Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Part III)
Happy New Year, my dear readers, and welcome back to Star Wars: That One Super Serious Non-Juvenile Star Wars Episode Against Which All Other Star Wars Episodes Will Be Measured and Found Lacking According To Nerds Who Were Seven Years Old When It Was Released. Last time, Vader spent some quality time creeping people out from his little Vader pod, Han and Leia made a mad dash through an asteroid field while yelling because they’re oh so in love, and Luke flew himself into a swamp based solely on a single instruction from Obi-Wan’s Ghost. God, Obi-Wan must be so confused right now, because even factoring in the fact that Luke crash-landed, no one in the Skywalker family has EVER followed his directions this readily or well.
In today’s portion of our wacky program, Luke once again learns that the Old Crazy Person Who Lives In A Cave will probably turn out to be one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy (something that Luke evidently was so impressed by that he totally stole this act in his own later years,) Anakin takes a significant call from his boss, and we are treated to the introductory appearance of one of Star Wars’ very favorite things ever: The Journey Through The Weirdass Cave. Ready to face your demons and embrace the Force or whatever? Let’s get to it!
Recurring Theme: Han Solo, Already So Done And He Doesn’t Even Know The Half of It
We check back in with the gang on the Falcon, which has now started rocking around in a most unstable fashion.
Threepio observes that this asteroid they’re hunkering down in may not be “entirely stable”, and Han is like THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS, and instructs Chewie to plug Threepio into the Falcon so that they can figure out what’s wrong with the hyperdrive. Threepio gets dragged off the screen bitching ceaselessly about how he doesn’t understand humans and he’s only trying to help, and I laugh to myself because YEP, this guy definitely WAS programmed by Anakin Skywalker.
Recurring Theme: Ah, Sweet Star Wars Romance!
The ship lurches again, and Han and Leia end up in a compromising position, and I make a sour-lemon face as Leia repeatedly asks him to let her go and he’s all assholishly “Don’t get all excited wink wink nudge nudge” and just, ugh. The script’s kinda entertaining:
Let me be clear that I really like both Han and Leia (and I will be forever annoyed that the Sequel Trilogy did what it did to them), and I absolutely get that there’s that old-timey-romance-movie slap-slap-kiss-kiss I-hate-you/I-love-you vibe Team Star Wars were going for here, but I have to admit that a few of these scenes kinda rub me the wrong way. Let’s just say that, given the last couple of years especially, the whole “we all know she was totally enjoying it even if she literally said she wanted me to let go of her” thing…yeah. It doesn’t feel like it’s aged especially well. I mean I know the actual story here IS that Leia is in love with him, and clearly Han really does love her back. I guess all I’m saying is that it still kinda irks me.
Aaaaaanyways, Han leaves and Leia does look hilariously discombobulated, nodding to herself all “OK, that just happened, and I am definitely not unmoored by all of this, keep it together Organa, his hair isn’t even that great yeah that’s it”. Awww, don’t let him just leave like that, Leia! If we’re gonna go Full Awkward Skywalker Romance here, you might as well chase him down and tell him that he’s in your very soul tormenting you!
Recurring Theme: Depressing Camping Trip
BONUS Recurring Theme: A Jedi’s Work Is Never Done
Back on Dagobah, Luke’s set up camp and is taking care to power up his little buddy Artoo, and I am silently crying to myself because I love them so much. Luke is fretting to himself that he’s gotta find this Yoda guy…if he even exists. Oh, come on now, Luke! You think Obes would have lied to you about something? Heh…I mean, you know. Other than that one time. (AND HE HAD A DAMN GOOD REASON, OK? Not least of which is the fact that he didn’t have any backstory available to him at the time!)
Luke stares around as he eats a Power Bar and muses that this place almost seems…familiar or something. And it feels like…like…
He whirls around: sure enough, they’re being watched!
Awww. It’s Luke’s great-great-great grandpa! And how fitting for this lineage that their first meeting involves Luke pulling a gun on him. On the whole, his Jedi family’s even more messed up than Luke’s actual blood family. (…Maybe.)
Yoda throws his hands up defensively and assures Luke he means him no harm.
I love this entire sequence because Yoda is having the goddamn time of his life, and I genuinely love that he’s become this sort of goofy hermit in his years of solitude. Maybe he was more like this when he first became head of the Order, when the universe wasn’t a shitshow under the influence of an unknowable evil, and he didn’t have to preside over watching all of his students die or become corrupted. I’ve made myself sad now (AGAIN), so let’s move on.
Oh Skywalker, Missed You I Have
Not-Yet-Revealed-to-Be-Yoda asks Luke what he’s doing here, and Luke explains that he’s here looking for someone — but not someone like you, Old Muppet — he’s looking for a great warrior. I like how Luke has just assumed that anyone who instructed Obi-Wan must have been a great warrior. I miss Luke’s Jedi Fanboy Years.
Yoda chuckles to himself and notes that wars don’t make anyone great, and I feel Ways About Things, as he shuffles towards Luke’s little campsite.
Let me tell you all now, the next part cracks me entirely up, as Yoda now proceeds to snatch food off of Luke’s little table and eat it. Please recall that Yoda’s last exposure to the Skywalkers was walking through the aftermath of Anakin’s Tornado of Death in the Jedi Temple. I kind of feel like some part of Yoda was like “well, he seems like a good kid and all, but also THIS FAMILY OWES ME AT LEAST A FUCKING GRANOLA BAR if I’m gonna wade into all THIS again.”
Luke flips out, whinily all “Hey man that’s my food!” and Yoda, spitting out the food he stole, asks Luke how he’s gotten so big eating this crap. THIS IS THE MOST GRANDPARENT THING TO SAY EVER. I love it.
Luke Skywalker, Has a Bit of a Defeatist Streak Sometimes
Luke continues to complain: look, they didn’t want to crash into that “puddle”, but now their ship is stuck and it probably will be forever and everything is the worst and they should probably all just give up and go live on an island somewhere and end it all.
Yoda, smugly, is all “Oh, I see. So you’ll never be able to fix it, huh?” I sure hope you enjoy talking Luke out of his bad attitude, friend, because it’s not going to be the last fucking time.
Master Yoda, Up To Something
Yoda starts digging through all of Luke’s stuff, trying to break shit and just generally being a nuisance, and it becomes clear (to the dedicated Star Wars nerd, at least,) that Yoda’s not doing all of this just to be an asshole: he’s purposely doing it to get a rise out of Luke, to examine his demeanor and his self-possession. And Luke’s…uh, kind of taking the bait.
Luke tries to grab back a lamp Yoda’s nicked, and Yoda’s all “hey be NICE to me, or I won’t help you!” Luke spits back that he doesn’t WANT Yoda’s help, but he needs that lamp or he’ll never be able to get off of “this slimy mudhole”. Yoda takes offense: this slimy mudhole is his home, and Yoda graciously leaves out the part about how this place is only his home because SOMEONE’S dad had to go and destroy the universe, AHEM.
Artoo grabs back the lamp, and Yoda starts smacking him over the head with his stick. God, I just love the idea of these two knowing each other already and this all happening anyways. I hope Artoo was in on the scheme.
Recurring Theme: Not Who You Think I Am
Luke breaks up this little tiff and is like “Look, I am out of here, kthanksbye”, and Yoda persists: no no, stay! I’ll help you find this friend of yours!
Luke, looking Very Done Indeed, explains that he’s not looking for a friend: he’s looking for a Jedi. A Jedi Master!
Yoda, having way too much fun with all of this, is like “ooooooooh, a JEDI! Wowee. Guess what? I know who you’re looking for! Yoda! I’ll take you to him riiiiiight after we eat.” I am dying that Yoda goes out of his way to feed Luke a real hot meal here. HE LOVES HIS GRANDSON; I’M DYING. I’m sad they didn’t give him a line about how Luke needs to eat because he’s “skin and bone”.
I would like to pause here for a moment to tell you guys that watching this movie with my son during his first Star Wars saga viewing was SO much fun, because we started with the original trilogy first, and so he had no idea who Yoda was during this scene. When we got to the big reveal, he cracked up. (“He told Luke Yoda was not far! HE WAS YODA!” He was so excited to be in on the joke. It was delightful. What can I say? Everyone in my family loves seeing someone pulling a fast one on a Skywalker.)
Luke agrees to go with Mysterious Stranger in search of Yoda. I am dying that Artoo is all “wait no Luke don’t go” when, canonically, Artoo could have just said LUKE YOU DUMB POTATO, THAT IS YODA, I ACTUALLY ALREADY CAME HERE WITH THAT CRAZY OLD MUPPET ONCE BEFORE. I know, I know, continuity blip and all, but really: I love the idea that Artoo KNOWS THIS IS YODA AND YET SAYS NOTHING. I guess Artoo understandably also loves watching a Skywalker get duped.
Recurring Theme: Star Wars Turns Up The Temperature
LOL. OK, so back on the Falcon of Sexual Frustration, Threepio is helping Han figure out what’s wrong with the hyperdrive, blahblahblah some part needs to be replaced, and Han and Leia have YET ANOTHER mildly uncomfortable exchange that involves Leia repeatedly telling Han to go away.
Eventually they end up totally kissing, and while it’s a very nice onscreen kiss indeed, I need you all to look at the script, which reads like we’re about to head into smutty-fanfic territory:
Hot damn! Whew. Well then. Good for you, Leia! Congrats, girl. I’ll just be over here fanning myself.
Threepio shows up and ruins the moment, and I laugh for ten thousand years because A) I feel like “stop a smuggler from making out with my kid” is probably something Anakin programmed into Threepio when he first found out Padme was pregnant, and B) John Williams ONCE AGAIN cuts the music as the kiss gets interrupted, just like he did here:
God bless Star Wars. Anyways, Han is all pissy about the disruption, and the scene, and Sexy Kissing Moment, ends.
Recurring Theme: The Big Bad Is Literally Big
Back aboard Vader’s star destroyer, Anakin is insisting to his guys that the crew on the Falcon is absolutely still alive. Does he know this because he’s just that good of a Force guy? Or because he has a bond with Leia? If so, is he really so dumb that that fact doesn’t strike him as weird? Whatever the reason, he’s instructing Team Evil to keep after them.
Immediately after this, he’s informed that his good friend and trusted advisor Darth Sidious, nee Sheev Palpatine, a kind-hearted old man who doesn’t appear to be corrupt and absolutely always has Anakin’s best interests at heart, is on the holo-Skype for him.
So, Vader leaves his pod, model-walks over to a circle on the floor and kneels, and there’s Sheev, projecting his image GIGANTICALLY HUGE. God, the villains of Star Wars are really insecure. YES WE GET IT SIDIOUS, YOU ARE THE BIGGEST BADDEST GUY.
Sheev is like “hey loser, you sensing this disturbance in the Force or is it just me?” Vader acknowledges that he has.
I love this scene, because if you include the comic canon, Vader is FULL of shit here. Sidious is all “I sense we have a new enemy; that kid that destroyed the Death Star — and I have no doubt this boy is Anakin Skywalker’s demon spawn.”
Vader, per the comics, has known this for some time and has been seeking Luke out himself. And yet, when Sidious drops this Very Shocking News, Vader entertainingly asks “How can this be?” WELL, Anakin, you see, when a man and a woman love each other, and they don’t use birth control that protects against Force-ified Super Sperm, these things can happen. Sidious tells him to search his feelings and remember that night that he and Padme had a couple extra glasses of wine and got carried away.
Recurring Theme: The Eternal Obe-Session
Sheev continues: that little space peanut and his cute little 70s haircut and couture actionwear could destroy us! Vader sighs: he’s just a boy, and BESIDES, Obi-Wan can’t help him anymore! LOL. Just had to bring up Obes, huh Anakin? I love that this is Anakin’s argument: clearly Luke will be hopelessly lost and confused without Obi-Wan to guide him! Anakin would know — one time Obi-Wan left him alone for half a day, and we all know how that turned out! I know Vader’s partially trying to throw Sidious off the “Let’s Murder Luke” path here, but I’m cackling at the idea that Anakin might actually believe this on some level. How could Luke possibly be capable of ANYTHING without an Obi-Wan to brush his hair and pick out his clothes and cut up his food for him?!
Eventually Vader makes the case that instead of murdering Luke, maybe they should try and get him to change teams. Sidious asks Vader if it’s doable, and Vader vows that he’ll either get Luke on Team Evil, or kill him. Somewhere in the Force, Darth Bane is shaking his fists all “YOU FUCKING IDIOT I TOLD YOU TO NEVER TAKE ON MORE THAN ONE EVIL APPRENTICE PROJECT AT ONCE WE HAVE RULES FOR A REASON.”
Luke and Yoda have arrived to Yoda’s version of the Sad Jedi Depression Hut of Ruminating on Failures, and while Luke is impatiently insisting that they go find Yoda NOW, Yoda is all “eat, eat!” Awww. Luke, the guy’s been alone a really long time save for a pop-in from Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost. Just eat his five-alarm chili and tell him about what classes you’re taking this semester and agree to play a couple rounds of bingo with your grandpa, OK?
Luke continues all “how far away IS Yoda? Are we THERE YET?” Yoda assures him that Yoda is super close by, and continues to busy himself around the kitchen. It’s then that he asks Luke why exactly it is that he wants to be a Jedi.
Luke, stabbing me in the heart, earnestly says that, well, it’s because of his dad, he supposes. Yoda looks thoughtful: yeah, he was a hell of a Jedi, that guy. Luke prissily retorts that there’s no way This Guy could have known Luke’s Heroic Father, and bitches that he doesn’t even know what he’s DOING there and he’s WASTING his time.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Here To Vouch For a Skywalker Who’s Being a Pain In The Ass
Yoda, looking irritated, looks up and sighs: I can’t do this. This kid is WAY too annoying. He has no patience GEE I WONDER WHERE HE GETS THAT FROM. Poor Yoda: the last time he had to talk to a Skywalker they were demanding that he tell them how to cheat death while glowering unsettlingly at him, and now this one won’t even sit through a home-cooked meal for 15 minutes without making demands.
Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice replies that Luke will learn patience. LOL. WHAT ARE YOU BASING THIS ON, OLD BEN? Oh, Obi-Wan. Optimistic even when he has absolutely zero reason to be. Yoda counters that Luke’s got too much anger, and Obi-Wan reminds him that Obi-Wan, too, was once an angry little hothead who wanted to fight all the things. Yoda harrumphs, and declares Luke not ready.
Naturally, on account of his genes, it’s taken Luke this long to clue in on what’s going on, and so suddenly he’s like “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE YODA!” Yeah. I really wonder whose kid Luke is.
Recurring Theme: Finish What You Started
Luke flips out and yells out to Obi-Wan to TELL HIM BEN TELL HIM I’M READY WHEN HAS TRAINING A SKYWALKER EVER BEEN A BAD IDEA, hurting himself in the process. Yoda sniffs: look kid, I have trained Jedi for 800 fucking years. You can’t be a restless crazypants like this! You have to take things seriously! Calmly! You have to stay focused! I’ve been keeping an eye on you for a LONG time, and let me tell you: I am not super confident in what I’m seeing here! You’re reckless!
Obi-Wan cuts in: so was I! Hahahaha, well, no argument here, Kenobes. You are possibly still the galaxy record-holder for Most Inadvisable Leaps Out Of Things.
Yoda goes back to his old reliable chestnut of “he’s too old”, looking wary, and Luke retorts that he’s already learned so much. Yoda softens, and looks down with concern before once again addressing Invisible Kenobi: will this kid finish what he started?
Luke looks at Yoda with utmost sincerity: he won’t fail Yoda! He’s not afraid!
Yoda does his own equivalent of a skeptically-raised eyebrow: oh, really? BECAUSE YOU’RE GONNA BE. BEING A JEDI IS THE FUCKING WORST SOMETIMES.
DUN DUN DUUUUUN! So much for trying to lay claim to the title of Hero With No Fear, Luke! I vividly recall seeing this scene for the first time as a little kid, and thinking Yoda’s words here were SO SPOOKY AND OMINOUS WOW STAR WARS IS SO AMAZING. I’ve changed very little, clearly.
I Don’t Think This Was a Parking Space After All
We take a break from Jedi Dramatics, and it’s time once again for a Star Wars Strange Creature Incident! Leia, sitting on the Falcon, notices an unsettling sound outside, and the gang goes out to investigate. Shortly thereafter, they’re attacked by a swarm of mynocks, and I have to say: I’m fine with Star Wars doing CGI or practical effects as the situation warrants, but these creatures look a LOT like someone just swooping kites around.
As Han tries to clear the mynocks, he notices the floor moving around underneath him, and he…does not look especially pleased about this. He fires his blaster at the ground again, and it sets off what at first blush looks like some kind of earthquake, but actually turns out to be a goofy giant Space Worm that Han had evidently landed inside of earlier. This is super cartoony and ridiculous and I love it. Han pilots them out of the worm in the nick of time:
Remember, kids: the movie with the claymation Space Worm is the Serious One.
Jedi Trainee Camp
Training is underway back in the swamp, where Luke, who is looking buff as HELL in a sleeveless shirt, is climbing some vines with Yoda on his back. Had the release of these films coincided with my preteen/teenage years, I can pretty safely say I would have had the biggest crush on Mark Hamill. He is the absolute prettiest in this movie. I don’t know what we all did to deserve so much handsomeness in this saga, but I am not complaining. And, fortunately, Luke has opted out of the terrible and greatly upsetting Kenobi-Skywalker Jedi Trainee haircut during his Jedi education. I hope Yoda’s the one who talked him out of it, because he couldn’t bear to see it inflicted on yet another grandson.
Yoda throws out some Jedi Wisdom about not getting stuck in the Dark Side like SOME people did, and Luke asks if the Dark Side is stronger. Yoda tells him it’s not: but it IS alluring because it’s faster, and easier, and sometimes you’re a doofus who wants fulfillment of an impossible request. He assures Luke that when his mind is calm, and peaceful, he will know and understand the difference between the Dark and the Light. Oh, and BTW, Skywalker: a Jedi doesn’t attack someone in anger. Just in case you were wondering. Luke begins to ask why not, and Yoda just tells him that that’s enough of all this for today.
Luke…Luke looks REAL confused, and I need to acknowledge that Luke and Anakin are like…perfectly cast. For two people who are not related in Actual Life, they really look VERY reminiscent of one another, right down to some of their mannerisms. I’m gonna give Hayden extra credit here since he had to do it all after Mark did. Tell me this is not a Confused Anakin Face:
Recurring Theme: Let’s Go Into A Weirdass Cave
Luke then notes that something isn’t right around here: there is a totally creepy tree over there! HOW MANY ENCHANTED TREES ARE THERE IN THIS UNIVERSE? Yoda informs him that it’s a place strong in the Dark Side of the Force, and dramatically refers to it as a “domain of evil” and THEN immediately tells Luke he has to go inside. LOL. Yeah, in many ways the Jedi and I are very different people. For one thing, the day someone instructs me to go into a “domain of evil” and I GO is a day that is not happening. HARD PASS. Luke asks Yoda what’s in there, and Yoda cryptically tells him that the only thing in there is whatever Luke takes with him.
Luke begins to arm himself, putting his little Jedi toolbelt back on, and Yoda tells him he won’t need his weapons. Luke gives him this comedic look of “Yeah, RIGHT”, and suits up fully. Yoda watches him cautiously as Luke steps further into the vines.
… and it’s on this ominous note that I leave you today, readers! Will Han find new dangerous places to park the Falcon? Will Yoda give Luke the secret Jedi Family Chili Recipe he surely smuggled out of the Temple in Episode 3? What will Luke see on his Personal Cave Journey (…maybe he should have saved himself some time and grief and asked his cave to show him his parents, huh?) We’ll just have to save these answers for another day, I’m afraid. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you next time!
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