Lucas’ Loose Threads

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains basic spoilers for all six Star Wars films. If you are the only person left in the universe who has not seen these movies, then you might not want to read on. Just sayin’.

If there was a bright spot regarding the Star Wars prequels, it was the opportunity for fans to get answers to many of the questions Lucas introduced in episodes IV, V and VI. Fans were hungry for any information relating to the Jedi Order, the evil Sith, where Anakin came from, the story of his children and more. With very few exceptions, Lucas dutifully managed to tie up many of the various plot lines in neat little bundles and send even the most rabid fans home satisfied.

Although I freely admit I’m far more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars geek, there are still questions that none of the six movies answered to my satisfaction. Since I’m not familiar with every bit of the Star Wars universe, I thought I would throw some of these questions out to the masses and see if anyone had plausible explanations for how they fit into the grand scheme of all things Star Wars.

“Do you remember your real mother?”

In Return of the Jedi, right before Luke goes off to turn himself over to the Vader and the Emperor, he has a farewell talk with Leia where he explains why he has to leave. Luke begins the scene with a simple question to Leia “Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?” Leia responds that “She died when I was very young. She was beautiful, but sad.” When I saw this scene in the theatre (before the prequels) I assumed Leia was speaking of her real mother, not her adopted one, which is the point of Luke asking about her “real mother”. But since we know from Revenge of the Sith that Padmé died in child birth, Leia couldn’t have been talking about Padmé.

The dialog is confusing on several levels and because of that, I don’t think we have an accurate understanding of whom Leia is describing. Luke is obviously trying to get some info, any info on his mother, and so he asks his sister about their collective mom. But since the story from Episode III doesn’t jibe with what Leia describes, this entire scene seems to be apocryphal. If Leia was simply describing Queen Breha Organa, then there was little dramatic motivation for Luke’s question in the first place.

“The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi”

Although Lucas does a satisfying job of explaining the birth of Luke and Leia, and how they were hid from the Empire, we are still left with a pivotal unanswered question. Namely how and when did Darth Vader discover he had a son? The answer to this question isn’t just one of curiosity, it also holds one of the key developments in the entire story arc. Since Emperor Palpatine lies to Vader and explains that Anakin’s own anger killed Padmé, the eventual discovery of Luke must come as a revelation on multiple levels. This revelation would logically be the tipping point where Vader decides to plot to overthrow the Emperor.

The most logical explanation is that after the Battle of Yavin, Imperial spies learn that the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star was named Luke Skywalker. Vader instantly realizes he has a son and that the Emperor has lied to him. If this is the case, then this dramatic development is one of the greatest missed opportunities in the entire series. I would love to see how Vader’s rage played out against the Emperor, but alas this was not to be.

From the audience’s point of view, the first time Darth is informed about the “Son of Skywalker” is in The Empire Strikes Back when the Emperor himself tells Vader that “The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi”. Thanks to Vader’s non-reaction in this scene, between Episodes III and V, Darth must somehow learn of Luke, the Emperor’s deception about Padmé’s death, and a long lost son. Through all of this, ironically Vader doesn’t even blink. I don’t buy it for one second.

The Virgin Birth

In The Phantom Menace we learn the origin of Anakin Skywalker. Shmi tells Obi Wan and Qui-Jon that amazingly, Anakin had no father. This in itself wouldn’t be too difficult to accept, except for the strange scene in Revenge of the Sith where Palpatine tells Anakin the tragedy of Darth Plagueis. The future Emperor relays the story of a Sith master so powerful he was able to control life itself. The subtext of this scene is that Plagueis was Palpatine’s master and that it was Palpatine himself who slew Plagueis after he had taught his young apprentice everything he knew.

Given the implied nature of the scene, we are left with many questions. Chief among them – is Palpatine Anakin’s “father”? Did Plagueis himself will Anakin into existence by using Shmi Skywalker to bring him to term? Did Palpatine kill Plagueis when he learned he was grooming a replacement apprentice? All of these questions (and more) are never answered in the films. Some Star Wars comics have put forth theories about these plot points, but since they cannot be considered “cannon” they remain only fan speculation.

Although it’s no secret that I consider the prequels to be inferior follow-ups to the original Star Wars trilogy, it is none-the-less a testament to Lucas’ storytelling that I find myself asking these questions, even today. The archetypes he used in weaving the Star Wars universe are powerful and speak to the allure of great drama. Given Lucas’ propensity to keep churning out all things Star Wars, we may very well get many of our answers. I think I speak for fans everywhere when I say, go for it George, just leave Jar Jar in a galaxy far, far away… from us.


  1. Leia is talking about her feelings she had for Padmé while in the womb and immediately after childbirth…
    Those twins are strong with the the Force you know. 🙂

  2. Obi-Wan tells Luke in Ep. IV that his (Luke’s) father wanted him to have his lightsaber when he got older — major plot hole, and proves Lucas made up the Luke/Vader father/son connection during Empire. This goes in hand with the Leia/Mother question. Lucas was winging it, and I don’t think the prequels (which I despise) tie up most of the loose ends well.

    Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side is so poorly handled it’s embarrassing — it’s the crux of the 6 episode story and it feels like it was thrown in with no thought. The motivating factors are not compelling at all.

    I could go on and on, but this guy nailed most of my complaints about the prequels: http://www.chefelf.com/starwars/ep1.php — and a pretty funny read as well.

  3. Hello Ged, I’m glad you are interested in the Star Wars films.

    When Luke speaks to Leia about their real mother, Leia is indeed speaking of their real mother, Padmé. Remember, Leia is born with the Force too.

    In the case of how Darth Vader discovers Luke Skywalker, you’re absolutely correct. It is never explicitly mentioned in the films, though your theory about spies alerting Vader of Luke’s presence in the Rebellion may not be too far from the truth.

    Also, while Chancellor Palpatine told the story of Darth Plagueis to Anakin, I never actually implied that Palpatine or Plagueis formed Anakin’s life to Shmi Skywaker. Anakin’s birth to Shmi was done by the will of the Force.

    I hope that answers some of your questions or future Star Wars TV shows or movies will.

    May the Force be with You… always,

  4. George,

    I see from your IP address you’ve moved from California to St. Louis, MO. You musta moved Skywalker ranch to be closer to the Provel cheese. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Force be with you too!

  5. As to the question of “Do you remember your real mother?” we have ample evidence in the films that those who are more force-sensitive can intuitively discover things about their family. Luke has the realization that Leia is his sister on his own. Vader appears to realize who Luke is without any apparent explanation. Even in his youth, Luke appears to be determined to follow the same path Anakin did (piloting, learning to become a Jedi, etc.) There appears to be strong links between family members who are more capable with the force.

    Now, I realize George Lucas wrote Jedi without knowing all the details of the backstory and that he probably *did* intend for Leia to have lived with Padme for a few years in her youth, but even if he changed that, we can still explain this easily by saying that Leia, in her youth, intuitively knew things about Padme which she misinterprets as memories. She even says it in Jedi. “Just images, really. Feelings.” And even after Luke tells her who she is, she responds with, “I know. Somehow, I’ve always known.”

    I’m not saying Lucas planned it that way from the beginning, but it works just fine in the overall context of the movies. That’s how viewers would interpret that moment if they watched the films in order of I – VI. Leia can, and does, intuitively recall info about Padme via her innate force abilities. Luke does it. Vader does it. Why can’t she?

  6. Rick, that’s probably the most believable explanation I’ve read yet. I still think it’s a fan’s way of trying to retcon the dialog, but I if I had to suspend disbelief, this would be my preferred explanation. 🙂

  7. “I still think it’s a fan’s way of trying to retcon the dialog”

    Heh-heh… I don’t pretend it’s anything but. I’m a Star Wars apologist and I admit it. 🙂

    Still, if you watch the original trilogy, you’ll see there’s evidence for supporting this explanation all over the place. Yoda telling Luke in Empire that through the force he could see “old friends long gone.” Vader intuitively figuring out that Luke had a sister at the end. Luke telling Leia that she has force powers and would someday learn to use them as he has. Luke knowing that there was good in Vader despite Obi-Wan and Yoda’s insistence otherwise (implying some kind of strong family connection via the force.) Probably a dozen other instances I’m not thinking of.

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