1. Vader…What Does He Really Want From Luke?
So how does knowing the person Anakin was influence what we see of Vader in the original trilogy? Watching Episodes IV-VI knowing that it’s Anakin beneath the Vader mask actually works surprisingly well (and people say Lucas is a hack!). There’s a fair share of mannerisms and dialogue young Anakin shares with old Vader but Anakin is still very much the same guy when he’s in the Vader costume.
In A New Hope, Vader is following orders without question from his master and presumably he’s been doing that since the end of Episode III, due to the fact it was the easier option to give himself over to the his new master than to face his terrible mistakes. He’s still leading the troopers and the Empire like he was as a Jedi in the Republic and he has very much become the figure of power Palpatine always wanted him to be.
However, at the end of New Hope, this new kid Luke Skywalker undermines all that the Emperor has put into place and then something changes in Anakin. For starters Vader witnesses Obi-Wan Kenobi do something with The Force that he had never seen before, so he must be questioning that. Then Luke Skywalker arrives on the scene and Vader realises he has a son.
Knowing what we know about the Sith, we can immediately see that both Palpatine and Vader would want to have a chat with this new Skywalker. Palpatine could potentially have a younger, stronger apprentice to replace his largely diminished Anakin, Vader could have his own apprentice to overthrow Palpatine. Because of what we’ve seen with Dooku in Episode II, I would argue that Anakin / Vader wants more than the simple Sith dream of ruling the galaxy as father and son.
Potentially, Vader sees Luke as a chance to get away from his master. I feel that Anakin turned to the dark side because it was a lot easier to give in than it was to deal with the problems he’d created in Episode III. I’ll go more into this subject in the next article but in Empire Strikes Back, Vader is desperate to find Luke. He rushes into the rebel base on Hoth, he chases down the Millennium Falcon and of course he pulls the old torturing friends trick to finally get hold of his son.
This isn’t about catching rebels anymore, Vader’s mission is to get to Luke before Palpatine does. There’s a sense Vader is even playing along when Palpatine talks to him about the son of Skywalker. Vader is already aware of Luke’s importance and his desperation to find him is plain to see, force choking anyone who is messing up his chances.
Meeting Luke on Cloud City, there’s a sense that Vader isn’t out to kill Luke. In fact because of what we know about Anakin’s turn to the dark side, there’s a sense that Vader is testing him, like Palpatine was testing Anakin over the years. His lightsaber skills, the force throwing of the crates, Vader is trying to slowly break Luke down, show him that the dark side is the way to go. It’s not until Vader is enraged, after Luke clips his arm with a swing of a lightsaber that the old Anakin-anger gets the best of him (again) and he whips off Luke’s hand.
You could also speculate that the outburst about being Luke’s father and the suggestion he joins Anakin to rule the galaxy is another Anakin outburst fuelled by his inability to break Luke’s resolve. Anakin/Vader is desperate to get out from under Palpatine’s shadow and Luke could be his only way of doing that. A second chance if you will, given that Luke is his own blood and together they could put things right.
Remember Anakin had convinced himself that his choices were the right ones in Episode III. He’s not ready to admit that in Empire Strikes Back but he’s willing to try and overthrow Palpatine on the dark side’s terms.
Anakin, from the very beginning of the saga has been a conflicted person, struggling between right and wrong, control and lack of control. Luke’s arrival on the scene offers him a chance at putting things back together but Anakin is, as always enslaved in a situation it’s hard to get out of the easy way and the dark side always offers up the easier, more seductive way of dealing with his problems. I think the prequel trilogy adds a whole deeper understanding into what’s happening to Anakin Skywalker in the original trilogy and adds a fuller understanding of the situation that fans speculated over the details of between 1980 and 1983.
And so that’s Part 2 done with. Next we head into Episode III, where we delve into R2 and 3PO’s parts in all this, who exactly was to blame for Anakin’s turn to the darkside, and discuss what all this means for the upcoming Episode 7 in 2015.
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