The movie Psycho is one of my other favorite films.
Norman Bates says in that film, “We’re all in our private traps- clamped in them. And none of us can ever get out. We scratch and claw but- only at the air, only at each other. And for all of it, we never budge an inch.”
This struck me as something to explore within the world of Star Wars’ Anakin Skywalker.
For one thing, Anakin had a lot of issues. But his most central issue was his fear of loss. Interestingly, when he turned to the Dark Side; he lost everything he ever cared about, and since his central fear WAS fear of loss, this fact meant that there was nothing to miss and nothing to fear losing because Padmè was dead, and he supposed that his “child” died with her. He had no friends, and he was stuck in the life support suit because of his injuries.
The whole purpose of Anakin turning to the Dark Side was to save Padmè and he couldn’t even do that. His anger and resentment at himself fueled him going forward.
Sort of a side-bar here: I find it interesting that in Rogue One, we saw Vader’s castle on Mustafar. That is super enthralling, and fraught with meaning because that was a place that caused him such pain, both physically and emotionally. It’s said that the Emperor had the castle built there on purpose FOR that reason. It was also meant as a lesson. Anakin, newly Vader didn’t defeat Obi-Wan because he wasn’t yet fully embracing the Dark Side. He’d used it, but being so emotionally unstable, and the fact that just a few days before, Kenobi was his best friend; he was conflicted. Because of this, he underestimated his opponent. He was powerful enough, but he hadn’t let go of his former self. Because if this, the Emperor used it to his advantage. Since Vader was being kept alive by machines, and he had very bad wounds, he needed a place to heal and meditate, so this castle served that purpose while also serving the Emperor’s purpose of having Vader dwell on his pain and suffering.
In Psycho, we think the movie is about Marion Crane who stole $40,000 and is on the lam; but halfway through the movie, she’s dead and we must switch our empathy to Norman Bates- who is the actual main character. We also are rooting for Lila and Sam as they’re trying to find out what happened to Marion.
I think we could make a case for the Revenge of the Sith timeline being changed if everyone had just let Anakin breathe for a moment. People were always pushing him to do their will, or holding him back from what he wanted/ needed to do. Many times, the Council put so much pressure on Anakin, and was so fickle that it caused him undue stress. Obi-Wan had to be the bearer of bad news in the respect that he had to give his friend the assignment to spy on Palpatine. Padmè was even trying to get Anakin to reason with the Chancellor- to get him to stop making all these amendments to the constitution. And of course, Palpatine is whispering disdain for the Jedi, creating mistrust, luring Anakin to the Dark Side- corrupting him.
In Psycho, the plot twist is Marion’s death.
What if the spotlight was taken off Anakin as a matter of speaking?
In this turn of events for Anakin, the plot twist could be the Council, Obi-Wan and Padmè all realizing that they needed to back off and give the man some space to think and recover. Or, perhaps choosing to not make such a big deal out of the things he did.
Or, what if they used the knowledge that they used to come up with the course of action to spy on Palpatine to help Anakin- since he obviously needed it. It’s like they never considered that while Anakin had his issues, that many of the strikes against him at this point were mostly caused by Palpatine.
If you think about it, not only was Anakin under pressure from things we see in the film- but we have to remember that he was The Chosen One… The Jedi may not have actually believed it- save Obi-Wan; but he was. This meant that Anakin felt everything deeply. If most Jedi felt emotional pain at a 5, he felt it at a 9 or 10. If you think about it, it makes sense. And it makes it easier to believe why he gets so upset- and why his normal reaction to something relatively benign is to be unreasonably affected and act like the world is ending.
If he feels the Force, as well as all his emotions twice as strongly as everyone else; it makes total sense why he’s so moody all the time… and why it was relatively easy for Palpatine to get Anakin to his breaking point after certain events were set in motion.
By focusing their attention elsewhere, the Jedi could have saved themselves a world of hurt.
It was only too late that they realized how important Anakin was to them. Palpatine says as much, “They need you- more than you know.” In the Episode 3 book, Mace realizes that he’d spent too much time looking for Palpatine’s shatterpoint that he didn’t think to look for Anakin’s. The book says that Anakin shouts, “I need him alive! I need him to save Padmè!” The book goes on from there: Mace thought blankly, why? And he moved his lightsaber toward the fallen Chancellor. Before he could follow through on his stroke, a sudden arc of blue plasma sheared through his wrist and his hand tumbled away with his lightsaber still in it…
Then it says, the power of Palpatine’s hate struck him full-on. He had been so intent on Palpatine’s shatterpoint that he’d never thought to look for Anakin’s. Dark lightening blasted away his universe. He fell forever.
Not only does this tell us that Mace is actually dead and that he can’t be Snoke; this tells us that not only did the Jedi underestimate the Chancellor, and Anakin’s importance to Galactic events- they underestimated Padmè’s importance to Anakin. While I am like 80% sure that the Jedi were aware that there was something going on between Skywalker and the Senator; I think they must have underplayed it because it was inconvenient for them to out-right admit it, or investigate the matter fully. While they didn’t always act like they needed Anakin, and frequently made him feel insignificant or taken for granted; they knew that Skywalker was an asset. If they considered and studied the relationship with Anakin and Padmè, then the Code would demand he be removed- expelled in disgrace. With the war on, that would be extremely inconvenient.
Again, moving on though…
Let’s say that the Council realized sooner that they were putting too much pressure on Anakin and needed to give him space? I imagine it would play out something like this.
Obi-Wan realizes Anakin is distant, moody, and unusually quiet. He sees the fatigue and the stress- the worry lines. He sees that it gets worse the more the Jedi talk about Palpatine- and how they’re concerned for the future of the Republic. Obi-Wan is given the job of telling Anakin to spy on the Chancellor. He gets a hesitant expression and Yoda asks what troubles him.
Obi-Wan answers, “Have any of you noticed that since he’s come back, he seems distant and troubled?”
“Isn’t he usually?” Mace says in a somber voice that’s on the fringe of being sarcastic.
“Well, yes… But more than usual… as if since we’ve returned, something has happened that’s disrupting the normal patterns of his life… He looks like he hasn’t slept in days- since before we returned…”
“Came to me he did, and troubled he seemed- I admit… but not manic.” Yoda admitted, not giving any of the subject matter away- as I imagine that would be some sort of a doctor/patient confidentiality.
“It’s been days since we returned, and every time I see him, he looks graver and is more sullen. And while I don’t condone his behavior- it was totally un-Jedi-like… it revealed to me that something must be terribly wrong. And don’t you think the fact that Palpatine gave Anakin this assignment of being on the Council because he knew that it’s a job that would normally go to a Master…. It’s like he knows us- what we’re going to do and how we’ll react… I think us forcing Anakin to spy on Palpatine is just what Palpatine wants if history is any guide.”
The Council chamber would go deathly quiet and then finally, Yoda would speak, “Given us a lot to think about have you, Master Kenobi. Take this into account we will. Perhaps, turn our attention more to Palpatine directly we must. Skywalker, in a difficult position he already is, and being Master Obi-Wan’s former student- know Anakin best he does. A new plan we must make.”
Mace might look a little annoyed, or grave at this, and ask what Yoda suggests.
“Great care we must take… Give Skywalker a say in the proceedings of this body we must if we are to win his trust.”
“But isn’t that just giving him what he wants-power?” Mace would ask pointedly.
Obi-Wan would look slightly bothered by this and say, “I don’t think that’s what he wants. I think he wants respect… respect that Palpatine gives him- no matter how insincere it might really be… I know that his outburst was unacceptable- and trust me, if he were still my student, he would be reprimanded… but you saw how he looked afterwards- he knew he was wrong… He knows he wasn’t helping his cause- just proving your point that he isn’t ready to be a master…”
“Have a point, Master Kenobi does. Let us meditate on this matter. Return to it we will.”
Masters would file out, or their holoimages would flicker off if they were off-world. But before Obi-Wan left, Yoda would pull him aside and say something to the effect of, “Talk to your old apprentice you must. Onto something you have stumbled. Reveal all I cannot- but the nature of his visit to me- dealt with dreams.”
Obi-Wan’s heart would sink. “Like the ones he used to have about his mother.” It would normally be a question, but in this case, Kenobi would already see the writing on the wall.
“Perhaps- fitting it might be to see how the Senator is doing.”
“So you’re not blind to their feelings for one another?”
“And neither are you. Mention it we don’t because dangerous we see it is. If we admit we know- then under obligation we would feel to expel him… and that-perhaps is the most dangerous of all.”
Obi-Wan would nod that he understood, and go to visit Padmè. She would be a little surprised to see him, but would welcome him in. He’d ask if Anakin had dropped by at all. “Not today- oddly enough.” She might say after a moment of thinking.
Obi-Wan would then tell her as much as he could about Palpatine’s assignment to Anakin and allude to a job Anakin was almost given that was recalled after some further consideration. Padmè would listen- perhaps thinking of the amendments to the constitution and Anakin’s nightmare… his moodiness and frustration with the Council. She might look slightly distressed.
“Are you alright, Padmè? You seem upset.”
She’d take a breath and say something like, “I don’t know what’s going on with the galaxy we live in… with this war… and with the Republic… but what’s worse is that I honestly don’t know what to say- to answer you… Physically, I’m fine. Emotionally, I’ve been better… but none of that really matters… I wish I could convince Anakin to talk to you- he’s been under a lot of stress, and I can only help so much- I’m not a Jedi… I think that Anakin believes Palpatine is helping him and I tend to think the opposite.”
“I agree with you on that last part… and I agree that something is troubling Anakin… I just don’t know what… he seems morose and anxious…”
Padmè would see that Obi-Wan was as worried as she was, but she wouldn’t say anything out of fear that she’d already said too much, but Obi-Wan would finally tell her, “Padmè- I know Anakin loves you, and that you love him too. Even Yoda realizes it- but neither of us said anything or acted on this information because we care about Anakin and yourself, and selfishly, we don’t want to lose him. Although a lot of the Jedi wouldn’t admit it, they know that it’s better to have Anakin on their side than not.”
Padmè would take a long breath and nod that it was true. “So we’re not as good at hiding our affections as we would hope… interesting.” But finally, she’d say, “Please promise me that this goes no farther than yourself and Master Yoda if necessary…” she’s give him a pleading glance, which he’d return with a long nod, and his word that he would keep what they’d said, and what she was about to admit to him in confidence. She’d collect herself and looking emotional, she’d say, “Anakin is my husband. And I know that we aren’t ‘allowed’ to be married- but I don’t regret it… not for an instant.”
“I’m not surprised by this, Padmè. I sort of thought it might be so.”
He might be surprised when she didn’t respond or add anything to her previous statement.
“Padmè- I sense there is something else.”
Maybe a wry chuckle here, and a hand to her temple for a few moments, debating on whether or not to tell Kenobi what he obviously wanted to know. But eventually, she’d tell him, “I’m pregnant… and while I knew he realized what it would mean for us- he was happy. For a moment, there was that flicker of the little boy on Tatooine that won the podrace… but later on that night- the first night he was back, Anakin had a nightmare that I would die in childbirth and he vowed that he couldn’t let that happen to me. I know it’s not the Jedi way… but it seemed as if the dream- just having it- not even the subject matter bothered him… and then of course you add in what the dream was about and he was disturbed. Ever since then he hasn’t slept or, as far as I know- eaten anything- and I worry about him. He’s taking this dream so literally… and it’s destroying him.”
“This goes beyond the normal fears of parenthood or of the unknown… it’s something much deeper. I sense that this vision is not so much what is- but what could be if something else happens… what, I don’t know.”
“I don’t claim to be a Jedi- but… I feel in my heart that the Dark Side is trying to pull him closer… and he is so upset that he’s unknowingly walking straight towards the darkness.”
“you think he misread the dream… interesting… It actually makes sense though… considering what the Council and I have just been speaking of… and it confirms that we must help Anakin to see the true meaning behind the vision. I won’t tell him that we spoke of this matter- unless you think it would help…”
“I think that you should just tell him that you see he’s upset, and ask if it has something to do with his relationship with me- since you told me before that you already knew. Open up a dialogue and I will do what I can to assure him that I am fine. I am seeing a med droid this afternoon… hopefully, that will set him at ease.”
“Alright- sounds like we’re on the same page.”
From there, Obi-Wan would talk to Anakin who after some coaxing, or genuine conversation might admit what Kenobi already knows. At this point, Obi-Wan would openly help his friend with his jumbled emotions, and Yoda might counsel him. Perhaps allow him to look at the texts about the ancient practices of the Sith and Jedi- and give him a more measured education in these matters.
Using the plot switch/ main character swap concept from Psycho- and shifting the Jedi’s attention from the singular, “we don’t trust Anakin and therefore we won’t make him a master.” To the more encompassing, “we don’t trust Anakin because Palpatine trusts him and we sense there’s more to this story so we’re treading lightly.”
Instead of seemingly attacking Anakin or ambushing him- they are taking a more active, understanding view of the situation- using their Jedi skills to help a fellow Jedi.
I don’t know if all of it would actually play out this way, but it’s interesting to try thinking of different outcomes for various scenes.