Revenge Of The Sith: Fear And Darkness

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“Yourself you speak of, or someone you know?” — Master Yoda

“Someone.” — Anakin Skywalker

“Close to you?” — Master Yoda

“Yes.” –Anakin Skywalker

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Three years have passed since nightmares of his mother’s unceasing pain and death tortured young Padawan Anakin Skywalker, heralding the death of the only person who truly knew him in the galaxy and setting him on the path that would lead him to the darkest part of his destiny. Blood and death, the nightmares brought only blood and death and hatred in their wake. Time has passed since the devastation and loss of Episode II and Anakin is now a Jedi Knight, a loving yet secret husband, and a General in the Galactic Civil War, but inside he is still the little boy who had to leave his mother behind to live the life they both dreamed for him and then held her as she died in his arms and promised her grave he wouldn’t fail again. Years have passed since that night, since Ani tasted blood and death in the desert air, years have passed…but now the nightmares have started again — and this time the person dying in them is the one person Anakin Skywalker cannot survive losing… his wife Padme.

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Desperate to save her from his prophetic dreams, Anakin makes one last attempt to reach out to his fellow Jedi, putting aside his wounded pride and the sting of their mistreatment to beg for help protecting the one he loves most. He seeks council from the greatest of Masters, the epitome of the Jedi Order itself: Yoda, and tells him of his fears, of the death he sees looming on the horizon.

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Visually, Anakin is emotionally upset, shaken. He’d endured these dreams only a few years ago, dreams that lead him to find his mother only moments before her death. He’d cradled her broken body as she drew her last breath, unable to save her himself… so he made her a promise. He would not fail again. But now the dreams have returned, sent from the Force itself or Palpatine, to torture Anakin into madness and still his first innate instinct is to turn to what should be the light and ask for help. His mother’s teachings ring true in him, and in his darkest fears he reaches for the light, despite it’s snubs. In truth, he has no reason to trust the Jedi, their contempt of him is and has always been glaringly obvious, but he has sworn his life to their humanitarian cause and has asked for nothing from them in return until now. He will not let his wife die the way his mother had… he promised. And so he looks to Yoda – to save him, to save Padme, to save the Jedi Oder from the fate it is bringing down upon itself…and is met with no more than placating children’s rhetoric. You fear losing something… well don’t, you shouldn’t be attached to it in the first place. Let it go.

“Attachment leads to jealousy… the shadow of greed that it… Train yourself to let go… of everything you fear to lose.” –Master Yoda

Watching the saga as a while, this is the moment the Jedi unapologetically and irrevocably seal their own fate. They have had countless opportunities to practice what they preach in terms of compassion and at every turn they fail to do so. They failed Padme in the Phantom Menace, they failed Anakin from the very moment they met him, and now when not only the fate of another innocent is on the line, but the entire galaxy itself, they fail themselves and those who look to them for Light.

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For all his strengths, Anakin is not a good liar, Shmi did not raise him to be, so he’s about as subtle as a flashing neon sign. And let’s not forget that Yoda himself was present when Padme ran to Ani at the end of Attack of the Clones and threw her arms around him, embracing him without conscious or shame for all the world to see. It doesn’t take a genius to realize something is going on between them… and Yoda is far from unintelligent — so there is no conceivable way he did not know that Anakin and Padme were at the very least, lovers. Even Obi-Wan knew (a fact we learn from a deleted ROTS scene). And his response to Anakin’s plea highlights the stark contrast between simple, common decency and the unbending Jedi morality: Yoda offers no help or reassurance, merely passive-aggressive judgment and we call him the hero for it, for withholding empathy from someone in need — empathy, the link that connects all living beings.

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How easy would it have been to drop the pretense and reach out to the boy that’s clearly terrified in front of him – even if he had no real advice for how to help – and just say: I am here for you. The Jedi – your family – is here for you. 

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Common decency, not dogma — that’s all that was being asked for here. You can speak platitudes and hold your actions and thoughts as superior to everyone around you but if you cannot act with the basest of humane kindnesses in the face of abject terror and suffering then how good can you possibly be? Tears streamed down Anakin’s face. He was shaking. He was terrified. But still Yoda remained unmoved. A Jedi feels no fear… a Jedi feels nothing, just as stone feels nothing. And stone men cannot know balance, they cannot lead, because they cannot feel the difference between right and wrong, they only think they know it. Anakin was mature enough to let go of his pride and ask for help from those he knew hated him. He knew pride, understood it for its complexities, and chose to set it aside for the greater good. But someone who’s never admitted pride, or fear, or anger, or love, or joy, never taken the time to understand them, cannot put them aside for any cause. Because these emotions that encompass both good and bad, light and dark, are nothing more than a fairy story, a rhetoric that can be learned but never understood. Any emotion can be a fault and a virtue, it can save or it can destroy, but only those capable of expressing empathy, of understanding emotions, can understand their importance.

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Yoda condemns fear as darkness, but he had known fear since the moment he met Anakin Skywalker all those years ago, but instead of expressing it, understanding and moving past it, he feigns ignorance of its presence and is therefore consumed by it. He sits as unmoved  in the presence of anguish, fear, and love, watches as a ward of his Order cries for the life that may be lost and is stone. Fear can break a man, twist him into something he is not, but he can rise again with empathy in his heart, but eventually all stone crumbles into dust and is scattered by the wind — eroded by all things.

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One thought on “Revenge Of The Sith: Fear And Darkness

  1. My husband already said months ago that the Old Republic’s whole disaster had probably been Yoda’s fault. Yoda of course had not acted from bad intentions, but it was he who had trained Jedi for hundreds of years in his – very own – philosophy of non-attachment. Who founded the Jedi code that in the end drove the (com)passionate Anakin to despair? Had it been Yoda? Possibly.
    Yoda is so lonely that we never even know whether there’s another being like him in the galaxy, or which species he belongs to in the first place. Being cold and detached was fine with him, but his lack of true attachment and empathy threw the Force out of balance. As if to say, you can do a lot of evil without wanting or even knowing it. Respectively in this case, not be able to prevent it.

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