Spoiler Alert. Do not read if you haven’t seen Revenge of the Sith.
Also, geek alert. We are going to tread into depths that most rational people do not go, and few would like to admit actually exist. Please, if you are faint of heart, or do not take well to passionate elaborations over fictional characters, stop reading right now.
[ASIDE: I believe there is a book, one of the paperback follow-ups to the series that approaches some of these ideas. To that, I say “fie”. I’m not talking about after-market fiction unpenned by Mr. Lucas. I’m talking about the films.]
In this theory, I propose that the evidence we have supports the view that the Emperor manages to point Luke down the dark path before his own death, and thus insures the survival of the Sith.
The core piece of evidence for this theory is the observation that the Emperor, near the end of Return of the Jedi, when he had Luke at his mercy, acted like a stupid asshole. Instead of executing the man who the Emperor himself had forseen could destroy him, he lets him run around his command room, and jeers at him. In fact, three times he interrupts Luke right before he unleashes his hate – interrupts him by telling him to unleash his hate.
I take this at face value. The Emperor is not, as we have seen, stupid. Nor is he necessarily an asshole. So what’s up? I believe he was trying to get Luke to go over to the Dark Side – (and this is the key bit) – without realizing it.
Why? Here’s my concpet: he’s forseen his own death. He wants the Sith to endure. And, as Yoda said, once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. He believes he can dupe Luke into becoming a Sith trojan horse, unaware of his own eventual doom.
I can elaborate on this theory at length. In fact, I have. Often. To my friends. In public. And now, it seems, my behavior has come back to roost. Read this saucy joinder from a “friend”:
So, [yours truly], after seeing Ep 3, do you *still* think Luke is a Dark Jedi? The obvious contrast is Anakin’s fight against Dooku, vs Luke’s fight against Vader, where Luke spares Vader’s life. Even the Emperor had to admit that Luke was a Jedi and could not be turned to the dark side…
I was… hoping this wouldn’t come up. [chagrin] A fools hope, I know.
Well, it certainly has become more difficult to make the case. For a variety of reasons. To me, the most important reason is that the whole tale is now squarely framed as the story of the destruction of the Sith from the inside out. As a single arc with this intention, it is a very satisfying tale, and from this vantage point I hesitate to draw any conclusions about what happens outside of that arc, as it seems largely irrelevant now.
One of the oddest things about the affect of the new series is that this whole arc really makes Luke’s participation in the struggle almost… secondary. The story is Vader’s story far more than anyone else’s now, which is… perhaps not what I was expecting. Even though it’s precisely what I thought would happen. Funny how things look different when you’ve actually arrived than they do when you’re just looking at the map.
As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m thinking about Empire, and Luke’s battle with Vader in Bespin. I…
I’m really going to have to go watch those again, I think, before I can say for sure. My instinct right now is that no, it doesn’t seem like Luke’s fate is as tightly bound as a result of his actions as Yoda makes it seem. Part of it, I think, is that seeing Yoda be so goddamn fallible in the first three movies (I mean, hello, Palpatine? Like, is a Sith? Anyone notice?) puts much less weight on the factual nature of his statements in Empire, which is, of course, the foundation of most of my argument.
I really need to watch the films again. Luke sure does fuck things up badly in Jedi, and that’s something I’ve had a hard time resolving. That, and how poorly the Emperor handles the whole thing. Although, seeing how he accomplished his position, I’m less likely to give him credit for being a master manipulator. He’s actually pretty poor at it, throughout.
I’m going to let it settle in, and maybe I’ll have a better answer. 🙂 [/chagrin]