Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Part V)
Hello, readers! It’s been a while! I hope you all are having a wonderful 2020 so far. I apologize for my longer-than-usual break there, but I am back, and I am ready to once again dissect some Skywalker Drama with you all.
So: anyone see any Star Wars movies lately? Hmm? I know, right? Yeah, that…certainly was a thing that happened, huh?
Let us reshift our focus off of things that stretch the limits of plausibility even for this universe, and focus instead on the first (and/or only, depending on your personal level of Nerd Angst) time the Skywalker Saga “ended” and we definitely destroyed the Sith forever. (I mean, and even if we didn’t somehow destroy them, and they found a way to come back, we would definitely get some explanation as to how that was possible, right? RIGHT?!)
Ahem. Last time we visited this episode, the gang met up with the Ewoks, who initially tried to eat them but then came around after Luke did a Jedi Parlor Trick. Luke, who is having yet another one of his existential crises, determined that the time had come to go and face off against his idiot dad again. But before he left to meet his fate, he and Leia shared the most soaptastic scene we’d had in a while, where Luke dropped the bombshell on her that Vader is his dad — and just when Leia thought things couldn’t be more shocking and terrible, guess what? Vader’s her bio-dad, too! Womp womp. My condolences, Princess.
On that very traumatic note, Luke and his fancy Chanel Jedi outfit set out to try to knock some goddamn sense into Anakin Skywalker once and for all, a project that has been underway, and undertaken by a long line of well-meaning people, for some 5 decades. Don’t worry, Luke! Maybe the 7,346th time will be the charm! GOD KNOWS STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS FUCKING UNIVERSE.
Recurring Theme: Walk Walk Fashion Baby
Anakin comes prancing out of his shuttle, which has just landed on Endor, ready to kick ass and take names and also probably cry a lot.
After a brief jaunt down a hallway, he meets up with some other Imperials, who have a gift for him: look who’s come to visit Dad for the weekend!
Vader is informed that this right here is a rebel who’s surrendered to them — and though he denies it, they think there’s probably more of them around. LOL, right Luke: you just happened to be here, on some crazy-ass random moon full of teddy bears that also just HAPPENS to be right next to where Death Star II is floating, and you’re absolutely definitely by yourself. Sure. Sounds believable.
As Vader gets the status report, Luke makes sure to put on his most dramatic Soap Opera Face in order to sear into Anakin’s Very Soul:
The commander goes on to explain to Vader that Luke was found with only one weapon: this gizmo!
Ah yes: the new lightsaber that Luke had to build after that last one fell into an endless void, possibly with his severed hand still gripping it, and so we will absolutely definitely never be seeing it again (and, of course, just like anything else, IF it somehow WAS seen again, I mean, we’d definitely learn HOW such a thing was possible, yes? Ha! Oh, me and my naive ways.) That whole thing necessitated the creation of this little beauty, which Vader now takes possession of.
Vader sends his guys out to look for Luke’s Squad, and he and Luke get down to a little father-son walk and talk:
Ah yes, Sheev’s got it allllll figured out. This is all part of the plan. To…control the universe. And like. Mess with the Skywalkers, I guess. I feel like I get farther away from what the hell that guy even wanted with each passing year.
Anyways Luke is all “oh yeah, I totally know he’s waiting for me, DAD” all meaningfully, and Vader is like “huh, so I guess you’ve finally come around on the Big Bad News, eh?”
I mean, can you blame Luke for needing a little bit of time to absorb this information? Just wait til he finds out what else lies ahead for everyone! No wonder he ended up going crazy and disappearing off the face of the universe. Honestly if I were him I probably would have just leapt into the oceans of Planet Ireland or allowed myself to be trampled to death by porgs.
Recurring Theme: You Cannot Deny the Truth That is Your Fucked-Up Family
Luke shoots back: oh, he’s accepted the truth all right!
HEY LOOK, ANAKIN SKYWALKER GOT MENTIONED BY NAME EVEN IN THE HALLOWED ORIGINAL TRILOGY! I AM JUST MENTIONING THIS FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON, OBVIOUSLY! HOW ABOUT THAT. JUST A TOTALLY RANDOM OBSERVATION.
(Should I maybe not have recapped this movie in particular, with these fresh wounds on my heart? Possibly. I’ll try to reign it in. I really will.)
OK, so, yes: Luke is laying some of those Sweet Sweet Family Feels onto the walking dumpster fire known as Anakin Skywalker, but of course Anakin’s not having it because he is Dead and This Is All There Is and Everyone Just Get Off His Case About Being a Murderous Cyborg Already:
I love that he points Luke’s lightsaber at him like he’s scolding a child. YOU WATCH YOUR MOUTH, YOUNG MAN.
Luke fires back: nuh uh! You totally ARE Anakin Skywalker!
Yeah, right: as if Anakin could forget his own name after hearing Obi-Wan say it in an exasperated tone of voice approximately 600 times an hour for 15 years.
Luke goes on: he knows there’s still good in Vader! That’s why he couldn’t destroy him before! (Uh, I mean, he did kind of lop off one of your hands, Luke, but sure: I guess by Vader Standards that is probably considered restraint.)
Furthermore, Luke says:
I cannot with how many of these scenes are shot like a soap opera. They did this a lot in all of them but I feel like it’s especially noticeable in Revenge of the Sith, too, and I am here for it. I love all the Drama Dialogue Sequences in these movies. Also I am living for the fact that you can almost see cartoon question marks hovering over Vader’s head as he tries to figure out WTF Luke is up to here. ANAKIN IS ALWAYS SO CONFUSED. It’s the best.
In response, Vader sort of blankly stares down at Luke’s lightsaber and, unable to be like GOD SOMEONE HELP ME IT’S COLD AND I HATE MY LIFE just yet, he instead attempts a little Mildly Threatening Father-Son Bonding:
I need you all to understand that I AM HAVING A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS SCENE RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD. These movies are perfect. I LOVE THEM. I LOVE LUKE. Vader tells him that Luke is powerful, just like the Emperor has foreseen. Man, that guy foresees EVERYTHING, doesn’t he? I’m no longer convinced he didn’t see the end of this movie coming. (Sigh.)
Recurring Theme: The Eternal Obe-Session
Luke draws the “join me” card out of the deck of Skywalker Catch Phrases, and tells Vader to join him. Vader, in response, has the most sad-sack posture ever, AND gets a chance to sneak in bringing up his very favorite topic ever:
OH WHY STAR WARS. Vader elaborates: Luke doesn’t understand the POWAH of the Dark Side! He MUST obey his Master! OK, but WHAT ABOUT YOUR ORIGINAL MASTER, HMM??? Come on, Anakin, you know deep down you really just want Obi-Wan to boss you around again and to get your hair back.
Luke’s all “nah”:
Vader, not enthusiastically, is like “well, I guess so, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do”, and Luke continues to cajole him: he KNOWS Vader can’t do this!
Anakin says this, and I am sad:
I love, and hate, that he doesn’t even act like he doesn’t WANT to be good again: he’s just totally given up and resigned himself to being Sheev’s Cabana Boy, murdering Sidious’ enemies and buying his evil groceries and probably keeping those tanks full of clones he has for some goddamn random-ass reason cleaned for him.
Recurring Theme: I’m Not Mad That You’re Evil, I’m Just Disappointed
Vader gestures to summon some of his guys, and tells Luke that the Emperor will show Luke the true powah of the Force or whatever, and informs him that Sheev is Luke’s new master now.
Luke, in response, is full of quiet disappointment and really aims for Vader’s possibly-robotic heart here:
The first time I saw this movie as a kid, I didn’t actually know how it ended, and I remember seeing this scene and being like GOD THAT’S SO SAD POOR LUKE I REALLY HOPE VADER GETS HIS HEAD OUT OF HIS ASS ONE OF THESE DAYS (well, OK, at age 6 my thoughts maybe weren’t exactly that).
Luke gets taken away by stormtroopers to go meet Evil Uncle Sheev, and Vader gets to stand there like a doofus, ruminating on his Tragic Past:
Luke pointedly stares at him as the door closes on him, and Vader continues to look he He’s Being Torn Apart:
Yes, again, Anakin: YOUR CHOICES ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD. YOU STAND THERE AND YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.
Recurring Theme: Han Solo, Most Relatable Man In Star Wars
We leave this edition of As The Skywalkers Turn to cut back to the forest, where Chewie, Han, and Leia are leading some rebels through the trees. I’ve gotta say, I deeply appreciate that Han Solo kind of just looks like he wants to go home for like 80% of this movie. Maybe it was just Harrison Ford’s actual desire to go home seeping into his performance, but also it’s very in character here, and really WHO THE HELL CAN BLAME HIM. Honestly, Han would be WAY better off going home right now. WAY BETTER. What’s he missing out on if he leaves right now? Like, a few brief years of happiness, followed by getting Space Divorced, reverting to smuggling again, and then getting murdered by his own kid? Sounds like a blast!
ANYWAYS, they’re off on their latest (but neither first, last, or even second to last) mission to destroy something Sheev’s cooked up that has Planet-Killing Technology (he was REALLY one note in this regard, wasn’t he? GET CREATIVE, SIDS, COME ON, I’M BEGGING YOU.) Leia observes that they have to get a control bunker that’s way far away:
Threepio and Wicket have a little back-and-forth in Ewokese (and yes, that is indeed how the closed-captioning describes it), and GOLLY, whaddya know?
What a very huge surprise! Shit like this NEVER happens in Star Wars. It must be our lucky day!
Recurring Theme: Everything New Is Old Again
With this handy little bit of info in our pockets, we leave the Rebels on Endor and cut to a Big Assemblage of Ships In Outer Space, Including The Millennium Falcon Which Is Being Piloted By Lando Calrissian, and now I am 1000% sure I should not have chosen to recap this today because keeping myself in check here is maybe going to cause steam to shoot out of my ears from holding in the snark, but whatever, I am committed and we’re doing this.
As I bite my tongue, Lando starts getting everyone organized:
…and The Late Great Admiral Ackbar barks out some orders:
On his signal, the Big Ol’ Group of Rebel Ships jump into hyperspace together. Whoosh!
Recurring Theme: A Proud Tradition of Screaming
Back on Endor, the gang is sneaking up to this Secret Backdoor Entrance the Ewoks told them about. Han observes that there are only a few troopers standing guard, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get in. Leia remarks that, well, it only takes one to notice them and set off alarms.
Han, in response, says this:
Oh, right: that proud Skywalker-Solo Family Tradition of being extremely subtle and not at all loud and attention-seeking. Sure. You guys know how to do that, absolutely. Go get ’em, Solo.
Appropriately, not even 3 whole seconds after Han says this, Threepio — Anakin’s Original Child, mind you — starts FREAKING OUT and yelling:
Their family crest probably has a depiction of a screaming, hysterical person on it. Or if it doesn’t, it should.
What’s got Threeps in a tizzy this time? Uh, well…their little Ewok buddy, it seems, has decided to charge on in there all by himself without waiting for the go-ahead:
In a moment of pure Lucassian-Grade Star Wars Silliness, the Ewok steals a speeder bike:
Ah ha! Our furry friend has a trick up the sleeves he doesn’t have because he is a bear who wears a hat but is otherwise naked! His grand theft motorbike scheme here immediately alerts the troopers to his presence, and because stormtroopers are dumb, all but ONE of them tear off after him:
LOL. Guys: it’s ONE EWOK.
At any rate, the gang sees that now there’s just the one trooper left to contend with, and Han is suitably impressed:
Han and Leia set out to bust into the bunker, and leave the droids and Wicket behind.
Thank God For Small Favors
Meanwhile, our Ewok Outlaw continues his little joyride here in ridiculous cartoony fashion, and I quietly thank God that the internet wasn’t a thing back when this movie came out because the Ewok Discourse would probably have been un — dare I say it? — bear-able. (I’ll show myself out.)
Han sneaks up behind the trooper that stayed behind, and lures him around a corner, where a gang of Rebels INCLUDING A RETCONNED CAPTAIN REX await him:
I need, like, a LOT of Rex-Ahsoka-Skytwins Bonding Content. A lot. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE REX TELLING STORIES ABOUT THE BAD OLD DAYS TO LUKE AND LEIA??? DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE, FILONI? YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
The gang busts into the control bunker, and sets off to pull a Kenobi Maneuver so that we can finish off this year’s superweapon.
Speaking of which, we’re back on the partially-completed Death Star II (“Defying the Laws of Gravity, Physics, Space, and Common Sense Since 2019“), and I have to say: didn’t Mon Mothma say something about how Sheev himself was showing up here to see this thing get completed? I don’t know anything about building a superweapon, but from where I’m sitting this thing’s got, like, MONTHS of construction left, minimum. Didn’t the first one take like 20 years??? Is Sheev just planning to move in for an extended stay? Oh, Star Wars.
On board the Death Star, Luke and Vader take the Elevator Ride of Destiny up to see Sidious. It is decidedly less chipper and amusing than the time Anakin and Obi-Wan took an elevator up to see Sidious on Greivous’ Amusingly-Named Invisible Hand and bickered like old marrieds, or that time they were on their way to see Padme and Anakin almost barfed all over himself due to hormones and horniness, OR that time Anakin tried to ask Obi-Wan about his sexual history in an elevator on The Coronet, but I guess we can’t win ’em all.
The doors open, and truly: I never thought I’d live to see the day where I wouldn’t be able to say THIS was the most ridiculous setting I’d ever seen Sidious in, but the world is a twisted place.
They walk up the stairs to approach Sheev’s throne. WHY is this room so huge? Is Sheev’s office in the boiler room? This looks like the Death Star data center or something. There’s probably a dude typing away at a UNIX terminal just under those steps.
At any rate, I love that once again, a Force user has declined to utilize more than 2 total low-watt nightlights in illuminating their quarters. Maybe the Force makes you extra photosensitive.
Sidious wheels himself around to take in the Idiot Brigade:
He welcomes Luke and brags again about having been expecting him. YES, OK Sheev, we get it: you’re the Puppetmaster, you know everything, you saw it all coming, blahblahblahblahblah. I’ll see you in Episode 12.
He dismisses his posse, as he does, because it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned Skywalker Brain Scrambling just like we did back in the old days at the opera. NICE TRY, SIDS, BUT THAT VULNERABILITY SKIPS A GENERATION, OK?
He tells Luke he’s looking forward to completing Luke’s training, and honestly? I have to laugh, because Sheev is such a Sith Lord of Leisure and other than that time he kicked Maul and Savage’s asses, and the time he throws down against Mace Windu and Co. (and, uh I guess that time his desiccated corpse did whatever the fuck happened in that last movie), we almost NEVER see him do jack shit. THIS GUY is gonna get out of his chair and train someone? This late in the day and everything? Sure.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Not Sure What’s Going On Here
Luke is like “hard pass” at all of this, and Vader. VAY-DER. As soon as Luke shoots down Sidious’ offer, he once again is like ?????? It’s like you can see the error message popping up in his brain. People can like, say no to Sidious? Is that…a thing you can DO?!
This must have really pissed Sheev off because he’s even willing to go as far as getting out of his chair to come closer to yell at Luke:
Vader, an idiot, is like “hey boss here’s his lightsaber too”, and Sheev takes it and is all OOOOOH a LIGHTSABER, JUST LIKE A DUMB STUPID JEDI WOULD USE.
…I mean, I dunno, Sids, it’s actually a little bit more like Obi-Wan’s to me, and you of all people should not be surprised about that even in the slightest. You know how this family rolls.
Ian chews the scenery a little bit more, and GOD do I love the lines they gave him in this movie. He goes on about how oh VADER can’t be turned from the Dahhhk Side because Anakin is a lost cause and like, what is he gonna DO, Luke, turn good and then move in with YOU? Crash on your sofa until he gets a new job? I DON’T THINK SO.
Luke, mildly, is like “whatever, we’re all gonna die”. I love that Luke is so blase about this when Anakin spent all of Episode 3 running around freaking out about death.
…oh, come now, Luke: if you guys get mortally wounded I’m sure y’all can just patch that up real quick! No one’s ever really gone, are they? Ah ha. Ha. Ha.
Please appreciate how lighthearted this looks as a still photo with closed captioning:
Yep, just ol’ Sidious, cracking wise with his pals the Skywalkers! Who’s having fun? He asks Luke: oh, are you talking about the attack your idiot friends are planning? LOL! As if!
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Bringing You Down With Him
Luke tells Sidious that his overconfidence is his weakness. Look, after racking up win upon win upon win against the doofuses of the galaxy for God knows how many decades, I think Sheev’s earned a little self-confidence, OK Skywalker? He deserves to flaunt it.
At any rate, Sheev’s unimpressed with Luke’s Hot Take:
Then Vader, who’s just been standing there awkwardly (AS USUAL) this whole time, pipes up with this little pep talk:
Great; thanks Dad! Way to encourage the boy to believe in his dreams. Look, Anakin, just because YOU’RE miserable doesn’t mean we ALL have to be, OK??
Recurring Theme: It’s a Trap
Having been standing for 2 entire minutes, Sheev settles back into his chair EXTREMELY DRAMATICALLY, with his arm outstretched like he’s reclining into a chaise lounge:
He makes a dramatic proclamation:
…everything? Even the part after this where you somehow survive falling into a reactor and then exploding?? MY GOD WHAT IF HIS REAL PLAN HASN’T EVEN REALLY STARTED YET. I’ll be recapping the Final Final Final Order from my death bed.
Yes, it turns out all of this was Just Part of the Plan, and, as you may have guessed (probably because you have presumably seen this movie a time or two), It Is, In Fact, A Trap:
He throws this line in there too, just to be a bitch about it, and the line delivery is just…*chef’s kiss* It’s PERFECT and I laugh EVERY TIME.
This miserable, obnoxious fandom doesn’t deserve most of the things we have, and Ian McDiarmid is absolutely one of those things.
He sticks the landing on his Eeeeeevil Monologue here with a line that I am legally obligated to include here:
THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS ANYONE HAS EVER SAID IN STAR WARS. PERIOD.
God, this absolute asshole. Melted face, a hooded black snuggie as his sole fashion statement (HEY: he spent a long-ass time wearing the insane regalia of Naboo, let’s cut the guy some slack in his old age), and withering sarcasm. What a legend. (Now let’s all agree, as a group, to quietly put out of mind whatever we may or may not have learned about Sidious’ sex life recently, thanks.)
Whew! All right, well, I think this is a good spot to take a break for today. Next time, on George Lucas Presents: Anakin Skywalker Does Something Right For a Change, we’re going to — pardon me while I wipe away a single tear — say farewell to the original trilogy, and I will at last complete my own Ultimate Plan of having recapped the entire Lucas-Era Star Wars Saga. I am feeling things, people. It’s going to be bittersweet! I hope you’ll be my plus-one for the Ewok Party. See you then!