dark conflict beyond the six films.

And the collective editors of the wikis seem incapable even of acknowledging that the line that tips off the Council about the prophecy is the “conceived by the midichlorians” bit Qui-Gon sneaks in there. And I refuse to get into those discussions, because I gave up on the post-Jedi “Expanded Universe,” or allowing Lucas to be sole arbiter of interpretation for these works, a long time ago. In fact, I dislike it when a filmmaker tries to tell me “what I’m supposed to see” in the story, because that takes all the fun out of it.

But I digress.

Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter talk on Tatooine in the original Star Wars directed by George Lucas
“My dialogue from this scene reads like an Ayn Rand treatise…I’m going to get cut, aren’t I?”

Luke is the Expression of Balance

Plainly, Luke is the expression of balance. He personifies it. He has passion and he has love, but he does not let them rule him. He is part machine, but it does not define him. He wears black but is a hero and spiritual leader.

Like Anakin, the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. His decision to leave Tatooine to become a Jedi leads to the destruction of the Death Star. His decision to leave his friends after Hoth leads to the death of the Empire.

While it may seem minor, Yoda’s life seems preserved by the Force for the sake of training him. However, couple that with the fact that Obi-Wan is able to commune with him directly after death; if you note, his physical presence as a spirit also becomes more pronounced as Luke grows stronger until he’s sitting next to the young Jedi on a log. The two Sith are moving to master him and by extension replace the other.

Beyond all that he makes the right choices, and with less opportunity, than Anakin. He has the opportunity for vengeance and instead exercises mercy. He does not have a lifetime of training to provide a clear definition of right and wrong, just being raised by loving, murdered “parents” unexpectedly.

He is Batman to Vader’s Bane. (Yeah, I made that connection. Geeksplosion!)

But most importantly, it is important to note that while Vader may be the hammer that smashes the Sith, it’s Luke’s willing self-sacrifice that is the force driving him. Vader, a monster in shape and action, is moved to destroy himself and the master of evil because of it.

In other words, the forgiveness he extends to the fallen redeems the world. Sure sounds like restoring balance to me.

What do you think?

Are these arguments more compelling than the ones for other characters? Less so?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Just to give a tease on the last installment, I’ll address why Obi-Wan never enters the discussions, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration for these blogs.

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Anakin Skywalker

The most obvious choice for Chosen One in Star Wars has been, since 1999 at least, Anakin Skywalker. He was conceived by the midichlorians, was the most powerful Jedi in all six films, and the Jedi viewed him specifically through the prophecy of the “Chosen One.”

Sure, you could argue he wasn’t truly “most powerful” until he turned to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith, but at that point you’re really going to lose yourself in the “when does he truly become Vader” debate.

It's Darth Vader, not Anakin with Yellow Eyes.
It’s Darth Vader, not “Anakin with Yellow Eyes.”

We’ve examined at length the unorthodox idea that Qui-Gon actually is The Chosen One – and the comments are well worth looking for further fleshing out and argument of that idea.

I reiterate, though, that the beauty of the discussion is that there is no wrong answer…depending on how you look at it. If people in the real world can tell me that morals are to be viewed on a sliding scale, then surely something as trivial as this can be too.

Building the Case for Anakin

The primary trouble with building a compelling case for Anakin as the Chosen One, is that in many ways it feels like a pointless debate, since it’s easy to accept.

He is the tying thread in galactic events through all six episodes of the saga and has a hand in laying the Jedi low, and then destroying the Sith (killing the true Sith convert, Dooku, and eventually the Sith Lord of All Sith Lords, Sidious).

He is conceived by the Force itself, via the midichlorians, which was supposed to be a sign from the prophecy. Remember that it is Qui-Gon’s statement on Anakin’s supposedly divine birth that stuns Windu into referencing the prophecy in the first place.

Further, the statement that I used to jump off with this series which showed the prophecy may have been misread, is one that simply can mean, “Well, we thought balance was all awesome and everything, but darned if we didn’t do the math right and figure out that we were the ones throwing things out of balance and the Force wants to clean house.”

So What Would Make It Inescapable?

Frankly, Anakin is the sensible choice for this debate for all the reasons listed above. So I try to latch on to something that makes it an unexpectedly persuasive argument in his favor.

The tiny little detail that kind of seals it is more subtle than you might suspect. Hidden in plain sight, so to speak.

It’s that the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. The moment when Anakin chooses to ally himself with the Sith—and he is forced to choose, even after all the evil he has done, as opposed to passively accept—is the moment when the Dark Side specifically gains the irrevocable upper hand to take control of the galaxy again.

It’s not Windu’s death that Yoda feels in the Force. He reacts after Anakin kneels and pledges himself to Sidious. One man’s pledge has sent dynamic ripples through the very fabric of existence and changed the fate of every last man, woman, child, clone, Ewok and robot.

I believe that’s the most clear indication that Destiny and Free Will interact—at least in the Star Wars universe—the way that they interact in Frank Herbert’s Dune. There are many paths but they all pass through the same key points.

In other words, The Force was going to get back into balance one way or another and Anakin’s choices determined how. If he hadn’t saved Palpatine, would he have gone down a similar path? Would he have found a way to leave the Order and show the Jedi a new way to be?

What do you think?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

Anakin’s Divine Origin

Strap yourselves in, we’re about to make the jump back into deep Star Wars territory. But it’s really, really, really interesting stuff to consider.

If you’re a geek.

Not so long ago, I tossed out a random thought that prequel haters who reject Anakin’s divine birth while at the same time accepting the concept of the Force are somewhat hypocritical. Jar Jar Hater in specific jumped into the fray, stating

JJH: “Having faith is not tied to one religion.”

kj: Nor is the concept of divine birth/lineage.

Let me further clarify my own response: I do understand that the Virgin Birth is very much related to Jesus Christ/Christianity. As someone who subscribes to that faith, it was also the first thought that popped in my head. I remember the collective gasp at the midnight showing when Qui–Gon received that explanation from Shmi.

Naturally, like ripples in a pond, the impact of this plot point was felt on every shore of fandom. Lucas had brought in religious notes to the Most Revered Original Trilogy, and we all spent the majority of our lives pretending we were intellectually versed on the Heroic Monomyth because he kept referencing Campbell’s seminal work in interviews about the conception points for Star Wars concepts.

Specificity

But a Virgin Birth wasn’t some fuzzy concept drawn from Eastern beliefs for which we had no proper context as children of Western culture. So I want to examine this question: Why would Lucas tie it, in the eyes of people like Jar Jar Hater, to such an easily–identifiable point of belief for a substantial portion of the planet’s population?

Or Did He?

Lucas has given numerous interviews wherein he copped to being spiritual without being religious. Now, unless he was trying to go against that basic personality trait and proselytize to the entire fanbase, we’re left to puzzle why he used such an “easily–recognizable” plot point.

My own conclusion is that it was an easy shorthand for the audience, using the presumption that they know the connotations of a virgin birth, which is safe. So it’s not so much tying to one religion as it is using a story shortcut. He wanted to communicate the idea that this kid was a child whose birth was foretold by a prophecy, and divine birth is a really, really easy way to do that.

So yes, he used an easy shortcut and relied on that shortcut to reinforce to the audience why this child was special. Is it possible that he placed it in there to shore up the idea of prophesied birth since midichlorians would be such a foreign concept to all but Scientologists?

Heck, it’s even possible he came up with the idea of midichlorians after the virgin birth part in order to try to divorce the plot point from the Christian connotations. Arguably, if this is the case, and I have no idea if it is, he did not succeed.

It’s Not a Virgin Birth Per Se

Lucas himself has said that it’s more a matter of a god/gods interacting at a base level with a human, the way Zeus used to run around knocking up Vestals all over the place. Considering the fact that there is a very strong allusion to the culture of Ancient Greece in how Anakin is raised, this would be consistent with the other elements.

In other words, some midichlorians got drunk one night and took advantage of Shmi when she was feeling a little lonesome.

Alternate Interpretations

Lucas himself opens up the interpretation of the truth of Shmi’s story in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine makes reference to Darth Plagueis’s ability to create life by influencing the midichlorians. So even thought Shmi did not know explicitly that she had been manipulated into carrying a vessel of the Dark Side, there’s a sort of “Rosemary’s Baby” situation happening.

Of course, this relies on whether Palpatine is telling the truth. But even if he is, you’re left to wonder if Anakin was specifically conceived with the help of Darth Plagueis or if Palpatine is using a little bit of truth to get inside Anakin’s head. He would full well know Anakin’s supposed origins, and so he could tell the truth about Darth Plagueis’ abilities, even if Plagueis didn’t create Anakin on purpose.

In the book Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, James Luceno does a really terrific job of exploring the possibility while still leaving it open for people to read it how they want to read it. It’s that rare type of gem in the Star Wars Expanded Universe: worth reading, well written and leaves things open for your own interpretation without violating the text of the films.

Another interpretation is that Shmi was fibbing. This had popular support among the fanboys until Revenge of the Sith came around.

Conclusion

So really, this all goes toward saying that “I get it” about Jar Jar Hater’s complaint, I just don’t give it much weight. Lucas’ intent certainly wasn’t to make a clearly Christian reference. The worst you could accuse him of is using a lazy way to communicate Anakin’s importance.

I know full well who’ll jump all over that comment, but don’t care. Lucas has been many things, but intellectually lazy has never been one of them.