“There Is Another” by Gary D. Schmidt (from From a Certain Point of View)
Star Wars has a true knack for many things: Soap-Operatic Plot Twists, hero characters that are Total Dorks, and doing the same things it already did again, for example. But, out of everything Star Wars excels at, it is perhaps best at taking things I was already suffering from an excess of Feelings about, and then going out of its way to circle back to those things and somehow make them worse. Today’s recap will cover one example of this, as we travel to Dagobah in a story from the book From a Certain Point of View. Regular readers may recall that this book, which is canon (I need you all to keep this in mind as we make our way through this one today), is set during the events of A New Hope, but examines the events of the story from the perspective of a host of different characters. In the case of today’s installment, the book wants to make sure that I not only feel for the characters on screen, but also characters that are not even in the film itself.
Yes, we’re off to visit a lonely, sad hermit who was just trying to do his best when his life’s work collapsed around him, which because Star Wars hates me is in and of itself a Recurring Theme. Apply some insect repellent, my friends, as we head on over to meet with our Jedi Swamp Grandpa, picking up at the point in the timeline where Obi-Wan is just about to give up the ghost over on Death Star I (“0 Days Without a Workplace Fatality“).
Recurring Theme: Master Yoda, Old Softie
As we settle in, we find Yoda, at his murky little homestead, determining that it’s about time for him to start planting seeds for the year so he’ll have food to eat. He thinks about his advanced age, and notes that for the last couple of centuries he’s felt how he’s become less and less needed by the young. Sometimes I remember how fucking OLD Yoda is, and I’m overwhelmed. He was like, hundreds of years older than the entire rest of the Council? Think about how many times he’s watched entire councils’ worth of fellow Jedi age and die, while he stayed there. What about his Padawans? Dooku was one of the spring chickens of that group, and that guy was in his 80s! It stands to reason that Yoda probably watched a good number of his own students pass away from old age. Man, I haven’t even gotten to the Copious Feelings in this entry yet and I’m already sad. Fantastic.
He ruminates on how he’s shed pretty much all his possessions over the years, except for those items dearest to him. His cane is one such thing: he thinks about how he used to mess with the Younglings by hobbling into a room with it, and then throw down with his lightsaber and hobble back out, leaving them to speculate about whether or not they believed he really needed the cane after all.
This, he realizes now, would not be something they’d wonder about now, for he truly and obviously does need it. I need to tell you all I can handle Yoda teaching all those tiny baby Jedi like NOT AT ALL, and this is NOT helping.
This Is Fine
Oh, and it gets worse: he’s got a couple other items in his house that are near and dear to his heart. One is the blanket he sleeps with, which was MADE FROM QUI-GON’S CLOAK:
I…I have so many questions. One, why is Star Wars doing this to me? Two, HOW DID THIS THING GET TO DAGOBAH? Did Yoda keep it on his ship at all times? Did he run back through the burned husk of the Jedi Temple, scramble back to that room of his with the mini-blinds, and stuff it under his robes? Did he have Bail FedEx it over to him in secret once he’d gotten settled here? Three, THIS IS SO SWEET I CAN’T STAND IT. (Also, I am just going to ignore the fact that if this is in fact true about a Jedi’s possessions, then you KNOW Obi-Wan occasionally picked up Anakin’s lightsaber just to feel him again.)
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Favorite Grandson
He has one more thing, too:
Again: HOW DID THIS GET HERE? Also: when did Obi-Wan make this?! Was it an adorable childhood art project that Yoda has treasured for decades (kill me now)? We learned in a different part of this book that Obi-Wan knows how to make furniture and children’s toys, so did he handcraft this thing as an adult for Yoda’s 875th birthday or whatever? Either way, the fact that Yoda kept mementos of both of these guys is THE BEST and I’m not crying, you are.
Recurring Theme: Regret of the Jedi
He thinks about how he wishes he still had his lightsaber, which evidently was lost for good back in Yoda v Sidious. He’s sad about this, particularly because he wishes he could have shown it to Leia, whom he can feel in the Force and whom he wishes could have been trained — but she wasn’t:
Yes, it turns out one of the Happy Alternate Universes Yoda thinks about when he’s sad is one with Leia gradually learning about the immense power she has, and her learning to use said power to restore peace to the galaxy. Yoda, my friend, I’m with you. Leia Organa: Jedi Master sounds awesome, even if the idea of Leia, heiress to the Skywalker Yelling Throne, being trained to wield a deadly weapon by one of the most powerful beings in history is also objectively terrifying.
He reflects a little further on how sometimes, even though it’s been so very long since he himself had a Padawan, he wishes he could have been her Master. Aww! God.
He sets off away from his hut, making sure to take his Tragic Trinkets with him, and does a quick check for probe droids, which apparently used to hunt for him here. We learn that it’s been a long time since they’ve been back, though, and Yoda surmises that perhaps the Empire’s assumed he’s dead by now — or simply so old that he’s of no consequence.
MUST EVERY JEDI HAVE THE SADDEST LIFE EVER?! Can we get ONE canon story that’s about a Jedi who bravely helps rescue innocents and gets a good night’s sleep every night and spends time with his friends and meditates and then dies of old age peacefully, surrounded by all his fellow Jedi who love him (especially all of his Padawans and grand-Padawans, NONE OF WHOM HAVE BETRAYED HIM OR TURNED TO THE FUCKING DARK SIDE) and speak fondly of him at his Jedi Roast? JUST ONE. MY DEMANDS ARE MODEST HERE, STAR WARS.
Recurring Theme: The Unbearable Sadness of Everyone
He makes his way towards the lowlands, where he’ll be planting some of his crops, and thinks about how he’ll have to go through all the planting and waiting and growing, and then have to trudge all the way back up to his hut with his food– the simple life of drudgery he leads now.
Then Star Wars hits me in the face with this:
YEAH. THANKS, ANAKIN. Gah. I’m so sad for everybody, you guys.
Yoda gets distracted thinking about his Tragic Backstory, and suddenly notices that he senses something — and he’s way out in the open! He chides himself for not keeping his mind on what he’s doing, and hustles to hide behind some rocks. He feels foolish for still wanting more of life, given that he’s had nearly 900 years of it already, but there’s a part of him that can’t let go of wanting to be around just a little longer — so that maybe he could train her.
He reaches out in the Force again, and realizes that it’s the Force equivalent of a crossed wire:
But wait — then it shifts, and it IS for him! What the hell is the Force up to this time?
Oh, happy day!
Recurring Theme: Luke Skywalker, Kind of a Pain in the Ass
Yoda’s heart is warmed by Obi-Wan’s Force…presence or whatever. He smiles, because he loves Obi-Wan (because Yoda is not brand new here and he knows what’s up). Their exile has been long and lonely, but he knows they couldn’t have stayed together. For one thing, Obes had to go to the desert to keep an eye on Luke — whom, Yoda notes, is a LOT more impetuous and reckless than his sister, who has all the markings of a great Jedi. I am dying at this because it makes Yoda’s first encounter with Luke so much funnier. Also, I love that no Jedi appears to have ever actually wanted to train the student the Force matched them up with. AND ALSO this book is making me feel so cheated out of Leia Organa: Senator by Day, Jedi Master by Night. WE WERE ROBBED.
Yoda continues to pick up on Obi-Wan’s frequency, and notes that it’s becoming increasingly lonely. COULD OBI-WAN BE ANY LONELIER? No wonder Yoda is depressed: on top of his own terrible life, he has to pick up on what Obi-Wan is broadcasting too?!
EVERYONE NEEDS A HUG SO BAD IN STAR WARS. Poor Yoda. Poor Obi-Wan. POOR ME.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, The Hero With No Friends
OH OH OH, but there’s another person in the mix that Yoda can sense, too, and it’s angry and full of yelling and Drama Tears. We’re also told that it’s arrogant…and Dark. GEE I WONDER WHO IT COULD BE.
But there’s something else about this presence — something, Yoda notes, he’s never picked up on in this person’s Force Feelings before. They’re lonely as hell, too!
Oh, Anakin. You dumb, brilliant, powerful idiot. WHY.
Yoda feels Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Force vibrations meet, and that had to be kind of a weird sensation, since Yoda probably spent 15 years trying to block out the constant background noise that was the combined Sass of these two together, and now he was feeling it again for the first time in 20 years.
I’d like to pause here to point out that this book made sure that I knew that the primary thing Yoda sensed when these two idiots saw each other again was profound loneliness on both sides. I’m just…so, so sad for Team Handsome. It didn’t have to BE THIS WAY YOU GUYS.
Before Yoda can wonder what’s up with all this, though, sure enough — there IS a probe droid seeking him out!
Recurring Theme: Anakin Loves Obi-Wan
He uses the Force to kick up a bunch of sand and dirt around him, then takes the pot Obi-Wan made — touching it and sensing Obi-Wan one last time — and Force-flings it at the probe droid, which causes the droid to self-destruct and the pot to disintegrate. The swamp all around him is unsettled by this commotion, but Yoda is once again distracted from his surroundings by what’s going on with his grandsons: first, he feels Obi-Wan get much, much stronger, and then bolt into the Force. And Anakin? OH BOY:
So, just to reiterate here: Obi-Wan’s death caused Anakin to be so terribly, painfully lonely — EVEN MORE THAN HE ALREADY WAS — that Yoda could feel it all the way over on the other fucking side of the universe, and it was so profound that caused Yoda to feel compassion for the man who murdered his entire family.
Recurring Theme: Love Will Lead You Back
This part really got to me for so many reasons, not least of which is what Yoda thinks to himself now. Obi-Wan is gone. Obi-Wan…
We all know I have the world’s biggest soft spot for the Jedi overall, and so this provided excellent additional material for me over which to cry. I found it so interesting that Yoda entertains the idea that perhaps — maybe, just maybe — Leia could have been able to do something to save Anakin. And this is made even more poignant by the fact that Yoda will eventually get his wish after all — he will train the Jedi who’ll save Anakin in the end. He just doesn’t understand what the magic bullet is that Luke will use. I’M FINE.
I also appreciated this bit because, really, think about it: what possible reason would Yoda have had to believe that anyone could bring Anakin back? I love that Yoda had the the tiniest of lingering hopes here. I get why Obi-Wan had to basically tell Luke “Dude, no. You can’t fix him,” given that all evidence to that point suggested that Luke was just going to absolutely get his ass handed to him, and that’d be the end for the universe, but I’ve also long suspected that both Obi-Wan and Yoda could sense some smallest inkling of humanity left in Anakin, and wondered if they’d ever entertained the idea that maybe someone could save him in the right circumstances.
Aaanyways, Yoda is all filled with sadness because now Obi-Wan’s dead and the galaxy feels just that much more desolate without him, and at that moment he realizes that there are now two more probe droids after him. He momentarily reaches for the lightsaber he doesn’t have — and smiles, briefly, at this. One of the droids gets a hit on his bag, and the shot starts Qui-Gon’s cloak on fire. Yoda uses the Force to pretty much squish the droids in mid-air before rushing over to stamp out the flames.
LOL. Um, Qui-Gon? COULD YOU PLEASE GO SAY HI TO OBI-WAN FOR A MINUTE FIRST? He just died and he probably needs someone to show him where the bathroom is and stuff. At the very least, swing by and drop off his copy of the Handbook For the Recently Deceased.
Hello Old Friend
Yoda collects up his things, buries the remnants of the droids, and heads for his house in the lowlands. When he arrives, it’s moldy and green (and he laughs to himself that he, too, is these things, hahahaha,) but it dries out nicely within a few days.
He’s able to salvage most of the cloak, but he’s sad that the spot where he usually kept Obi-Wan’s pot is empty, and he can no longer feel that familiar swooshy-haired Force Signature.
I GET IT; HE’S SAD AND LONELY AND FEELS COMPLICIT IN ALL OF THIS MISERY AND SO DOES ANAKIN AND SO DID OBI-WAN AND SO DOES EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER LIVED IN THIS GODFORSAKEN GALAXY. LEAVE ME ALONE, STAR WARS.
He gets his seeds planted over the next several days, and when he’s done, he sits himself down in front of his fireplace to go back to feeling Lonely again. He can’t take it anymore, and so he reaches out in the Force for Qui-Gon, but gets no response.
…from Qui-Gon, that is!
Hahahaha! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! Is Qui-Gon talking to someone else? WHO?! Is he in the shower? Do ghosts take naps?
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Entrance-Maker
Yes, Obi-Wan’s ghost has dropped by for a visit, and Yoda has some Jedi Master Snark LOCKED AND LOADED for the occasion:
LOL. I completely buy that this is true. I have seen what the rest of Obi-Wan’s life looked like.
Obi-Wan says this in response, which I solemnly swear I will not make a sexual joke about even though we all know I want to:
Yoda’s like “So: you’re dead then, huh?” Obi-Wan confirms that he is. Yoda is like “Cool. As for me? I’m SUPER old,” and Obi-Wan agrees that yes, Yoda is old as shit. Obi-Wan asks what happened to the pot he made for him, and Yoda explains that “there was an encounter” and I laugh for 12 thousand years because YES, this guy is DEFINITELY Obi-Wan and Anakin’s grandpa.
Obi-Wan teases him a bit about how OH SO YOU SAVED QUI-GON’S CLOAK BUT NOT MY ART PROJECT, and Yoda is like “you hush”, and that’s when Obi-Wan gets down to brass tacks about why he’s really here.
Recurring Theme: I’m Training You Because A Dead Guy Said I Had To
Obi-Wan tells Yoda he has an assignment for him: he needs Yoda to train a Skywalker for him. Oh, how gleeful Obi-Wan must have been to FINALLY not be on the receiving end of this request for once.
Yoda is delighted: yes! Of course he’ll train Skywalker! Oh, what a day — Yoda is getting his wish! Why, he’s wanted to train her for ages!
…cue Obi-Wan with the Sad Trombone, then, to inform Yoda that, uh, this isn’t about Leia:
Hahahaha, yeeeah…Yoda is not into this. He immediately is like HELL NO, that kid is NOT ready! I’ve gotta say, I feel for Yoda here, because if you will recall, the LAST time he told Obi-Wan that training a Skywalker boy was a bad idea but he did it anyways, THINGS DID NOT WORK OUT SO GREAT.
Recurring Theme: Someone Tries To Die To Get Out Of Dealing With Work
Yoda points out that they KNOW what could happen when they train a reckless boy who is not prepared to commit to being a Jedi. He won’t do it!
Obi-Wan sits down next to him, and the two have a cute exchange about how much Yoda will still be surprised by when he, too, joins the Force. Yoda, still resistant to the assignment before him, is like hey SPEAKING OF DYING:
LOL, NICE TRY, YODA. You’re not allowed to die instead of dealing with Luke’s drama just YET.
Obi-Wan informs him that his time hasn’t come yet, and Yoda’s like OH REALLY. And YOU know this?, to which Obi-Wan is like “…well, yes, actually, I do.”
Yoda asks Obi-Wan WTF he’s supposed to do if he takes on this pain in the ass kid, and he fails to train him. Obi-Wan snarks back that he knows this saying about trying that SOMEONE used to tell him, and Yoda is like “…Goddamnit,” and hilariously wraps himself in his cloak blanket and rolls over like he’s going to sleep.
With this momentous choice now made, Obi-Wan for-real tucks Yoda in and my heart explodes. Yoda apologizes to Obi-Wan for what happened to his pot:
*cries* I love their little Jedi family??? SO MUCH. I swear to God, if the sequel trilogy does not make the eternal peace and happiness of the Force Ghosts VERY CLEAR in its conclusion, I will personally dismiss all of it from canon. LET THEM ALL BE HAPPY.
Obi-Wan is gone now, and Yoda lays there thinking about how he’ll probably not sleep tonight…
Aww, I love this. I love Star Wars. But you all knew that. I believe that Yoda really was super happy to see Luke again in The Last Jedi, even if it was to smack him upside the head and try to forcibly remove him from his depression. Luke’s the one who once gave Yoda a reason to look forward to another day, after all.
So, that’s all for today’s journey through pain and loneliness and heartwarming Jedi Family Stuff. Just another day in the GFFA! Thanks for joining me, readers! Until we come together to cry again…