The Steadfast, Heartbroken Knight

Spoilers, as always. 

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“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

As mentioned in an earlier post, Luke Skywalker is my favorite Star Wars character. However, there is another Jedi that I am also very fond of. Today I’d like to take a look at the man who started Luke on his path to become a Jedi Knight—Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Nicknamed “the Negiotiator” by his Jedi peers, Kenobi is everything I admire in a hero. He is selfless and kind, brave in the face of danger or tragedy, and he never lost his faith in the light side of the Force.

Did I mention tragedy before? Yeah. This character has one of the suckiest lives in all of fiction. Let’s count the ways in which Obi-Wan has experienced hardship or heartbreak, shall we?

1. The death of a beloved mentor 

No getting around this one. The death of Qui-Gon had a huge impact on the young Kenobi. Jinn’s final wishes (the training of Anakin) acted as a catalyst that would change the course of the galaxy forever.

Anyone who saw the Phantom Menace as a kid knew how cathartic it was to see Obi-wan slice his master’s killer in half. Well, unfortunately for Kenobi…

2. Darth Maul survived

“You may have forgotten me, but I will never forget you. You cannot imagine the depths I would go to to stay alive, fueled by my singular hatred… for you.”

Yep. One of the most controversial (and my personal favorite) twists in The Clone Wars was the decision to bring Darth Maul back from his supposed death on Naboo. Maul used his hatred for Kenobi (and perhaps his Zabrak physiology?) to keep himself alive.

The years on Lotho Minor were not kind to our favorite tattooed Nightbrother. He was driven insane by thoughts of revenge and the shame of his earlier defeat. His mind was finally restored when his brother, Savage Opress, brought him to their birth mother – the head Nightsister, Mother Talzin. Talzin also used her magicks to forge Maul a new set of cybernetic legs.

Darth Maul then set out on his mission to lure out Kenobi. To achieve this, he began sending the Jedi Order holovids of his wanton butchering of innocents (including children. This show got really dark toward the end). Knowing that Maul would murder more if he did not come alone, Kenobi made the decision to relive his old nightmare and once again face the demon he had failed to slay so long ago.

“You know, when I cut you in half, I should have aimed at your neck instead!”

Maul and Obi-wan would have a few skirmishes after their reunion, but their encounters would ultimately culminate in more heartbreak for Obi-Wan. That brings me to…

3. The death of a duchess

 

“Remember my dear Obi-Wan, I loved you always… I always will.”

– Duchess Satine Kryze 

Maul conspired with the terrorist Mandalorian group Death Watch in order to oust the pacifistic leader of Mandalore, Duchess Satine. After the duchess escaped from her prison cell, Maul correctly anticipated that Satine would contact her knight in shining armor, Obi-Wan, for assistance. Since Mandalore was a neutral world in the Clone Wars, the Jedi Order had no jurisdiction to intervene. Kenobi chose to travel alone and incognito in defiance of the Council’s wishes.

Long story short, Maul captured Kenobi and realized he had the perfect instrument with which to exact his revenge – Duchess Satine. After Obi-Wan tried to appeal to Maul’s inner goodness and sympathized with him (“I know the decision to join the dark side wasn’t yours”), Maul proved how very wrong Kenobi was by running Satine through with his lightsaber.

As the woman Obi-Wan once claimed he would have left the Order for died in his arms, she professed her love for him one more time. Kenobi was visibly broken by her death which greatly pleased Darth Maul. He was content to let Kenobi “drown in his misery” while he was left to rot in a cell.

Of course, being the strong individual he was, Obi-Wan didn’t let Satine’s death slow him down. As Satine’s peaceful Mandalore burned in open conflict all around him, Kenobi escaped to warn the Republic about what had transpired there.

The one positive for this episode is that the smug Maul and his brother get absolutely wrecked by Sidious later on. As much as I loved Sam Witwer’s portrayal of the sadistic, yet tragic Zabrak Sith Lord, I didn’t feel one bit sorry for him as he was being tortured by Palpatine.

4.  The loss of a brother 

 

“You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.”

Forget the hammy dialogue. Forget the wonkiness of the lava-CGI. Forget the sometimes uneven script. There was one moment (shown above) in Revenge of the Sith where I felt the acting was genuine and heartbreaking. The moment where Obi-Wan dropped his calm persona and truly let the audience know how he felt about losing his friend.

Sure, the films never really showed much camaraderie between the two Jedi, but after watching The Clone Wars all the way through, the scene feels all the more powerful. The loss Kenobi must have felt there; I can’t even fathom it.

5. The loss of purpose/isolation 

 

“You never trained me for this, Master Qui-Gon. You never taught me how to fade away.”

I don’t know about you, but after all the aforementioned tragedy, I’d be looking to hide on a remote, tropical planet for the rest of my life. What does our hero do? He volunteers to keep watch over the son of the man who betrayed him and his Jedi family. Oh, and did I mention he has to live on one of the most miserable planets on the Outer Rim?

Two standalone Marvel Star Wars issues have given us glimpses of Obi-Wan’s transition from Jedi Master and general in the Republic Army to crazy old Ben, a hermit no one knows or trusts. He does not adjust well to doing nothing or being alone.

What’s saddest about these stories is that Obi-Wan wants to help the common people of Tatooine protect themselves from Jabba’s thugs, but because he needs to remain anonymous, he cannot overtly help them without drawing unnecessary attention to himself. Worse, Kenobi clearly sees all of Anakin’s best traits (piloting, bravery) manifesting in Luke, but Owen Lars forbade any Jedi training for fear that the boy would become his father.

Kenobi also carried guilt from believing that he failed to prevent Anakin from turning to the dark side. Not an easy burden to carry.

Conclusion 

So what can we learn from all of this? Like Luke, Obi-Wan never let any of his personal failures or tragedies stop him from doing what was right. He was committed to the tenets of the light all the way up to his heroic sacrifice on the Death Star. He was also notable for being one of the only Council members who opposed turning Ahsoka over to the Republic courts after she was framed for terrorism.

Was Kenobi perfect? Of course not. He once faked his death and didn’t tell Anakin (which severely shook his faith in Kenobi and the Council) and he also didn’t tell Luke the full truth about his father. But what good hero doesn’t have flaws?

Obi-Wan also wins points for his constant snark and sarcasm. Both Alec Guiness and Ewan McGregor played the dry humor card very well. In The Clone Wars, James Arnold Taylor turned the snark on full blast leading to some wonderful exchanges between friends and foes alike.

Finally, let’s talk about his lightsaber style: Form III – Soresu. Form III has always been my favorite because it essentially turns the user into a stone wall. It’s a highly defensive form that waits for an opponent to tire or make a mistake before ending the duel in a decisive blow. The Negiotiator he might be, but Grievous and the newly-christened Vader both learned the hard way what happens when you get on the wrong side of Kenobi’s blade.

As seen above, Obi-Wan also managed to hold off Maul and Savage at the same time using Jar’Kai (two sabers: his and the recently deceased Adi Gallia’s). He even sliced off Savage’s arm in the process, ending the duel. Basically, the guy was a beast in his prime.

Okay, thanks again for reading! Hopefully this was an interesting read. Just wanted to explore a few of the many events that shaped this man into one of the most influential Jedi in galactic history.

Let me know how I did in the comments below.

“The Force will be with you, always.”

Fading Light

Caution: spoilers for The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Tarkin ahead. 
“And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become: an army fighting for the dark side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear.” –Barriss Offee 

The Jedi Order. Peacekeepers and guardians of the Old Republic. For many generations, this monastic group stood as a bastion of hope for myriad sentients throughout the galaxy. However, this time of relative peace and justice was not to last.

In today’s entry, I’d like to discuss the fall of the Jedi Order and the various factors that led to its destruction by the Sith. I’ll try to go into as much depth as possible (hopefully) without scaring off or confusing newer fans.

Reason #1: Sheev Palpatine (Darth Sidious)


There’s no getting around this. Palpatine is pretty much the reason for (nearly) all of the following causes of the Order’s annihilation. Darth Sidious’s existence was the culmination of hundreds of years of Sith planning and it was because of his machinations that he was finally able to take revenge on the Jedi.

The Legends novel Darth Plagueis is no longer considered canon, but it is still an excellent read that shows how the Sith pulled the strings that led to the fall of the Republic and the Jedi. (Note: The canon novel Tarkin by the same author mentions some concepts from the Plagueis novel meaning that at least some of the story is still canon.)

Reason #2: War


Palpatine was smart. He knew the Jedi had been in power for centuries and that the Sith (because of Darth Bane’s Rule of Two) were outnumbered. They would lose badly in open confrontation against ten thousand Jedi. So he set up a Morton’s Fork for them in the shape of a galaxy-spanning war.

The Jedi were presented with two unfavorable choices: A: The Jedi do not get involved in the Clone Wars and let the Republic deal with it. Unfavorable outcome: Millions of innocents die and the public accuses them of not protecting the citizens of the Republic.  B: The Jedi join the war against the Separatists, trading their status as peacekeepers for the mantle of military leadership. Unfavorable outcome: The public grows tired of the extended war and loses faith in the Jedi. Some even accuse the Order of being warmongers.

Ultimately the Jedi chose option B, and sure enough, the public (as seen in TCW) began to distrust the Jedi. In choosing to involve themselves in warfare, the Jedi lost the support of the people who once adored them. Rumors of Jedi corruption began to spread. Palpatine fanned the flames of distrust and more Jedi continued to die in battle.

As death and political corruption began to seep into the fabric of the Republic, the dark side of the Force strengthened.

Reason #3: Jedi repression 


This point is a little more difficult to flesh out because I don’t want to stereotype an entire group made up of different individuals and species (who might have different ideas or beliefs.) Instead I think it’s wiser to turn to the Jedi Council and its teachings for this particular failing.

The Jedi Code forbade attachment. While I understand why they believed it was dangerous (love and passion can lead to other emotions like hatred or anger if not tempered by wisdom), forbidding Jedi from all emotional attachments seems like a very knee-jerk way to prevent your members from falling to the dark side.

One of my favorite quotes about Jedi relationships comes from the Legends video game Knights of the Old Republic: 

“Love doesn’t lead to the dark side. Passion can lead to rage and fear, and can be controlled… but passion is not the same thing as love. Controlling your passions while being in love… that’s what they should teach you to beware. But love itself will save you… not condemn you.” 

Jolee Bindo fell a bit more on the “grey” side of the Jedi moral spectrum, but he was absolutely right. You can’t make human (or any sentient) emotions disappear by endlessly reciting the mantra “there is no emotion. There is peace.”

We don’t have to look much further than Anakin’s example to see how this particular Jedi fallacy worked out.

Reason #4: Jedi arrogance



(I know I warned you about spoilers before, but if you have not seen the fifth season of The Clone Wars, do not read the following segment.)

Do you see those faces? The ones that punch me in the feels every time? The ones that spell “the Jedi Order failed us in a huge way?” This scene proved to me once and for all that an animated work could be just as powerful as a live-action work.

The final three episodes of TCW season five show Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, framed for a crime she did not commit (bombing the Jedi Temple.) The Council refused to believe her, stripped her of her title and military rank, and turned her over to the Republic courts to be tried. If not for Anakin discovering the identity of the one truly responsible (Ahsoka’s friend Barriss Offee) she would have been executed.

Despite committing terrorist acts, Barriss falls squarely into the trope “extremist was right” in her confession speech. Here’s the full quote:

“I did it. Because I’ve come to realize what many people in the Republic have come to realize. That the Jedi are the ones responsible for this War. That we’ve so lost our way that we have become villains in this conflict. That we are the ones that should be put on trial, all of us! And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become. An army fighting for the Dark Side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear. This Republic is failing! It’s only a matter of time.”

That speech still gives me chills when I hear it. It even touched a nerve with Palpatine judging by his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction. She did horrible things and turned to the dark side, but it didn’t change the fact that she was right! 

Afterward, the Council’s apologies to Ahsoka were hollow at best (e.g.”The Force works in mysterious ways. You passed your trials and can become a Knight.”) She rightly refused to return and left the Order, shattering her Master’s faith in the Council forever.

Ironically, this decision saved her life when Order 66 was initiated, but I can’t help but wonder if she’ll blame herself for Anakin’s fall during their inevitable Rebels reunion. Another topic for another post.

Reason #5: Jedi complacency 

The Jedi hadn’t fought a Sith Lord for approximately one thousand years. They wrongly believed their enemies to be extinct and as such, were not truly prepared for their resurgence.

Reason #6: Jedi Temple location 

Another short point. In Tarkin, it’s revealed that the Jedi Temple was erected over the site of an ancient Sith shrine. The Jedi (wrongly) assumed that they’d neutralized this location, but its dark energies continued to seep into the Order, weakening them further.

When the Emperor transformed the Temple into his own Imperial Palace, he often retreated to this shrine to meditate and ponder the nature of the dark side.

Conclusion: There’s absolutely no way I can cover every reason the Order fell, but it did and the repercussions for the galaxy were huge. The Empire expanded unchecked, crime lords exploited innocents, and it was a dangerous time to be born a Force-sensitive.

As we’ve seen in the trailer for Rebels S2, Imperial Inquisitors would descend upon anyone found to have this gift regardless of age. If these “children of the Force” could not be recruited, the Inquisitor’s job was to exterminate them before they could become a threat to the Emperor.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.

If you ever have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!


“Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.” –The Wrong Jedi Episode moral

Son of the Chosen One

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“You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” – Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker. Jedi Knight and friend of Captain Solo. Anyone who has known me for even a short time knows that Luke is my favorite Star Wars character. I’m sure I’ve gotten some funny looks for that. After all, Han Solo is definitely the “cooler” of the two male leads.

I can definitely see why Han is typically more popular. He’s (at first) morally ambiguous, flies an awesome ship, relies on pragmatism instead of honor in combat, and he has some of the most memorable lines in the Original Trilogy. Luke, on the other hand, in his transition from farm boy to Jedi Knight falls almost perfectly into the trope-laden “hero’s journey” archetype that we’ve seen in countless stories throughout history. On the surface, Luke doesn’t seem like more than a one-dimensional character going through the motions. In order to get a better glimpse at what makes Luke such a compelling character to me, let’s go back to the beginning of his timeline.

Luke’s life was shaped by tragedy before it even began. Like his sister, Luke lost both of his parents (death of personality for one and physical death for the other) right after birth. Unlike his sister’s more royal and cultured upbringing, Luke was taken to his father’s harsh home planet of Tatooine to grow up as a moisture farmer. Skip ahead two decades, and Luke had lost his only two parental figures to the Empire. Move slightly further down his timeline from there and he’d lost his best friend (Biggs) and a love interest (Nakari Kelen). Finally, Luke had to come face to face with the fact that one of the galaxy’s most merciless killers was indeed the father he’d been working so hard to avenge. I won’t go into every story in the new canon, but suffice it to say that Luke was no stranger to death, loss, and psychological trauma.

That being said, the best part about the aforementioned losses? They do not break him. As a powerful Force-sensitive (with his father’s raw potential to boot), it would have been so easy for him to fall to the dark side and few would have blamed him for holding on to resentment and anger. Instead, Luke chose to forge his own path when his Jedi tutors –one of whom lied to protect him from an ugly truth– urged him to destroy Vader.

I frequent the website TV tropes often and one particular trope associated with Luke is the “all-loving hero.” Luke, upon discovering that his father was an evil Sith Lord, decided that Anakin was still worth saving. Everyone cautioned him against it, but he proved them very wrong in the end and he was instrumental in bringing about the fulfillment of Anakin’s prophecy to balance the Force.

I’ve seen people say that Luke is the Chosen One, but he’s really the Unchosen One (another trope I am fond of). Unlike his father, Luke had to work and fight for everything he attained. His father was raised by the Jedi and formally instructed in lightsaber combat and the ways of the Force. Luke had to rely on his own adaptability and intuition. Like his father, Luke faced temptation, but because he had a stable upbringing (plus a little of his birth mother’s compassionate personality – more on that in another post), he became a hero instead of a villain. So, no, Luke was not the Chosen One, but because of a prophecy twist, he played a huge part in helping to fulfill his father’s destiny.

Luke also displayed tremendous character growth over the course of the OT. For example, in A New Hope he is probably remembered for his childish optimism and semi-whiny lines. By the time Episode VI rolls around, he is markedly more mature, he’s wearing a sweet black suit (to symbolize the fact that he is vulnerable to falling to the dark side) and he showed that he possessed the ability to verbally spar with his father and cause him to doubt his connection to the dark side. That’s a far cry from the character we first met in ANH.

Oh, and bonus points for throwing the top page quote at Sidious and being one of the few people to make our favorite evil chessmaster lose his cool. Palpatine’s face is priceless before he starts his Force lightning barrage.

Anyway, I wanted to write a lot more, but I can always save other parts of Luke’s persona and exploits for another post. I just wanted to express why I loved the character so much. He’s patient and compassionate (two traits I value highly), but if you mess with him, you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

Oh, and he’s totally not Kylo Ren and I’m betting he won’t be turning to the dark side in the new movie (thus invalidating his entire journey in the OT), so let’s just nip those rumors in the bud, shall we?

Thanks again for reading!

KnightOfPassage-SWGs7

Your overconfidence is your weakness.”