Here’s the fuckin thing about Yoda, you guys

Ed. Note: I can’t believe I’m writing about Star Wars on the internet. I’ve always thought this was a level of nerdiness that is beneath me, but I have so much brain space devoted to this idea, that I have to get it out.

Everybody knows that the Star Wars prequels are horrible. But they’re not completely horrible. There are many characters, locales, and concepts that could have made a compelling saga.

Like, Darth Maul is fucking sick. They should have made him like the Terminator where he’s so powerful that your only shot at survival is to run from him. If you stood your ground, you’d just get destroyed. He should have stuck around for multiple movies. He should have haunted and harassed the Jedi until Anakin stepped up and capped him. Maybe becoming a dark Jedi in the process. Instead he gets punked and disposed of in the first movie. Oh well.

Same, Naboo is pretty rad. Feels Star Warsy. Likewise with the cosmopolitan, slightly blade-runner-y/Metropolis-y capital city of Coruscent (or however you spell it). Those could have been cool backdrops for a Star Wars story.

Whatever who cares. Here’s where the whole thing really goes off the rails: The Jedi, and especially Yoda.

In STAR WARS, people barely remember the Jedi. They’re a legend, or their power is at least. As Han Solo says, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Yet, according to the prequels their “ancient weapon” was used in the largest war in living memory, and in the characters lifetimes. 😕

Everything about the prequel Jedi is a similar swirl of contradictory nonsense. Originally, Obi-wan is on Tatooine, in hiding essentially. Nobody recognizes him as a Jedi. So why did the prequels take his hermit garb and turn it into a uniform? Why do they have rat tails and video conferencing? Why are they both military supercommandos and indecisive emo pussies? Why doesn’t Obi-wan remember C-3PO and R2D2? GAAAAAAHHH!

But the worst offense is with Yoda. In ACTUAL STAR WARS, he’s like a crazy (and silly, lighthearted) alien monk on a forsaken swamp planet. He’s not really interested in the struggle for power throughout the galaxy, he’s interested in the force. He’s like a crazy John the Baptist type, or an ascetic that Sidartha encounters. He doesn’t belong in a temple. He practices in the wilderness. Even to us regular human viewers, he’s an inspiring and mythical presence.

In the prequels he’s completely different. He’s a taciturn, boring, and impotent bureaucrat… slash ninja. Remember him whacking away crudely at R2D2 with his walking stick in EMPIRE? He’s not a warrior! Yet in the prequels he’s doing 1080 stalefish saber grabs fighting count dooko.

This. is. fucked. up. It breaks continuity with real star wars. It contradicts all of the character’s personalities and motivations, and to what end? For some boring ass council meetings, and some kind of gladiator arena lizard fight? Right? I can’t even remember now, it was so dull.

Anyway, today I offer potential blueprints for what the Jedi should have been. What the original films suggested they were, and what would have matched the original character’s personalities:

Jedi as The Space Vatican

Like catholicism in Europe, the Jedi are not quite a state religion, but close. They have their own bureaucracy, and they have ceremonial weapons, lightsabers. They also have lay people throughout society and in the government and military. People believe in the force like they believe in God: i.e. sounds cool, maybe they’ve felt it once or twice in their lives, but to most people, it’s more cultural than real.

But the few Jedi knights at the highest level, like Obi-wan and Anakin, know its true power.

They have giant temples and they wear ceremonial armor, perhaps like Darth Vader’s samurai armor, but white instead of black, and no face mask. That would give Darth’s black masked getup a menacing contrast.

Jedi as Freemasons

The same as above, but more subdued. There are Jedi throughout society, but they are a part of a sacred (and secret) brotherhood. They trace their lineage to the Jedi Knights of Old, who actually fought with lightsabers on a large scale to protect the galaxy. Those knights are more like the knights of the round table than contemporary warriors. Truly ancient history.

Jedi as Shaolin monks

In this scenario the Jedi are a legendary sect of fighting monks. From time to time, they come to the aid of the rulers that govern them, but for the most part they are free agents who want to be left alone to study the force. They have immense martial power on an individual scale, but are too few in number to be a credible military force. Like the Shaolin, some lay people have the art transmitted to them, and they may use it in a military context, but all the Jedi we know are monks.

In any of these scenarios, there is a sensible place for Obi-wan, Anakin, and the original ethos of the Jedi. In all of these scenarios, though, I have a very specific idea for Yoda:

Yoda is the greatest master of the force in the galaxy. He communes with the force in such a way that makes him transcend the politics, power, and war that dominate the rest of the galaxy. He’s a Jedi master, but he has never picked up a lightsaber. He’d have no use for it. In a fight, Yoda would either elude you, outwit you, or even dematerialize so your weapons go right through him, à la Obi-wan vs. Darth Vader.

He’s probably never left the swamp.

He understands the dark side of the force, but he has no fear of it. To Yoda, it’s just a part of nature. When he sends Luke into the cave, it is to teach him about the dark side, and how live among it, without fearing it or being swallowed up by it.

For 800 years, the most advanced and devout Jedis make a pilgrimage to Dagobah to study under Yoda, when they want to learn the deepest truths about the force and nothing else.

Whether the Jedi are a grand religion, a secret society, or a monastery of outcasts, Yoda the esoteric sage fits perfectly into the story.

Okay, had to get that out. I can’t believe I’m a 33 year old man posting this. ✌️

 
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