Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover (Legends), Part 8
What a fun couple of years we’re all having, huh? Yeah. Yeah. Here’s hoping you and yours are staying healthy, safe, and hanging on to whatever’s left of your mental health by as much as you can.
Naturally I’ll follow up THAT sunny greeting and my prolonged absence here with the announcement that today is a Revenge of the Sith novel day! Ah yes: that fun-filled final push into fascism! I figured there was no better choice than to revisit this crazy tome now that we are firmly in the year when WE WILL SEE MY BOYS AGAIN ON SCREEN, a thing I think about daily and am still no closer to being ready for than I was when they announced it. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
I digress: let’s regroup on where we’re at in Anakin’s Final Downward Spiral. When we last visited this book several centuries ago, Anakin had just been told by Palpatine that he was going to be put on the Jedi Council under Operation Because-I-Said-So. Anakin was concerned because this is a dick move and unprecedented AND a violation of what little autonomy the Jedi Order has from the Republic AND Anakin has no goddamned business being a Jedi Master on the Council because as I have pointed out MANY times before, he practically was still a Padawan like 8 weeks ago. HE IS BARELY OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK.
Of course, none of that bothers Anakin, who thinks he deserves this huge promotion and is extremely excited about the possibility that — and this is true, this is not me embellishing the content For Comedy as I am oft known to do — one, he can use his new Jedi Master ID Card to get into the archives and find the secret to cheating death, which is something he believes the Jedi know despite the fact that Anakin probably knows like 12 Jedi who died just in the last week, and two, because there’s a chance he might get to sit next to Obi-Wan in council meetings. AND NOT IN THAT ORDER. I’m serious: while thinking through the implications of Palpatine’s plan here, Anakin FIRST thinks about how this means he could maybe get to sit next to Obi-Wan in the Council room, and THEN he’s like “oh yeah and also I can probably find out how to save Padme which is important.” ANAKIN.
Recurring Theme: If Only Someone Could Tame Him
All right, so, the Jedi Council has learned about Sheev’s plan to weasel his way further into their business by placing Anakin among their ranks. Turns out, while they’ve got some obvious concerns about this, they’re also thinking that this might be something they can use to their advantage! If Anakin’s got a line into Palpatine, then Anakin can tell them what shady shit Ol’ Sheev is up to! Anakin would surely want to help his family, right?
Obi-Wan, however, is like no no no no no no no.
I…am not touching this one, Stover. Nice try. I see you over there threading the needle for whole sections of AO3 once again. Obes’ big concern here is that Anakin is just SUCH a great friend and loyal companion that it’s just not reasonable to expect him to ever betray someone he cares about. Oh. Well, that’s a sentiment that’s gonna age real well.
Yoda’s like “look son, Palpatine is giving us this opening to finally figure out WTF is going on here, and if we get that chance we better take it! We can have eyes directly on the situation!”
Obi-Wan is unconvinced, and is like “Anakin is amazing but also, let us not forget All The Problems”:
I like how Obi-Wan clearly means this in a “we can’t ask him to do this; it’ll eat him up to go behind someone’s back like this”, but also kind of sounds like he thinks they shouldn’t ask Anakin to do it because they all know he has the subtlety of a bull in a china shop and won’t even be good at spying on anybody without giving himself away.
Also, Obi-Wan, nobody needed to be reminded that “no one knows Anakin the way you do”. WE KNOW. If we didn’t already know from the movies and the TV shows and the comics and the behind the scenes meta, this book is making ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that there is nary a soul left in the fandom that doesn’t catch your drift here, pal.
Recurring Theme: Everybody Knows
Agen Kolar pipes up and is like “well, but that’s just the thing: maybe Anakin will do it, if a friend asks him to. HINT HINT.”
Obi-Wan is like ABSOLUTELY NOT: you cannot ask him to pick between me and Sheev. (Honestly, the FACE I just made. Who in the HELL has a hard time with this matchup? Anakin, my God. I am appalled. OBI-WAN. YOU PICK OBI-WAN EVERY TIME IN THAT MATCHUP, YOU FOOL, THIS ISN’T HARD.)
Plo Koon, on my wavelength here, is like “…why would you be concerned about this?”:
LOL. These gossipy gossips have been talking about these two in private for years and YOU ALL KNOW I’M RIGHT.
Obi-Wan, getting increasingly upset, is like “but this will KILL Anakin! He loves his Uncle Palpatine! And what if we’re wrong and the Chancellor isn’t evil?? Then what??? Their friendship will never be the same!!”
Mace Windu, one of the only smart people in the universe, is like “I wouldn’t be mad about it, frankly”:
MACE WINDU WAS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU, ANAKIN. HE TRIED. And look where that got him. Sigh.
Recurring Theme: Everybody Loves Obi-Wan
Obi-Wan warily concedes that he’ll do whatever the group agrees needs to be done, even if he’s not thrilled about it. Ki-Adi-Mundi says that he, too, doesn’t love this plan but also Anakin is the best of the best and if anyone needs to be in their corner against the Sith, it needs to be him – to which Agen Kolar agrees. Basically everyone is like A) we need to keep Anakin from being besties with Satan, and B) Anakin is amazing, and who knows? Maybe that bonkers prophecy Qui-Gon was always rambling about was real after all, and then, bonus! Anakin can fulfill his destiny and we can all finally sleep and catch up on TV shows we’ve missed the last few years.
So the gang cooks up a plan to talk about how they’re totally focusing their efforts on finding Grievous, knowing that Anakin will then go and blab about this to Palpatine. If Palpatine IS evil, or has evil’s direct line, then maybe this will result in Sidious (whoever that is!) being goaded into making a move. There’s a little more back and forth where they try narrow down exactly what the details of all of this will be, and eventually Yoda decides he’ll go to Kashyyk, so that he’s “not around” to be the point person for Operation So Long, Grievous, and Mace is like “well then it’s settled since we obviously know who we’ll put on Greevs Detail:
Who oh who could it be?!
Aww. I mean, I know Obi-Wan is having a shitty day (and is gonna have one HELL of a shitty week), but also? Aww. SAME, JEDI COUNCIL. SAME. Cunning, insightful, tenacious. Pardon my dreamy sigh. I’ll forgive them for leaving out “total smokeshow”, but only this one time.
Well, At Least It’ll Get a Round of Thunderous Applause When It Goes
With the Jedi Council’s latest round of completely doomed plans underway, Bail Organa, in dismay, absorbs the Chancellor’s latest democracy-ruining bullshit and immediately calls up Mon Mothma. The two of them are in agreement that Now Is The Time For Action, and oh how very accurate that the Senators are gonna really try to turn up the heat now that their democracy is basically already stone cold on a morgue slab. This book is not light reading, is all I am saying.
They determine that they’re going to need to get a coalition of trustworthy Senators together to try to push back. Mon suggests Padme, but Bail’s not so sure:
Well, good luck with everything, guys. Democracy, we hardly knew ye.
Recurring Theme: What Else is New?
The next segment, as I mentioned at the end of the last recap from this book, begins thusly:
Yeah. We know. WE ALWAYS KNOW. I bet he was also thinking about Obi-Wan! And Padme! And Ahsoka! And his Dear Departed Mother! And droids! Just another day in the paradise that is Anakin Skywalker’s poor tired fried brain.
As it turns out, Anakin’s got a little more going on than being angry. In fact, his anger is actually only a cover for the Tornado Inferno Furnace of Pure Unadulterated Fear and Rage within his very soul. That sounds fun.
Anakin takes a look around the Council room and notes that everyone seems Deeply Serious, and Obi-Wan even looks a little worried. That’s when Mace delivers the Bad Good News: Anakin gets to be on the Council! They’re gonna cave to Sheev’s demands after all.
Anakin is stunned: oh happy day! MAN, the Chancellor sure knows his stuff!
*headdesk* Well it does tend to go that way when you’re more or less dictating how a sequence of events will play out by seeing to it that the outcomes are all but assured before anyone even does anything.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Liar
So now Anakin is all “oh wow, they respect and admire ME and MY wonderful masterful SKILLS and FINALLY I AT LAST HAVE RECOGNITION”, and then he says one of the BIGGEST lies he’s ever told:
This is bested only by the time later in this movie where he tells Padme he “doesn’t wanna hear any more about Obi-Wan”, a thing I can’t believe he was able to say with a straight face even in the actual movie.
Yoda’s like “hold up there, buddy: we? Are not super happy about any of this. The Chancellor is being shady as fuck and we don’t love it.”
Anakin’s like “yes yes, OK, sure, of course, I guess I could see how you feel that way, totally get it, now when do I get my Jedi Master welcome kit and parking pass and card good for 10% off at select retailers”, and Mace is like “…do you get it, though?”
Recurring Theme: Adult Tantrum
And that’s when Mace drops the bombshell:
Anakin, as we all well know, flips his shit about this and goes Full Karen Trying to Use an Expired Coupon at Bath and Body Works over this whole thing. He starts off with a repeated “how dare you?”, and then escalates from there:
Yeah guys! You have no authority over your own religious order! You can’t boss him around! Anakin wants to speak to the manager! He’ll have this branch put out of BUSINESS! (…oh. I guess he will.) His thoughts go from 0 to 600 and before long he’s basically ready to murder Mace right there in the Council room:
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Loves Anakin
Before Anakin can completely lose it, though, Obi-Wan gestures to the seat next to him and quietly pleads with him to calm down. And it works!
OBI-WAN WHY DID YOU LEAVE FOR UTAPAU. I know you had no choice, I know this is a Greek tragedy and all, but whyyyyyyyyy. You’re the only person who can throw a flameproof blanket over this hothead and have it actually smother the flame at least some of the time.
The Council covers a few more orders of business, resulting in Yoda’s being assigned to Kashyyk and Obi-Wan being assigned to Grievous Duty, something that makes Anakin even more upset because now Padme’s definitely gonna die AND Obi-Wan will have to go somewhere without him?? He finishes the meeting brooding in his Council seat, vowing to himself for the 45,000th time to do anything to save Padme’s life. You could, like, take her to a doctor, Skywalker? Jedi Masters and Sith Lords are known for a great many things, like swan-diving off cliffs and shooting lightning into the air and causing massive amounts of property damage, but last I checked “performing life-saving maternity care” isn’t really one of them. I mean I guess over the millennia a Jedi or two have probably had to help out with an emergency birth situation in the course of their day-saving, and it’s possible Darth Bane ran a well-regarded OB/GYN practice on the side that we’ve just never heard of since it was overshadowed by his being a being of Total Darkness or whatever, but I doubt it. Maternity care IS, however, generally something certain MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS are capable of, though! Or heck, put Padme under a 24/7 watch by a team of medical droids! You can build ‘em yourself right now; get cracking! I’m not saying it was necessary or that Padme’d have been happy about it, but it’s a fuckton better than the solution YOU’RE gonna come up with.
Recurring Theme: Abolish the Filibuster
Back with the Senators, Padme’s getting filled in about Bail and Mon’s grave concerns about Palpatine, and what his end game is here. She hedges: he’s been a huge supporter of hers (nope) – and, she thinks to herself, a good friend and mentor to her husband (also nope.) Also, shouldn’t the Senate just do what’s right if things are really so bad right now?
Padme, I love you, but when the situation is “we may have allowed the government to become a fascist dictatorship by accident”, what Anakin thinks of people wanting to cancel the guy at the top is pretty damn low on my list of things I give a fuck about. GIRL, GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME HERE. I know Anakin’s very very pretty. I know he can be kind and he’s smart and he’s probably figured out how to be OK at sex by now, but I am begging you.
She ultimately agrees to help the cause, but she’s Not Comfortable with any of this.
Recurring Theme: A Love Like Ours is Doomed Beyond All Comprehension
Team Handsome is having themselves a little post-Council walk-and-talk, and oh what a very big surprise that Anakin is having a tantrum again. After first yelling about how much more powerful he is than everybody else, he and Obi-Wan accidentally have some insight for a second:
Yes he is, Obes. Yes he is. And yes, it basically was the Dark Side, Anakin.
Anakin goes off on a snit about how everyone thinks he’s too young, and just a kid, and didn’t even WANT him and it’s not fair and what would they even have DONE without HIM to save their ASSES all the time??? HMMMM???!!!! Obi-Wan explains that nobody questions Anakin’s talents, but his relationship with the Chancellor puts him in a bad position, as has been stated like 700 times previous. Anakin is pissed:
Yeah, generally if you want people to see your maturity, the best way to approach it isn’t to immediately go off on a rant that includes repeatedly saying “how DARE you?” within your first 30 seconds on the job. Also how the fuck does Anakin keep throwing these “Sheev is the only man who’s ever loved me or ever even been kind to me once” rants at OBI-WAN of all people? Like I know the boys are going through a rough patch right now but Skywalker, please.
Recurring Theme: Naps For Anakin 2Kinfinity
Anakin is Done. He asks Obi-Wan what it is that they want him to do to make him a Master, because surely there must be something else going on here. Obi-Wan is like “what are you talking about, that’s not how it works”. Anakin is unconvinced.
After the last few years, I feel this in my bones, Anakin. Granted I’m not about to so seek out the help of an evil wizard about it, but I guess I could see how in my weaker moments after being trapped at home this much I might be led to consider it.
So Obi-Wan drops the news that they want him to spy on Palpatine, and Anakin of course takes that exactly as well as you’d expect him to. He goes wide: Palpatine’s his friend, he wouldn’t spy on Obi-Wan, it’s all the Senate’s fault anyway, and even goes all the way to the old classic “You’re Not Even My Real Family and Remember How My Mom Died And It Was All Your Fault Somehow”?
Obi-Wan somehow manages not to just throw up his hands and go turn in his resignation letter and head for Mandalore to see if Maul won’t just murder him after all and save him from having to put up with any of this garbage, and instead is apologetic, and points out that until they know the truth, Palpatine himself might be in harm’s way:
Obi-Wan explains that the Council has tracked Darth Sidious to someone in Palpatine’s inner circle. The Chancellor could be under the influence of a Sith Lord and not even know it! (I feel Sidious laughing his ass off from here as I write this.) Anakin quietly fumes and recalls Palpatine’s claims that the Jedi were gonna start making up Fake News to use against their political enemies, and he seethes. He thinks about how Palpatine had told him that if he were to find Darth Sidious, why, he’d ask if the old chap knew of a way to end this horrible war!
Recurring Theme: Bad Choices, Worse Choices
Later, Obi-Wan tells Yoda and Mace that he thinks they’ve fucked up: you didn’t SEE Anakin’s FACE! He was so sad and angry and oh Gods what have we done?
Mace, stabbing me in the heart, says this:
You are not wrong, friend.
The three of them have a chat that basically boils down to: who the fuck even knows anymore about anything? Maybe Anakin’s the Chosen One, and maybe he’s not! Maybe the war’s about to end, and maybe it’s not! Maybe we shouldn’t have asked Anakin to spy on Palpatine, but also maybe it’s a good thing we did! And if we’re all screwed, we’re probably not gonna know until it slaps us in the face, hard!
Obi-Wan sighs and admits that he wishes he’d argued harder against using Anakin’s access to the Chancellor in this way. Mace is somewhat surprised:
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Loves Anakin
Obi-Wan explains to them that, ultimately, Anakin doesn’t get how some of the fundamentals of being a Jedi work, even after all his training. He’s so loyal, he’s so dedicated, he’s so attached to his people. He tells Yoda that, for example, Obi-Wan and Yoda have been close since Obi-Wan was a baby. But if Yoda had to be sacrificed to end the war – end all this suffering and death – even one week sooner, Obi-Wan would be at peace with it. Yoda nods: that’s right, and Obi-Wan should say it! Yoda would want him to feel that way! Obi-Wan sighs and is like “yeah: every Jedi would feel this way. Except Anakin.”
Mace and Yoda mull over the zillion times Anakin threw a mission way off course to save somebody (more than once Obi-Wan himself, and, I would like to point out, at least once it was for ARTOO), and Obi-Wan says that Anakin will stop at nothing to save him because Anakin thinks Obi-Wan would do the same for him:
Well. I am fine. Yoda presses: what exactly is Obi-Wan afraid of here? Afraid that Anakin will fail in his task? Obi-Wan, again, says he thinks Anakin can do anything except betray a friend (womp womp!). Mace pushes back: but this is WHAT WE’RE HERE TO DO – find out about the Sith, save people, selfless service!
Obi-Wan agrees, while also saying that he doesn’t think Anakin will ever trust them again, throwing in a little bit of self-battery at the end:
Obi-Wan, my buddy, you can’t start crying ALREADY! You don’t even KNOW how bad it’s gonna be yet! You gotta hang in there at LEAST until the mass murder starts before you can lose it. Plus if YOU start crying, then I’ll start crying, and Anakin’s probably crying already anyways…we’ve gotta pace ourselves here, boys.
This very painful chapter comes to a close, and I sigh with relief that I’ve maybe actually recapped something again. Maybe my brain isn’t completely broken (…well, maybe not.)
There’s very little good news to be had from the rest of this book, BUT I’ve got one thing to look forward to: next time we visit this book here on Snark Wars, Anakin and our Dear Uncle Palpatine are off to the opera. As with every time I get to revisit this, in any format, I CANNOT WAIT.
Thanks so much for reading, if you’ve stuck around! There should be more content incoming over the next few weeks, as I start to finish up older drafts and get myself back into something approaching regular updates in preparation for the content we all know I’ll have to recap this year. I hope I’ll see you there!