-"The Force can have a strong effect on the weak-minded."-

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

things were... complicated

We commence with the first movie, Star Wars (or A New Hope, as it has been re-named).
At the risk of tedium the opening scrolls of these movies deserve examination.
from the very first words our impressions and expectations are being molded:

It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking
from a hidden base, have won
their first victory against
the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel
spies managed to steal secret
plans to the Empire's
ultimate weapon, the Death
Star, an armored space
station with enough power to
destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's
sinister agents, Princess
Leia races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the
stolen plans that can save
her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy...

Strong term, 'evil'.
The Rebels don't seem to be called 'good' except by implication or comparison.
The use of the socio-political term 'Rebel' and the moral qualifier 'evil' is a textbook propagandist technique, a mixing of terms.
As well, playing on our emotions with words like 'sinister' and 'evil' should not, I think, be viewed kindly.

We also get the impression that the Empire is a long-engrained social structure that is only now being torn down by a civil war.
We find out later from Kenobi that in fact the Empire is quite new, while the Old Republic lasted for "a thousand generations".
I have no idea who is supposed to be responsible for editing together the footage that comes to us in the form of this 'movie'.
Possibly it's Luke's propaganda corps after he takes power - if so, I have no idea why the opening scrolls of the movies contain such twistings of the truth and outright lies.
There can be no question that whoever the responsible party, they were sympathetic to the Jedi.

This is not a rebellion.
The rebellion already happened; the Jedi stranglehold on the galaxy was ended twenty years prior.
The war-lust of those despotic samurai thugs was ended by the royal house of Naboo who then siezed the tiller of the galaxy to bring about a new age for all, freed from the shackles of the Jedi.

This is a Counter-Rebellion; very different indeed.

Finally we're told that by saving 'her people', freedom will be restored to the entire galaxy.
This bit makes me a bit uneasy because I really don't know who Leia's 'people' are (we're never shown what the peoples of the galaxy really feel about all this).
This may be referring to her royal house.
That would be in keeping with what we see of her family's struggles and interactions throughout the movies

I can't help but wonder about the line "Princess Leia races home".
Where is 'home' for the dear little Princess? Because, as it turns out, this movie opens above her father's homeworld...

Who does Princess Leia get her title from?

Does she get her royal title from... Bail Organa?!
Nonsense - nowhere will you find anybody suggesting that Bail is a regent.
woops - apparently, the Expanded Universe now has many claims of Bail's royal pedigree.
Wookipeedia's entry notes he served as a viceroy and was married to a queen. seriously?
(for a moment let's put aside the quibble that a viceroy is no more a true royal than Denethor was...)
Are we supposed to believe that she was adopted but KEPT her royal title?
so she just happened to get a NEW royal title that was the same as her previous royal title?!

Leia gets her title from her mom, the Queen.
And from her dad, Lord Darth Vader.
It is in the new trilogy that we have it hammered home that Vader MARRIED THE QUEEN.
That wasn't made up for the new trilogy - we were told in ROTJ that Leia was Vader's OTHER kid.
Vader married the Queen - he is a Lord, as in King.
He is never called Dark Lord of the Sith in the original trilogy (or the new trilogy for that matter).
The word Sith is never uttered in the original trilogy

Lord Darth Vader is the father of Princess Leia and he always appears in flowing cape and intimidating helmet.
Vader is the male head of a family of galactic royalty
Naboo is no back-water
Amidala is not a Queen, she is THE Queen The galactic senate does whatever ANYBODY from the house of regency on Naboo say, be it Palpatine, Amidala, or fucking JAR JAR!

It's difficult to spot the villain in your own world.
How much more difficult might it be to spot the villian in a galaxy far far away?

You see, the good guys don't always wear white...

And the bad guys don't always wear black.

Vader doesn't act like a standard villain.
I used to give Lucas credit for excellent writing by finally writing a worthy villain.
But then he made the new trilogy, and over and over again we get to see how Lucas writes villains; cowardly and short-sighted.
That's not Vader - Vader is a brave master strategist.

There is something going on with the royal wadrobe that is reiterated and reinforced in the new trilogy.
This isn't about Anakin turning evil, because we see that it's Amidala's royal garb that flows black.
Anakin's style takes on the royal black after hanging around with the ex-Queen (ex?! relax - we'll get to it!).
Is this some sort of gender signifier? Or maybe a dualist philosophy worn on the sleeve?

And all these vestments seem so, um, DARK.
Have we misunderstood something fundamental about the nature of 'Dark Side'?
Does Dark Side reflect evil?
The good guys don't call themselves the Light Side.

In ROTJ we see the red-clad Royal Guards - they're in the Emperor's (hint) THRONE ROOM (hint hint).
Nothing is stated about them but the feeling is left that they are associated with the Emperor and Vader.
But in the new trilogy we see red-clad royal guards flanking Amidala, who is dressed in black.
There doesn't seem to be even the hint that it is Amidala that corrupts Anakin.
This is all just more evidence of the royal family's aesthetic.

So what is it the King and his daughter are doing again?

The Royal Emissaries

The first characters we meet are the droids - C-3PO and R2-D2.
In the new trilogy we learn that R2 was one of the Queen's droids.
And 3PO was BUILT by Anakin Skywalker when he was a kid!
There were suggestions even in the original trilogy that the droids were indeed more than mere tech gear.
In this opening scene C-3PO utters "There'll be no escape for the Princess this time", indicating he knows her.
Later, he claims not to know who she is to Luke - neither the first nor the last dirty robot lie.
Another lie seems to be that they belonged to Captain Antilles, but there is never an attempt to return them to anyone.
That's because they are clearly Leia's droids and are with her and Luke throughout the movies.

These are heirloom droids, gifts to Leia from both her parents.

C-3PO shines gold, emblamatic of his station as protocol droid and translator for Vader and his direct family.
Be careful around this golden automaton - he was built and programmed by Anakin Skywalker - beware Jedi mind tricks.
We'll see this robotic diplomat pull off several feats of subtle manipulation in this movie.

And then there's R2-D2, guardian of the regency.
Astromech aboard the Queens starship and her and her lover Anakin's near constant companion.
Beware of this droid as well - it seems to have a lot of 'special' modifications.
R2 is a spydroid with defensive and offensive weaponry.

Are droids sentient?
There would be no reason to suspect this in our own world, but in Star Wars there is a good deal of evidence that they are.
Almost everything they do could be attributed to subtle and complicated programming, except there are several moments that would seem to indicated droids feel pain, have personalities, and are self directed.
The new trilogy goes even further, with suggestions of droid armies and the Electronic Union.
And there's the strange cultural hatred for droids.
Droids may not be what we think they are at all and we'll be examining them closely as we go.

His Royal Highness, Lord Darth Vader, cometh

After the royal emmissary droids, we meet Darth Vader - naturally.

Anakin Skywalker married Queen Amidala.
That's not just fantasy made up for the new trilogy.
Leia is Vader's daughter - PRINCESS Leia - if she's the Princess, then who's her daddy?
Darth Vader is - LORD Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker.
The title of Lord is not a Sith title - the word 'Sith' is never mentioned in the original trilogy.
Darth Vader is King - he is the male head of galactic royalty.

Vader arrives on an active battle scene, BEFORE the ship is secured.
Impressive. Most impressive.
Can you imagine Janet Reno strolling into the Waco compound?
Or Westmoreland crawling into a Viet Cong tunnel?
Why is Vader so intent? Because his daughter is on this ship.

And Vader pauses to survey the dead, a poignant moment we see from no one else in these movies.
Vader is troubled by this bloodshed

In rapid succession we see Vader's soldiers
NOT executing prisoners
NOT firing on an escape pod
NOT shooting to kill
All of this somehow has left a lasting impression that the Imperials are evil.
Um, say again?
This is Lord Vader picking up his daughter - why are the 'Rebels' shooting at Vader's troops?

These are not Rebels. This is not a Rebellion - it is a Counter-Rebellion.
The actual Rebellion happened about two decades before this.

The man that we see Vader choking is a complete mystery, thanks to the movie providing no information about him.
Who is he? What, exactly, does he think he's doing? And who for?
This is one of the first actions we see of Vader's and it is meant to burn into our minds that Vader kills at a whim.
Vader does not kill without reason, and the reason he mostly kills is when anybody - ANYBODY - fucks with his family.

Like when nobody else in the family or community could do anything about his mother being kidnapped and tortured.
Imagine a rising politician flying from Washington DC to the middle of the desert, climbing on a motorcycle and hunting down his mothers's captors.
When searching for his missing son, Vader killed high ranking Imperial officers who thwarted his efforts.
And when the Emperor was going to kill Luke, Vader picked him up bodily and threw him down a shaft.
Seriously, don't fuck with the King's family - he will personally fuck your shit up.

I suspect Vader has a personal grudge he is settling with this jackass leader of Leia's bodyguard.
Their exchange is delightful - the man is obviously lying, knowing Vader will kill him instantly if he reveals the truth.
So, after confirming confirming the lie with a sneer that can almost be felt through royal respirator, he kills this villain.

We do not see Leia interacting with her crew at all - she gives them no orders during this firefight and is hiding alone.
Leia has lost control of her ship.
This is a MUTINY!
Vader is not capturing Leia - his is RESCUING her from her own trecherous crew!
Why did Leia's crew rebel?
The Death Star causes madness that is infectious and spreading.
Leia isn't running from her father, she's on a mission from her father to deliver the plans.
Her father, Vader, monitored the transmission of the plans - this may have been a complicate rouse gone afoul.
Then something happened aboard her ship that required Vader to storm in, diable the blockade runner, and sieze control.
What did they intend to do? Sell the plans? Try to make another Death Star? Barter for Leia's life?
We never find out, but Leia is no longer safe with these mutineers and it is her father who saves her.

Also interesting side note: while Vader is holding this man in the air by his throat, he's not leaning forward at all.
Some feel that Vader is holding the man up with the Force, but nothing magical seems to be implied here.
Rather (Vader being more machine than man (Obi-Wan's words)), I agree with others more observant than I that this demonstrates the power of his cybernetic armature.
There is no telekinesis in Star Wars.

The Little Princess

After the emmissaries and Lord Vader, we meet Vader's daughter, the Princess Leia.
Not 'a' Princess - THE Princess.
As her mother was THE Queen.
This family of the House Amidala-Skywalker are movers and shakers on a galactic level.

Leia is hiding all alone in the duct work because she can no longer trust her mutinous crew.
R2, trusty royal guardian, has found her and she is using the little droid to make a recording.
When C-3PO finds them he does something he never again does - shuts the fuck up and pays attention.
He knows Leia is in danger and that her position must not be given away.

Attempting to get Threepio's shiny metal ass into the escape pod, Artoo tries to fill him in.
And then Threepio loudly shrieks out, "Secret mission? What plans? What are you talking about?"
I imagine Leia listening, shocked and horrified to hear this idiot yelling about THE SECRET PLANS FOR THE DOOMSDAY WEAPON!!
This is akin to Sam Gamgee blathering, "I heard a good deal about a ring, and a Dark Lord, and something about the end of the world, but..."

At this point a blast misses Threepio but succeeds in making the corridor more dangerous than the pod - so in goes Threepio.
Um, who shot at him?
There's not so much as a trooper radio click, much less a telling piece of footage to actually SHOW us a trooper shooting at the droid.
And there's no report that comes through that someone SAW droids trundling into an escape pod...
I think Leia's the one who sends a bolt down the hall - she has to get the damned droids OUT of the ship and there he is yelling about the fucking PLANS!
So, kapow goes Leia, in goes Threepio, and the troopers no doubt hear the blast and come searching.
See, makes sense :D
Fanciful? Yes.
Impossible to prove? Yes.
Fun? Indeed.

Why didn't Leia join them in the pod?
And why doesn't Vader land on Tatooine to retrieve the droids?
We see Leia in ROTJ disguise herself to deal with the mighty Jabba - is there something between Jabba and Vader's family?
Well, there was that bit in Phantom Menace when Anakin as a child mentions dreaming of freeing the slaves of Tatooine...
And in A New Hope there isn't any reference to slavery - not slavery of organics anyway, just electronics.
Did Anakin Skywalker free the slaves of Tatooine?
That would make him a Great Emancipator as well as being King and Galactic Hero and Savior - holy shit
maybe he IS space jesus

Leia is quickly scooped up by Vader's elites and we see two things worth examining.
First, the lead trooper orders, "Set for stun."
This is the only time in the movies that the 'stun' setting is used, and it's used by Vader's men on Vader's daughter.
Second, after hearing him say this, Leia shoots the man in the chest.
Leia IS a Skywalker and as dangerous as the rest of her royal family.
Vader is staging this affair, and has been setting up this image of her as a renegade.
Shooting the trooper is possibly so she remains in character, in case some of Vader's own soldiers are reporting to other authorities, namely Tarkin.
OR - she may just be a royal rip and a half and maybe she's just that touchy and trigger-happy
And her peashooter may have knocked the battle-armored trooper down, but I doubt she did any real damage, much less killed the guy.
Um... I hope, anyway...
Hey, lives are at stake, all right?!
And anyway if these guys were all super loyal, Vader would be able to trust SOMEBODY besides just Leia.

Leia is brought before Vader
To understand what is going on here you have to realize that the real threat is the Death Star.
Vader is orchestrating it's destruction with his daughter because no else can be trusted.
The real villain is Tarkin who is about to have a planet killer at his command, far and away from the Emperor.
Vader is going to stop him, but he cannot do this directly or he will simply be shot out of the sky.
It turns out that, surprise surprise, it's Vader's daughter who is leading the so-called Rebellion.
And look, she got the plans to the Death Star.
Vader knows this because he monitored the transmission.
He didn't block the trasmission.
Or just blow up her ship (of COURSE he didn't blow up her ship - it's his DAUGHTER! I really can't state this enough)
Their interaction is carefully staged - they are being watched and reported on by all around them (there should be a link here taking you to the ESB page showing that the Emperor is being kept current on Vader's activity - i'm workin' on it!)

Interesting to note here is that Vader issues this order: "Send a distress signal and then inform the Senate that all aboard were killed!"
We're not shown any executions and I get the feeling we're supposed to assume the Rebels are killed.
So why not just show us?
I contend this footage does not exist because no prisoners were executed.
This sounds more like he's trying to smoke out Rebel ties within the Senate.
Vader's hardcore, but he doesn't seem to be dealing out death to prisoners.
Just wanted to point that out :)

As the audience, we get to see the events on Leia's ship, and then we pick up Vader and friends on the Death Star later.
We don't get to see any footage of the journey there, however.
That's because Vader has a lockdown on the security cameras and recording devices aboard his own ship.
Lots of footage of Vader aboard other people's ships - he can't control that.
Classify this 'lapse' as a storytelling device if you want, and brace yourself for acres of footage of every tedious step of the droids' journey...

The droids get shipped to Vader's step-brother's house

If we were watching the movie, this is the point where we'd have lots and lots of time to kill.
Make a snack, call our parents to apologise, take out the trash, cook some rice.
It's gonna be a while.
So, let's talk about a few things...

Where are we and why are we here?
This is Tatooine, which happens to be where Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker lives.
It's no accident that Leia is here, this was where she was headed as her message makes clear later.
She was headed here because Obi Wan Kenobi is here (who seems to be here because Luke is here).

Before Phantom Menace came out there was already enough linking Leia and Vader.
Since she's the Princess and he's Lord Vader, it still seems obvious that we're supposed to be dealing with a royal family.
If we include the barest story elements from the new trilogy we find George Lucas himself has gone out of his way to compound the coincidences, as if he were frustrated that everybody was missing the whole point of the story.

as it turns out...
not only is Tatooine (where Leia was travelling to meet Kenobi) where Luke (who turns out to be her brother) lives, it's also the homeworld of his father, Anakin Skywalker.
And as it turns out...
Owen Lars is the step-brother of Anakin Skywalker.
As well it turns out...
R2-D2 has been in battle with Anakin and was his WIFE'S droid!
It also turns out...
that Anakin Skywalker BUILT AND PROGRAMMED C-3PO!!
These aren't ill-concieved contrivances, you're being shown step-by-step the intricate strategems and machinations of a galactic hero.
That hero is not the whiny, tow-headed farm kid

Upon landing, the droids take off.
R2 knows just where to go.
Did Leia program him with Kenobi's location, or does he remember from the last time he was on Tatooine?
Perhaps built-in homing units?

Soon, the droids get picked up by the Jawas.
The amazing ascertion that we have been led to accept is that the Jawas are a people and a culture that make their living scavenging the trackless desert in search of high-end droids to trade in town.
Utter nonsense.
What's the suggestion, that Tatooine is some kind of garbage planet? or a great droid war was fought and there's still a very active trade for the wreckage going on?
Far more likely, the Empire sent a message to the local municipality to jolly well go retrieve them, and gave them the coordinates as to where to start looking.
The Sand Crawler is some kind of public works crew or sub-contractors assigned a contract for retrieval.
That's why they pick them up so quickly, why they know what kind of force to use with R2, and why they deliver them to the ranch where Vader's only known family lives - minor social flubs and misunderstandings on their part notwithstanding, as there does seem to be some difficulties communicating with em.

During this excruciatingly detailed travelouge of the droids journey we are treated to THIRTEEN SECONDS showing us what the Imperials are doing at the same time!
Talk about selective editing!
All we get to see is the competently progressing search for the droids with doomsday weapon plans.

Are droids in the Star Wars universe sentient?
I suppose if we count current and near-future level computing machines as sentient.
They may be for all I know, but the concensus is that they aren't self-directed entities, just a collection of programming and data storage.
Now, that sounds no different to me than what I generally consider sentient life, but I'll leave that bit of philosophy behind for the moment.
Most agree that computers are not sentient, but I see a few things about the robots of Star Wars to indicate that they are sentient.
While C-3P0's histrionics seem emotive, he is clearly programmed for self preservation, while R2-D2 is programmed for dedicated repair and assistance.
But Threepio does quit the mission once on the planet, a strong indication of self direction, and both bots talk to themselves.
Threepio even blames R2 for his predicament and bitterly hopes the little droid suffers - that's kinda dark.
And there are at least 2 moments in the movies that seem to indicate that droids feel pain!
Weird shit, and amazing implications about the slaver character of Tatooine if the droids are actually sentient beings being bought and sold.

The Jawas slap devices called 'restraining bolts' to the droids.
As a child watching these movies this was so confusing I blanked it for many years.
It's used to shut down a droid or maybe stun it, and it's used to jolt Threepio once.
Perhaps it's a strange implication that the droids are more than what they seem.
And if they are indeed alive and thinking beings, what does it mean that they are being bought and sold?
In Phantom Menace we see there had been a culture of slavery (Anakin having been born a slave).
In A New Hope, we don't see any biological slaves but droids bought and sold and in Jedi we see droid indentured servitude.
These bastards on Tatooine are a pack of filthy slavers still, just now with electronic entities.
More proof that Anakin did indeed return to free the slaves of Tatooine.
We never get that closure in the new trilogy but there is aproximately twenty years between trilogies, lots of time for stuff to happen.
I like to think it was Darth Vader who went back to Tatooine - born a slave, returning as king.
And facing down the Great and Mighty Jabba the Hutt

Speaking of returning home, let's check out the Skywalker family reunion happening at the Lars Ranch...

Jedi Droid Tricks

I imagine you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't think that the original Star Wars trilogy was a story about Luke.
It is the central theme of this work that this story is about lord Darth Vader.
The scene where the droids show up at the family homestead vividly makes apparent that this story is centered around Anakin, not Luke.
In a nicely framed shot, tightly bunched together, are Anakin's droids, step-brother, and son.

The droids are brought directly to the Lars ranch.
This isn't an accident or good luck - they have no doubt been sent here by direct order of Lord Vader.
There seems to be some confusion between Owen and the Jawas but the Jawas just kinda roll with it.
I can imagine them saying to one another, 'hey, we were told to bring the droids here. we deserve to get paid, right? Ok, so the guy takes the wrong droid. big deal - the customer's always right, right?'

There's a cute little moment where a bunch of Jawas are watching Luke.
When Luke turns in their direction, they panic and jostle each other trying to get out of the way.
Is there something they know about this family? This kid?
Like maybe this is the son of the King - the King who once hunted down the Tusken Raiders who kidnapped his mother?

The importance of these droids cannot be overstated (and I don't mean their importance as storytelling elements).

Threepio specifically is the royal emmisary droid.
Lord Vader's golden automaton who heralds the entrance and presence of the royal family.
He glitters gold showing his status as vanguard of Vader's royal entourage.
The wonderous creation of the King when he was but a child.

Artoo is the guardian of the regency, the protector of the bloodline, protecting Anakin since childhood.
Artoo has saved every member of the family many times over.
No ordinary astromech, he seems equipped with more spyware than one of Bond's vehicles.

Is it possible for a droid to pull off a Jedi mind trick?
There's nothing in the stated Force philosophy that excludes the possibility.
Use of the Force to "influence" the "weak-minded" is essentially using the power of suggestion.
Could a robot be programmed with formulaeic hypnotic suggestion routines?
I'll bet it could.
Keep in mind that C-3P0's self-stated "primary function" is "protocol".
This is a droid who is kept around to smooth things out for the royals.
He's so good at it that he's been kept around for decades.
Yeah, you bet Threepio can influence the weak-minded.

He tries twice to sway Owen, chattering like a used speeder salesdroid.
He rarely does anything so adaptly or intelligently.
He really - really - seems to want to get into this house.
Are we supposed to believe that this droid who serves the royals is fighting to win the bid on the vaporator translator job?

Owen just cuts him off, showing Owen is resistant to persuation (he wears the garb of a Jedi...).
Owen is pretty sharp, and no doubt always a little on edge from having Vader's kid around.
The big question here: Does Owen recognize the droids?
I mean, Threepio was around for YEARS, and R2 stopped by in Attack of the Clones, right?
He doesn't seem to (he completely overlooks R2 initially).
This would be in keeping with the general cultural flow of Star Wars - the Imperials relegate robots to background machinery, the Rebels nearly venerating them.
Owen is keeping Luke for Vader, so he's likely an Imperialist - he's watching out for people (Kenobi or Rebel hit squads), not droids.

Maybe Owen has yet to be informed of this delivery.
Is he bumble-fucking this transfer? or is he playing it incredibly cool, knowing these are Vader's personal droids?
I have no idea, but I do know that getting this many people involved who each have a lexicon of code they must use, things can get confusing.
Seriously, try to arrange an impromptu drug purchase, you'll see what I'm talking about.

When Owen chooses C-3P0 and another droid (R2-D4), Threepio looks hesitant and reluctant to be leaving R2-D2 behind.
He should be, they make a good team, and being seperated endangers their mission (to get the plans to Kenobi).

R2 starts to shake and rock side to side.
The Jawas understand what the droids are capable of.
They trip a remote control to freeze the droid in mid-action (an emergency shutdown/restart?).
Note that a Jawa physically places himself between R2 and Luke leading away the other two droids.
Was R2 charging up some kind of weapon?
The Jawas, who deal with droids all the time, felt the appropriate action was to jump in front of the robot and shut it down.

Too late, perhaps, as R2-D4 explodes at this point, a suspiciously convenient event that allows Threepio to start working on Luke.

Threepio uses techniques we will see Kenobi use on Luke as well.
First, there's a physical re-direction, a classic charasmatic tool.

Then, a hand gesture in Lukes line of vision, a mesmerist staple.
Luke is quickly 'guided' into doing the droids bidding.

"Uncle Owen! The robot said to buy the other robot!"
A flawless Jedi mind trick!
Luke doesn't even hesitate.
Luke's guard is down obviously, as he knows nothing of Owen's struggle; being caught between the last surviving Force wielders.
Kenobi and Vader are both heavy hitters and have a long history of mortal opposition - that's a lot of pressure.

Robotic Hypnotism And Lies

Once he gets into an oil bath, Threepio exclaims "Thank the maker!"
He's ended up back at the Lars farm with Anakin's family - He is literally referring to Anakin here.
As if to dispell any doubt about that, Lucas has him addressing Anakin as 'The Maker' in Attack of the Clones.
Threepio also addresses Luke as Sir, and then Sir Luke when Luke tries to correct him.
This is no social faux pas.
Threepio knows exactly who Luke is - Luke is the Prince, the son of Anakin Skywalker, Lord Darth Vader, his own creator.

Threepio introduces himself as "C-3PO - human cyborg relations".
Threepio's not referring to mechanicals, right?
Cuz that would be 'droids' not 'cyborgs', right?
I think he is directly reffereing again to Darth Vader, the only cyborg I know about, except Lobot and later Luke.
As royal emmisary droid he does in fact act as the intermediary between Darth Vader (or his family) and others.

It's an eerie scene once Luke is alone with thes two espionage droids.
Worlds hang in the balance - they must be as diplomatic and persuasive as possible.
Can robots lie?
If you've ever dealt with robots you know damn well they CAN.
But can they lie in the Star Wars universe?
Later in this movie, aboard the Death Star, Threepio eludes stormtroopers with misdirection first;

Threepio: They're madmen! They're heading for the prison level. If you hurry, you might catch them.

and then with this utter fabrication;

Threepio: Oh! All this excitement has overrun the circuits in my counterpart here. If you don't mind, I'd like to take him down to maintenance.

So, yes, Threepio at least can lie.
He has no problem getting by the trooper (this may by his Force skills or just Imperial disregard for droids).
But that's to a known enemy or percieved threat.
I have yet to see any instance of Threepio lying to known allies.
Threepio's a worried kind of guy; he doesn't know Luke to be an ally so he views him as a possible threat to the 'mission'.
First off he tries to feel Luke out;

Threepio: With all we've been through, sometimes I'm amazed we're in as good condition as we are, what with the Rebellion and all.
Luke: You know of the Rebellion against the Empire?
Threepio: That's how we came to be in your service, if you take my meaning, sir.

"Wink wink, nudge nudge. Know what i mean?
Eh, your highness?"

Luke is a little too eager and R2 beeps frantically (probably telling Threepio to SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.)
Threepio quickly back-peddles, playing down the very thing he was just hinting about;

Luke: Have you been in many battles?
Threepio: Several, I think. Actually, there's not much tell. I'm not much more than an interpreter, and not very good at telling stories. Well, not at making them interesting, anyway.

Really? He didn't seem to have any trouble telling stories and making them interesting to Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.
Nearly everything out of this droid's noise-hole is a lie.

Obviously frustrated with Threepio's bumbling attempts at subterfuge, R2 plays part of the message he is carrying.
The loop he chooses is perfect - it contains a plea for help and the name 'Obi-Wan Kenobi'.

When asked directly who the pretty girl is, Threepio says he doesn't know who she is.
So, there'll be no escape for the Princess this time, whoever the hell she is?
Another droid lie

These two bots are brilliant!
This ploy works on several levels.
First, it creates a diversion away from direct conversation about the Rebellion, keeping Threepio from inadvertantly spilling any more of the beans.
Second, it brings out of Luke a confirmation of Kenobi's presence.
Lastly it sets an enticing lure for Threepio to once again "influence" Luke.

We are constantly presented with the situation of Threepio acting as interpreter for R2.
Who knows what that little freak is saying at any given moment?
This is a good example.
We get to see the second little Laurel and Hardy schtick in Luke's presence.
Is R2 coaching Threepio?

Take your pick - at least one of these droids is lying.

Threepio manages to give away some critical info about Kenobi, but tries to leave the escape clause of a malfunctioning robot open.
Protocol droid indeed.

Luke takes the bait, revealing he know's of Ben (score another point for the droids), and he's supposed to be a hermit.
I dare say that shifty old man manuevers well in Mos Eisley for a hermit...

And here's where R2 and Theepio out-match Luke in this little game of wits;
When Luke tries to play the entire message, Artoo beeps at Threepio, perhaps saying, "Hey, see if you can get him to take off this restaining bolt..."
R2 suggests this, right C-3P0?
I honestly have no idea which droid is in charge of this little ploy - it's fun to consider that R2 is telling 3PO what to say.
At any rate, Luke is again "influenced" by Threepio to do exactly as Threepio bids - sisters, this droid is GOOD!
Wake up Luke!
Wow, I think he is actually hypnotized at this point.
With Threepio babbling to him while he's watching a repetitive message, he actually sounds a bit groggy.
He actually ends up giving R2's restraing bolt to 3PO!

As soon as the bolt is off, R2 stops playing the message and we're treated to another robot Punch and Judy act.
The real show is over, however.
R2 is now free to split as soon as Luke's back is turned.
It's probably lucky Luke gets called away - without that restraining bolt, Artoo is a dangerous little droid.

This farm boy is in over his head - he's being duped by robots.

Owen hates Ben. Why?

Luke obediently informs Owen about R2-D2 claiming to belong to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Owen about shits his robe.
He is close to anger (the screenplay actually says he "breaks loose with a fit of uncontrolled anger") talking about Ben.
He tells Luke that this 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' died around the same time Luke's father did.
You are a big fat liar, Owen.
Luke doesn't really care that much and changes the subject.

Luke states that he wants to transmit his application to the Academy.
This can only be the Empire’s Academy - there is no other power structure in the galaxy.
He already has the military in mind as a career.
We find out later that he shoots local wildlife - any animal rights advocate worth their salt should see that as a major red flag.
Make no mistake: this boy craves blood.

Owen throws a monkey wrench in Luke's plans, trying to keep him at the ranch for another year.
Does Baru know what's going on here?
She seems empty-headed on the issue, imploring Owen to let Luke loose in the galaxy.
In contrast, Owen looks worn down.
You would, too.

Owen clearly knows just who Luke is.
He's worried that Luke will be like Anakin, and he seemingly hates Kenobi.
Where does Owen stand on all this?
He doesn't seem to like either side so he has my approval there.

Interestingly enough, I found in the Annotated Screenplays (p. 269) that it was decided at some point that Owen was to be Kenobi's brother, and he resented Kenobi for dumping Luke on them.
But that's not the way things turned out, is it Georgie-boy?
No, Owen is VADER'S STEP BROTHER! I cannot stress this enough.
Does Owen hate Vader so much that he's hiding Vader's own son from him?
If so, why is Luke living under the name SKYWALKER?
Are the Rebels just hoping that Vader never stops by or makes any inquiry into his ONLY KNOWN FAMILY?!

The Rebels are not hiding Luke.
Luke has never met Kenobi, so we're asked to believe that the Rebels have had Vader's son as an ace up their sleeve all this time, AND that Kenobi is the only one who knows this.
A little... too unlikely.

A consideration that didn't hit me until a long time after Phantom Menace;
Those robes Kenobi was wearing, they were Jedi garb.
Anakin's ghost is shown to be wearing the same outfit.
And Owen wears the same kind of clothes...
So, is Owen a Jedi? or former Jedi?
As Anakin's step-brother, did he get in on some Jedi training?
Maybe just on the weekends?
And once a year for two weeks?
Maybe Owen was part of the Jedi National Guard?

Surely it's obvious, now that Lucas made the second trilogy - Vader is the one who's hiding Luke.
He's hiding him with his family on a desolate Outer Rim world.
Actually, I don't don't think Luke is being hidden at all.
Luke is living under the name Skywalker, the surname of Darth Vader.
He's not living as Luke Smith, he is the known son of Anakin Skywalker.

Kenobi is there watching Luke.
This is one reason why Owen's not too thrilled with Kenobi.
Owen is doing all of this out of family loyalty (remember, Anakin did go out and avenge their mother's murder - in fact, he came from his cushy life in the capital to do so... he sends chills up my spine....
Or maybe Luke IS being hidden, way out on the Outer Rim.
Maybe that's the deal with the Emperor: keep your son out of the military and he can live.
No wonder Owen seems a little bedraggled - any way you slice it, Owen's gonna get killed.

Owen and Baru are the only decent people in these movies.
They get the standard reward for it, too.

More Droid Lies

And then Luke's mournful and wistful moment in front of the nifty and beautiful double sunset of Tatooine.
Ahhh... it's allowable.
Such a simple effect, and yet, no one else did it before.
So, thanks, George.

After that we see Luke use a remote to 'jolt' Threepio when he can't find the droid.
Robot pain-stick?

When jolted, Threepio pops up from being hunched over the family speeder!
Hey, droid fuck - the hell?
You doin' creepy shit here in the dark?
Luke is awake enough to comment on this but is quickly distracted by Threepio's frantic theatrics about R2 running away.
R2 seems to know just where to go, eh?
I don't know when the goal becomes to nab Luke, but R2 acts as good bait and 3PO's a little too helpful for my paranoid tastes.

Once outside, Threepio tells Luke what a pain R2 is.
Threepio says "That R2 unit has always been a problem."
'Really? I thought you said he was in first-class condition and that you'd worked with him before?
Were you lying then or now, you goddam toaster?!'
That's what Luke should have said.
Instead, he questions how he could have been so stupid.
Not your fault, farm-boy - you were hypnotized by Darth Vader's robot.

Threepio actually tries to get Luke to go out into the night, following after the little droid.
..."shouldn't we... go after him...?"
What? What'd you say?
...fucking robot...
Luke knows better than to go out at night, what with the Sand People around.
Say Luke, do other families have this much hassle with Sand People?
I mean, are they holding a grudge against your family?
Or what?

Ambushed By Kenobi

In the morning Luke and Threepio zip off in Luke's Landspeeder.
Interestingly, Threepio seems to be in the driver's seat as Luke commands him to 'hit the accelerator'.
Did Luke make Threepio drive, or did Threepio 'offer'?

We see that R2 has managed to travel an amazing distance over night.
On those little wheels in the sand? R2's good, no doubt about it.
Is he that good?
Did Kenobi come creeping up to the Lars farm in the night?
I smell an ambush.
Not by Sand People, who I think are being falsely maligned here, much like aboriginal peoples everywhere.

What do we know about the Sand People?
Damn little.
We see one taking aim on the Speeder and the one next to him STOPPING him from shooting.
A bit touchy they seem, but level headed.

When Luke and Threepio catch up with R2, the two droids team up on Luke again.
R2 starts beeping and Threepio 'translates' that "There are several creatures approaching from the southeast."

Luke grabs a rifle, indicating that maybe he's not as innocent as he seems.
Or maybe there's just always been trouble for the Lars ranch after Anakin slaughtered a tribe of Tusken Raiders.
Murder the King's mom, you may have to pay for that.
Murder an entire tribe, you may have to pay for that, too.

Watch close now.
Luke spots the elephantine Banthas and then a Sand Person (Tuskens, I believe they prefer to be called) jumps up and pushes him to the ground.
Note that during this struggle, the Sand Person is clearly missing Luke intentionally.
When the Tusken Raider raises his staff and yells, the footage is noticeably 'rocked' (playing the frames backward and forward) and therefore tampered with.

The next thing we're shown is Luke being dragged and set down unconcious, right in front of R2 for the recording.
What happened? Did Luke piss himself unconcious?
He recieves no visible wounds and needs no first aid.
Yeah, those Sand People are a rough crowd all right.
This is the first of many unlikely and advantageous ‘coincidences’ that occur when Kenobi is around.
Now that Luke is unconcious, the only corroboration comes from the droids.
We're shown footage of Kenobi stumbling up the hill toward everybody and a creature's roar is dubbed over this.
We're being asked to believe that the Sand folk are frightened away by this.

Why didn't the Sand People kill Luke?
Were they in fact working with Kenobi?
Are they Kenobi's hit squad recruits?
Further, it could be anybody under those robes and wrappings.
Is Kenobi using Tuskens or is his crack Rebel hit squad disquised as Tuskens?
I put nothing beyond Kenobi's die-hard willingness to do anything for what he believes in.
When the time comes, he even sacrifices himself.
A true believer and a fanatic.

Kenobi puts his hand to Luke's forehead and soon Luke returns to conciousness.
That's not CPR - Kenobi's the one who orchestrated Luke's capture, naturally he has the antidote for whatever knock-out drops he used.
I imagine that Ben and R2 had set this ambush and were waiting for Threepio to bring Luke to them.
He probably had to knock Luke out so he could question Threepio - 'How much does the kid know? Okay, here's our story...'

Ben addresses R2 as "friend" (more Rebel droid-love) and seemly understands R2's beeping by replying that Luke will be all right.
He then pretends to Luke that he doesn't know the droids.
Unlike the droids, Kenobi seems to have some qualms about lying here.
He's got good reason - when he lies, he lies BIG.
He says he never owned a droid, but omits the fact that he has dealt with both of these droids for many years (as revealed in Phantom Menace).

Luke, you poor dumb clod-kicker, you are officially this hypnotist's 'volunteer'.
Whatever you do, don't let yourself be alone with him ...

Kenobi's Lair

Once there, we find Kenobi warping Luke's mind:

Been keepin' an eye on Luke, eh Ben?
We also get a little hint there of the animosity between Owen and Ben.
Watch Kenobi's hands during this conversation, Jedi often employ hand movements with their mind tricks.
And what's he doing with his beard?...
He's workin' that old hoo-doo on the kid!

This is the first mention of piloting skills being associated with the Force.
Seems you still have to be the right 'sort' of person for that to apply, though.
For instance, if you're the best pilot in the galaxy BUT you're a freighter pilot (one of the working class) then apparently you aren't using the Force.
Similarly, if you're the best pod racer BUT you're not human, well then that's just your natural ability at play, not the Force being weilded.
Seriously, why are Han and Wedge never offered Jedi training?
It only hit me recently (spring, 2011) that midichlorians may be a factor of ROYAL blood.
They run a blood test on Anakin in Phantom Menace.
a BLOOD test
Among royals, a virgin birth may be more acceptable than wandering Jedi with the hots for slave tang... food for thought
dirty, dirty thoughts...

And then Ben 'remembers' the lightsaber, as if he hasn't been preparing for this moment for the last twenty years.
A powerful moment - he's about to hand this idiot farmboy a disturbingly powerful weapon:

Yeah, I wonder why Owen would feel that way.
What happened to his dad again, you rotten, bloody-handed thug?
C-3P0 simply can't take the pressure and asks to shut down, he doesn't want anything to do with this exchange.
He never again does this, so why now? Plausible deniability?.
Or maybe he fears some sort of Jedi death battle?
Actually he may be faking it, as Artoo's whistling and beeping at somebody

Luke about ends both his and Kenobi's life by immediately lighting the shockingly dangerous laser sword almost in both their faces.
Note how effortlessly he flashes this thing.
It has been suggested that lightsabers are so heavy and unwieldy that it takes two hands to hold them.
See, if you paid attention to the movies, nonsense rumors like that wouldn't even have gotten started

Kenobi sits down (from shock of nearly having his face cut off, perhaps)
While Luke is mesmerized by the glowing blue light waving back and forth, Old Ben intones a little suggestive exposition.
"Guardians of peace and justice", but for who?
As a Jedi, Kenobi is a biased about what the Jedi are.
They are, in fact, the samurai henchmen of the a regime that ruled for a thousand generations.
They seem to answer to no one save themselves, and deal out death and dismemberment at the slightest provocation
(the Cantina in Star Wars, the trade negotiations in Phantom Menace, and the nightclub scene in Attack of the Clones are all good examples).
Lightsabers, which they carry on their persons (do they not need permits for these things?!), are weapons so unthinkably powerful that they can cut through almost anything.
except another lightsaber.

Luke makes no comment on any of this. Instead, he asks a very simple and direct question.
In return, he gets a convoluted lie.


When Luke asks the Big Question, Kenobi's face contorts drastically, telegraphing the enormous line of bullshit he's about to lay down.
His story is so twisted it's difficult to tell if there's ANY truth in it:

So. What's your story again, old man?

A "young Jedi" named Darth Vader?
And doesn't Anakin receive the title Darth Vader when he becomes a Sith (Sith lord?)?
Oh wait, we never hear the term Sith in the original trilogy.
Is Vader indeed a Sith Lord at all? We're only given this info after he dies and cannot refute such a claim.
I've come to view the Jedi as a biased source for info about their most ardent opponents.
The few myths about the Sith we are given are only through the prequel trilogy.

How old was Anakin when he was 'killed' by (assumed the mantle of) Darth Vader?
The only real clue comes at the end of Return of the Jedi.
We are presented with the ghostly visage (that Luke, but no one else, can see) of Anakin Skywalker, a middle-aged man with full head of hair, wearing Jedi robes.
I always assumed that this was essentially a portrait of Anakin in his good-guy phase, and that this 'seduction' of the dark side took place over a long period of time.
As well, I had been under the impression that Anakin gained his wounds over a similarly long period of time, say in his hunting down of the Jedi.

With the first release of the original trilogy on DVD, we find a very jarring change at the end of ROTJ.
Instead of a middle-aged Anakin, we find a very young and long-haired Anakin - the one from the falsified records of Episode II and III!
What does it mean?
I have no idea, but if the lie goes so deep that the image we get of Anakin as good has to lose twenty or more years then ask yourself what happened in those now-missing two decades.

"You fought in the Clone Wars?" Talk of war catches this kid's interest.
I like to hope I'd be quick enough to wonder if I was talking to war criminal in hiding. I think Kenobi is just that.
If Kenobi is on Luke's side, then he does something the coniving droids don't: lies to a known ally
(Lando lied, yes - only under duress. Even knowing he was forced at gunpoint, Han was still angry about it).
Does Kenobi consider Luke, the son of his mortal enemy, to be a trusted ally? - if so why is he lying to Luke?
Nobody is forcing Kenobi to make up strange and awful stories about Luke's father, so why does he do it?
Ouch, puppy - that's a really dirty trick.
It's looking more like Luke is just what he appears to be.
A pawn in a very big game.

This may be why the royals love droids so much - The droids are seemingly the only ones who can be trusted to any degree.
No wonder Leia partners up with criminals who are immune to Jedi influence.
Royal family intrique, AND they're hypnotists? That's a Weekly World News headline

If Kenobi is the good guy, why DOES he lie to Luke?
It's a lie so big it hurt us all
The thing is, somebody HAS to be lying. Makes sense that the villain would lie... so, is Vader lying?
Vader does turn out to be Anakin Skywalker. If Anakin isn't dead but actually IS Darth Vader...
I mean, WHY would Kenobi lie...?
Well, if Kenobi didn't know that Anakin was Vader, then maybe... oh, that's not exactly his story (as proclaimed in ROTJ), is it?
It's a big lie, so I'll repeat my question:

If Kenobi is the good guy, why does he lie to Luke?

The answer: he has to lie to Luke in order to get Luke to want to kill his own father.
This is a protracted and elaborate revenge plot by Kenobi
Kenobi is Vader's personal villain.
Kenobi grabbing Luke doesn't seem to be in Leia's or Vader's plan. Leia uses Luke later, but is genuinely confused that he arrives on the Death Star with Kenobi

Here we also have the first mention of the Force, something Luke has never heard of it seems.
Weird, right? Why would Luke be kept from Jedi training?
Perhaps an agreement with the Emperor? A personal rebellion of Vader's from the Jedi ways?
One can imagine Vader, embittered by Jedi indoctrination, keeping his kid sheltered from their influence - like escaping a cult
(not that I...)

More hand gestures accompany the explanation ... hmmm.
Luke's eyes are almost glassed over while Kenobi speaks.
This being 'sensative to the Force' bit may entail susceptibility to its influence, especially if untrained.
Cluck like a chicken for the nice folks, kid...

"An energy field created by all living things." This's the only time the Force is referred to that way.
In Empire Strikes Back we're given a broader definition that includes all matter
(is the Force supposed to be Gravity?... I think I could understand a mysticism around Gravity...)
Most of what we can gather about the Force comes from Kenobi or Vader or the Emperor, as they are the last verifiably living Force-practitioners (Yoda is far from verifiable).

Please note that from the time we first meet Kenobi until the time of his death, and during his supposed 'visitations', he never mentions telekinisis or midiclorians.

Luke, for his part, can only nod vacantly at Ben's ascertions.

Your dad's a navigator, he cant come home; he's folding space and time aboard a spice freighter, kid.
Kenobi insinuates that Owen and Baru lied to Luke - an incredible accusation considering the story he just told Luke about Anakin.
It's even more astounding if he's supposed to've been working with them to hide Luke from his bad ol' dad.
He is obviously not working with them. He does not like Owen, pointedly
There is no explanation ever given for the animosity between Owen and Kenobi

As convoluted as the prequels are, they do show the Jedi purchasing a clone army and then attempting to seize galactic power.
At the begining of A New Hope, Vader is already a hero who saved the galaxy from the war-mongering Jedi
and Kenobi is an old war criminal, hiding in the desert

Leia's on a Mission. From Dad.

Kenobi changes the subject to R2 and we're shown another handy coincidence - he pats R2 twice and the message pops right on.
Did Kenobi activate Artoo's 'play' button?
Is R2 this clever?
Is Luke (are WE) this dense?
Watch Kenobi pat the astromech and walk away, completely expecting a projection to play.
If anything he looks annoyed that it took as long as it did to pop up.
We don't find out until years later how well Kenobi is supposed to know these droids.
I've heard others site the interplay between Kenobi and the droids here as evidence that the two trilogies don't mesh
Kenobi seems quite familiar with this droid to me.
There is no inconsistency here - there is a sly and evil old man carefully hiding his true role.

Or maybe it's nervous body language - understandable.
I imagine Kenobi's got a great deal on his mind at this moment.
For THESE droids to show up...

You remember Leia's message to Kenobi
Do you remember who she says sent her?
You might want to go back and watch the movie again...

Leia's message mentions her father 3 times.
"You served my father in the Clone Wars"
"I am unable to present my father's request"
"My father will know how to retrieve it"
I hope it's ringing in Kenobi's ears - Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!
Because Vader is her father
And she knows it

If Leia is not supposed to be referring directly to her royal father, who is the reason she is a princess, then... WHAT?
Did Lucas himself forgot about Leia mentioning her father?
Everybody else seems to have.

Note the 3d recording and transmitting
To the untrained eye, I suppose it could look like a ghost...

In her message, Leia addresses Ben as "General Kenobi", indicating he's possibly an active military commander.
Oh sure, he could be in retirement -
he just HAPPENS to have taken up residence near his enemy's offspring,
and he just HAPPENS to get recruited by the leader of the Rebellion, who is also his enemy's offspring,
and he just HAPPENS to receive vital secret information
that just HAPPENS to be housed in a droid he's worked with during covert operations in the past.
Shit, I guess this galaxy's like a small town, everybody just keeps bumping into people they're related to.
Without meaning to, right?
Over and over again, right?

Theoretically Kenobi's in hiding, though if Vader sent Leia, either he or Leia seems to know where Kenobi's at...
Differences aside, the threat of the Death Star might be enough to unite sworn enemies, with Leia acting as diplomatic liason.
(Unless Leia's doing something really weird on her own, wrangling Kenobi's help for her own ends...
Kenobi's behavior on the Death Star has me leaning toward the idea that Vader and Kenobi are working together with Leia, though...
Indeed. The thought plickens. More on that later)

What must be at stake for these bitter enemies to be working together?
For Vader's daughter to get involved on Vader's behalf...
For Vader himself to be asking for Kenobi's help...
Turns out there are worlds hanging in the balance.
Even so, Kenobi is so vindictive he still takes time to brainwash Vader's kid.
What happened between these two to produce such hatred?

Kenobi's Decision

In the recording, Leia says that her mission to bring Kenobi to Alderaan failed because her ship was attacked (attacked by MUTINY!).
Leia herself is saying that she was trying to get to Kenobi, that that was in fact her mission.
If the 'Paradigm' doesn't actually describe the real story, what is Leia's relationship to Kenobi SUPPOSED to be?

Does Leia's message contain an activation code ("years ago you served my father" ... the eagle's shadow passes over the moon...)?
It certainly has that effect.
After supposedly being a hermit for years he's all set to travel the space lanes again.
And he wants Luke to go with him.
Real bad, baby.

After the message ends, without any preamble, Kenobi looks over at Luke and lays on the Jedi smooth talkin'.
Perhaps his father's Force powers finally kick in because Luke laugh's off this attempt to ensnare him.
Luke wants to join the 'Acadamy' but when offered a chance to fight for the Rebels he firmly declines.
Kenobi tries, bluntly, to sway Luke again.

Watch Ben's eyes.
When Luke declines the second time, Kenobi has almost lost patience and commands bluntly, "Learn about the Force, Luke."
(he also gets a quick dig in about Owen - seriously, what IS the story there?)
When Luke denies him for the third time, Kenobi crosses his arms in resignation and delivers the chilling line:
"You must do what you feel is right, of course"
Ominous body language in hindsight.
Luke tells this hard-bitten military hard-liner that he can't go because of his aunt and uncle.
Without knowledge or intent, Luke has condemned them both.

Sorry Owen. Sorry Baru.

The Darth Vader School of Management

So Kenobi's not the only one babbling about this "Force", it seems.
Vader sounds like a true believer.
Many years later when Phantom Menace was released, we found out why.
We're told that Anakin was found as a young slave and taken back to the Jedi council and indoctrinated with Jedi ritual and philosophy.
This story may not be true - we don't recieve any of this info from a living person in the original trilogy, and Ben fails to mention to Luke that Anakin was a SLAVE CHILD and a VIRGIN BIRTH.
What is agreed upon by both sides though, is that when Vader stood in opposition to the Jedi he used their own arts against them and bested them.
The Jedi pride themselves on being great warriors. Vader it seems, was even greater.
I suppose there's a nice little lesson in there about 'those who live by the lasersword...'

Vader is often wrongly paired with the Death Star in people's memory.
Grand Moff Tarkin is in charge of the Death Star and is ordering Vader around.
Vader openly disparages the Death Star, referring to it as something "you've constructed", distancing himself from the battle station and it's creators.
This is the Emperor's baby and considering that Darth does not approve, I smell a split (at least ideologically) with the Emperor.
Is this why Luke has been kept in hiding, for the day when Vader would have to stop the Emperor?

When Kenobi first mentioned the Force, the only evidence of a Jedi's 'power' was the lightsaber.
That's like using a sniper rifle to prove that the Green Berets are really tough.
When Vader first talks of the Force, though, we get a demonstration:

An important question came to light in January of 2006:
Is he breaking away from the Empire and striking out on his own, grabbing for power?
Well, in a word,
The only intel we get about the Emperor has granted Tarkin the authority to destroy worlds at whim is Tarkin's say-so.
Tarkin is the villain of this movie.
Tarkin is the madman loose with the most powerful weapon devised.
Vader, it seems, is the only one who can stop him.

In this scene Vader is the only one at the table who is not given a seat.
It's apparent that Vader is an outsider and is viewed with hostility by these conspirators.
Tarkin talks of regional goverors now having control of their territories and the Death Star instilling fear.
Motti suggests they use the battle station...
"Use" it? This is frightful talk
And there is not one scene, not so much as a still photo with a caption, to suggest the Emperor has actually signed off on this.
Just Tarkin's word

Vader is far enough out of Tarkin's inner circle that Motti taunts and ridicules him.
Enough is enough (Vader is the King, after all) and he settles Motti's shit.

In a crowded meeting room filled with high officials we get a very public display of ... well, something.
Is this the Force being used?
Vader is more machine than man, and the Star Wars universe is rife with field manipulation technology (fairly cheap and reliable stuff apparently).
The only time in this movie we see someone purportedly effecting something physical from a distance, it's a cyborg doing it.
Now, if this is indeed a demonstration of Vader's mental powers, then I postulate he is not effecting anything physically at all.
Note that Motti's neck is not visibly squeezed (lending credibility to the idea that this is some kind of mental action we're seeing), so it's Vader's 'force' of will that is keeping the man from breathing.
Charasmatic madmen often have incredible powers of self control and even the ability to control others, sometimes down to a cellular level.
Good examples include Rasputin, Charles Manson, and Jesus Christ.

Further, it's quite clear from everybody else in the room that this is not technology being used.
There would at the very least be some reprobation about using weapons in the workplace.
Vader does use the tech in his arm quite a bit - to move METAL.
This ain't metal, and that's why everybody is visibly unnerved.
I mean, there are protocols for what to do when people brandish weapons.
A little more difficult to call 'no using mind powers to choke people', even in the Star Wars Universe it seems.

Motti can only breathe after Vader turns away and relents out loud.
Jedi are powerful hypnotists, and Vader is one of the most powerful among them.
The scene ends with Vader staring Motti down from Tarkin's side.

The dialog from the screenplay is accurate but the descriptions are sometimes wildly off.
Interesting, no?
Case in point, Motti most definitely does NOT turn blue.
Motti DOES end up quite disturbed by the encounter and avoids Vader from here on.

Motti's ploy was over the plans for the Death Star.
I'll suggest now that these stolen plans do not exist.
I don't think Artoo has them - he gets them when he accesses the Death Star's main frame.

Vader Protects Leia

Over and over, Vader makes sure that the little Princess escapes harm

When an uninformed Imperial officer tells Vader, "She'll die before she'll tell you anything"
Vader replies, "Leave that to me", making it very clear to all that he alone will be dealing with the Princess.
It's only later as the movies unfold that we learn that harming Vader's family is a dangerous enterprise.
Vader is very protective of his children.

First, there's the interrogation itself.
Vader personally oversees this to ensure nothing untoward happens to his daughter
The droid floating into the room is designated a 'Torture Droid' in the screenplay.
Looks like they're juicing her up with some sort of truth serum - 'Sodium Pentothal Delivery Droid' would seem more accurate.
The scene cuts so we're left to only imagine awful things happening - no actual footage of ill deeds.
When next we see her there's no bruising, her clothes are not disarrayed, her hair isn't even mussed.
Perhaps 'light interrogation' would be a better description.
With the stakes involved, she's being handled with kid gloves.
Compare this with the Jedi version of 'trade negotiations' in Phantom Menace.

Later, she doesn't flinch at Vader's approach - she seems altogether well composed.
She DOES flinch away from Tarkin, the true villain of the movie.

At the news that the Death Star is operational, Tarkin ponders, "Perhaps she would respond to an alternative form of persuation."
Vader turns on Tarkin and demands, "What do you mean?!"
Vader is alarmed and angry, ready to jump to his daughter's defense

And then Tarkin, furious that she lied to him about the location of the Rebel base, orders Leia's execution.
It's Vader who persuades him to hold off on killing her

When a rescue ship arrives to free the Princess,
It's Vader who tricks Tarkin into letting her go, with the plans that he admits she surely has (seeing as how he's all but delivered them to her)

Who Killed The Jawas, Old Man?

We again break into a conversation between the farmboy and the hypnotist.
Luke has apparently been making an astute observation and is proving his case.
Kenobi, of course, is ready with an answer:

Jedi mind tricks again.
He is telling Luke what he wants him to believe.
Are the tracks really side by side?
Kenobi's contention is that 'somebody' is making this look like a Tusken raid.
Hmmm... Who would do that? Who needs to hide their actions and their presence?
Kenobi's the one in hiding, and anybody helping him needs to hide as well - from the Empire.

Luke is lost, but he notices that these Jawas are the ones we saw earlier.
Kenobi actually grabs Luke and physically directs his attention:

Beware lest you fall under Kenobi's spell, too.
I did not question Kenobi's ascertions until nearly twenty years later.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Jedi master, remember.
This is what he does - the Jedi will hypnotize you to do their bidding.
Failing that, they will summarily cut you to pieces with their laser swords.
Trust no Jedi.

Kenobi's using the exact same methods that we saw Vader's droid, C-3PO, used on Luke;
Eye to eye contact and physical redirection.
Classic hypno-suggestion techniques.

Ask yourself a couple of questions;
Why would the Empire need to cover their tracks on this shit-hole Outer Rim planet?
They're the only power structure in the galaxy, so who would they be hiding their actions from?
Do they have some treaty with the Jawas that we don't know about?
Are we asked to believe they're hiding their presence but they can't clean up their mess?

And why don't we get to see Imperial troops attacking the Jawas or Luke's foster folks?
These are historical documents pieced together after Luke takes power.
Anything that could damn the Empire would be (and is) used.
The Imperials seem to make extremely accurate records of everything, yet not a single report, transmission, still photo, spent round, or piece of armor to positively link them to these two incidents?
Not so much as a Stormtrooper bootprint or the whine of a TIE figher winging off into the distance...

The Imperials are not only absent in this scene, as the audience we never get to see them commit or even discuss these crimes.
Pretty obviously, these brutal acts were carried out under Kenobi's directives by his 'Rebel' hit squad.
He's either using Tuskens or highly trained Jedi-sympathising operatives who masquarade as Tuskens.

Uncle Soon-Dead and Aunt Gonna-Bite-It

Luke finally gets Kenobi's drift and realizes his foster parents may be in trouble.
He takes off and Kenobi loses his composure, yelling "Wait, Luke! It's too dangerous!"
Well, Ben would know.
He doesn't want Luke going home NOW, not with his assisination squad out slaughtering Luke's family.
I imagine Kenobi frantically calling his henchmen;
"Bravo team: Evac! I repeat, EVAC! The kid's comin' your way fast and he is ARMED and DANGEROUS!"

We don't get to see who killed Owen and Baru, but we are treated to their grisly remains smoldering away.
Thanks George. I don't remember seeing this as a child of five.
No doubt I blocked it out, it's a pretty gruesome image.

We also have no confirmation that these bodies are Owen's and Baru's.(Sarah Linn)
They could be any old corpses sizzling away under Tatooine's suns.
I imagine they are in fact Luke's aunt and uncle's bodies, but it's possible the Lars' aren't dead.
Perhaps they're sitting in a holding cell, being 'questioned' by Kenobi's brutes.

Though this is the moment that sets Luke along the path to seek out Vader there is no scene in entire trilogy where Luke confronts Vader for this crime.
That's because Vader isn't responsible for their deaths.

When Luke returns from seeing the charred bodies of his aunt and uncle, we see Kenobi hanging back, wary because he doesn't know what Luke may have seen.
One has to wonder how much danger Luke would have been in if he had figured out the Rebels killed his loved ones.
Kenobi has already given Luke the lightsaber.
As important as Luke is, would Kenobi have killed him at this point?
A tense little moment.

As Luke approaches Ben, Threepio steps between them and looks a little nervous.
Is he getting ready to act as a physical shield for Kenobi
(he's carrying a Jawa corpse to a bonfire - does this seem odd to anyone else? Is Kenobi destroying evidence?)?

Watch closely.
Luke says nothing as he gets closer.
Kenobi has no idea what Luke knows and the old man's nerve falters.
Just before Luke stops, Kenobi's left arm drops down to his side and a little back, getting ready to draw his saber in case Luke tries anything!(Ben Gitchel)
Wow, Kenobi cracks!
he's scared, and he should be.

Kenobi and Vader are supposed to have had a titanic clash at some point in the distant past.
We're told (not in any of the original trilogy, of course - this info didn't make it into the historical documents, even by reference) that Vader gets the worst of this battle.
Well, Vader went on to help conquer the galaxy. Kenobi's been hiding in the desert for the last couple of decades.
Hmmm... who won that fight again?
And Kenobi's so traumatized by his confrontation with Vader that Vader's farmboy kid scares him!

To be fair, I should give Kenobi credit for good judgement.
This 'farmboy' goes on to destroy a battlestation, single handedly takes out an AT-AT, survives two encounters with giant carnivores, and destroys a mobster's empire.
Imagine trying to take a Skywalker somewhere by force.
In Empire, Vader tries to freeze Luke in carbonite - a perfectly reasonable precaution for these psychopaths.

Once he's confident that Luke believes his lies, Kenobi, smugly confident now, intones
"There was nothing you could have done, Luke, had you been there. You'd have been killed, too".
Were those Kenobi's orders, to shoot the kid on sight if he showed up before they pulled out?

Luke buckles, his mind weakened by the sudden tragedy, and agrees to go with Kenobi and learn the ways of the Force.
Ever see the movies Manchurian Canidate and Conspiracy Theory? This kid is being programmed.
Kenobi hopes to use him as a weapon against Vader.
Vader hopes to use him as weapon against the Emperor.
Watch out galaxy, another Skywalker just showed up on the scene.
With a lightsaber.


A Strong Effect... On The Weak-Minded

We've already seen that Kenobi is a dangerous man to be left alone with.
How long is the ride to Mos Eisley?
Because Luke is now officially captured by Kenobi and is absorbing everything this vile war-criminal wants to fill his head with.
How many Jedi war atrocity stories is Luke treated to?
Compare the editing here with the droids journey across Tatooine.
No need to bother us, the audience, with Kenobi's innocent chatter, eh?

On to Mos Eisley spaceport.
Per Kenobi, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy".
How is it you know this, old hermit Ben?
Come to Mos Eisley often, do you?

A couple things to note about Ben's use of the Force with the Stormtroopers;
First, the troopers actually seem pretty polite.
We don't see them roughing up any motorists or pedestrians, knocking over any fruit stands, rounding up innocents just to persecute them - nothing of the sort.
Also, watch how easily Kenobi manipulates the trooper.
Relaxed, confident, he disuades the trooper almost casually.
Makes you wonder what he could do if he really concentrated, eh?
Like, say if he thought the fate of the galaxy was at stake...
Or, say if he was pulling some elaborate trick on his arch nemesis...
Oh, shit...
Run, Luke! Run!!

This little display of the Force with the troopers shows us how it can be used to influence the thoughts and actions of others.
Caught in the hypno-crossfire, Luke seems as conked out as the troopers, later admitting he has no idea how they got passed them. (Andy Bergstrom)
Kenobi tells Luke that "the Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded".
Is this a subtle joke at Luke's expense?
Is he so confident at this point that he's actually telling Luke that he's controlling his mind?

I've come to question everything about this saga, so can the Force be used at all to control others or is this just another lie?
Jedi mind tricks are often discussed however, and this trait is commonly accepted within the Star Wars universe, so it gets a lot of validation.
It's not too extraordinary to imagine that a meditation/philosophy/training could produce Rasputin-like charisma.
An intergalactic School of Mesmerism, if you will.

We don't hear the term "Jedi mind trick" until Return of the Jedi, when we're also introduced to the idea that some folks are immune to said tricks.
If the Force can be effective on the "weak-minded", criminals seem to be immune.
Jabba, Han, Lando are good examples (in the new trilogy Watto is immune and an opportunistic business man - in other words, a criminal:)
Successful criminals are (usually) fairly sharp-minded individuals.
Is this why the royals employ criminals so readily, to have people on hand who can't be swayed by the Jedi?
Seems to be the case - Leia enlists Han and Lando, Vader enlists the Bounty Hunters.
Solo and Calrissian, active criminals, are recruited by the Rebels and then promoted to generals.

I see...

Bar Room Blitz

Next, the hermit takes us to what a generation or two of loyal fans came to know as the 'Creature Cantina":

So this EXACT bar is where the FREIGHTER pilots hang out?
Old man, you know alot about this town for being a hermit.
So let's drop the hermit ruse, shall we?
Obviously Kenobi is familiar with Mos Eisley and apparently he hangs out at the local watering holes, keeping an eye out for the quickest way offworld.
Luke, traumatized and hypnotized, questions none of this.

Upon entering the cantina, we're treated to a rather jarring bit of anti-droid culture:

What the hell was that all about?
Why the hatred towards the robots?
The Imperials don't seem to deal much with droids, while the Rebels not only use more droids but seem to genuinely like them.
It seems this love of robot servants that some have isn't shared by all the peoples of the galaxy.
The bartender, and the patrons by implication, don't want droids around.
Remember the slaves in Phantom Menace - and now, after the Empire takes over there are no slaves
No biological slaves anyway - lots of electronic slaves
(okay, there's Oola, the Dancer - that chain business... hmm, these finks on Tatooine are just dirty slavers, I guess)

The prequel trilogy gives tantalizing clues to the droid issue;
There's the Electronic Union...
And the Droid Seperatist Army...
And Kenobi's loathing of all things metal is even more apparent in ROTJ, when he says with open disgust,
"He's more machine now, than man. Twisted and evil."
Is Kenobi saying he feels machines are evil?

What the hell is this all about?
I say again, I think the droids in these movies are something else altogether that what we know of as 'machines' or 'robots'.
The CG in Phantom Menace shows the lines of identical droids all swaying and moving independantly of each other.
I thought this was misguided, merely the animators were showing off what their computers could now do.
In hindsight I think this is meant to reveal the droids as a collection of individials.

So are these quasi-criminal types aligned with the Empire?
We're led to infer that most folks don't care for the Empire much, and that this crowd if anything has less love than most.
If the Old Republic was so damned great, why does Kenobi have to hide at all, anyway?
Seems as if the peoples of the galaxy would offer protection and help if there was any kind of actual resistance or hatred for the Empire...

While Ben finagles with a Wookie, the farmboy manages to piss off one of the customers.
What is it about this kid? Does he just attract negative attention, like Frodo?
Or perhaps the son of the King can't go out in public without causing a stir?
Whatever the issue, Kenobi steps in - please note, Kenobi's presence causes things to go from bad to WORSE.

He first tries to 'influence' the angry fellow but this guy's a criminal so Kenobi's hypnotic efforts have no effect and the guy pulls a gun.
A samurai through and through, Kenobi whips out his lightsaber and severs the offending arm.
He then glances around the bar, seeming to dare any challengers, his bloodlust revealed.
A cool crowd, everybody turns and minds their own business (an honest crowd would be more squeemish at sudden body-rending violence, I would think).

Actually, they only SEEM to mind their own business...
Troopers arrive - who called them?
And the bartender is quick to point them in the direction of the old man in the bathrobe who thinks it reasonable to slice people up.
So much for seeking refuge among the people, you rotten old bastard.

How vile and ill-regarded are the Jedi?
Even in this "wretched hive of scum and villainy", a Jedi stirs the criminal element to call the cops.

Yup, if you're 'weak-minded' enough you can be hypnotized into doing anything.
Anyway kid, when are you selling your car so we can go avenge the murder of your father?

The Kessel Run

Ah, the Kessel run.
Even the starwars.comentry doesn't tell me what I want to know.
Is Kessel another planet?
A solar system?
A company?
An Empire?
I always thought Kessel was some other place...

But Threepio worried that he'd be sent to the Spice mines of Kessel - does he know he's over Tattooine?
and Han Solo ran in the Kessel Run and here he is on Tatooine...?
Always this suggestion that Jabba runs a Spice empire...
Is Kessel supposed to be on Tatooine?

This doesn't even matter to the story or to the Paradigm
It may just be another good example of the subtlty of Lucas' storycraft

The screenplay describes Solo's boast as "obvious misinformation".
The interpretation offered in the screenplay does not match the reality of the on-screen Star Wars uninverse.
If this is supposed to be nonsense bragging then it's completely out of character for Solo - he never again says anything like it.
It sounds very much like something a real spacer would say.
(sure, we could discuss the possibility that Lucas just screwed up and that the whole Expanded Universe explanation for the Kessel run is just a retroactive continuity fix (or 'retcon') but that would require us to treat these historical documents as fantasies dreamed up by a storyteller. So we won't be doing that:).
The Kessel run offers proof to some of the staff (namely, Sara Chrenen) of Blackwolf Comics that Lucas somehow channeled, rather than wrote, the Star Wars epic.
The contention being simply that no one could have written it that well.

I think it could have been written that well, I think other things have been written that well.
Usually, the author clues us in more obviously - or at all.
Star Wars is played so matter-of-factly that I think it constitutes an entirely different mode of storytelling.
There's simply no explanation for things that would not bother to be explained in the story universe.

Those mean ol' stormtroopers

We all know the stormtroopers are bad news, right?
Let's examine a few brief scenes that contain some precious few clues about governmental attitudes towards the citizenry.
First, after Kenobi slices somebody's arm off in a barroom altercation, stormtroopers arrive on the scene:

It's clear that the troopers were called to the cantina, they didn't just show up.
The script describes the troopers looking at the dead bodies (dead? we only see one guy's arm cut off)
so these supposed criminal types are not the types who 'take care of their own'
(or perhaps they are and Jedi are clearly NOT their own?)
because they either called the cops or, even more telling, do not disturb the bodies so the proper authorities can deal with them.
Either way, they don't try to hide and protect the Jedi.

The barkeep points the troopers in their direction!
This gives some indication of commoners' attitudes toward Jedi.
As soon as the sword-wielding thug shows up in a public place he dismembers somebody.
The authorities are then called (the appropriate reaction) and those evil bad Imperial troops want to have a word with the man who thinks he can just lop off people's extremities.
And when they don't find the man they're looking for, why those bad bad men ... well, they leave to look for him without accosting anybody.
Those foul Imperials.
I can sure see why people love those blood-thirsty trigger-happy Jedi.

When the Jedi were still in power, in Attack of the Clones, we see their idea of due process - "Jedi business."
Startin' to get an idea about why you never hear anybody fondly remember the good times when Jedi wandered around as judge, jury, and executioners?

Second, troopers search the streets of Mos Eisley:

That evil stormtrooper... um... politely left a locked door unmolested.
Again, no roughing up of innocent passersby, no breaking down doors.
Is this perhaps an indication of the (new) rights and protections that the citizens of the galaxy have?
Even when searching for plans for a doomsday weapon, these Imperials seem to do their best to leave the innocents out of it and act with the utmost restraint.
Go get those Rebel scum, boys!

Third, when stormtroopers, assisted by some sort of penis-nosed informant, head into docking bay 94 to try and stop Solo from leaving.
The first time we see Dick-Nose tailing Ben and Luke, the droids are nowhere to be seen, so that's not why he's tailing them.
This could be a concerned citizen reporting the whereabouts of a violent criminal (Kenobi).
Maybe he's a friend of Kenobi's victim trying to see justice done.
These troopers are in pursuit of one or two suspected murderers, Kenobi for his blade work and Solo for killing Greedo when they receive this order:

(don't believe the doctored Special Editions that have digitally added a first shot by Greedo - this was done I suppose to pretty up Solo's questionable past)

LOAD your weapons?
He doesn't say to 'ready your weapons' or 'take the safety off' or 'set to kill'.
Nope, he says "LOAD your weapons".
These troopers have been patrolling without live ammo in their guns
(their guns may in fact be using case-round ammo as shells are visibly ejected in several sequences in Empire),
and only load up when they are closing in on two suspected
(suspected hell - WE as the audience know damn well they did it!)
murderers attempting to flee the city together.
And what the hell else is Han Solo wanted for that upon siting him these troopers, models of self restraint, start shooting?
If you think they're shooting because of the droids, guess again.
The droids and everybody else are already aboard and out of sight.

This set's the stage for the rest of Han's career throughout the trilogy.
His main talent seems to be in escaping.
Unfortunately his talent isn't preventing the NEED to escape.
Well, if you're in the habit of employing criminals, I suppose this is the sort of thing you have to deal with.

My point is not to show the Imperials as the 'good guys', because they're not.
They're a military force struggling for power and control.
Such folk cannot, by definition, be the 'good guys'.
Given a choice between the royals and the Imperials, I think more people get a better shake under the Imperials.
That does NOT mean that I think the Imperials are great guys.
Just better than the fucking royals.

Watch here as well for the first meeting between C-3PO and Han Solo.
Threepio says "hello, sir" and Han turns away with a disgusted look.
Threepio's mind tricks will never work on Han and as the movies progress Han's resistance to Force manipulation is demonstrated over and over again in his interactions with Anakin's protocol droid.

Tarkin orders death

Here we come to the true crime committed in this story:
The destruction of Alderaan.
It is ordered by the true villain of the movie.
Tarkin is in charge of the Death Star.
Within minutes of it becoming operational, he orders the destruction of a world.
Tarkin is a madman run amok.
Vader is the only one who can stop him.

During this scene, Vader says absolutely nothing.
Having already expressed his disapproval of this battle station, he is silent and somber.
This operation is entirely out of Vader's hands.
Tarkin is a genocidal war criminal, Hitlerian in his methods and his over-confidence.
His later demise aboard this doomsday weapon should be celebrated.

The Princess is not in any danger from Darth Vader, it's Tarkin she has to worry about.
In fact, she flinches away from Tarkin and backs up against Vader for protection.
When Tarkin learns the Princess decieved him, he orders her immediate death (he also states that it was he who signed the order for her termination).
Vader, on the other hand, uses the capture of the Millenium Falcon as an excuse to spare her life.
You didn't forget again that they belong to the same royal family, did you?
(I only ask because it seems like we all forget this - a lot)

Culturally, Vader has become attached to the Death Star and the crime of its use is often attributed to him.
The story makes it quite clear that Vader has no active role with the Death Star.
Not nearly as ruthless as is suggested, Vader holds onto Leia's shoulder, steadying his daughter.
Both Vader and Leia are Tarkin's prisoner at this point.
Nothing can be done to stop Tarkin at this point, if the tenuous plan to destroy the Death Star is to be brought off

This is a horrifyingly powerful weapon.
When the beams touch Alderaan, the planet explodes almost immediately.
No heat up, no melting, just instantaneous explosion.
Holy shit!

Luke gets hypnotized. Again.

Han is surprised to see first one, then two more Star Destroyers.
He wasn't surprised by the the presence of stormtroopers in Mos Eisley and didn't think that cruisers would be nearby.
One can infer that stormtroopers are the occupying force on Tatooine, whereas giant war ships are not the norm.

A constant presence even here on the Outer Rim probably explains why Jabba the Hutt is now hiding in the desert.
But what about his appearance at docking bay 94, you say?
hm... good point.
Jabba may not be in hiding actually.
I have reason to believe Jabba is royalty and may in fact be the royal ruler of Tatooine.

Jabba is shown in Phantom Menace and the digitally doctored New Hope as being nearly the same size and mobility.
The two movies are seperated by approximately forty years and Jabba's appearance changes little.
Then a few years later, in Return of the Jedi, he's so fat he's no longer abulatory and his entire appearance is different.
And he's constantly drooling.
Han makes no reference to any marked change when next in Jabba's presence... wait, he's temporarily blind at that point, isn't he?
Is Chewbacca?
If Chewy makes any remark about Jabba's newfound glory, we the audience are not made aware of this

The undoctored record of the scene shows a bipedal, if chubby, humanoid who is addresses as Jabba.
Either this is the Mouth of Jabba and must be referred to as Jabba,
This IS Jabba.
Maybe Jabba transforms from the chubby guy in furs into the tumescent blob (great and mighty?) we see in ROTJ.
Hell, these are aliens, right? I don't know what their lifecycle entails.
Jabba may in fact be Leto II and later begins his transformation into some kind of quasi-sand snake (oop, getting ahead of ourselves...)

Before we get to Luke's further indocrination by Kenobi, let's take a look at his behavior in the Falcon's cockpit just after leaving Tatooine.
He's a complete dolt, buzzing with questions like a hyperactive five year old and literally pointing at instruments and getting in the way.
Changes soon come over him that I suspect are the result of hypnotic suggestions from Kenobi
(you ARE a supersoldier, Luke... you ARE invincible... you ARE my tool...)

Okay, so Luke's practicing lightsaber moves with a small, hovering, ball-shaped gizmo
referred to in the screenplay as a "seeker" robot "covered with antennae".
Who brought THAT on board?
Is this a device that Kenobi had on his person?
Jedi, like Double-0 agents, employ a lot of gadgets (in Phantom Menace they whip out rebreathers when going underwater).
Is this the James Bond school of mysticism?

This thing's got anti-grav
(a cheap and reliable technology it seems as we never see anti-grav or artificial gravity falter in the Star Wars universe),
and it employs some sort of laser weapon.
Is this a spy droid of Kenobi's?
Han doesn't seem to hold much with remotes and we never see him with anything like it, so presumably it's not his.
It's been argued that Kenobi is making it float - you know... with his MIND.
This clearly is NOT the case.
A hovering device is not unusual in the Star Wars universe and when Ben suddenly feels a "disturbance" the ball doesn't drop to the floor.

In the first DVD release of the original trilogy, this scene is noteable because of Luke's saber.
It's now GREEN, whereas in every other version prior to this release it was BLUE for this scene
(as it should be because up until he loses it on Bespin it's BLUE in every scene).
Is this supposed to be some kind of non-lethal practice setting? There is no explanation given and is again evidence of tampering.

Kenobi here pulls his "great disturbance in the Force" card.
If a planet of people suddenly being annihilated could be felt by Force-sensitive folks then wouldn't Vader have felt this as well?
If he does, we aren't shown this.
If Luke feels anything he doesn't remark on it.
So, what's Ben pulling here?
His timing is great, so when they get to the debris field it looks like as if he 'knew' before hand.
I think he DID know.
I think that "seeker" robot isn't the only piece of tech he's got on him.
The 'disturbance' he felt was likely the vibration of his cell phone relaying the intelligence of the destruction of Alderaan.
He's now using it as an opportunity to show Luke his 'mystical powers'.

The 'disturbance' Kenobi felt was likely about as mystical as his cell phone vibrating.

Han's line, "Don't everyone thank me at once", is completely valid.
They escaped with his help and not a word of thanks.
Maybe there's a good reason all the Jedi were wiped out.

Threepio attempts for the first time to sway Han, trying to engender sympathy for droids:

It doesn't work.
Han, as a criminal and a sharpie, is seemingly immune to Jedi mind tricks.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons

Kenobi begins Luke's instruction in earnest and Luke eagerly takes to learning how to use a weapon.
The Force is an energy field that binds all life, eh?
So, why do I need this laser sword again?

What an odd conclusion Luke makes there, asking if the Force "controls your actions".
Feeling a bit manipulated, farmboy?
Kenobi actually agrees, "But it also obeys your commands."
So it DOES control your actions?

After that admission, Luke gets shot in the ass.
Anyone else think Kenobi might be controling this "seeker" that Han actually refers to as a "remote"?
Han's take on all this is worthy of consideration:

One side of the galaxy to the other and he's NEVER seen anything Force related?
Wow, so when people start moving things with their minds (oh, not in THIS movie, no), you'd think he'd be the most amazed.
Unless he knows technology is being used instead of "mind bullets" (Kyle).
As a go-getter, Han believes in free will.
Force acolytes love to talk about destiny, so it's nice to have someone around who disagrees with them.

Kenobi doesn't even respond, instead barrelling ahead and slapping a helmet on Luke (help yourself to the equipment, old man):

How orchestrated is this scenario?
I'd always given Luke credit for actually becoming attuned to subconscious awareness of his surroundings.
But how much more likely is it that Kenobi is just firing at Luke's saber with the remote "seeker"?
I'm inclined toward the "simple tricks and nonsense" theory.
Once again Kenobi may actually be telling us, confident that he's in control:

You can bet Kenobi doesn't believe in luck, he sure as hell doesn't rely on it.
As for being good against the living, Luke isn't too impressive right now, but Kenobi isn't done twisting his mind to believe that he can be:

A larger world, all right.
Of intrique, power, manipulation, lies, and death.
Gee, thanks mister.

Since Luke has fallen under Kenobi's spell it's worth considering the idea that being Force-sensitive can lead one to be MORE susceptible to mind tricks as well as being able to perform them.
It would help explain Luke's malleability under Kenobi as he's received no training until now, so his Force resistance would be undeveloped.
Real open to suggestion, that kid.

That's no moon

When our 'heroes' emerge from hyperspace we get several suspicious examples of Kenobi's keen sense of 'observation'.
When we get the news that Alderaan is blown away he turns and looks directly at Luke (look away Luke!) and says,
"Destroyed... by the Empire!"
Han then notes that there's a ship coming in.
Before the ship is visible, Kenobi blurt's out,
"It's an Imperial fighter".
In theory he got his information from the computer readouts but he was able to 'interpret' it faster than Han (really?).
At Luke's suggestion that the ship followed them, Kenobi is again quick with an answer proclaiming,
"No. It's a short-range fighter".
When the "small moon" is sighted it's Kenobi who announces,
"That's no moon! It's a space station".

How does he know all of this?
Still think Kenobi spent all his time twiddling his thumbs on Tatooine?
Is the suggestion that Kenobi is militarily active? Nobody seems to suggest this.
Far more likely, he is in communication with a contact, possibly aboard the Death Star itself.

Interestingly, Ben's the one who comes up with the idea to hide, offering, "there are alternatives to fighting".
This old man knows a LOT about hiding...
So they get captured.
This happens a lot to the 'Rebels' throughout the movies.

As a side note, why is Kenobi in a compartment by himself while Luke, Han, and Chewbacca all squeeze into another? (Aaron Chrenen)

Kenobi's suspiciously confident he can take out the tractor beam.
Has he been sifting through the data R2 has?
Or is this another clue he has a contact helping him?

We get a good taste of Kenobi's and Solo's contempt for each other here as well.
Han is not under his spell, evident from his reluctant cooperation, and Ben is so frustrated by Han that he's actually getting snippy.
That "Who's the more foolish" line is supposed to end, "or the fool who follows HIM?" but sounds distictly like "or the fool who follows IT?".
Either way it's a strange schoolyard-level taunt.

Wookiee Chow

Far from being a 'psychic' impression, I think Vader is subconciously noting Kenobi's 'style'.
Being attuned to this kind of mental 'indexing' is thought by some to be the source of 'sixth sense' kinds of awareness.
It's easy to believe in Jedi Force training that builds on innate ability in such areas can produce 'masters' with seemingly mystical powers.
Without resorting to mysticism to explain them.

Alternately, it may be Vader himself who has been in direct contact with Kenobi

Kenobi's an old hand at guerrilla techniques and soon they're in the command office off the hanger.

Watch Chewbacca kill a man with one blow like a grizzly bear (death is assumed as the officer never gets back up), making him a murderer as well.

Yet another suspicious line comes out of Kenobi:

So astromech droids are outfitted to hack battle stations?
How does Kenobi know what R2 can do?
And here's something to ponder; Leia's message to Kenobi said that she "placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion" in R2.
She didn't actually say 'plans for the Death Star'.
Here we see R2 sifting through data while directly interfacing with the Death Star.
Vader has stated openly that the stolen plans were hidden with the droids, but even if R2 is indeed carrying some info, it's very possible that he gets the crucial data about the exhaust port only now.

Case in point, here's a bit of tampering to puzzle over:

In the original movie, the portion highlighted in yellow above is simply NOT there.
In the Special Edition and DVD releases, it is.
In the original, the terminal and machinery in the room can clearly be heard in the background as the readouts are flashed and no one speaks.
In the altered editions, Threepio's voice for this added exposition noticeably does not match his other dialog.
Evidence of tampering is obvious - the reason remains unclear.

It's a stretch to consider that Kenobi has engineered a raid on the Death Star to secure it's blueprints, but he IS a sneaky old bastard.
If he is indeed working with Vader then it becomes more likely that Vader is orchestrating all of this.

Kenobi gives the readouts a cursory once-over, gives a shifty look, and then says that he has to go off alone.
Right, that's far less suspicious than two stormtroopers escorting him around...
Seems to be confident that he can find his way now, eh?
Does he have a Pocket PC with the plans on it, or just the phone number of his contact aboard this battle station?

Before leaving he stops to plant hypnotic suggestions in Luke again.
This is the last time Kenobi speaks to Luke before he 'dies', so he makes it as cryptic and weird as possible:

Always... Remember that, Luke.
There's no escape.

Of Wookiees and clones

After Kenobi leaves, the droids prove their usefulness to the royals once again by locating Leia.
Luke, being a royalist sympathizer, wants to dash off and rescue her.
Han doesn't, and I love him for it.
Let the royals rot.
Luke is all for charging right in and getting everone's ass shot to ribbons over the Princess.
Unable to convince Han using emotional appeals, he is forced (as Kenobi was on Mos Eisley) to use a more conventional means of persuasion: money.
Warily, Han agrees (again as with Kenobi) and they shackle Chewie and dash off.

Along the way Luke mentions, "I can't see a thing in this helmet".
Han doesn't seem to have the same problem...
In the Expanded Universe, captain Solo was in the Imperial Navy.
Anything you'd like to share with the audience, Han?

When they get to the detention center we get some anti-Wookiee sentiment with the officer asking, "Where are you taking this... thing?"
In the Expanded Universe, Wookies are supposed to have been enslaved by the Empire to build their many war machines.
So of course this is NEVER mentioned in any of the six movies.
If you think the Rebels view Wookiees any better, check the end of this movie for a bit of exclusion for Chewie:
Luke and Han get medals, Chewie doesn't.
It took me a while to figure out, but I don't think Wookiees are people.
I think Chewie is Han's pet.
Should a medal go to Clint Eastwood's oragutan in Every Which Way But Loose?
Before or after wiping the monkey shit off the seat?

When Han and Luke freak and start shooting up the place, watch the moisture farmer.
He guns like crazy and the bodies start piling up.
Kid turns out to be ferocious in a gun battle.

So now we have the first meeting between the royal siblingsPrincess Leia and Luke Skywalker, both heirs of Anakin Skywalker.
Remember that Leia is the one who sent the droids to Tatooine to pick up Kenobi.
Does she know what Kenobi was doing there on Vader's homeworld, namely watching Luke?
Does she know that Luke is the son of Darth Vader?
Numbed by her impending death sentence and the sudden rescue, she gives nearly nothing away upon hearing that the son of Skywalker is now standing in front of her.
She does look very confused, asking, "You're who?"
She looks genuinely baffled and she may not know at this point that daddy had another brat.
Though she does recognize the name "BEN Kenobi" (Obi-Wan's psuedo alias), yet another indication of her close ties with the man.

Long story short, they escape the detention center and then escape the trash compactor.
Once in the compactor, Han fires at the walls.
When the dust settles from the richochets (possible further evidence that we're dealing with projectiles) Luke yells, "I already tried it".
The millisecond his ass hit the water?
Han jumps down approximately THREE seconds after Luke.
This kid loves to fire that gun.

He also mentions it was "magnetically sealed", another indication that we may be dealing with ballistic technology.
You CAN magnetically seal something so that lasers bounce off, but at that point it looks like a mirror because LIGHT is bouncing off of it.
When ROTS came out I couldn't help but notice the giant SHELLS the artillery crews were using on the space cruisers.
Just for the record, I'd been saying for a year or better BEFORE ROTS that 'blasters' are actually ballistic weapons ( there?).
They need to be "loaded", case shells can be seen being ejected when they fire, and a round bounces off a "magnetically sealed" door!
They're ballistic weapons.
No big deal, just another misinterpretation :)

Meanwhile, the unresponsive command office by the docking bay is investigated.
When the troopers rush in we get the most compelling proof against an odd assertion that has crept up over the years.
It has been suggested that the stormtroopers are clones (presumably linked to the "Clone Wars" that Luke mentioned) and that their masks hide this fact from the general public.
The main argument I've always heard for this is that the stormtroopers are suspiciously all the same height.
Not true.
And if just watching a line of troopers go by isn't proof enough, watch when stormtroopers break into the command office that Threepio and R2 have locked themselves into.
All the troopers easily walk under the door without bending or stooping over.
Except one guy, who cracks his FOREHEAD on the partially raised door!
You can actually hear this as well. This is no mere production accident, the foley was noticeably augmented for the DVD release!
He must be at least six inches taller than his fellow troopers.


Stormtroopers: not clones.

Threepio pulls his mind trick on the guard, R2 saves everone's ass, and we're off.

IS Darth Vader a Sith?

Vader reports to Tarkin that Kenobi is on the Death Star:

Tarkin makes two statements;
"The Jedi are extinct" and that Vader is "all that's left of their religion".
That's twice now we have discussions of the fall of the Jedi and no mention of the Sith.
Tarkin in fact seems to be indicating that Vader is a Jedi, and Kenobi CALLED Darth Vader a Jedi.
So let's see, it's a terrible thing that the Sith showed up after a thousand years and managed to wipe out the Jedi, but neither side mentions it when reviewing history.
A suspiscious 'omission'.

Just to get all this clear - after a 'thousand generations' (so what is that, thirty thousand years?!) TWO SITH show up.
They haven't been around for a thousand years.
The only reason they were able to do what they did is because they managed to hide from the Jedi, who were keeping an eye out for them all that time...
Nobody ever says 'then those dirty Sith sneaked up on our ass and blew us away', or 'thanks to those dirty Sith we beat the cruel Jedi'?
Not a word?

Uh huh.

Are the Sith supposed to BE Jedi?
Many seem to think so. Here's how defines the Sith:
"An ancient order of Force-practitioners devoted to the dark side and determined to destroy the Jedi, the Sith were a menace long thought extinct."
Definitely seems to be a seperation there.

Vader convinces Tarkin that he has a score to settle with Kenobi and goes off to find him.
After twenty years or more, Anakin goes to do battle with Obi-Wan and pick up where they left off.
Vader is actually collaborating with Kenobi
Initially, I thought this added incredible complexity to everything, making it unlikely.
The main nagging bit of evidence is the mysterious circumstances of Kenobi's death (or rather, disappearance).
And of course, Leia's recorded message

Action Kenobi

So there's an old man sneaking around on the Death Star in his bathrobe...
A credit to his mentalist's skills that he isn't just rounded up.
Or more proof that he has a contact on board.
Regardless, his skills are impressive.
We find him (theoretically) disabling the tractor beam, once more deftly operating equipment that he's supposedly never seen before.

In subsequent Star Wars movies we are asked to believe that these Force practioners can move objects with their minds.
This is the first proof that this is no more real in the Star Wars Universe than in our own.
Kenobi is risking his life over a precipice in order to through a MANUAL switch.

Here we get the only example that there are real people behind the stormtroopers masks:

First off, the officer says PLEASE.
Holy shit.
Dark times, indeed.
The troopers who remain sound disinterested, clueless, and have a childlike fetish for machinery.
In short, regular soldiers.
They're shootin' the shit with each other while on duty.
In all three movies, we never get to see Rebel grunts portrayed this way.
Maybe ALL Rebel soldiers are just too darned serious all the time.
Or maybe there's just no time to consider the rabble when all the attention has to be on the little Princess and her merry band.

We're led to believe here that Kenobi is either using his hypnotic powers to make the troopers think they hear something,
or (even less convincing) that he is moving something conveniently off screen telekinetically.
Far more likely, he's simply flicking something down the corridor to create a distraction.
Notice the screenplay describes Kenobi gesturing towards them AS they think they hear something.
Even the people writing this piece of propaganda can't figure out what's supposed to be happening here.

Wizard my ass.

Keystone Klones

There are two alterations to the original footage of the running gun battle between Han and Chewbacca and a group of stormtroopers that I feel the need to discuss.

First, when Solo acts quickly (with lightning swift death, like a true hero would...?) and surprises a party of troopers into fleeing.
He and Chewbacca chase them for a ways down a hall, but when they come around a bend the troopers have regrouped.
They repulse the smugglers' charge and chase after them.
In the Special Edition a digital backdrop has been added that shows many more troopers and a hanger in the background with TIE fighters hanging from the rafters.
To make it look like the only way the troopers could charge back at Han and Chewie were with reinforcements?
Or to strenghthen Han and Chewie's image ('we wouldn't have run away except there were fifty more stormtroopers behind 'em')?

Second, in the original we see a set of 'blast doors' closing (no doubt a failsafe feature in the event of BLASTERS going off in the hallways) and one of the troopers yelling,
"Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!"
In the Special Edition a voice over has been inserted just before this of a trooper (the same one?) ordering,
"Close the blast doors!"
What the hell?
An obvious attempt to make the troopers appear comically disorganized and stupid.
This bit of over-dubbing doesn't even appear in the 'Annotated Screenplays', though Threepio's does.

A couple of low-class editing tricks.

Vader vs Kenobi: Round Two

Did Kenobi go looking for Vader?
How orchestrated is this meeting?
Looks like Vader went walking around the corridors next to the hanger bay, seeking Kenobi.
Maybe he could psychically 'feel' Kenobi's presence.
Or maybe he knows Kenobi's tactics well enough that he could surmise he'd try to sneak back to the ship.
Or, far more likely, perhaps he just scanned recent security tapes.
Jedi mind tricks might work on people, but they don't effect recorded media.

Actually it may not even be that complicated.
Maybe they just called each other.

This encounter finds both of these old duffers nervous, evidenced by their respective goofy taunts:

These two have been waiting for two decades or better to try and kill each other again.
Now that's hatred.
Two of the fiercest warriors of a bygone war, their bodies are now weak and shattered.
Vader does not seem to be using his cyborg tech to assist him much.
As a point of honor he may be using just his own strength.
Compare his performance here with the later duels with his son, where he pulls out all the stops.

Again, this may all just be evidence that this is not a real fight at all, merely a carefully staged distraction.
Vader needs to ensure that the Princess escapes and Kenobi needs to ensure that Luke wants to kill Vader.

Apparently Kenobi lights his lightsaber after Vader, who seemingly appears on the scene with his already lit and ready.
However, Kenobi IS the first to strike.
In Empire, 'Yoda' emphasises a self-defence-only approach to Lightsider Force practition.
Luke will later ALWAYS light his saber first and strike first
(at one point he will even attempt to strike at an unarmed old man with a lightsaber. The kid fights dirty).

Painfully slow, they circle each other swiping away like a pair of... well, like a pair of old men with swords.

Vader realizes that Kenobi is going to lose:

The line, "You should not have come back" sounds a bit wistful or regretful.
We never get to know how this affects Anakin as the movies make every effort to only show us Anakin's business end.

When Kenobi spots Luke he gets an incredibly smug look on his face.
He has implanted Luke with hypnotic suggestions and obviously he feels this will cement the deal.
He wants Luke to see Vader strike him down.
This should imprint in Luke the idea of Vader being his enemy, and make Luke seek revenge for Kenobi's death.
In the process, Luke is now set to believe he will be a Jedi knight.

Luke never gets the training necessary to become a Jedi, but the power of suggestion is strong in this one.
Kenobi wants Vader dead.
He has told Luke that Vader killed his father and now through hypnotism and trauma he has constructed a delusional madman.
Luke very quickly comes to believe that he has special powers of a magickal nature.
Because he believes this, he is able to perform feats of superhuman intensity and ferocity

Kenobi has tried his best to create the ultimate hitman and unleash him on the Empire and on Vader specifically.
He did a good job.
Kenobi, that groveling dog of the Jedi, has doomed the galaxy to slavery under the tyrannical rule of a halluciniatory psychopath.

Kenobi's Vanishing Act

I don't buy this whole disappearing corpse bit.
It's all too convienent that the only two corpses that vanish in the movies are Kenobi's and Yoda's.
After he dies, Kenobi's corpse is left by his friends.
We don't get any confirmation about what happens to his body except two suspicious clips that show him being supposedly struck down and then a close up of a booted foot probing an empty cloak on the floor
Not exactly closure.
(thanks go to Andy Bergstrom for pointing out that something is definitely amiss here)

When Anakin dies, his corpse does not disappear, though he appears as a ghost with Kenobi and Yoda (sure, only Luke can see them...).
Qui-Gon gets killed in battle and does not disappear, and even though burned in a funeral pyre like Vader he doesn't come back to anyone as a ghost.
None of the Jedi killed in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith disappear upon death.

After he takes over control of the galaxy, Luke doubtless tries to set himself up as a religious leader devinely ordained to rule.
The claim here is that just after Kenobi croaked he heard his voice saying, "Run, Luke! Run!".
Either he is an opportunistic liar, or he is describing a psychotic break.
The main reason I reject the idea of the dead actually communicating with this blood-hungry future despot is the same reason I usually reject it:
the only people who I have ever encountered who claim to speak with the dead are either verifiably insane or they want your money.

Luke may actually fall into both catagories.

Heavenly Bodies

Just after escaping the Death Star, Leia consoles Luke:

Nothing he could have done.
Kenobi had similar sentiments regarding the death of his foster parents.
Hmmm... How much in the know is Leia?
Hard to say.
I want to sa, "A lot" but I actually can't figure it out.
She knows Vader is her father, and it would be a stretch if she didn't know Vader is Anakin Skywalker...
I don't know - if she didn't know about Luke until she met him, she figures things out pretty quick.

Han needs help at the guns and enlists Luke.
He jumps right in and is soon up to speed, his kill rate the same as Han's.
A far cry from the bumbling no-nothing he appeared to be in the cockpit at the start of this trip.
This is probably Kenobi's brainwashing at work.
Luke is convinced that he can 'feel' things beyond the range of his senses.
If he's bought Kenobi's line completely and truly believes this, then he'd be able to unlock many latent abilities.
Much in the same way a hypnotists' subject can overcome fears and perform feats they could not normally do.
Maybe the Jedi employ a systematic program of self-hypnosis, maybe this is what they mean by 'the Force'.

Meanwhile, Tarkin apparently follows Vader's advise reluctantly:

Vader's not only ahead of the Rebels at all times, he's ahead of the Imperial high command as well.
And so much for the assertion that stormtroopers are bad shots - they were obviously under ORDERS not to shoot to kill!
Damn, now those are professionals!
And as far as their supposedly bad armor, their facing high-powered armor-piercing rounds - no much that's gonna stop that kind of fire power.

On the way to the Rebel base, we get a palpable taste of Luke's attraction to Leia:

Luke's attraction to Leia is downplayed significantly because in the third movie he finds out she's his sister.
(or he convinces her that he's her brother - hypnotists, dude, I don't trust em)
He's been hot on this girl since he saw that recording she made.
She's not too shy around him either, planting a kiss on him in the Death Star and a kiss before the attack run from Yavin IV.

There's also a deleted near-kiss from Empire that was just too gross given the later 'revelation' of siblinghood
(this same near-kiss is actually in a trailer for Empire that's on the extras dics for the Star Wars Trilogy DVD release - holy shit)
More on this in the Empire Strikes Back section.

Speaking of heavenly bodies, Yavin is the orange-red gas giant that the fourth moon (where the Rebel base is) orbits.
The fourth moon is referred to as Yavin IV. Semantics, perhaps.
But the mistake that we make is assuming that a 'system' is a STAR system rather than a PLANETARY system.
In Empire Strikes Back, we're led to believe that great intersteller distances are being crossed.
With no hyperdrive.
More on this in the Empire Strikes Back section as well.

When Leia gets to the base, she's greeted by Willard, who's listed in the screenplay as commander of the Rebel forces.
He gives her a hug and exclaims, "You're safe! When we heard about Alderaan, we feared the worst."
Holy shit, a whole planet was destroyed, dude.
Does he think losing the precious little Princess would have been worse than losing an ENTIRE PLANET?!
These Rebels really dig their royals.

Vader's secret identity

Luke meets Wedge Antilles, an amazing pilot who lives through all three movies, participating in this assault, the battle on Hoth, and the attack on the second Death Star.
Despite his formidable piloting skills, nowhere in the movies is it ever suggested that he should be a candidate for Jedi training, or indeed that he could be Force sensitive at all.
Sorry, Wedge but somebody's gotta risk their lives for no reward so the royals can rule over all.

Threepio said that his last master was "Captain Antilles".
Is that supposed to be Wedge?
Or did Captian Antilles die during the capture of the Blockade Runner at the begining of the movie?
Returning the droids to anybody is never mentioned.
Likely Threepio lied and he and R2 have always been servants of Leia, as indeed they were the servants of her mother and father.
At any rate they stay by her and Luke's side for the rest of the movies, like good little guardians of the regency.

Wedge's comment about the improbability of the mission gives Luke the chance to brag about his ability to hit a target of similar size.
In typical yokel fashion this is related via a story of shooting wildlife.
You like to go bantha tipping too, farmboy?

In the Special Edition there's an originally-cut scene where we also get to catch up with Biggs, Luke's friend from back home.
Alas, like so many others, he's doomed to die while near the son of Skywalker.
Luke will never mourn his passing in the movies, however.
For that matter, he never mourns anybody's passing, except his own father (who he may have killed).
Death just doesn't seem to bother this kid.

During this reunion, we get a telling anecdote from Red Leader:

This is significant because it shows that Anakin Skywalker identity and history is known among the ranks.
Do they also know that Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader?
I would think someone would say 'Hey, isn't your DAD the asshole we're fighting?!'
Then again, they may ALL understand that Vader's daughter, and thereby Vader himself, is leading this effort

Is the fact that Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader a secret?
More importantly perhaps, WHY would this be a secret?
Secrets are often born of shame.
The Jedi aren't proud of the fact that it was their golden boy who betrayed them.
And maybe the whole 'virgin birth' bit is just easier to accept than a travelling Jedi bouncin' around with a slave girl?

The Rebel fleet is in such dire straights that it'd be suspicious to withhold an experienced pilot without good reason (there are only thirty who fly off to battle).
Leia's got a good reason but she's not sharing this info.
She's as crafty and coniving as Kenobi was.

It's also arranged that Luke gets to have R2-D2 as his astromech (almost foiled by a conscientious crew tech who offers to switch R2 for a newer model).
Leia probably had some hand in this, not only to keep an eye on Luke but to keep his ass safe.
R2 has no doubt had a number of 'special' upgrades over the years, allowing him to perform varied tasks that we never see other astromechs doing (hacking into computer main frames and security systems for instance).
Presumably having him on board greatly increases your survival chances.

I'm on the leader

Before the battle, Vader (confident now that his intricate plan is coming to fruition) lets loose with an uncustomary proclaimation:
"This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi. It will soon see the end of the Rebellion."
Tarkin is noticeably weirded out by the statement and flashes Vader a disturbed look.
One can only hope that Tarkin feels appropriately out of his depth.

Is Tarkin worried here that Vader is speaking of HIS rebellion from the Emperor?
He should be.
We never get to see the Emperor talk about Tarkin at all.
He never seems to mourne the loss of one of his trusted high command.
Vader and Palpatine are buddy-buddy in ROTJ - is this because Vader saved the Emperor's bacon (not to mention the Empire itself) from Tarkin's mutiny?
Remember, Vader is the one orchestating getting the plans to his daughters forces thru his OWN ASTROMECH DROID!!
And when the Rebels come a callin with the info HE GAVE THEM, he splits and makes sure he is jolly well OUTSIDE the base when it blows.
If Luke missed the shot, would Vader have taken it?
Vader and his son are the ones who end up at the end of that trench run, headin' balls out for the exhaust port.

Power struggles...
man, they get complicated...

You aren't still be clinging to the idea that Vader is in any way in charge of the Death Star are you?
Well, ARE YOU?!?
While Tarkin is smuggly distracted, Vader decides beats feet to the hanger bays and snags two pilots to act as his wingmen!
(compare this to his actions on Hoth - he isn't piloting a Scout Walker on the battlefield)
Vader isn't antsy or bored or trying to re-live his fighter pilot past,
he has orchestrated the destruction of the battle station and needs to GET THE FUCK OUT

It's Vader's presence in the trench that shuts down the auto-defenses.
Vader needs these fighters to get to the exhaust port
His wingmen pick off 'Rebel' fighters but Vader makes it clear he alone gets to shoot at the lead ship
Actually, he's making dead certain that he's there for the shot to kill the Death Star

When the Death Star explodes, he escapes and Tarkin's would-be power grab ends, saving the galaxy.
I hope he got a vacation.
I don't know that Vader would be a good leader for the galaxy.
The Old Republic were negligent and irresponsible. The Jedi, bullies.
The Emperor turned out to be what Eddie Izzard refers to as a 'mass-murdering fuckhead'.
In Empire, Vader pleads with Luke to help him end conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
That still makes him and his rotten little brat despots, so yeah, that's bad.
My approval of Vader over the Jedi rests mostly on his ability to beat those miserable thugs at their own game.

To my endless chagrin, the most compelling evidence that Vader is indeed the hero of this story is, quite simply,
he is the King

And that VOICE!
Ya gotta admit, the boy's got style :)

Great shot, kid

So according to the astro-officer (is that your real title, crewman?) there are thirty Rebel ships.
How many survive this run?
Luke and Wedge are verifiable.
In the battle Wedge comes to refer to Luke as 'boss'.
Luke takes to space combat like a frightening madman finding his calling.
He exhibits a calm confidence and ability much like his father.
Vader even comments "The Force is strong with this one!", no doubt admiring his flying skills.

Behold Darth Vader's master strategy at play!
His DAUGHTER is sending her fighters
using the plans that he GAVE her
and his own SON is in the ship that destroys the Death Star!
Holy shit! can there be any doubt who this story is about?!

Listening to voices in his head, Luke turns off his targetting computer.
This causes great concern among the command personnelle on Yavin IV.
Many of them, Leia included, are shown glancing around and at each other at this disturbing developement.
Luke is asked directly, "What's wrong?".
He replies enigmatically that he's "all right".
He's actually bat-shit insane.

The claim here is that Luke hears a voice, and his reactions seem to indicate he thinks he's hearing something.
The command crew don't pick up any recording of this - they ask about his targeting computer but don't ask about the spooky voice that told him to turn it off.

Just before he can unknowingly shoot down his own son, Darth Vader is shot out of the battle by the Millenium Falcon.
Han smuggled Vader's kid as Kenobi's hostage and then shot his TIE fighter down.
This may explain why Vader volunteers Solo as a test subject for the carbon freezing chamber on Bespin.
I think I too would be a little tired of this damned smuggler interfering in everything.
The only thing that probably saved Han's ass is the fact that he did indeed save Luke and prevented Vader from killing his own son.

Long story short, the farmboy blows up the Death Star.
I try to give credit where credit is due.
This kid is amazing.
From what I can tell he's one of only three survivors of the run and only the second to get a shot at the port.
When the shattered remains of the squadron fly away with the Millemium Falcon, there are only three of the original ships left, two X-Wings (Luke and presumeably Wedge) and a surviving Y-Wing.

Not only did he get the droids to Kenobi, and not only did he rescue Leia, but if it weren't for him Yavin would be a debris field.
He deserves the medal and the promotion (at the beginning of Empire, he is addressed as 'Commander' Skywalker).
I hope Leia gave him a blowjob for it, too (look, they're only half related, you'll see :)

Hell, everybody on that planet owes him a blowjob.

or at least dinner.

a NICE dinner.

Wookies and droids have their place

Okay, where's Chewie's medal and what the fuck are the droids doing there?

For a long time I wanted to find every reason to suspect and loath the droids
In the final analysis, these droids are the tools of the royal family
Very good tools
They are serving the royals as they always have, through diplomacy and protection

So what about Chewie's medal, you say?
There has been much effort by propagandists over the years to 'correct' this.
Chewie gets a medal in the comic book version.
He gets a medal in the novel.
There's even an action figure of him that's got a medal.
But as we can clearly see from the actual recorded evidence, Chewie did NOT get a medal.

Chewie doesn't get a medal because he's Han's pet
That's why everyone thinks it's so damn cute that he barks during the ceremony.