The Myth of Darth Vader’s Redemption

Spoilers for Star Wars – sorry if you haven’t seen it and really wanted to read this post and are now torn with what to do next.

Darth Vader tortures LeiaReturn of the Jedi ends with Anakin Skywalker reunited with his old friends Yoda & Obi-Wan as they pal around being transparent and omniscient. Luke is happy to see he is truly a Jedi and was able to bring his father back to the light side by compelling to the good still within Anakin (which makes up 80% of Luke’s dialogue in RotJ)…but did Luke really?

Yes Anakin is a force ghost and in the mythology of Star Wars is redeemed but did he really earn an eternity of salvation?

When Emperor Palpatine is force-lightning blasting Luke to death, we are to believe that Darth Vader has a crisis of conscious and looks back and forth between the embodiment of good in his life and the face of evil. Then Vader chooses to side with his son and literally cast away all of his dark emotions into a pit. This act of kindness costs Vader his life, but is a small price to pay in order to see his son with own two eyes.

This interpretation of events is true… from a certain point of view. Here’s another:

Darth Vader wanted Palpatine dead for years and was just waiting for an opportunity. During the battle on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader says, “Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.” This amongst hundreds of non-cannon Expanded Universe stories point to a less loyal Darth Vader.

Vader wanted Palpatine dead. Even if we are to believe that, yes, Darth Vader wanted to kill him for the past twenty years out of spite but Anakin only defeated him to save his son, does it atone all the misdeeds?

Star Wars YounglingsJust five minutes earlier, Darth Vader was doing everything in his power to antagonize, manipulate and injure Luke to turn him to the dark side. Are these the actions of someone with good still inside? During the battle of Endor, Darth Vader turns Luke in to the Emperor, draws his lightsaber absent Luke, tries to kill his son, threatens to corrupt his newly discovered daughter Leia and idly sits by while good-hearted Rebel Alliance fighters are slaughtered by the hundreds.

This doesn’t even take into account the loyal Empire soldiers he kills for small blunders, torturing his daughter, slicing off his son’s arm, killing his oldest friend, planning to betray his master, reneging on his contracts and you know…killing all the hapless younglings.

Can one act of kindness (which was a murder he was planning for years) wash away a lifetime of embracing the dark side?

Level Up, Friends!