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.