Friday, June 1, 2018

Empire Strikes Back: The Closer

It's finally come: the moment when the Shadow reveals itself again. Only this time it doesn't do it by saying the truth, since what sane person listens to something as terrible as Darth Vader or a villainous traitor like Count Dooku? So this time the Shadow uses relationship to try and get its way. I am your father. And, for a lot of people, this is a lot more true than we'd like to admit. Generally the Shadow has bits and memories locked away from long ago in a person's unconsciousness. Its consciousness of the person is generally much longer and deeper than the Overworld's. As awful as it is to admit it, we all have something like this within us. But it's here we finally learn what the Shadow's actual aspirations are: to conquer, to take over, to destroy the things that plague us. While it may not know how to do the right thing that doesn't stop Shadow from trying. But, like Kenobi, Luke doesn't understand exactly what his father is offering him. So he makes the only decision he can: he drops down the shaft rather than deal with an entity he doesn't understand.

And look at THIS

I found the image here, at another awesome blog post!

Notice the colors? In Episode II we start in blue, in the clouds, ending on a red desert planet. In Episode V we begin on a blue desert planet and end up in red in the clouds. As Star Wars Ring Theory points out V is II backwards. If you hadn't looked at this amazing 9 page essay on the original when I had linked all the way at the beginning of this series shame on you, go read it! I'm working within the Ring's context and it's essential reading. Moving right along!

Vader isn't willing to give up so easily. He reaches out to Luke directly, through the Force, and Luke finally feels it. He now knows that Vader is his father and he accepts it. The boy who spent his whole life searching for his father has found him and the father who has spent his entire life feeling empty has found fulfillment.

Now, this part is conjecture, cause now we're reading backwards from an incomplete trilogy to this one. I think Vader and Luke forged a Force Bond here. Force Bond, as has been pointed out, is a connection between two individuals through the Force that defies time and space. Anakin had one with Padme for sure (which was broken with Anakin Force-choking Padme) and I think here we see the forging of one between Anakin and his son, Luke. As we see later Vader and Luke can detect each other at any point in time. Force Bond has also been revealed by The Last Jedi novel to allow one to see into the other's experiences and learn Force Powers from that bond. We see this in Luke's completely changed personality and the ability to Force Choke in Jedi. I posit that Luke didn't just do this out of the blue but learned from his personal contact with his father in this moment, here at the end of Empire. We'll get more into that with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, where Force Bond comes front and center.

There's very little time to savor this, however, because R2 acts. R2 was Padme's droid, given over to Anakin. In a very unexpected sense R2 is also Anakin's and Padme's kid. And, unlike everyone else on that entire ship, R2 remembers Anakin as Anakin the kind Jedi who always took care of him. Whether Anakin wants to admit or not, there's very little good in Luke coming to him right then and there. So R2 reaches out, turns the red light blue, and saves Luke and Anakin from a fate worse than death. Shadow is not supposed to subsume Overworld, to make it an extension of itself. And so the Force reaches out through R2 yet another time and saves us from a fate far worse than death: the Shadow getting exactly what it wants.

At the end of this, the shortest Closer, Luke has matured into something quite different than what he was at the beginning of the movie. He makes a plan to save Han, convinces everyone to follow it, and then gets a new hand. The contact with Anakin has woken up something powerful in Luke and he's ready to do something with it. The sheer power of Anakin Skywalker has been passed on to Luke. Unlike Attack of the Clones, which ended with the spiritual death of the Republic, Empire ends with a revitalized Luke and Leia. They're ready. It's a clear contrast with the ending of Attack of the Clones. Instead of having separated from the world and being set up for disaster the twins are ready to set wrongs aright. They're ready to be heroes.

The world is a threat

The world is a nurturing presence.
A special shout-out to Peter Lee is due here. Not gonna lie, I was about burnt out as I was starting on The Empire Strikes Back and was thinking of taking an extended break, perhaps not coming back at all. These episodes can be emotionally exhausting to write, especially when you have to translate out your own experiences so that way people don't look at your sideways when things get too... personal. After Peter told me to keep going I churned out almost the entire episode's review in the space of a morning. Thanks, buddy. I needed the encouragement. 

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