Star Wars, Episode IV, Part V: See You In The Next Life

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Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (Part 5)

Hello friends! How are we all? Feverishly counting down the days until Star Wars Celebration rolls around to knock us all on our asses with Announcements and Trailers and the Return of Hayden Christensen’s Hair? Desperately awaiting the premiere of Episode 8, so that we can all put that whole Rey’s Parentage Thing to rest?  (BAHAHAHAHA, awww, it’s cute that you think the writers will resolve things, or that Star Wars fans will ever stop complaining about anything and getting into flamewars with each other over it regardless of what they do. You must be new here.)

So! Whatever we’re waiting for, what can we do to pass the time? I know — let’s revisit that time that Obi-Wan rolled up to the Death Star and, in a final, fantastic act of Total Smugness, pretty much blew Vader’s mind (again, I don’t mean like that, people,) before bowing out to what we  now know was almost certainly the least restful afterlife anyone has ever had in the history of ever. (Poor Obi-Wan. Not even a nap in the great beyond for you, buddy.)

Recurring Theme: I Was Not Kidding About The Skywalkers Loving Obi-Wan
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We reopen with Han, Chewie, and Luke, just after Old Ben left to go take care (ahem) of Vader. Chewie makes some annoyed sounds and Han, looking totally put out, demands to know where Luke dug up “that old fossil”.
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Luke, some primal instinct to Protect Obi-Wan At All Costs within him activated, is like “LISTEN HERE, INDIANA JONES: THAT OLD FOSSIL BELONGS IN A DAMN MUSEUM BEN KENOBI IS A GREAT MAN AND HE HAD GREAT HAIR AND HE’S KICKED MORE ASSES THAN YOU” and you know, I’d laugh and everything, except that I am totally on Luke’s side here. How dare you, Han Solo.

Recurring Theme: Skywalker Day-Saver Syndrome
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Han and Luke literally get into a bitchy argument about whether or not Obi-Wan is amazing or not (God I love this franchise,) and Artoo starts beeping about how he’s found The Princess, and suddenly Luke’s OTHER primal instinct — saving someone who’s in trouble Despite The Odds — kicks in. He’s like SHE’S HERE??? at which Han is like WHO WHAT WHY.

Artoo tells Luke, via Threepio, that Leia is — gasp! — scheduled to be Terminated! And Luke, OH MY SWEET LITTLE FARM BOY. He’s just so worried for her. HE HAS NEVER EVEN MET THIS PERSON. Hilariously, all he really knows about Leia is that she, too, seems pretty impressed with and dependent on Obi-Wan. And evidently, as far as this family’s concerned, that is pretty much all it takes to win them over. Again, I feel so close to the Skywalkers.

Recurring Theme: False Imprisonment
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Han is like UH NO: we are not going to rescue anyone, you maniac. Old Ben told us to stay here! LOL that now Han is all about listening to a guy he was JUST bitching about because it involves less work. Luke eventually wins him over, of course, by being like LEIA’S LOADED Y’KNOW, which…well, I guess we’d better just hope that she wasn’t stashing all her cash on Alderaan. Han agrees to help for the bucks, and they set out with Chewie in tow as their fake prisoner, leaving the droids behind.
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Recurring Theme: The Eternal Obsession
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Hahahahahaha, OK. So as Han and Luke and Chewie set off for the detention cells to Go Save The Day, the guys who spent the previous generation pulling similarly dopey stunts are creeping about the Death Star totally not in search of each other. We see Obes Kenobes being a sneaky bastard, as is his way:
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…while Anakin…oh, this guy.
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Vader’s just sort of wandering aimlessly, like he’s trying to wave the Force-Bond equivalent of a metal detector around in search of Obi-Wan. You guys: YOU CANNOT EVEN SEE HIS FACE AND HE LOOKS CONFUSED AS HELL. You KNOW he was making this face under there, minus the hair:

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Poor, confused, sand-hating Anakin. As he is, was, and probably ever shall be.

Obi-Wan makes a face like he maybe partially picked up on where Vader was, and then hauls ass outta there to continue his quest to turn off the tractor beam.

Recurring Theme: Undercover Dorks

As those two old idiots play their final round of Will They or Won’t They?, the kids arrive at the detention block, pretending to deliver Chewie, who then “escapes”, causing chaos. Every single evil guy ends up getting taken out (wow, OK,) and as Luke sets out to open Leia’s cell, Han gets on the intercom to be like “HA HA NOTHING TO SEE HERE” but in like THE most awkwardly obvious way. His smooth talking having failed to win them over, he just goes ahead and blasts the console out entirely. That is my kind of solution.

He yells over to Luke that they’re “gonna have company” and LUKE IS ONLY LIKE HALFWAY DOWN THE HALL, poke-ily taking his sweet-ass time.  MOVE IT, SKYWALKER. Damn.

Recurring Theme: Your Author’s Ongoing Love Affair With Star Wars Dialogue

Luke opens up Leia’s cell at last, and after she asks him if he isn’t “a little short for a Stormtrooper”, he’s like “…huh? Oh right, DOY…” and then removes his helmet sassily and honest-to-God says, “I’m Luke Skywalker and I’m here to rescue you!” Har. Oh Luke.

The icing on the cake here: Leia is, at first, like “WTF IS THIS NONSENSE?” I love that she seems OFFENDED that the rebellion has sent this guy to save her:
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…and THEN, only when Luke is like “I’m here with Ben Kenobi!”, does she flip and is immediately like OH WELL IF OBI-WAN’S INVOLVED SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.
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I…think I might be related to these people, I’m not sure. The Secret Skywalker Twins take off.

Recurring Theme: A Love That Has Endured a LOT

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Back in Death Star Conference Room C, Vader is reporting back to Tarkin about how his Kenobi Pants Alarm totally went off just now. He phrases this as “HE is here,” and I know we’re joining this conversation in-progress, but let’s just all go ahead and agree that Vader did not even have to say his name to Tarkin because we all know that Vader has literally never stopped talking about Obi-Wan since EVER (I was going to say “since he became a Sith Lord”, but we all know even that isn’t true of Anakin “It’s All Obi-Wan’s Fault” Skywalker.) I just need to believe that Vader showed up and was like “YOU KNOW WHO DROPPED BY” and Tarkin did not even have to ask who he meant.
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Tarkin, for his part, is not buying this. Now, it’s entirely possible that Tarkin just assumes that Vader has become delusional in his old age, or that Vader just WANTS this so badly that he’ll believe anything. Alternatively, maybe Anakin’s in here every other damn week like “NO IT’S DEFINITELY OBI-WAN THIS TIME CAN HE SLEEP IN MY ROOM, OR…?!” and Tarkin’s just tired of him crying (Ginger) Wolf(man).

I’d Know That Sassy Signature Anywhere
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Tarkin asks him what makes him so sure that it’s the Obes Kenobes, and Vader confidently asserts that there was a Hot Sexy Tremor in the Force that he hasn’t felt since he was last in Obi-Wan’s presence. You know, that time that Obi-Wan left him burning on the banks of a lava river after Anakin repeatedly tried to kill him. Yep. Good times had by all.

Tarkin dismissively says that “surely he MUST be dead by now,” and I just have to ask: WHY? Why must he be dead by now? OBI-WAN IS NOT THAT OLD, EVERYONE. Alec Guinness was not like 90 years old in this movie, and this line cracks me up because Tarkin makes it sound like the guy would have to be on his death bed, assuming he was SOMEHOW still alive. They know he didn’t die in the Purge! (I mean…Vader is ACTUAL PHYSICAL PROOF THAT HE DID NOT.) I have to believe that if an Inquisitor had found him in the intervening years, they’d have heard about that one. Vader would have INSISTED on doing the honors himself (…maybe.) Obi-Wan is not a million years old, and he’s also a living superhero. Is Tarkin just assuming he must have died of loneliness without Anakin? Or that there’s just no way that Obi-Wan could have avoided Drama this long?

Vader persists: no, it’s him — anything’s possible with the Force and when you’re as handsome as that guy.

Recurring Theme: Grand Moff Tarkin, Not a Jedi Fan

Tarkin is like yeah yeah yeah, whatever: the Jedi are gone, we burned down their house and sold all their shit at that yard sale and made a sweet stack of cash, it’s probably definitely not Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vader — keep it in your pants.

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Just then, Tarkin gets a message: there’s been a Jailbreak! The Princess! At this, Vader persists: see? Obi-Wan’s HERE, all right, and he’s brought the Force with him GOD THAT IS SO LIKE HIM I HATE HIM I JUST WANT TO MAKE OUT WITH HIS FACE. I sort of feel like at the news that there’d been Commotion and a Jail Rescue, Vader was like…angry, but also maybe involuntarily smirking at this? BECAUSE GAAAAHD, A DARING RESCUE THAT IS SO OBI-WAN SIGH.

I’ll Be Waiting For You

Tarkin appears to finally agree with Vader, and he’s like “FINE: then he must not be allowed to escape!” Vader replies that “escape is not his plan,” and that Obi-Wan wants to face him alone. OK: but, like, eventually Obi-Wan would still have to escape, yes? Unless Vader has already FIGURED OUT that Kenobi’s end game here does not involve surviving on this side of the Force, which…all right then.

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Obi-Wan seems to have picked up on a broadcast from Radio Vader’s Inner Thoughts, as he grabs his lightsaber and looks around With Concern:
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Cell Block Tango
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Back in the detention block, a gaggle of Stormtroopers have arrived to kick ass. The gang gets backed into the hallway and Leia snottily announces to Han that he’s blocked off their only exit — to which he equally-snottily replies that maybe SHE’D like it better back in her cell! Ah, young love. I guess.
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Things are looking bad for our friends, and Luke and Han just continue to be like “we’re so screwed” until Leia finally is like “OK, fuck this” and blasts open a wall, leading into the garbage chute. Well then. A Skywalker-worthy solution. They all pile down the chute, some more enthusiastically than others, Chewie.

Monster Mash
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They soon land in the pit of trash, which seems to contain a WEIRDLY huge amount of like…building materials? Mixed in with raw sewage? What the hell are people throwing in the trash on the Death Star? Isn’t this mostly like an office building with a gigantic gun strapped to it? The team starts blame-gaming about whose fault it is that they’re trapped in the trash bin now, until they get distracted by the appearance of a dianoga lurking around in the garbage water.

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Um, how did this thing get on board? I SAW THEM BUILDING THIS THING OUT IN SPACE. What does it do most of the time? Does it eat discarded ammunition shipping boxes and the million miles of wiring the Empire is throwing out for some reason? I have so many questions, many of which I could probably just consult Wookieepedia about, but am too lazy to bother with.
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Luke gets pulled underwater by this creature, and Han and Leia go into Rescue Mode. Do you ever think about how Leia A) got almost shot and killed and then B) had to fight the Garbage Loch Ness Monster with both her brother AND her future husband within the first 3 minutes of meeting both of them? I guess it served as a memorable bonding experience.

Luke suddenly re-emerges from the water, and says he doesn’t understand what happened: the monster let him go all of a sudden! HUH! WEIRD.

Just kidding: it’s because someone’s gone and turned on the trash compactor! Uh oh. The kids start to panic…

…and the room keeps shrinking as Luke desperately yells into his comm, trying to get Threepio and Artoo to turn off the compactor.

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Which they do! At the last second! Hooray! It would have been a real bummer if all three main heroes of this round of films had all been crushed to death in the first movie!

Bingo!

While the Rebels are celebrating having not gotten flattened, Obi-Wan is continuing to sneak around his ex’s house in search of the tractor beam control thingy. What must have been going through this guy’s mind right now, really? One morning you’re just taking care of your bantha herd and trying to stave off death by boredom, the next thing you know you’re right back on some evil guy’s ship, standing on an unguarded platform suspended over nothingness, trying to save a Skywalker AND trying not to get killed by one. I hope Obi-Wan’s brought his Star Wars Bingo Card with him, because that sounds like a winner to me!
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He flips some switches and looks pleased with himself, as always, as he does.

Leia Organa, 0% Bullshit-Taker

As the kids dust off from their latest, but definitely not their last, near-death experience, Han and Leia already start bitching about the next move and Leia throws out that she doesn’t care who Han is or where he came from or even if he DID bring Star Wars-quality Swooshy Hair with him: he’s going to take orders from her from now on!
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Han laments that “no reward is worth this” and LOL that Luke just looks Anakin-Grade Confused in the background the entire time.
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Obi-Wan finishes up with his Secret Mission and sneaks off now for a rendezvous with Anakin. (I swear I’m not trying to make this sound sexual, it’s just happening.)
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Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker’s Dramatic DNA Cannot Be Escaped

As they attempt to make their way back to the Falcon, the gang gets into a blaster-fire-battle with a whole mess of troopers, Han HILARIOUSLY goes tearing off down a hallway after the bad guys, yelling and screaming and OH YES, SOLO YOU ARE GONNA FIT RIGHT IN WITH THIS FAMILY. I love that Luke and Leia watch him run away causing a scene and they’re both like “WOW WHAT A GUY”:

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…Luke and Leia, for their part, take off and end up at a dead end over — surprise! a bottomless void. And it is at this point that Star Wars treats us to Anakin Skywalker’s two children, firing blasters and yelling a bunch (and then, uh, possibly having a Slightly Romantic Moment Because of Missing Backstory,) SWINGING FROM A ROPE ACROSS A CHASM. This is one of the most Anakin Skywalker moments of all time and he wasn’t even part of it.

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I’m starting to think, given all of that “Anakin’s dad was The Force” business, that realistically, the Force is just pure, concentrated Drama. Like, the more Force you HAVE, the more of a Drama Llama you appear to be (Sheev? Yoda? Old Man Mystic Luke Who Is Too Busy Waving His Hair In The Wind To Say Hello To Someone? KYLO GODDAMN REN? Yeah, I am looking at all of you.) Seems reasonable enough to me.

Speaking of incurably hopeless drama addicts, let’s check in with two of the worst offenders in this category: the Kenobi-Skywalkers. Obi-Wan has largely avoided the Stormtrooper Scene going down, and continues to lurk handsomely in the shadows in pursuit of his target. While the action moves in one direction, Obi-Wan heads off the other way, arming himself.

Save the Last Dance for Me

Obi-Wan (wearing his hood now due to a continuity error and/or fashion statement,) stumbles upon what he was looking for. He stops in his tracks at the sight of Vader being a total menacing creeper on the other end of the hallway.

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I love how understated their initial sight of each other is; Vader could have busted in all force-chokes and dry ice and wrecking up the place just like during this entire movie up to this point, but instead he’s just sort of…lurking there with his lightsaber, moving slowly. He actually looks kind of small from this vantage point, which is interesting. He’s definitely unsettling, but he’s not Big Scary Vader here, at least not in the bombastic way he usually is. His posture is even casual as he just sort of slowly makes his way towards Obi-Wan.
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Their duel is…well, I hesitate to even call it that. There is so much going on here in the subtext. Both of them clearly know Vader’s got the upper hand in physical strength, but of course we all know that to some extent Obi-Wan still has the emotional vice grip on Vader and there’s nothing Vader likes more than blathering on about how much he doesn’t need and/or is better than Obi-Wan even though these are obvious lies.

This leads to the two of them spending most of the actual battle talking to each other and staring each other down moodily, while Obi-Wan hilariously calls him “Darth” repeatedly, which of course was not MEANT to be as funny as it is but I love it. He totally would throw this shade at him: “lol sorry what even was your dumb Sith name again, Darth?”
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Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Confused But Trying to Cover With Shit-Talking

I have to think Vader is actually kind of perplexed about what the hell Obi-Wan is doing there in the first place, and he knows him well enough to know that since he’s here, it’s probably because he’s got something crafty in the works. It’s almost like he’s trying to draw out the battle long enough to figure out what’s going on, without giving away how curious he is.
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Vader shit-talks that Obi-Wan’s powers are weak, and Obi-Wan just serenely replies that Vader “can’t win”. I know I’ve mentioned this recently in the Maul v Kenobi Rebels recap, but I love Chill Desert Deity Kenobi SO MUCH. Vader’s probably panicking right now because he can’t understand why Kenobi hasn’t hit on him or made some totally shitty joke about his “new legs” (which DO make Vader look taller, you know!)

Obi-Wan announces that if Vader kills him, Obi-Wan will only become more powerful than Vader can imagine. Oooooh. Let the Mind Games begin, my friends! Vader, in reply, says almost with disappointment that Obi-Wan shouldn’t have come back. Come back to where? The Death Star? Obi-Wan’s never been here before, so let’s just presume Anakin is referring to Obi-Wan coming back to Vader, because this is my recap and you all know that I will never let a chance to talk about their Tragic Love go unmentioned.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan and Anakin, Showmen

Hahahahaha, all right: so the kids reconvene and end up just around a corner from where this whole Obikin Showdown is occurring, and I laugh every time that as this all goes on, the Stormtroopers just stop what they’re doing to watch these two fight each other. Please note that this is something that also happened in a now-non-canon Clone Wars-era book, except that it was at the Jedi Temple and the sexual subtext was amped up by about 17,000%. Wherever these two go, their little spats sure seem to attract a crowd of gawkers.
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Obi-Wan Kenobi, Getting In One Last Dramatic Disrobe

So, with the Stormtroopers distracted by Kenobi-Skywalker antics, the kids start to charge towards their escape on the Falcon — but naturally Luke immediately gets sidetracked when he sees that OH NO BEN IS IN TROUBLE!

Ah, but that Smug Smirker of Smirks has a few tricks up his overly-long sleeves, my friends! Obi-Wan looks over at Luke meaningfully…
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…turns back to Vader, makes eye contact with him and half-smirks at him while practically gesturing AT LUKE all “eh? Eh? Picking up anything on your Force-dar, there, Vader?”…

…before quickly closing his eyes and drawing his weapon away.
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Then, he sublimates into The Force, disappearing entirely into thin air as Vader takes a swipe at him.

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Luke busts out the legally-required “NO!” as he watches what appears to be Vader killing his mentor.
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Luke, just so you know, this is not the last time you are going to get to relive one of Obi-Wan’s more traumatic life experiences. Lucky you. BUT! He didn’t ask you to train a Universe-Ruining Darksider for him before he died, so there’s that. (BUT! Sorry, as it turns out, you’re still going to end up training a Universe-Ruining Darksider anyways. Womp womp! That’s right, Luke! Star Wars hates you. It hates everyone.)

I do, frankly, love the fact that Obi-Wan’s death scene is one gigantic mind game/taunt. The guy showed up and just sort of threw out there:

  • Hey Anakin, I was still alive after all;
  • I’m here for reasons you don’t totally understand and I won’t disclose;
  • I’m facing off with you for some reason when surely I know I can’t beat you now;
  • Oh BTW, this kid you’ve never seen before, who has Force Waves radiating off of him, came here with me;
  • I’m not gonna tell you who the kid is;
  • I’m not gonna tell you what I meant when I told you that killing me would only make me stronger;
  • I’m gonna cap this all off with physically becoming the Force right in front of you, which is something you’ve never seen anyone do and probably had no idea was even possible and is even funnier when you consider that you became a Sith in the first place because you wanted to cheat death;
  • Well: have fun trying to make sense of all this, Anakin! Sure looks to me like I might still have the high ground after all. CHECKMATE, MY VERY YOUNG APPRENTICE.

…and on that seemingly low, but actually very HIGH note, we take our leave from this film for today! Who knew I’d laugh and smile so much through the part of this series where Obi-Wan actually dies. It turns out his death is a LOT more entertaining and uplifting than about 80% of his life was (THANKS, WRITERS.)

Thanks for joining me, readers, and be sure to stop by next time we visit Episode 4 — I have a feeling Tarkin’s hot streak at work is about to come to a decided end, for one thing, and I also think Anakin’s confusion is only going to get worse before it gets better.