Friday, August 7, 2009

Reflection on Star Wars: The Death of Yoda

In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker returns to Dagobah to resume his Jedi training. It’s been awhile since he last saw Yoda, and now his master, already old as dirt their first meeting, is not so much the witty little sprite he was back in The Empire Strikes Back but is now obviously decrepit and dying. As Luke and Yoda are talking, Yoda confirms with Luke that yes, Darth Vader is his father, and that he must face Vader and the Emperor again before he can truly be a Jedi. During the conversation, he throws out hint after hint that he’s about to give up the ghost. He dies and his body does the become-one-with-the-Force routine just as he’s telling Luke, in a sentence that drags out forever, that there is another Skywalker.

Talk about bad timing. Good thing Luke didn’t get caught in some sort of hyperspace delay or that brouhaha with Jabba the Hutt didn’t take a touch longer than anticipated, or he’d have missed the who’s your father talk and arrived to an empty blanket. Yoda lives for 900-odd years, apparently hangs on to his diminishing life force long enough for dropout student Luke to have an ill-advised rescue attempt of his friends and a mismatched fight with the galaxy’s most powerful and evil villain who’s secretly his father and then spend what seems to be years working on a rescue attempt for his quick-frozen, debt owing friend Han Solo, only to die just as he’s about to reveal to Luke the other long-buried Skywalker family secret. Seriously, after close to a millennium of life, he couldn’t hold on for another 30 seconds?

It’s a good thing that ghostly Obi-Wan, who now apparently holds squatter’s rights in the dark swamp of Dagobah, was still around. Of course, before he could reveal the information about Leia being Luke’s twin sister, he had to listen to a well-deserved grilling from Luke about holding on to that Vader-is-your-dad tidbit and give his “from a certain point of view” cop out. It does make sense though that Obi-Wan, as Luke’s stand-in father, should be the one that at least facilitates Luke tapping into his feelings and learning about his sister if not his real father. (Apparently, later in the film, Leia herself knew anyway (“Somehow I knew. Somehow I always knew.”), which makes you wonder if she was aware of this on any of the various occasions she kissed her brother in a not so brother-sister way.)

But it sucks that Yoda lived for 900 years and still did not have enough time to say everything he needed to. That’s depressing for us humans who will live on average only about 9% of that time.

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