Friday, October 14, 2011

Jedi Lies: Episode V

1LR continues to examine each Star Wars film for evidence to answer the question, "Is it okay for a Jedi to lie?" In this installment we turn our steely gaze to Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
  • On Hoth, a ghostly Obi-Wan tells Luke to go to Degobah. He says, "There you will learn from Yoda - The Jedi Master that instructed me." This implies that Obi-Wan was the padawan to Yoda. Now, some might dismiss this by saying that Yoda taught all younglings before they became padawans at 13 or that this is a reference to Yoda teaching Obi-Wan how to commune with the dead Qui-Gon. But later, Yoda says of Luke, "Much anger in him... like his father," and Obi-Wan replies, "Was I any different when you taught me?" From the first three films, we have no indication that Obi-Wan had any anger problems nor was he impatient or reckless (two more of Yoda's criticism's of Luke that Obi-Wan falsely deflects onto his younger self). While asking a question can't be a lie, the answer to Obi-Wan's question is, "Yes. Yes, you were different." As for Yoda teaching Obi-Wan... true - but the way it is stated in this film misrepresents the actual truth of the matter - Obi-Wan's most significant teacher was Qui-Gon.
  • When Luke first encounters Yoda, Yoda is childish and pretends not to be himself. When Luke asks to see Yoda, Yoda responds, "Take you to him I will." and then, later, at Yoda's home, Yoda says of himself, "Patience. Soon you will be with him." Why does Yoda do this? Perhaps it is a bit of self-preservation from threats since, apparently, nobody knows he's on Degobah. It's hard to even call these statements *technically* true. It's deception and, as such, it is chronicled it here.
  •  When Luke senses the threat to Leia and Han, Yoda tells him, "If you leave now, help them you could but you will destroy all for which they have fought and suffered." Wha? This turns out to be an out-and-out lie as Luke DOES leave and he doesn't turn to the dark side nor does the rebellion crumble. The only hope purists have to cling to on this on is narrowly defining Yoda's use of the word, "now," to mean, "right this second," and not, you know, that same evening, which is when Luke actually takes off.
  • Speaking of taking off, Yoda tries the same scare tactics on Luke as he's loading up his X-Wing. He says, "If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil." Once again, completely untrue. How is it that Yoda can all of a sudden tell the future with unerring accuracy but when Luke asks about Han and Leia's fate, Yoda says, "Always in motion is the future."? Answer - he simply wants Luke to do exactly what HE wants him to do and he's willing to lie to make that happen.
  • After Luke takes off, Obi-Wan says to Yoda, "That boy is our last hope," which is odd because he KNOWS that Leia is his twin. Perhaps he wanted Luke to hear him saying this untruth. Luke could hear the ghostly Obi-Wan in the cockpit but probably not Yoda saying, "No. There is another."
  • Luke makes two promises as a Jedi-in-training, saying, "Master Yoda, I promise to return and finish what I've begun... You have my word." Master Yoda says, "Mind what you have learned - save you it can," to which Luke replies, "I will. And I'll return. I promise. As a Jedi apprentice, Luke keeps all of these promises, keeping with the tradition we've noted in previous movies of Jedi keeping their word.
  • When Luke learns of the Jedi's deception, he seems grieved. How odd is it that the bad guy is the one telling the truth in this movie? Luke regurgitates the lies he's been fed by Obi-Wan about his father, "He told me you killed him!" to which Vader only has to respond with the truth, "No. I am your father," and, "Search your feelings. You know it to be true." Later, Luke is grieved by this deception by his mentor, "Ben! Why didn't you tell me?"
So, what can we walk away from Episode V with?
- The Jedi continue to lie to Luke to get him to do what they want.
- Interestingly, Luke himself is lie-free. The closest he comes is when he tells his aunt that he'll mention to Uncle Owen to get a translator that speaks Bache and then no such thing but that can reasonably chalked up to forgetfulness.
- As a Jedi, Luke keeps his promises.

Yoda, whispering lies, sweet lies, in Luke's ear.


  1. I've been really enjoying your series. It's furthering my distance from Star Wars and solidifying my interest in converting to a Trekky (JJ Abrams, etc). Lucas ruined it all with the prequels.

  2. Thanks for the compliment. So you're a neo-trekky, eh? Well, I guess you'll really hate my upcoming series.... 10,000 reasons why Star Wars is better than Star Trek (JK, BTW). Thanks for continuing to check me out.