The Return of the Jedi – Comments

The Return of the Jedi concludes the Star Wars saga as we currently know it. In this final episode, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando and the droids escape from Jabba the Hutt and join the rest of the rebels for their last attack against the Empire. There is a new Death Star – even more powerful than the first one. It orbits a moon, and is surrounded by a protective energy field. Though still incomplete, the weapons systems are operational, and the Emperor plans to use them in his final assault on the Rebellion.

With the aid of several Ewoks and their primitive weaponry, the Rebels defeat the Empire’s troops on the forest moon. The second Death Stary is destroyed, and the Rebels celebrate their victory. But the real victory is in Luke’s visit to the Emperor’s throne room. After all, destroying the Death Star would have meant little if the last Jedi had been killed while Darth Sidious somehow remained alive.

Luke learns that Darth Vader truly is his father, and that he will be the last living Jedi upon the death of Yoda. Truly, the fate of the galaxy rests upon his battle with Vader. Yet his own battle is deeper than just defeating Vader. A very powerful moment in the film is when Luke sees his own prosthetic hand in relation to Vader’s severed prosthetic arm. Indeed, destroying Vader is exactly Palpatine’s plan to have Luke replace Vader at his side.

Vader redeems himself at least to some extent by coming to Luke’s aid and destroying the Emperor. And part of what Vader told Luke in Empire actually comes true – together they did destroy the Emperor, but instead of ruling the galaxy, the save it.

Although Luke refuses to destroy Vader, this movie is not a tremendous victory for him. His continued development as a powerful Jedi Knight will come later. On the other hand, standing up to the Emperor and refusing to join him was a very bold step in itself. In the end, it wasn’t Vader that posed the strongest threat to galactic peace, but the Emperor – the very Phantom Menace himself.

Parallels to Anakin Skywalker

Luke’s battle with the Emperor and Vader brings to mind the question of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, which we find out in the prequels. Obi-wan’s account in the Jedi novel suggests that Anakin changed into Vader when he fell into a vat of acid or a pit of some kind. But it would make more sense that a transformation from Jedi to Sith is more of a process rather than an event. I’m not saying the scene with the vat or the pit didn’t happen. But the very fact that the two were dueling in the first place suggests that Anakin was already wandering down the path to the Dark Side in the first place.

Luke realized that killing Vader is exactly what would send him along the path to the Dark Side. Palpatine knew this also. Perhaps Anakin has a similar duel with a Sith. But in this case, perhaps the elder Skywalker destroys the Sith apprentice instead of finding a way to save the galaxy without giving in to hate. Such a duel probably took place long before the fateful duel against Obi-Wan near the pit.

Yoda told Luke more than once that anger, fear and aggression are of the Dark Side, and that once he ventured down that path, it would forever dominate his destiny. In Luke’s final battle with Vader, the younger Skywalker faced anger, fear and aggression triumphantly. Perhaps the elder Skywalker did not do the same when a similar situation presented itself to him.

Anakin may have erroneously thought he was strong enough to withstand a few flirtations with the Dark Side. Or he may have fully intended to destroy the Emperor later, but he never had the opportunity to do so until his son became the last of the Jedi. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in Revenge of the Sith.

Final Thoughts on Jedi

I certainly hope this is not the last of the Star Wars films. His films have brought countless hours of enjoyment and entertainment to millions upon millions of fans. As most of you, I am also very interested in what happens after Return of the Jedi. After all, it appears the Empire is collapsing, but there’s always going to be another battle to be won, planets to save, or future Jedi to train. Perhaps there may even be another return of the Sith as there was in Episode 1.