The True Cost of Darth Vader’s Redemption
By Gerard Baer (Editor-In-Chief)
When I think of Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, I think of someone who has found redemption in one last act prior to his death. The only real explanation for why he did what he did, can be love. Love for his son. The son he barely knew. When he picked up Darth Sidious, absorbing all of his dark side force lightning, and tossed him down that shaft, he saved the Rebellion from certain defeat. From the perspective of all who wanted to see The Empire’s oppressive reign come to an end, this would likely be considered the redemption of Darth Vader. Actually, it it could be viewed as the redemption of Anakin Skywalker, as Darth Vader was gone at this point. With the blood of all those Vader had slain on his hands, some may believe this to be “too little too late”, but it was a redemption of sorts nonetheless. But at what cost?
From the perspective of those who wanted The Empire to prevail victorious, this would not be viewed as a redemption, but rather it would be viewed as a moment of weakness. This point was not made in the movie, The Force Awakens. Fortunately I was able to find many additional tidbits of information in the book and audiobook for The Force Awakens. If you haven’t yet listened to or read this book, I can’t stress enough how much you will enjoy it. There are a lot of things that didn’t make the final cut of the movie that are in the book. One part in particular that stood out to me is an exchange between Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren, and how the actions of Vader/Anakin affected them both.
“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.”
Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.”
“Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”
Excerpt From: Alan Dean Foster. “The Force Awakens (Star Wars).” LucasBooks, 2015-12-18
A few interesting points can be pulled from this. First, Snoke has been around a while. He has seen the birth, rise and fall of The Galactic Empire. What his role in any of this has been remains to be seen, but I would like to see some type of tie in or connection to something from the past films. Not something as easy as Snoke being Plagueis. We have waited this long…let’s think outside the box and make this a great character with some depth and connectivity to the Star Wars universe, yet be new at the same time. It could be that Snoke was involved in some behind the scenes movements or something else that gives the old films a little nod. As far as this goes, we will find out in May of 2017.
Another point, and something that had never crossed my mind, is the perspective shared by Snoke and Ren. They see the entire fall of The Galactic Empire as a direct result of “Sentiment”. It doesn’t surprise me that two individuals blinded by hate and the darkness, couldn’t understand the unselfish act of saving ones child would be motivated by love, and not sentiment.
They call it “A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life.” In their eyes, Vader was weak because he gave into emotion and prevented the death of his son. Anakin was weak.
Ren goes on to say, “I am immune to the light…”
Prior to this, Snoke stated he has never had a student before Kylo Ren with as much promise. Ren claims it is Snoke’s teaching that make him strong. Snoke then states “It is far more than that. It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side—and the light.”
Snoke fears Ren may be susceptible to the same “weakness” that Vader did. After Ren proclaims his immunity to the light, Snoke warns “Your self-belief is commendable, Kylo Ren, but do not let it blind you. No one knows the limits of his own power until it has been tested to the utmost, as yours has not been. That day may yet come. There has been an awakening in the Force. Have you felt it?”
It is very oblivious in the film, that Kylo Ren has some serious issues. He appears to be very powerful with the force, but does not have the emotional development to handle it, just like his Grandfather, Anakin. When he screams “TRAITOR” at Finn, I immediately thought of Darth Vader screaming “I HATE YOU!’ to Obi Wan on Mustafar. They appear to have very similar personality defects. Snoke made it clear that he fears Ren may be corrupted by the same “weakness” as Vader when he tells him that the droid they seek is with his father, Han Solo. To Ren he says “Even you, master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test.” Ren emphatically states his father means nothing to him, but Snoke’s reply is “We shall see. We shall see.” Reading this next part, stirred memories of another Evil puppet master. Ren turned to leave the chamber, and “When he was gone, a grotesque smile twisted across Snoke’s countenance. Then it vanished—along with the rest of the holo of the Supreme Leader.” What came to mind was Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious and his wicked grin after informing Vader Padme was dead. Both of these vile creatures thrive on the torment and anguish of others.
Darth Vader’s redemption had a direct effect on the actions on Snoke and Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren was connected to Vader, but also to Leia and Luke Skywalker himself. Ren is made of the dark side, and the light. Snoke knew Ren would likely encounter his father, Han Solo, and his test would be how he reacted at this meeting. Kylo Ren would need to demonstrate he could do what Vader could not. He needed to make sure the dark overpower the light. I find it interesting how you can directly connect the act of Vader saving Luke, to the act of Kylo Ren killing Han Solo. One act motivated by love. The other motivated by evil. The redemption of Darth Vader laid the groundwork for the death of a beloved smuggler, hero and father, Han Solo. Quite a high cost indeed.
Many are familiar with the saying “Nothing of value comes cheap.” What will the eventual cost be of Kylo Ren’s murdering his father? Can Kylo Ren be redeemed after the acts he has committed? I tend to think not, but time will tell. Vader murdered many, including the Padawan’s at the Jedi Temple. After all that, in the eyes of some, he redeemed himself prior to his death. It may be several years before we find out, but we can all enjoy speculating until then on what the true cost of Darth Vader’s redemption really was.
I invite you to come over to The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics (Click group name to visit!) to discuss this subject and many more with us. Everyone is welcome!
Gerard Baer is the creator of www.taoswf.com and Senior Administrator for The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics, and Administrator for Star Wars Exposé & Star Wars Fanatics Facebook groups. He is also the Co-Founder of The Alliance Group and The Alliance/Exposé Network, along with all their associated properties. Main duties include Webmaster, content creator and graphic designer for www.taoswf.com, as well as general all around control freak.