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January 20, 2011

Not so tough now, are ya, Vader?

"You can kiss the dark side of my ass, Vader."

Darth Vader is so lame in Jedi. At the end of the movie, he provokes Luke into attacking him but then is overpowered by Luke swinging his lightsaber around like a lunatic and leaving himself wide open.

That’s true. Vader misses several opportunities to slash Luke into two whiny halves at that moment, but let’s remember what Vader is really trying to accomplish at that point. Is he trying to kill Luke? No.

During their duel in Empire, Vader tells Luke that together they can defeat the Emperor and rule as father and son. At that point in Jedi, Vader is ostensibly carrying out the wishes of the Emperor in trying to goad Luke to enough anger that he’ll slip over to the dark side. But secretly, he’s planning to overthrow his master and intall himself in the Emperor’s sit-n-spin with Little Luke by his side.

The Shameless Star Wars Apologist maintains that Vader was overcome by the intensity of Luke’s anger which, combined with an effort to not hurt Luke, led to his fall.

This, by the way, is not such a farfetched theory. Think carefully about what Palpatine does when Luke successfully batters Vader to the floor and ginsus off his robotic hand. Is the Emperor upset? No, he’s absolutely giddy and, convinced that Luke has gone over to the dark side, reveals his true plan, to kill off Vader and take on Luke as his new apprentice. (“Strike him down and take your father’s place by my side.”)

The whole let’s-get-Luke-to-join-our-club thing was a ruse. The Emperor was planning to kill Vader, exactly the same way Vader had planned to kill his master.

So, yes, it’s partly right that Vader foregoes opportunities to cut Luke down, but that was intentional.

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