Friday, June 8, 2018

Return of the Jedi: The Opener

Until The Last Jedi this was my favorite Star Wars episode, and it's entirely because of the character of Luke and what he turns into by the end of the episode. And it all starts very unexpectedly. Like Anakin and Obi-Wan Luke has changed, but in a different way. The cares of knowing that the greatest mass murderer in the history of the galaxy is his father have worn upon Luke. His entire mood has shifted and he's become more like his father than anyone else, choking out the guards with but a movement of his hand and trying to shoot Jabba right in front of everyone. And it's all coming from the right. Luke is lost and he's doing the only thing that makes any sense to him anymore: saving his friends. But it's corrupted.

Just as a quick and fun aside (I've already got the clips on the appropriate parts):

It's just one of those moments where Lucas was clearly having some fun. The lightsaber is cut from Grievous and drops into Luke's hand. At this point there's been too many coincidences like this to not be an accident. Ben completely missed what being a hero was and Luke grabs onto it. It's one of the few times in this part where Luke actually does something right. He's so focused on his own interior darkness that he can barely see anything else in front of him. Luke oscillates between being entirely too reckless and being a brilliant master planner. Heck, had Jabba lived I'm not sure Luke would have been able to survive.

Fortunately Leia has the opportunity. Facing the possible destruction of all her friends she finally does what she's never able to do throughout the rest of the series: fight back. And, together with Luke, Leia destroys the top criminal brass in this part of the galaxy, fulfilling Anakin's dream all the way back in TPM. Yeah, remember when Anakin says he had a dream about freeing all the slaves? Turns out he was dreaming about his children. You could watch TPM and ROTJ back to back and see where everything lines up. And yes, that's on purpose.

Luke, Leia, and Han have certainly come a long way since Episode IV. Despite some serious missteps and setbacks each of these characters have individualized and become so much more than their prequel counterparts. Instead of being distracted from having to face their inner demons they've fought themselves and, so far, have won. And it all comes to a head with the destruction of Jabba's sail barge. But Luke's going down a dark path. Something's wrong.

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