Star Wars 9 Finally Addresses The Original Trilogy's Dumbest Moment
Fans now know that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will confirm Luke's legacy in one or way another, but the movie's main villain now looks to be largely Luke's fault... having survived due to the dumbest part of The Return of the Jedi's original ending.
We're referring to Emperor Palpatine's return in Star Wars 9, easily one of the most shocking reveals in the new trilogy. But no matter how Emperor Palpatine survived his death, whether it be in physical form or spiritual, it's not actually difficult to understand why it went undetected. But once fans realize this massive twist is all based on the original trilogy's most braindead ending, they may view the franchise's legendary hero a bit differently.
After all, Luke Skywalker was the one person who should have known the Emperor was always going to return. All he had to do was ask the most obvious question he could have following the death of the last Sith Lords.
- This Page: How Luke Missed The Obvious in Return of The Jedi
- Page 2: Star Wars 9 Can Finally Confirm Luke Blew It
Every Star Wars fan can probably remember the final climactic battle beat for beat. The Emperor blasting Luke with Force Lightning, Luke writhing in agony, and Darth Vader looking back and forth, struggling with his internal draw towards both Dark and Light. In the end Vader decided to intervene to save his son's life, lifting Emperor Palpatine over his head (being bombarded with Force Lightning in the process) and tossing him down an endless shaft. The explosion of blue fire confirming that the great leader of the Empire had perished.
But his turn towards the light cost Vader his own will to live. Removing his mask and finally reuniting with his son, the audience understood that Anakin Skywalker had resurfaced to discover the good still left in him, which Luke never believed had been completely erased. That was long before the fans knew Anakin's full story, but it was a fitting end to this fantasy epic. To save his son meant killing his master... but it also meant his death, as well. Poignant, poetic, and as is revealed in later scenes, far more of a literal salvation than even Luke probably realized.
The image seems somewhat quaint by today's standards, and far more of a "happy ending" moment than most modern blockbusters allow. But as the party erupts across the Forest Moon of Endor and every other planet in the Galactic Republic, celebrating the defeat of Palpatine, the destruction of the second Death Star, and the impending collapse of the Empire, Luke witnesses a different victory. Seeing the Force Ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda would be a pleasant enough ending, to know that his mentors had found new life in the Force. But to see his father Anakin Skywalker as the man he should have been... well, Luke wouldn't be the only one with tears in his eyes.
Of course, once you stop and consider the events that have just transpired... it's shocking to think that Luke Skywalker could actually be this dumb. But for thirty-five years Star Wars fans have been just as willing to ignore the MASSIVE red flags as Luke. But finally, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker looks to address the ignorance, obliviousness, and reckless stupidity of Luke and, if we're being honest, the audience, too. Possible SPOILERS ahead.
Page 2 of 2: Star Wars 9 Can Finally Confirm Luke Blew It
Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page with Luke's thought process in the final scenes of Star Wars: Return of The Jedi, let's break it down. Having embraced and to the best of his abilities mastered the Force, Luke goes to the forest moon of Endor in faith that the light and goodness he senses in his father is real. Considering the events extend back into The Empire Strikes Back, let's go over the major revelations that Luke has witnessed through the end of the original trilogy:
- Obi-Wan dies.
- Obi-Wan returns as a Force Ghost.
- Yoda dies.
- The Emperor dies.
- His father dies.
- Yoda returns as a Force Ghost.
- His father returns as a Force Ghost.
- ...Luke moves on without looking back.
Once you actually consider that Luke witnesses the death of two masters, his own father, and the greatest Force-using villain in the galaxy--then witnesses both masters returning to teach and communicate with him as Force Ghosts, then be joined by his father, and somehow not wonder if the same happened to the Emperor, the true obliviousness is hard to ignore. And while we have to stop short of saying that everything that happens next is all unequivocally Luke's fault... who else's would it be? After all, he never actually told Leia or Han that when he was "talking" to Ben Kenobi he meant he was literally talking to the visible, conscious, Force Ghost of Ben Kenobi directly in front of him.
If he had--and if he had mentioned that things were all good for Anakin because he saw him and Yoda chilling with Ben in the Force afterlife, too--then maybe the more street-smart smuggler of spy would have asked the obvious question. You know, "Do you think it's possible the Emperor isn't really dead, either?" Alas, Luke kept his secrets to himself. But when he missed the gigantic clue in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the dumbest part of Return of the Jedi's ending got even more infuriating.
In some sense, we respect Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson for honoring how oblivious Luke Skywalker proved to be in the end, and carrying that intelligence forward. Because you really have to hand it to Luke, it can't be easy staying so clueless with the entirety of the Force flowing through you. Even when he sensed the same darkness in his nephew Ben that Emperor Palpatine used to seduce his father, and even when Ben succumbed and fled to the Dark Side to follow in Anakin's footsteps, Luke never made the connection.
Even after spending decades on a remote island with nothing but his own thoughts, he never stopped to wonder: is literally the exact same thing that happened to me--being trained and guided by the same Jedi master who trained my father after I watched him die--be happening to Ben, being trained and guided by the same Sith master who trained my father after I watched him die? Seriously Luke, we saw what the daily routine on Ahch-To consisted of, and there was plenty of time to put this two-piece jigsaw puzzle together. But even if he hadn't, one of the most controversial and game-changing moments of The Last Jedi should have knocked some kind of understanding loose.
We're referring to Yoda's Force Ghost blasting a bolt of lightning--the same kind of Force energy Luke only ever saw used by Emperor Palpatine--into the sacred tree on Luke's island. Where Ben Kenobi's Force Ghost was restricted to talking to him in either a disembodied voice or sitting next to him in Force form, Ben's influence was merely spoken, or felt. But Yoda demonstrating how a powerful Jedi could literally pierce the veil and inflict damage from beyond the grave?
At some point, Luke has to take some responsibility for being the only person to see the Emperor die, the most likely person to understand his spirit could live on, and basically ignore all evidence to suggest that for the remainder of his life. Alas, he did not. Which means it falls to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to address his ignorance by finally dealing with the Emperor's remaining spirit once and for all. Who knows, maybe the 'Rise of Skywalker' refers to Luke's sense of cosmic intelligence, as he finally realizes this is all his fault. Somehow... we doubt it.