empire strikes back strike back

March 30, 2021
Lower your blast shields, kids, cuz Uncle Hunty's been drinkin' Two Buck Chuck and doing the dishes, and now he has the hottest take in the galaxy: Empire Strikes back is the Batman of Star Wars movies: something you think is really cool when you're an adolescent, but which seems exponentially dumber the more you think about it.

ISSUE #1! The Force. In the first Star Wars, "the Force" was mostly about intuition and "trusting your feelings". If you were REALLY strong with the Force, you could put a whammy on weak-minded people, like "these aren't the droids you're looking for" or when Obi Wan made some other stormtroopers think they heard a noise behind them. Darth Vader was strong enough in the Force that he made a dude think he was choking to death, and he had, like, a weird feeling when his old mentor Obi Wan was nearby, but it was so weak he dismissed it.

Then in Empire Strikes Back, the Force is suddenly full-on telekinesis in the first 10 minutes with Luke TKing his lightsaber to his hand, Yoda levitating an entire X-Wing out of a swamp, Vader TK-throwing stuff around during a fight, and Luke doing a wire-fu super jump. AND there's Force ghosts! Whereas Luke hearing Obi Wan saying "use the Force, Luke!" at the end of the first movie could've been a memory or at most Obi Wan's will reaching out through the Force to deliver one final message, in Empire he's right there walkin' around, sitting on logs and having conversations like this is all totally normal. AAAAAND then at the very end Luke and Darth have a telepathic conversation across probably thousands of miles of space, so that's part of the Force now, too. Which brings us to...

ISSUE #2! A big important message of the first movie was that even if you're just some rando farmboy from Planet Nowheresville, you could learn the mystical arts and use your farmboy pluck and skills you developed bullseying womprats out of sheer boredom to save the galaxy! This was very inspirational to all the Nowheresville farmboys of the world, of which there are quite a few, who had otherwise mostly been told that heroism was for princes and knights and stuff. Sure, Luke's neighbor happened to have been the sensei of Darth Vader, and Luke's dad had been a knight, but from the sound of it Luke's dad was just another of the countless dudes Darth Vader smushed on his way to supremacy.

Then in Empire Strikes back, we learn that Darth Vader IS Luke's dad! Oh wow! I guess he's actually only "strong with the Force" and capable of saving the galaxy because he's the son of the galaxy's most powerful wizard-knight, and it's all birthright, just like all the other heroes. Sorry, Nowheresville! Well, at least he's in the running for boyfriend to that princess, and that's a step up even from space wizard's son, right?

ISSUE #3 was gonna be about how it feels like the Empire "strikes back" way too fast after having their super-weapon destroyed, but the more I think about it that actually seems pretty reasonable, with them sending probes all over the place looking for those pesky rebels, and then dumping ALL of their remaining resources into smushing them when they find them on Hoth. And then they continue to spend their remaining resources chasing the Millenium Falcon all over for the rest of the movie, and are spread so thin that they have to hire bounty hunters to help them, and end up having to make a leveraged deal with a washed-out gambler for their final move. So that's actually just fine.

So there you go! In retrospect, all the changes in The Force Awakens that everyone complains about don't hold a candle to what Empire Strikes Back pulled on the first Star Wars.
R Hunter Gough on Facebook
He's right! especially Point Two. And the start of making a galaxy that was way too small (oh btw Darth MADE that shiny gold protocol droid) and way too big (just no limits to anything, really going for that "Encyclopedia Galactica" scale) at the same time.

And the skepticism shown about the force is so much more in tune with the "subtle mind tricks". Like when Darth says the line about "this battle station is no match for the power of the dark side" etc, he sounds rightfully defensive of a subtle mystical art, along with Han's blase and dismissive lines about it ("Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid [...] Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.")
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