“You are on the council, but we do not grant you the rank of master.” – Mace Windu
“What? How can you do this? This is outrageous, it’s unfair.” – Anakin Skywalker
Remember that moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin is given a seat on the Jedi Council but Mace Windu tells him he IS NOT granted the rank of Master? Young Skywalker is pretty ticked about not being elevated to Master, and voices his disgust vehemently only to be chastised for his outburst. Anakin takes his seat and the scene moves along.
I can’t really argue one way or the other if it was the right decision for the Council to deny Anakin a promotion. I could, of course, spend this entire post dissecting the decision of the Jedi Council, and Anakin’s reaction, but my interest in doing so isn’t very high, at least not at the moment. Instead, I want to spend my time in this post wrestling with a different moment, or rather, a different transition point, in Anakin’s life as a Jedi. Basically, I want to know when and why he was promoted from Padawan to Knight because there is no canonical reference to it and, frankly, I want to know what the event/moment was like for Anakin.
Honestly, I think it is curious that we have never witnessed, nor read, anything about this very central moment in Skywalker’s life. And, my curiosity is only amplified when we realize that we DO get to witness other significant points in Anakin’s life, all of which affect him in profound ways. Here is a brief list of some of these moments:
- As a 9-year-old, Anakin is freed from slavery and leaves his mother on Tatooine (The Phantom Menace)
- Anakin becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Padawan (The Phantom Menace)
- Young Skywalker has doubts about training to become a Jedi and considers leaving the Order (Obi-Wan and Anakin)
- He is given his first, independent assignment as a Jedi guarding Senator Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
- Anakin witnesses his mother’s death, and slaughters a tribe of Tusken Raiders (Attack of the Clones)
- He secretly marries Padmé Amidala (Attack of the Clones)
- Anakin takes on a Padawan of his own, Ahsoka Tano (The Clone Wars movie)
- Anakin watches as Ahsoka walks away from the Jedi Order (The Clone Wars)
- He learns that he is going to be a father (Revenge of the Sith)
- He is appointed to the Jedi Council (Revenge of the Sith)
- Anakin cuts off the arm of Mace Windu, turning to the Dark Side, and becomes Darth Vader (Revenge of the Sith)
While this list could definitely be expanded, again, what has no possibility of being added right now is the moment Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight. Of course, some might suggest that this event needn’t be developed, that we get to see him as a Knight in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Well, this is true. But we should also keep in mind that becoming a Jedi Knight is not a trivial thing. A Padawan must go through the “Trials,” the ritual process within the Order whereby a Padawan becomes a Knight. While there are a number of significant moments for a Jedi youngling in their training, from the creation to their lightsaber to their being apprenticed to a Jedi Knight or Master, the “Trials” are THE most significant rite of passage one will ever undertake within the Order because it is what makes one a full- fledged Jedi. While the responsibility of the Padawan is to learn the tenants of the Order, to learn how to follow the Jedi Code, this responsibility flips when one becomes a Knight. The Jedi Knight is a full Jedi because they are no longer tasked with learning, but with practicing and implementing the Code. In turn, the Knight will also take on a Padawan of their own, teaching the beliefs and duties of the Order to a young, up and coming Jedi.
But it is also worth noting that it is the Jedi Council which decides when a Padawan is ready for the “Trials,” and also determines when/if the Padawan has passed. Only then, if they have passed, will the Council confer the rank of Knight upon the Padawan.
In my mind, this is an event in Anakin’s life that is not simply about his taking and passing a test. Or, to say it another way, I am not interested in this particular story just to be able to say Anakin’s “Trials” were X, Y, and Z. Oh no, I want this story because it opens up a wealth of possibilities to get into Anakin’s head, to see how, during this immensely important period of his life, he viewed himself and his relationship to those around him.
Now, it is worth nothing the possibility that Anakin was granted his Knighthood immediately following the events depicted in Attack of the Clones. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is promoted to Knight after his own Master dies, and he defeats Darth Maul in battle. Perhaps the Jedi Council felt that young Skywalker’s actions, such as protecting Padmé, trying to rescue Obi-Wan, and facing Count Dooku, were ample reason to promote him to Jedi Knight. If this is the case, that is all well and good, but I also think it would be a mistake to think the Council promoted Anakin in the wake of all of these deeds.
Here is why: after going through everything we see him go through in Attack of the Clones, Anakin would have believed he had faced his “Trials” and should receive his Knighthood. Imagine, then, how royally pissed off he would be if, after everything he went through, he was still a Padawan as the Clone Wars began!!! You and I both know that HE would believe he had faced his “Trials” in the past few weeks, particularly after taking on a Sith Lord. Instead, upon returning from Naboo, he discovers that he is STILL Obi-Wan’s Padawan. If I was writing the book on Anakin’s “Trials,” I think the Prologue would need to have a scene in which he bursts into the Council Chamber demanding to know why he was not promoted to Jedi Knight…
The way I see it, if Anakin is elevated to Knight immediately after, and as a result of, his actions in Attack of the Clones, this shuts the door on Anakin having one more reason to be mad at the Jedi Council, one more reason to complain to Padmé, one more reason for Palpatine to plant the seed of Jedi greatness into his young mind. Of course Anakin would eventually end up facing the “Trials,” but there would be an underlying and persistent resentment, a boiling anger directed towards the Council, and even Obi-Wan, for holding him back yet again, a disgust for being treated like all of the other Padawan’s when he is convinced he exceeds them and most other Jedi.
And added to this resentment and disgust would be the ultimate Anakin paradox: that in feeling he should be promoted to full-fledged Jedi Knight, Anakin would also be wrestling with all the ways he has broken the Jedi Code – from killing an entire tribe of Tusken Raiders out of anger to secretly marrying Padmé Amidala. In other words, this story should not be told just so we can see Anakin get upset and pissy once again, but rather to dig into Anakin’s inner-self at a deeper level, to better understand how he reconciles his actions, thoughts, and beliefs with the Jedi Order he is sworn to serve.
Besides, it is in the heart and mind of a Jedi where the “Trials” truly take place and, well, after the things he says and does in Attack of the Clones, I want a front row seat to Anakin’s psychological and emotional turmoil as he transitions from Padawan to Knight. Plus, as a side show to the Anakin’s inner action, the story would also give us insight into the way(s) the Jedi Council view Anakin, allowing us to see their hesitation in promoting him and, perhaps, even the decision to provide him with a Padawan after he has become a Knight.
Oh, and as a final thought, just imagine who would be there to help Anakin through the “Trials,” who his closest confidant would end up being. It is hardly a stretch to imagine Chancellor Palpatine taking the time to work with young Skywalker through this period, a closer bond being forged between the two. And when Anakin did finally receive his Knighthood, Palpatine would be right there, off to the side, just watching and smiling…
I really do hope we get this type of story someday.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Do you agree there should be a story that looks at Anakin’s “Trials” and, if so, what sort of thing(s) would you want to see in it???
 We DO get to see Anakin face the Trials, and receive his promotion, in the non-canonical Clone Wars series from the early 2000s.