Saga Darth-Son Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Empire Strikes Back (Again)

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Mystery Roach, Nov 23, 2012.

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  1. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    My apologies in advance if this was always super-obvious to everyone but me...

    The Empire Strikes Back has a very special place in the hearts of many fans. Most people consider it to be easily the best Star Wars movie. When I would watch it growing up, I saw Tauntauns, Wampas, AT-ATs and Speeders on the stark white landscape of Hoth; I saw Luke learning the mysteries of the Force from Yoda in the dreamlike swamps of Dagobah; I saw Han Solo frozen in carbonite and Darth Vader's revelation to Luke in the hellish underbelly of paradise in the clouds of Bespin... the whole movie was steeped in atmosphere, drama, and fully realized characters, and it was the heart of Star Wars.

    Then something happened. The prequels made me see the saga in a different light, and suddenly Episode V became the slow boring episode that I had to force myself to sit through in order to get to the climax in Episode VI. Suddenly Han Solo seemed annoying, and his love story with Leia just felt pointless. Yoda's training lost its sense of magic and wonder after all the amazing things we saw the Jedi do before their downfall. I still loved seeing AT-ATs lumbering across the icy terrain blasting everything in sight, but the Hoth battle was tiny in scale compared to the other battles we had seen. And don't even get me started on the space slug.

    But in retrospect I think the biggest problem for me had to do with Darth Vader. After spending three movies getting to know Anakin Skywalker and coming to understand the reasons behind his turn to the Dark Side, two movies in a row of him being relegated to a static one-note villain was just too much. I had no interest in only watching this character choke people for two hours. I wanted to get back to his story. Sure, he tells Luke he's his father at the end, but it's only because he's following his very Sith-like ambition of overthrowing Sidious and taking over the galaxy with his son... a beat repeated from the end of Episode III no less. Where is the humanity that we know is still lurking behind that mask?

    But then I started to read more between the lines, and lo and behold I found what I was looking for. As it turns out, TESB is as much Anakin's story as it is Luke's after all.

    In the opening crawl for Episode V, we learn that Darth Vader is "obsessed with finding young Skywalker". In the battle of Yavin, he felt how strongly the Force was with Luke, and it couldn't have been hard to put two and two together and come to the conclusion that this was in fact the son he believed to be dead, and his only living link (or so he thought) to his beloved Padme and his former life as Anakin Skywalker. Vader's sole motivation throughout TESB is to find Luke and confront him. Every single thing he does is in service of that aim, and every Imperial officer he kills is due to his frustration at not being able to accomplish that goal. These are not the actions of someone who only wants more power. These are the actions of someone who yearns to find a connection to his lost humanity.

    When Palpatine tells Vader that Luke is his son, Vader feigns surprise and convinces Palpatine that it would be wiser to try to turn Luke than kill him. Palpatine of course agrees because he sees in Luke the potential power that Anakin would have been able to achieve if not for his mechanical confinement, but Anakin just wants to keep his son alive because deep down he still loves him. Yes, Anakin has once again reverted to his selfish attachments, but that's actually a step in the right direction at this point in his life. Anakin knows Palpatine is evil but I think he still believes himself to be a good person at heart. And just as he did with Padme in Episode III, I think he honestly believes that he could make the galaxy a better place if he was only able to get rid of Palpatine and rule it with Luke instead, which in his mind would no doubt mean finally fulfilling his destiny and bringing balance to the Force. Although this belief is obviously misguided and would only serve to continue the cycle of evil, I feel that it clearly shows a desperate desire on Anakin's part to connect with his son and return to the path that he knows he should never have turned away from.

    TESB might still be my least favorite Star Wars film, and I think it drags a bit in the middle (but then again so do all the Star Wars films for that matter). And I still don't like Han Solo very much and in particular the scenes inside the space slug, but if I'm in the right frame of mind I can also still remember why I used to love the elements that I did, and how magical the film can be. But when it comes down to it, none of that really matters very much to me now anyway, because I'm just happy to be able to connect with this part of Anakin's story in a way that I couldn't before, and that alone is enough to make me love The Empire Strikes Back once again.
  2. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    star 6
    Is Star Wars associated solely with the story prequel-Anakin for you? I'm not judging, it's just a totally different approach than my own. For me Star Wars is much more about the setting and that it feels like a rich world. Anakin's story (even just what we knew of it from the OT alone) is a good one, but Luke's is as well. And Han's. And everyone's.

    Also, ESB connects with me personally because I like the style. The lighting, the music, the cinematography, the design...
  3. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    No, Star Wars isn't solely associated with Anakin's story for me by any means, but I definately find it to be the most interesting part and it's the primary reason that I'm still such of a fan as an adult. The fact is, most of the elements of Star Wars that I really respond to have a lot to do with George Lucas's style of filmmaking, which is no doubt the main reason that TESB stands as my least favorite. Odd then that I'm still so excited for Episode VII, but I think if the story hadn't come from Lucas then my interest would be far less.
  4. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    Also, I do enjoy Luke's story a lot... Just not as much as Anakin's. As for Han Solo, well I feel about him the way many people feel about Jar Jar. I'm well aware I'm in the minority on that one, but I own my opinion.

    This is the first thread I've actually created, so I wasn't expecting a winner, but it was something I just wanted to express. In my ideal world, this would have spawned more intelligent discourse than the same old boring "vs." threads (no offense to anyone who's into sort of thing), but I suppose it was really more akin to a blog entry than a jumping-off point for discussion. I'll keep trying and maybe one of these days I'll hit on something that works. ;)
  5. Lord Tyrannus Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2012
    star 4
    The entire/whole storyline/story of Star Wars is about freeing enslaved aliens from the Galactic Empire, although that tool-toy-boy George Georgey Lucas was too much of an idiot never too mention that in the films/movies; leaves out important plot points and elements, lazy, boring, horrible, terrible writer...........
  6. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    Say what now??? If the creator of a story fails to put something in said story - and in fact never even implies or alludes to that thing in said story in any way, shape, or form - then how can that thing possibly be what "the entire/whole storyline/story...is about"?
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  7. Lord Tyrannus Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2012
    star 4
    The Galactic Empire was evil, and it/she/he needed to be overthrown to save the galaxy, for sure, bro dude, have you U you u ever read the Star war SW EU (the expanded universe)..... The movies are only 2-3 hours hrs long and they don't have any time whatsoever to go into details that are very important to the storyline/story, which is evil and good..........
  8. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    The key word there is "expanded". As in, expanded by other writers from the story of the original writer. You can't fault the original writer for not including elements in his story that were only thought of after the fact by other people.
  9. Darth_Kiryan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2009
    star 4
    Have you ever read the EU, because going by every single one of your threads, and every single one of your questions, you wouldn't even know where to start.

    seriously, know what you are trying to say before saying it.
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  10. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    He's been banned again, along with his sock puppet. Not worth the effort responding to any of that clown's posts.
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  11. Darth_Kiryan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2009
    star 4
    seriously, he had a sockpuppet? my god. this guy is desperate.
  12. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2012
    star 4
    I mostly agree with this—especially the crappy space slug scenes, I disliked those even when I was a kid. I also agree with the notion that Vader's personality is much more interesting with the new movies. I'm still not sure if his actions in ROTJ are now *entirely* explained, but oh well.
  13. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    How do you mean? So much of what's going on in Vader's head is hidden behind his mask, but I pretty much feel that it's all there if you know what to look for.
  14. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2012
    star 4
    Well, just things like where he emphasizes "I must obey my master," him blocking Luke's strike at Palpatine, the dialogue of the Emperor going "I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader," and Vader responding "they are clear" (The script here says that Vader "knows what is being asked." What, exactly, is being asked?). And then Vader going "It is too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now."

    What, exactly, is he trying to do there?

    (I get the "sister" part, that bit is awesome. Even more awesome now that we have the prequels. I mean, seriously, wow.)
  15. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    Well I should preface my response by saying that finding out about Luke is only the beginning of the conflict resurfacing within Anakin. He holds off on actually making the choice until the last possible moment. You must realize that just as Luke wants to see the best in his father, so does Anakin (and for all intents and purposes Palpatine is Anakin's father). Yes he knows that Palpatine is evil, but he loves him anyway and doesn't want to kill him even though he knows it's the right thing to do... and besides that he is essentially Palpatine's slave, slavery being a condition that Anakin is quite accustomed to. He knows how great Palpatine's power is, and he knows that disobedience means death (attempt to escape.. and they blow you up). Throughout most of TESB and ROTJ, Anakin is basically stalling, hoping that he can he can convince Luke to join him before he has to face the decision of whether to destroy Luke or allow himself to be destroyed, because he doesn't believe he's powerful enough to kill Palpatine on his own. So he tells Palpatine what he wants to hear, which is that he is willing to kill Luke if he cannot be turned to the Dark Side (this is what he's referring to when he says his feelings on the matter are clear). In the scene where Luke is brought to Vader on the balcony, Luke senses the conflict within his father, but Vader doesn't see any way out of his dilemma, because he doesn't want to kill Luke which means that he will have to die and Luke will most likely take his place as Palpatine's apprentice. And as for why he saves Palpatine from Luke's strike... Vader knows that Palpatine was never in any real danger. If he had failed to protect his master, Palpatine would have either produced a lightsaber or fried Luke with lightning before Luke could even land his blow, and then Vader would have faced severe consequences for not blocking the strike. As it happened, Palpatine didn't have to move a muscle because he knew Anakin would not fail to protect him (your overconfidence is your weakness).
    Last edited by Mystery_Roach, Nov 25, 2012
  16. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Seems we have the same viewpoint of Vader in ANH and ESB. I could not stand him in ANH, and when I first saw ESB and heard the "I am your father" line, I thought it was an incredibly below-the-belt lie and an absolutely rotten thing to do to Luke, thought it was overboard even for the ***hole personality we had already seen established for Vader. IOW I definitely didn't think Vader was telling the truth. I did have questions at the end when they reached each other telepathically, but I was 8 years old at the time so I stayed with my initial impression. Had I been older I might have questioned it more.

    I don't have much to add to this, I think it's spot on. I think after he sensed the Force in Luke at the Death Star, he researched who the "young Rebel" was and discovered they had the same last name and Luke had grown up on Tatooine, maybe discovered the names of Owen and Beru. I'm guessing as well that he and Padme had discussed names for their babies, which is why she named them so quickly after she gave birth--it's not as if she would be coming up with names on the spot in her condition.

    I think he hid from the Emperor the fact that Luke had survived; I think by that point he considered himself the Emperor's slave and hid whatever he could that was "his" (compare to the podracer and "Watto doesn't know I have it," as well as 3PO). I don't know that there was full-blown love for Luke at that point as everything Vader felt was still selfish, but there was certainly a seed of it. At that point, at least, he is not quite as eager to eliminate any connection to Anakin Skywalker (his "weaker" self), as I believe he was at one time.

    His unconditional and selfless love for Luke came in ROTJ, in response to Luke's unconditional love for him, and I also believe that Anakin saw Padme in Luke.

    And yes, in ESB I think he did genuinely believe that the galaxy would be a better place if Luke would join him and they could rule together by overthrowing Palpatine.

    I agree that it is in ESB that Anakin Skywalker begins to come back, which is why I rank it higher than either ANH (which to me is full of one-dimensional heroes and villains, with Han as the only exception) and ROTS.

    And I love me some Han. :p I agree with the rest of your points though.
  17. Mystery Roach Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2004
    star 4
    Thank you for your reply! I especially liked what you said about the podracer and Threepio, which ties into some points I was making about ROTJ further down in the thread. Did you see that part?
  18. mrdan5 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    Interesting thread!

    Personally, I think my favourite movie for Vader/Anakin is definitely Empire Strikes Back. He is still the awesome super-villain, but his achilles heel is made clear to the audience. The film strikes the perfect balance of his villainy and humanity, with the latter being portrayed fairly subtly. The telepathy scene at the end is one of my favourites in the saga. To be honest, I'm a bit of a sucker for evil characters with a weakness in general; I think I would be happy now to see Vader dying without the big redemption moment, with us merely safe in the knowledge that he did love his son.

    Also yeah, Han hate is something I rarely see! He, along with Leia and Vader, is one of my favourite characters in the saga. Luke less so; I find him quite annoying pretty much the films throughout until the Bespin duel.
  19. -NaTaLie- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    Love that moment. It's pretty much the only time in the saga we can actually see characters having a telepathic exchange (Luke calls Leia too but it seems to be more subconscious on her part).

    I'd be the same away although I think it's still important for Luke to see his father as a Force ghost.

    You must hate young Anakin then :(
  20. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Unless we count this scene:
    [IMG]
  21. -NaTaLie- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    They're sensing each other but it's a non verbal exchange. Luke and Vader sense each other at Endor (but don't talk).
    The deaders love to communicate too :)
  22. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    That's not a telepathic exchange (I remember zombie used to argue that it was, too, in order to refute the Luke/Leia connection). There's no actual 'exchange'. All we see is intercutting between Anakin wrestling with his emotions & Padme breaking down due to worry about her increasingly disturbed husband. Yes, it's cut so that they almost seem to be looking at each other, but that's just symbolism, not a literal communication.

    Anakin's in a panic about Padme - so cut to Padme, who's worried about him, and knows through simple intuition that something bad is going to happen. You might as well argue that Michael Corleone is telepathically witnessing his rivals being gunned down while he's at the baptism in The Godfather.

    As for Palpatine's voice in the same scene - dialogue that isn't in the earlier scene with him & Anakin - well, maybe Palps is messing with Anakin's head via the Force, but it's still presented as Anakin just musing on their conversation, not literally a voice suddenly speaking to him. Luke hearing Obi-Wan's voice in SW/ANH is presented differently - he reacts in a very literal way to this sudden voice in his head.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Nov 27, 2012
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  23. -NaTaLie- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    Michael Corleone is not a Jedi :) (but could be a great Sith).
    I think there's some sort of a mystical connection, at least on Anakin's part (he felt his mother too). But it's not an active one, like that of Luke and Vader in TESB. Or even Luke and Leia (Leia actually hears Luke calling to her).
  24. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    They are each looking at the other's building, but of course they can't see one another. I just don't think we can rule out the possibility of some slight level of connection here, especially given the theory that they may have had some kind of Force bond. But I admit that that wouldn't be much of an "exchange".
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Nov 27, 2012
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  25. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    I don't see any indication of a particular 'Force bond' between them anywhere in the trilogy - yes, Anakin has his visions about her, but he's a Force-sensitive & obsessed with her. It's all at his end.

    As for Padme 'sensing' that he's troubled, knowing when he's lying, realising that something bad's about to happen - they're married. Of course she can figure it out without any Force powers.
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