Lightsaber

Luke Skywalker: A Farewell to Arms

He hears the command the Emperor, the Sith named Sidious. The Dark Lord tells Luke Skywalker to “fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side.” Young Skywalker, having battled Darth Vader, his father, had finally bested his foe. His “hatred made [him] powerful” and he had unleashed a dark-filled fury against his father, swinging and hacking with his self-crafted green lightsaber until a blow was finally dealt. Vader’s right hand severed, the father of Luke Skywalker lays prostrate, weaponless, and entirely at the mercy of his son.

Luke hears the Emperor’s command, he listens, but his disposition changes. Something within him stirs, a recognition we can see on his face. He is aware that he is on a precipice of falling into a never-ending chasm of darkness (it is little wonder the battle ended with Vader and Luke above an actual chasm, a clear metaphor if ever there was one). In this instance, looking down at the mechanical stump where he severed his father’s hand – and looking at his own mechanical hand, a result of an injury Vader exacted on him a year before – Luke makes his choice.

Turning towards the Emperor, Luke Skywalker will confidently declare to Darth Sidious that “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” But his words are only a part of this pronouncement, the exclamation point actually coming before he speaks when he willingly disarms himself, tossing away his lightsaber, the “elegant” weapon of a Jedi Knight. This is Luke’s active commitment to the Jedi, a practical statement of faith declaring his dedication to “peace and justice,” to “knowledge and defense, never attack.” It is the zenith of Luke’s story in the Original Trilogy, his narrative trajectory taking him from farm-boy on the desolate world of Tatooine in A New Hope to this decisive moment in Return of the Jedi as he stands in the Emperor’s throne room. 

Skywalker’s intentional disarmament is, in a sense, his Arthurian moment, or rather his reverse-Arthurian moment. While the legendary King Arthur inherited Britain’s throne by pulling a sword from a stone, Luke inherits the title of Jedi Knight not by grasping and brandishing his weapon but doing the exact opposite, ridding himself of it. With this simple but profound action Luke Skywalker fundamentally changes what it means to be a member of the Jedi Order and elevates heroism to an even greater level, a level which requires traversing a path of nonviolence, compassion, and mercy (even for one’s enemies). 

As a child I may not have been able to fully appreciate what Luke does in Return of the Jedi but today I am profoundly moved by Skywalker’s heroic choice. It is a stark reminder to me – and perhaps to you as well – that a farewell to arms is necessary in the pursuit of peace. Even when faced with our enemies and the possibility of death we must set aside our weapons of war with a willingness to sacrifice our lives out of love and not hatred. In this way, I interpret Luke’s act through the lens of Matthew 26:52 where Jesus tells a companion to “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (NIV). Living by the sword, even a lightsaber, is no longer appropriate for a Jedi Knight; now, the only option is to walk the path of peace and justice fortified and armed with the Light Side of the Force. 

Haikuesday: General Grievous

Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough
Cough, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp


Qymaen jai Sheelal –
deadly Kaleesh warrior,
killer of Yam’rii.


Kaleesh warrior
turned into cyborg monster:
General Grievous.


Cybernetic dude.
One arm, two arm, three arm, four.
And some cool legs, too.


Fierce Separatist,
commanding the droid army…
…and the droid navy.


Death and destruction,
killing all of the Jedi.
Grievous’ purpose.


Grievous is his name.
Killing Jedi is his game.
What a nifty rhyme!


Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough


Malevolent ship,
reaping havoc on Clone troops.
Can Grievous be stopped?


I have to be frank:
it’s funny when Grievous just
ignores Count Dooku.


Falleen victory,
but Bothawui invasion
halted by Sky Guy.


Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue
Spinning Sabers, Spin, Spin, Spin
Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue


Tano fights Grievous
in the sky of Ruusan’s moon.
A rookie mistake.


In Grievous’ lair,
a young Jedi Knight will die
but Fisto escapes.


Master Koth captured.
Grievous tortures the Jedi
for some amusement.


On Saleucami
Kenobi pursues Grievous
but it’s all for not.


Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Cough, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Rasp
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough


Tarpal’s sacrifice.
Grievous captured by Gungans,
exchanged for Ani.


“Wipe the witches out”
Dooku commands of Grievous.
Massacred ‘Sisters.


The planet Florrum.
Hondo’s gang is outgunned by
Grievous’ droid troops.


Battle of Zanbar:
a Grievous led army fights
Maul’s Mando soldiers.


Dooku’s bodyguard
at humanitarian
event on Raxus.


Grievous fights Quinlan.
Quinlan sort of beats Grievous.
It’s temporary.


Invisible Hand,
Grievous’ flagship during
Coruscant battle.


Polyphonic piece.
The “General Grievous” theme.
Revenge of the Sith.


Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough


Grievous meets Sky Guy.
The two trade inane insults.
A brief encounter.


Tracked to Utapau,
Grievous is confronted by
Master Kenobi.


“Trained in Jedi arts,”
the cyborg tells Obi-Wan.
What a weird statement…


Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Green
Twirling Sabers, Twirl, Twirl, Twirl
Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Green


Find someone who will
look at you the way Grievous
looks at Kenobi.


Grievous flees the scene
and is pursued once again.
Ugh, how typical.

Seriously though,
have you noticed that Grievous
flees battles a lot?


Bursting into flames,
his heart shot by Kenobi.
So uncivilized.


Commander Karbin,
cybernetic Mon Cala.
He is no Grievous.


Here is a fun fact:
Mister Bones has some Grievous
programming in him.

Another fun fact:
I don’t have any Grievous
programming in me.


Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough


Hold up for a sec!
Grievous was a cyborg but
couldn’t get new lungs!?!?!

Are we surprised, though?
I mean, Padmé thought she was
having one baby.

Honestly, med tech
in Star Wars is advanced but
weirdly lacking, too.


Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough

Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough
Grievous needs Albuterol.
Get his inhaler.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

Thoughts on the (One-Armed) Wampa

My Star Warsie preferences more often than not boil down to one thing: my childhood love of the franchise. This is why, for example, I am a die-hard fan of the infamous Grand Admiral Thrawn. Since I read The Thrawn Trilogy over and over as a kid, I naturally became obsessed with the strategically gifted Chiss. And, since I watched The Empire Strikes Back (ESB) far more than the other two Original Trilogy films, the characters, places, events, and creatures from ESB stuck with me. Which leads me to the wampa.

Something  I have always appreciated about The Empire Strikes Back is how the initial tension in the film is unexpected, coming from a natural cause – an indigenous creature. With little warning other than the agitation of Luke’s tauntaun,  a wampa – Hoth’s apex predator – suddenly appears, launching itself at Luke and his mount. The last time we saw Luke, at the end of A New Hope, he was receiving a medal for heroically destroying the Death Star, but within the first few minutes of The Empire Strikes Back, our hero is incapacitated and being dragged away by a massive snow beast. Absolutely brilliant!!!  The use of the wampa at the outset of ESB is a perfect reminder that the galaxy far, far away, while exotic and exciting, is also exceedingly dangerous. Not even our heroes can prepare for every eventuality and danger that may be lurking, and Luke was certainly unprepared for this ambush.

Wampa 2
The wampa attacks, knocking Luke off of his tauntaun.

Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

But the wampa deserves a lot of credit. Luke may have been caught unaware, but so was his tauntaun, which doesn’t see or smell the predator until it’s already too late. Sneaking up on Luke is one thing but the tauntaun is a different matter. Remember, the tauntaun is native to the ice planet, and are natural prey for wampas. Certainly these snowlizards have evolved defensive mechanisms such as their sense of smell to warn  them of danger, especially important since the wampa’s pristine, white coat camouflages it in the snow. The fact that the tauntaun is caught unaware is proof that the wampa is not to be trifled with, a clear testament to the keen hunting skills of these monstrous beasts. 

I can imagine the wampa stalking the tauntaun, and the strange “thing” on top of it, with incredible stealth, moving closer and closer to its prey. As it moves closer, the wampa observes the body language of the tauntaun and listens the sounds it’s making, gauging whether the snowlizard is aware of impending danger. Realizing that its prey has not caught wind of danger, the wampa sets itself up for a strike, attacking while the tauntaun and the “thing” idle on the open tundra. The ambush complete, the wampa drags the spoils of its victory through the snow, back to its cave.

The Wampa Cave

Wampa
The Wampa hears Luke and moves towards him.

Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

When we see Luke again, after being dragged away, he is hanging upside down inside the cave the wampa calls home. At the same time, off in the distance, we can also hear the wampa and the tauntaun, the former letting out a bloodcurdling howl while the latter cries out in terror and pain. But we don’t just hear the wampa, we also see it feasting, ripping into the limb of (I presume) Luke’s still living tauntaun. Disturbing but pretty cool, especially since we see blood and drool dripping down its pristine white fur. Plus, watching the wampa eat – which was not added until the Special Edition of ESB was released in the 90s – also provides perspective, allowing us to witness how massive and deadly this creature truly is. When the wampa becomes aware that its other captured prey is attempting to escape, and it begins moving to intervene, this new perspective on the wampas size should make us thankful that Luke has his father’s old lightsaber. Or let me say it like this: I’m not entirely sure a blaster would have helped Luke survive.

Yet, survive the encounter Luke does. Freeing himself in the nick of time, Luke is able to awkwardly wield the lightsaber and slice off the wampa’s right arm, causing it to let out a cry of pain and agony. Honestly, I have always felt a feeling of remorse for the wampa in that moment. Its capture of Luke was nothing personal, just survival, a matter of securing a meal. The wampa would hardly starve if it allowed Luke to escape, but why WOULD it let him escape? When it attacks Luke the second time, it certainly isn’t thinking this “thing” will fight back – does anything, other than another wampa, ever fight back? Of course not, but in this case its prey happens to do just that, and as a result the wampa suffers.

Wampa in Pain
The wampa cries out in pain after it is wounded.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

It’s easy to forget that as Luke flees the cave, scrambling his way into the windswept tundra of Hoth, the now one-armed wampa remains behind. At that point, the wampa simply falls out of our minds as the events of the film unfold. However, I can’t help but wonder what happened to it after Luke fled, and I bet I’m not the only one. To be fair, the Expanded Universe novel Darksaber, set many years after ESB, involves Luke heading back to Hoth where he re-encounters the wampa he maimed years before. I won’t go into all the details about this particular meeting, but will say that I never really cared for Darksaber. Still, you should check out the book if you’re curious about Luke’s (non-canonical) second run-in with the beast.

Of course, I do think it reasonable to believe the wampa survived its vicious wound. Chances are it would have needed to change its hunting techniques, but I think our one-armed friend could handle the task. Granted, if the wound did cause its eventual downfall, it would probably be due to a run in with another wampa or perhaps poachers. Still, until I find out otherwise, until some new and official story establishes the death of the one-armed wampa, I’m just gonna keep believing it’s still out there, roaming the cold, windswept plains of Hoth.


This post is part of the Star Wars ComLINKS series. Check out more Star Wars ComLINKS over at Anakin and His Angel.

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